In cognitive behavior therapy, an extremely logical and workable methodology, there are some processes that seem to not be so cognitive.   This means that we are not "cognating" (not "knowing" or "seeing"), so what is going on is below our awareness or, as most people call it, unconscious. 

But since the brain operates in a "logical" sequential manner, much of what is unconscious can be deduced or at least made-up in our imagination in a way that replicates what the reality must be.  In that case, we have something that we can work with and modify to a higher, more functional level.

For instance, Barbara states that she is not aware of any beliefs that have her behave compulsively like her mother.  The behavior "just happens".  No thinking, no process, as far as she knows.  She just adopted the behavior her mother "modeled for her".  Kind of a "monkey see, monkey do." 

Of course, humans do have "mirron neurons" where we can duplicate what is out there and do it ourselves.  We can watch a person doing a tennis stroke and then we can pretty well mimic it (but without some of the finer distinctions).  We also use mirror neurons to understand how others feel, in a sense attempting to duplicate how they feel from what we see and hear.

So, in this case, Barbara is convinced that her hypersensitivity is caused by her mother's behavior.  Though she has had alot of therapy, no other explanation seems to have hit home for her.


Although she might not see this cognitively, she came to the conclusion that if her mother was so efficient and so admired that what she is doing must be the workable thing to do, so she must do it in order to survive - as her mother put out the idea that her daughter must perform in a certain way in order to get her approval. 

However, she now realizes that her mother was not as perfect as Barbara's childself believed, with her limited life experience and perception, as her mother was miserable - a batch of tangled nerves and self-criticism - and Barbara copied those and, implicitly and logically, at least, bought into the idea that they would work to get Barbara either praise/love or an escape from criticism.

Anyway, Barbara can see that what her mother thought was not workable, as it got bad results (a sure indicator of erroneous thinking!).  So, if Barbara wants to get better results, she must begin and work extensively on inserting thinking routines that do, or could, work and proclaiming that the old thought (or probable thought) was not true.  (I Declare These Not To Be True.)

She simply has "knee jerk reactions", happening instantly and with no awareness of her thought process.


Basically her "seen" process is:      Trigger --> Reaction (routine goes into effect).

But logically there must be something in between, because an event is not in and of itself the determinant of a reaction.  If not all people, react the same way to the same event, then the event cannot be the real trigger or cause of the reaction.  There must be a bridge, an actual cause, in between the two.

She frequently is so fearful of the hurt others can inflict on her from disapproval or some negative judgment that she goes into a (practiced) routine that just pops right into place:  "I'm being attacked, routine X goes into effect.  'I hate you.  F you.  I'm going to hurt you back.  I will destroy you.  I will 'get even'."   And it is very exciting in a sense, as it hypes her dopamine, which is a great, behavior-reinforcing reward. 

If we think through what "must be happening", we can come up with a good, logical sequence. 

X happens --> This means Y.

Y =  I am potentially under threat of attack. " I'm so vulnerable and can be hurt so easily.  And if I'm humiliated, rejected, or insulted in any way, I will be rejected and I'll die."  The "I'll die" seems ludicrous, but it is something close to that in the mind's eye - as we can tell by the intensity of the reaction whether it is a small thing or something closer to the maximum threat in life (dismemberment or death).  Almost all of her actions are extreme, either in lambasting herself, feeling superthreatened when with others (hyped up to panic attacks and extreme guardedness before that) especially if those others are "above" her in status, or in folding under the pressure of performing or failing,

And, if we can create a new habit, one of the questions is how do we get a reward that is sufficient...


To break the chain cognitively, and then logically in actuality, she needs to:

1.  Acknowledge that there is some belief (pattern in her brain) that matches pictures and programs of horror to the situation, rather than just something that magically happens, with no bridge to it. Given that there must be a pattern, one can look to see or deduce what the pattern is and then substitute another pattern that gets a desired result.  (She, of course, will see that as an immense and maybe not achievable objective, but she is wrong on at least the objective being achievable and she is overestimating the size of the task.)  

2.  Acknowledge that all humans with normal intelligence can, and it has been proven, create an alternative belief that seems more rational and which would produce a better result.  All humans also have the ability to think up evidence and/or logical thoughts to support the new belief (aka conclusion about how things work).  Discrediting the old beliefs and/or declaring them not to be true could help hasten their extinction or reduction in power.  (I Declare These Not To Be True)

3.  Once perhaps verified as being true and workable, all humans have the ability to speak the new belief out loud and to repeat it, using a strong, definite voice.  And they can repeat it, until memorized and automatic.

4.  All humans have the ability to either picture and/or make up in words a future scenario where "x" happens and they insert in the new belief, which we'll call Z.  And then they can imagine how they would behave, creating in their minds a hypothetical way they could behave and feel, which of course would be ones that they desire to do and feel.  And then they can "practice" that scenario or similar scenarios until the thinking and the behavior are "practiced" sufficiently to have them become automatic to some degree, which will improve over time with practice 

5.  As the practiced new routine becomes more automatic, more habitual, and more reliable, the fear and the old belief will begin to fade and be replaced by the other.  The only question is how much practice it will take.   

She might protest that she doesn't have enough actual situations to practice enough to do this, but the answer is that she can practice all she wants, in her imagination, bringing up what she knows of the situation and of people, but inserting the new beliefs. 

She would have to stick to the task and not go back and forth to other things, or the monsters will just be bruised and battered but able to come back and attack her.  So far, she has not stuck to the task because "so many things interfere".  In order to make progress, she'll have to decide that this is of sufficient priority that she has to stick to this and tolerate the other items being not done (they never really got settled anyway, as they also were never completed, making them only distractions without results).  

The process of changing beliefs is pretty straightforward, though it does take working the process for awhie to offset the erroneous beliefs that have been practiced over and over for years.   Reconstructing Your Belief System Step By Step - Finishing The "Job', For Happiness


Barbara keeps on asking for the tools, the easy, clear steps to relieving her anxieties and fears.  There are some easy to use tools to deal with the symptoms, to calm down and regain one's bearings and to talk to oneself. 

But those only deal with the symptoms, while what we want is not to keep getting the symptoms over and over and over.  The only solution is to deal with the cause, which typically takes doing something that requires awareness, some learning, increased understanding, defining the problem, identifying the errors, identifying what is wanted, and devising a new strategy (such as a thought process) - and then implementing it.   Not as easy, or as instant, as we might like.  But the belief in magic should stop shortly after age eight...

See Tell Me How To Do It!  Cut the theory, Give Me The Shortcut!.  She should learn the basic life skill of Problem Solving, on this site.    

The tools that will deal with this are 1.  Stop, 2. breathe/relax to be centered, 3. engage brain, 4. decide action.  Always the same.


The whole process of making life good is not very difficult:

Routine       -->       Bad result        -->         Revise routine         -->         Better result

It's funny how people sometimes miss the simplicity of life.  If one has a routine and it doesn't work to get the right result, it would seem that anyone would figure out that if they want the right result next time they would have to revise the routine and put it into practice - and then one would get the desired result. 

But so many people don't take the feedback and adjust accordingly.  As a result, they continue to "lose" in some way.  But the person who is very careful to notice and/or even seek feedback and then acts on it immediately will end up living life as a life champion