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Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Self Destruct Button

We are all prone to pressing the self destruct button from time to time, its part of the normal human condition; and although a lot of people don't agree with Freud's Oedipus complex I definitely believe he was onto something when he talked about the different drives. You know the idea we engage in things to bring us back to our non existent state i.e. Death drive (and Life drive…but for the purpose of this post we shall focus on the death drive!) or self destructive behaviour…

For instance I watched the roast of Charlie Sheen the other night and I can't lie although funny in (small) places I mostly cringed throughout. I cringed No.1 because I was forced to watch it in the first place (too tired to argue over the remote control) and No.2 just the fact that such a smart, intelligent, witty (not forgetting filthy rich) guy is just genuinely f-ed up on drugs, s*x and what ever other vice he has; it was a little sad.
Not to mention Johnny Knoxville with his jokes about what he has put up his arse (Ok so not death inducing but still, why?). Johnny was bleeding by the end of the show, having run into Mick Tyson's fist. Now let me clarify he did not have a run in with Mike Tyson, no he actually choose to run into Mike Tyson's fist! *confused face*
*Its may have just been a fake stunt

I digress as Charlie Sheen’s clearly suffers from addiction.

Personally I define self destructive behaviour as engaging in anything which is not conducive of what you actually want...

A more clinical definition can be found here (and below):
"Three conceptual models of self-defeating behaviour can be distinguished on the basis of intentionality (desiring and foreseeing harm). In primary self-destruction, the person foresees and desires harm to self; in tradeoffs, the harm is foreseen but not desired; and in counterproductive strategies, the harm is neither foreseen nor desired"

Never is self-destructive behaviour more present than in intimate relationships. We all know that person (or maybe we are/were them) who engages in behaviour, which clearly fall into the self destructive/self-defeating realm of relationship behaviours. Below are a few examples:
The tester… 
I have a friend who is with the sweetest most docile man in the world. He would do anything she asks and my friend knows it. But every now and again she ‘throws a fit’ to "test his love" (her words not mine) and my friend relays her fit throwing stories to me with relish. For instance they were out at a nice restaurant and "he looked at another woman" (her words not mine). Now knowing her and him, I think it is likely he looked in the direction of another women! I don’t think he would dear look at another women when my friend is around ha
You can guess what happened next…a fit! She refused to eat, she sulked, she argued with him – they left in silence and the next day to her delight he was making all the moves to restore peace. In other words he passed her test!  *On that particular occasion*.
Now my friend has readily admitted she knows it bad and her partner has told her so -but still she pushes him away. Repeatedly. What do you think an example of trade off self-destruction?

The self-flagellator...
The other day one of my work colleagues asked me if another work colleague was "back on" with her boyfriend. I told her in all honesty I'm not sure and in fact I have lost track! What I do know is that when my friend is with her boyfriend he induces a rage all consuming that she has said at times she could kill him and vice verse. They go from being loved up to splitting up over alternate weekends. She abuses him; he abuses her (one incident involved actual spitting).
I think it's safe to say most of us have been a in a relationship like the above where self-flagellation would be less painful. You know one of those relationships where your other half brings out the "crazy" in you (they may be abusive, dismissive or trip any other stress-inducing trigger). 
Is sticking around in a situation which does not bring out your best an example of primary self-destruction? 
The detective… 
This may come as a surprise to you all (I’m hoping because of the cool, collected persona I present here on this blog) but once upon a time, in a relationship far, far, away I was a regular old ‘detective’ i.e., checker of my other half’s mobile phone (in other words a snoop!). This was to ensure myself that my other half was where he said he was going to be, with who he said he was going to be with; and just generally not cheating on me left right and center (my biggest fear after a previous heart break).
Now I know I’m not the first (or the last) to play detective. In fact when talking with a few of my male and female friends the majority of them have admitted playing detective at some point or another in a relationship.
Here is the thing as I said in my own case it was to ensure myself. It had absolutely nothing to do with him. In fact I never ever found what I was looking for (i.e., evidence of bad behaviour) but despite that I still checked it was like setting up for or looking for the demise of my own relationship - a whole heap of conflict! 
But I wonder why do we do it to ourselves or inflict it on others? 
No doubt feelings of worthlessness, lack of self esteem, fear and guilt all play a part in our self destructive behaviours and also historical ideas around our lovability also comes into play.  Sometimes relationships can be tough and when the difficulties seem to much to bear (either mentally or physically) and thereby threatens to throw off our equilibrium it's no wonder we prefer to reach for the self destruct button instead.
Take the self-flagellator for instances. I think it's fair to say we our all participants in our lives so I have wondered at times is it possible my friend fears that she is unlovable so hence is creating a situation in which she won’t be loved. The subconscious logic being by staying with a negative partner, she just confirms a deep-held belief that she is not worth healthy, real love perhap?

On a brighter note how do we over come the need to press the destruct button you wonder...

Step 1: No surprise here... Acknowledge it. If you keep doing the same thing (i.e., self flagellator style) and your getting the same results it's time to admit it's not working and you maybe flogging a dead horse so to speak!
Step 2: It's ok you’re normal. We all suffer from the same things that drive self destructive behaviour (or the Freudian death drive!) be it fear, guilt, feelings of worthlessness and lack of self esteem. The difference is some of us are quicker at realizing, acknowledging and letting go; but don't beat yourself up about mistakes made look to what you can change going forward.
Step 3: Finally don't act on negative feelings (i.e., the tester and detective style) learn to channel the positive and let go of the negative one day at a time.
So BDSS'ers I know I said lets focus on the positives but can you think of any other self defeating behaviours we engage in whilst in relationships and more importantly can you suggest other strategies to over come them?


  1. Interesting, yes if a situation arises that you should need to act on fine understandable but be grown about it. A good relationship on a good foundation doesn't just crack unless things have been building for time and have not been solved, talked about or visited. Lastly for me relationships you put what you get out, its work and enjoy yourself if you are stressing have to watch every little move that is just no healthy you could happier elsewhere. Happiness is truly what you make it, if you make that you don't trust then those are things you will see even if they aren't really there. There is so much dame stress in the world to have it in your relationship is just work that i personally i am not up for.

  2. so which one is it? given up blogging? or neglecting the blog ;-)