Am not quite
proposing a shame attacking technique though, more of an "allow mistakes, and allow less than perfection, aim for good enough" kind of deal. This is to unconsciously update schema's which he has, and developed around his parents, but no longer are particularly useful in his current environment. I feel that schema's work pretty well at explaining this idea, anxiety in particular (as a result of bullying, or criticism) are schemas which once made perfect sense
, but in all likelihood no longer do (the environment is different now). Standard Piaget stuffs.
My own therapy for AvPD involved "exposure", but as it turns out (and I realised this only fairly recently), this was actually schema therapy. Updating old schema's with new ones, the process similar to exposure but without necessarily
the habituation element. Although a lot of new experience needed to update old schema's.
In this context, purposefully making mistakes becomes less of a shame attacking technique. You are right I think, and I hadn't really looked on my own experience in that way, but I do still feel that allowing for error, purposefully making mistakes, and observing reactions should help to some degree because of the updating of schema's that occur. Yes, processing is very different, but unconsciously a similar behaviour, with an unexpected result should eventually result in an updated schema. There is a mechanism there for bridging that particular gap. Perhaps the key point however (and what is missing from most shame attacking), is the relevance to the underling schema (and this is why my psychologist presumably wanted to direct me back off "exposure" as a goal, and onto real life scenarios). Very interesting (as this only occurs to me now, ty truant
So to update my previous post, with your idea, which I agree with, perhaps the mistakes OP makes on purpose need to be sufficiently relevant to the errors one fears, to allow for schema alteration. Or perhaps this only is particularly relevant for disordered personality?
There isn't any point in learning to urinate in the street, when one is fearful of failure when writing an essay. That deals with different schemas. The correct idea there would be to reduce standards on essays, allow for some level of failure, do a slightly half arsed job and see what happens.
All very interesting though.
I definitely take your point re the different processing, they are markedly different. Maybe the act of purposefully doing something is too different a schema anyway? So perhaps relaxing standards is better?
I think they're just different schemas.
Schema A: "People don't like me."
Schema B: "Being disliked is bad and you should feel bad."
People might have neither, one, or both schemas. A person might think, "people don't like me" without feeling bad about the fact that people don't like them (some people like to be left alone). Another person might think that "being disliked is bad" but be liked (and counting their lucky stars that most people like them). People in these categories can handle their schemas. But when you have both -- "people don't like me" + "being disliked is bad" -- you can end up in a permanent state of self-loathing. Ofc, it might not be true, which is where a therapist steps in.
One approach is to challenge schema A: "People don't like me."
Person A, who is likable, goes out and confronts their schema. People respond favorably. Person A decides their schema is inaccurate and they update it. They go and tell people about the wonders of exposure therapy.
Person B, who is unlikable, goes out and confronts their schema. People respond unfavorably. Person B decides their schema is accurate and are now more convinced than ever. They go and tell people exposure therapy stinks.
Challenging schema A can help some people, but not all people, and it doesn't change the second schema, which is that it's bad to be disliked. If at some point the person who has corrected schema A finds that people start disliking them (eg. they get caught in a scandal) they're sunk.
Typically what happens when someone confirms their fears that they are, in fact, unlikable, the advice they're given is to change themselves until they become likable. "Learn how to talk to girls", "stop being a *****", etc.
Now you can divide Person B into two types of people:
Person Ba, who is initially unlikable but has the ability to make themselves likable, and
Person Bb, who is initially unlikable and does not have the ability to make themselves likable.
Person Ba has some set of advantages over Bb. They are not as unlikable to start with, they're more self-aware, they're smarter, they have a better coach, whatever. Person Bb is less self-aware, has a problem that can't be changed (eg. a physical deformity), is part of a disliked minority, etc. Some combination of disadvantages that they aren't able to overcome through their own efforts. Person Ba says "I used to be like you, but then I changed X and Y and now people like me." But Person Bb has also changed X and Y and people still don't like them.
Person Bb has come to the end of the exposure and self-improvement line. The only thing left is...
Challenging schema B: "Being disliked is bad and you should feel bad."
You can't challenge this by going out and seeing if people dislike you. And, most of the time (unfortunately), a person would only get to the point of questioning schema B if they'd already challenged schema A and found that it made the problem worse. The issue here is not how other people see them, but how they see themselves. If they see themselves through the eyes of other people, they will almost always decide that being disliked is bad and that they should feel bad because that's how almost everyone feels about it.
More generally what they should question is the premise that people should feel bad about not being perfect. (Or, another way to say it: it's bad to make mistakes.) Why should a person feel bad about not being liked? Not everyone can be liked. Why should a person feel bad about not being smart? Not everyone can be smart. Why should a person feel bad about not having a job? Not everyone can have a job. Etc.
Questioning this schema is extremely important because overturning it is the only thing that works for everyone. It's a metaschema. Being anxious, being depressed, being a virgin, being ugly -- none of it is a reason to feel bad about yourself. You don't have to test them one by one. You can be ALL of these things and still not feel bad about yourself. Because not everyone can have more good traits than bad traits, or even an average number of good and bad traits. Some people, statistically, are going to be stuck with a very large number of bad traits. And there must be a way for those people to feel good about themselves. But they can't do that by going out and confronting their "people dislike me" schema, or their "people think I'm boring" schema, etc., because they will simply find over and over again that, yes, people dislike them, find them boring, etc. And even if they spend their whole life trying to make themselves likable or interesting using their very best efforts, some of them will never succeed.
It would be very easy for me to hate myself. "Objectively", looked at through the lens of culture, I'm a colossal failure as a human being. Most people don't want to be anywhere near me because I look like a vagrant. I can barely afford to buy groceries. I've done absolutely nothing with my life. I couldn't get a date to save my life. Etc. People don't even know if I'm a man or a woman. I can know that people feel this way about me (wondering what went so horribly wrong) but I don't feel bad about it at all. I feel frustrated, sad, angry, afraid, all that other stuff about my problems, but I don't feel like I'm a bad person because I have
those problems. I don't beat myself up or punish myself. Challenging this schema has allowed me to strip away a whole layer of pain from my existence. But if I hadn't
done it, I would no longer be here.