Personality goes a long way


These sufferers are lacking total coherence. If there are mixed feelings about someone or themselves, the fear is that the bad will take over. They are unable to see good and bad so they will split and project – splitting keeps them safe and it can help deal with anxiety. Again, it is important to keep in mind that they can feel close to breakdown or madness when they start to integrate the cut off or split off parts of themselves.

In a nutshell, a healthy and good enough attachment was never formed and these experiences, attachment and separation (in a clinical therapeutic setting or in relationship), will remain very difficult for these sufferers. They have grown up with people doing things to them so are highly sensitive to this. They have paid a very high price for being vulnerable. When they couldn’t do anything but feel vulnerable, they were abused, rejected, hurt and now have complicated responses as an adult. For them, even if they feel understood they might also feel humiliated or vulnerable. Any separation or feelings of abandonment are likely to be experienced as very painful for them. When these people are in relationships (therapeutic or romantic) their anxiety can go through the roof.

It is a reminder to parents to be mindful of the complexities of a growing human being – physiologically, psychologically, physically and emotionally.

2 Responses to “Personality goes a long way”

  1. Claire Calvey

    Interesting article which covers some issues I’ve wondered about myself. You talk about very early experiences having effect on the adult but what about experiences later in childhood, for example, moving abroad? I wonder this because of my own experience in childhood (leaving a happy life at 10 for an equally happy life elsewhere but without the family network which had existed before) and my own ensuing bulimia. I also wonder about the effect of moving abroad on my own children and worry there will be problems further down the line for them. In short, is it only very early experiences which can cause these problems later in life, or is it reasonable to say disruption later on, after the personality has been established, can still cause life long problems? (And apologies if this will be covered in a later blog…)

    • Rebecca Eyre

      Thanks Claire,
      Sorry, I only seem to have seen your email now.
      It is the very early experiences that have the most dramatic impact on us as we are highly vulnerable and our brain is developing so rapidly as is our personalty and expectations and way we view ourselves, others and the world. Our ability to process and manage our experiences when we are young is not sophisticated to say the least. Our early experiences are often encoded into the implicit memory system rather than the explicit memory system which is when we are able to remember experiences from say about 4 years old. As a result, these experiences drive decisions, thoughts, defences etc but aren’t easily remembered or understood. Of course, later events will have an impact too, particularly severe and highly damaging ones such as abuse. As regards your experience, it is interesting that you experienced moving at a young age and now your children are too. Often issues, such as eating disorders can be triggered by life events but often have their origins in early experiences too. I think being mindful of our own histories and also of the impact of decisions in the here and now is crucial. Being as open and aware as possible to feelings around these is a great step forward in preventing mental health issues springing up seemingly out of the blue. Good luck and keep well.


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