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#74476 - 02/17/03 11:40 AM Catastrophizing
Wuamei Offline
Member

Registered: 08/19/02
Posts: 2700
Loc: The left turn I should have ta...
Quote:
"Catastrophizing is telling yourself that things are likely to go wrong and tht if thy do, the results would be dire."
Quote:
"Catastrophizing causes your heart to beat faster, your glands to dump adrenaliine into your bloodstream, your blood to flow away fronm your brain and increasingly toward your muscles, perparing your body to fight it out or run away. Catastrophizing causes your body to react as if you were in danger even though you're not, and the anxiety that results can be highly uncomfortable and debilitating."
"Catastrophizing" is one of two common types of irrational thinking that often become common patterns and vicious cycles for abuse survivors. The other is "demanding".

What these both have in common is that they are all-or-nothing, it's-got-to-be-this-way, fatalistic types of thinking.

In catastrophizing, we tell ourselves things have to go in the worst possible way, becuz they always do for us; and if they do, we will not be able to deal with it, to survive.

In demanding, we tell ourselves things have to go the way we want them to: or they will go in the worst possible way, becuz they always do for us; and if they do, we will not be able to deal with it, to survive.

But if things do always go in the worst possible way for us, how can we possibly expect our demands that things go differently become reality?

So you can see the vicious cycle when these two go together, as they usually do. [img]http://www.click-smilie.de/sammlung/alles_moegliche/allesmoegliche002[/img]

Quote:
"Coupled with catastrophizing, demanding keeps you alone, rigid, alienated, paralyzed, and miserable."
Catastrophizing is something I've kinda thot about myself but, maybe becuz it is coupled with demanding, I couldn't really see.

When people would say "You're exaggerating," or "You get too carried away with things," or "Now you know that's not gonna happen," I used to get really PO'd . Probably I still will, becuz who are they to tell me that?

Hey, logically I was trying to tell myself that too. I couldn't feel, grasp, experience it. But now I'll at least understand and try to be a bit more understanding. Becuz I'll know what they are saying is I'm catastrophizing, or at least that's the way I'll try to take it. Becuz chances are good they'd be right.

Catastrophizing is a vicious cycle of thinking I've been caught in and am just really seeing it for what it is.

Demanding, I've been well aware of in myself. "After all I've been thru, I'm 'entitled,'
I 'deserve' for things to go my way, they 'have' to go my way."

News flash to self: No, they don't! And they won't.

OK, so I work on negotiating & modifying my demands to be more realistic. Ask why it has to be this way, my way. Can I prove it
has to be this way? What will happen if it doesn't turn out this way?

Ah but there's the problem for the demanding catastrophist: what will happen is catastrophe, the worst possible thing, the thing I won't be able to handle, like my abuse...

But how often do our very worst case scenarios actually take place? I mean, if we go all the way with them, carry them to their logical end in our thot processes? And if they ever did/do/could, would we really not be able to cope, to survive?

In "Adult Children of Abusive Parents," Steven Farmer would have us answer those questions with the following exercise whenever we catastrophize, called "Escalating the Catastrophe," which we are to practice & journal for future reference:

Quote:
"Ask yourself the simple question, 'What's the worst possible thing that could happen?' and imagine some potential disaster. Then ask yourself if you could survive such an outcome. If the answer is yes (it usually is), then consider some possibility even worse. Continue imagining worse things until you have escalated to the point where it becomes ludicrous."
It may sound like a ludicrous exercise--it did to me at first--but I've tried it and it helps enuf that I'm not gonna knock it until I give it more of a chance.

Escalating the catastrophe could well diffuse it, ease the stress in my body & mind, and thus help heal some physical & some psychic numbing & pain.

Quote:
"If you look deeper, however, you will see that it is your beliefs about events, and not the events themselves, that make you feel the way you do."
(Quotations from "Adult Children of Abusive Parents" by Steven Farmer, pp 158-162.)

Victor

_________________________
"I can't stand pain. It hurts me."
--Daffy Duck

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#74477 - 02/18/03 02:31 AM Re: Catastrophizing
RickL Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 03/16/02
Posts: 84
Loc: Oregon
Victor,

I am in the middle of reading a book that is having as profound an effect on me as that Steven Farmer book has evidently had on you. It's called "The Dark Side of the Inner Child" by Stephen Wolinsky. My therapist announced to me that I was ready for this book. I had to order it through Amazon.

The "jist" of the book is that when we look back and observe the old feelings of our inner child, we become one with that experience, and therefore often cannot rationally observe that those feelings or behaviors were of that long-ago time. We are hypnotized--put into a trance--and therefore continue to have the old feelings/reactions again and again until we wake up from the trance.

"The child within becomes your hypnotist, and the adult in present time, the subject, continues getting hypnotized into unwanted behaviors and experiences." (p. 10)

There is a chapter in this book called "Futurizing". Regarding catastrophizing, here is a quote from that chapter:

"...the complaint of anxiety is imagining a catastrophic outcome and experiencing distress now. This trance of the dark side of the inner child takes place as the child sees trauma in his life. The child assumes that this is how life will always be. As an adult, the child within the adult continually 'pops-up' catastrophies and thinks they are real. The result is pain and suffering in present time. Here, past catastrophies are projected into the future." (p. 40)

and in the same chapter:

"In present time the adult has many resources available. It is the child within that feels there are no resources. The adult feels the child trance as real and so experiences anxiety. The past pain stays alive as an experience in the present, and as a projected, imagined future. In this state there is only frozen past time overlayed on present or future time. A negative association with the experience of the past is created and reenacted many times without seeing NOW." (p.42)

A book like this is one where you want to underline passages, and chew on them deeply. I know I'm getting valuable healing from a book when I can't breeze through it, but instead, must take it in bite size pieces. This is one of those books!


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#74478 - 02/18/03 09:24 PM Re: Catastrophizing
The Dean Offline
Moderator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 07/15/02
Posts: 2080
Loc: Milwaukee, WI
Hi Rick,

There is some healing ideas there for me. Thanks for sharing that. It tempts me to get the book.

Bob

_________________________
If we do not live what we believe, then we will begin to believe what we live.

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#74479 - 02/20/03 04:22 PM Re: Catastrophizing
Sleepy Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 10/08/02
Posts: 288
Loc: Arizona, USA
This is a good post and very timely for me. I needed some time to think about it before I replied.

I think we all catastophize to some degree or another but we're not always aware that we're doing it. This has been a continuing theme in my life but recently this has become a huge problem for me. As many of you know, after I finished college last year I moved home. There were many reasons for this, though the primary reason was to try and get my life back in order. At the same time I was drawn back home because I felt incapable of doing anything else. However I always knew that at some point I would need and hopefully want to reestablish myself as an independant person.

Since my move back home things have gone fairly well for me. I found this site, which I don't know where I would be without it, and I have been seeing a good therapist. The combination of the two have helped me to get in touch with an emotional side that has lain dormant for my whole life. I've been feeling good and I've been feeling an urge to strike out on my own again. It almost seems like things have started to come together because I was even e-mailed a job opportunity back in Phoenix. When I saw the e-mail I was thrilled. It seemed like it was all coming together.

However the thrill of the moment soon was pushed to the side later that evening by a horrible anxiety attack. The way RickL quoted his book strikes a deep fear in me:

Quote:

"...the complaint of anxiety is imagining a catastrophic outcome and experiencing distress now. This trance of the dark side of the inner child takes place as the child sees trauma in his life. The child assumes that this is how life will always be. As an adult, the child within the adult continually 'pops-up' catastrophies and thinks they are real. The result is pain and suffering in present time. Here, past catastrophies are projected into the future." (p. 40)

"In present time the adult has many resources available. It is the child within that feels there are no resources. The adult feels the child trance as real and so experiences anxiety. The past pain stays alive as an experience in the present, and as a projected, imagined future. In this state there is only frozen past time overlayed on present or future time. A negative association with the experience of the past is created and reenacted many times without seeing NOW." (p.42)
I see that part of me that doesn't want things to change. Logically I know that things will probably work out fine if I move out because I have many friends and contacts in the area. In fact, I know I would be happier on my own but I feel a strong desire to remain in my current setting. The safety of home just seems too strong of an attraction and to break that attraction causes entirely too much anxiety. It's almost like paralysis.

I think I'm going to take a nap now because I don't feel like dealing with this anymore. I appreciate any feedback and support and I may post this in the main forum if I don't get much response.
Thanks,
mike

_________________________
"It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end."
--Ursula K. Le Guin

"Mental health is a commitment to reality at all times."
--M. Scott Peck

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