Monthly Archives: January 2013

Intellectualization

Emotional pain is not an easy thing to handle for many people, especially emotionally sensitive people. Emotional pain that is too overwhelming often causes people to resort to the use of defence mechanisms. One of those defence mechanisms that people with OCPD are likely to use because of their dominant “left brain” is intellectualization.

People with OCPD primarily use intellectualization to cope with their difficult feelings.

Intellectualization

INTELLECTUALIZATION:

This defensive style is a cousin to “Isolation of Affect.” Feelings are not allowed into consciousness. Instead, issues are discussed in a hyper intellectual manner. Everything is examined from every possible point of view. Everything is taken seriously; humor does not seem possible. A person who intellectualizes seems to rob life of its spontaneity and replaces it with an exaggerated sense of seriousness and microscopic scrutiny. (taken from “The Caller’s Coping Styles“)

Most people with OCPD are so accustomed to using intellectualization to cope with their difficult feelings that they do not realize it is a defence mechanism that is not shared or very well understood by the majority of the world. Consequently, it causes so much disunity and frustration between them and their loved ones.

Having successfully comforted themselves with the use of this defence mechanism for so long, most people with OCPD cannot think of any other way for their loved ones to comfort them. People with OCPD hope that their loved ones would partner with them in their intellectualization, help them in their logical reasoning and problem solving, and celebrate with them when they figure out the answer. In other words, many people with OCPD want their loved ones to join in on their use of their defence mechanism. This, of course, rarely happens.

What happens instead is that their loved ones give the kind of comfort that usually works on most people. They might say “don’t worry, you’re going to be ok.” To this, those accustomed to intellectualization will feel compelled to ask “how?” and “why?” as those are the questions they always begin with in their attempt to comfort themselves. Their loved ones may then take their best shot at an explanation. But being already ten steps ahead in the identification and analysis of all the different possible explanations (would you expect anything less from those who have been doing that for the majority of their life?), it is likely that people with OCPD have already considered the explanation suggested by their loved ones. In much of the same way that they wrestle with their own reasoning, people with OCPD will then wrestle with the reasoning of their loved ones. Although this just happens to be the OCPD way in which they eventually reach their comforting “truth,” their loved ones most likely take it personally when their reasoning is rejected in the process. The loved ones then conclude that people with OCPD are just too argumentative and impossible to comfort. When it is apparent to people with OCPD that their loved ones have given up trying to comfort them, people with OCPD then revert back to what they have always been used to: they go off on their own, work out their pain in isolation, and tell themselves that the only people they can count on are themselves.

People with OCPD who habitually intellectualize their own feelings often do not know any other way to comfort others as well. Out of genuine care, they may intellectualize their loved ones feelings. This, however, does not bring comfort to most people. The loved ones may wonder, “Why does he seem so disconnected from my emotions?” “Why is he unable to just empathize with me?” “Why does he turn my feelings into some emotionless law case?”

In the end, because of intellectualization, both sides are left feeling sad (or even angry) that the other is so incapable of providing the needed form of comfort.

SO WHAT NOW?

HOW TO CO-EXIST WITH THE OTHER (OCPD):
Focus on the heart of your loved one. He or she cares about you and his or her intention is to comfort you. Whatever he or she advises, even if the logic is so flawed, accept it with delight. Understand that your loved one will most likely take it personally if you disagree with and rip apart his or her reasoning. Do that in your own head in silence (with a smile on your face) if you are going to do that at all. If your loved one is going through difficult emotions and needs you to comfort him or her, resist your urge to intellectualize his or her feelings. Remember, even though this defence mechanism makes you feel better, it does not make the majority of people feel better. It can make them feel much worse. If your loved one is unable to specify how he or she would like to be comforted, try to comfort him or her in the way that most people would feel comforted by. Show concern, emotion, and empathy. Feel the pain with him or her. Tell him or her that he or she will be ok. Let him or her vent out whatever he or she wants to say (even if it all comes out unstructured, illogical, and imperfect). Do not correct him or her. Hold him or her in your arms. Be there for him or her.

HOW TO CO-EXIST WITH THE OTHER (OTHERS):
If you are going to give your OCPD friend any reasons, explanations, or advice, make sure to give the ones that encourage him or her to experience his or her difficult feelings. Any other reason, explanation, or advice will encourage your OCPD friend to make use of his or her defence mechanism. Whatever reasons, explanations, or advice you give, understand that your OCPD friend’s analysis of your reasoning is simply his or her own unique way of trying to find comfort through working out a final answer. If he or she disagrees with you, do not take it personally – this is just what he or she does in his or her own mind all the time. Try to imagine that his or her disagreement with your reasoning is bringing him or her that much closer to the truth that he or she is trying to figure out through a process of elimination. If it appears that your OCPD friend wants to be comforted by your participation in his or her intellectualization, you can still participate by asking questions and listening. But as soon as you can (probably best idea not to do it while your OCPD friend is experiencing difficult feelings), discuss with your OCPD friend the consequences of intellectualization and have him or her understand the importance of resisting the urge to use this defence mechanism.

HOW TO GRADUALLY ELIMINATE INTELLECTUALIZATION (OCPD):
Completely removing this defence mechanism without replacing it with another one is not recommended if it is the only coping method you have to handle your difficult feelings. In order to soften the blow, you may want to lean on other healthier defence mechanisms (see “Mature Defence Mechanisms“) in the meantime. Choosing to resist the urge to intellectualize your difficult feelings will require you to first recognize the complications it causes on you and your relationships.

THE COMPLICATIONS OF INTELLECTUALIZATION (OCPD):
This defence mechanism is not helpful to you. It keeps you weak. It steals your opportunity to grow stronger and develop your ability to endure more difficult emotions in the future. It causes you more frustration and anxiety. Who knows when you will be able to figure out your “truth” through the stressful process of reasoning that you take? It may take forever. It keeps you in anguish until you find that answer you are looking for. Is it really worth it all? It also keeps you feeling very lonely. It limits the kind of people that can comfort you. The only people who can comfort you are those who are as good as you or better in logical reasoning. Good luck trying to find them. Do you not want to find refuge in your loved ones? Does it not ache your heart that your loved ones feel hopeless?

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Teenage Dream Come True

Chao Headphone

Between the years of 1998 and 2003, I attended an all-boys Catholic high school. During this time, rap was really popular and all of my friends were listening to American rap music. I, on the other hand, found an obsessive liking for Australian hi-NRG dance music (this was before YouTube came into existence so it was very uncommon for a Korean boy from Vancouver, Canada to be listening to music from Australia).

I was a huge fan of Nicholas Agamalis (a.k.a. “DJ Nick Skitz”) and Alex Karbouris (a.k.a. “DJ Alex K”). It was through their work that I discovered how much I love megamixes. I loved how megamixes efficiently transitioned from one song to the next before my boredom could cause me to lose my focus. When I first heard this megamix by DJ Nick Skitz, I was completely blown away! “How is this even possible?” I thought to myself at the time.

I thought it was so cool that “Wild FM,” a dance music radio station that used to exist in Sydney, recognized their talents too and had them produce their megamixes. I collected every single one. “Wow!” I thought, “what an honourable gig! I wish I could do something like that someday.” But having no faith in myself, I put aside another one of my silly teenage dreams.

Ten years later, after having completely forgotten about that dream, I make a megamix just for fun and it goes viral all over the internet! Since then, so many great things have been coming my way: interviews (TV and print), free DJ equipment (like the beautiful headphones in the picture above – click on the image too see more of their headphones), and work opportunities (some overseas with all travel and accommodation expenses taken care of).

One of those great opportunities was able to resurrect that dream that I had put aside in high school.

Ultra Music,” the #1 dance/electronic music label in the US, contacted me and asked if I could make them a video megamix as a promotional piece for their “Ultra Dance” various artists compilation.

Ultra Music

O-M-G.

Of course I said “YES!” to this wonderful opportunity. The megamix will be released very shortly as I have not been given much time to work on it 😛

Thank you DJ Nick Skitz and DJ Alex K for both being such an inspiration to me during my high school years. Thank you Ultra Music for making one of my dreams come true.

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JADE: Justify, Argue, Defend, Explain

In my last post titled “The Loneliness of the Gifted and Genius,” I discussed how many of the world’s most sensitive people are desperately wanting to be heard and understood. This kind of starvation causes its victims to cling onto a communication tool that is most commonly referred to in the online world as “JADE.”

People with a history of not having their thoughts and feelings valued by others tend to be preoccupied with justifying, arguing, defending, and explaining every little thing that they think and feel.

Argue

As toddlers, most of us had the freedom to be honest and direct about our thoughts and feelings. We had no concept of JADE. If we wanted something, we would simply express our desire to have it. Our loved ones would then hear our simple request and try to make us happy. Communication was simple and pure.

Somewhere along the line, however, things got a bit more complicated. We lost our transparency. We began to JADE and force our loved ones to participate in a maze to figure out what it is that we really want. Rather than giving others the chance to make a decision based on simply making us happy, we gave all kinds of impersonal reasons why something should be done.

People with OCPD JADE in their own kind of way. Their “dominant left brain” causes many of them to use logical reasoning as they JADE. The strong work ethic and the “never give up” attitude of people with OCPD also affects the way that they JADE. While most other people might give up after seeing that they are going nowhere with their JADEing, people with OCPD will continue on with what others perceive as unending circular conversations.

In relationships, JADE is just not a very good idea. Unfortunately, many people do not know any other alternative forms of communication to be heard or understood. Some people who are convinced that it is the only way to be heard or understood honestly think that they are being polite as they invite others to JADE along with them and engage in a battle of “let us see whose argument is better.” All that these people need is to know that it is ok not to JADE, that they will be heard and understood even without it. But communicating that to them should come after receiving their trust through hearing them out, which may, at first, require you to listen to their only means of communication (JADE).

In my family’s case, my father would always cut me off whenever I JADE-ed. Though I just desperately wanted to be heard and understood, my father would say “that’s enough!” or “we are done talking about this!” The continuous invalidation of my side of the story caused me to build up resentment against my father. I would think “who put you in charge of controlling the course of our discussion!?” Then, when my father would JADE, I would sharply say right back at him “that’s enough!” to which he would become infuriated because “that is not the way a child should speak to his father.”

As you can see, though I believe JADE is a poor method of communication, I am even less of a fan of cutting off people who use it as their only means of being heard and understood.

JADEing

Not JADEing

(X wants to stay home because she is tired)
X: I don’t want to go to the party anymore.
Y: Why not?
X: I have nothing to wear.
Y: Sure you do! You can wear that beautiful dress you wore to Jeff’s wedding.
(X feels frustrated because she doesn’t feel heard or understood)
X: Besides, I won’t know anyone there. It will be boring.
Y: Brian and Steph will be there. It’s going to be a great time!
(X feels even more frustrated because she still doesn’t feel heard or understood)
X: Looking for parking there will be such a pain.
Y: We can take a taxi there.
(X wants to stay home because she is tired)
X: I don’t want to go to the party anymore.
Y: Why not?
X: I’m tired and I just want to stay home tonight.
(Y cannot argue against how tired X is. Y cannot argue against X wish to stay home)
Y: Ok.
(X feels heard and understood)
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The Loneliness of the Gifted and Genius

NOTE: I use the words “gifted” and “genius” in the place of “extremely sensitive” and “so extremely sensitive that there are not too many of them in this world.” I believe these definitions work better than the results of IQ tests because there is much more to these people than their intellectual overexcitability.

“It is strange to be known so universally and yet to be so lonely.”
– Albert Einstein

Being born into the one percent of the population that is extremely sensitive not only comes with many great advantages, but also many challenging difficulties.

One of the most challenging difficulties experienced by gifted individuals and geniuses is loneliness.

A Beautiful Mind

[ Russell Crowe as John Forbes Nash in “A Beautiful Mind” ]

Psychologist Kazimierz Dabrowski identified five areas of “overexcitabilities” in gifted individuals. We experience both the “bright side” and the “dark side” of these overexcitabilities:

Overexcitability

Bright Side

Dark Side

Psychomotor • Extremely active
• Surplus of energy
• Workaholism
• Defining ourselves by what we DO, not by who we are
• Difficulty sitting still, relaxing, sleeping
Sensual • Heightened awareness of all five senses • Constant physical discomfort
• Seeing, hearing disturbing things (not seen, heard by others)
Intellectual • Extremely smart
• Love of knowledge and learning
• Thoughts, logic, reasoning that hardly anyone understands
• Workaholic mind
• Existential depression
Imaginational • Extremely imaginative
• Vivid dreams
• Imagining disturbing events (not imagined by others)
• Fear of the unknown
Emotional • Great depth of emotions
• Concern for others, empathy
• Intense emotions that hardly anyone understands
• Depression
• Fear of our own intense emotions

Just like everyone else, we go through hard times. Just like everyone else, we experience painful thoughts and feelings. And just like everyone else, we would like to have someone who would listen to us, understand us, validate our experiences, and care for the things we care about.

Sadly, while the rest of the world gets this kind of understanding and care from their loved ones, many gifted people and geniuses are famished in this area. When we struggle with our “dark side,” the rest of the world tells us that we are wrong to see, think, and feel what we see, think, and feel. The rest of the world tells us that we are being too extreme, too dramatic, and too crazy. The rest of the world sees us as being disordered and labels us with ADHD, OCD, OCPD, schizophrenia, etc. By the way, before you go on accepting any diagnosis, be sure to read this first. The rest of the world leaves us to “professionals” who put us on medication that kills our “bright side” along with our “dark side” so that we become more “normal,” more like everyone else. In order to avoid the pain that comes with being misunderstood and outcasted by others, so many of us have trained ourselves to be “normal” on the outside while still experiencing our unsharable intense thoughts and feelings inside. We are accepted by others on the condition that we continue to pretend to be people we are not.

This loneliness is the root cause of the painful depression experienced by many gifted individuals and geniuses. Well-meaning friends and family members who think they understand this kind of depression then advise us to just be more optimistic – but how does a roof over my head or my many talents address the issue of how incredibly lonely I feel?

Many gifted individuals and geniuses then choose to distract themselves from their loneliness with an obsessive, all-consuming pursuit of excellence. But no matter how big of a dent we create in the universe, no matter how excellently we perform, our loneliness still exists and it kills us inside. Those of us who are not distracted enough are at a very high risk of committing suicide.

SO WHAT NOW?

HOW TO HELP YOUR GIFTED/GENIUS FRIEND FEEL LESS LONELY (OTHERS):
Resist judging your friend’s experience. Rather than thinking that your friend is wrong or crazy, be open to the idea that your friend is just “different.” Even if you cannot relate to your friend’s experience, still try to show that you care. If you do not have the right words (if you are less sensitive than your gifted/genius friend, you probably do not have the right words), use physical touch. A caring hug can make your friend feel much less lonely.

HOW TO ADDRESS YOUR LONELINESS (GIFTED INDIVIDUALS/GENIUSES):
First of all, acknowledge your loneliness and recognize the pointlessness of living an exhausting life of moving from one distraction to another. Put an end to your distractions and forms of false intimacy. Face your loneliness once and for all. Stop agreeing with the thoughts in your head about how no one understands you. Work hard at reversing those thoughts. If no one around you is able to give you the sense of intimacy that you long for because of their lack of sensitivity toward your differences, find a professional therapist who is trained to give you that sense of intimacy through the patient-therapist relationship. For me, what eliminated my loneliness was choosing to believe in an omniscient God who not only knows all the things that I think and feel, but also cares about all the things that I think and feel.

This message was approved and shared by American Mensa (the largest and oldest high IQ society in the world)

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