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You Can Stop Schizophrenia’s Bullying Voices in Your Head

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All of us have internal thoughts about current issues in our lives, including the caliber of our previous decisions, our foolish blunders, and how we could have handled things differently. But for schizophrenics, overlapping mean and accusatory voices make bad situations much worse. Instead of empathizing with your suffering, they judge, criticize, ridicule, and beat you down. The smart-aleck voices in your head may seem familiar and convey urgent emotional insistence that demands attention. They command fear-based life rules automatically. As inner bullies, they trap you in destructive cycles, hindering your spontaneous joy of living, and thwarting your ability to exist and love as you please.

Identifying the Problem

“You are so stupid! Pointless! Worthless! Loser!” These are the types of derisive comments that schizophrenics hear often. Listen to sample auditory hallucinations in the video below. Are mean-spirited voices like these insulting you, encouraging suicide, and making your life miserable? Antipsychotics like Geodon (Ziprasidone) will help to control this and other disturbing schizophrenia symptoms. However, learning what causes these voices also can encourage healthy resolutions.

Some contend that intimidating voices are residual effects of childhood incidents. Even if self-protective and -disciplining fear-based rules helped you survive as a kid when you were vulnerable to your parents’ various impulses, moods, and psychological struggles, such mandates can be inappropriate for adult life. As a grownup, you can back off from unhealthy circumstances and base deliberate choices about life and relationships on your feelings, interests, and needs. If you are accustomed to following childhood rules, you won’t consider altering familiar habits. Like a prisoner suffering from Stockholm syndrome, you’ve bonded with your captors. So unconsciously, you distort your opinion until things seem vital and real.

Unless you intervene, the mob of dictators in your head will control your mind, actions, and life. Like most abusers, they’ll scare you into viewing the world as dangerous. They’ll brainwash you into believing that you can survive and prevent pain only by obeying their rules. Whether you follow or defy their dictates, you won’t permit yourself to adjust responses to match individual experiences. Your physical and emotional reactions reflect yesterday’s reality more than today’s, so you’re unable to escape your dysfunctional childhood.

According to psychologist Jeffrey Young, schemas are the rigid life rules and worldviews that the tyrants in your head insist you follow. Dating back to your earliest encounters with caregivers, these rituals encompass details about your independent survival abilities, ways other people will treat you, the world’s danger and safety levels, and the life outcomes that you deserve.

Schemas can limit your life and relationships by making you:
  • Choose behaviors that help maintain them
  • Interpret your experiences so they’ll seem real ― even when they aren’t
  • Restrict your life to escape pain, so you never test your schemas
  • Overcompensate by enacting rigid, oppositional behaviors that impede your relationships

Exploring Possible SolutionsCouple arguing with each other

Young offers tips to help you recognize your schemas and tools to encourage corrective actions so they won’t derail intimate relationships. This advice can be helpful even if you don’t have schizophrenia.

Determine if you’re following a common schema after childhood abuse, trauma, loss, or parents with mental illnesses or addictions.

  • Mistrust and abuse: Because you don’t trust that others will care about you genuinely, you feel that you’re a victim, behave dishonestly, or select abusive partners.
  • Abandonment: Due to childhood abandonment issues, you expect people in your adult life to disappear or not be supportive when you need them the most.
  • Emotional deprivation: You feel that others don’t value or meet your emotional requirements, so you don’t admit what you need.

Do your significant other’s background, principles, and behaviors match one of the above schemas? Consider times when communication broke down and each of you became mad or defensive. Which routines did either of you enact? How could they set off each other? For example, an entitled partner might be needy and unrelenting, prompting the other’s emotional deprivation pattern to feel inadequate caring.

Notice when triggers occur. Watch for helplessness or anger, accusatory thoughts involving “you never” or “you always,” and tension or bodily discomfort. You might feel reactive, wanting to speak impulsively or withdraw.

When a conversation elicits a reaction, stop whatever you’re doing and breathe for a beat. Then observe everyone’s actions, thoughts, and feelings. Decide if your schema is controlling the situation and whether you should take charge. Proceed by responding more mindfully.

Discuss whatever cycle activates simultaneous programmed reactions together. Make a calm mutual decision how to indicate when this problem ensues so you can take a break.

Work on your cognitive flexibility skills. Contemplate other reasons for your partner’s behaviors that don’t involve your schema. Maybe he or she has withdrawn after a hard workday, and you’re over personalizing.

Learn to self-soothe. When your partner isn’t meeting your emotional needs, their behaviors are more apt to trigger your childish patterns. Developing healthy internal ways to fulfill your desires for necessities like love, comfort, and security will increase your self-sufficiency and satisfaction while reducing your bad reactive habits.

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