Other Names: Self-defeating personality disorder
Nature: Individuals who sabotage their own success are in severe emotional trouble. Self-esteem, image and social harmony are all enhanced through self-defeat. The intricate gamesmanship involves accepting blame or a loss of one sort in order to avoid the risk of a setback that seems even more threatening. For instance, someone who says he missed an important interview because he lost track of time, may be more able to accept the appearance of temporary incompetence than the risk of failing in the interview. A person may give himself a handicap in order to maintain the illusion of success without having to risk losing it. Self-defeating people rely so often on excuses and self-imposed handicaps that they become entrapped by them. Children who are excessively praised before they do something may grow up with an inflated image of themselves that they feel they must protect against realistic tests. They take on a handicap to protect the image. When a handicap becomes a permanent reason for failure it changes from a useful handicap to a pathological one. Another form of self-defeating behaviour is pathological excuse making. Using the same excuse over and over or inventing excuses too often are clues to this behaviour. When the excuse-maker sees himself as tragically flawed because of the condition that provides the excuse, the excuse becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Self-defeating excuses tend to be too involved and grand for the transgression they are meant to smooth over. Some of the most severe self-defeating behaviour is a result of the person's deep feeling that he is a victim and if he stops being a victim he loses his identity.
Problem Type: D: Detailed problems
Date of last update 01.01.2000 – 00:00 CET