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Invalidating Environment

It is encouraging to see more people using the term "invalidating environment." As of today, Feb 21, 2012 Google tells us there are about 6,260 results for the term.

It is encouraging because this suggests to me that more people are starting to see the cause and effect relationship between things like repeated invalidation and our level of emotional health.

Many websites, for example, are now saying that growing up in an invalidating environment helps cause what is labeled as "borderline personality disorder." I suspect that with time more people who get trained so they can be called psychologists will agree with me that many of the so called "disorders" are actually caused by society and our environments not just "Borderline Personality Disorder."

As you probably can tell, I don't like the term disorder at all. I believe it misleads us away from the real social problems which directly cause depression, self-harm, suicide etc.

In any case, it is encouraging to see more people talking about invalidation and recognizing it. Perhaps one day the concept will even be taught in mainstream educational systems. Then young people will have a little better idea what is being done to them.

Here is one quote from a PhD who writes for about.com

...to invalidate means to attack or question the foundation or reality of a person’s feelings. This can be done through denying, ridiculing, ignoring, or judging another’s feelings. Regardless of the means, the effect is clear: the person feelings are “wrong.”

Later the same article says an invalidating environment is one in which a person repeatedly is told, directly or subtly, that his or her feelings are "not correct". They then add that "Over time, this can result in confusion and a general distrust of a person’s own emotions."

When we are unsure of ourselves, when we don't trust our own feelings and judgment, it is easier for others to manipulate, control and "behavior-modify" us. Those of us who have power over us can be expected to do all of this to us, especially if they were invalidated themselves while growing up and thus have many unmet emotional needs.

We must remember that both those who have comfortable lives from supporting the current status quo, and those who are emotionally insecure and feel easily threatened, will not be the first to educate us about things like invalidation and behavioral manipulation/modification. It is up to each of us individually to spread awareness as much as we can. When enough of us see what is happening, it will become impossible for people like school administrators to keep telling us it isn't happening and that instead, we are the ones who are wrong.

S. Hein





Teen Suicide

Self Harm

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