What is it in life that puts us in psychological distress? How effective are our thoughts in the psychological distress we experience? Why do we have specific ideas that we cannot explain? We can explain the answers to all these questions with the cognitive approach, which has been in great demand in psychotherapy since the 1960s, and other therapy models developed under its influence. Techniques such as schema therapy, acceptance, commitment therapy, and dialectical behavioral therapy, called cognitive procedures and third-wave cognitive treatments, mainly deal with mental processes that the person is unaware of. Let’s take a closer look at these approaches before we discuss incompatible schemas.
According to these approaches, the situation that disturbs the person and causes psychological distress is the perception processes and evaluations of the events/situations that happen to the person. Suppose the person perceives reality distortedly and reveals his thoughts accordingly. In that case, it means that the person is disturbed by how he perceives the event, not the event, and the underlying basis of psychological disorders is our thoughts whose content is wrong according to this approach. According to the Schema Therapy approach, the reason why the person experiences psychological problems in adult life is maladaptive schemas and incompatible stereotypes.
What is this schema concept?
We have briefly mentioned the schemes in my previous article. Now is the time to elaborate!
Let’s start with the concept of schema, shall we? Schemas are stereotypes formed in line with the experiences in childhood and continue their development in adult life. Diagrams can be about any topic/state/object. For example, when we all think of a book, we think of joined papers with letters, numbers, and sometimes figures on them, which contain sentences and generally contain information, the pages of which are numbered and arranged one after the other. This information is included in our ‘Book’ chart. Starting from childhood, our schemas are formed in line with the information we learn by seeing, listening, and experiencing over time. The book schema is created with the information we learn by seeing the books in the house and then reinforcing it by reading them.
Schemas are generally mental products that make people’s work easier and enable us to be practical in daily life. We can call these schemas compatible schemas. Compatible schemes; consist of realistic and healthy thoughts. It makes one’s life easier. However, when the subject is abstract, such as the individual’s relationship with himself and others, the mistakes we learn or perceive compare us with maladaptive schemas. Incompatible schemas, on the other hand, are formed by the person’s childhood experiences and triggered by the events encountered in adult life, which disrupt the person’s harmony with life. They usually consist of irrational and negative thoughts. They cause pain to the person and create problems.
Incompatible schemas often contain repetitive, rigid, and negative thoughts. The thought content generally refers to one’s negative beliefs about oneself and others. For example, ‘I can’t do anything right, ‘People can’t be trusted, ‘I always have to look good, ‘People can hurt me. ‘ These thoughts occur in maladaptive schemas. These thoughts that recur throughout life become honest thoughts for the person. However, they do not include objective evaluations of the person and impair Atherton in daily life. Incompatible schemas struggle to survive. We surrender to them to cope with them for life. Sometimes we fight them or run away from them and miss life.
Young et al., 18 maladaptive schemas were found as a result of their research, which causes psychological problems that are likely to be triggered in people. The person may have no incompatible schemas or have more than one triggered schema.
Incompatible Schema Types
- Abandonment schema: It is the individual’s perception and feeling that people will abandon him, that they will not provide the desired support, and that he will be emotionally excluded.
- Insecurity schema: The individual’s perception and feeling that they will be harmed, hurt, or abused by others.
- Emotional deprivation schema: It is the individual’s perception and feeling that his need to be loved and understood cannot be met.
- Imperfection schema: It is the individual’s perception and feeling that he is inwardly defective, flawed, undesirable, and worthless.
- Social Isolation schema is the individual’s perception and feeling of being isolated from others.
- Dependency schema: It is the individual’s perception and feeling that he cannot fulfill his responsibilities without help from someone else.
- Persistence schema: It is the individual’s abnormal anxiety and feeling that something terrible can happen at any moment and that he cannot prevent it.
- Nesting schema is when the individual experiences excessive emotional attachment and intimacy with a specific person but is not individuated.
- Failure schema: It is the individual’s belief and perception that he will eventually fail in any way.
- Entitlement schema: The individual’s belief and perception that they are superior and privileged to others.
- Inadequate self-control schema: It is the situation where the individual expresses his emotions and impulses excessively without limiting them and has difficulty obeying the rules.
- Submissiveness schema: A situation in which the individual relinquishes control to others to avoid abandonment and conflict.
- Altruism schema: A state in which the individual puts the needs of others before his own.
- Approval-seeking schema: It is the situation where the individual focuses excessively on getting approval and acceptance for his work.
- Pessimism schema: It is the situation where the individual ignores the positive aspects of life events and focuses only on the negative aspects.
- Emotion suppression schema is when the individual suppresses their spontaneous actions, feelings, and thoughts by avoiding being condemned by others.
- High standards schema: The state of having internalized high standards, often to avoid criticism and making intense efforts to meet them.
- Punishment schema is the individual’s perception and belief that they should be punished for mistakes.