Self-pity is the psychological state of a person’s mind which is mainly perceived in situations that are quite adverse. Individuals who undergo through self pity often bear the feeling that they have failed and as a result, have lacked either confidence or ability to deal with the situation at hand.
It is imperative to note that self pity is characterized by an individual belief and perception that he or she is a victim of circumstances and as a result, there is need to be condoled or comforted by other people. As Protinsky and Gilkey (1996) vividly point out in one of their research studies, self pity is a negative emotion which, as expected and clearly known, does not assist individuals in dealing with situations that are adverse.
Nonetheless, in a social situation, self pity may trigger people of goodwill to offer advice or sympathy while in others it can be considered as a normal occurrence. There are those who may also consider self pity as a healthy experience of a mental process which does not require any specific medical help. Nevertheless, for it to be considered healthy or normal, it should result it either determination or acceptance to change.
In some circumstances, self pity can sustain an individual if it is combined with depression or any other conditions that can easily depress it. For instance, a child can feel bad at school as a result of perceiving his or her peers as more outgoing or social than him or her.
Hence, if a child fails to take any initiative of getting to socialize with the peers with an aim of knowing them, then he or she is likely to continue to be so lonely and they continue feeling pity. Nonetheless, self pity is a means of being attentive to oneself even though with negative repercussions. Sundberg et al (1991) pointed out that it is a method of self nurturing where ones tells herself or himself that he or she is hurting so much due to certain event.
According to the theory of social learning, self pity is a means for seeking attention, a scenario that is most common among children as they grow up. On the same note, it may be experienced in situations whereby a persons has been comfortably nurtured, given due attention and morally support throughout life especially during difficult circumstances such as illnesses or other hardships in life.
If the latter case is anything to go by, then, it is pragmatic to mention that adults who experience intense self pity coupled with introverted personality are highly likely to have been brought up in a more caring and nurturing way.
If the latter argument cannot be supported on its own without some strong empirical study, then we may conclude that such influence or impact brought about by self pity is to a large extent, brought about by personality make up of an individual. Through these children grows up with the skill of having learnt the skill of giving attention to him or her or receiving the same from other from others.
In discussing the influence of trauma on self pity, the same cannot be discussed without looking at the theories that were developed by Sigmund Freud. According to Freud hysteria symptoms are due to traumatic circumstances in a life of an individual. Freud believed that horrifying situations such as incest, abuse and rape that he witnessed in his parents was not caused by fantasies or lies but were as a result of real life experiences (Tavris, 1993).
Sundberg et al (1991), in his study adds that individuals who are traumatized when they are faced with situations that are stressful to them. These situations include molestation, incest, domestic violence or living with someone who is either mentally ill or drug addict can be very traumatizing for one.
According to Protinsky and Gilkey (1996), an individual who is either traumatized or abused can come up with dysfunctional behaviors with an aim of dealing with the existing psychological or emotional pain. These strategies might consist of behavioral addictions and self medicating strategies. Individuals can also engage themselves in risky behaviors such as gambling, risky sexual activities, pleasure murder or purging.
Social theorist’s points out that trauma that experienced during childhood can result into behavior that is violent in nature.
Additionally, trauma can be caused by a number of events but there are common aspects that are believed to be the causes of trauma. This can include constant violation of ideas that are familiar to a person like human rights or issues about the world.
This makes the person to be in a state of insecurity and confusion. Psychological trauma can occur at the same time as the physical trauma. Nonetheless, individuals react differently to events that may be similar in nature. For instance, an individual may go through an experience which may be traumatic to him or her while another person may go through the same but he or she will not be traumatized.
Nonetheless, according to a study carried out by Protinsky and Gilkey (1996), trauma in children can be handled by encouraging them to develop self-pity to make them feel guilty of their actions or behaviors. For infants who are sensitive, fear of addiction to the existing guilt makes the will to collapse and thus leading to catatonia. Grazyna and Nazan (2006) defined catatonia as a response that is geared towards intense feeling by an individual as either rejected or excluded from the rest of the public.
Arruza et al (2009) argue that the existing catatonia is not visible as children always bind themselves to the parents through identification stratagem of the parent. Thus, children in most cases identify themselves with the will of their parents which results into the collapse of their own will. Therefore, the stratagem serves as the supporting element of the children’s ego even though it is unstable provided that they can identify themselves with parents and also survive.
However, according to Sundberg et al (1991), the reincarnations theory is required in social psychology for proper explanation of sensitivity of children. According to the theory some children are more sensitive than their counterparts and family criticism is usually based on the sexual or physical abuse which results into trauma.
However, in most situations, problems which arise as a result of the abuses are not understood by the society. Protinsky and Gilkey (1996) further pointed out that society does not realize that parents who got strong will a likely to cause problems to children who are highly sensitive. This makes the degree of self-pity to be manifested differently in children.
However, based on a study that was carried out by Protinsky and Gilkey (1996) pointed out that childhood trauma is not the only aspect that results into self-pity in individuals but it assists in creation of a conducive environment for existence of self-pity as it de-stabilizes the ego of an individual which is likely to emerge. This is the ego of an individual once created; usually have foundations which are fragile in nature.
On the other hand, Jennifer et al (2006) observed that regardless whether an adult is suicidal, maniac or catatonic, these conditions are a mere reflection of the childhood traumatic experiences. Therefore, feelings like self pity or one being depressed are a manifestation of different mechanisms that individuals apply in handling the memory of infant trauma that exists in the subconscious part of their being and it occurs when the impact of the trauma can no longer be repressed in their lives as adults.
For instance, application of catatonia by an individual as a strategy of overcoming trauma indicates the fear of emphasizing power. According to research carried out by Grazyna and Nazan (2006) he aspect fear and self pity manifests itself in children when they feel that they have been rejected by either their peers or parents and they continue to blame themselves for the scenario created.
On the other hand Protinsky & Gilkey (1996) posited that, children absorb the hatred that they receive from either their peers or their parents and as a result they do harbor feelings of self pity as a result of this.
Similarly, Tavris, (1993) holds that the same influences of trauma during childhood leads to feeling of self pity and the same feeling is carried over and over throughout someone’s lives. But for individuals who are ascetic can experience and harbor feelings of self pity and self-perpetuating in all incarnations that may occur in the future.
Therefore, an individual need to learn ways of coping with self pity by coming up with ways of understanding the aspects of dynamic social psychology. Hence, the existing nature of sensitivity involved makes people who have gone through traumatic experiences to harbor the feelings of self pity and thus in most circumstances avoid the company of their peers.
Sundberg et al (1991) added that the start of adult of catatonia may be instantaneous and can be as a result of gradual paralysis of ones will. The author further added that the same can be termed as guilt. Therefore, the gradual influences of guilty results into harboring of self pity by an individual who have gone through traumatic life experiences during his or her childhood.
This is because the foundation of ego was built on basis of guilt and fear which makes one to look for internal consolation and feel that he or she is the victim of the circumstances.
Hannelore (2007) further pointed out that when an individual becomes an adult, he or she continuous to harbor feelings of guilt and self pity if the life becomes more stressing for her or for him. The guilt which are caused by the childhood trauma are then cultivated into the being thus making the person to harbor feelings of self pity.
This makes the feeling of guilt and self pity to dominate the subconscious part of his or her mind and continually destroy it. This makes ones life not to be productive and he starts to harbor feelings of doubt and feel self pity for his or herself. The doubt and self pity then spoils ones sense of pride and thus make him or her to be more vulnerable to insidious guilt.
Furthermore Freud in clinical observation of his patients concluded that traumatic events can result into symbolic symptoms, repressions and even compromise formations. In 1880s till 1896, Freud wrote about the influence of trauma on ones self pity. According to Sundberg et al (1991), on the works that Freud authored with Josef Breuer on trauma, the two authors tackled aspects of symbol formation, splitting and repression and somatization and related them to actual traumatic events that individuals face either as adults or as children.
Tavris (1993), argued that traumatic events that happen in early years of a child’s life can impact on the way the children will perceive the world when they grow up and even the sense of self pity. Daydreaming and fantasy thus make the world in which they live in order for them to escape real life situations.
The escape which is internal provides the youth with a peaceful haven which is different from the real world experience in which they face rejection from their peers and even the society as a whole. However, the impact of the inward retreat especially when combined with dissociation experience, application of facilitators and reinforces of adult trauma results into harboring of self-pity.
Sundberg et al (1991) outlined various themes on sexual degradation such as rape, incest and other forms of sexual abuse which often results into either masochistic or sadistic desires which are related to traumas that are experienced by one during the formative years of his or her life. Trauma results into self-pity or hatred in children and if the traumatized child continues to focus on the event it can cause hatred for one self or for other people and the emotions can further result into either pride or guilt.
But in cases whereby the child focus on trauma is on self pity, a different scenario can result whereby the child can react to trauma which is as a result of violence in two ways. First, fear of authority will be created and in this case the child will link violence to problems of identity and authority. Secondly, the child will develop sexual fear and in this case he or she will link violence to the problem of pleasure and sexuality (Protinsky & Gilkey, 1996).
But for males who are heterosexual, masochism or sadism can work in two ways resulting into a number of responses to a self pity feeling towards femininity that has caused damage to his masculinity. Therefore, muscularity is a result of desires of the males to punish the feminine part of them by simply making it weak. On the other hand, sadism is caused with the desire to belittle other men muscularity.
According to Tavris (1993), no matter how one tries to build his or her image, it is meaningless because much of human’s life is comprised of unconscious being. Erik Erikson in his works on personality development argued that acquisition of conscious social identity in adolescence is part of normative crises in development stage of an individual. However, the process of development is further reflected in real life situations. However, social development identity has some values which are short term in nature.
Jennifer,et al (2006) pointed out that in order to examine the psychology of victims involved in any trauma, it is important to examine the key characteristics of a victim and the aspects that distinguish him or her from non-victims. This should be understood whether the trauma is a hostage, domestic, sexual abuse or any other form of violence.
Hannelore (2007) added that individuals who have suffered trauma can be distinguished from those who have not as they usually feel a sense of self pity and helplessness. However, they lack the sense and feeling to either blame themselves for the problem or to be accountable for the same.
Lincoln (2008) argued that this is because the control locus of the victim is both stable and external. Stability of the locus is also necessary when deliberating on the relationship that exists between what people believe in against reality. Hence, when addressing self pity, both internal and external stability of the locus are necessary. According to Grazyna and Nazan (2006), victims of trauma are likely to harbor self-efficiency and self-pity feelings and feel that they can not be successful in changing the life of a person or of their lives.
Therefore, the trauma victims can attribute the same to their behavioral outcomes on external forces and not to dispositional ones which are internal. Furthermore, there are myriad of elements in a personal w ell being that may equally lead or awaken self pity. For instance, being embarrassed, feelings of lack of personal or external help as well as los e of hope in life are all important factors when deliberating on human psychology on self pity.
Social exchange theory which explores on potential benefits against individual actions can also be used to offer further explanation to the latter case. Thus, individuals are likely to continue with their existing behavior provided the costs of benefits gained are higher than the cost of one being a victim of traumatic situation.
Arruza et al (2009) argued that in some circumstances where parents have high moral values, the dominant will of the child will go hand in hand with it regardless of the traumatic situation that the child found herself or himself in. Therefore, if the dominant element in the subconscious mind of the parents is hatred then, the child will emulate the same to himself or her if he or she is sensitive and as a result he will be negatively influenced by the experience.
Finally, according to Tavris (1993), when a child becomes an adult, the self pity that has already been developed is highly likely to produce one of the two commonly known psychological effects effects.
The first effect will be the tendency of the child to develop an indecisive character. In other words, the child may become indecisive or harbor feelings of apathy not only towards him/herself per se, but also towards other people who are not even aware of the prevailing situation.
To make matters worse, this form of self pity may also generate other complicated feelings which may also trigger the affected person to search for a belief system or something to rely on even though in an abstract way. This may be a common effect bearing in mind that most traumatic experiences often lead to such aftermath in an individual’s personality.
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