For example, a boy who was teased by peers may start to feel like he is defective or not good enough, and, as an adult, he might develop a pattern of dating men or women who are critical of him and end up feeling worse about himself.
Besides generating strong-chemistry with inappropriate partners time and time again, if left untreated, schemas can lead to unfulfilling career tracks and life-long patterns of self-defeating behaviors. These can include alcohol / drug abuse, compulsive sex and other behaviors that begin to organize your life. Schemas can also lead to difficulties in expressing wants and needs, low-self-esteem, lack of emotional connection with others, dependency needs, trust and security issues, feelings of entitlement and poor self-control.
Schema therapy was developed by Jeffrey E. Young, Ph.D., who expands upon cognitive therapy by integrating it with several other effective therapeutic techniques. Schema therapists take an active role in the therapy to help you make changes in your life and move beyond just having insight into your problems. Homework assignments are structured to continually confront and challenge schemas that are getting in your way. You can read more about schema therapy in the book Reinventing Your Life by Jeffrey E. Young, Ph.D. and Janet S. Klosko, Ph.D., published by Dutton.
A list of the schemas is outlined below. By learning more about your schemas, you can help provide a framework for understanding your problems and start developing strategies for change.
1. Abandonment / Instability
You expect that anyone you feel close to will leave you and that all close relationships end.
2. Mistrust / Abuse
You expect to be taken advantage of by people or that others will hurt, cheat or put you down.
3. Emotional Deprivation
You believe people in your life won’t meet your primary emotional needs. These needs include nurturing, empathy, affection, protection guidance and caring.
4. Defectiveness / Shame
You feel flawed on the inside and that if others get close they will “find you out” and reject you.
5. Social Isolation / Alienation
You feel different and isolated from others and don’t feel like you are part of a group or community.
6. Dependence / Incompetence
You believe you cannot handle day-to-day responsibilities independently. You often seek out help with decision making.
7. Vulnerability to Harm or Illness
Impending feelings of financial, natural, medical or criminal catastrophe haunt you leaving you feeling fearful and excessively cautious.
8. Enmeshment / Undeveloped Self
You feel like you are floundering in life and have little sense of an individual identity or inner direction that is distinct from family or partners.
You feel incapable of performing as well as your peers when it comes to career, school or sports. Comparing yourself to others leads to feelings of despair.
10. Entitlement / Grandiosity
You believe you are entitled to special rights and privileges and are not bound by accepted societal norms, regardless of the cost to others. You may also be excessively focused on superiority, competitiveness or domination, without empathy or concern for other’s needs or feelings.
11. Insufficient Self-Control / Self-Discipline
You often find it difficult to tolerate frustration towards achieving personal goals and/or restraining expressing your emotions and impulses. By avoiding any discomfort, your personal fulfillment is compromised.
You give your power away to other people and suppress your needs and emotions in an effort to avoid anger, retaliation or abandonment.
You put excessive focus on meeting the needs of others to avoid feeling guilty and at the expense of satisfying your own needs. Often called “co-dependency”.
14. Approval-Seeking / Recognition-Seeking
Your sense of self is externally focused and dependent on gaining the attention, approval or recognition from others as a way to “fit in”.
15. Negativity / Pessimism
A lifelong, pessimistic attitude focused on the negative aspects of life and an expectation that things will go wrong leading to excessive worry, vigilance, complaining and indecision.
16. Emotional Inhibition
You find it difficult to be spontaneous with actions, feelings or communications. In an effort to achieve a sense of security and predictability in your life, you try to avoid losing control of your impulses, disapproval by others or making mistakes.
17. Unrelenting Standards / Hypercriticalness
You feel pressured to meet very high internalized standards of behavior or performance often to avoid criticism. You also can be hypercritical towards yourself and others and have difficulty slowing down. This makes it harder to appreciate a sense of accomplishment or to relax and have fun in many areas of your life.
You have a tendency to be angry, impatient and intolerant with others (including yourself) when they do not meet your expectations or standards. You find it difficult to be empathic with others and to allow for human imperfection.