Fear Of The Abyss - Aleta Edwards

obyvatel

The Living Force
This is a relatively short book which deals with issues of a specific personality type which the author has termed as having PCS constellation traits - related to issues with perfectionism, control and shame.

[quote author=Aleta Edwards]

I have written this book for a specific type of person, one that I frequently see in my private practice. These people - whom I refer to as "PCS personalities" - suffer from problems with perfectionism, control, and shame, but they also have trouble with making decisions, think in rigid black-and-white terms, live in dread of criticism (especially selfcriticism), and experience poor self-esteem, among other characteristics. I like to picture the individual issues of this PCS constellation as the spokes of a wheel. The hub of this wheel is what PCS personalities really feel inside that drives them to have these problems. It is the center of this wheel that needs to heal; then the whole constellation of issues or symptoms can disappear.

Although the name "PCS personality" comes from just three of the traits often found in this personality - perfectionism, control, and shame - I could just as easily have chosen any of the others. PCS is simply a shorthand way to refer to all the traits which are all found to a degree in anyone with this personality. You might recognize some of these traits as those of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), but the clients I see with this personality type do not have the essential features of this disorder. People with true OCD, with their repetitive, often elaborate rituals, are in such pain that it often prevents them from participating in insight-oriented psychotherapy or even the type of self-reflection that is required by this book.

Thus, though the PCS personality may share some traits with the obsessive-compulsive, most come to me suffering from depression, anxiety, or panic disorders. Sometimes they have already been to another therapist who has told them that their anxiety or other symptoms are best treated with cognitive-behavioral therapy, which teaches coping devices to alleviate and control the symptoms. They learn these techniques but then are dissatisfied with the results, because they know on some level that something is causing them to have the symptoms that they continue to cope with. The symptoms that are being treated are merely the manifestation of their underlying feelings, which remain in place even after being taught new ways of "coping." No one has ever told them that there is hope that they can actually heal, by addressing the "hub" of their personality, the underlying dynamics that cause them to suffer. They have never been asked to tell their "story," the narrative of their lives that led to the symptoms.
[/quote]

The writing exercises suggested in the Redirect thread as well as the more general historical narrative that Laura has suggested here mesh well with the approach taken in this book, which has got many directed writing exercises addressing such key issues.

The author clearly differentiates between the PCS personality type whom she describes as being fundamentally ethical and concerned about others to some extent with pathological and abusive personalities - ones described as having "character disturbances" by George Simon . She does not go into much detail about the disturbed characters but states that the techniques used in the book are specifically for the ethical PCS types.

Regarding the abyss, which is similar to what is known as "shadow" in Jungian psychology, the author writes

[quote author=Aleta Edwards]
I have found that, on a deeper level, people suffering from PCS dynamics have what I call a fear of the Abyss. They fear that should they let up on their rigid control, a very bad person, lurking within their dark side or
Abyss, will be released and dominate their personality. What they often fear is that they will become like some person, usually a parent or other important person in their early lives, some of whose habits or personality they abhor and feel they have within themselves. It is no wonder people with PCS complain of poor self-esteem. Feeling you have some kind of monster inside will not make anyone feel good - quite the opposite.

My clients with PCS issues always have this Abyss, like the workaholic who is afraid of being lazy, or the person who must stick to the exact truth at all times, even at the risk of offending others, because he fears becoming a liar. This fear of the Abyss is rooted in the mistaken belief that one must hide from a part of oneself at any cost to keep the lid on. It is a waste of energy going through life defending against these painful and scary feelings. It is far better to confront the feelings and live fully.
.........................................

To really modify a personality, you need to become aware of thoughts and feelings that were not conscious before. We have talked, for example, about black–and-white thinking and rigid associations that PCS people make. Recall the people who imagined a whole personality in people who were simply late, or who chose to dye their hair. You will
also recall the clients I discussed who thought a little white lie was terrible and felt that they must be brutally honest at all times. But why do people have the specific associations that they do? I will sometimes ask a PCS person why he or she needs to be perfect, and he or she will answer that whenever they were imperfect in the past they were subjected to cruelty or humiliation for not being perfect. This is part of the answer, and a good historical one; that is, the answer explains
how the behavior or feeling developed and was reinforced in the past. Yet, we are in the present. An historical answer does not address what is in a person’s head and heart now.
......................
I have called the real and underlying fear PCS people have that manifests in the different spokes the Abyss, for a dark, bottomless pit that one fears falling into. The Abyss is not the way you would like to think of yourself, but the self-image you fear and try not to know. The spokes of the wheel are designed to help you lose awareness of this feared self-image, to deny it, and to split it into the many different spokes or issues we have discussed.
.........
The Abyss, then, is the much-feared self-image that runs counter to the image people pretend they have. It is the hidden self-image that is so feared that PCS people feel they must go to the opposite extreme to deny it. Where does the Abyss come from? Of course, it comes from the past; specifically, it can be rooted in your idea of another person. We often
hear people say they are afraid of being like their mother or father. At the time they say this, they do have some awareness of the Abyss, but they then swing to its opposite extreme, in an attempt to over-compensate for these feared aspects of their self-image.

The Abyss, then, can be a dreaded other that forms a hidden part of a person’s self-image. A self-image does not have to be accurate, but it nonetheless has a huge influence over the personality. The self-image that represents a dreaded other is defended against by the spokes of the wheel, preventing self-awareness and further emotional growth.


Besides a dreaded other, the Abyss can also be a self-image based on how a person was described or made to feel as a child - a cruel, distorted vision of oneself. As adults, some people still feel awkward, stupid, or unappealing, and go to extremes to avoid this knowledge. When a spoke is tapped, the fear of the Abyss is activated, and the fearful PCS
person reacts in one of the ways described here as the PCS traits. The person fleeing from the Abyss unwittingly creates a prison that becomes emotionally stifling.
[/quote]

The book is available in various electronic formats. I found the book useful having PCS issues myself. It may be of help to others who struggle with similar issues.
 

Improvise

Jedi Master
The book is available in various electronic formats. I found the book useful having PCS issues myself. It may be of help to others who struggle with similar issues.
Yes yes thank you obyvatel ! Reading this was like reading description of my own internal emotional state. I feel like this book is meant for me to read :)
 

Zadius Sky

Ambassador
Ambassador
FOTCM Member
Thank you, obyvatel, for recommending this book. :)

I just started reading it, and starting see some of things from the book in myself. The exercises in this book made me really think about my issues and the clues that I needed to research on.

(First book that I am using Kindle for PC)
 
Thank you for posting this! Most of the issues I currently struggle with are mentioned here. I am aware of it originating from my past, as my parents were very adamant about me getting perfect grades. If I did not, I was constantly lectured about it, which in turn made me feel that I would never be like them. But in actuality, I have become worse due to simply applying that perfectionism to different aspects of my life and those around me. I must admit I feel rather foolish that I never noticed this before, even being aware of my parents relentless pursuit of perfection.

I will definitely be buying this book to read more and try the exercises. I will also be looking at the Redirect thread today, as I was not aware of it until being mentioned here (I'm new, and haven't made it very far yet). There is so much material here, and learn about more everyday- it's like the world's largest encyclopedia for self help and understanding.
 

Serg

Jedi Master
I found a lot of similar with PCS people. I like to make everything perfect and then ends up with finishing almost nothing. I don’t know if I understand what ‘control’ here exactly mean. Can anybody explain it to me? I have a trouble with making decisions and a lot of else that PCS people have.
I can’t say that I have some big fear of falling into the bottomless, dark, abyss.
I definitely need to read this book. Thanks a lot obyvatel.
 

bngenoh

The Living Force
WOW obyvatel,

Thank you so much for posting this, this part:
I have found that, on a deeper level, people suffering from PCS dynamics have what I call a fear of the Abyss. They fear that should they let up on their rigid control, a very bad person, lurking within their dark side or Abyss, will be released and dominate their personality.
Describes me to the t.

I never knew that there were others like this. The perfectionism, control, all things that I do, but it is applied to me and not as much to others as I have steadily gained awareness of it. I saw this after I read The Drama Of the Gifted child, and I am slowly checking it when it crops up.

As to this:
Serg said:
I found a lot of similar with PCS people. I like to make everything perfect and then ends up with finishing almost nothing. I don’t know if I understand what ‘control’ here exactly mean. Can anybody explain it to me?
Well in the context of the info you have given, the "trying to make everything perfect" bit goes hand in hand with control, because one must have control over all the variables in order for something to be perfect, but that only happens in fantasy land and not in reality. In the words of somebody whose name I forgot, "don't worry about perfection because you'll never reach it." It is a quote that softens the rigidity I assume sometimes and also gives me a good laugh at the sheer absurdity of "it" and it's machinations.

To really modify a personality, you need to become aware of thoughts and feelings that were not conscious before. We have talked, for example, about black–and-white thinking and rigid associations that PCS people make.
YES, to wake from this deep sleep, is the aim of this game.

Thanks again obyvatel.
 

Buddy

The Living Force
bngenoh said:
In the words of somebody whose name I forgot, "don't worry about perfection because you'll never reach it."
Salvador Dalí the surrealist painter? I think he meant that in a derogatory way; as if, next to himself, no one else could measure up. Maybe it's good if you can interpret it usefully, though.

_http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salvador_Dal%C3%AD
_http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/s/salvador_dali.html

At any rate, I've found a productive exercise in recapitulating those people who've made notable impressions on me during my life. Productive because it seems I've unconsciously absorbed and expressed some of their behavior patterns. I guess that means I'm only real when I'm being myself--for whatever that's worth.
 

obyvatel

The Living Force
Serg said:
I found a lot of similar with PCS people. I like to make everything perfect and then ends up with finishing almost nothing. I don’t know if I understand what ‘control’ here exactly mean. Can anybody explain it to me?
Hi Serg,
Control means organizing things so that life is predictable in a way it is desired. Within limits, control is useful because it generates order in our lives and optimizes energy use. When it becomes very strong or obsessive, more energy is spent in trying to maintain control than it saves through order and predictability. It is specially problematic when it is applied to other people over whose behavior we have little control. Same holds true when we try to control things which really are beyond our capabilities. For non-pathological people, a very strong need to control one's environment and/or others usually indicates some deeper psychological issues related to one's unconscious views about oneself, others, and life/universe in general.
 

Zadius Sky

Ambassador
Ambassador
FOTCM Member
Just to note...

Hard copy of this book isn't available as this is her first ebook. Getting it through Amazon is best with Kindle. I had been putting off getting Kindle since I don't like reading on the computer screen since it hurts my eyes. But, then, using Kindle is interesting - I got to use the black background with white font - made it easier to read for a long period.

Here's her website on how to order her books and there is an "sample" on the bottom:

_http://www.aletaedwards.com/order-my-book.html

Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/Fear-Abyss-Healing-Perfectionism-ebook/dp/B004N636HG

fwiw
 

Improvise

Jedi Master
There is dream I had couple months ago that relates to idea of abyss. When I first read this thread,I immediately thought of this dream.

It started as sleep paralysis experience(I have these from time to time,and it's good chance their cause is connected to the ''Abyss'')
I tried to resist the paralysis and while it was happening, it seems I fell in dream in an instant,without realizing it at first.

I was in my house in the hallway. Then I became aware I'm dreaming and thought that the paralysis experience might still be in progress.
What happened then is,I was standing in the hallway and in front of me was tall dark figure pointing his forefinger towards me as if he was giving me orders.
I feared to look at him for some reason, but somehow I got strength to look at his face and I saw he has my face,it was me!
Only his eyes were very negative,like glowing with hate. There were all possible negative emotions in his eyes,not to mention the feeling I got from him.It was like he radiated negativity.
That whole thing didn't last much long and then I literally started to shrink in size in front of the dark man figure and then I woke up.

Funny thing is that the place in hallway where I was standing in dream is place where I stand in reality in front of the big mirror,and mirror is in the same place where my dark twin was standing.
Have I maybe had a glimpse of the Abyss? My opinion is that I have,especially since description of PCS personality fits my profile. Thank you :)
 

Mikey

The Living Force
Thank you so much for posting this, obyvatel. The excerpts describe my inner state very accurately, only I couldn't put my feelings in words before. This book is a must-read for me.
 

Jones

Jedi Council Member
I've just finished reading this and am thankful for another way to look at control issues. Most definitely helps to peel another layer of the onion.

I wonder about what other readers impressions are of what the author says about fantasizing?

I feel a little uneasy about that when I think of some who are so invested in their fantasies that they cannot see reality. I think I would have liked to see more written about the difference between fantasy and illusion.
 

obyvatel

The Living Force
Jones said:
I've just finished reading this and am thankful for another way to look at control issues. Most definitely helps to peel another layer of the onion.

I wonder about what other readers impressions are of what the author says about fantasizing?

I feel a little uneasy about that when I think of some who are so invested in their fantasies that they cannot see reality. I think I would have liked to see more written about the difference between fantasy and illusion.
The author's position is that many PCS people she has met have an innate reservation against fantasy. She argues both sides of the divide imo - stating where it can be useful and where it hinders engagement with real life.

There is a thread in the forum discussing positive dissociation which may be useful. From that thread

[quote author=Laura]
Our time spent in dissociation should enrich our lives, give us ideas about how to reshape our lives, change our programs, create new patterns of behavior, and so on. They should not be an escape that is only temporary, and when we emerge from it we are still trapped in our old feelings that we are helpless and unlovable.
[/quote]

I think the author of the book holds a similar view in general.
 

Jones

Jedi Council Member
Ok. Thanks for your explanation. :)

I wonder if fantasizing actually makes PCS people feel uneasy? Just curious because of my reaction to it.

I will go back and read the thread you linked again with a different different perspective.
 
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