Psychology and Psychiatry


Self-destruction of personality is the ideas, emotions, and behavioral patterns of a destructive nature directed at themselves. The self-destructive pattern can be realized in various formats, including physical self-harm, qualified as suicide attempts, chemical dependencies, disorders of the food spectrum; some cases of choice of extreme sports, risky sexual behavior, choice of work of increased danger; danger-provoking behavior, active self-incrimination and self-humiliation.

In psychology, speaking of self-destruction, the term “auto-aggression” (self-destruction) is used - auto- and aggression means a turn against oneself, in English - “turning against the self”. In the classification of psychological protection it refers to secondary defenses when a negative affect is redirected from an external object to itself, due to the undesirability of the manifestation to the outside.

When analyzing the ratio of the scales of types of aggression by valid methods, self-destruction does not correlate with other scales, which highlights the phenomenon among other features of aggression in personal psychology. Among personality types, it is most characteristic of depressive and masochistic personalities according to the Mc-Williams classification.

The desire for self-destruction is distinguished in various classifications:

- by area of ​​influence - physical, mental, social;

- according to the characteristics of the structure - ideator (idea, thoughts);

- affective (emotional experiences), behavioral;

- direct, mediated, transgressive (transient), extended;

- conscious, unconscious;

- on dynamics - acute, chronic (sluggish);

- transient, relapse, persistent (persistent, permanent), transforming, stable, progressive, regressing, and so on.

The variety of classifications is explained by the ambiguity and widespread manifestation of the phenomenon.

The reasons for self-destruction of personality

The popular opinion is that in a normal mental state, the tendency to self-destruction is not typical for a person, since it contradicts one of the basic instincts - self-preservation. Realizations of instinct are feelings of pain and fear, but there is no single concept of self-preservation in the scientific community. I. Pavlov believed that all reflexes have the function of self-preservation. I. Mechnikov, within the framework of the theory of orthobiosis, assumed that the instinct of self-preservation is replaced with the death instinct with age. K. Lorenz, an ethologist who studied the phenomenon of aggression, was also skeptical about self-preservation as a separate biological concept.

Freud had a slightly different view, who believed that man was a highly organized creature so that the basis of his behavior was based on the same foundation as other animals. He developed the theory of Sabina Spielrein about the desire of a living organism to return (restore) the primary (inorganic, inanimate) state - death drive. It determines the tendency to aggression and self-destruction, whereas the desire for life is determined by self-preservation.

Creative (libido) and destructive (mortido) - the fundamental impulses, there are fundamental mental world. The mortido energies were called destrudo, the magnitude and activity of which analysts explained practically all destructive motives in human behavior, as well as external aggressive behavior. According to a more modern follower of Freud M. Klein, the danger to the body, provoked by the death instinct, causes anxiety, reinforcing his explanation for reducing nervous tension by self-destruction. The idea was well received by Russian psychoanalysts of the beginning of the century; they were quite positively perceived by those who wrote the preface to the Russian edition of Freud, Beyond the Pleasure Principle, A. R. Luria and L. S. Vygotsky.

Theoretical models emphasizing the external conditionality of self-destruction occur the following necessary components: frustrated by internal conflict, a person who denies introjects and suppresses targeted aggression, a psycho-traumatic situation and destruction of expectations, increasing tension. Russian psychologist A. Rean in the study of aggression of adolescents proposed the concept of "auto-aggressive personality pattern". In the structure of the self-destructive personality pattern, sub-blocks are distinguished:

- characterological - self-destruction positively correlates with depression, demonstrativeness, neuroticity, introversion, pedantry;

- self-assessment - self-destruction reduces self-esteem and vice versa; interactive - the connection of self-destruction with the inability to social adaptation and interpersonal interactions;

- socially perceptual - self-destruction is higher, the more positively others are perceived in relation to themselves.

How to stop a person’s self-destruction program?

The tendency to self-destruction is a fairly common pattern of behavior in individuals who require psychological assistance. Since such behavior has a tendency to progression, and in the presence of patterns associated with bodily self-destruction or involving thoughts of suicidal or potentially suicidal acts, carries an immediate risk to life. The sooner a person turns for help, the more chances he will have for restoring balance. The environment should also be remembered that ignoring the self-destructive behavior of a loved one or avoiding specialized care, paying attention only to self-treatment, may, in the near or distant future, cost him his life. A common stereotype, which states that “real suicides do not declare their intention,” takes its roots precisely in hiding or ignoring episodic or systematic self-destructive behavior. Studies of suicidologists show that in a detailed analysis of only 10% of completed suicides in the behavior, words, and records of a suicide, no early indications of suicidal intent and desire for self-destruction were found.

At this stage, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and rational-emotional-behavioral therapy (REPT or rational therapy) are the most popular in the therapy of self-destruction. Psychodynamic directions, including psychoanalysis, provide a deeper, but sometimes longer, study.

How to save yourself from self-destruction? From self-destruction to the self-development of the individual, one has to overcome a difficult and, at times, a long stage. Although direct bodily self-harm most often draws attention to itself, any form can be fatal, since aggravation or a banal fatal accident can occur at any moment. To help a person go from self-destruction to self-development, psychologists develop various algorithms that allow a systematic approach to the problem.

Self-destruction - the path to freedom

After the publication, and later the screen version, of the cult novel of Fight Club by Chuck Pallanik, the quotation “Self-perfection - onanism. Self-destruction is really important” and the concept of self-development through destruction became popular. And although in some practices some elements of such behavior are actually used, one should not ignore that destructive behavior occurs under the control of experienced gurus, includes a deep philosophical concept, and the author himself has endowed the hero with personality disorder with a similar philosophy. In the prevailing cases, such behavior may be delayed and lead to fatal consequences, and requires therapeutic intervention.

The ABC model developed by cognitive therapist A. Ellis is quite popular in the therapy of self-destructive behavior.

"A" (eng. Activating events) - activators, events and situations that actualize the pattern of behavior,

"In" (English. Beliefs) - beliefs, beliefs, attitudes, interpretation of the event,

"C" (eng. Consequences) - the consequences, the result, the implemented pattern, in this case, self-destructive.

In the variant of surface obstruction C, it is necessary to correct it directly A. At a more effective level, realize the irrational B leading to C, and replace it with rational ones. In general, it is about the development of flexibility. "A", "B" and "C" are connected and cannot exist in isolation.

Art therapy includes projective techniques for identifying and changing the cause of the pattern. Successful integrative therapy of art techniques and psychodynamic study. The study is a mechanism, a tool in psychoanalytic therapy. The study is updated by the analyst and consists in the awareness of the analyst of the repressed psychic trauma leading to self-destruction and the further reconstruction of the identified chain of mental processes.

The study is updated on the session and continues after it on the conscious and unconscious levels, like a gradual restructuring of the intrapsychic links. Here is the difference from the idea of ​​acting out a symptom (hypnotherapy), and from the idea of ​​insight (instant insight and decision through awareness). The rapid disappearance of the pattern of self-destruction is allowed, but there remains a tendency to return to self-destructive behavior, in a modified or unchanged form, because the illusion of “understanding the problem = solving” is not effective in the long term. This problem is technically solved with the help of elaboration. For the most effective therapy should consult a specialist.