Self-destructive behaviours | Self-defeating behaviours
Self-handicapping | Self-sabotage | Self-harm


SELF-DESTRUCTION is one of seven basic character flaws or “dark” personality traits. 
We all have the potential for self-destructive tendencies, but in people with a strong fear of losing self-control, Self-Destruction can become a dominant pattern.


What Is Self-Destruction?

Self destruction is usually defined as “The voluntary destruction of something by itself.”

In human personality terms, we are really talking about counter-productive and ultimately self-destructive behaviour patterns which can cause oneself irreparable harm or damage, either deliberately or inadvertently. It’s an umbrella term for a variety of self-damaging tendencies in the personality: from doing things that always seem to backfire, to habitual self-harm, to suicidal recklessness.

As with the opposite trait of greed, self-destruction represents a dysfunction in a person’s fundamental relationship with life.

Despicable me

With greed, the person feels that there is something missing from their own life that must be constantly obtained from outside. With self-destruction, however, the person feels that there is something fundamentally bad within their life, or within their very soul, and that this part of their existence needs to be kept under strict control.

It may be part of oneself that once suffered unbearable abuse or damage, perhaps way back in childhood. To remember this part of the self is just too painful.

Moreover, “There is something about me” — an anxious young person may imagine — “that must have provoked or attracted or deserved such treatment, for why else would it have happened?”  To give expression to this part of oneself once more could simply cause the same traumatic experiences to happen again.

For example, if my physical body attracts abuse, then maybe I should make it disappear by not eating.

Another good name for self-destruction could be self-denial. There is a splitting of the personality in which any expression or exposure of this “thing in me” is to be suppressed by any means possible. The person feels that this part must be kept under strict control, hidden from everyday life at all costs.

Varieties of Self-Destruction

The most widespread forms of self-destructive behaviour are eating disorders, alcohol abuse, drug abuse and gambling addiction. The most direct form of self-destruction is deliberate physical self-injury or self-harm, the ultimate manifestation of which is deliberate suicide.


Deliberate self-injury is common in young people worldwide. It is also linked with borderline personality disorder in adulthood, a chronic and difficult to treat condition characterized by impulsive behaviours, mood instability and high rates of suicide. In fact, self-injurers are about 75 times more likely to kill themselves.

Researchers have discovered a common pattern in such behaviour (see the diagram Precursors to Self Injury, below). The trigger (or “final straw”) is often a threat of separation, rejection or disappointment in life. This adds to feelings of overwhelming tension, isolation, self-hatred, and apprehension about being unable to control one’s own emotions. The increasing anxiety culminates in a frightening sense of unreality and emptiness that ultimately produces an emotional numbness or depersonalization. Self-injury is a primitive means for combating the emotional numbness.


It is as if, by replacing their emotional pain with a physical one, life becomes more bearable. It is also easier for them to demonstrate that they are in pain when the injury is visible and physical rather than “just psychological”.

The element of “destruction” need not be literal or physical, however. For example, self-destruction can take the form of self-sabotage or self-defeating behaviours—continually doing things which are bound to lead to one’s own failure or downfall.
In short, there is a spectrum of self-destructive behaviours, from the mild to the fatal.

Famous Examples

Fiona AppleFiona Apple (b. 1977) is a Grammy-winning American singer-songwriter. At the age of twelve, Fiona was raped on her way home from school.

For years after her rape she would check her closets to make sure no one was hiding in the house and would be nervous around older men. And she still continues to have bad, violent dreams.

During her teens and the months she spent making her album, Tidal, she suffered with an eating disorder. Frustrated at the misunderstanding by the media of her eating disorder she attempted to explain it in a 1998 Rolling Stone interview,

I was really depressed and self-loathing. For me, it wasn’t about being thin, it was about getting rid of the bait attached to my body. A lot of it came from the self-loathing that came from being raped at the point of developing my voluptuousness. I just thought that if you had a body and if you had anything on you that would be grabbed, it would be grabbed. So I did purposely get rid of it.

Other famous cases include:

  • Vincent Van Gogh
  • Sid Vicious
  • Kurt Cobain
  • Diana, Princess of Wales
  • Michael Jackson
  • Marilyn Manson
  • Christina Ricci
  • Amy Winehouse
  • Lindsay Lohan

Note that there is an added complication for self-destructive celebrities. The more they self-harm or take unhealthy risks with their lives, the more negative attention and publicity they generate. As a result, the more successful they become (selling more records or whatever). This merely adds to the vicious circle of self-destruction. It’s as if the entire world wants to know all about their private issues and inner conflicts.

A d v e r t i s e m e n t

Development of Self-Destruction

Like all negative personality traits, self-destruction typically develops through the following sequence:

  1. Early negative experiences
  2. Misconceptions about the nature of self, life or others
  3. A constant fear and sense of insecurity
  4. A maladaptive strategy to protect the self
  5. A persona to hide all of the above in adulthood

Early Negative Experiences

In the case of self-destruction, the early negative experiences typically consist of a childhood abuse or trauma over which the child had no control. This kicks off the self-destructive behaviour, while lack of secure parental attachment helps maintain it.

Perhaps the father was a drunk who came home every night in a violent rage. Perhaps the mother was mentally unstable and would attack her children for no apparent reason. Or perhaps school teachers imposed a severe regime involving random punishments. The key factor leading to a self-destructive pattern is the child’s inability to control the onslaught of harm.

In addition, one or both parents may have been unable or unwilling to give the love, care and attention that were naturally craved by the child. So the child would have felt fundamentally alone in this terror, as well as feeling helpless to do anything about it.


From such experiences of life as harsh, unpredictable and beyond control, the child comes to perceive ‘life’ as a horrible place and ‘self’ as a magnet for pain. Hence:

If life is so cruel then it is not worth living.
I wish I had never been born.

Being hurt so much means that I must be bad. Perhaps I don’t deserve to live.


Along on such ideas, the child becomes gripped by a complex fear — the fear of losing control. There are all sorts of ways in which this fear manifests —

  • losing control of one’s boundaries in intimate relationships;
  • losing control of the memory of trauma;
  • losing control of whichever part of oneself “attracts” trauma;
  • losing control of the urge to destroy that part of oneself once and for all.

In other words, the child is terrified of —

  1. repeating an earlier trauma,
  2. expressing whatever part of himself might attract such trauma, and
  3. unleashing his own desire to punish or eliminate that part of himself.

Those caught in self-destruction are thus embroiled in inner conflict.


There are various strategies for coping with this complex issue, but the key is to maintain control of something.

My survival depends upon me taking back control of my life.

One increasingly common route, particularly among adolescent girls, is to take control of eating as a way to “suppress” the physical self. This is the basis of the condition known as anorexia nervosa.

Anxiety compels us to find some sort of self-protection, to feel that there is some way we can control what happens to us. But in many families, especially those with a stifling or oppressive atmosphere, there is simply no room for an anxious child undergoing puberty to exercise control over anything around them. Their very anxiety may be seen as an embarrassment, something to be hidden and never discussed.

So “substitute controls” start to appear, like obsessive-compulsive habits and superstitions. In effect, the need for control turns inwards. It’s like saying, “If I can’t do anything to this family, at least I can do something to myself.”

In many cases, mostly female, a sense of freedom and control is found in the act of eating — or rather, the choice to not eat. The ideal of being stick-thin, free from the desire to eat, seems to tick several boxes at once: “I get to be super-attractive, I feel a sense of personal power, I get a lot of attention from the rest of my family, and they have no way to take back control over my refusing to eat what they give me.”

In a metaphorical way, it’s like saying to the family, “I can’t stomach this any longer.”

Because they actually enjoy feeling some sense of control over their own lives, some self-destructive types will keep testing and pushing their degree of control—How much alcohol can I drink at once? Can I drink even more than the last time? How many drugs can I take and not die? How fast can I drive a motorbike and get away with it?

Every time they survive such an experience, it merely bolsters their belief that control in the face of danger is a necessary strategy. It’s like a superstition — So long as I’m wearing a yellow hat, no bears will eat me. But this false sense of control merely begs the question, prompted by the same fear: Is that the limit of my control? Or can I take an even bigger risk?

The constant need to push the edge of control, plus the fear of losing control and thereby experiencing both powerlessness and pain inside oneself, creates inner conflict and a rising tension which demands to be relieved. Being successful in life in whatever way will only serve to increase the tension, since there is even more need to keep everything bottled up and under control.

The self-destructive person may be therefore caught in a cycle between periods of grim self-control and explosive episodes in which a valve blows and some component of the conflict is set free.

The person is also likely to become addicted to these brief moments of relief, however destructive they may be in the long run.

For example, relief may be found in episodes of binge drinking. A massive dose of alcohol serves as an anaesthetic, eliminating the state of conflict, tension and terror for a while. It does nothing to resolve the basic underlying conflict or pain, however. In fact, the awful consequences of binge drinking merely serve to reinforce the fear of losing control at another level. And yet the brief relief it provides is irresistible to the point of becoming addictive.

All people are capable of this kind of behaviour. When it dominates the personality, however, one is said to have a chief feature of self-destruction.


Emerging into adulthood, a self-destructive young person probably does not want go around being overtly fearful, conflicted and self-destructive. Hence, the chief feature puts on a public mask which says to the world something like, “Everything’s under control. I only act this way because I want to.” “It’s just a bit of fun.” “I am naturally wild and reckless.” “I’m such a fearless rebel.” In other words, he or she tries to make the behaviour seem positive or cool, rather than a reaction to inner terror.

I think that self-destructiveness can also mean self-reflection, can mean poetic sensibility, it can mean empathy, it can mean a hedonism and a libertarianism and a lack of judgement.

- Courtney Love

Like all chief features of false personality, self-destruction is a vicious circle—only in this case, the end result tends to be fatal. Early intervention is therefore crucial. The real danger is when the person with self-destruction starts to believe their own lie. At that point, the chief feature has won and the most likely outcome is an early death.

Positive and Negative Poles

In the case of self-destruction, the positive pole is termed SACRIFICE and the negative pole is termed IMMOLATION or SUICIDE.

Self-destruction poles

Sacrifice brings the habit of self-destruction under conscious control. It is a willingness to deliberately give up or lose something for a good reason, or for a good cause, rather than out of pure fear.

Sacrifice literally means “make sacred”, in the sense of making an offering to the gods. For example, virtually every primitive society in history has included animal sacrifice as part of its religion. A sacrificial offering can be as cheap and as simple as a flower or a stick of incense. Or it can be as valuable as one’s own life. The more valuable the offering, the greater the sacrifice and the more highly it is regarded.

Today we use sacrifice more generically to describe giving something up, doing without, accepting a minor loss as a way to avoid a greater loss, or in anticipation of later gain. For example, when playing chess we might sacrifice a pawn as a way to avoid losing the game.

A person with a chief feature of self-destruction can at least feel good every now and then about giving something up for the best. For example, instead of automatically sabotaging a new relationship, as is their habit, they can be open about it and offer to drop the relationship from the start, and thereby spare the other person later misery. An honest offering to another is more powerful than insidious self-sabotage.

Immolation also means sacrifice, especially ritual sacrifice by fire, but in this context we are talking about self-sacrifice or suicide.

In the early 1960s, many Vietnamese Buddhist monks set fire to themselves in protest at the then ruling regime. Western news media referred to these suicides as acts of “self-immolation”. In these cases, however, the manner of death is closer to martyrdom (suicide as a protest) than self-destruction (suicide as a relief).

In terms of the chief feature of self-destruction, immolation implies physical loss of life, either slowly or quickly, as a way to eliminate the conflict. For example, one person might drink himself to death over the course of a decade, while another might simply slash his wrists.

According to World Health Organization (WHO) estimates, in the year 2000, approximately one million people died from suicide, and 10 to 20 times more people attempted suicide worldwide. This represents one death every 40 seconds and one attempt every 3 seconds, on average. Suicide is now one of the three leading causes of death among young people. More people around the world are now dying from suicide than from armed conflict.

The majority of suicides occur in a context of psychological upheaval or crisis. In 90% of cases of actual suicide, a mental disorder prior to the event such as major depression can be identified. Studies of children and adolescents who commit suicide have found not only show a strong prevalence of stressful life events combined with mental disorder (depression, bipolar) but also a level of antisocial behaviour (unwillingness to comply with normal rules) and often an excessive consumption of alcohol or other drugs. In other words, suicide is more likely when a self-destructive tendency is reinforced or enabled through intoxication.

Handling Self-Destruction

As with every negative character feature, the key to handling self-destruction is becoming conscious of how it operates in oneself. Begin with the mask or persona:

  • Do I try to get others to perceive me as carefree, wild, crazy?
  • Do I tend to take risks and act recklessly more than others?

Try to catch yourself in the act of putting on your “devil-may-care” mask or whatever it is for you.

Then dig deeper:

  • Underneath that outer facade, am I really trying to keep everything under control?
  • It’s like I constantly need to prove that I am in total control. Why do I do this? What am I afraid of?
  • Why do I sometimes feel like I’d be better off dead? Is there some part of me that is unbeable or unacceptable?
  • What do I fear would happen if I opened up to this “other” me?
  • Do I just wish others could see, understand and accept the pain I am in?

Approaching the deepest level you may need outside help in the form of a counsellor, therapist or at least a close friend, perhaps even a psychiatrist, especially if you are tackling memories of abuse:

  • Where does this fear come from?
  • How was I hurt?

Just as you can become more aware of self-destructiveness through personal observation and self-enquiry, so too you can gain more control over it through that awareness and by exercising choice in the moment.

  • Whenever I am tempted to harm myself, I can ask myself what message I am trying to send to others. Then I can look for ways to convey that message more explicitly and skilfully.

Another way to handle a dominant negative trait (chief feature) is to “slide” to the positive pole of its opposite. When caught in the grip of immolation or suicide, the negative pole of self-destruction, balance can be found in the positive pole of greed, namely egoism, desire or appetite. In other words, you give attention to what you actually need or want, and communicate that to others.

Further Reading

Transforming Your Dragons

For an excellent book about the various negative patterns and how to handle them, see Transforming Your Dragons by José Stevens.

The Self-Sabotage Cycle For something more specifically about self-destruction, try: The Self-Sabotage Cycle (“Why we repeat behaviours that create hardships and ruin relationships”), by Stanley Rosner and Patricia Hermes.

A useful online information resource on self-destructive and self-harming behaviour is the Suicide and Mental Health Association International ( It also includes a list of international hotlines.

There are also various online support groups for those affected by self-harm, self-injury, suicide or suicidal thoughts. An excellent starting point would be

An informative article is Some kids like to hurt themselves at CNN Opinion by psychlogy professor Theodore Beauchaine.

A recent (Sept 2010) article at The kids aren’t all right. Self-harming on the rise? Reports indicate non-suicidal self-injury becoming more prevalent.

For a TV item on the (pop) psychology of self-destructive celebrities, see:

76 Responses to “Self-Destruction”

  1. 1 Debbie Danoy 17 Nov 2009 at 5:12 pm

    Very informative arcticle..I got a lot of good information.

    • 2 KBoot 16 Jun 2014 at 2:41 pm

      Don, i know that you feel that no one can say or do anything to help you, that’s partially correct because we can only help ourselves. But you know what Don, people do care. People are human and humanity comes with an awful lot of distractions. If we could only learn how to stop and just see one another, feel each other and help one another through this crazy life, we’d all be so much better off. i read what you wrote and i felt your pain and wished i could sit and listen and comfort you and even hug you, if you allowed. The good thing is that you stopped and wrote about it, that’s a great step on a good direction. Letting the feelings out is a good thing, good and bad feelings. Sad or happy, it always helps to write about them because then you free yourself a little at a time. Take baby steps Don, each day. Try to be thankful for who you are today. No one can undo the past. I know I can’t, you can’t and I’m sure no one else can. Focus on what you can do today. Dwell only on what makes you happy, not sad. When I walk backward, I stumble, heck I can’t even chew gum and walk at the same time. But if you walk forward (without gum in my case) you will find that you stumble a bit less each day. I hope you are doing better Don. BIG SLOPPY HUG from me to you!

  2. 3 Don Vietnam vet. 03 Jun 2011 at 4:42 am

    I am in the deep throws of self destruction. I work with my councellor at the Va hospital in Topeka, Ks. I have PTSD and most of what I am mentally down about is life before and during my periods of well as trama due to things after the service. The VA is helping out a lot so far, but not in the area of self destruction. I am 64 and I did not start getting help until resently. I can relate to what you write here and it is true for me. But it can not correct things of the past. Criminal things that can not be corrected. I alone carry the guilt that is destroying me in side. It is taking me down this path that I fear deeply. I do not want to live any more. I just have not found the power to end it yet. I wonder what it would be like to be accepted in society and looked on as useful in stead of better off dead. It is lonely inside here, but better then hurting any one again. Here I only have to live with my own hate for the things I have done. Out there I am not wanted. Here? It is only me. no one else. Here too, are many other ID seekers wanting to destroy some ones life even more. The internet has taken hope away too. I often ask why I was even born. Just so you know I will be discussing this in the morning in one on one at the VA. Thank you. No reply is neccesary. No one can feel my pain they have their own to deal with.

    • 4 barry 03 Jun 2011 at 9:30 am

      Don, my heart goes out to you.

      It saddens me that you, and so many others like you, continue to be haunted by past misdeeds, and the current conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq are certainly adding to the problem.

      I don’t have much new to offer except to say that when we do bad things to others it is only out of our ignorance and immaturity at that time. If we recognized and understood the truth of others – as beings in their own right – we would not do such things. But we are born ignorant, and learning takes time, and sometimes we learn the “wrong” way at the expense of others.

      One thing I know is that everyone deserves forgiveness, no matter what they have done. But … it’s all very well me sitting here at my desk saying that. I know that self-forgiveness is a mountain to climb. I hope you are getting the help you need – i.e. being able to talk openly and honestly, and being listened to without judgment.

      Perhaps you’ve considered this already, but would it help to do something to make amends in some way, such as volunteering to help the people of VietNam today?

      If you look elsewhere on this website you’ll see that I subscribe to a spiritual perspective that includes the concept of reincarnation. From this perspective, learning the truth of our being – our own and others’ – is not just a lifetime’s project but a many lifetimes’ project.

      We all do terrible things to others over the course of our learning. The first thing we must come to understand is that doing so was indeed a terrible thing to do. The second thing to understand is that we did so out of ignorance – i.e. because at the time we did not know better, and it just seemed like the right thing to do from our limited, immature perspective. We come to forgive ourselves. Finally, it might help to know that in the cosmic scheme of things atrocious actions are all part of the mix – not desirable, but unavoidable in this world, and always forgiven.

      • 5 Kins 16 Jul 2012 at 8:50 am

        Barry and anyone who feels alone or no hope in being forgiven. This might sound silly, but look to the Lord. Christ has suffered for your sins and has been with you always. If you turn to Him he will be there.

        I have tried to commit suicide, been raped, beat, verbally abused and had one of my beautiful children born 3 months early because of my life style. Until I accepted Christ in my life and sought forgiveness for my sins, I didnt know peace. I testify to you that God loves you, you are important to Him. He wants you to live, He wants you to suceed. Satan does not. Find someplace, some church that you feel peace at. I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints “mormon”. You can go to and find answers, find peace. You can have the missionaries come talk to you in your home and teach you the true and everlasting gospel. It will change your life. It did mine and still continues to. If not this church somewhere you can be shown your worth. You are no lesd than anyone you walk by on the street. God made you, and God does not make mistakes. He can help you feel whole again, He can help you forgive yourself and have peace. I know our Savior lives and can bring you the same comfort He has brought me. Look for Him, we are blessed everyday. Whether it be a phone call from a friend, a dollar found on the street, or a feeling that things can be different. God is with you.
        Praying for you and hoping you can see your worth as I can see your worth, not even knowing you, but just by reading your humble post. God is merciful! May you always be blessed.

        • 6 barry 16 Jul 2012 at 9:54 am

          Thanks Kins.

        • 7 jennym 20 Oct 2013 at 10:55 pm

          Sorry but Christ can’t clean up a criminal record …. that is there for all eternity no matter how much it shouldn’t be there or can be explained :(

    • 8 jackie 28 Oct 2012 at 10:30 pm

      Don, when you write “no reply is necessary and no one can feel my pain” I have to disagree with you. A reply is necessary because you are sincere, real, and asking for relief. And I feel your pain. Your pain is felt through your post. And I feel it. Others you meet feel your pain but most people run from it so they can avoid their own pain. Let them. You dont need their understanding or empathy. Instead you can understand and empathize with them. Get to a mindframe where you dont ask life anymore for answers but see how life is asking you for the answer. If you cannot find any meaning for your pain then it will be intolerable. I hope you are alive and well. Much love. jackie

    • 9 cdub 09 Mar 2014 at 5:23 pm

      I invite you Don to check out MKP in Kansas City unless there is one in Topeka. Very helpful work with many men who share similar feelings.

  3. 10 Sharan 07 Aug 2011 at 7:17 pm

    I want to kill myself because someone has done Black Magic to me.

    • 11 barry 07 Aug 2011 at 9:15 pm

      It only works if you believe it.

      • 12 violettecolette 31 Dec 2011 at 12:20 am

        I like the way you think!

      • 13 sue harris 13 Jan 2013 at 4:33 pm

        i dont know commas, where they go and stuff, but i can spell
        i’m 59 now and all my life i have been used and abused by the people that were supposed to love me
        i am still to this day being abused verbally by my 3 children most of the time i have 4 kid’s but i had these kid’s from the age of 19 but mostly being raped by my husband then ganged raped by 3 then had another child the 4th
        i went to church today and now i am crying again i have been crying all my life
        i have no family that speak to me no friends
        i had a friend that killed herself over 10yrs ago
        when i clean for people they treat me like a slave
        there’s so much it’s so exhausting to keep caring about people when there is no-one to care about me
        alone i feel so alone no-one to turn to ever in my life
        i used to drink and take prescibed tabs i used to drink loads
        dont know more i have read loads on here today about other people have read loads of peoples books on how they have been treated
        i was brought up in homes and places then sent back home to be abused and the pattern goes it’s like i dont want to kill myself yet that is how i will end my life
        god cannot make people care about others if they are not caring people i’ve been told
        i never done anything wrong so why does it feel like it then
        and people will get there comeuppance i dont know what that means apart from i’m having to live like i do

        • 14 barry 15 Jan 2013 at 1:57 pm

          Dear Sue

          Many thanks for sharing your incredibly difficult life story.

          My sense is that you are by nature a caring, serving, giving person*, and I would agree with the idea that not everyone is made like that. You could say that God did not make us all the same, but for good reason. We are all learning different lessons through our differences in character.

          The spiritual lesson, or “challenge,” for selfish people is to become less selfish and more caring. On the other hand, for people like yourself who are naturally caring, I think the challenge is to find how to be yourSELF – a giving soul – but without giving your SELF away. Does that make sense? The problem is that, in a world in which there is a lot of greed and selfishness about, your caring nature leaves you open to exploitation. But it doesn’t have to. You can command respect. For some reason, the people you have been surrounded by are not respecting you as an individual human being. You have a gift for giving, but do you have a voice that says, “I deserve and I demand to be treated with respect”?

          It strikes me that you could really benefit from having more community contact and heart-felt support with like-minded people. I imagine that you find some solace and comfort in church, though something to think about, perhaps, is: have you found the right church? Are you getting enough loving support and contact?

          You might also be able to find such support with other people in similar situations, on the internet. Try googling, for example, “forum for women victims of domestic abuse” or something similar.

          I truly hope something works out for you soon.

          * see

          • 15 sue harris 20 Jan 2013 at 9:33 pm

            hi barry
            when i read what you wrote it made me cry why because someone actually listened to me for once
            you say i can command respect if i do that people think i am causing trouble or if i had,had a drink, used to say it was the drink talking although i used to think it made me stronger it these people that have sexually abused me in the family the one’s that think i am the person who is in the wrong for being me they dont know that i am talking about the sexual abuse at all when they are in the wrong for sexually abusing me
            i could write so much here but it wont be fair on you to have to read so much
            i dont find or havn’t found solace in church
            i didnt go today as we have had 5 or inches of snow so i am not going out in it
            i had a bad childhood but my marriage destroyed me
            my kid’s really have hurt me so much ruined me so much tell me i am not worth anything yet keep coming back to take off me and bring their partners to do it also so they then start abusing me verbally
            i havnt spoken about my life until a few years ago bits and pieces only because when you have got no-one to talk to you have to keep it all locked inside and then when you bring it all out i still have to cope with what i hsve been through in life and without anyone that loves me or even likes me
            it’s so very stressful to think that you have to kill yourself to please others
            i’ve nearly done it a few time’s when i was really young i took some sleepers and drink with no intention of killing myself but with the state of my mind this is it isen’t it whta’s in your mind about people
            my mum used to beat me all the time starve me shut me cupboards make the rest of them beat me too
            i have two daughters 1 from my marriage of 11 yrs
            she left when i told my husband i didn;t love him no more
            she dindt leave me right away he had a court order every 3rd weekend he turned up when he felt like it then he came here first to take a son but that son didnt want to know or go with him
            then he came back a year or so later then ask if the daughter could go for a few days with him and his new wife but he didnt want my daughter to love me but his new partner and thats how it went
            she wanted to come back to me once she knew that it wasnt going to be as good living with him as she thought it would be
            i couldnt take her back in my life and the other kids because she put a hole in my heart it was like a death losing her
            my son’s stayed with me but now im taking the blame for everything
            he never looked after them never brought christmas birthday pressies i’ve done it all and now they are making me feel so bad
            and my daughter that wasnt from him went to live with the daughter that had already left me she went on drugs
            the oldest was married but couldnt have any for ten yrs so she saw me and jan my youngest one getting on so well she wanted to destroy that
            so i lost two daughters not one because when they were together they wouldnt speak to me and my yougest that went to live with the oldest in other words she was allowed to have something to do with her sister my daughter but i wasnt now
            i didnt go to both of my daughters wedding and the abuse goes on now with the granchildren
            i dont know what to do about all this
            they tell me to stop talking about the past things between us that have gone wrong but then they are allowed to talk about it
            i feel that they have knocked every little bit of life out of me see
            i have given up smoking i had a heart attack about nearly 3 yrs ago i dont drink so what now is there any hope
            my mum and dad died recently and on top of that my youngest tried to kill herself but it was a fake attempt she didnt take as many tabs as she said
            then since i have lost 5 little dogs all in a matter of 4 yrs 5 maybe
            so i#m left now with no-one that i like but dont know how to make any friends
            i live off benefits
            it’s all unfair i have spent my life bringing 4 kids up and with all the abuse i have put up with just exist
            how come no one was to blames for what they have done to me
            i will accept any help but it’s not easy to trust anyone
            thankyou for listening barry i will look forward to your reply

            • 16 sue harris 20 Jan 2013 at 9:41 pm

              also now my kid’s are going to get talking to each other but i’m not included
              i feel scarred in a way yet i dont know what i have done wrong
              my oldest keeps saying your not the centre of the universe
              he’s never spoke to me like this
              he is about to remarry and live’s in australia
              it’s just all too much and yet being alone is too much

              • 17 sue harris 21 Jan 2013 at 11:55 am

                hi i forgot to say this
                is there more chance of commiting suicide if it has happened in the family before
                my dad or so i’m told he found his mum hanging when he was 9 then i have heard is was another way
                either way it was suicide

                • 18 barry 22 Jan 2013 at 10:49 am

                  Hi Sue

                  Again, thanks for saying how it is for you. To me, your life situation sounds appalling, tragic and unfair.

                  Suicide – yes, I believe it is more likely if it has happened before in one’s family, simply because one is more aware of it as an option. Also, members of dysfunctional families can get very competitive in odd, irrational ways – there’s a possibility that if one person commits suicide, another will do the same so as not to “lose the argument”.

                  In terms of finding peace of mind, I would emphasise that it is important that you be able to express the unexpressed stuff that has been knotted up inside you over many years. Your terrible experiences, your bad feelings, and how all this has affected your state of mind – it is all “better out than in.”

                  It is also important that you can share it with someone who is able and willing to listen, accept and understand what you have to say, and not just shoot back at you with some sort of counter-argument or harsh judgement.

                  It is possible that just writing about your experiences and difficulties on a public website like this can be of some benefit. I am certainly willing to listen, accept and understand. But this is just a start, and I do think it would be better for you if you could see and speak to someone in person – a counsellor, a vicar, a social worker, whatever.

                  Also, although I am a good listener I am not always able to come up with good advice … I sometimes find that the right thing to say just comes to me if I try not to think too much about it, but not always.

                  My sense of you as a person, Sue, is that there are two key things missing from your life. On the one hand, you seem to lack comfort and care, someone to pick you up after you fall down, someone to look after you and sympathise with you. A mum, I suppose.

                  And on the other hand, you may also lack someone with a clear sense of purpose, a mentor who can point you in the right direction and urge you along, encouraging you to take some sort of action with your various family members, or simply within yourself.

                  On that note – I can see how you have come to this page on self-destruction. What occurs to me, though, is that you might also get some insight from the page on martyrdom:
                  It is quite a challenging description. It isn’t meant to be unsympathetic, just “appropriately challenging”. If I’m way off-target with pointing you to that, my apologies. But I have a feeling that there might be something there for you to think about.

                  I suspect that you have been “in the wrong” in the eyes of those around you for most of your life. This is bound to feel unfair and also cause you to feel resentment, though perhaps you have never felt able to express that and get away with it. You appear to have become trapped in the role of “abuse victim”, to the extent that you might not be able to see very far beyond it.

                  That’s NOT to say that the abuse you have suffered is in any way your fault rather than theirs – it’s just that abuse seems to have become such an ever-present thing in your life, you may not be seeing or attracting any other options.

                  See it as food for thought, and if it doesn’t resonate at all, then so be it. Either way, feel free to let me know what you think.


                  • 19 sue 09 Mar 2013 at 10:19 pm

                    hello barry this will be my third time in writing to you both times so far I have written and it had taken me at least a few hours each time but then when I go to send it I loose it so this is the 3rd time now but it wont won the same the first lot was to a follow on to what I had been talking to you about already I have read on martyrdom and I suppose in a way yes that was me and I would of killed myself a long time back because and for in otherwords for what people were doing to me and yes because it felt that’s what people want me to i don’t know why i sign into the selfdestruction column now as i don’t smoke don’t drink don’t do anything just take a load of tabs for my heart i feel although now i am writing ok at the moment i feel that i am having a nervous break down days of crying weeks months years of punishment because my 26year old daughter wants to know who her dad is i have 4 3 are from a marriage then i didn’t know what was going on in my life after and all these years from the age of 19 really i had sex with a few people then i liked one bloke so he had just finished with me having sex then he got two of his mates to get and do it with me he said to them be careful with me so still think that i know who my daughters dad is going by what he left all over me i only went down to my friend’s house to get coffee as i had ran out she was in my house and i was really drunk so he had sex with me so i was not capable of saying anything actually but he never wanted to know so i met someone that i was getting on and was going to marry himwell so he said but kept getting him self put in prison which was the Christmas day that he was coming to ask me to marry him buttold her he was in prison in the end for manslaughter we between us if we were marrying he was going to be living with me and my daughter and would of been a farther figure i have told all this to my daughter all the truth only the truth but she never even asked me anything about a dad ever she went to live with the daughter that had already left us all at home to go to live with her dad but she didn’t just want her dad in her life she wanted me also but she broke my heart leaving me it was like a death it didn’t last long with her dad and his new wife my daughter wanted her dad in her life not a mum she already had me but she never told them that so she gave her life to them and they ruined it as they all didn’t get on my this daughter has been punishing me for years now when i ive just type over some of this i hope you will understand this as i don’t want to start again i have only a councellor to speak to on a Thursday when she is away then i don’t talk about things my daughter when i told her about being gang raped she said you slut she is so aggressive towards me and she is worse now since she has been married what just over a year she is in Germany at the moment she made her partner go in the army a few yrs agoand she has been like this but worse now since she has been with him i was in my little gransons life before he was i was at his birth aswell his eyes lit up when he saw me and the same with me i loved him dearly as he lived with me everyday for 11 months aswell now she has taken him out of my life and the granddaughter now to until i treat her and her husband better i have done nothing but good for these people she met her now husband he was what 25 and my god that was it i knew nothing anymore my poor little grandson kept smacking his head when he first was in his life where he was more excited than my little grandson being together he was only in his life what a few weeks when he demanded the little boy to he used to sit him on the arm chair he was 11 months nearly and jump him down and tell him to say daddy say daddy so that was me out of that little boys life really but i wasn’t aware that i wasn’t seeing the kids or my daughter nomore until a few months now weeks reallythey were all here well my daughter and the kids and she was fine but since she has been back she is just so aggressive towards and i don’t see the kids on Skype now she runs me down so much telling me im a slut that they would all be better of without me she wishes i would drop dead i have put it on face book for people the men that raped me they know who they or to come forward so a dna can be taken and that my daughter can know her dad im not saying allthe things that she says how can a person be so hateful yet she meets people then tells me how much better they are than me when she has just met them she tells me that i have been evil to my other daughter she tells me that my son went to austr\lia to get away from me she blocks me on face book then unblocks me when she wants to attack me again now she tells me my grandson hates me when she first got with her partner she told me i have my family now and kayden can be loved properly now and she didn’t want anything to do with me yet she borrows money of me i sent them loads for Christmas all sorts she just has not got a good word to say about me yet before she went to live with her sister well they didn’t really know each other because 1 is 38 or 39 and the other one is 27 next month ow and now when i buy their pressies as i always have he has said her partner now my daughter does say that i buy her and the kids i have always enjoyed giving them things that’s what mums and nans are for i loved it as soon as they knew they were going into the army they run up loads of bills and left them at my address and since they have been away they have done more their name my address my oldest daughter caused all this she was determined to take my younger daughter away from me she said that she couldn’t wait til she was 18 so that i would nt be able to tell her what to do but she wanted to tell her my daughter was married and they were all taking drugs all sorts speed those tabs all sorts ans she started drinking smoking going out with men got married i didn’t go to that wedding just like none of us went to the older daughters wedding im just so exhausted with all of this yet don’t have anyone to speak to until thurs one of my sons don’t speak to me anymore as my youngest invited him and his wife and little daughter to her wedding and her sister and wom ever but not me i feel so drained being blamed for every thing i am trying to write out write a book 13 pages so far just saying what comes out of me not all in order ages i only remember a few in my life what help do you think i need am i a bad person i cantstop crying again now i didn’t mean or purposely go and have another baby i already had 3 but she herself went and slept with 3 out of the same family and they had kids one had 3 and 1 had 1 and the other had none but she bragged about what she had done yet she makes me so angry and so very sad with what she says can you help

                    • 20 anthony 31 Mar 2013 at 7:23 am

                      Dear Sue, I’ve read all of your posts and shed some tears, I had poorly treated my mum my whole teenage life. growing up thinking it was ok to call my mother slut slag whore I told her how I wish she wasn’t my mum and I wished she was dead. I didn’t mean any of the words just the anger behind them for not getting my own way I used to think she started arguments for enjoyment but I know now it’s her illness. My mum suffers with chronic depression and schizophrenia and has tried overdosing more times than I can remember. About 2 year’s ago I was sat in my flat on a comedown and read into how her mental illness affects her and what caused her illness. I knew she had been attacked and raped when she was 15 and I was struck with a sudden overwhelming feeling of guilt, tears burst from my eyes and I felt like I could have collapsed. I have caused my mum so much stress and intentionally hurt her mentally. Her quality of life through medication , losing my dad and not heAring from him and the general social stigma etc I called my mum straight away as I was desperate for her to know how sorry I was and didn’t mean the things I called her and have always loved her more than anyone on this earth even though weve always had arguments it was my ignorance to see things from her perspective that I said such horrible things and shouted at her. I moved out of my mums when i was 15 I’m 21 now and hardly saw my mum for about 4 years while I was taking drugs and blocking out reality and the truth. I hope you can understand my writing because I havent slept for 3 days.I moved away from my mums because she would ring the police and get me removed for the night because I would smash plates and get in her face so I moved out to save the arguments and I met my first love who asked me to move in with him. We were the perfect couple from day 1 best friends so I wanted to spend my life with him. I found it hard to cope with hearing about how my mum had gone downhill since I left so I never thought about it and tried getting on as normal. Your children might not think about their childhood and seen distant but I can assure you it’s because they find it easier to be negative than realising your pain and their own guilt because it’s too much to handle. I cried when I thought about u trying your best and receiving so much negativity and feeling abandoned and hated by your own kids, you are stronger than you think. I’m sorry to hear you have been abused please don’t let yourself believe you aren’t loved on this earth if I was to meet you I would give you the biggest hug and would sit and chat for hours. I have got serious lifestyle issues and self destruction problems which I need to change but i think I may need a psychiatrist or councillor. I hope you can find it easier to cope knowing people care. Take care and il try my best to reply I wrote this on my mobile phone xxx

                    • 21 sue 31 Mar 2013 at 10:39 pm

                      hi barry I have been looking forward to your reply but still don’t have one from you

                    • 22 barry 03 Apr 2013 at 12:02 am

                      Hi again Sue

                      Thank you for sharing so much about your painful life and for explaining what’s been going on for you. (Doesn’t really matter which page you use to write; I just thought the information on the martyrdom page might possibly ring some bells.) I’m sorry I wasn’t able to reply to you more quickly – it was just unfortunate timing that I was in hospital at the same time.

                      There is an intensely hostile relationship drama going on between you and your daughter. I mean, it actually scares me sometimes as I read your accounts, and i am so sorry to learn of you being cut off from your grandchild. I do find the lack of respect shown for you appalling, though I also know that the world is full of people with similar attitudes, sadly.

                      It seems that you have been treated like a piece of meat by many of the men you came into contact with. And now even your own daughter is always mistreating you and disowning you — except when she needs some money.

                      And yet at the same time, I know that each of them – no matter how aggressive or abusive – is also a human being with their own troubles and failings. It puzzles me why your daughter treats you this way – I wonder what exactly it is that she is trying to get across, or what is driving her to get at you so aggressively. If there were just one thing that she could say to you that would (in her mind) finally get it all off her chest and explain everything, what would that be?

                      Some people put on a very hard front or act to cover their own deep fears. They know or feel that their life isn’t working out as they hoped, but they just take it out on others around them rather than face up to it themselves and try to actually make things better. They often use alcohol to bury their frustrations, but the more they drink, the easier it is for them to lash out at others.

                      And then again, there are also some people who are genuine psychopaths – people who have literally no sense of right and wrong, no conscience, no feelings for anyone, but who will act “normal” or “nice” to get whatever they want out of others.

                      I’m actually not sure which of these best describes your daughter right now.

                      Sue, I really hope you are able to find something or someone that helps you to improve your life. I wish there were more I could do, but all I can do is say how it looks from here, and maybe suggest you try certain things to find strength of mind. But I can’t sort out the other people in your life, much as I would like to.

                      I think for you the writing is probably an excellent thing to do. Let it all out, say everything that you feel, let it take you wherever it will. My wife does a “free writing” exercise each morning, just writing whatever she feels driven to write at that moment. Every now and then it gives her insights that she wasn’t expecting. Perhaps there are things that you have never said to anyone, that you can put into writing?

                      Also, have you looked into any internet forums for women like yourself – victims of abuse, targets of personal attack? Here are some very good websites:

                      Women’s Aid UK (

                      Pandora’s message board for survivors (

                      Possibly also this forum on MumsNet –

                      I do hope you manage to find some good support. Let us know how you get on. Take care of yourself.


        • 23 agonizingaffair 22 Jan 2013 at 5:34 pm

          Dear Sue. I wanted to tell you how much I do understand. I have a similar story. Isnt it amazing how when we barely mention something from the past everybody jumps on us for still bringing up the past but they can talk about it freely all the time and nobody seems to notice. When you’re the scapegoat for the family’s dysfunction then there are different rules. They will always call you crazy and useless as their way of surviving their own pain. They dump it all on you and manage to carry on. You are obviously the more sensitive one. For me the most painful part of my life is I dont know how to have friends. So i have none. Zero. I stay alone everyday, all day. I try to experience love by feeding the bread crumbs to the squirrels in my backyard or petting a stray cat. I never understood lonely old people doing that before when I was young and now I see I have become that. If it puts a smile on your face dear Sue then go ahead and to it. It’s okay. Start learning to love and accept yourself with baby steps. Your children will respond positively because you are their mother and they do love you.

          Much love Jackie

          • 24 sue 09 Mar 2013 at 11:22 pm

            hi jacky you are so true with what you say i have wanted to reply back to you for a while but every time i had written to barry i was going to write something to you but when i was sending all wat i had written i lost it all 3 times it took me ages to write to i have managed it tonight so you sound a lovely person yep animals are so lovely aren’t they i found one of my cats very therapeutic too but sadly has since died i have another little dog again now i have had a very bad time lately with my animals dying in the last two years i have lost 4 small dogs Yorkshire terriers i have they were 11 yrs he was such a lovely little boy he had a lot wrong with him in the end then sadness again because i took mummy and daughter to an emergency vets oneyet no one could tell me what they had they had never had an illness in their life mummy was 12 and daughter night they gave them a jab because they thought is was kennel cough little daughter died or had to be put to sleep on the sat and mummy she was a tiny little yorky she had to be put to sleep on the Monday so i lost two inthree days all so very sad then i got another little boy yet after taking this little boy to the vets on a few accassions they found him to be ill with liver shunt and i had to be told that he would last no longer than a year he lasted 17 months he was rally so lovely everyone loved him when i took him out all the kids wanted to come and see him and he loved it that was all so sad then a year or two before i lost the daddy also my mum and dad well i had no love from them but they were my mum and dad they died also both within 8 months i little dog and them it’s strange how bad people can treat a person yet i miss my mum in a way well thought i did anyway my daughter youngest daughter is making me feel so bad she has done for a long time now she keeps saying that she wishes i would drop dead and she i don’t know if you can actually see what i have written to barry if you want to read that saves me saying it all again i have no one either and i like it this way in a way and sometimes but my life has been like this now since i was 19 really i am 59 now and only now am i trying to stick up for myself for the last few months now my youngest has been awful well more awful since she has been married just over a year to this one now i have lost erbals her and also my grankids my dear little grandson was in my life every day for 11 months and i was at his birth now she has a partner he has took over everyone and she lets him anyway if you want to read what i have written to barry when i have just told her she keep wanting to know more than i know and i cant keep this was supposed to be me talking to you and about you now i am just talking about me sorry i didn’t say i have another little boy yorky and he is a little baddy he has chewed a lot of my furniture antique pine furniture and yet i have had 5 others and they were very good little boys and girls but my little teddy is a menis but lovely and cheecky ive had lots of cats lots of rabbits gerbals i would have a farm yard ful of animals if i could im just scarred of horses because they are bigger than me animals you cant go wrong with because they love you they do hurt you when they b die though i would be lost if i didn’t have teddy have you had dogs you could go out walking to get and meet people that’s if you wanted to you seem to know jacky how it feels to have a bad life is that what has happened for you also im trying to write a book about all mine now because i cant take the blame anymore i need to do this but they may come and get me after so no one was there for me then and no one is here for me now i feel its my daughter making me go back all the time i am frightened for her take care jacky keep up feeding all the little animals you cant go wrong loving them can you from sue

  4. 25 Sylvia 29 Dec 2011 at 7:47 am

    Every time i feel like cutting myself again I just think about how much i care about my animals they are my world. then i also think about Necrosis and Necrosis Facititis and I don’t want to do that to myself. I always try to think of something positive in my life like my Dogs and i know that if i am not around anymore they will have to be sent away and i am afraid that who ever takes care of them will hurt them and not look after them.

    • 26 barry 29 Dec 2011 at 9:15 am

      Thanks Sylvia. Sounds like your love of your animals is powerful enough to reduce the urge to self-harm. Good luck.

      • 27 sue 09 Mar 2013 at 11:32 pm

        hi Sylvia i want really to say the same as barry has said to you your animals need you and no one will look after them like you do it’s constantly on my mind i have just got myself another little Yorkshire terrier i love them but if i kill myself who will look after him i mean i try to plan that he may have a new home first before i go because sometimes they don’t take to other people to they i often worry about that i am pleased in a way i lost my other 5 little ones at least now i have their ashes mind you and my cats ashes so that they can be with me at the end but i have this little one now si i have to stay here yeah don’t cut yourself why harm yourself for others they are not worth it take care off yourself and your dogs what dogs do you have

  5. 28 violettecolette 31 Dec 2011 at 12:19 am

    Thank you, barry I agree with your response. Loving is how to heal. I feel the souls of my animals and I know I’ve agreed in this life to be around for them, and to be loving myself as well, because they are well aware of what we think. The fact that you are able to love is your salvation from the despair. And give yourself the same proper treatment you give your animals, and the quality of the exchange of love will enhance your well-being. Blessings.

  6. 29 latindew 21 Feb 2012 at 6:10 pm

    This is one of the best articles I’ve ever read… simple, insightful, and right on the point. I have struggled with eating disorders. depression, suicidal thoughts and inner turmoil throughout my life. At 30, I am fearful that it only gets worse… the experience of self-destruction has become very different as I’ve grown older. I am seeking help and have done so in the past, but to me, at this point, receiving professional help can be tricky. Anyway, I intend to share this article with my psychotherapist. I feel this article exposes my problems to its roots… I am thankful this is available. It has helped me to understand a little bit more what is going on inside me, to validate the way I feel, and has brought me relief. I know that I don’t want to lose control… but I really don’t know where to go from there. At least, it occurs to me… acceptance. Thanks.

    • 30 barry 21 Feb 2012 at 6:17 pm

      I am so glad you have found this to be of value. Good luck with your further work on yourself.

  7. 31 Sally 28 Mar 2012 at 6:12 am

    I’m a 20 year old female, raised in a single parent home by an emotionally unstable mother. She was abusive psychologically, emotionally and verbally. Rarely physically. She had no life except to pick at me and to make me feel like I could never do anything right. She claimed to love me. She isolated me from my dad’s side of the family physically and from her side of the family emotionally. I was never allowed to have friends over growing up, due to her “embarrassment” at the state of cleanliness of our apartment. She was a hoarder, you see. I had few friends in high school due to her isolation techniques. I felt I always had to appear “perfect”. This led to other people thinking i was stuck up. Really i was just shy, tortured. I wanted friends but she convinced me no one had my best interests but her. When really she was draining the life out of me. As soon as i turned 18 i moved 3 hours away to attend college. A semester and a half later, I was back home. The year and a half long party was over, i had failed out. Right before i came home i began experiencing black out drinking binges and had already ALMOST been raped by a friend’s roommate, and had a dubious sexual encounter that I told myself not to engage in before getting drunk. That new years eve (about 2 weeks after i came home) i was raped by a friend of a friend at a party i had gone to for the past few years. After that, i was depressed for about 3 months. outside catalysts led to me moving out of my mother’s house around march and into my dad and stepmom’s apartment. the first time in my life living with my father. I was exposed to more partying, of a lower quality than when i was in college through my stepmom and her large circle of family and friends. drugs and drinking were still prevalent. around may, my birthday month, my older delinquent half brother needed a place to stay to hide from the police in tennesee. my dad agreed to let him come and stay with them, and me. the first time my brother and i had seen each other since i was 11 years old and he was 13. the third night he was there, we had sex. we were both drunk, myself excessively so. I wanted it. i convinced myself i wanted it. we had sex at least 5 times while he was staying with my dad. after he left for tennessee and his girlfriend, i laid waste to the world. there was no more pretending i had it together. the feelings of despair and self loathing drove me out of my mind for almost three months. things deteriorated between my father and i, and so i left there after a shouting match. went to my mom’s who took my car instead of helping like i’d asked. i then stayed with my stepmom’s nephew who had always had a crush on me for 3 days . after that my mom was worried enough to let me come and stay with her again. i didn’t care about anything. i knew going back to live with her would mean mental torture and more anguish but i had no other option. i coiuldn’t stay with the guy, i didn’t like him and he was living with his sister and her 2 demon kids . for 3 months i continued getting high and strung out on pills constantly, with another guy that i knew from high school. eventually we had sex. things ended with him after that. he went on to enroll in college, and i got a job. i was coming back to myself slowly. i started dating a 34 year old who had a steady job but was rather crazy. as in he had eaten some poison berries once in the forest and almost died. he was normal, to an extent. he just had some crazy thoughts on a lot of things. and he was mormon. thought he’d had visions from god. looking back that relationship kind of disgusts me, although the ability of being in complete control of another human being taught me a lot about myself. i wasn’t a bad “ruler”. i guess i got to see what it felt like to sit up on a little pedestal like my mom did with me for so many years. stephen wanted to marry me, he loved me. i broke up with him because what i was doing started to scare me. the complete devotion started turning to obsessive possessiveness on his part. i broke it off. broke his heart. i kept my job until january of this year, almost 8 months. then i moved 5 states away to go to a christian college. all that after i got into some legal trouble. but here, i’ve found jesus. i want to straighten my life out. i want to give up my ways. it’s been a long time since i’ve done any drugs. im struggling with cigarettes. i was kicked out of the college last week for smoking . i’m staying with my boyfriends family. they love me. my bf wants to fix me. i love him, he is too good for me. i want to let him fix me. i feel innately unfixable though. he keeps pushing though, and i might have a little hope i didn’t feel before. i know all about borderline pd and self destructive tendencies though, and so the hope is very miniscule. It’s hard because i’m just now realizing the scope and depth of how much i’ve messed up my petty little life in the past 3 years. and how much my mother messed it up for the 18 before that. i want deliverance. i don’t know how to acheive it though. self control and sacrifice is quite difficult, to say the least. Well thanks for listening internet it feels nice to vent.

    • 32 barry 28 Mar 2012 at 2:12 pm

      Hi Sally,

      I really appreciate you taking the time to write this articulate account of the difficulties you have been through.

      You seem to be a person with a measure of self-awareness who has been stuck in an environment where others around you didn’t have much. Your mother comes across as clearly manipulative and dependent – less of a grown-up than you, as far as I can tell. That’s not to say she doesn’t love you, in her own way, it’s just that people are complex and there are certain types of behaviour you just don’t want to be exposed to if you can help it.

      You’ve spent a while lurching from one confusing and risky situation to the next. I can understand why the structure of a Christian environment appeals to you – the rules are clear and straight, and there is a shared intent to be “good” – though at the same time that can also make things difficult if you want to enjoy being a free-spirited 20 year old.

      Life is a long journey, and – looking on the bright side – three years isn’t all that much. Messing up a past period of life isn’t the end – it can motivate you to do the next period better – however you want to define “better”. Often in life there are steep mountains to climb and parched deserts to cross, but also there is always the potential for things to go well – to enjoy the occasional cruise. Your mountain challenge, I guess, is to overcome the idea – the feeling – that you are broken or irreparably damaged. Your self-esteem has never had much chance to grow. You need to experience more of your own competence and worth – so if others praise you for something, be sure to believe them. One of the dirty tricks of the mind is to distrust anyone who sees good in us.

      Good luck.

      • 33 Sally 28 Mar 2012 at 8:00 pm

        Thank you in turn Barry, for your swift and sincere reply. I’m not sure exactly what you mean by saying I have a measure of self-awareness, since most times I feel as though my “self” is being repressed completely. I sometimes see myself as if I were another person, from a different vantage point. Only when I’m feeling quite depressed or upset. Other times I just fight with letting myself be, and sometimes rarely I let myself rule, and I feel content. But I don’t trust myself enough most of the time to let myself be. That must sound schizophrenic or something. I’m not going to pick it apart though. I think it comes from many years and incidents of letting myself be and when I did something wrong, I was severely chastised, yelled at, or received complete shock and outrage. Why did my mother always overreact? If I put someone else in my shoes and look at the situations I remember objectively, it seems to me that she was a drama queen. She had ridiculously high expectations of me. I can’t psychoanalyze why she did anymore, the circular logic there is exhausting. I have come to discover that she seemingly doesn’t know any more than I do when it comes to the question of “why” . That leads me to the conclusion that my mother is mentally unstable. (if you can’t tell, i’m having a good day. sometimes it’s not this clear to me. sometimes i feel quite wounded and weak. helpless, hopeless.) She is crazy, Barry. Yes I suppose I would concede that in her own way she loves me. But it’s a stretch. I see her logic, how in her mind she does love me. Because for many years I was forced into that logic myself. Love comes from perfection in her mind. Nothing is ever good enough. She loves me by picking me apart. She loves me by tearing me down. She loves me by holding me back, because she is scared of the world. She loves me in a selfish way. She wants me all to herself, because I build her up and let her tear me down. She loves me because I can’t defend myself against her verbal attacks, because i don’t know how much words actually hurt. She loves me because from a young age i became “numb” to the power of being hurt. But as I forged my way through adolescence I began to awaken from my numbness, by the grace of God i suppose. I began to see that I wasn’t numb. I wasn’t in control. I was kind of the only person i knew that seemingly didn’t give a damn about anything. It’s taken me almost this entire three years to see that I do give a damn. I do care about things. I’ve just been pushing those needs aside, minimizing them, internalizing them for almost my entire life. Because to feel was to be weak, and to be weak meant she would descend on me like a vulture and feed on my pain. She had no sympathy or soft places. She was a harsh winter on my bruised soul. I’m not really one for metaphors but yeah.

        I do love having God in my life now, it’s great. It gives me a touchstone to stay focused on when I am weak. He has brought me into my boyfriend’s family, and given me my boyfriend who wants nothing but good for me. His father is a pastor, and literally one of the most simply GOOD people i have ever met. My boyfriend is a pure simple soul, and he says he loves working through my issues because he sees my potential. He says i have enough baggage for both of us (: he wants me to be okay. It’s probably because of him i’m on here right now talking about this. I am definitely still struggling with that “dark side” though. the self sabotage is always just being kept at bay. i keep letting it through by smoking. Everyone wants me to quit , and i’m on and off but i have been transferring so much of my issues onto this one habit. Hard to explain. I pray for the strength to stay here, and work through my issues, and not run away. When i’m feeling weakest, i want to leave. I tell myself i want independence. If i’m honest with myself, i am independent already. I seek solitude when i feel exposed and hurt though. but that always leads to a downward spiral of thinking and acting. so i’m trying to keep myself away from that. it’s a struggle.

        You’re right though, I miss being a free spirit. I don’t miss however being drunk and high all the time. Bingeing and impulse decisions always go hand in hand with me and ugh. I don’t miss that at all. I am slowly letting go of the urges to give myself that false sense of control. It is a security blanket when i’m scared. Getting drunk, getting high, smoking cigarettes, all ways to put myself back in ‘control’ when i feel i’m losing it. I’m trying to find a balance. Find my way back to the girl I was when I turned 16, minus all of the latent issues and mother drama. I was independent, smart, witty, funny, a little too shy always having self-doubt but i was me. I hope to God every day I can get back to who I was supposed to be, and be better. Be stable. I’m basically having to teach myself a lifetime’s worth of missed stability, self control and accountability . What could have been taught to me by my mother if she wasn’t so broken and missing those things herself.

        Anyways, I really appreciate what you said and I’m taking to heart your advice. You hit the nail on the head when you said that one of the biggest tricks the mind can play is sabotaging compliments given. Letting others in to the extent of believing them when they say something positive about myself is a huge step in the right direction for me, and where I’m at I know I can trust the people around me to be sincere and heartfelt if and when they do praise me. I keep telling myself to take things nice and slow, and not be too hard on myself. It’s hard almost every day, but eventually it will have to get easier, I hope

        • 34 audrey 16 Apr 2012 at 12:56 am

          Sally I had the same kind of mom. I am also actively trying to uncover that real me that I feel like I buried. I remember being known as sweet until about 4th grade. Now I know people see me as aggressive. I’m not though. I don’t hurt others intentionally-only myself in the same ways as you mentioned. I also struggle with cigarettes. I hate that they control me and I know id be a lot happier without them but its the kicking them out of my life that is hard. I’m curious. Do you also have trouble making friends with females?

    • 35 Roman Jack Brown 07 Oct 2012 at 1:01 am

      Screw the past Baby, there ain’t nothin you can do about it. Find that simple quiet place in your own mind and just live and be happy. Set some goals for your self and work to realize them one day at a time. You are only screwed up if you say you are screwed up. Your a good kid, read “the world’s greatest salesman” even if you have no interest in sales it is a handy and simple little book, that has helped me a lot. The most important lesson for me in the book is that you can’t do anything about the past or the future, you only have today to make things better. Losers focus on yesterday, over which they have no control, and losers also focus on tomorrow, the day in which they will start changing things. Neither of these days will ever or have ever existed. Today is your day to get things right dear, so just do it, now. Love you, and thanks for sharing.

    • 36 Vanessa Henize 03 Jun 2014 at 7:23 am

      Probably means I’m – for lack ofa more accuratesick,Duh, But I really love) hearing all these stories… Makesme feel like it’s not JUST me. Anyhow, mycomment is that I found this book illuminating some important facets of why..

  8. 37 Eve 24 Apr 2012 at 6:50 pm

    The only thing I need to heal myself is acceptance of others and a little love. The two things that are rare on this world and more rare for me because I’m a little autistic and almost always rejected or hated before they actually got to know me. All the people around me trying to perfect my social skill as well as my personality. No, I dont feel very accepted by this world.
    This article helps a little! thank you.

  9. 38 Mark 14 May 2012 at 5:10 pm

    Unfortunately this article is a too little too longtime roomate Traci Wheeler (51) shot herself and died instantly on March 30rd. It was her 3rd suicide attempt in 4 years. She suffered from anxiety, depression, bi polar, and was an amputee. She was really good at masking her true feeelings and conflicts. After her second attempt in which I saved her life, I was vigilant. But the morning she died, she walked across the street to a neighbor’s house and found a pistol..she went immediately to their backyard and pulled the trigger..she had been in a major conflict with her lifelong nemisis, her oldest son. We were likely going to have to move soon as I found a new job out of state. It was just too much for her. She was angry, hurt, felt lost and confused. When she stopped taking her anti-anxiety and depression medicine days earlier..she got to that place where the numbness totally sent else could she have killed herself knowing how much I loved and cared for her…she left no note, said nothing, she squeezed my hands that morning for the last time and later got up to die!

    Her childhood was a nightmare…abusive and uncaring alcoholic parents, incest, rape, foster home, and losing her left leg while drunk on the back of a motorcycle at 18…she was never really a regular participant in our relationship..she told me in the beginning she wanted a longterm committment…I was in it for the long haul..however, I learned the hard way, that she was not capable of any type of relationship…but instead by quitting, I gave her the best years of her life. Despite her troubles and struggles, I loved her with all my heart everyday and showered her with support, kindness, caring, pleasure, and patience. Her death by suicide has been devasting to me. I did not understand these conflicts because she was an expert at masking them. I had no way of knowing what was really going on within her. I now feel betrayed and used. I tried as hard as a partner can to prevent her from destroying herself..but in the end, it was her choice and a cowardly way to deal with her life circumstances. All she had to do is have the courage to ask for help. It would have been right there for her. But instead, she choose the selfish route and has inflicted enormous pain and suffering for those who are left behind to wonder, what if???

    If any of you have had experience with a suicide survivor..please don’t trust that person as I did. I thought after she survived attempt number two that somehow everything was going to be OK and that we were out of the woods!! That she undertood what she had done and felt great remorse for it… But, nevertheless, a year later I was lolled to sleep by someone who was really skillful at covering up her self destructive nature..I was caught off guard and have paid a tremendous price for it.

    Please get your loveone the help they desperately need immediately, and please don’t listen to them or accept their excuses..rely on your common sense and trust the experts, and make sure that ultimately they are made safe from themselves!!

    • 39 barry 14 May 2012 at 8:39 pm

      Thank you Mark. My heart goes out to you.

  10. 40 Child of God 30 May 2012 at 3:05 pm

    Hi Barry,

    Where’s the connect to spirituality in the explanation of self-destructive behaviour?

    My spiritual master of over 15 years recently said to me that i have been saved from getting insane by the Grace of God. That i have self-destructive tendencies. After reading your article i know i have and can pin point them clearly. He said that THOUGHTS ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR MY DOWNFALL.

    Now that i have insight, what should i do next?


    • 41 barry 30 May 2012 at 10:04 pm

      Hi there,

      I was just responding to a question about spiritual homesickness, and I suspect this is related. I think those with self-destructive tendencies have an intuitive or unconscious sense that the body is not their true home, but this homesick feeling gets (mis)translated into resentment directed at the body or the physical life itself.

      Now that you recognise the role played by your own mind in creating your self-destructive habits, which is a huge step by the way, I would next ask yourself what exactly is your investment in those tendencies? Part of you, unconsciously perhaps, believes you get something of value out of self-destructive behaviour – or rather, fears that something terrible would happen to you if you had to live without them. It is the underlying fear that is the “motor” keeping the behaviour going.

      In my case, for example, while I have impatience rather than self-destruction, the same principle applies. And through self-examination I have found that my underlying fear is of dying before I have experienced everything there is to experience. So I have a tendency to act as if the were a pressing need for me to be always moving immediately to the next thing. By identifying the underlying fear, I am able to let my rational mind step in and stop the cycle. (Not always, but increasingly often.) It also helps to talk openly about your behaviours, thoughts and fears to someone else, because exposure of the unconscious robs it of a certain power.

  11. 42 Child of God 18 Jun 2012 at 3:13 pm

    i am appaled, but i must confess. :) i have invested my complete life till date into being self destructive.
    i have disowned my talents. i am a musican. So the instruments that i love to play i do not. i was terribly afraid of singing – and bad at it so i thought that’s thebest way. So i am now a good singer.
    i loved to write. So i take up the most boring jobs that demand that i write only on technical things. Not the topics that i LOVE REALLY REALLY LOVE to write and read.
    i do not touch anyone. TIll about a few years ago i would restrict physical contact with my daughter as well. Relationship with my husband is so ‘un said, un spoken, i-understand’ types that it was okay for me not to indulge in sex completely from about 5 -7 years span till date … it didnt occure to me to check or even believe it was essential. But he’s more human, i feel alien :)
    many many important areas of life as well. But these are just too apparently right there in front of me In The Face
    so i dont think feel or even bother now at all – as i know the true purpose of my life is to serve and most important and it gives me immense joy to know that i am in touch with my reality:)

    Thanks Barry:) for sharing your point of view

    • 43 barry 18 Jun 2012 at 4:54 pm

      Thanks for sharing, CoG

  12. 44 20 Jun 2012 at 11:34 pm

    I recently came to the realization that I might be self-destructive.

    A few years ago, I had an ugly falling-out with a good friend of over a decade. He had, for the umpteenth time, blown me off after he said we were going to hang out. I became outraged with him and started doing malicious things like spam text him because I knew he only had limited texting on his Tracfone. The next day, I was horrified at the monster I had become the night before and cut off all communication with him for fear that it could possibly happen again.

    Since then, I’ve slowly lost all my friends and am constantly terrifed when people try to get close to me emotionally. I always find some excuse (usually a fault they have) to bail on a relationship. The only healthy relationships I have at the moment is with my significant other and one long-distance friend. Not only that, but I’ve slowly decended into alcoholism and even sabotaged my chances of getting my Associate’s last quarter.

    I know I have a huge problem but I can’t afford counseling. Not only that, but I don’t think I’m ready to do something about my drinking problem yet. This has been a constant struggle for me.

    Thank you to anyone who took the time to read this. And if anyone wants to respond, I would greatly welcome any feedback and/or support.

    Thanks again.

    • 45 Roman Jack Brown 07 Oct 2012 at 12:41 am

      Just love yourself dog, and remember that self love requires self discipline. I don’t have a lot of friends either, don’t need them. I have sort of developed what one might call an inner grandpa voice, which tell me to stop whining, makes me workout, take care of business etc… You don’t need counseling, you just need to stay busy. Make your money, stay in shape and moderate your drinking. Stop feeling sorry for yourself, and do what you gotta do. Love yourself as you would love your own child, which implies taking care of yourself, physically, financially and emotinally. Suck it up Boy! Get out their and Love this beautiful life!!! You only have a huge problem if you keep telling yourself you have a huge problem. One day at a time homey, some days you eat the bear, some days the bear eats you.

      • 46 Noelle 22 Feb 2013 at 8:06 am

        These are some of the wisest words I’ve heard in a long time. I’ve been dealing with something that seemed almost unbearable to me – an asymptomatic case of the herpes virus – single at age 33. I have been devastated and unable to self-care. I know I have so many other things in life that are good, but this has really taken a toll. When I read other people’s stories it becomes amazing, because my life is SO good compared to many people’s sufferings, yet it is hard to see it – when you compare yourself to people who seem to have it much better than you. But your advice is good, keep busy, take care of yourself and use your self-discipline to do it. I’m going to make an effort :) Thank you.

        • 47 barry 22 Feb 2013 at 9:14 am

          Thanks Noelle. I really hope things improve for you soon. Stay positive! :-).

  13. 48 caron 11 Jul 2012 at 10:24 am

    Love the article, I am 34 currently in a relationship with a man of 39 that is heading no where. My boyfriend gets addicted to anything possible goes out partying all night, abuses drugs, doesn’t care for me while he’s on his binges, I eventually get enough and leave and walk all the way home and he just carries on for himself, abuses alcohol and now gambling! I am afraid for him as he is a father of two children. I have tried being there for him, I have taken myself away from him, we have fought plenty and I have no where to turn. I don’t know the right approach because if I do say something I am in the wrong! He does not go out hurting himself physically so I don’t know if I am speaking and asking the right line of problem here. He says he’s in self destruct mode and often says he’s chasing his own dragons. I don’t understand any of it because I think everyone draws a line. Please any suggestions will be helpful. I need to know what this problem is so I can get further help. Many thanks

    • 49 barry 11 Jul 2012 at 12:08 pm

      Hi Caron

      Sounds like your boyfriend is a perfect example of the self-destructive pattern. That must be really hard on you and others close to him. While he is thankfully not resorting to self-injury, his habits will still adversely affect his own health and well-being, and in turn create great anxiety for others.

      Something you might need to understand is that some unconscious part of him feels that being in a self-destructive spiral is “good”. After all, he is ultimately *free* to destroy himself if he wants to. In fact, it could be that he only experiences freedom from his personal “prison” at those times when he is acting wild and reckless. So that freedom to self-destruct might be something he really values, unconsciously at least, and he will probably resist any attempt to have that “freedom” removed or challenged. So in other words, if you tell him he needs to stop what he is doing, he might just hear that as “you have to give up your one precious bit of freedom.”

      Alternatively, he could come to see more consciously that it is not ok to be irresponsible as a partner or as a parent. He might need to recognise the consequences of his actions. But … be careful not to *blame* him or accuse him for causing you grief and anxiety as this could just make him feel even more lousy about himself or his life, and so less willing to look at himself and expose his feelings. If he suddenly sees that he is being a “bad” partner or parent, it could just make matters worse. You may have to reassure him that he is not a bad person.

      The interesting thing is that he is aware of being in “self-destruct mode” – at least he is not in denial at that level. But it also sounds like he is not expressing what it is inside him that is so troubling. (Is he also the type of guy who hates talking about feelings?) Finding a way to examine and express his negative inner stuff would, I suspect, bring him great relief if he can find a way to do so with another person – either you or a counsellor/therapist, or someone else he can really trust. The trust is vital.

      This would be a tough step for a self-destructive type to take because it means actually facing that which he feels committed to suppressing: something horrible inside himself (which could be a bad experience, or a bad attitude, or a negative sense of self – who knows?). Even just admitting that there is something like that going on inside could be “too much”, so don’t hold your breath.

      He just needs a good reason to go there. You can’t coerce him – he has to have his own motivation. Do you have a sense of what inspires and drives him in life – for example, having good relationships, or maybe being his own boss, or maybe understanding what life is all about…? It might be possible to link looking at his self-destruction with a life goal that positively inspires and motivates him.

      You could also try suggesting that he read this article.

  14. 50 Crystal 22 Aug 2012 at 7:24 am

    Thank you for your articles. I was reading this one on self-destruction and another on self-deprication. I have struggled my entire life with both. My addiction of choice is food. I lose weight and people start to make comments that I’m pretty, so I get scared and promptly gain all the weight I lost. (I was raped repeatedly by my father growing up while my mother allowed it to happen) I now am in a very loving, supportive marriage and have two wonderful little girls (2yo and 5months) but I can’t seem to stop this self-destructive behavior. I feel trapped in a vicious cycle. I feel so deeply that I need to be punished, that I’m not worthy. I am seeking help from a therapist. It’s slow-going, and I pray I can stay where I am long enough to make progress (My husband is in the Army and we move a lot). Anyway, thanks for listening. Thank you for writing these articles. It has helped me not feel so isolated and alone. You put into words what I am unable to express. It brought tears to my eyes reading these articles. Thank you again.

    • 51 barry 22 Aug 2012 at 8:44 am

      Hi Crystal
      What a challenging early life you had to face. No wonder it has left a huge mark on your personality – your sense of self must be knocked out of shape. And yet, on the plus side, it sounds like some things are working out – you have a great relationship, and you have found the strength to make it this far. I really hope you are able to explore, and express, who you really are with the help of a good therapist.
      Best wishes

  15. 52 Roman Jack Brown 07 Oct 2012 at 12:29 am

    I don’t want to seem heartless or anything, but in my humble opinion, the primary cause of “self destructive behaviour” is an addiction to self pity or tragedy. I have been through some rough spots in my life, thought of suicide, engaged in very dangerous behavior etc… And ultimately after some serious self analysis, I realized that the remedy is to simply get over one’s self, stop feeling sorry for yourself, just get over it, take care of business, move on. I am a big history buff and one of the primary lessons I learn from history is the magnificent human capacity to endure, to survive. Whatever your problems may be, you can rest assure that others have been through worse, and went on to live decent lives. Just love life, ladies and gents. I guess we need to talk out our problems from time to time, but at some point we need to just stop whining and get on with living. All this pscychological dissecting of our childhood issues and what not can end up doing us more harm than good. Just look around the world, think of the billions of people working in sweat shops 70 hours a week for peanuts, think of all the real poverty, real misery and strife in the world, and get over your own little issues already. Have you got a roof over your head, food in your belly, and most importantly some one who loves you, yourself included? Well then you are doing alright, life is a miraculous gift, don’t waste it feeling sorry for yourself. LOVE IT!!!!! Your eyes see and the sight of your eyes grants beauty and love unto the creation, you are God’s Love, it is simple and easy. You can be buried alive with your eyes ripped out of your head, your genitals mutilated, and every bone in your body broken by your enemies and still CHOOSE to love the miracle that is life, of which you are a beautiful manifestation.

  16. 53 Guest 17 Nov 2012 at 3:07 am

    I am getting out of my self destructive behaviors. I have never been through such trauma that you others have been through. I don’t understand why i did it. But i haven’t for 40 days and it feels great so far. I hope you all have wonderful lives and be free. Its good to know there are others out there fighting through these issues.

  17. 54 Natalia 30 Dec 2012 at 5:17 am

    I’m glad I came across this website because I’ve joined my first ever online community. I need a place where I can anonymously be honest about my life. I have been judged, called out as an melodramatic exaggerator and a liar. And most supremely hurtful; I have been shunned by many for my self-destructive ways. I am waiting to have my account cleared, but I am looking forward to speaking to others about the whole nine yards of trauma.

    • 55 barry 30 Dec 2012 at 9:44 am

      Welcome Natalia

  18. 56 kiki 09 Feb 2013 at 9:23 pm

    i would like to know how i can get rid of the pain, and feel again, i want to feel emotion, like love, happiness, sadness, jealousy, anger, at the moment there is nothing, just a deep black hole filled with nothing, its destroying my relationship with my parents because i have a “couldnt care less” attitude. and any romantic relationship i might be lucky enough to have. i dont want this anymore, i want to be normal again.

    • 57 barry 11 Feb 2013 at 7:36 pm

      Hi Kiki

      Simple question first: are you on any meds? Some drugs can have an emotionally numbing effect. But assuming not…

      When someone is in a state of emotional numbness, it’s usually because they are suppressing their feelings, or their ability to feel, in order to avoid feeling something that seems unbearably painful. I note that you say you’re not feeling anything but at the same time you want to get rid of the pain. Perhaps that is what you are doing – trying to get rid of some awful pain by not allowing ANY feelings or sensations to touch you.

      I’m afraid it boils down to this: if you want to feel like a human being, you have to be willing to feel human pain.

      A direct approach is to confront whatever it is you don’t want to feel. I know that’s asking a lot – it sounds a bit like, “You know how you burn your hand every time you touch the stove? Go and do it again!” But usually the fear of what emotional pain might do to us is more limiting and harmful than the pain itself. Our bodies know what to do with different kinds of pain. If we are in terrible grief, for example, we can lie down and cry for hours. That’s a natural way of processing feelings – let them come and let them out. But some people think it’s a kind of childish weakness to let feelings “take over” like that, and some people fear that once they open the floodgates they might never come out of it again. Neither of these is valid.

      There are some less directly confrontational approaches. Do you do physical exercise? One possible way around this is to get some physical exercise, and let yourself feel the invigorating effects in your body – get back in touch with positive sensations. Or try meditating, using the sensations of the body as a point of focus.

  19. 58 Harry 05 May 2013 at 5:37 am

    i really feel alone n sometimes wnt to die can u suggest me wht to do ???

  20. 59 Donna 10 Aug 2013 at 5:16 pm

    I’ve been in abusive relationships and have recently dated 2 men. I had attraction at first and was comfortable in relationship with the sex part of it, and we were active a lot at first.
    but the interest of him making out diminished quickly. mine remained active. I then felt rejected.
    he’s not very reliable and I found myself supporting and paying for a lot of things which made me feel used – lunches cigs dinners movies ect ect.
    I’m a single mom with 3 children to raise, 1 being my granddaughter, so I more or less stopped seeing him. he was not giving 50 percent and standing me up on coming over, dinner plans ect ect.
    I still care for him, but feel very let down. so I dated another fellow I was attracted to at first, only all that was on his mind was the sex part. he asked if I wanted to go on a boogie bash with him. I made arrangements for my kids for that wknd although he changed his mind 4 times, and when I mentioned I didn’t have very much money to go with he said that he was going alone but wanted me to sleep over the night before he left. then was with another gal and never called.
    he’s back from his trip and constantly callin me. I’ve been avoiding his calls. I feel disrespected and feel he just wants sex.
    any help on advise, should I give him an explanation

    • 60 barry 18 Aug 2013 at 9:20 am

      Hi Donna

      I’m sorry to hear all this. It sounds to me like you have been taken advantage of by a couple of men who are not mature enough to take responsibility for themselves or show respect in the way they treat others.

      We are often attracted to others at first because of an initial sexual excitement. But creating a working relationship is a different matter.

      If I were you, I would get clear in my own head about boundaries and ground-rules, and make sure any new guy who might come into your life has both the ability to understand them and the maturity to respect them. For instance, can he honestly agree not to sleep around so long as you are together? Also, a grown-up man should understand and respect your tough commitments as a single mother, not look to you as their own mother substitute, or a sexual convenience.

      I guess in the end it comes down to you being more fussy about who you hook up with. Ideally you want a man who can see beyond his own selfish desires. Don’t get me wrong – we all have selfish desires, and you probably won’t find yourself a saint, but a mature person can at least understand that a healthy relationship is a matter of give-and-take, not just take-take-take. If you cannot get this guy (or the next guy) to acknowledge even that, then I would steer clear.

      It also comes down to you taking back some power that these men so easily take from you. Let them know what is unacceptable to you, and why. And if they don’t care what you think, then why should you have anything to do with them?

      Bets of luck,


  21. 61 Johnny Appleseed 11 Sep 2013 at 1:30 am

    People who pass laws to judge others are doing something I would consider self-destructive and self-destruction is wicked and demonic, and is from the devils as is calling compliments a crime of hassling is a lie from Lucifer.

  22. 62 Kia Johnson 30 Sep 2013 at 2:38 am

    Hi. I read the article and it was really good. I do have a self destructing personality and I hate it. It makes me feel like I am really weird an just the NOBODY everyone thinks I am. I was a abused child physically mentally and emotionally. All this abuse only got worse as I got older being that family and people friends that I thought I had and a shit load of men used and abused me up the point where sometimes I feel that I’m cursed an have nothing better to give my self or my kids but more hurt and more pain. I don’t know what else to do but pray. It’s been 30 years now and I still haven’t been loved still haven’t been nurtured still am alone unhappy miserable and rejected. I guess God really does love some of his children more than others. I hope and wish well wishes to anyone who has had a fucked up start from the beginning just like me. I hope somebody makes it out of this physical mental and emotional he’ll ALIVE.

    • 63 barry 02 Oct 2013 at 7:48 am

      Hi Kia

      Sounds like you’ve had a really tough life so far. Also sounds like you are surrounded by people, especially men, who assume that the “weak” are there to be exploited by the “strong”. As a result, you have been victimised and it sounds like you are alone with your pain and suffering, which must be incredibly hard.

      That said, things can always change. No situation is set in stone. But you have to believe in the possibility.

      If you believe that change is possible, then it is. But if you don’t to believe that your life can change, then it probably won’t.

      There are always options and possibilities, especially if you choose to think, feel or act different. What options are available to you? Regardless of what people have imposed on you in the past, what kind of life do *you* actually want to live?

      I would suggest you at least try to avoid feeling resigned to a terrible fate. God doesn’t love some more than others – we are all equally beloved, but also equally free to find our own way in life. Some people find it easy to dominate and exploit others, so they feel “free” but they don’t yet understand love. Their soul’s challenge is to learn basic human compassion and kindness. On the other hand, there are many people who are naturally “nice”, humble, and sensitive, but find that they are easily exploited – so their challenge is to find some inner power and strength and the freedom to choose their own lives, without hurting anyone else.

      It also helps to have some emotional support from others – people who care and sympathise, such as a church group or a women’s support group. Try not to be alone with it all.

      I wish you the best of luck.


  23. 64 EJOwnsIt 17 Nov 2013 at 6:41 am

    Hey, I am 21 years old. I am currently living in my dad’s hometown with both of the parentals. I am not sure if this is deemed self-destructive but it certainly would seem like it. See, my chief feature is self-depreciation. I don’t like taking credit for anything. I hate people looking at me but deep inside I do want to be acknowledged (so I am aware that the self-depreciation is a complete front.) But, I am thinking my secondary characteristic is self-destruction. Because as one of the previous commenters, I love to write. Yet, at school I do nothing. I completely zone out and do other things. I like to participate in class and not study. I love to both read and write and the content of the courses that I choose to enroll in as well. I am beyond a procrastinator and have failed classes that I LOVED and participated heavily in due to just that. When it comes to men, I tend to jump to conclusions assuming that they’ll think I am ugly, worthless, or crazy. Thinking that I am unattractive usually being the most prevalent.(It is probably due to most of the bullying being done by males.) In spite of my capacity for writing, I have a lack of interest in things that would seem to progress me to my career path,

    I was bullied from Kindergarten into high school. My friends and I had various fallouts over the years and for the majority of my life I felt alone (even though in me I knew that I was NEVER alone.) I had imaginary friends until about the eighth grade. I was molested throughout my middle school years, was raped during the summer vacay between 8th and 9th grade (by a close member of the family and accepted it (foolishly thinking that he loved me.)) became a doormat to crushes during high school, and was a complete sore thumb during the first three years of college. I have a very dim view on relationships and think very little of myself. I live in a perpetual childhood in my mind that goes back to fourth grade where I was bullied by both teachers and students. Since I do admit to going to school as a pastime because I felt better at home. I feel like I am only at school because it is what I need to succeed supposedly. But deep inside, I LOVE SCHOOL AND I WANT TO BE SUCCESSFUL! I WANT TO BE KNOWN, ACKNOWLEDGED, RESPECTED, LOVED, WEALTHY (IN ALL WAYS), AND HEALTHY! I do want people to live well deep in me and that was always what my desire was. But I think this may have been what started this self destructive procrastination and self undoing in the first place. The fact that I wanted to share everything with everyone and nobody ever wanted to hear me and thought lowly of me so I shut down and fourth grade damaged me for a very long time. I honestly think that my shadow is stuck there.

    • 65 barry 09 Jan 2014 at 7:36 pm

      Hi there

      I’m sorry it’s taken me some weeks to get back to you – you’re not the only one, though (I currently have about 42 enquiries like yours in the queue). I have chronic fatigue, which is particularly unhelpful at busy times of year like the run-up to Xmas.

      I have read your description of how it is for you (several times over). The factor of self-deprecation comes across quite clearly, particularly the “pre-emptive strike” of negatively judging how men will find you. But there are several layers of stuff that I am trying to disentangle – I may be on the wrong track (feel free to provide clarifications and corrections) but right now I’m not seeing your ‘procrastination’ as a fully-formed pattern of self-destruction but more like a way to handle (more specifically, to avoid) a sore issue.

      To summarise, you love to read and have an ability to write, and writing would seem a possible career option for you, and the acknowledgement you might receive for being a good writer could be very rewarding for you (assuming your self-deprecation doesn’t jump on it!).

      At the same time, you have grown up with very few real friends and with a history of unfortunate experiences at the hands of others, particularly men: exploitation, teasing, bullying and even rape. Interestingly, though, you don’t express (here at least) any negativity or resentment about THEM, just a sort of sad confusion about YOU.

      One thing I sense is that you may be a Server type, one who loves to serve and support others, who finds meaning and purpose in making others’ lives better. At least, you have a sincere drive to support the well being of others.

      But I can also see that your experience of school — which is supposed to be a place that prepares our young brains for life as working adults — is completely overlaid with these dark memories and situations you would rather have done without, to put it mildly. So while a mature part of you appreciates the value of school, a less mature part of you has become repulsed by it through bitter experience. And, psychologically, that part of you is still “right there”, at that age, facing those experiences. This is not dissimilar to the post-traumatic syndrome of, say, a soldier who has been home from war for several months but inwardly still feels “locked” in a particular incident in Iraq, or wherever.

      Stepping back to see a bigger picture, beneath your basic conflict (interest v procrastination) I sense a deeper issue with self-expression. My guess is that your expressive side is being firmly held back by a sort of fear of exposure due to the school experience.

      Many of our unconscious blocks can be seen as “unfinished business” or incomplete interactions with others in our past. For example, like the soldier returning from a traumatic battle, for a while we might continually re-run an experience of violence, looking for ways in which we could have acted and spoken differently, taken control, not being the victim, acted with more awareness or compassion or power. After a while we might stop consciously re-running the scene in our minds, but we still continue to unconsciously EXPECT similar situations and try to ACT the way we think we should have. It’s like, we’re not finished until we finally hear ourselves saying what we wish we had originally said at the time.

      This is, potentially, what is keeping you emotionally frozen to a particular place and time (4th grade). It’s as if, subconsciously, you still feel a need to MAKE that bad situation right. Or at least EXPRESS how wronged you have felt – let the world know what really happened.

      So I am wondering if the way forward for you is to use your writing abilities to capture THAT experience – what is was like for you, what you made of the others involved, what effect it had on you, how you now feel about it. This wouldn’t be for publication, necessarily – it could just be your private story. And in the process, you may well go through tears. But I suspect that it would be a healing exercise for you.

      There is a sort of elegance here that appeals to me. You become a writer by, first, writing about that which has been holding you back from writing.

      Perhaps there are things of that time that you have felt in need of expressing, but the shutting-down of your self-expression since then has, ironically, left you like a stuck record, never getting to the end of the song. You cannot become unstuck until you write the rest of the song – by which I mean, write the story, not only fully capturing all the things that were said and done, but then also (and perhaps more crucially) things that were NOT said or done that maybe could have been or you wish you had done.

      One last thought. While it’s not uncommon for young adults to remain living with their parents (given the cost of accommodation), it poses an issue. Between 15-20 is the age when most of us undergo a psychological transition of starting to assert our own identity in the world at large — defining ourselves independently of how our family and childhood have defined us hitherto. A physical move away from the family home — fleeing the nest — usually symbolises our inner commitment to this big change. You don’t HAVE to leave home to become a self-defined adult, but it helps in cases where the family are unwilling to see one changing — they might insist on relating to you in the same old role that they’ve always assigned to you (“That Useless Girl” for example). This is just food for thought, though I would just note again that it is related to freedom of self-expression. Are you ready and willing to be who YOU say you are rather than go along with others’ old perceptions of you?

      Hope this helps somehow, and not too late


  24. 66 Kay 15 Dec 2013 at 6:24 pm

    So much pain in so many lives. As an empath, this is beyond painful for me to read yet i do read them. i wish i could be an angel and heal everyone including myself. sometimes it’s hard to breath the pain is so great. hugs to everyone

    • 67 barry 15 Dec 2013 at 7:15 pm

      Thanks Kay

  25. 68 Martin 16 Apr 2014 at 4:08 am

    Self destruction is an insidious and at times obvious or maybe not so apparent creature that we grapple with in our daily lives performing our ritualistic vices and self destructive tendencies. How peculiar to feel intelligent and accomplished knowing fully the consequences of your actions but continue on with the absurd foolishness and self deceit, thinking to yourself that soon you will quit(what ever it is that your doing to yourself and others) because you know better, not just knowing better, but comprehensively and fully engaged with the eminent end result. How is it that this self reasoning, coupled with self awareness is such an El Dorado and people perceive us most of the time, as having it together, when in reality we are no help to ourselves, even being completely equipped with the knowledge of our self detriment. What a divide or duality to exist within yourself as I do, exteriorly projecting a cool image, when in reality a total spiritual, physical and mental wreck. It is a strange form of insanity and even more disturbing; comfortable.

  26. 69 catfurball 02 May 2014 at 5:29 am

    You know, I came across this site because I’m writing a screenplay and wanted a couple of different personality flaws for a particularly unlikeable character. Though I didn’t see him as self-destructive, I opened this post as I knew I’d been practically eaten alive by it at various times in my life since I was assaulted twice by my uncle when I was young. Though it’s obvious now that I read it, I had no idea risk taking tendencies and justifying them as being a “wild child” or “black sheep” in my 20s and 30s or suicidal intentions for almost thirty years was linked to ‘self-destructiveness’. I just narrowed the wild ways down to boredom/being alternative/depression; and the suicidal thoughts came from ‘depression’ about the childhood event and that was it. I don’t like distractions when I’m writing scripts but I really took the time to read this post about self-destructiveness and it elucidated some answers about the many questions I’ve had about my constant suicidal thoughts over the years – more than what any shrink has done for me in the past, let me tell you. And for the first time, after reading it and saving it to my ‘favourites’, I’m really taking back control of this negative suicidal aspect to my personality and, more importantly, UNDERSTANDING now that it can come not only from depression but from being self-destructive. I acknowledge it when it comes now. I talk to it! I say, ‘Yeah, save it — I know why you’re here, and you can bugger off! GET LOST!!” I’ve battled with this for so long, but not anymore. I’ve got one up on it. Great post! Thanks so much.

    • 70 barry 02 May 2014 at 10:32 pm

      I’m truly delighted that you got so much from it. Your shift with this mindset is inspiring!

  27. 71 Kay 06 May 2014 at 3:42 pm

    very well said and i hope you are all doing well. HUGS

  28. 72 Kay 06 May 2014 at 3:44 pm

    Barry, what are you recommendations for when someone shuts down for too long? They are aware but they do not know or care to open up again.

  29. 73 LesKel 10 Jun 2014 at 3:27 pm

    This is informative – thanks Barry. I have a professional self-destructive behaviour (at least that’s how I perceive it) and am to clammed up to seek professional advice, yet. Whenever i’m likely to get a positive change at work place, I sabotage it myself and make sure nothing good happens to me. I perform my duties very well and I know that good things will follow and it’s only a question of time before i dive-bomb. I have noticed this only off late, but i’ve been at it for the past decade or so. I haven’t (and never will) harmed myself physically, but now that the pattern is identified, i’m struggling to straighten myself. Any help? Please. Thanks in advance.

    • 74 barry 13 Jun 2014 at 5:55 pm

      Hi LesKel

      First thing that occurs to me is: do you carry a sense of guilt? The feeling that you have done something which you believe you shouldn’t have done? Perhaps not a conscious feeling of guilt in your everyday awareness, but somewhere in the depths of your mind?

      People who feel truly guilty will also feel they don’t deserve happiness or good fortune, so they will (subconsciously) prevent themselves from experiencing the very rewards they are consciously seeking. I’ve seen this in spiritual groups when people get to the edge of a great insight or breakthrough, but then they somehow won’t let it just happen – and suddenly they find themselves thinking, “I’m not the sort of person who should have this – I don’t deserve it – there are others who are much more deserving than me…”

      So it could be that you’re doing everything right (as you feel you should) but then you’re ensuring that you don’t get any credit or reward for all that by sabotaging it at the last moment.

      Another possibility is that you fear the step-up in responsibility and attention that comes with “success”. For some people, no matter what their ambitions, they imagine it is just cosier and less stressful to stay where they have always been.

      Any resonances?


      • 75 leskels 14 Jun 2014 at 7:11 pm

        Pleasantly surprised by your early response. Thank YOU.

        Pushing myself to think on the lines of your 1st question – yes, there are several guilty feelings that I carry – but these have been around since before my youth…. so why now is what I will need to figure. About ‘sucess’ – i’m comfortable with that and I thrive in pressure. Let me think and analyze on the ‘guilt’ front.

        Thank you once again for the direction, Barry. Cheers !!

  1. 1 Destructive | Living In WellBeing Trackback on 25 Apr 2013 at 3:52 am

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