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 self-defeating habits which deny oneself happiness but can instead cause pain, either deliberately or inadvertently. Self-destruction in the literal sense of suicide is the most extreme form. Mostly, however, it is more subtle, such as repeatedly committing “professional suicide”. It’s an umbrella term for a variety of self-damaging patterns, from doing things that always seem to backfire, to habitual self-harm, to crazy recklessness.

Despicable Me

As with the opposite trait of greed, self-destruction represents a dysfunction in a person’s fundamental relationship with life. A person with greed fears that something vital is lacking or missing from life, and so constantly needs to have more. A person with self-destruction, in contrast, feels that something fundamentally bad or toxic is consuming their life, and needs to keep this under strict control.

For example, there may be part of oneself that once suffered unbearable abuse or damage, perhaps way back in childhood. To revisit this part of the self is just too painful and scary.

Moreover, an anxious young person may think to themselves: “There must be something about me that 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, Being pretty is what caused this, so I must never look pretty again.

Another good name for self-destruction could be self-denial. There is a splitting of the personality in which this “thing in me” is to be ignored and suppressed by any means possible, at whatever cost. The person feels that their very being must be kept under strict control.

Varieties of Self-Destruction

Again, the urge to “self-destruct” need not be literal or physical. In fact, there is a spectrum of self-destructive behaviours, from mild to risky to fatal.

The most widespread forms of self-destructive behaviour are eating disorders, alcohol abuse, drug abuse and compulsive gambling. Self-destruction can also 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.

Deliberate self-injury is surprisingly common in young people worldwide. It has also been linked with borderline personality disorder in adulthood, a chronic and difficult to treat condition characterized by impulsive behaviours, unstable mood swings and a tendency towards 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 usually a primitive way of coping with the emotional numbness. It is as if, by replacing one’s emotional pain with a physical one, life becomes more bearable. It is also easier to demonstrate that one is in pain when the injury is visible and physical rather than “just psychological”.

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 she continued to have nightmares. She would also check her closets to make sure no one was hiding in the house, and would be nervous around older men.

During her teens and the months she spent making her album, Tidal, she suffered with an eating disorder. In a 1998 Rolling Stone interview, she reflected on what this was like:

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 self-destructive figures 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 attention, controversy, 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 the inner demons they are trying to suppress.

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 7 archetypes of fear - cover

Another great book about the seven character flaws, recently translated from the original German: The Seven Archetypes of Fear, by Varda Hasselmann and Frank Schmolke.

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.

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

The Seven Chief Features

Self-Deprecation | Self-Destruction | Martyrdom

| Stubbornness |

Greed | Arrogance | Impatience

127 Responses to “Self-Destruction”

  1. 1 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.

    • 2 rod 15 Oct 2014 at 3:05 pm

      i know how you feel, endless hours on the lounge or in bed, who cares, just leave me alone.
      I’m a bloke and strong and and I spent two years doing just that on my older brothers lounge. Feeling bad, worthless. I got into a routine.

      Until your been there its hard to explain, coming out the other side is something you never forget. I wont go into depression or any other phobias, this is heavy shit. No one can get you out of it, its with you for life. Well maybe….

      So your screwed up, life sucks and you don’t wanna talk to no one.
      ppl keep pesting you but you know when your rdy. Hell i didn’t want anyone telling me what to do. So do it! without anyones help.

      Stand proud, you can do this. Show ppl what your capable of.
      “Don’t write me off! I’m a better person because I faced and over come it”

      meh, it has to be your call, you have to dig deep to find you. Never look back and don’t back down. To over come your own self is more worth in my eyes.

      Stand tall be noticed….

  2. 3 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.

    • 4 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?


      • 5 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 !!

      • 6 Michael 08 May 2015 at 1:18 am

        Hey Barry,
        Thank u very much, it is much appreciated!!! What u said in this comment really described a lot of what I am going through. I committed a grave sin and have been destroying myself for years from the guilt. I am a big dreamer and has great desires of being successful, but I feel like I don’t deserve it, because of that particular sin. This also causes me to put myself down constantly, putting me into a deep depression. Sometimes I’ll have suicidal thoughts, even though I never once made an attempt, it has still had colossal wear and tear on me. I have been struggling to let go and break free and I just don’t know what to do anymore. Please help & thanks in advance.

        • 7 Michael 08 May 2015 at 1:21 am

          I also feel like since SO MANY people dislike, if not hate, my type of sin (not to disagree), I am like an evil in the world that should just drop dead and go to hell…

  3. 8 rod 15 Oct 2014 at 2:29 pm

    As i read your post i agreed, the more i read the more angry I became.
    To the point i understood why. I was angry because . It covers such a huge range of ppl. Yet i read on.

    Self destruction doesn’t mean your a junkie. Its about self respect. Its about self worth. Sure drugs might be your choice of destruction but to me that would be shallow. First you must prove yourself, to be better. To achieve things others wouldn’t or couldn’t. Once i had this, it would kick in.
    I didn’t think of it as self destruction, rather I didn’t deserve what I had.

    Years later alone, I still do amazing shit. I reflect on what i pushed away.
    Not understanding why. Though always knowing that no matter what i hold dear I cant keep. I disappointed women, I wanted for life. Purely because of self destruction one way or another. I knew I was doing it! It just didn’t know why.

    You mention ppl taking own lives. I thought about it sure, but so hasn’t everyone else. I don’t believe it can be associated to self worth or self destruction as we are slow killers. Death I know wont end it.

    Its up with something we have to put.

    Do your best, then do better. Those that matter, matter because of you,
    do better.

    Maybe us self destructive losers don’t need help, but it would be good to understand why. b4 we lose it

  4. 9 rod 15 Oct 2014 at 3:39 pm

    re- reading all above makes my concerns silly, I guess ppl need validation or reassurance. Or more importantly that someone cares.

    NO one human life is more important than another. Like the butterfly effect no one discovery can be truly be claimed. For example without death the doctor wouldn’t of found a cure.

    LOL i know this sounds extreme but it shows every action has a reaction.
    So for you to tell your storey to umm reach out, to be open and honest has its own reaction without you every revisiting this site again.

    Thats just you, go figure. Imagine what you could do if you tried?
    Not all the world is nasty. Sometimes a simple smile brightens a day.

  5. 10 Kay 16 Oct 2014 at 11:25 am

    Thank you Barry. when i shut down it is not because of what someone else has done. it’s me. people are not doing anything wrong. i know i shutdown and i know it’s not healthy but i can’t seem to stop it. i try very hard each and every day to push through it and force myself not to close off the world and those who love and care about me. i am aware, very aware i just do not know how to stop it. i guess… it feels good to be alone, it feels safe when i’m alone and hidden from the world. sometimes the world feels too big for me, even when love surrounds me, it’s overwhelming. crowds or just a handful of people make me uncomfortable. happy or unhappy moments, it does not seem to matter, it always feels overwhelming… not sure what it means. Kay

  6. 11 Joylene 26 Oct 2014 at 6:30 pm

    I just wanted to say thank you. Thank you all of you. This was so wonderful to read all of this. I was feeling so alone, sad, and distressed. I was in denial. But now I know, this all fits me completely. I am self-destructive. Thank you to everyone who shared their experiences. I can empathize, definitely, with each of you. I have been crying steadily for an hour now and I know I am not finished. I truly hate myself and no matter what I do or what anyone else says, it doesn’t change. I distract myself, but it always comes back to my self-loathing. I want so bad to “fix” myself, but where do I start when like Michelle, I feel there is something inherently wrong with me? I thought I was getting better, but I am still caught in this destructive cycle. I don’t know what to do. I just do not know what to do…I wish all of us here were together and then we could all have a good cry and a group hug. I hope this all gets better for each of us. I hope this is all for a reason and that there will come a day when we can look at ourselves in the mirror with love, not judgement or shame. I don’t know any of you, but I love you all more than I’ve ever loved myself and I think that is incredibly sad. We need to keep hoping that we’ll break the cycle, we need to keep hoping that this is a struggle that we can conquer. I see the value in you that I cannot see in myself; I know you are good no matter what you have done. You are good people and if you acknowledge your goodness, things will gradually change. I hope the same for myself. God bless all of you.

    • 12 barry 26 Oct 2014 at 11:49 pm

      Thanks so much for sharing Joylene,

      I would like to plant some seeds in you – some thoughts / ideas which I hope will bear fruit in your conscious experience:

      1. Instead of saying “I am self-destructive,” see if you can change that to something like:

      “I am a human being, like everyone else. And like most human beings I am ignorant about some things, especially myself. But like all other human beings, I also have the potential to see myself with great clarity and compassion. Hence I am striving to see more clearly, trying to evolve in consciousness through my own choices and experiences.”

      2. It’s not that you are inherently bad or faulty or lacking. You are dazzlingly perfect and unique. The only thing “missing” is your awareness, understanding and acknowledgement of that.

      3. In certain places where you currently lack consciousness, you have developed some self-destructive tendencies and habits. That is perfectly natural. We all have our blind spots until, often through harsh experiences, we finally see through them and really see life as it is.

      4. See if you can imagine yourself being perfect as you are. I don’t mean “resign yourself” to your present conflicts. I mean see your longing to change or improve, to be a better, happier person, as integral to your perfection. We are all works-in-progress beings, not finished articles, so judging yourself for falling short is meaningless unless it inspires you to improve in a way that you know you can.

      5. We are not imperfect beings who must figure out how to become perfect. We are perfect beings who never stop changing simply because we always want to experience more and more of our perfection.

      Just as you can see and affirm the perfect value in others who do not see it in themselves, so the rest of us can appreciate the perfect value of yourself. That currently may be difficult for you to see. But trust us, we believe in you. All you have to do is start believing that YOU are so much bigger and brighter than your fear of being you.


    • 13 Michelle 27 Oct 2014 at 2:47 am


      Thank you for acknowledging me. I actually posted that in April and it sat in limbo for months never actually posting to the site and as stupid as this sound I took it personal and it actually did a number on my self esteem. I felt rejected. So as odd as this may sound I really appreciate you commenting on my post. I am sure you get where I am coming from. Well anyways, I get what you are saying. I try very hard to take steps at loving myself and yet the moment a misstep happens I find myself in the same cycle of turning on myself winding up back to square one. It can feel hopeless and pointless to keep trying at times but I have found for one I am much more capable of handling emotions than I ever thought and two I have more restraint than I ever gave myself credit. For quite a long time I feared myself. I haven’t totally gotten past the fear but I see that I can have an urge, have had them all my life, but that doesn’t mean I will automatically act on them. Sometimes it takes a lot of energy not to but having restraint and knowing I can survive emotions have done a lot to help me feel less out of control about the situation. One key thing I have learned since I posted this is that part of my biggest problem is that I don’t have good coping skills. My family’s go to reaction to any difficulty was to basically deny so all I learned to do when problems arose was to shut my emotions out never really learning how to cope with them or the problem. So I am now trying to do my best to learn new ways to respond to life. I slip up a lot but I keep trying and hopefully one day I can stop blaming myself for every little mistake I make and seeing my emotional instability as a fatal flaw. Like you I am not sure I will ever be able to truly fix myself but if I can get to a place where I am not crying every day that would be pretty cool. In any event, it is nice to know you are not alone in your struggle and I extend a hug back to you. And a very wise bear once said, “You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.” Winnie The Pooh.
      Take care and feel better soon.


      • 14 barry 27 Oct 2014 at 7:54 am

        Hi again

        There are many comments/questions from the last two YEARS which I have yet to respond to. Basically my chronic fatigue slowly got worse and worse until I couldn’t even read a sentence without my brain caving in.

        Now, however, I am on top of the world (see my latest blog posts if you weren’t aware of why — a dream, an awakening, a healing…)

        I would just add to our exchange something about self-love.

        I think the notion of loving oneself is sometimes confusing for people because they imagine having to force themselves to “love” the negative judgement they have about themselves (as, say, a “hopeless neurotic” or “pathetic loser” or whatever), which is obviously never going to work.

        The whole basis of self-love is ceasing self-judgement.

        One of the great functions of the mind in everyday life is making comparisons, evaluations and judgements. We can skilfully differentiate between things we like/want and things we don’t. But the developing mind also turns that ability around and uses it either against others or against the self.

        Until there is some real self-knowledge and the confidence that goes with it, the mind relies upon a self-IMAGE or a set of mere ideas, many of which stem from childhood and are just plain wrong. Although the self-image can be expanded and even radically modified throughout life, it stands upon shaky foundations — the basic ideas laid down in childhood. In adulthood, the mind not only maintains a self-image, it also PROTECTS this self-image, imagining that in doing so it is protecting the actual self, which it isn’t. To protect the self-image, the mind is CONTSTANTLY comparing either self v other, or perceived self v “idealised” self. In the self-protective pattern known as arrogance, the self usually comes out on top (but only because the child-mind within fears being merely “ordinary”). With all other ego-fear features, the self LOSES in the comparison. Again, this is simply because there is too much fear associated with losing the foundational ideas of self laid down in childhood.

        With self-destruction, the self is deemed bad, loathsome, unlovable, unworthy of existence — and all because the inner child secretly dreads “being my true self, expressing my true thoughts and feelings,” something which was squashed in early life.

        One way to heal, then, is to pursue some form of creative self-expression as a path to one’s truth, possibly in the form of journal writing, music or visual art.

        Another is to deliberately set out to catch oneself in the act of self-judgement, as often as possible, so that the automatic mental process is raised into the light of awareness. The unconscious loses its power as soon as it is made conscious – a bit like the way a secretive police state loses its control over citizens as soon as its activities are made public and transparent.


        • 15 Michelle 27 Oct 2014 at 12:47 pm


          To be perfectly honest, regardless of your inconsistency in replying the past few years it would have been hard for you to post to my reply considering it was not posting correctly. It was stuck in some sort of preposting hold or something I really don’t know what happened to it but I actually gave up on it ever becoming a post. I logically know it is silly to take a website glitch personal but when your self-worth and esteem is at zero it doesn’t take much to put you into a tailspin so I was quite surprised that it first of all finally posted for one but that anyone bothered to read it let alone reflect on it considering it was posted so long ago. But I know everything happens for a reason and the situation did help me to see how I was having unrealistic pessimism about myself and life. I got triggered by something that wasn’t personal but it was all my doing to make it personal. Who knows, maybe at the point I stopped taking it personal was when it finally got posted. Life is strange that way sometimes.

          Well anyways, I will give your comments some thought. I have actually struggled to love myself partly because I find it hard to accept and love the part of me that flips out. I know my reaction is way out of proportion to the situation but when you can’t seem to help yourself, stop the over reaction, it weighs on your self-worth. So I am stuck in the cycle of becoming tense about life, having an extreme over reaction to it and then beating myself up fiercely for the overreaction. But I kept getting the message you have to love yourself, even the dark parts and I just struggle mightily to do it. It isn’t who I remotely want to be and I just can’t stop judging the behavior as wrong so it makes sense to me that you say we simply need to stop the self-judgment. I have been trying to accept and love it and failing miserably to do so just makes me feel like more of a failure but maybe I can simply try and cease judging the behavior/myself for once and see if I can get myself to self-acceptance at least as a first step.

          I am happy to hear about your breakthrough. I did read previously of your own struggles and it must have been wonderful to have the kundalini awakening. I have heard of them but have not had one myself. I hope you continue to feel well and at peace and I look forward to the book when you publish it. I have appreciated your site and your spiritual approach to mental health. It has helped me to understand myself better and that is always a good thing in my opinion. As difficult as it can be to look at ourselves and admit what is going on it seems we have to become aware and acknowledge what is there if we can ever hope to turn things around. Take care and thanks again for the website.


          • 16 Joylene 27 Oct 2014 at 8:41 pm


            Thank you for the insight. I appreciate the time and effort you took to write a thoughtful response. Unfortunately, your words are not enough to change the way I feel about myself. As I said, I thought I was getting better, but once again I find myself deeply depressed about not just what I’ve done, but about who I am. I know this is going to take me a long time to work through. It helps to read all of this, but I’m not even close to being okay. I will take your advice about self-expression. I used to play instruments, write frequently, and do various artistic things, but I haven’t for a long while. I suppose I haven’t been inspired. I was forcing myself to fulfill my basic responsibilities, so anything extra was out of the question. Still, I think it will help to at least write so I won’t feel like I’m keeping everything inside.


            I really felt a connection to what you wrote, which is largely the reason why I chose to say anything. I read the article and I read all of the comments, but it wasn’t until I read yours that I decided that I wanted to write something too. I could relate to the running, the fear, and the struggle to hide your true self. I could relate to the depression, the detachment, and the recklessness. But what stood out the most to me is when you said you didn’t want to just die, you wanted to not exist. I don’t think I have ever heard anyone say that or read that anywhere, but I have definitely felt that before. I have never thought that death was truly the end. I have always thought that if I died, I would continue on in some way. But that didn’t stop me from thinking about suicide and attempting it once. People told me that if I succeeded in killing myself, I would go straight to hell. But it wasn’t fear of what happens after death that kept me from trying again. It was the sense of futility. I knew that if I was still alive in some form, I would still be me, and therefore, I would still have to live with myself. If the whole point of suicide is to escape life and my own existence, and I know that after I die I will likely just continue life in a different way and still be me, then what is there to gain? I understand how unbearable that is: to not want to exist, but to be unable to do anything about it.

            And then, of course, the part I mentioned in my previous comment, about there being something inherently wrong with you, resonated deeply with me. I have used those exact words to describe myself in the past: “inherently wrong,” so I had to mention it, as I thought it was a strange coincidence.

            I can also understand your hurt at not being acknowledged. When you spend the vast majority of the time hiding your true self from others and then finally share something deeply personal and difficult to talk about, you would like someone to respond. I can understand why you would take it personally and I don’t find that stupid at all. Other people have received responses both before and after you and if you chose to receive a notification every time someone comments on the article, then you would potentially check the website each time there was a new notification, just to be disappointed once again that no one said anything to you. I don’t think anyone wanted you to feel that way. As Barry said, with his chronic fatigue, he struggled to respond to everyone. But still, I understand how that would negatively impact your self-esteem.

            I didn’t think mentioning you would have any impact on you. I didn’t expect you to visit the article again. In fact, I didn’t think anyone would really care about my comment, truthfully. I just felt like I wanted to write something, because I really related to everything I read. But I guess it just goes to show how we underestimate the importance of our actions. I have no trouble realizing that my poor decisions have negative consequences. But when I do something to acknowledge others or do something nice for someone else, I don’t think it really matters. And maybe that’s where I’ve gone so wrong, by hyper focusing on my shortcomings and not recognizing anything good about myself or what I do.

            So my comment helped you in some way, and your comment helped me too. It was nice to know someone was positively affected by me. Like you, I don’t have good coping skills. I tend to just keep everything inside until I can’t keep it inside anymore and then I explode. Then I go back to keeping everything inside… I am glad that you haven’t given up; it gives me hope that I can do the same. Still, this is an odd thing to say, but I’m glad to find someone who’s in the same boat as me. As helpful as it is to read the “it gets better” stories, I find it hard to believe at this point. Reading ways to love and accept myself do not make me love and accept myself. But reading that someone else feels the way I do, helps me feel like less of a freak. While I want things to be better for you and better for everyone, it’s nice to know that I’m not the only one who is struggling to keep it together.

            I like the Winnie the Pooh quote.

            Thanks again,

            • 17 Michelle 28 Oct 2014 at 1:57 pm

              Hi Joylene,

              Boy it sure does sound like we were cut from the same cloth. And I am not at all offended that you find comfort in meeting someone in the same boat. It’s hard to do this on your own and not have anyone who can relate or understand the pain you are feeling. Not too many people in my family know about my issue. I am still good at hiding myself and have luckily kept most of this private but of the people who do know they just can’t relate. They probably think I make mountains out of molehills and to some degree they are right but it isn’t like we are doing it on purpose. We don’t want to have over reactions and/or turn on ourselves but there they are. So there definitely is comfort in finding someone who understands exactly what you are thinking.

              When I finally stopped and really listened to what the darkness that had been chasing me had to say I was absolutely floored at what was coming out. Like I said, I had urges to throw myself off boats or out of moving cars my whole life that I forced myself to ignore but to finally face the demon inside was pretty shocking to me. I was totally confused and really scared because I knew in all honesty every fiber of my being wanted it to be so. And like you I had not heard of anyone saying it before. You hear all sorts of stories about people wanting to die but to not exist was really confusing. I really couldn’t fathom where it was coming from. Why in the world I felt that way. Oddly enough when I was a small child of maybe 7 or 8 I was contemplating life and religion one day and the question popped in my head, what would it be like if we never existed? And the answer I came up with was it wouldn’t matter because we would not know any better. Little did I know that question would come back to haunt me later in life. I still have times when I struggle with it but the first 2 years were the worst. I was in constant emotional pain, I had no idea how badly emotions can hurt. And I was truly fighting life not wanting to exist and being so pained that I could not make it so was torture so I really felt like my personality was splitting in two. I thought for sure I was going crazy. This constant pain was everyday all day for 2 years straight when I hit probably the lowest low I could ever experience. I honestly and truly lost all hope. I couldn’t understand how God could do such a thing, leave a person to suffer so severely forever just seemed so cruel to me. I was giving up and then I had a dream that night that a beautiful singer was performing in this very dark small room. I was hiding in the shadows and she summoned over to me and said this (singing) is for you. Then she touched the back of my head and said, release and allow. I can’t say it fixed me but it helped give me a small glimmer of hope back.

              It wasn’t long after that, that I came across a book about soul plans and reading it I kind of saw my life ripple into place. The puzzle pieces were fitting together, why certain things were the way they were. And then it struck me that I alone, somewhere along the line, this life or a past one, made the DECISION that I shouldn’t exist. No one else decided this for me, it was me that decided and as such I have the power to change my mind if I like. Easier said than done when you see yourself lose control and think you need to be stopped but at least it gave me something to focus on. And thankfully after that I wasn’t in constant severe depression every waking minute. Now I am at a place where I fall in and out of it if life triggers me. And so now I am really just trying to hone in on the triggers. Not always easy to detect but I am making progress.

              The few things I have done that have helped me to make some steps in getting past this or at least surviving it are firstly I started noticing song lyrics always popping up in my head. They really were very encouraging song lyrics that helped me hold onto hope. I am fairly certain without them I would have tipped to far into the darkness so I guess music to a large degree really saved me and I am sure is why I had that dream. As well I spend a lot of time journaling my thoughts. The first 10 or so books are all filled with a lot of dark thoughts but after a while I noticed after a rant I found myself starting to try and write a counter argument to what I was saying. And it kind of works because it helps to give me a bit of a pep talk. And finally probably the biggest help has been dream work. I spend a lot of time trying to decipher my dreams. I keep a dream journal by my bed and when I wake up I immediately write down what I dreamed even if it is the middle of the night. There have been a lot of difficult dreams but they have also helped me to understand myself much better. I find that I have better recall upon waking when I ask a specific question before I go to bed. I then take the dream and look at it as a puzzle, starting with the biggest symbols first and build a story around them with the rest of the symbols. There is a pretty good site, dreammoods that has pretty good symbol definitions.
              Anyways, those are some of the things I have done that have helped a bit.

              I am not sure we will ever get past the self-destructive urges but in the whole scheme of things I logically think we have to work through it eventually or what is the point. Like you said, it would all just be an exercise in futility and yet we do exist. We have to exist for a reason and it can’t only be to suffer. There has to be a way out to something better. So glad I found a friend. I don’t feel quite so alone anymore. As for the Pooh quote, I had an all-day Halloween themed business meeting and there was a lawyer dressed up as Winnie the Pooh which I thought was just funny as all get out. Then a couple of days later I actually ran into the quote which I found to be a very interesting coincidence. The few people that know of my struggles have tried to tell me how strong I am and I just don’t believe them but then the quote found its way to me so I took notice. I try to remind myself of it as often as I can and maybe one day I will believe it.

              Ok, take care of yourself and stay strong. I am glad we connected.


  7. 18 Daynia 17 Nov 2014 at 4:37 pm

    Hi Barry,

    I just want to know if you can help me, what do you think is going on when you have deep discussions with someone in full details of how you feel but then that person comes back to you and acts totally oblivious as if the conversation never happened. They only remember other things in the conversation that are not related as if we were having a totally different conversation from where we left off the last time.

    It makes me feel depressed and crazy. I have made a decision to just move away because I feel that this behavior is really affecting me emotionally and mentally in a very bad way.

    • 19 barry 02 Dec 2014 at 9:18 am

      It seems to me (off the top of my head) there are three possibilities:
      1. They can’t help it for whatever reason (e.g., poor brain function), so for your relationship to continue this is something you will both need to be explicitly aware of and then find a way to work with it or around it.
      2. They COULD remember everything but they are acting out of some negative agenda or immature attitude, such as trying to mess you about, or possibly ducking their responsibility for understanding what others tell them.
      3. It’s something in the way you communicate, or what you communicate about, that makes them want to switch off and forget it.

    • 20 Neil 16 Dec 2014 at 6:00 pm

      Hi Daynia,
      It seems to me that someone who cares about you is “counselling” you. That means listening to you but not judging you.
      When you get professional help and talk to a psychologist, it takes half an hour. When you see that same person in the street they just say hello.
      This gives you a sense of freedom and belonging.

  8. 21 sam 07 Dec 2014 at 3:59 am

    Only way to change self destruction this is through truly believing In Jesus christ studying the bible and prayer. It’s the only cure but u have to believe.

    • 22 Neil 16 Dec 2014 at 6:14 pm

      jesus christ destroyed himself ?

      • 23 barry 17 Dec 2014 at 6:08 pm

        Technically it was martyrdom – he deliberately allowed others to destroy him.

  9. 24 David 22 Dec 2014 at 3:45 am

    I am just now coming to grips of what is wrong. This article is me. I do the binge drinking and pop at times and can’t control my thought process. I have almost completely destroyed my life and career. I feel so bad about the pain and hassle i have caused. Maybe I can get started to better health now. I am thankful to find this article.

    • 25 barry 27 Dec 2014 at 10:57 am

      Really glad to hear you got something from it David. Good luck with getting better.

  10. 26 Chris Holden 15 Jan 2015 at 3:40 am

    What if one has self destructed to the point of no return? When one knows at the deepest level of one’s being that it is too late and that to deny that would be lying to one’s self & acknowledging it leads to total despair.

    How can you explain the feeling of the loss of one’s own soul or of feeling the final closing over of ones own heart & thus the cessation of all feelings/emotions other than loss, the loss of self. I no longer relate to the “thing” I see looking back at me in the mirror, I have no connection whatsoever to that reflection. I look at the eyes and they are dead, the old adage that the eyes are the windows of the soul never rang truer as does “you reap what you sow” & make no mistake I fully acknowledge I have reaped what I have sown but it’s the damage elsewhere, to other people, to my wife and even more to my children. The worst thing now is that in my present state I haven’t the intellectual/emotional capacity to make amends. It’s like I have forgotten everything I have ever known, my short term memory is virtually non existent, my concentration mimics the worst case of ADHD & my long term memory has no sense of depth.

    There is a total disconnection with reality, from both people & life. When no matter how beautiful say for instance a view is, one can no longer see, sense or appreciate that beauty life is over. When one tries to do simple tasks, severe concentration & memory issues thwart ones best efforts & only result in serving as a reminder that one is no use to society in any worthwhile capacity.

    I acknowledge my present state is all down to my own selfishness and is the result of a workplace affair (Police officer with 20yrs service) that lasted on & off for 5 years, ending over two & half years ago when I disclosed my actions having not being able to keep my secret any longer. Thirty six hours earlier I’d had a nightmare where i had been hanging on for grim death to a rope ladder by my fingertips above a bottomless black abyss, that night I let go & my world changed forever. I finished work earlier that day knowing that I was no longer capable of doing my job.

    In hindsight I ignored the classic symptoms of severe depression three years prior to the above, one made oneself get out of bed when every inch of you screamed not to but there was that responsibility to go to work. I remember questioning myself as to why it was such a battle to brush my teeth at night, why exercise once an obsession/love was becoming increasingly difficult to do/be bothered with, wondering why my body was forever breaking down with one injury after another but I couldn’t discuss it because of what I was doing so just carried on regardless.

    I was a popular & highly regarded person in my place of work, I was seen as somebody who cared about people & had a high standard which I encouraged others to attain. I don’t say that arrogantly I say it because that is what people have since told me. I took pride in my work & was a conscientious employee. Integrity, honesty & respect were core values of one’s occupation & pre affair I prided myself in upholding them in & and out of the workplace, along with fairness & compassion & empathy. I was a person who would give up my seat on the train if a female or elderly person was standing, old fashioned maybe but it was me, I couldn’t not do it. However the longer the affair went on the more these values & characteristics were eroded & my personality was changing insidiously for the worse. I know now that my attempts at justification for my actions led to a distortion of reality and the subsequent breakdown of my conscience & eroding of will/self discipline. I lost count of the number of times I would say I’m not going to see her today but then would, like I was obligated to. There were times if she was away & I didn’t have to go, then there were feelings of overwhelming relief, the same when I ended the affair on numerous occasions, the nightmares would stop, signs that should have told me what I was doing was clearly wrong & at odds with my conscience. My conscience is now sadly non-existent & I live in a state of total apathy.

    I have seen psychologists, psychiatrists, psychotherapists, hypnotherapists but the inner knowledge that it is too late has made progress impossible & to make matters worse my memory of my life is now so vague I am no longer able to engage properly with these professionals in a manner in which pre breakdown would have been of innate value. I have tried doing menial jobs but all the while I am saying to myself “you don’t know what I am really like, I am thick, stupid, emotionally retarded, I struggle with stuff a five year old could do, I genuinely feel as though I have lost my own mind & every single thing I do wrong, the slightest mistake I make is a confirmation I am useless to the nth degree. I haven’t the logic anymore to know what is par for the course because knowing what I am like isn’t par for the course & not being able to make amends makes matters worse because it is like I have regressed to nothing. When one has lost any sense of time, of being able to enjoy anything that one used to enjoy & has a total disconnection with reality & ones self then what hope is there? I no longer have a sense of how to be because I have destroyed all the characteristics that made me a person of some value to society.

    Sorry if this overly depressing but it is how it is for me, I have become obsessed at watching my mind or lack of it. I’m not sure how this reads as it has taken the best part of three hours to compose & edit which has at least occupied my mind if nothing else.

    • 27 leskels 22 Jan 2015 at 7:13 am

      how do you know and why do you limit yourself with the thought that you’re already in a “point of no return”. well, it’s your turn to bear with now!!!

      when I read what you’ve written, I got goose bumps all over as it reflects my experience to a good extent. I am slowly, but steadily making a come back. after years, i’m able to laugh and smile a little, a wee little.

      i suffered memory losses, I still do. my self-worth suffered massively, it still does. I couldn’t relate to anything, anyone, anywhere. nothing shocked me. i had gone numb. totally numb.

      to a large extent i used to forget almost everything as i hardly paid any attention to anything or anyone.

      i joined my dream company (a 15 years dream-come-true) but i screwed up at work big time and I quit last month. jobless too. i just wasn’t able to live with what I had become as a person and that led to other incompetence both work- and life-related. i was technically very competent, but the human being in me failed, just dropped dead.

      right. let me stop it here.

      i am going for a change. from within. in my own eyes. I still care less for myself, but who am I to say there’s no hope. only the person whose fear is more than anything else will say there’s nothing to hope. only when the willingness to fight has gone, there’ll be nothing to hope. only when I have abandoned myself, there’ll be no hope. only when I’ve QUIT, spinelessly, hope is lost.

      no. i haven’t quit. no, i still have some fight left in me. no, i still have love left in me. no, i still care for my family, my lil daughter especially. she has a right to live well and if i don’t buckle up, nobody else will. my past is my past. at least the past is secure. the future isn’t. maybe i will never again even walk close to anyone again. still, i will walk until i am ordered to “drop dead”. death has to come seeking me. i will NOT walk into it’s arms until i have done everything else that i’m supposed to. well what am i supposed to do ? It’s not my prerogative to quit on life, on death, on my own self.

      i will overcome my mistakes, blunders, crimes. it’s mine to regret my mistakes, cry for them and make peace with them. maybe the battleground will kill me, but i will go in a blaze.

      what the heck, I will die, living it. not dying before living it.

      don’t cheer up. just think, one brick at a time. one brick at a time. just one. start.

    • 28 Belialith Gurdjieff 26 Jan 2015 at 7:24 am

      Well I think you’ve composed and edited it damn well. So there you go. You still have the spirit working through you. Now, what I would like you to comprehend is that we all have a dark side, ok? So when you get there, accept it. There is learning on this side too! After all, that is Mothers territory. The hidden, the dark. You learn you grow and then you become more whole. So what you had before was so great, so perfectly on the ‘light’ end of the spectrum (the Father side), that when you walked into the ‘dark’ side of the spectrum, it was an equal balance. Your light and dark have to balance. So you went deep into the dark. It doesn’t mean you stay there! You only feel guilty, which is probably what’s messing up your mind, because you were so ‘high’ up before, such a great model in the life that you were living. But people need to know the dark side too, and also how to forgive themselves for wandering further than they ever imagined they would. Even self indulgence can be forgiven, as long as you recognize you’ve been that. You’re on a journey of self CONSCIOUSNESS. To become more conscious of the full self, not just half of it. Until we have all sides of our self, we’re not yet whole. So your next step is to put the left and right together as a marriage within your own self. Then you have the true you. Then you will be more aware.

    • 29 barry 26 Jan 2015 at 10:06 pm

      Hi Chris

      I totally recognise and acknowledge your despair and disconnection. I have been in that state several times during my own life. I had thought that I was beyond going there again, yet just recently I was right in it.

      So, if I have it right, you are/were by any standards a good man and a decent human being. You managed to created a good, secure lifestyle with everything in place (family, career and so on). Your life was literally all right. But then you seemingly began to lose it all after you got into a 5-year secret infidelity involving a workmate. You experienced growing conflict between your hitherto good character and this ongoing “dark secret”. That, plus your inability to act on your conscience rather than impulse regarding the affair, gradually tore you apart, to the point that you confessed, even though that caused your entire life to fall apart.

      You also say that you had in fact been seriously depressed (though unacknowledged) for 3 years before the meltdown.

      First I would say that virtually all of us struggle, and frequently fail, to live up to what we know to be our better qualities. In fact, the only ones who never experience this are either psychopaths or those with severe psychological impairment. To err is human. Conflict between our higher, better nature (“how good I know I can be”) and our lower, darker nature (“how bad I have been”) goes with the territory, the human condition.

      And yet, many of us have a less-than-helpful habit of seeing things in black-and-white. “Either I am a good person or I am bad … I can’t be both.” In fact we are all a bit of both. And the vast majority of us, like you, are doing our best to become the person we want to be and create the life we desire, in an acceptable way, given our limited resources.

      Of course, we all differ in what we desire and in what we regard as acceptable. For some, life is about taking — they see a person with something that THEY really want (money, car, partner, etc), and then they try and get it by taking it from that person. Self-gratification is the name of the game. I am sure you will be very familiar with people like that in the criminal world, people who think nothing of exploiting or depriving other people to please themselves.

      But thankfully most people these days, including you, are not like that.

      You say you have the feeling of losing your soul. I am going to argue against that, simply because, as far as I’m concerned, the individual consciousness of you that is reading these words right now IS that very soul, an immortal being, an integral component of the very fabric of the whole of reality, a spark of divine presence … You cannot lose or destroy your own soul. You ARE that soul, and always will be. You HAVE a body, a mind, a personality, an ego, a shadow, a sense of self, a sense of no-self, beliefs, feelings and attitudes, uncertainty, doubts and fears, a personal history and memory. But none of those is who you ARE. You are the being who temporarily HAS these things as part of your current state in the human game of life.

      I understand that your mind fails to perceive your soul. But that is always the case. No mind has ever perceived the soul within. The mind is not designed to perceive that which is more subtle than itself, just as the eyeball is not designed to perceive the human mind. The body, mind and soul all operate at different levels of reality. The lower levels cannot perceive the higher.

      And the fact that you cannot relate to the thing who looks back at you in the mirror is, in an odd way, a positive step. The face in the mirror merely reflects your current physical appearance; it does not represent the deeper essence of who you are. You have dis-identified from the physical level, the human figure that bears the name Chris.

      A lot of people assume that their physical form is who they are. Others assume that who they are is the character that they are playing in life, like an actor on stage. We can identify with any of these different levels of being. But bodies come and go; life stories come and go. The essence of who we are is neither of these; we are the constant behind these variables. Our true identity is not defined by physical form or life events. We are formless and timeless.

      When we identify with our essence, we are in alignment with truth. The more we are in alignment with truth, the more easily life flows, physically, mentally and emotionally.

      The more we identify with the body or mind/ego, the more we become misaligned. Our energy becomes overly focused and entangled at the wrong level.

      You have become temporarily trapped in perceiving yourself as that which is absent at the physical and mental levels. The loss of attention, memory, aesthetic appreciation, etc are symptoms of your misaligned perception, not signs of your extinction.

      So to answer your question, “What if one has self destructed to the point of no return?” I would have to say that I know for a certainty there is no such thing, no point-of-no-return. It is impossible.

      • 30 Chris 08 Feb 2015 at 12:46 am


        Thanks for your reply as well as the others who offered advice. It was only by chance I came to read the responses because I had forgotten I’d posted my initial comment & came across your website again when it popped up following a response to “loss of higher self” query I submitted.

        I relate to your comments about essence as many years ago that’s how I used to judge people through feeling their essence, after a short term of interaction I would always have a strong feeling about that person as stupid as that may sound. It’s how I fell completely head over heals in love with my wife when I first met her all those years ago. I had never met anyone like her that I connected with at that level.

        Now because I have lost/destroyed my own essence as well as any emotional or intellectual intelligence, I no longer feel human & that is the shit that goes constantly through my mind on the rare occasions I actually talk to anyone these days. In other words because I have no essence I can no longer relate to anyone else. If by chance I go out & accidentally bump into someone I know I try & pretend there is nothing wrong with me & basically ask about their lives & how they are doing. If they inquire how I am I basically lie & say I’m doing a bit of this & a bit of that when I’m actually incapable of doing those things due to concentration & memory issues. So unless I say I am totally f****d then what I am saying is a lie. That’s the irony, after all the lying & deceit of the affair, now when I tell the truth it’s not believed by anyone including the professionals & my truth is totally detrimental to progression of any sort.

        Mates try to get me to go out for a kick around (soccer), a lifetime passion/love. I have gone once or twice but am scared to get the ball as it’s like I no longer know what to do with it, that inner self & awareness of what/who is around you no longer exists, the ability to read a game, anticipate, all the intuitive things, all gone.. As I’ve said it’s as though I’ve forgotten everything I’ve ever known. I used to be so competitive, I would lead by example. I go home & my wife will say, “you can motivate yourself to go to soccer” but the honest truth is it just makes me feel more depressed as it serves to remind me that I no longer am a fifth of the person I was & that I genuinely have no interest in being there but go because otherwise I’d be sat at home staring at the wall trying to escape further from myself. I have coached teams, organised training sessions, washed the kit, driven the team van, been responsible for age group teams, the works. Now I struggle to make a cup of tea because if I try to think at the same time about anything else I find myself looking in stupid places for the milk which again only serves to increase my belief that I’ve got advanced dementia /Alzheimers at the grand age of 53.

        Again the experts say this isn’t the case, I’ve asked for tests but they say there is no point because I would either deliberately sabotage them which in itself makes my blood absolutely boil. I used to love the challenge of testing myself by doing IQ tests, cryptic crosswords, any type of puzzles, quizzes, I loved them, now I am embarrassed by not being able to remember hardly anything & end up questioning my own knowledge when I do manage to come up with an answer. Whereas once when I knew an answer I could generally remember how/where I’d acquired that knowledge in the first place. That has all gone.

        The truth as you mentioned is all important & I cannot emphasise that enough, it is one of the most important things in life as is integrity & a sense of compassion & memory. I destroyed all of those by having an affair, I destroyed my conscience by consistently ignoring it until it went altogether. No conscience, no soul & as you mentioned only psychopaths are like that, I have told the professionals that is how I see myself even though one is loathe to even think such a thing about oneself, they disagree. To my mind that is why I believe I am shutting down more & more because that is something I’m not prepared to be but to deny that would be to deny the truth.

      • 31 chris 31 Jul 2015 at 4:31 pm

        I have reached point of no return so it is not impossible.overdosed on weed for a year straight.had extremely destructive psycotic break.had 1.5 years of cumulative sleep loss until brain dead.then went to rehab place.have been on massive doses of drugs to sleep due to burned out adrenal glands.I am basically the stupidist person on the entire planet to self destruct and torture myself to death for 2.5 years without realizing what I was doing to myself.I have a family also so I’m the worst dad ever. I can’t work anymore.I was a master auto mechanic.I feel like death everyday.I used to be a very productive person.the drug addiction wasted my brain.not rehabbing after psycotic break finished me yes it is possible to make oneself so severely mentally ill that a comeback is impossible.I just think of suicide now.I hurt everywhere.all for nothing.ruined my life for no reason.out of control drug addiction had me out of touch with reality for a long I’m nothing.

  11. 32 Belialith Gurdjieff 26 Jan 2015 at 6:20 am

    I am NOT a self-destructive person. I love myself very much and I love others. It’s just that I was programmed in my biological form by a bunch of rude and cruel beings around me who were really mechanical. I mean, my father for example, slave to the Roman Catholic religion, wanted to have a son as a first born, because I’m sure his ego would be inflated and he could have a big sense of pride in this accomplishment, which to him would signify his importance. But he had a daughter first, my sister, and then he had me, I think I was born on April Fool’s day on purpose just to irk him out of his sleepwalking, because I came out a girl too. Well then we had the arrival of my brother. Not only did he act so stupid, he also ruined my brothers life by treating him like a tool for his own superiority. But anyway, that is how I began in this life. I was always very powerful from what I remember as a child of three, four years old, powerful spiritually. I sometimes wonder how this reincarnation cycle works, and that maybe the beings in power, or the ‘powers that be’ hate us so much because we are so well developed, that they put us with mechanical animal people in order to try to destroy our lives. So the whole time, and I’m now 49, the whole time I have been struggling with this shit called low-self image, but not MY personal inner self image, which is really healthy and great, but with that ingrained into my perhaps subconscious or something that was brainwashed into my form, and what we need is a total change of how society works. The political-governmental system is corrupt, the religious system is abominable, the educational system is holding us back from true learning, and the social system is them trying to keep us apart so that we are prevented from sharing the love that is within us, and so only their idiotic mind manipulated programming is predominant so that it’s as though we never get past it because the love that’s inside is shoved so deeply and we can’t seem to find a place in which to express and share our love for one another. That is what makes us self-destructive. Because our real and true nature is being stomped down by a bunch of psychopaths who think they own this world and so can do anything they please. Murder and steal all the high positions so that they can program our thinking through their mass media which they had bought all up. Yea. I think they have something against the beautiful human beings’ heart, and they are trying to kill us subtly by their godawful programming. It’s time for us to recognize this, so that we stop falling for their self-destructive programming in us. And let’s all just break away. Let’s get courageous and show love to each other even if they sling their slime at us. Just wipe it off and move along happily. Hahaha. I’m always looking for solutions every single moment of the day to change it into something better.

  12. 33 Belialith Gurdjieff 26 Jan 2015 at 8:40 pm

    Alright so, everyone is different. I’m having real difficulties right now, that is why I’ve returned to say a few more things. First of all, I find that when a person, me for example, is so pushed down, like it started with my parents at a very early age, they (I, myself) tend to find ways to defend themselves, to fight. So instead of allowing those people around me to just dig in, cut me down, look at me from their ignorant surface brainwashing, I started to use mind over matter. It simmers inside you. There were many times I use to tell myself as I was growing up, all the way through my teen years and on, that I can’t use my hands to fight, I’m a delicate female (was a delicate child). And so I had to use my mind. That way no one would know where it was coming from when it came at them. So I tell you, it takes years of thinking like this to become pretty powerful. But I realized I was very destructive and I was hurting people with my mind. Directing so much pain and anger towards them that things really were just not pleasing to me. I couldn’t stand being hurt or hurting others. So somehow, instead of dealing with the outside world (sending destruction to them) and some spirits too, they aren’t the good ones either, I started to dislike very much my destructive nature, and that’s when I became self-destructive. I prevented myself from directing and hitting those people through my mind, I just held it inside and would get explosions in me that would affect the outside world in various ways, without any direction, because I hated hurting others. But since I was getting hurt so much all of the time, I had these terribly strong feelings inside. Then I started to direct it at myself because the situation was so condensed and I was so in a fucking corner, I couldn’t seem to enlighten anyone to stop hurting myself and others and I couldn’t seem to stop myself from having huge emotional responses within, which really stayed nicely hidden because I had to begin as a child, since if my parents saw the outside expression, they would be able to attack me, mentally, emotionally, or physically. So I started to destroy myself within. I attempted to commit suicide three times in my life. All pretty wide apart, and all times I got some mysterious help to prevent it from going through. The last time I did it, and was helped by some spirit inside who showed me how black it was back there, so I decided I was not ready for that, and I made myself to go to the washroom, then crawled back to bed and prayed I woke up….after that last time, I vowed I would not commit suicide. But I noticed a pattern, that every time my inner world began to become overwhelming and I was heading down that road, and I stopped myself, I noticed that someone out there in the world or around me would commit suicide instead. And I think that’s so stupid! Why does it function like that? It doesn’t make sense. Why can’t a person just have things work beautiful and lovely without all that ugliness involved?
    So anyway, the thing is, I love deeply on a whole level, a friendship level, but when it comes to ‘falling in love’ which is someone getting closer to the core of myself, then I start to break down, cry, get nervous jerks through my whole body because the emotions are so strong, and so I don’t allow myself to fall in love, I don’t even want to think about what would happen if I did allow myself. I mean, love relationships are the most delicate. If a person hurts another person who is very powerful, then that powerful person might end up hurting the other one, and then hurting their own inner self because they didn’t really want to hurt another. So I can’t trust a person to get close to me and have respect for my very powerful inner emotions, to not play with them. I have a hard time dealing with them. And it takes great amount of work to control one’s thoughts and emotions. It’s a huge effort. So falling in love is the most frightening thing for me. And sensing it coming, I become terrified. So I start to find ways in which to not allow it to occur. But I would like to, just like anyone else, to have a close relationship with another, but a relationship based on respect, not on selfish motives. And the soul-mate? person I’m in love with is a very selfish being, but has the capability to be very loving and powerfully helpful to the rest of the world, if only he would take the responsibility in his hands and stop making stupid rude and crude music which is only meant to enhance his material position. It’s so pathetic. But anyway. Thanks so much for being here, for listening. I’ll find a way to get past this. I have already gotten past it, now that you’ve allowed me to have my say. People don’t know the power they have within. I found out how powerful we really are by living it. You must begin to look at what you have. That maybe your self-destructive nature is a result of you being so good that you didn’t want to use the destructive nature to hurt others. We need to stand up for our rights, and not allow others to act haphazardly with us, for we are all jewels of the greatest brilliance and we should all be respected. The animal nature that some of us allow ourselves to fall asleep in, is NOT the way. We need to wake up to our higher and very powerful nature, and keep the animal side of us behind reins. It’s a struggle worth. Find your GOD SELVES

  13. 34 Belialith Gurdjieff 26 Jan 2015 at 9:03 pm

    Thank you. Thank you so much for being here. I now understand why I was so afraid to allow myself to fall in love. Just being able to come here and talk about it, has helped me to find the answer. All my life I was wondering why. I thought I was the devil or something wicked because I couldn’t approach it. Now I find the reality makes way more sense. All those fictional characters that others call us when they don’t understand us, and they sometimes make us doubt our own self and begin to think, “well maybe they’re right.” But they’re not right. They’re just calling us names because they didn’t do any self searching, any soul searching. So the outside name calling replaces the knowledge which they ought to have been acquiring. I tell ya…some people are so ignorant. Time to wake up. I am not a devil. I am a human being with a deeply loving nature which needs to be respected. And same with all others. If you don’t respect your own self, how can you respect anyone else. It starts by delving in first to your own nature and finding out the magnificent beauty that is right there, God-given glory, your real own True SELF. That is where it’s at!!! Thank you so much Barry, and beautiful suffering friends who’ve written here, thank you for having this here. You’ve helped me. And I hope I too have helped enlighten you all, by helping myself get enlightened, by the fact that you were kind enough to be here, for just that. I love you all so much. I feel much stronger now. In control, the right way.

    • 35 barry 28 Jan 2015 at 10:49 pm

      Thank you so much, Belialith. I’m really glad to hear you’ve gained some clarity.

  14. 36 Carly 18 Feb 2015 at 8:57 pm

    Hi,I found this very helpful and sad. I’ve fallen for a girl who is very destructive. She is full of fear and cut off emotionally. What you said about the persona is so true. She thinks she is a rock star and frequently glamourizes being out of control. Trouble is I love her dearly and we had a brief relationship, which she sabbotaged just when it was getting more involved. Now she’s run from me and my love and doesn’t seem to want anything to do with me. I just wish she would let me love her. Is there anyway I can help this person, or is it better to walk away do you think?

    • 37 barry 19 Feb 2015 at 11:27 pm

      Hi Carly

      I get your dilemma. You want to have an intimate relationship with her, but it sounds like she has a fear of intimacy or commitment. There can be several reasons for that:

      1) It’s possible she has simply become so dependent on (or identified with) the persona that she fears dropping her guard. In other words, she equates intimacy with being found out as a fraud, and someone who is actually out-of-control. She’s presenting a “free spirit” image (perhaps unconsciously) to justify her uncontrolled/sabotaging tendencies, which in turn presumably emerged as a way to keep the lid on a well of painful feelings.

      2) It’s possible she was once abused in an intimate situation with a trusted individual. If so, she is likely to associate all intimacy with a high risk of helplessness, powerlessness, and touching any painful feelings she’s trying to avoid.

      3) It’s possible that she cares about you and, perceiving herself very negatively (e.g., “it’s bound to go wrong thanks to me”), she fears having a negative effect upon you. So she equates commitment with the risk of hurting or disappointing someone she cares about.

      As yet, I can’t tell which of these (if any) might be the case for her – you might have a better sense of it.

      How you proceed from here on depends, I guess, on whether you can discuss any of this stuff with her. You can’t have an intimate relationship if one of you resists intimacy.

      Do you feel ok to talk to her about your feelings for her? Do you have a sense that she would be up for talking about her way of relating to you (or people in general)?

      I realise it may be far too soon for either of you to go there. In that case, another approach would be to hang out with her, without pushing for intimacy, and maybe try a bit of reverse psychology: put the intimacy steering wheel in her hands. For example, is there any personal issue you have (not to do with her) which you could ask her for help with?

      If none of the above seems do-able, then maybe an intimate relationship with her is simply not going to happen. But hopefully by showing her sensitivity, compassion and understanding, you might be able to win her trust.

      Finally, just for the sake of your own clarity, perhaps you want to check within yourself if there is anything about her resistance that is appealing to you. In other words, if she wasn’t so hard-to-get, would you still have fallen for her? I’m not suggesting that’s the case; just that it would be helpful to recognise it if it is the case.

      Hope this helps,


      • 38 Carly 21 Feb 2015 at 12:16 pm

        Dear Barry,
        Thank you for your detailed reply to me. It was really helpful.
        I think that it is likely that she’s scared to be found out as a fraud. She’s made a successful persona which has people fooled into thinking she’s a bit of a wild girl, who doesn’t care what people think of her and who is very distanced emotionally because she prefers to play the field. She actually hates her family and I haven’t seen any meaningful connections with friends.
        She did a disclaimer from the start, telling me she didn’t want a relationship and she couldn’t give me what I deserved. Then she basically changed her tune and was acting like it was a relationship and enjoying all of what I was giving, because nobody had before. We had fun together also because we shared the same interests (both work in art and are artists) and that is why I was so shocked she cut me out.
        I think she started seeing other girls and partying and at the end when I would see her she’d spend the time telling me to go away and then the next moment asking me to stay. Hot and cold. Definitely she has a fear of intimacy also.
        Then one day in a text I upset her (unintentionally) and it probably gave her the opportunity to end it. She wouldn’t speak to me for one week and then became so cold. She ended it and said we could continue a good relation. I obviously couldn’t understand how or why she changed so quickly and I thought I could fix things. She wouldn’t see me so I went to her work to talk to her, for friendship I sort out the misunderstanding. I then wrote her multiple texts telling her I really cared and why can’t we be friends? I just couldn’t understand it, because at the time I was treating her as a normal person.
        But her behaviour wasn’t normal. I fear I made things worse because I chased and made her uncomfortable with all my words I felt I had to say to her.
        She’s comfortable if you don’t say you care about her-she can’t handle any emotional responsibility for another. Anyway I told her the hand of friendship is open to her if ever she wants to contact me. That was 3 wks ago and have heard nothing. I’m not chasing anymore.
        But I would really like to show her a picture of an exhibition piece I did, which was successful and which she was with me when I first got the idea for. I’m thinking if there is any hope then I need to stop with the emotional and just keep it light.
        Maybe I could send the picture without any words? What do you think, or perhaps write something with it? I don’t want to harass her if she wants me to go-but the thing is when I asked her if she wanted me to leave her alone, if she said yes, I would have, but she just didnt reply.
        Like I said I don’t want to harass but I think that she’s too scared to actually contact me because I pushed and was emotionally able.So now I’d like to back track a bit, change my approach and make her feel more comfortable with me again.
        Thanks very much Barry,


  15. 39 Hermes 20 Feb 2015 at 1:58 am

    How can I help my sister who is a soul type of Artisan with goal of dominance but “self destruction” character flaw has always put her in comparison with others and feeling less. She has always disguised her flaws of jealousy by wearing nice dresses and exerting in her career but was self sabotaging when someone was more than her, or the boss brought a new employee. Most often the boss tried to pull her down after realizing what was her week point (not being able to tolerate others having more experience than she had) and started threaten her by pacifically bringing up not skillful and ignorant persons just to make her more jealous and expect her to be more gentle and obedient in doing his unreasonable favoritism to offices and neighbors and friends and unqualified employees.

    She continued fighting so much and pretending that nothing is wrong that fell sick with cancer and she has lost complete motivation now. She says I believe in nothing and I will commit a succesful suicide this time (the third time)

    I fell helpless , I do not know how to help her. Any Idea?! I will welcome your suggestions and help offers most willingly.

    Thank you all

  16. 40 scott 02 Mar 2015 at 3:51 am

    I just realized that this might be me just yesterday. I have found the women of my dreams and was great for 3 months or so then bam I’m afraid I’m pushing her away then I start talking to other women .I have done this so many times in the past. Its like hurt or be hurt . I can’t pin point what the problem is or what. I just end up hurting the people dear to me .I just can’t go on this way . What I read in this post seems to be a lot like me .what can I do to break this pattern.

  17. 41 Danny 07 Mar 2015 at 6:48 pm

    Hi Barry.

    Thanks for sharing your wit. I just read Carly and yours chat. I was dating the very same type of girl this winter. I had exactly the same experience. But what I´m still very curious of, is her very consistent reaction pattern after every fight/discussion about the two of us being in a relationship. She always explained how sceptical she was concerning this, and I ended up being quite hurt, mute and disappointed. Then straight after the “fight” had settled, and I was still quite internally upset and quiet, she became this super warm and caring person. She wanted to cuddle, be close, and wanted sex with me. Then the next morning, she was cold again. What might cause this sudden change in these aftermaths of fights in her? What is the internal logic in a self destructive person, causing her to become suddenly the sweetest and most caring girl, after we had these end-the-realitionship talks? How does it relate to the fear of loosing control?



  18. 42 krystel 19 Mar 2015 at 8:03 am

    I used to cut the top of my wrists not to end my life just wanted to feel a different kind of pain I was encountering everyday and know body new so I had to be the girl they knew not the girl I really was still don’t know who I am now after 10 years never told any one about my violent 4 half years of mental and phisical abuse do I need help or am I OK

  19. 43 Karen 10 Jun 2015 at 7:44 am

    What a wonderful article – thoughtfully and sensitively written, while remaining clear cut and honest. This has given me food for thought. Well done,
    And thank you. X

    • 44 barry 10 Jun 2015 at 9:12 am

      Thans Karen :)

  20. 45 michael 01 Jul 2015 at 12:44 pm

    Thankyou for showing me, knowing that it’s not all just something that’s happening to me, I can now use this to try an move forward with the right help an answer the questions that hurt the most an hope to move on an feel safe an whole again.

    • 46 barry 03 Jul 2015 at 12:18 pm

      Fantastic. Thanks Michael

  21. 47 LeighLa 13 Aug 2015 at 5:42 pm

    Hi Barry

    Thanks for making me understand , I’ve been struggling with self destruction for over 20 years , I went from being suicidal to becoming a crazy “overly happy” free spirit , I do live recklessly and I’m so tired of it , I will definitely read the books you have recommended as I do believe I need to understand the root of my fears. I’ve never been to a therapist and I think its a good time to start.
    Thanks again for making a difference to so many troubled souls

    • 48 barry 15 Aug 2015 at 4:30 pm

      Thanks, LeighLa

  22. 49 May 18 Aug 2015 at 10:03 pm

    This article has more closely described what I have been going through. I have it all, good husband, great kids, good life and a promising career. It just seems that I am determined to trow it all away. I need to do something about me sabotaging my life, before I do something that will finally destroy me and those close to me. I still hope that my life will get better, I just have to keep my inner evil twin from crushing my dreams.

  1. 1 Destructive | Living In WellBeing Trackback on 25 Apr 2013 at 3:52 am
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  3. 3 Happiness Quotient | Sudarshan Kriya Trackback on 10 Jan 2015 at 9:00 am

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