Note: I wrote this in 2014 as a requirement for my Psych101 (Introduction to Psychology) Class. Since it is a Thursday here, it’s throwback Thursday! This is an edited and filtered version. Lol. Also, please support #MHActNow. Looking back, I was such a weird kid. Haha. I still kinda am.
Personality and Psychological Disorder
When we were discussing defense mechanisms by Freud in class, I couldn’t help but think: “Ay weh, ‘yun pala ginagawa ko.” (Oh, That’s what I’m doing right now). I was (and maybe still am) guilty of various types of defense mechanism mentioned by Freud. There was a time when I was so frustrated and with a batch mate of mine. He was a shiftee from an engineering course, and he was so good at numbers and at studying, but I was angry at the fact that he shifted to accounting when I think he should have stayed in his original course because that’s where his skills and talents can be fully utilized, but no, he just had to shift to a course where he’s really not needed because a lot of people are trying to get into that course already. Then I realized that first of all, what he does with his life is really none of my concern, because we’re not even friends and second, I was just projecting my annoyance and frustrations at myself from shifting from economics to accounting because I think I was good at economics. I was so bitter about my choice because I believed that I could have done more if I stayed at my previous course. There are times when I still feel that way (especially since I got removed from accounting), but it’s a lesson that I’m still trying to learn: that we have to move on and make do with what we have and where we are right now.
I am guilty of a lot of other defense mechanisms, but that’s just who I am I guess, an amalgamation of defense mechanisms in order to survive this world.
The criteria of normality are efficient perception of reality, ability to exercise voluntary control over one’s behavior, self-esteem and acceptance, ability to form affectionate relationships and productivity.
I was still able to do all of the five criteria, so I considered myself normal. Sure I sometimes worry over things more than my peers, and sometimes I would stop functioning properly when I agonized over situations (it would only last for a short time), and I do get distressed by a lot of things. I knew I was a bit neurotic since I was a kid. But deep down, I knew that there was nothing wrong with me, I just have a higher standards and a different way of thinking than others. I’d cry, get tired, and rant about things; complain about my lazy group mates and all that but in the end I would still be able to get the results that I want. People would think I had a problem with my self-esteem and self-acceptance, but I was just good at impression management and expectation setting (they wouldn’t expect too much if I told them that I was a bad at something that I already know I can’t do well, would they?). I was proud of myself for being responsible in things that I cared for and I knew how to handle myself. I had control over my actions. Most of all, I was happy with how productive I was no matter what happened, and I was able to make a lot of friends. I created a lot of coping mechanisms for the shortcomings that I knew I had, like planning and doing my school work early because I’m forgetful and I am also bad at cramming things I’m not good at.
The three criteria of abnormal behavior as mentioned in class are deviance, maladaptiveness, and personal distress.
I didn’t fully notice how my behavior went from normal to abnormal because it was gradual. It didn’t just spring on me one day like a nasty flu. I thought I was still normal, because I thought it was just how I am usually. My reactions over simple things became deviant from the social norms (a normal student wouldn’t be cry, get hysterical, and hyperventilate over getting a terror professor for a long time like I did, they’d just rant about their rotten luck and try to move on). I wasn’t able to function effectively anymore. My personal distress reached a new high record. My parents finally decided to have me checked by a doctor (much to my horror, relief, and mostly embarrassment at having to reach that point) who prescribed my some medicines and told me that it wasn’t really my fault (I still have doubts about that), that I have to stop pleasing other people and to be honest with myself. After a few checkups, the doctor deemed that I was “better” but that I “had to be careful”. My self-acceptance and esteem really took a blow since then, because I still couldn’t fully distinguish which part was my personality, and which part of it was just a “disorder”.
Currently, I’m still trying to accept the fact that what I had was something I couldn’t control and that it’s not really my fault, or at least not totally my fault. With my personality, I am predisposed to feel and act in a certain way but that doesn’t mean that it’s not normal and that it would automatically mean I’d behave abnormally. I have a choice to improve myself and get rid of any illness that I may have. It’s not hopeless. It was never hopeless, and people should never give up. One time, we were required to watch a movie for a class, and the movie ended at 8pm. I was stuck waiting at school ‘til 9pm because my parents were only able to fetch me at that time. For an hour, all I could feel was anxiety and fear, and negative thoughts would enter my head (what if somebody attacks me? Hala wala ng tao, isasara na yung building! Papalaysin na ko ni kuya guard huhu) (Oh no, there are no more people around, they’re going to ask me to leave the building), because it was dark and I was all alone except for the guard and the occasional grad students passing by. It struck me at that exact moment that it was what I felt for the whole time last year, and it was not normal to feel that way every day. It’s not normal, should never be normal and nobody should ever feel that way. Psychological disorders may manifest differently from physical disorders, but it doesn’t make it any less threatening or harmful. “It’s just in your mind”, yes, it is, but people must learn when exactly it’s normal and abnormal.