QUESTIONS & ANSWERS:
Please remember, this column is designed to help the consumer seeking
behavioral-health information, and not intended to be any form of psychotherapy
or a replacement for professional, individualized services. Opinions expressed
in the column are those of the columnist and do not represent the position of
other SelfhelpMagazine.com staff.
When I am in a relationship I become overly possessive of my
partner. Though I know this behavior drives the person away and makes my
worst fear -- being abandoned -- become a reality. I am a very domineering
person with my loved ones and get very jealous when I am not the center of
their attention. I am also very passionate and tend to be very emotional.
Sometimes I am cold as ice; I cannot forgive or forget the people who have
wronged me and I harbor a grudge for a long time. I do not like being this
way. Do I need professional help?
All people need to have stable relationships with
parents during their formative years. We need relationships that are constant, nurturing,
and caring in order to develop a sense of security and a the knowledge that
someone will care for us. Our self-esteem depends on these early connections
with constant loved ones who let us know that we are the most important
person in the world. We need to know that nothing we do will stop that love.
This unconditional love is a necessary condition for healthy development.
If these relationships do not develop we feel insecure and uncertain about
the stability in our lives. If a parent is often unavailable or is
self-centered, the child does not get that sense of security and specialness.
The child may develop a longing for that constant loved one who adores
him/her. As an adult this person wants to possess others to quiet that sense
of anxiety, emptiness, and insecurity, just as s/he wanted to possess the
unstable or unavailable parent. S/he may constantly search for that which
was missing during those earlier years. And when s/he believes s/he has
found someone to fulfill that role, s/he becomes possessive and jealous.
When s/he feels hurt, s/he turns off emotionally as a form of self-protection.
The hurt reactivates the childhood pain and fears. S/he
then becomes angry, and blames others for the hurt. Reactions are usually
more intense than the situation warrants since s/he is expressing the hurt
and anger that has been lingering since childhood.
S/he wants a person all to him or herself, not wishing to share him or her
with anyone, much as the child wants to possess its mother (or primary
caregiver). This behavior often frightens their partners off. No one can
fill that earlier hunger or make him/her feel as special as s/he needs to feel.
Psychotherapy can help these individuals to understand their early childhood
and its impact on adult development. Through the relationship with the
psychotherapist, they can work through their early hurt and learn new and
more effective ways of relating to themselves and others.
Dr. Edward A. Dreyfus is a Clinical Psychologist,
Marriage, Family, Child Therapist, and Sex Therapist. Dr. Dreyfus has been providing
psychological services in the Los Angeles-Santa Monica area for over 30 years.
He offers individual psychotherapy to adolescents and adults, divorce mediation,
couples counseling, group therapy, and career and vocational counseling and
assessment.His book, Someone Right For You, is available in the Amazing
Dr. Dreyfus can be reached at: (310) 208-5700.