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  1. #1
    Protocol Droid Athenian200's Avatar
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    Default Intellectually semi-functional, but otherwise dysfunctional

    So, I'm beginning to wonder if this might be part of my problem. I'm aware of my situation in all the rational ways, and of many perspectives on it. I know all of the various ways of describing it. I'm aware of what my options are, how to perform the most basic procedures associated with those options, and if not how to gain the information. I'm aware of the potential consequences, both positive and negative, of any choice I might make.

    I'm well-versed enough in information. But information and solving problems that have a single answer given all the variables seems to be the only skill I have.

    I don't know what to do with the real situations in which I find myself, and how to cope with my real fears, prejudices, hang-ups, and inexperience, because quite frankly, they just don't make any sense. I find myself at a stage of self-awareness and emotional development at which most people would be running around taking risks, making a fool of themselves, and trying to figure out what works for them, but also find myself too aware, and terrified, of the potential consequences of such behavior to engage in it. Thus this part of me remains undeveloped.

    In other words, I'm aware of what my options should mean to me, but when I weigh them, all I get is the vague sense that they're all worthless, difficult, and unrelated to my goals. In other words, it seems that my intellect is strong enough to stop me from making a very bad decision, but not so strong that I can use it to make a decision and stick to it, which leaves me at an impasse.

    The best way to describe my dilemma, is to say that all I really understand are words and ideas. I know what they should mean, but I don't know how to make them mean anything in the real world. When someone tells me to "go and do," "get a life," "take action," "find a job," or "try," a part of me doesn't even understand what these things mean.

    There's a fundamental gap between my mind and the "action-inclined" part of me. My mind understands the value of all these things, but the part of me I can control in the physical world is only inclined to do things if there are immediate benefits or potential consequences for doing or not doing something, and the problem is that society expects me to be motivated by long-term consequences rather than immediate ones. While I'm intellectually capable of dealing with that, I'm not emotionally capable of dealing with it.

    The biggest problem is, that I can't seem to think of any options that would result in immediate benefit or result to such an extent that I could build on it to work my way out of the isolated hole I've dug myself into. The problem is that my current situation fully satisfies two parts of my nature, my curiosity (through the Internet), and my inclination to follow safe, familiar habits. The only ways forward would involve, for possibly an extended period, satisfying no additional parts of my nature, no longer satisfying my habits, and offer slightly less satisfaction to my curiosity.

    As you might imagine, some part of me would end up interpreting this as "punishment" or "pain" caused by moving forwards, and make me far less motivated to pursue it. The problem is, quite simply, that my emotional nature and intellectual nature are incompatible to such a degree that they effectively prevent one another from doing anything at all.

    At this point, honestly, it seems as though I'm destined to continue draining my family of their resources out of a selfish desire to survive (the truth is that I don't even care about them, I'm just afraid of losing my safety net), and only when that strategy is no longer tenable, will I get the motivation to behave otherwise.

    Has anyone else ever felt trapped in such a scenario?

  2. #2
    Senior Member Kephalos's Avatar
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    I too feel locked into or trapped in certain behaviors. You mentioned taking risks, and some people have also told me that I never take risks. And they are quite right, I hate taking risks and try to control or avoid the situation as much as I can. I dislike especially taking risks with people, especially those I don't know, and when my few friendships from highschool began to fade away, I found it impossible to meet new people and as a result I have become quite isolated. When I think of it is really pathetic, like observing a girl I like and not being able to do anything but lament myself that she will never even become aware of my existence, let alone know that I like her; nonetheless the very thought makes me panic and even though I know that it is not very good for me to be this way when I am reflecting upon it, I can't help myself when a situation actually arises and I have to be more open or more daring. In fact, I have been so locked into this pattern of behavior that even therapy has been ineffectual, since even the modest things that my therapist would have me do seem very difficult.

  3. #3
    Protocol Droid Athenian200's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kephalos View Post
    I too feel locked into or trapped in certain behaviors. You mentioned taking risks, and some people have also told me that I never take risks. And they are quite right, I hate taking risks and try to control or avoid the situation as much as I can. I dislike especially taking risks with people, especially those I don't know, and when my few friendships from highschool began to fade away, I found it impossible to meet new people and as a result I have become quite isolated. When I think of it is really pathetic, like observing a girl I like and not being able to do anything but lament myself that she will never even become aware of my existence, let alone know that I like her; nonetheless the very thought makes me panic and even though I know that it is not very good for me to be this way when I am reflecting upon it, I can't help myself when a situation actually arises and I have to be more open or more daring. In fact, I have been so locked into this pattern of behavior that even therapy has been ineffectual, since even the modest things that my therapist would have me do seem very difficult.


    Hopefully hugs aren't too overwhelming for an INTJ, but I empathize more than you can imagine. All of the things you just said are essentially what I've been through. Right down to the few friendships from high school fading away and not being able to make new friends.

    I suppose I'd have to say the biggest reason I'm afraid to take risks, is quite simply that I'm afraid if I fall flat of my face, no one will care enough to help me back up, because of the fact that I'm an adult, and am expected to know better than to make mistakes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Athenian200 View Post
    In other words, it seems that my intellect is strong enough to stop me from making a very bad decision, but not so strong that I can use it to make a decision and stick to it, which leaves me at an impasse

    ...

    My mind understands the value of all these things, but the part of me I can control in the physical world is only inclined to do things if there are immediate benefits or potential consequences for doing or not doing something,

    ...

    The biggest problem is, that I can't seem to think of any options that would result in immediate benefit or result to such an extent that I could build on it to work my way out of the isolated hole I've dug myself into.

    ...


    The problem is, quite simply, that my emotional nature and intellectual nature are incompatible to such a degree that they effectively prevent one another from doing anything at all.

    ...

    Has anyone else ever felt trapped in such a scenario?
    Yes, all of the above.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Kephalos's Avatar
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    No problem, it can be exasperating -- especially when I am being told by another -- that I can change my behavior very easily, but on the other hand feeling that it is a daunting task.

    It seems more real when I question myself on a certain point, like my ability to handle people as I mentioned in that post, or on my intellectual capacity, another point on which I question myself very often. It is very curious that these two insecurities lead to very different behaviors, one making me feel helpless when I would want to meet someone, but to perfectionism -- taking extreme control or the thinking to have extreme control -- when it comes to academic or intellectual things.

    Perhaps it is because I am still in college that I don't quite feel that I will fall flat on my face, as you say, but I do have doubts as to what I am going to do -- I mean, whether I will be able to perform what I want to do correctly -- once I am out.

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    I was locked in some aspects of such a life as a teenager and into my 20's, although I think I was still capable of self-independence to a degree, beyond where you are still struggling. To me it was extremely important NOT to be so dependent; and I have a strong internal judgment on myself if I ever took advantage of anyone or accepted kindness from them, I despise myself if I use people and even have some trouble if they give to me freely, sigh.

    Being married and having kids sort of forced me to start making decisions, so more growth occurred there.

    Anyway, moving back to you, I appreciate the honesty in your post.

    What I read there and what I know of you, it seems to me that at some level you're terrified of the ambiguity of living life and making decisions and so you intellectualize everything and reduce it to a thought problem, moving it inside yourself as something to be dissected and reviewed, rather than tacking the problem externally and outside yourself. It's like you feel you have no power, or that the external forces are too large for you to face on your own, or something like that... so you bring it inside where the landscape is completely under your control and "safe." Intellectualizing it also gets rid of any troublesome emotions you might experience that could drive you to do something that could risk your physical or emotional safety.

    When I read your post, you sound most like a child. (And I am not saying that with judgment, it just made me think, "Okay, what is this stage in life most like," and it's... childhood. You want to be dependent on your parents/others, you are, and you don't take steps to address your basic needs or seem to take pride in the process of learning how to do so and one day becoming independent; instead, you seem terrified of the prospect.)

    I can't begin to understand how you ended up there, I just don't know enough about your life. I don't know if your parents interacted you in ways that reinforced this, and/or you witnessed/experienced some pretty emotionally devastating loss when you or others tried to be independent, etc.

    I think it's positive you can analyze things to this degree, that's helpful. Ultimately at some point your goal will be to gain a sense of power in the external world, either to overcome problems that face you OR to be resilient enough to survive and grow from any failures without being permanently hurt. Becoming independent and becoming able to take care of yourself is a good thing.

    I'm not sure how to kickstart it. If I was to appeal to your most basic instincts of survival, well, your parents won't be around forever... and if you're stuck without anyone to care for you, you will be hosed. I think even in the realm of self-interest, the goal of independence would be a positive one to pursue and something that could appeal to you.
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

    “Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty.” ~ H.P. Lovecraft

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Athenian200 View Post

    The best way to describe my dilemma, is to say that all I really understand are words and ideas. I know what they should mean, but I don't know how to make them mean anything in the real world. When someone tells me to "go and do," "get a life," "take action," "find a job," or "try," a part of me doesn't even understand what these things mean.
    I feel that I am in a similar scenario at the moment. Fortunately, it has probably not escalated to your level. When ever I am instructed to do anything, whatsoever; I must first know the purpose behind my potential actions. If the purpose is too small or irrelevant, then I can't bring myself to execute a plan of action. Of course, from a purely objective frame of mind, every purpose is pointless.

    I have a cousin who is also experiencing extreme financial difficulty, but her life is extremely complicated. She finds that maintaining a job for any extended period of time is an arduous task. In fact, the only reason why she has even made it this far in life is because her children provide a reason for being.

    Sadly, she has habitually accumulated financial support from her friends, family members, and even complete strangers. It's like a drug.

    However, you are not her, and I am sure you are much more capable. You need to find someone who loves you. Someone who gives you unwavering support. And you need to be honest with them. That sounds silly, I know, but you need an external purpose.

    I hope you find that someone.

  8. #8
    Protocol Droid Athenian200's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer View Post
    I was locked in some aspects of such a life as a teenager and into my 20's, although I think I was still capable of self-independence to a degree, beyond where you are still struggling. To me it was extremely important NOT to be so dependent; and I have a strong internal judgment on myself if I ever took advantage of anyone or accepted kindness from them, I despise myself if I use people and even have some trouble if they give to me freely, sigh.
    I know that about you, you're a very strong person in my mind for that.

    Anyway, moving back to you, I appreciate the honesty in your post.

    What I read there and what I know of you, it seems to me that at some level you're terrified of the ambiguity of living life and making decisions and so you intellectualize everything and reduce it to a thought problem, moving it inside yourself as something to be dissected and reviewed, rather than tacking the problem externally and outside yourself. It's like you feel you have no power, or that the external forces are too large for you to face on your own, or something like that... so you bring it inside where the landscape is completely under your control and "safe." Intellectualizing it also gets rid of any troublesome emotions you might experience that could drive you to do something that could risk your physical or emotional safety.
    That's exactly how I feel. Like I have no power. I mean, the only people in the world I can rely on at all are my parents and myself. Everyone else regards me as a stranger and an outsider, and I don't know how to break from that without an existing friend who's already "inside" the system to introduce me to people. Obviously I need a job, but it doesn't seem clear how one is supposed to get into a job without either knowing people or having experience, and I have neither advantage. The icing on that cake is that everything in the world I can think of to do that would improve this situation depends on money, and I have no income, very limited funds. It's hard not to feel powerless in such a situation.

    When I read your post, you sound most like a child. (And I am not saying that with judgment, it just made me think, "Okay, what is this stage in life most like," and it's... childhood. You want to be dependent on your parents/others, you are, and you don't take steps to address your basic needs or seem to take pride in the process of learning how to do so and one day becoming independent; instead, you seem terrified of the prospect.)
    Actually, it's neither. I see becoming independent as a necessity. I don't feel any pride regarding it because I believe it's something I should have already done.

    I do feel a sense of frustration with the process, though. I fear that I'm expected to have already gone through it, and that it will be a lot harder to for people to understand me going through it at 21 than it would have been at a younger age. And also, I'm not even aware of what the process is, other than simply getting a job, holding it down for a while, and then finding a way to get a place and take care of bills. And to be honest, the job and transportation part seems the most difficult, especially since I'm not interested in driving and wouldn't be able to afford a car anyway.
    I can't begin to understand how you ended up there, I just don't know enough about your life. I don't know if your parents interacted you in ways that reinforced this, and/or you witnessed/experienced some pretty emotionally devastating loss when you or others tried to be independent, etc.
    Both. Independence was honestly discouraged and seen as undeserved. They essentially felt, and still feel, that I have no right to act independently in any capacity whatsoever until I've proven that I can hold down a job and pay bills. There's no support when I go that route, there never HAS been.

    I think I learned to kill that instinct during those nights at my father's house when I just wanted to run away from a situation I felt trapped in. I'd just rationalize, "Why bother? You'd be found by the police, and they'd just make you come back. They can find you anywhere with all this technology, you can't hide from them nowadays. You might even get sent to a mental institution, your father already thinks you're insane, he told you so, he got a psychologist to say so, and you have to behave in such a way as to prove that you're not. You have no choices, you're stuck here. Besides, you have no money and you'd likely die without help eventually. Anyone who helped you would just contact your family to come and get you, and they'd just be angry. It would be a lot of effort wasted. So just resist passively... do as little as you can, only what you're told and nothing else, don't give them the satisfaction of seeing you enjoy yourself, or seeing you rebel and give them the satisfaction of thinking they have the power to make you hurt with their rules and punishments. Remain compliant, stoic, and miserable, make them feel guilty. When asked what's wrong, repeat your demands. It will take a long time, but eventually you'll get what you seek when they find that nothing else helps."

    And sure enough, after 3-4 years of passive resistance at my father's house, he gave up and let me come back home to my mother.

    My persona, is likely the kind of persona one might develop if one's sanity were questioned at the exact time they began showing signs of independence. Some part of me is afraid that if I appear anything but completely sane and reasonable in my decisions, I'll wind up in a rubber room or something.
    I think it's positive you can analyze things to this degree, that's helpful. Ultimately at some point your goal will be to gain a sense of power in the external world, either to overcome problems that face you OR to be resilient enough to survive and grow from any failures without being permanently hurt. Becoming independent and becoming able to take care of yourself is a good thing.
    Well, yes, of course it's a good thing. That was never my point. It isn't that I would be permanently hurt by failures, it's that I don't see how I'm going to get multiple chances if I hurt my relationship with my family too badly, and then have no one in the world who would help me.
    I'm not sure how to kickstart it. If I was to appeal to your most basic instincts of survival, well, your parents won't be around forever... and if you're stuck without anyone to care for you, you will be hosed. I think even in the realm of self-interest, the goal of independence would be a positive one to pursue and something that could appeal to you.
    It is. That's why I'm seeking a job interview (right, at this point I can't even get an interview). It's just that I can't find it in me to keep pumping out effort into job applications and putting myself out there when I haven't gotten results so far. It's very hard for me to wrap my mind around the concept of valuing persistence when it comes to repeating something that doesn't even offer feedback, and for which I've gotten no feedback to help me improve. If I were getting some sort of feedback other than silence to help me improve each time, I would be able to deal with it.

    I'm probably going to manage something eventually, but it's going to be very hard since I'm going to have to fight my emotions and instincts very, very hard to do it.

  9. #9
    Protocol Droid Athenian200's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mystic Tater View Post
    I feel that I am in a similar scenario at the moment. Fortunately, it has probably not escalated to your level. When ever I am instructed to do anything, whatsoever; I must first know the purpose behind my potential actions. If the purpose is too small or irrelevant, then I can't bring myself to execute a plan of action. Of course, from a purely objective frame of mind, every purpose is pointless.
    I'm actually better in this regard. I'm pretty much willing to do what I'm told, if the person instructing me seems to care at all about the task getting done. The few times I've worked for people in an office or service environment, I've done very well, because someone clearly wanted the task done, so I helped, and maybe even offered to help when I wasn't asked.
    However, you are not her, and I am sure you are much more capable. You need to find someone who loves you. Someone who gives you unwavering support. And you need to be honest with them. That sounds silly, I know, but you need an external purpose.

    I hope you find that someone.
    But I won't be valuable to anyone unless I have a job and income. Why would anyone care about me? Can a person really have value without money? I've seen little to suggest that many people believe so.

  10. #10
    Senior Member wildcat's Avatar
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    I see this as a practical problem.
    What about studies? You are intelligent, so why not.
    Are there scholarships? Free schools? Applications for ones? Relatives?

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