What Changes in Relationships when Anxiety Increases?

back to back monkeys.500What Changes in Relationships when Anxiety Increases?  From an article by Hal DeShong, Ph.D., P.C.

** This article is for reference with Distance in Relationships: Take a Trip on The Darjeeling Limited (Owen Wilson.)

There are four biologically based anxiety-binding mechanisms [Four actions we likely initiate when we are anxious or feel threatened (Remember, our sense of self is what’s most often threatened.)] that can be thought of as communication patterns:

  1.  Conflict—When people cannot stop the dialogue. (Keep talking when should listen.) upset housewife

  2. Distance—When people cannot keep a dialogue going. (Refuse to talk when it would be helpful.)

  3. Over-functioning and under-functioning reciprocity—One person functions as if he or she has all the answers and the other person acts as if they have none of the answers.

  4. Triangling—A common example of this is gossip. only child and fighting parentsTriangling has to do with becoming involved with a third person when tension builds up in a two-person relationship. (Can be a child which is called ‘child focus.’ Can be an attractive adult which is called an ‘affair.’) 

    Remember that these anxiety-binding mechanisms are biological in nature and not personality variables. (It can be said that a person tends to ‘distance’ as a process when anxiety is high, rather than labeling a person as unemotional or not able to express love.) When the level of chronic or acute anxiety is sufficiently high, these mechanisms will surface. It is important to know what we do when anxious about what somebody else in the emotional unit. The act of talking to someone else in the system about our anxiety will calm us down, temporarily, but over time actually starts to make the system more reactive. This is one of the important variables that contribute to the likelihood that systems will become increasingly anxious. This anxious process, in turn, results in an increase in those automatic patterns.

    In anxious times, we tend to do more of what we have always done instead of functioning in a more thoughtful manner. Dumping our anxiety onto someone else is almost always part of this automatic reactivity.

 Anxiety-binding mechanisms are automatic, mindless activities. No one sets out intentionally to deepen problems in a relationship.

** This article is for reference with Distance in Relationships: Take a Trip on The Darjeeling Limited (Owen Wilson.)




I'm a psychologist who goes to way too many movies, for the same reason I chose this profession. I love stories. I use movies and novels working with people in my office and during speaking engagements. "You should write some of this down," I kept being told. So, this is it, folks.

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