Emotionally invalidating environments

by Marsha Linehan: “An invalidating environment is one in which communication of private experiences is met by erratic, inappropriate, and extreme responses.

In other words, the expression of private experiences is not validated; instead, it is often punished and/or trivialized.

Failure, or any deviation from socially defined success, is labeled as resulting from lack of motivation, lack of discipline, not trying hard enough, or the like.

Positive emotional expressions, beliefs, and action plans may be similarly invalidated by being attributed to lack of discrimination, naivete, overidealization, or immaturity.

Werner and Gross indicate that problems with emotional regulation account for upwards of 75% of disorders in the , making the biosocial theory widely adaptable.

In concert with the biosocial theory, it follows that dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) interventions should serve to regulate emotions and validate experience to initiate change.

The experience of painful emotions, as well as the factors that to the emotional person seem causally related to the emotional distress, are disregarded.

The individual’s interpretations of her own behavior, including the experience of the intents and motivations associated with the behavior, are dismissed. First, it tells the individual that she is wrong in both her description and her analyses of her own experiences, particularly in her views of what is causing her own emotions, beliefs, and actions.

In fact, one definition of the so-called "borderline personality disorder" is "the normal response of a sensitive person to an invalidating environment" (Psychiatrist R. Laing said that when we invalidate people or deny their perceptions and personal experiences, we make mental invalids of them. He writes "...a history of emotion invalidation (i.e., a history of childhood psychological abuse and parental punishment, minimization, and distress in response to negative emotion) was significantly associated with emotion inhibition (i.e., ambivalence over emotional expression, thought suppression, and avoidant stress responses). So I give myself a time-out, I nurture my inner whiny child or nurse my wounds, allow myself to feel self-pity, then I remind myself how many blessings I have and try to do better.For example, temperamental traits such as impulsivity are inherited.If brought up in supportive and empathetic home, an impulsive child will learn to control their behavior and keep tabs on their impulses.Thus, the theory guides therapists to use validation as a primary, if not the primary, intervention.DBT also teaches mindfulness for clients to change their qualitative relationship with experience and with emotions in particular.