The Meadows Blog

Wednesday, 20 February 2013 19:00

Breaking Down the Model: Part II - Core Issues

By: Joyce Willis, MC, LPC

In Part I of "Breaking Down the Model, the Nature of the Child” column was discussed. To review Part I: We discussed the history of The Model of Developmental Immaturity and how The Model is incorporated into treatment at The Meadows. We learned the definition of codependency and the five primary symptoms of codependency. Now, it is time to get into the core of the model; the Core Issues. The five core issues are:

  • Self-Esteem
  • Boundaries
  • Reality
  • Dependency
  • Moderation/Containment.

As stated in Part I, the Core Issues are caused by childhood trauma, in the form of anything that was less than nurturing in childhood. Less than nurturing behavior comes in the form of enmeshment, neglect, abandonment or abuse. The Core Issues (Column II of the Developmental Immaturity Issues) have to do with how we operate in extremes. These extremes were set up in childhood.

Let’s compare the connection of Column I (Nature of the Child) to Column II (Core Issues) before exploring each of the Core Issues. As stated previously, core issues emerge due to less than nurturing events in childhood.

The nature of a child is to feel valuable just as he/she is. If a caregiver falsely empowers a child, the child will feel better than in Core Issue #1 (Self-Esteem). A parent (caregiver) can falsely empower a child by enmeshing with the child, telling the child that they are the hero, the best, or that they are always right. A parent can falsely empower a child by not allowing the child to take responsibility for mistakes the child has made. If a parent disempowers a child, the child will feel less than in Core Issue #1. A parent can disempower the child by neglecting the child, abandoning the child, putting the child down, calling the child names and such.

The nature of a child is to be vulnerable and to accept protection when needed. If a child is parented without boundaries or with using walls, the child will be too vulnerable or invulnerable in Core Issue #2 (Boundaries).

The nature of the child is to be imperfect and human. This is about Core Issue #3 (Reality). If a caregiver identifies a child’s humanity as “good or bad,” the child will be rebellious or perfectionist. This happens when a parent attacks or over-praises the child’s humanity, rather than looking at the child’s behavior. An example of this is a mother slapping her young daughter’s hand for spilling milk and saying, “bad girl,” instead of mom letting her daughter know that she made a mistake, like all humans do. If mom continues to parent by saying “bad girl” instead of looking at the humanity of mistakes, young daughter will grow up believing she is bad and will be rebellious as a child and into adulthood.

The nature of the child is to be dependent on other people for wants and needs that the child cannot provide for himself. This refers to Core issue #4 (Dependency). If a parent shames a child’s wants or needs, the child will be needless/wantless as an adult. If a parent is needy towards a child, the child will be anti-dependent as an adult. If a parent neglects a child’s needs or wants, the child will be too dependent as an adult.

The nature of the child is to be spontaneous and open. This has to do with Core Issue #5 (Moderation/Containment). If a parent fails to set limits on the child, the child will grow up to be in control of being out of control. If the parent focuses on the child being good and perfect, the child will grow up to be too contained and controlling of others.

Let’s examine each of the Core Issues a bit more, starting with the Core Issue of Self-Esteem. Self-Esteem is a knowing that you are valuable and have worth. Self-Esteem is about being able to say, “I have inherent worth” and believing this statement. There are two big lies we tell ourselves:

  1. I am better than.
  2. I am less than.

When we tell ourselves we are better than, we have been falsely empowered as a child. When we tell ourselves we are less than, we have been disempowered and undervalued as a child. Our strengths do not make us better than and our weaknesses do not make us less than. We are all valuable and precious. Recovery is about appreciating our strengths and learning from our weaknesses in the interest of being relational.

The second Core Issue is Boundaries. Boundaries have to do with protection and containment. In the extremes, we are either inadequately protected or being overprotected in any or all boundary areas; physical, sexual or internal.

Physical boundaries let you know that you have the right to determine how close another person gets to you and whether another person can touch you or your personal property. When we use containment, we are containing how close we get to another person and not touching the person or their property without permission.

Sexual boundaries let you know you have the right to determine with whom, when, where and how you are going to be sexual. When we use containment with our sexual boundary, we are respecting another person’s sexual rights.

Internal boundaries allow us to contain and protect our thinking, feelings and behavior when we are talking to or listening to others. We demonstrate use of the talking boundary by talking to someone with respect and without blaming, controlling or manipulating. We demonstrate use of the listening boundary by listening to someone with respect and curiosity.

When we protect ourselves, we keep ourselves from being victims. When we contain ourselves, we keep ourselves from being offensive. Boundaries help us mitigate our relationships. Recovery is about protecting and containing ourselves in a functional manner; not being too vulnerable and not putting up walls.

The third Core Issue is Reality. Reality has to do with self-identity. Reality asks the question: “Who Am I in this moment?” Reality issues are the hub of the wheel of the core issues. If a person struggles with reality, he/she is allergic to the self. When a child is not allowed to be himself/herself, the child will see self as bad or good. As mentioned previously, a parent defining a child as bad or good sets up rebelliousness or perfectionism. Recovery comes when we can see and accept ourselves as human in all areas of our life; our physical self, our thinking, our emotions and our behavior.

The fourth Core Issue is Dependency. Dependency has to do with self-care around our needs and wants. What is the difference between needs and wants? Needs are basic to survival. Needs keep our body, mind and soul in balance. Wants are not necessary for survival, yet they are important to our sense of abundance. Our wants bring us joy.

Being too dependent comes from not having needs and wants met as a child. The adult will have expectations that others will take care of needs and wants that he/she can take care of on their own. Being needless/wantless comes from being neglected or being shamed for having needs and wants as child. The adult will be detached from their needs or wants. Being anti-dependent comes from having a sense of our needs and wants, yet refusing to ask for them or refusing to acknowledge those needs and wants. Recovery is about being interdependent.

How can you be interdependent? There are three rules to being interdependent:

  1. Being able to ask for help when you truly need it.
  2. Being willing to help someone when they make a reasonable request.
  3. Being able to say “No” for self-care. This keeps you from stretching yourself into resentment.

The fifth core issue is Moderation/Containment. Moderation and containment have to do with living in moderation and containing spontaneity. When a child gets shamed or traumatized around being spontaneous or a child is told they are not spontaneous enough, (a shy child being told to go out and do something), issues are set up around moderation and containment.

The “out of control” person will do what he/she is going to do when he/she wants to, thus controlling with chaos. The “controlling” person will try to control others by trying to be good and perfect. This kind of behavior shuts down relationships. Recovery is about learning to use your personal boundaries to contain yourself so that you are containing spontaneity in a functional adult manner. This leads to being relational without being abusive.

When we are at the extremes in the Core Issues, we are living in immaturity in the Core Issues. Recovery happens when we have recovery in all core issues. There is no recovery without core recovery. Recovery is about living in truth and love. We do this by coming close to the center in each of the core issues.

In Part III of Breaking Down the Model, we will explore secondary symptoms which are driven by immaturity in the Core Issues.

Joyce Willis is a Licensed Professional Counselor and is currently a therapist at The Meadows. She earned her Bachelor of Education degree from the University of Akron. After teaching for several years, Joyce earned a Master’s degree in counseling from the University of Phoenix. She has been in the counseling profession since 1996 and in that time has worked extensively in the addictions field. Her specialties include treatment for addictions, bereavement, trauma, depression and anxiety. Joyce has a special interest in mindfulness and helping people connect their emotional, spiritual, mindful and physiological selves with compassion and respect.

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By: Joyce Willis, MC, LPC

The Model of the Developmental Immaturity was developed by Pia Mellody. In the 1970s, Pia was working at The Meadows, a trauma and addiction Inpatient Treatment Facility. Pia found that she was encountering an increasing number of patients who identified less than nurturing, abusive family systems in their childhood - leading to adulthood behaviors of codependency. The codependency patterns translated into addictions, mood disorders and physical illness. Pia's continued work with patients led to the conclusion that people with codependence wind up in despair and actually die from the effects of codependence. Thus, the model was "born" to help patients understand the Family of Origin issues that brought them to the symptoms of their addictions, mood disorders and relationship struggles.

The Model of Developmental Immaturity
NATURE OF THE CHILDCORE ISSUESSECONDARY SYMPTOMSRELATIONAL PROBLEMS
Valuable Self-esteem Issues Control Relational
Esteem
Vulnerable Boundary Issues Resentment Enmeshment
Avoidance
Imperfect Reality Issues Spirituality Dishonesty
Dependent Dependency Issues Addiction
Depression
Interdependence
Spontaneous Moderation Intimacy Intensity

The Model of Developmental Immaturity is incorporated into every facet of treatment at The Meadows; from the week-long workshops to the intensive inpatient program.  At each level, patients receive education on The Model and learn how to identify the childhood roots of their adult behaviors. Therapists at The Meadows lead patients through understanding how their core issues, secondary symptoms and relational problems were set up in childhood, leading to codependence in adulthood. The biggest understanding that we want patients to leave treatment with is the belief in the Nature of the Child - which is the Nature of the Functional Adult; that we are inherently valuable and perfectly imperfect. We will further explore The Model in stages, beginning with understanding the primary symptoms of codependency and understanding The Nature of the Child.

The Model of Developmental Immaturity is a model that has to do with codependency. Codependency is defined as a disorder of immaturity caused by relational problems.  Understanding codependency is imperative to understanding The Model. There are five primary symptoms of codependency. These are:

1. We have trouble esteeming ourselves from the idea of inherent worth.
2. We have trouble protecting and nurturing ourselves.
3. We have trouble being real.
4. We have trouble attending to our needs and wants.
5. We have trouble living life with an attitude of moderation in all things.

The Model of Developmental Immaturity Issues is a model used at The Meadows to treat the effects of childhood trauma and issues of developmental immaturity. Childhood trauma and developmental immaturity can lead to addiction issues, mood disorders and physical issues.

To further understand the model, we will examine each column. The first column is the Nature of the Child. The Nature of the Child is the Precious Child Ego State.  Our precious child is the reality of who we are:

  • We are precious and valuable just as we are.
  • We are vulnerable and can expect protection.
  • We are human and make mistakes. We are perfectly imperfect.
  • We are dependent on others for our needs and wants.
  • We are spontaneous and open.


As children, we get relationally traumatized by enmeshment, neglect or abandonment in the “Nature of the Child” areas. Let's explore each of these terms:

  • Enmeshment is the inappropriate closeness of family members. In an enmeshed and overinvolved relationship, individuals get lost in the relationship. There is a lack of clear boundaries, thus each individual has difficulty having a clear sense of self. Examples of phrases that demonstrate enmeshment are, "You're my everything," "Without you, my life would not be worth living," or "You complete me."

  • Neglect happens when a child's basic dependency needs were not met. Dependency needs are our basic needs for food, clothing, shelter, safety and medical attention. Either the parent did not know how to meet these needs or the parent did not meet these needs well enough.  Neglect in childhood may lead to depression, anxiety, eating disorders, anger issues, or alcohol and drug abuse in adulthood.

  • Abandonment happens when the loss of one both parents occurs physically or emotionally. If the parent was not present in the child's life or the parent withheld affection or nurturing, the child was abandoned. Abandonment in childhood can result in adulthood difficulties with expressing and managing emotions, trust issues or a need to be in control.


Any behavior exacted upon us as children that was less than nurturing is defined as trauma in this model. Childhood trauma causes immaturity in the Core Issues (Column II of the model).

We will examine the Core Issues in Part II of "Breaking Down the Model."

Joyce Willis is a Licensed Professional Counselor and is currently a therapist at The Meadows. She earned her Bachelor of Education degree from the University of Akron. After teaching for several years, Joyce earned a Master's degree in counseling from the University of Phoenix. She has been in the counseling profession since 1996 and in that time has worked extensively in the addictions field. Her specialties include treatment for addictions, bereavement, trauma, depression and anxiety. Joyce has a special interest in mindfulness and helping people connect their emotional, spiritual, mindful and physiological selves with compassion and respect

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Wednesday, 14 November 2012 19:00

Pia Mellody’s Birthday Celebration

The Meadows celebrated Pia Mellody's birthday on Saturday, November 10 with 60 guests in attendance. There was great food and entertainment that was enjoyed by all. The following are a few photos of the celebration. Happy Birthday, Pia!

Pia Mellody Addiction TreatmentPia Mellody Addiction TreatmentPia Mellody Addiction Treatment

Pia Mellody Addiction TreatmentPia Mellody Addiction TreatmentPia Mellody Addiction Treatment

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The final week of National Recovery Month at The Meadows featured a poetry project, along with Pia Mellody on-hand to meet and greet families and workshop participants. The following is a poem submitted during the poetry project.

"Alive and, well . . ."

Undecided...
For now.
My mind will be made up
Soon, and very soon.

For we all must choose
But first we go within
And meet all sorts there,
There within where all is still.

In that stillness
The weights are measured-
The balance is evened-
Meeting all who've ever lived.

And then returning -
Emerging and begging - "The question once again?"
I asked, "How are you today?"
"Oh... Alive and, well...
I'm fine... and you?"

-Anonymous

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Senior Clinical Advisor for The Meadows, Pia Mellody "is the queen of love addiction recovery for me," said Alanis Morisette in her interview with Piers Morgan on September 7, 2012. Seven-time Grammy Award winner, Morisette tells Morgan that she was a love addict. To watch the interview, visit:

http://piersmorgan.blogs.cnn.com/2012/09/07/alanis-morissette-on-being-a-love-addict-i-was-drawn-to-the-back-walking-away/

 

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