Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue

Dangerous Self-Delusions

I can’t say for sure what the right thing to do in either case (Angela’s or Julissa’s). However, I think these four characteristics of self-delusion and addictive relationships (in my mind the same as dysfunctional relationships) offered by Howard Halpern (in “How To Break Your Addiction to a Person,” not to suggest either of your are “addicted”) begin to ask the right questions that both of you need to answer.
The Attachment Hunger he is referring to is our unmet needs as a child disrupting our current relationships (I agree with this, however, I think he goes too far with it … so keep that part in proper perspective.)
The following are what he describes as “the self-deceptive maneuvers” you may be using to keep yourself in a destructive situation. My comments are in brackets (as always!).


1. Rationalization
Your Attachment Hunger desperately seeks to maintain the tie no matter how deadly it is, and your thinking processes can often enter into collusion with it, clearing the way for the Attachment Hunger to control your actions. [Basically he is saying that you have all these unmet needs or insecure feelings that don’t allow you to grow spiritually or emotionally as you need to. Fear of abandonment or just plain insecurity in who you are keep you at a destructive place.]
2. Idealization [Or the Opposite]
When someone is your Attachment Fetish Person it is very easy to distort who he is in a way that plays up his good points and diminishes or obscures his bad points. That can be an innocuous or even somewhat helpful distortion that can serve to grease the wheels of the relationship over the inevitable rough spots. But when you idealize traits that are causing you much difficulty, or if your idealization is blinding you to ways the relationship is being harmful, then this idealization becomes a malignant self-delusion. [I would also say the opposite is true. As Babs said, we can get too locked in on a person’s faults, as well, which is equally as damaging. It’s difficult to keep a proper picture of the person in mind, but that’s where real healthy relationships live, or so I’m told.]


3. Unfounded Hope
Like the fabled optimistic little boy who, on receiving as a present a crate of manure, grabbed a shovel and said, “There must be a pony in there somewhere,” there are many people who, when they encounter a relationship filled with the distasteful and offensive, search hopefully for signs that there is something better. [Again, it’s trying to get at an authentic picture of your relationship … I think friends who see both of you interact with each other can help you there. You need to investigate your relationship as if it were a news story you have to cover … and get all the pieces and evidence together before writing up the story.]
4. Maintaining an Illusion
Often the rationalization and idealization we have been examining are themselves part of a network of techniques to maintain an illusion. And the basic illusion, which is itself a distortion of reality, is “If I can be connected to this one person and make it a good, my life will be wonderful, and if I can’t, my life will be horrible, empty, and unhappy.” [Again, he is stressing the need to view the relationship objectively, as if you were an observer. Which is why other input that you trust might be helpful here. And also that nothing is ever black and white. Nor shades of gray. We’re talking primary colors.]

  • Martin

    What about when the relationship is addictive (on my part) but not destructive (on the other person’s part)?
    In other words, I have all the symptoms of an addictive person when it comes to the other person, but they are not acting abusively toward me … quite the opposite. They have acted in an understanding, benevolent, gracious manner toward me, respecting my boundaries and even giving me permission to do what I need to in order to heal, even at personal pain to themselves.
    Still, I sense that I move toward and cling to the friendship – and it is just that – for compulsive reasons, rather than out of the freedom of my heart.
    I have begged God to free my heart to love the person (and others) freely, but cannot find the freedom in my heart to love the person freely.
    Insight and prayer would be appreciated.
    My e-mail address:

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