Invalidating environment definition
Recently, I had a few situations to come up that called for some comfort from my friends. A few came through for me in just 'being there'..others took it as their cue to 'give advice'..believe me, it only made the situation worse. I don't make the habit of asking my friends for advice....believe me.
I am a 'thinking' person and only need some time and to get things off of my chest. I do not tell my friends about a situation in order for them to come up with ways in which to tell me how to 'get through it' or 'how to think about it' or how to look at it.
They were taught at an early age that their interpretations of and feelings about the things around them were bad and wrong.
They learned that certain feelings weren't allowed.
In abusive homes, they may have been severely punished for expressing certain thoughts and feelings.
When your awareness rises, you'll begin to notice such comments on a regular basis. We wonder if there is something wrong with us for feeling how we do.
On the other hand, going on the offensive often escalates the conflict or puts us in the position of trying to change another person.
In fact, one defintion of the so-called "borderline personality disorder" is "the normal response of a sensitive person to an invalidating environment" (2)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).
Examples of such relationships are parent/child, teacher/child, "spiritual" leader/follower, boss/employee, spouse A/spouse B.
Such a sad scenario appears to be even more likely when the person being invalidated is highly sensitive, intelligent and has previously suffered self-esteem damage.
He found that when one's feelings are denied a person can be made to feel crazy even they are perfectly mentally healthy. Further, emotion inhibition significantly predicted psychological distress, including depression and anxiety symptoms.) (Reference)Invalidation goes beyond mere rejection by implying not only that our feelings are disapproved of, but that we are fundamentally abnormal.
This implies that there is something wrong with us because we aren't like everyone else; we are strange; we are different; we are weird. The more different from the mass norm a person is, for example, more intelligent or more sensitive, the more he is likely to be invalidated.