Compass Therapy interprets personality rigidity as the way in which people unconsciously try to minimize anxiety by becoming inflexible, opting for stereotypic mind-sets that offer false security and impair actualizing development. These mind-sets congeal into rigid trends and patterns, defying the Self Compass LAWS (Love and Assertion, Weakness and Strength) of wholeness, even though this is not the person’s intention.
Usually people are unaware of behavioral rigidity, simply thinking, “This is how I’ve always been.” Nevertheless, these trends and patterns are formidable barriers that arrest growth toward loving self, others, and God, constituting a hidden dimension of sin within the human condition.
The Self Compass can help. It provides not only a model for comprehending personality dysfunction, but also places behavioral rigidity on a continuum with actualizing growth, thereby revealing a bridge of continuity that shows how to move from rigidity to the actualizing rhythms of personality health.
A rigid personality trend strands individuals in a lifestyle characterized by too much dependency, too much aggression, too much withdrawal, too much control, or a combination of these trends.
This growth deficiency is held in place by an unconscious manipulative attitude, a way of treating both self and others as objects for manipulation rather than persons worthy of respect and love. As Buber suggested, manipulation reduces the “I - Thou” quality of life to “I - It.”
Anna Freud described how specific defense mechanisms, which we call manipulative trends, need challenging, so that individuals can come to grips with their underlying concerns. Carl Jung, Alfred Adler, Harry Stack Sullivan, Karen Horney, Eric Berne, Abraham Maslow, Virginia Satir, and Aaron Beck, among other theorists, describe from their own perspective the four manipulative trends of dependency, aggression, withdrawal, and compulsive control.
Compass personality theory locates these trends around the Self Compass, yielding an intelligible map for understanding and transforming them.
|The Trends Self Compass: Dr. Dan & Kate Montgomery|
Notice how the Trends Self Compass shows the familiar healthy compass points on the outer circle and summarizes their actualizing expression. Expressing these polarities rhythmically helps generate personality health and relational fulfillment.
- Actualizing Love fosters nurturing and forgiving.
- Healthy Weakness expresses vulnerability and uncertainty.
- Diplomatic Assertion offers expressiveness and assertiveness.
- Humble Strength yields confidence and adequacy.
The shaded interior circle reveals the unconscious hidden agenda that governs each trend. This circle is smaller than the actualizing circle, and bordered by a thicker ring, indicating that manipulative trends contract the personality, constricting freedom by diminishing creativity. Trust in the spiritual core is infiltrated by core fear, the distorting force that underlies manipulative living.
While everyone is occasionally dependent or aggressive, withdrawn or controlling, a manipulative trend fixates into a predictable way of life that has dehumanizing repercussions.
- Wilhelm Reich observed that manipulation tenses body musculature, terming it character armor.
- Karen Horney described manipulation as a tragic waste of human potential.
- Carl Rogers viewed manipulation as a struggle for authenticity between an idealized self and a real self.
- Joseph Wolpe described rigid trends as maladaptive behavior that can be unlearned.
- Eric Berne construed the self-fulfilling nature of manipulative trends as negative life scripts.
- Albert Ellis noted that a manipulative mindset is held in place by a set of irrational assumptions.
- Aaron Beck referred to manipulations as exaggerated cognitive processes.
Compass Therapy adds that understanding the particular ways that core fear infuses and drives the manipulative trends (Dependent, Aggressive, Withdrawn, and Controlling) provides vital clues that facilitate healing and promote wholeness, regardless of whether this transformation is called personality integration, spiritual formation, sanctification, or self-actualizing in Christ.
For more, read:
Christian Personality Theory