Prideful Pattern

Behavior

Overly invested in a personal quality or in one’s performance or achievements

(Can be a true strength or a delusion)

Bragging, competitiveness

Obsession with object of pride

Grandiose

Feels superior to others, condescending, arrogant, demeaning

The pride is sometimes hidden and occurs internally

Typical areas of pride: intelligence, beauty, caring, success, money, status, power, parenting, self-sufficiency, spirituality, performance in a specific art

 

Motivation

The pride is an attempt to compensate for a feeling of deficiency

The area of pride is often different from the area of deficiency

 

Core Issues/Origins

Deficiency issues or any situation that undermines the child’s sense of value

Parents overly invested in child’s being special in this particular way

This quality or performance was the only way the child was valued

The object of pride may indeed be a personal strength that is used defensively

 

Statement

I am special and better than others because of my quality (performance, achievements).

 

Unconscious Thought

If I impress people and feel superior, then I won’t feel deficient.

 

Representations

Self: Special, superior

Other: Admiring

 

Sees Others As

Potential admirers

 

Healthy Capacities Blocked

Self-understanding, self-curiosity, vulnerability 

 

Activating Conditions

Situations of performance or evaluation

Situations where the person wants to impress others

Situations that trigger the underlying deficiency feelings

People of higher status or who act superior

 

Distinctions

Charming pattern also involves compensating for deficiency, but this is done through personality rather than a specific quality or achievement.

Self-valuing is a healthy capacity where a person values herself and specific personal qualities, but the self-evaluation is accurate and the valuing is not done as a compensation. A self-valuing person recognizes that she is special and unique, but so is everyone else.

 

VARIATIONS

 

False Self

Investment is particular attribute or achievement.

 

Superior

Acts superior to others.

 

Combinations of Prideful Pattern with Other Patterns

Choice of object of pride often determined by other pattern, e.g. codependent person is prideful about caring.

The superior variation often combines with the judgmental pattern.

 

RELATED PATTERNS

Idealizing and prideful patterns often attracted to each other.

Prideful and self-judging patterns are opposites. Insecure pattern is also opposite.

People with prideful and judgmental patterns tend to get into conflicts with each other.

 


PSYCHOTHERAPY

 

Related Technical Concepts

Narcissistic grandiosity

False self

Ego ideal

 

Transference

Client wants to impress the therapist with her qualities or achievements and often expects therapist to be impressed.

Client acts superior and demeaning toward therapist.

 

Countertransference toward Prideful Client

For a client who indeed has the prided quality, being impressed with it and missing the over-investment and compensation.

Thinking client needs support, therapist admires client or gives appreciation.

Therapist becomes annoyed at client for grandiosity or condescension and challenges her in a nonsupportive way.

Anger or retaliation for being demeaned by client.

 

Countertransference of Prideful Therapist

Investment in admiration and idealization from clients.

Discouragement of client’s negative feelings toward you.

 

Group Roles/Positions

Norm setter

 

TREATMENT

 

Forming the Alliance

At the beginning, you may have to have some appreciation of the client’s object of pride.

 

Circumventing the Pattern

Avoid any exploration that may undermine the pride and therefore trigger intense defenses

 

Understanding of Pattern Needed by Client

Client needs to realize that she is invested in pride, not just appreciating herself.

Don’t challenge the validity of the pride; this may be too threatening. Just encourage the client to see how much she needs to feel valuable in this way.

Idealized images are usually challenged through the normal interpersonal interaction of a group. Support the client through the shame that may come up.

 

Accessing Core Issue and Origins

Accessing the underlying feelings of deficiency or how the parents only cared about the pride area, not the rest of the client.

Once the client realizes her investment, encourage her to explore why she needs this. What would she feel if she couldn’t feel proud? Has this ever happened, perhaps after a failure? This is delicate, because shame often comes up.

 

Experimenting with Healthy Attitudes

Being self-curious and non-defensive when challenged about potential flaws (either by therapist or group member), especially in area of pride. Once the client understands her pattern, you can point out when she becomes defensive or haughty, and ask if she is willing to experiment with a different way of receiving a confrontation. Explain the value of vulnerability. She must desire to try this for her own growth, not to please you, because shame is often involved. 

 

Healing Response to Accessing or Experimenting

Appreciation for the client’s courage and vulnerability in accessing painful feelings or exploring potentially shameful issues. This gives the client a sense of being valued for her true self, not just her superficial attributes.

Make this appreciation explicit or encourage group members to do this. It should be in the form of feelings, not evaluation of the client.

 

Healing Relationship 

A relationship is which the client is vulnerable and open and is valued for her true self. This tends to happen naturally in the course of good therapy on this pattern.

 

Potential Problems 

Client has a brittle pattern and can’t tolerate challenges. She persists in prideful behavior and group members (or therapist) become angry at her.

  • Keep in mind her underlying shame and feelings of deficiency, and frame this so that the client and group members also understand this