Internal Conflict

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

I’m not sure how to start this. Since I was a kid I realized I had the ability to manipulate those around me. I took advantage of it and my mother and family suffered for it. I have an extremely hard time relating to others on any emotional level. I work in a place where people rely on me to a certain extent on regular life issues. Rest assured I don’t work in the mental health profession. As a teenager I used to say horrible things to close family members and just watch them cry. I couldn’t understand why they were so upset. I started doing it because I enjoyed it. I use to figure out what would hurt them the most and just watched them suffer. In the career that I am it has helped cope with extreme situations where most people might be traumatized by violent events. It wasn’t until recently I realized my so called “ability” to deal with these events wasn’t normal. My coping mechanism is that I don’t feel things the way other people do so it enables me to witness and react to things in more rational response. I’ve had act like other people do, just to fit in. I just thought I was stronger than most people. In my early twenties I used my looks to gratify whatever desires I had, sexual, materialistic and emotional. I knew how to talk and act in a certain way and conforming myself to that particular person liked. In my line of duty and my position requires a certain amount of compassion, understanding and empathy. I have to pretend to feel these things. This is an issue I have had since I was a kid. Lack of remorse or feelings. I know the difference between right and wrong but even as a kid it didn’t stop me. Truth be told, I see people as mere objects for me to mold as I see fit. Unfortunately, I feel have reached a point where people are starting to notice things about me that have been mentioned before even as a kid. As I got older I realized this wasn’t normal. I started immolating feelings to what I thought was right for the situation. The need to mask myself is slowly dwindling away with each passing day. Not sure what to do or if I should do anything at all.

A. You recognize that your behavior is wrong. You also recognize that your emotional reactions are abnormal. Since you have identified those problem areas and have even drawn conclusions about them, it is important to seek an objective critique. I would suggest seeing a therapist who can validate whether the conclusions you have drawn about your behavior and emotional reactions are accurate. It is important to be correct in your thinking.

As a child and a young adult, you took advantage of family members and said “horrible things just to watch them cry.” Virtually all children have said mean things to family members and learned later to control this hurtful behavior.

You also stated that you mimic an appropriate emotional response when interacting with strangers. You may not authentically feel those emotions but it can be difficult to feel emotionally connected to strangers. Those instances may be indicative of a potential problem but without external validation from a trained mental health professional, it is difficult to know with certainty. A therapist can also examine all aspects of your life including your relationships, whether you have other mental health symptoms, whether you are generally a happy person, and much more. In therapy, it is important to examine all aspects of your life to determine whether the problems you have identified are in fact problems that require treatment.

Just as an individual who experiences an irregular heartbeat (potentially indicative of a heart problem) should be evaluated by a medical professional, you should seek external validation from a mental health professional to determine if you have a psychological problem that requires treatment. It is the next logical step. If your thinking is incorrect, then any conclusions you will draw will also be incorrect. Please take care.


Dr. Kristina Randle

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 11 Jul 2012

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2012). Internal Conflict. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 1, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2012/07/11/internal-conflict/