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Weapons of Mass Self-Destruction: Eliminating Self-Defeating Behaviors

Robert J. Ackerman, Ph.D.

This workshop will focus on identifying and eliminating behaviors that cause defeat and harm to people. Many "self-defeating" behaviors often are behaviors that once helped a person survive a crisis. Once the crisis is over the behaviors, even though no longer needed, are maintained. Instead of helping the person they now cause harm by limiting the potential to develop healthy behaviors. Some examples of self-defeating behaviors include procrastination, defensiveness, perfectionism, under-achievement, isolating yourself, taking too much control in relationships, work-aholism and so on. Using a cognitive behavioral approach, eliminating self-defeating behaviors and replacing them with life enhancing skills will be the goal of the workshop.

Goals and Objectives

By the conclusion of this presentation, participants will be able to:

  1. identify why and how self-defeating behaviors are developed and maintained;
  2. describe the techniques in eliminating these behaviors and replacing them with life enhancing skills;
  3. discuss the irrational fears that prompt self-defeating choices;
  4. understand the implications for self-defeating theory and appropriateness for those who have survived crisis situations or families.

Presentation Outline

  1. Self-Defeating Behaviors
    1. General Characteristics
      1. At one point or another, a self-defeating behavior works to help an individual deal with a hurtful or threatening situation
      2. Helps an individual deal with psychic discomfort
      3. Helps a person deal with a situation that is a threat; its never the best behavior that could be used in a particular situation
      4. Eventually, self-defeating behaviors guarantee the consequences that the person is trying to avoid in practicing it
  2. Living Fearfully
    1. Each self-defeating conclusion is really a basic fear
    2. It is a conclusion of what will happen if you do not choose your usual self-defeating behavior
  3. Fear and Faulty Conclusions
  4. Fear & Self-Defeating Techniques
    1. Technique Development
      1. Replicate a situation that bred fear
      2. Negative role-modeling
      3. Learning by accident
    2. Inner Techniques
      1. Thought processes
    3. Outer Techniques
      1. Observable destructive actions
  5. Prices and Self-Defeating Behaviors
    1. Prices Instruct Us
      1. Show us we are behaving in an unhealthy way
      2. Show us consequences
      3. Can reveal faulty conclusions
      4. Identifies the point where behavior changes become possible and likely
    2. Disowning Techniques
      1. Blaming other people
      2. Fragmentizing our minds and bodies
      3. Capitalizing on social, political, or economic inequities
      4. Embracing fatalistic conclusions
  • Mid-Atlantic Addiction Research and Training Institute
  • Stright Hall, Room 107E
    210 South Tenth Street
    Indiana, PA 15705
  • Phone: 724-357-4405
  • Fax: 724-357-3944
  • MARTI Office Hours
  • Monday through Friday
  • 8:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.
  • 1:00 p.m.–4:30 p.m.
  • Send general office email to:
  • vgarcia@iup.edu