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Fundamental Principles of the LLS Therapy Model

My proposal is the following.

You’re personality, the person you are, is hugely contingent upon the person you are standing in front of.  Sullivan proposed that our emotional health is contingent upon whether or not those who are close to us, with whom we have close relationship, esteem us highly, that they support us and that we feel strongly accepted by them.  And for Sullivan, much of our behaviour occurs in response to whether or not we feel esteemed and accepted by the person we are in contact with at any given moment.  If we perceive that a person does not esteem us highly or is being critical towards us, this is construed as an attack to our self-esteem.  Maintaining self-esteem is so central to our personality, that the moment this occurs, we are likely to engage in defensive behaviour.  The aim of the defensive behaviour is to re-establish our self-esteem.  In Classical Psychoanalytic terms, we experience pain if we feel our esteem is under threat, and this is likely to trigger defences (or defensive behaviour) in us, in order to help sooth the pain we are momentarily experiencing. 

Application of LLS therapy procedure

I propose that if the aforementioned is true, then we can use this knowledge to help isolate which people in our lives threaten our self-esteem, and by how much.  If Sullivan’s belief, that our self-esteem is contingent upon the extent to which the people around us support us, encourage us and esteem us highly, then if follows that if we are suffering from high levels of anxiety, the people around us are probably constituting an ongoing threat to our self-esteem.  However we may well not be aware that the people around us are posing a threat to our self-esteem.  I will now turn to this issue.

Why are we not likely to be aware if those who are close to us are posing an ongoing threat to our self esteem?

I propose that the reason for the aforementioned is as follows.  If a child grows up with parents that were overly-critical and/or controlling, or aggressive, this will have posed an overwhelming threat to an infant’s self esteem.  An infant is typically largely pre-occupied with obtaining praise, positive recognition and approval from those she is closest to.  I do not drive a car, so spend much of my day travelling on public transport.  Sometimes a parent sits near me, with a child, that she is behaving very aggressively towards: shouting, criticising, making constant threats.  And typically, the child engages in similar behaviour towards the parent.  In essence, the child has learnt the behaviour from the parent, and is reacting to the parent’s aggressing with similar behaviours.  It’s not very difficult to understand the nature of the situation when one observes such aggression in a parent/child relationship.

The following problem then arises.  I propose that if we engage in aggressive and defensive behaviours in response to parental aggression, on an ongoing basis, these behaviour patterns will become somewhat automatic, and we are likely to then manifest similar behaviours in all of our dealings with others.  Granted, if someone is kind and behaves lovingly and with strong acceptance towards us, we may engage in less aggressive behaviours.  But unfortunately, our style of interaction will typically continue to bear the hallmarks of someone with low self-esteem and high levels of aggression. 

Now the following is a crucial and central proposal within the model I am proposing:

If our conversation is marked with numerous defences and subtle or unsubtle expressions of aggression, we will typically be perceived by others as a danger to THEIR self-esteem.  If an individual has grown up with rich, emotionally rewarding, supportive and affectionate relationships with parents and other individuals of importance in their life, and if she surrounds herself with similar kinds of people, I propose that, without even being necessarily being aware of it, she will not enjoy meeting someone who typically manifests even subtle forms of aggression and defensive types of behaviour.  I suggest that these kinds of dynamics can be very subtle, but such an individual will simply not make an effort to be around an aggressive or defensive individual.  In other words, the person with higher levels of self-esteem will not become a friend of the aggressive defensive individual.  And this translates into the following principle – which is once again crucial to this model:

If we typically manifest defensive and aggressive behaviours, people with high levels of self-esteem, who are supportive and encouraging (and the kind of person we need to be close to in order to be emotionally healthy), will not enter into close relationship with us. 

As a result of this principle, those who are habitually defensive and aggressive will perceive that (typically in their own words) “Everyone is somewhat aggressive”.  From my perspective this accounts for numerous statements I hear along these lines, for example people who say “you can’t really trust anyone fully, in the end everyone looks out for themselves” or perhaps “all men are bastards, they are only interested in sex and do whatever is necessary to get you into bed”.  Rather, I suggest, in the latter example, this is probably the experience of someone who is habitually attracted to the same kind of men and who habitually attracts the same kind of men.