Lifetraps – seeing the world differently


Schema Therapy was developed by Jeffrey Young as an alternative CBT-based psychotherapy method. The first book I read was “Reinventing your Life”, which proved to be a big challenge for me, a painful fight aiming inner freedom from the roles (or lifetraps) I kept playing during my lifetime. The book can be counted in top 10 the most impressive books I ever read. There is also a website whee you can get more info about this method of therapy:

In Schema Therapy there are 5 Schema Domains and a total of 18 Maladaptive Schemas
There are 3 maladaptive coping styles (or responses) for each maladaptive schema –
And there are 10 Schema Modes .

The first step is awareness of the lifetraps and the second is the choice to stop enacting them.

Below are the schemas grouped by domain, and the 3 possible coping responses to each of them: surrender, avoidance & overcompensation.

From Schema Therapy: a Practitioner’s Guide
by Jeffrey E. Young, Janet S. Klosko & Marjorie E. Weishaar.
© 2003 The Guilford Press.


Abandonment & Instability lifetrap

Selects partners who cannot make a commitment and remains in the relationships
Avoids intimate relationships; drinks a lot when alone
Clings to and “smothers” the partner to point of pushing partner away; vehemently attacks partner for even minor separations

Mistrust & Abuse lifetrap

Selects abusive partners and permits abuse
Avoids becoming vulnerable and trusting anyone; keeps secrets
Uses and abuses others (“get others before they get you”)

Emotional Deprivation (lack of nurturance, empathy, protection) lifetrap

Selects emotionally depriving partners and does not ask them to meet needs
Avoids intimate relationships altogether
Acts emotionally demanding with partners and close friends

Defectiveness & Shame lifetrap

Selects critical and rejecting friends; puts self down
Avoids expressing true thoughts and feelings and letting others get close
Criticizes and rejects others while seeming to be perfect

Social Isolation/Alienation & Exclusion lifetrap

At social gatherings, focuses exclusively on differences from others rather than similarities
Avoids social situations and groups
Becomes a chameleon to fit into groups


Dependence & Incompetence lifetrap

Asks significant others (parents, spouse) to make all his or her financial decisions
Avoids taking on new challenges, such as learning to drive
Becomes so self-reliant that he or she does not ask anyone for anything (“counter-dependent”)

Vulnerability (to Harm or Illness) lifetrap

Obsessively reads about catastrophes in newspapers and anticipates them in everyday situations
Avoids going places that do not seem totally “safe”
Acts recklessly, without regard to danger (“counter-phobic”)

Enmeshment & Undeveloped Self lifetrap

Tells mother everything, even as an adult; lives through partner
Avoids intimacy; stays independent
Tries to become the opposite of significant others in all ways

Failure lifetrap

Does tasks in a halfhearted or haphazard manner
Avoids work challenges completely; procrastinates on tasks
Becomes an “overachiever” by ceaselessly driving him- or herself


Entitlement & Grandiosity lifetrap

Bullies others into getting own way, brags about own accomplishments
Avoids situations in which he or she is average, not superior
Attends excessively to the needs of others

Insufficient Self-Control & Self-Discipline lifetrap

Gives up easily on routine tasks
Avoids employment or accepting responsibility
Becomes overly self-controlled or self-disciplined


Subjugation lifetrap

Lets other individuals control situations and make choices
Avoids situations that might involve conflict with another individual
Rebels against authority

Self-Sacrifice lifetrap

Gives a lot to others and asks for nothing in return
Avoids situations involving giving or taking
Gives as little to others as possible

Approval-Seeking & Recognition-Seeking lifetrap

Acts to impress others
Avoids interacting with those whose approval is coveted
Goes out of the way to provoke the disapproval of others; stays in the background


Negativity & Pessimism lifetrap

Focuses on the negative; ignores the positive; worries constantly; goes to great lengths to avoid any possible negative outcome
Drinks to blot out pessimistic feelings and unhappiness
Is overly optimistic (“Pollyanna”-ish); denies unpleasant realities

Emotional Inhibition lifetrap

Maintains a calm, emotionally flat demeanor
Avoids situations in which people discuss or express feelings
Awkwardly tries to be the “life of the party”, even though it feels forced and unnatural

Unrelenting Standards & Hyper-criticalness lifetrap

Spends inordinate amounts of time trying to be perfect
Avoids or procrastinates in situations and tasks in which performance will be judged
Does not care about standards at all – does tasks in a hasty, careless manner

Punitiveness lifetrap

Treats self and others in harsh, punitive manner
Avoids others for fear of punishment
Behaves in overly forgiving way.

The 3 coping styles:

1. Overcompensation (Counterattack)
Aggression, Hostility
Dominance, Excessive Self-assertion
Recognition-seeking, Status-seeking
Manipulation, Exploitation
Passive-aggressiveness, Rebellion
Excessive Orderliness

2. Surrender
Compliance, Dependence

3. Avoidance
Social withdrawal, Excessive autonomy
Compulsive Stimulation-seeking
Addictive Self-Soothing
Psychological Withdrawal.


2 thoughts on “Lifetraps – seeing the world differently

  1. Pingback: Positive Intelligence – Shirzad Chamine | Cezar's Space

  2. Pingback: Borderline Types | Cezar Danilevici

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.