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Why are some people automatically treated as "bad"/inferior?

(18 Posts)
elementofsurprise Mon 18-May-15 21:55:09

So. This has actually been bugging me since I was small but I've only been able to articulate it more recently.
First I should mention there is a possibility I have Aspergers (although I almost seem hypersensitve to nonverbal cues in some ways, and use facial expressions etc.), in which case this is probably something most of you intinctively understand or might think I'm being odd for asking. If so, explanations as if you're explaining human behaviour to someone from another planet would actually be really useful.

Well, anyway... I just feel inferior. Like a second-rate, lesser human. I am really struggling with depression at the moment, so this isn't unusual I guess. However, there are so many things coming into my head... things that have hurt me over the years, but that still hurt, because I still can't quite understand something... or more like because these memories all confirm my worst suspicions that I'm not the same as others, lesser somehow, and so shouldn't expect things to be the same for me as all the worthy humans.

There's a part of my mind that is terrified to say any of this in real life, because I feel I'd be putting the other person on the spot, in a horribly uncomfortable social faux pas, because then they'd have to explain that I was a second rate human, not worth as much, and it would be all awkward and embarassing for them. I know intellectually this is riduclous, but... its what I feel. (And as I write that, there's a part of my mind saying "Oh, you're only writing that to pretend you're as deserving as the next person, but really you know you're shit!" <<< and then another part that says writing that is just manipulative, etc, etc.)

But anyway, these memories are really bugging me. Not understanding why I've been treated the way I have means the only explanation I can come up with is that I'm inferior, a beta human. But I can't imagine that of anyone else, so I'm thinking... hoping... there's another explanation.

The memories involve points in my life where I've been baffled by the behaviour of people I wouldn't have treated like that, and who I'm pretty sure (or have solid evidence) they wouldn't have treated others like that. One thing is the way the mental health service has treated me since the first time I asked for help ten years ago (late teens). It's like they just took one look and went "oh, inferior human" and that was that. I was diagnosed BPD despite not really meeing the criteria, it seemed based on deciding off the bat that I was attention-seeking and not worthy of help, so BPD was assumed. I was essentially labelled ""unworthy" from the outset. Yet others presenting with far more BPD-ish symptoms get a kinder diagnosis, and help and support I was denied.

It not just professionals who have treated me like this though; people have attributed things to malicious or otherwise dodgy intent involving some quite spectacular bending/excluding of reality to make the facts fit. Now, I know people do this, and I know that on some level they shy away from others pain even if it's not explicit... but there's a but! Which is why do the very same people empathise and accept someone (to use a real example) who 'acted out' her troubles by binge drinking and being loud, obnoxious and violent to people when drunk? I mean, I think they were doing the right thing overall, and there are people who don't like her, but still a level of acceptance and friendship I was cut out from. Why?

One incident that keeps playing in my head is when she herself was present, with all of them, freezing me out - how could she, when she needed so much understanding herself? How could any of them, who normally seem like the most thoughtful compassionate people, do that? I have to say, this was almost four years ago and I am re-aquainted with all these people and would count one as a friend, although distant, and have had enjoyable times with them - even times where we've talked about serious things/they've been supportive... but I really want to ask WHY??? Do you think it just took time to realise I wasn't shit but just a person struggling? Even so... why did they think the worst at the outset?

These are just two examples but already a long post, so I'll just say there's so many times that I wish I could ask people "Why did you treat me like this but x like that?" It really is as if there's something about me people take a dislike to, and I can't fathom it. It's really upsetting and frightening to think there's something so awful about me, that no matter how much I try to do the right thing I'm somehow still 'bad'.

elementofsurprise Mon 18-May-15 22:07:56

Meant to add, I have seen this happen to other people too, occasionally. It's usually been a friend-of-a-friend/aquaintance being spoken of and judged in a way not done to others. Not necessarily in a bitchy way either - more like a resigned dismissal, whereas someone else would be a great cause for concern and psychoanalysing for displaying the same or worse behaviour.
Also within the MH realm, support seems to attract more support... eg. peope will have a supportive partner, then CPN, then a therapist or psychiatrist, maybe a support worker. Then others will be struggling apparently just as much but have no support at all. This might be because the system works in an all or nothing way, but I feel it's relevant somehow... like when a few people decide to help/think a certain way, everyone gets on board becaue you're suddeny legitimate? Hmm...

NotAJammyDodger Tue 19-May-15 08:40:13

Sorry you feel this way. I don't surround myself with people who treat me poorly anymore. There was a time I would bend over backwards to try to win them around. But, you can't or it will be only temporary - which made me feel worse as the cycle would start over with me beating myself up again. If you can, try to develop new relationships. Family is always a tricky one. In the end I went no contact with those that would get me worked up - I can't change them, but I could stop them hurting me.

Also, I feel that sometimes the way we feel can be self-sabotaging in that I would look for the slightest 'hint' of an issue and dwell on it and take it out of context. If you feel bad about yourself it can reflect in your behaviour (e.g. feeling awkward / uncomfortable around people) which can make building relationships difficult, and then the cycle of despair starts over.

Other OPs have posted on prejudice towards BPD so perhaps look at those post as well.

Have you tried therapy. It's not a panacea but it really helped me work with my feelings so I can manage them in a healthier, less self-destructive way.

elementofsurprise Tue 19-May-15 12:13:51

I'm in therapy at the moment. I'm just hitting a wall with this - it's all very well believing you're as worthwhile as others, but I've been there before and look what happened! I was 'reminded' that no, I wasn't as good/as worthwhile. It's almost as if, if I 'know my place' as a lesser human then everything makes sense and I won't be disappointed and so horribly hurt again. (Not entirely as I do have a few friends who I feel 'on a level' with.) I didn't "bend over backwards to try to win them around", I'd been there, done that when younger (with other people). We seemed like friends. They seemed genuinely nice and supportive - and that went both ways. We had nice times together. We sat up and talked about life and silly things. etc, etc. And even if they did treat me badly and I didn't deserve it, why me??

And it's not just that incident, there's loads, and at the time I can't articulate why it hurts and baffles me so much, but in hindsight I realise It's because I was treated differently, or inferior to others.

I just feel like I need to understand why to stop the default explanation being "i'm inferior". I mean, suppose someone snaps at you, and later you find out they've had a relly difficult day, and something tiny was 'the final straw'. Then you know it's not personal - there's an alternative explanation.

I know about the prejudice towards BPD - oh goodness, do I know! But most people I know don't know that's what I was diagnosed with (I'm not officially dx'd with it anymore, but professionals act as if I am). Also, I don't do things like love/hate people, push them away, self-harm needing medical intervention or in a way that anyone knows about it, attempt suicide (just the once, much younger), any of the things that might freak people out. More to the point, I'd been dx'd BPD when younger and basically traumatised and terrified, and living in difficult situations... whereas this time around I'd thought things were ok and was getting on with my life and confident and bam! depression and nightmares/memories from the past hit. It was very typical depression, with trauma-type features, not BPD-like really (even professionals agreed this, though still treat as if BPD!). Yet... being dismissed as attention-seeking seems to apply across the board.

Do you think people prefer others to 'act out' by being angry, drinking, etc, rather than be honest about how they feel and asking for support/a hug etc?

Butterflywings168 Thu 21-May-15 23:10:49

Hi element. I relate to this - I have said before I must have 'victim' tattooed on my forehead. I have been bullied/ abused in so many situations throughout my life. People also attribute bad motives to me I just don't have. I don't get it either.
I would suggest therapy but I've done that, and even the therapists have done those things.
So I have no answers but thanks wine

SaucyJack Thu 21-May-15 23:36:05

I'll be honest. From what you've said here you absolutely present with typical BPD, and as such it may well be your underlying "filters" that are causing you to assume other people are hostile to you.

I have it myself so it isn't any prejudice on my part talking.

NotAJammyDodger Wed 27-May-15 21:03:19

Don't be to hard on yourself. Some people seem to have a secure sense of self, regardless of the situation. Others have fragile self-esteem (me) that varies depending on my last 'success' which makes me feel great at the time.

But when I have a 'setback' I feel shame, self-doubt and worthlessness. I then get anxiety around situations and other people because I am constantly making negative social self - comparisons again.

I have tried a number of therapies. CBT in particular just irritated the hell out me. It's so generic and textbook driven.
I found psychodynamic therapy has come closest to helping me. Not everyone's cup of tea I know, but I think trying to change behaviors, experiences (these don't have to be horror stories either) and those psychological defences that were formed in childhood need longer term, deeper therapy sometimes.

I have found some success in emotionally changing the way I present and judge others, and experienced more genuine relationships and social interactions (to my surprise). Still a work in progress though!

Also, I have been through a number of therapists, some of whom were terrible, so that's another factor. I hope you a therapeutic solution and therapist that works for you. flowers

HelloMyNameIsMrsBloom Wed 27-May-15 23:26:49

I don't believe that anyone is typically treated as bad or inferior. Maybe you just get people's backs up because you think a lot about yourself but not others?

NotAJammyDodger Thu 28-May-15 16:13:24

Hello seriously, you thought about that comment before you wrote it.

silveracorn Thu 28-May-15 16:30:16


I'll have a go at explaining, though I may not get it right. DS2 has Aspergers and was treated as unworthy by his NT classmates. It broke my heart. He liked them, he was friendly and invited them over. They always came but never returned the compliments. I noticed that his Cub leader loathed him too, very openly, and went in to 'help' one day to try and find out why. It mystified me as at home he was gentle, cuddly, laid back to the point of comatose. At cubs DS was sullen and scowling (but not aware he was!) He pulled faces every time he was asked to do anything and came to me with tales of how he was being picked on and put upon when he was just being asked to muck in with the rest. His leader was a volunteer, helping out after her own long day at work, and she got fed up, understandably, of his sour face and over sensitivity to his own needs. DS wasn't in the slightest bit aware how sour he looked, how slumped and joyless his body language was, but it sucked the life out of everyone near him and I began to see why boys at school shunned him too. It was very painful to watch. Also, when he told me how awful his Cub leader had been to him, I was there to witness that she had been a bit brisk or spoken nicely twice and rudely once but he'd only picked up on the third time. In other words - his reading of the situation was way out of whack with most people's, and it was all about him in his mind and how badly others acted towards him.

So, one reason may be that NT people are genuinely quite instinctively hostile to AS people because they don't understand them. But another equally possible reason may be that you are giving out signals, non verbal and verbal/emotional that wind people up. One of these is to decide people must behave towards you in a certain way or you will be offended. In your long post, as well as a lot of hurt and pain and self loathing there is a lot of hostility and blame of others for not being as you think they 'ought' to be towards you. When I'm depressed I get like this - very judgemental and with high expectations of friends. They HATE it. They feel like they can't breathe in my presence if I keep being miffed and acting slighted every time they turn me down or ignore what I say to speak to someone else. When I'm well I see that this win some/lose some is perfectly normal - part of the flow, and that it happens to everyone else too if you look out for it.

Without meaning to, you are possibly turning the focus of every single situation to examine how it reflects on you and asking why you were slighted, ignored, overlooked, spoken harshly to. But not every situation is about you, and it's exhausting to be in the presence of people who think it is, even if they are very unassertive and put themselves down a lot. It's also really off putting to be in the presence of someone who thinks you are slighting them and putting them down or that they have offended you or upset you. Mostly they haven't, but it's one more way of drawing attention to them, to some invented misery in their mind. (Again, I'm not judging, I know I do this when I'm ill. I'm very tolerant indeed of other people who do it because I grew up with parents who did this and learned this behaviour myself, and am still at 50 in the process of unlearning it. But I know the majority of NT people are allergic to it. It drains them and they run a mile from emotionally draining people.)

If, instead, you turn your focus outward and put your energy into the situation and choose not to assess and react to how others behave towards you, you might find others relax more in your presence.

tormentil Thu 28-May-15 16:31:00

OP - I get you completely. This happens to me, a lot. I have bad experience after bad experience after bad experience. I've been treated badly and given zero support by the people around me, and yet others have been treated badly in the same siuation and have had loads of support. I don't understand it either. I too feel as if I have victim tattooed on my forehead. Other than becoming a recluse, I'm losing any idea of how to support myself.

If I've put it down to anything it's from growing up in a household where I didn't get my basic needs met and was always 'in trouble', sometimes just for breathing. I don't have a supportive mother or a supportive father. I'm also a bit of an oddbod - imaginative and slightly quirky but not creative enough to be creative. I think of it as not having received all that I need for a strong sense of self, which menas I'm coming from a different starting place. I'm less obviously needy for acceptance and attention now that I'm older, but it's possible that it's now a default pattern that I can't break out of. I can see this in others, so I'm sure they can see it in me. And so people treat you differently.

Rambling a bit now... just some thoughts.

Iwasinamandbunit Fri 29-May-15 22:52:15

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

elementofsurprise Sun 31-May-15 14:48:03

Thank you for the replies.
Tormentil I completely relate - being in trouble just for breathing, yup. Trying desperately to be perfect and not draw any attention and walk on eggshells to stop the explosions...

The comments about thinking too much about myself or accidentally giving off signals... Hmm. I've always tried really hard to do the 'right' thing, to be kind, and seem to have loads more empathy than others in a lot of situations. Actually, as I'm going though therapy I realise I've previously gone too much the other way - going out of my way to help people, put their needs first etc., so people have taken advantage. Strangely, being slightly more 'selfish' seems to make people treat you better - I guess it's a respect thing.

SilverAcorn I understand the things you've said, and I appreciate the detailed reply. Despite the above, and being able to read body language etc. I wonder if I could be making people slightly uncomfortable, or just not 'clicking' with them fully (sealing friendship) because of some subtle body language type issue. And thus, I won't have been treated the same as their 'real'/closer friends because although on the surface I was the same as them, we hadn't bonded in the same way. I think there may also be issues to do with not understanding/agreeing with social hierarchy (eg. when people would respond/'pick sides' completely differently in exactly the same situation depending on who's involved, who is most popular etc. To a lesser degree, also attributing negative explanations of behaviour to certain people but not others, as if facts are irrelevant...)

Btw, I'm asking on here because I can't/won't in real life! I'm not looking out for slights against me, because I don't want to feel crap, I want to feel loved and included and worth something! I have a few close friends I really do trust not to do this, or to at least still be friends and explain afterwards if anythng did happen, it's the historical stuff I'm trying to put in perspective.

The problem is I keep remembering and having nightmares about all these really painful situations, and I can't sort of 'resolve' them in my head without understanding why. I'm trying to find an alternative explanation, other than "I'm not worth treating properly". I feel terrified and hopeless and sick when I remember these things, and the memories force their way in. So it's not me purposely mulling over things or trying to pick out slights against me, it memories from the past I'm trying to put into context so they don't hurt me so much.

Also intrigued by SaucyJack's comment that I present as typical BPD! The thing is, I don't! I don't tick the boxes for diagnosis, and my symptoms are far more in line with depression, plus anxiety/trauma type symptoms that can be traced back to experiences. And yet, you look at how I feel and something says "Typical BPD". Whilst diagnosisng based on a sort of internal cariacature seems utterly repellant to my scientific and "fair" mind, I'm also strongly in favour of instincts telling us something. (Mind you it's awful the way psychs assume a diagnosis means you must display all the symptoms and thus blames you for things you don't actually do! Or offers treatment for problems you don't have!) What is interesting is that you'd think things like lots of self-harm might put people off, but if these more obvious symptoms aren't there, you're DBTing up to the eyeballs, acting the part, hiding what's inside... even if, like me, you had started to genuinely feel happy and worthwhile... there is still something that others pick up on. Hmm... I know there is a tendency to pick on the vulnerabe, in general. (Sometimes it feels like I took the assemblies in school about the Good Samaritan etc. too seriously, and missed the one where they said "but few people even aim to act like this in the real world"...)

Did actually ask a friend the other day, specifically the scenario outlined where someone drunk and violent was more warmly received, and my friend said "That's because they can relate to them".
Very simple, but I was gobsmacked and am now trying to apply that explanation somewhat, makes a lot of sense!

Also had a minor op this week, and kept worrying about things like them saying "get up off that trolley, you attention-seeker!" or chucking me out as soon as I woke up and was still wobbly. Obviously it wasn't like that at all, and it made me think about the relating thing, and how mental and physical health is treated differently, and how one feels about the whole thing (I feel 'needy' with mental health, whereas with physical I had to be forced to sit down and rest!)

So some tentative conclusions have been reached, and I write this in part in case anyone stumbles on the thread in future!

comedancing Thu 04-Jun-15 22:40:02

I think when someone has suffered rejection in their early life that rejection clings on to them and it's like wearing a t-shirt saying "reject me" and then the cycle continues. People who have a tendency to even slightly bully people will see that and go in for the kill. I see it in school. Certain kids are vulnerable from the start..nothing definite but just that stamp of rejection on them. The other kids go for it. I believe in children the only way to overcome it is for them to get total unconditional love to cover that broken place or else it continues. You may have had a childhood like that and looking right back may uncover where it started. In other words l do think some people give out a rejection vibe. They don't deserve it and they are not lesser people but their body language etc is attracting a put down.

NotAJammyDodger Thu 04-Jun-15 23:48:48

I wonder whether BPD just becomes an 'easy' bucket that anyone with low self esteem, early life trauma (or other types of personality disorders) gets chucked into by professionals because insufficient time is spent with people?

Yes, some people do have BPD, but there are a number of other recognised personality 'disorders' and quite a bit of overlap between them interms of behaviours and affect.

It's interesting that in the five years I've been on here BPD seems to be the most common personality disorder appearing? Or maybe that's just the way it is??

elementofsurprise Sat 06-Jun-15 20:16:36

ComeDancing - I was afraid that was the case. Not sure how, as an adult, I shoud start to repair the damage... I became more confident and happier gradually after the really tough years... but then broke down (hit me when things seemed to be going really well) and had it knocked out of me again. I instinctively feel like I need some massive TLC and loads of encouragement (after 3 genuinely happy days in physical pain with support last week) but also feel massively guilty, like a bad terrible person, for feeling this. It's not a realistic thing to happen, anyway, just noticed it felt like what I need.

NotAJammyDodger BPD is one of the few so-called PD's where the person actually feels bad and is inclined to seek help. Because of the overwhelming emotional pain and things like self-harm they are more likely to repeatedy try to access help or end up in front of health professionals, and so more likely to get disgnosed. But it does work the other way too - eg. people who self harm are more likely to get a BPD diagnosis. I daresay that with increased pressure on mental health services diagnosing BPD is convenient as they can dismiss everything as "attention-seeking". I know that's a harsh thing to say but I think it happens on a subconscious level, people have to justify the awful things they have to do due to budgets.

I do think the social fabric is failing, with increasingly isolated lives, with higher pressures (eg. no 'jobs for life' etc.), not to mention the generation sold the idea of being amazingly fulfilled and having a wonderful career (now our parents and grandparents generations had lived through positive social changes, NHS etc)... all this is creating people who feel rubbish.

In addition, rather than just quietly killing ourselves or whatever, we also have seen social changes with people beginning to talk about mental health, we are more individualistic in our outlook (some for the better, some worse - but people want/expect to feel better not just return to their expected social role eg. servile housewife, iyswim). Not to mention hearing about celebrities checking into private psych hospital in states that would be laughed out of the NHS. Which means people are a bit shocked when they encounter the brutal realities of the system! I know I was, thought it was one of those "doctor from hell" Dail Mail type stories, I was gobsmacked as thought those stories were all exaggerated! Even more gobsmacked, in a horrifically painful and slow way, to gradually realise that was just how the psych side of the NHS was. (Really annoying and frankly harmful when people drag you to A&E after refusing to believe it's fruitless, though.)

And if someone speaks up about how they're treated? Or in any way says/does anything that makes staff think they're "entitled"? BPD diagnosis!
It sort of means, "this person is v v depressed and feels shite, but a part of them thinks they deserve to feel better and needs some care." The system/people in general can't handle that - you're supposed to be depressed and submissive.

NotAJammyDodger Sun 07-Jun-15 00:28:38

Think your right Element. More and more people being diagnosed with MH issues. I think I read somewhere that by 2020 the World Health Organisation have said depression will be the single largest medical illness worldwide. Yet less and less funding hmm.

I know what you mean about complaining too. Because you have a mental health problem, you are the problem, not the staff, doctors etc. My psychiatrist was a totally pompous, condescending ass who clearly thought I was exaggerating the things that have happened to me.

But then we are all just 'service' users (and like we have a choice over which services we use confused) not patients any more.

Anyway, rant over (for now grin). Wish you well on your MH travels flowers.

KingTut Sun 07-Jun-15 00:35:27

People are shades of Grey op. Some more dark some almost white and some have a different shade for each person they interact with. To one person the grey shifter will be dark and treat someone badly as they know they have a nice person with poor boundaries the grey shifter will look almost white to someone they want to impress who has good boundaries. Only go near those who have lighter shades of Grey.

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