16 Dysfunctional Personality types

Resilience and Dysfunctional Personality Styles

Cognitive Principle Therapy [CPT] is based on Polyvagal Theory. Arising from that the followings assumptions have been made:

  • That Resilience is broken through when the Vagal Brake is switched Off.
  • The Vagal Brake is controlled by the Gut Brain and the two biggest influences on it are Core Beliefs and Impulse Control.
  • Impulse Control is defined in terms or Influencing Principles, namely, Self control; Assertiveness; Calmness; Courage; Persistance and Patience.
  • When someone has a weak core belief, such as everyone should agree with me, that puts too much pressure on the influencing principles and the the Vagal brake is switched off, causing a dysfunctional emotional and behavioral response.
  • Based on the book "Thinking, Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman and Supported by Iain McGilchrist's book "Ways of Attending" we have two systems, namely System 1 [Right brain] and System 2 [Left Brain], the latter based on logic and commonsense, but very slow, with an extremely short memory span.
  • According to Polyvagal Theory when the Vagal Brake is off and the person is under threat the body down regulates and moves to the Fight, Flight, Freeze state at the Gut Brain level.

In Cognitive Principle Therapy we have unresolved issues from the past, most of these are due to break down in Relationship Principles related the the Polyvagal Ventral vagus nerve [Engagement nerve]. The relationship principles include Trust, Respect, Acceptance and Commitment.

The "Remembering self" is located in system 1 and forms the basis of your identity. In CPT states that  there is an instinctive drive to fix the unresolved issues related to the Relationship Principles and restore the person to their Real Self. This  instinct was present before the cognitive revolution and forms the basis of Attachment Theory and Imago Therapy.


In CPT the 16 Dysfunctional styles are broken into System 1 [Right Brain] or System 2 [Left Brain], namely:

They relate to the three nerves in the Polyvagal system.

  • Sympathetic Nerve-Fight -Flight [Anger-Anxiety]
  • Parasympathetic Nerve- Dorsal Vagus [Avoid-Depression]
  • Parasympathetic nerve-Ventral Vagus [Engagement]

The characteristics of the System 2, Left Brain, Task  Positive Network [TPN] are as a generalization are found more in men than women:

  • There is a over use of logic and commonsense and a suppression of emotions.
  • The issues are dealt with quickly and the person wants to move on from them, unless they are more overly avoidant [Avoids]
  • They are more prone to verbal anger and emotional abuse, if overly controlling and overly negative, because they don't understand and can't control their own emotions.
  • Will often use anger as a mask for other emotions such as anxiety, depression or low self-esteem.
  • They tend to be more stubborn and fixed in their views because they lack empathy for the other person's view.
  • Responses are stuck in the head and are not understood at a feeling or sensing level. Their unwillingness due to fear, is a major reason their issues don't get fixed.

The characteristics of the System 1, Right Brain, Default Mode Network [DMN] are as a generalization are found more in women than men:

  • They are more emotional and less logical when the Vagal Brake is Off.
  • If they are overly controlling and overly negative, they are more likely to have excessive anger and be verbally abusive.
  • If they are overly responsible they need get to the truth and get things fixed by pushing too hard [overly positive] or "nagging" if overly negative.
  • If overly avoidant [escape] are more prone to anxiety.
  • If overly avoidant [avoid]  and overly negative, are more prone to depression.
  • They can feel their emotions and some can sense their body reactions.
  • Responses are a lot deeper in System 1 people and therefore harder to overcome.

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