Having a lot of self-control is often seen as a good thing. Skill is the key to success in many aspects of life – whether it’s getting a promotion at work, following an exercise routine, or resisting the temptation of sweets.
However, as suggested by a theory published by Prof Thomas Lynch In 2018, High self-control may not always be a good thing – and for some, it may be linked to some mental health issues.
🔎According to Lynch’s theory, Each of us leans more toward one of two personality types: “under control” or “over-control.”. Each person’s aspect depends on many factors, including their genetic profile, the approval or disapproval of others around them, our life experiences and the coping strategies we use in daily life.
It is important to stress that being under control or over controlling is neither a good nor a bad thing. Although these poles indicate a behavioral profile, most of us are psychologically flexible and can adapt to different situations that arise. So, regardless of whether we are over- or under-controlled, this resilience helps us deal with life’s challenges and setbacks in a constructive way.
Both too much control and too much control can become a problem. This usually happens when a combination of biological, social, and personal factors make us less resilient.
Self-control could be the path to vitality at 81 years old
Most of us are probably familiar with the manifestations of the so-called Problematic sub-control: Highly uncontrollable people may have few inhibitions and cannot control their emotions. This behavior can be unpredictable as it often depends on the mood they are in. This can negatively impact your relationships, education, work, finances, and health.
There are many treatments that can help these people. In general, it helps the patient learn how to regulate emotions and increase self-control. For example, cognitive behavioral therapy aims to teach you to control your thoughts, behavior and emotions. Likewise, dialectical behavior therapy—designed for people who experience emotions very intensely—targets emotional dysregulation.
Excessive control is problematic
Unfortunately, people who are highly controlled are often not talked about much. This happens because overly similar traits – such as perseverance, the ability to make plans and stick to them, the struggle for perfection and the preservation of emotions – are highly valued in many societies. But when too much control becomes a problem, it can be harmful in many areas of life.
People with a lot of control may have difficulty adapting to change. They may be less open to new experiences and criticism from others and tend to be very stubborn. People with this condition may experience bitter feelings of envy toward others and find it difficult to relax and have fun in social situations. They may also use fewer gestures, rarely smile or cry, and try to hide their feelings at all costs.
Combined, these characteristics can make a person more vulnerable to social isolation and loneliness. Ultimately, this may worsen your mental health.
Unfortunately, many available psychological treatments are not helpful in treating problems of overcontrol. This is because the techniques focus on improving self-control and emotional regulation. But because overly controlling and over-regulated people actually do just that, they need therapy that can help them learn that sometimes it’s okay to relax and let things happen.
Alongside his theory, Lynch also developed a therapy designed to treat problems of overcontrol – known as Radical Open Dialectical Behavior Therapy. Early studies have shown that this technique has great potential to help overly controlled people. This is done by teaching them to let go of the need to always be in control, to be more open about their emotions, to communicate better with others, and to be more flexible amid changing situations.
It is important to emphasize that this treatment is a diagnostic treatment, which means that it can be helpful regardless of what mental health condition a person may have previously been diagnosed with. Research shows it can also be beneficial for people with a range of mental health conditions — such as treatment-resistant depression, anorexia nervosa, and autism spectrum disorders.
But to get adequate help, the person must first be correctly identified as being highly controlled.
The current evaluation of overcontrol is very long and complex. It includes some questionnaires and evaluation that must be performed by a specially trained doctor. These factors can limit access to support and delay treatment.
I am working on developing a simplified evaluation method that will help identify overcontrol problems immediately. This will also make it easier for researchers to continue studying supercontrol.
Excessive control is often admired, and people like this are rarely open about their problems and internal conflicts. This is why problems with overcontrol can go unnoticed for a long time. Continued work in this area is expected to make it easier for people to get the help they need.
It is important to stress that overcontrol and undercontrol are complex concepts and cannot be self-diagnosed. If you suspect that you may be under control or overly controlling — especially if it is affecting your health and well-being — it is important to contact your doctor or therapist.
“Hardcore beer fanatic. Falls down a lot. Professional coffee fan. Music ninja.”