THE PAST-NEGATIVE PERSONALITY
The first of the five personality types is the past- negative personality. Here is the person whose mind continues to dwell on an unhappy past, and it, indeed, is the saddest of the personality types we’ll examine.
Certainly life is full of tragedy and regret, and, even more certainly, some individuals experience more unhappiness in their lives than do others. There is nothing really fair about it. Nor is there a great deal of consolation for the hurts life throws our way. Yet some of us manage to put these hurts behind us, while others never seem able to let go of them.
For the past-negative personality, the hurts are always with them. Often they find their mind drifting to regrets, blaming, remorse, guilt, rejections, losses, abuses, and/or bitterness from the past.
Past-negative personalities take many forms. Some may be dwelling on a more recent tragedy (like a painful divorce or financial setback) while others may be unable to shake the memories associated with hurts in the far distant past (such as childhood rejection or abuse). For some, the past- negative preoccupation may be focused on one, single traumatic event (as is typical, in the extreme, of phobic disorders) or a traumatic period in their lives (as in post- traumatic stress syndromes). For others, however, it is based on a life-long series of minor hurts which build over the years.
In any event, the result is the same. Everyday reminders and unresolved mental conflicts continue to bring the unhappy past to mind. An undue amount of time is spent reliving, rethinking, and reanalyzing such unpleasant events with little resolution or alleviation to show for it. In essence, the past-negative personality continues to taint the present, day-in and day-out, with negative feelings long since past.
Such past-negative thinking is not always conscious. For many past-negative personalities, this unhappy preoccupation lies beneath the surface. Although most “past-negatives” consciously mull on their past, many others are affected on a subconscious level. Though their immediate attention may be focused on their day to day concerns, below the surface their mind is preoccupied with a host of negative events from the past. From time to time such thoughts may intrude their conscious thoughts, but for the most part they remain subliminal — serving only to color the present with subtle feelings of anxiety or gloom that appear to be unexplainable.
Clinically speaking, the past-negative personality is the most disturbing of the five types we’re discussing. Although such a personality type is not specifically recognized by psychologists as an emotional disorder in and of itself, there is little doubt that such past-negative thinking — in the extreme — is a major part of all the most common mental disorders. Most experts agree that the bulk of emotional problems seen in everyday practice fall on those whose past is laden with negative childhood, adolescent, or adult experiences. Even those who lean to a biochemical causation of emotional disorder present few examples or people with a loving, positive life-history to support their case.