Inner Conflict

In this theory, there is a special situation described by ‘inner conflict.’ Children and adults who have been unable to develop a strong, stable sense of being an independent person instead develop certain subconscious mandates, ‘things I must accomplish, or ways I have to be.’

These are initially geared towards getting approval from the caregiver. Later in life, they are geared toward getting (often via inner or outer approval) an emotional ‘high’ which is the closest the person ever gets to feeling ‘real.’

Over time, people tend to adopt mandates, which conflict with one another, or situations can come up in which satisfying one mandate means sacrificing success with another – for example, ‘practice until perfect, or leave now to be on time’.

Since so much is perceived to be at stake in the outcome of trying to satisfy these mandates, the anxiety and stress such a ‘no way out’/'no-win’ conflict generates is out of proportion compared to the ordinary outcome of the intended action or behavior. A high degree of anxiety accompanying a seemingly relatively minor incident in life often indicates that more is going on beneath the surface. The anxiety can, in turn, lead to severe insomnia and other physical problems.