The Biosocial Model
The biosocial model is the theory of how emotional symptoms arise and how they are maintained. The theory is that our problem behaviours, in relation to regulating emotions, are rooted in both biological and environmental (social) factors.
Feeling things more intensely makes us more reactive events than other people might be. Dr Linehan, creator of DBT, likens this to lacking an emotional ‘skin’, like a burns victims who experiences pain at the slightest touch.
As we discussed in the previous lesson, emotional dysregulation can be useful in certain situations, but when we don’t know how to regulate our emotions we can choose to use avoidance or escapism techniques such as substance misuse of self-harm. This solidifies the false belief that we can’t tolerate or cope with our extreme emotions.
We learned in earlier lessons the importance of validation, and this is certainly a factor in the biosocial model. We must first accept the emotions we are having, in order to learn how to manage it. Invalidation can have a serious effect on emotional dysregulation, invalidating social environments can include things like:
- being told you are being dramatic or overreacting
- being told you are using your emotions and being manipulative
- being ignored when in emotional distress, then being told your distress is too much for that person
- being told you are being ‘difficult’
Over time, this invalidation leads us to believe some of it must be true, or that we are difficult and can’t cope. We even take on some blame for the emotional dysregulation, when in fact it is most definitely not our fault.