chapter  14
6 Pages

Threat and the compensations of achievement

While shame can typically lead to the safety strategies of selfcriticism, avoidance, closing down, hiding and various unhelpful ways of trying to regulate emotions, shame can also lead to invigorated drive behaviours in the form of achievement seekingÐlinked to the ``musts'' and ``have tos''Ðas in Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT; Dryden, 2009). Alfred Adler (1870±1937) argued that people who feel inferior (have an inferiority complex) may strive to compensate and prove themselves to othersÐa view now well accepted by most psychotherapies. CFT therefore links to the research on compensation and achievement. Some years ago, McClelland, Atkinson, Clark and Lowell (1953) made a distinction in motivation theory between value achievers and need achievers. Value achievers set their achievements to bring pleasures and stretch themselves, whereas need achievers set their standards to try to impress others. These themes have been taken up by other researchers. For example, Dykman (1998) suggested that there are two main motivations behind achievement, which he called growth seeking versus validation seeking. Growth seekers enjoy challenges and their ability to learn and mature through challenges/mistakes. Validation seekers, however, feel under constant pressure to prove themselves as likeable and acceptable to others. He also suggested that validation seeking is a defensive coping strategy that develops in the context of critical and perfectionist parenting. In a series of studies Dunkley and colleagues (e.g., Dunkley, Zuroff, & Blankstein, 2006) explored various measures of perfectionism and suggested two underlying factors: the ®rst is setting and striving for personal

standards; the second is striving to avoid criticism/rejection from othersÐlabelled ``evaluative concerns''. Dunkley et al. (2006) found that it is the evaluative concerns dimension that is linked to various psychopathological indicators. Our research has also shown that insecure striving, to avoid inferiority (which is different from seeking superiority) can be distinguished from secure non-striving. Insecure striving is to avoid the social consequences of rejection, exclusion and shame (Gilbert et al., 2007). Secure non-strivers think they are accepted whether they succeed or fail.