WHAT IT IS
Emotional over-control is the attempt to control or inhibit emotional experiencing, predict and control future problems, and find certainty in experience. Individuals who struggle with emotional over-control often struggle with uncertainty, unpredictability, and emotional gray areas. Emotional over-control is considered problematic when the desire to control the behavior of self or others, desire to control the environment, or the desire for certainty and predictability cause symptoms of anxiety, depression, anger, or panic.
Individuals that struggle with emotional over-control often develop behaviors or rules to feel more “in control” of their emotional experience. These behaviors are often related to over-planning (e.g., rehearsing catastrophes), over-simplifying (e.g., approaching complex dilemmas in black and white ways), or avoiding potentially emotional situations altogether to reduce the likelihood of feeling overwhelmed or “out of (emotional) control.” These individuals may often experience anger or resentment toward others when they struggle to understand the rules or regulations that the over-controlled person lives by. This may result in interpersonal difficulties in areas such as work (e.g., difficulty delegating or collaborating), friendship (e.g., black and white approaches to others’ behavior), or romantic relationships (e.g., difficulty being emotionally vulnerable with a partner).
Individuals that struggle with emotional over-control often have co-occurring anxiety, mood disturbance, anger, perfectionism or shame. Individuals may develop maladaptive ways to either take back control (e.g., restricted eating) or cope with perceived lack of control (e.g., substance abuse concerns).
RO-DBT group and individual therapy. An initial assessment is important to determine the best treatment for symptoms of over-control.