Some people experience a particular kind of emotional deprivation in childhood. They don’t get treated in a way that would enable them to develop an ongoing sense of autonomous existence independent of the results of their behavior and achievements. This natural, healthy need, when not filled properly through the primary caretaker’s healthy regard for them as an independently existing Being, creates an intolerable terror and vacuum. So they subconsciously adopt various unhealthy strategies for getting positive vibes from their caretaker. Those positive vibes are the closest to a healthy regard that they can obtain.
Those (subconsciously) self-imposed strategies include various requirements for feeling or acting certain ways, or various conditions they believe they must fulfill, to get those vibes. Successfully meeting those ‘requirements or conditions’ needed gets experienced as validating that they exist as a Being. It is their Substitute-Sense-of-Self, which is a positive, emotional ‘high’ feeling/mood/stat derived from the outcome of an action or achievement. Experiencing this ‘high’ functions as the ultimate goal in life because its presence feels like a matter of life or death.
The Substitute-Sense-of-Self is actually an entire psycho-emotional complex of motives, goals, feelings, needs, desires, habits, and behaviors which this Theory calls the Substitute-Sense-of-Self-oriented System. This system operates a great deal of the person’s psyche and behavior, and has a profound influence on their health, relationships, work, every area of life and with that on their environment as well (children, spouses). It causes a great deal of human suffering, for the person and for others. It can, fortunately, with enough determination and effort, be healed.