‘Circles of Thought,’ Chain && Missing Link DBT Analyses

Jarett Dunn
4 min readDec 17, 2022

Psych gave me some docs to read today, then we went and shot a best 2/3 game of billiards.

“Chain Analysis

for when you engage in ineffective behavior.

A chain analysis examines the chain of events that leads to ineffective behaviors, as well as the consequences of those behaviors that may be making it hard tp change them. It also helps you figure out how to repair the damage.”

“Missing-Links Analysis

for when you fail to engage in effective behaviors.

A missing-links analysis helps you identify what got in the way of doing things you needed or hoped to do, things you agreed to do, or things others expected you to do. It also helps you problem-solve for the future.”

The following diagram and directions to complete the work for either seem alike to the opposing one, and use the words ‘excruciating detail’ often.

It’s incredibly intriguing to me. About a dozen years ago at a like institution, I’d told the therapist on staff “at any point in time about 20% of my concentration is involved in identifying wayward thoughts and stopping them from progressing into problematic thought.”

Disbelieving me, the therapist weeks later turned the lights low in an exercise and began describing a monkey — the monkey was wearing a red hat, doing a salsa, and juggling three oranges. Then a blue hat. We’d continue on and she’d quiz me about the monkey and I was right at every step — at which point she began to believe I did have that much control of my faculties. Even enough to keep the chaos of the infinite at bay.

At all times.

At all costs.

I’d described the method to her, then, and I have to many people ever since, as ‘Circles of thought.’ If you take a look at the diagram on the handout, it is very much alike -

Turns out it’s an image I can find on the internet :)

‘Circles of Thought,’ Chain && Missing Link Analyses
Psych gave me some docs to read today, then we went and shot a best 2/3 game of billiards.

“Chain Analysis

for when you engage in ineffective behavior.

A chain analysis examines the chain of events that leads to ineffective behaviors, as well as the consequences of those behaviors that may be making it hard tp change them. It also helps you figure out how to repair the damage.”

“Missing-Links Analysis

for when you fail to engage in effective behaviors.

A missing-links analysis helps you identify what got in the way of doing things you needed or hoped to do, things you agreed to do, or things others expected you to do. It also helps you problem-solve for the future.”

The following diagram and directions to complete the work for either seem alike to the opposing one, and use the words ‘excruciating detail’ often.

It’s incredibly intriguing to me. About a dozen years ago at a like institution, I’d told the therapist on staff “at any point in time about 20% of my concentration is involved in identifying wayward thoughts and stopping them from progressing into problematic thought.”

Disbelieving me, the therapist weeks later turned the lights low in an exercise and began describing a monkey — the monkey was wearing a red hat, doing a salsa, and juggling three oranges. Then a blue hat. We’d continue on and she’d quiz me about the monkey and I was right at every step — at which point she began to believe I did have that much control of my faculties. Even enough to keep the chaos of the infinite at bay.

At all times.

At all costs.

I’d described the method to her, then, and I have to many people ever since, as ‘Circles of thought.’ If you take a look at the diagram on the handout, it is very much alike -

Turns out it’s an image I can find on the internet :)

If you ignore al of the text and think about circles leading left to right (but in reality they lead from center outwards on a 3d plane — if you think hard enough — one ‘vulnerability factor’ or indeed a ‘thought’ can expand to many others, simultaneously, and we need to choose which we give any time or patience to) you can see that -if you simply break your chain of thought, you can stop the outcome long before it happens.-

On the far more tragic side of this is the excruciating results of avoidance, which in my case led my close friends to joke about agoraphobia. Hopefully missing link analysis may have a shot at helping with that.

If you ignore all of the text and think about circles leading left to right (but in reality they lead from center outwards on a 3d plane — if you think hard enough — one ‘vulnerability factor’ or indeed a ‘thought’ can expand to many others, simultaneously, and we need to choose which we give any time or patience to) you can see that -if you simply break your chain of thought, you can stop the outcome long before it happens.-

On the far more tragic side of this is the excruciating results of avoidance, which in my case led my close friends to joke about agoraphobia. Hopefully missing link analysis may have a shot at helping with that.

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