From pages 49-50 of Cognitive Behavioral Treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder by Marsha Linehan:
“An invalidating environment is one in which communication of private experiences is met by erratic, inappropriate, and extreme responses. In other words, the expression of private experiences is not validated; instead, it is often punished and/or trivialized. The experience of painful emotions, as well as the factors that to the emotional person seem causally related to the emotional distress, are disregarded. The individual’s interpretations of her own behavior, including the experience of the intents and motivations associated with the behavior, are dismissed.
Invalidation has two primary characteristics. First, it tells the individual that she is wrong in both her description and her analyses of her own experiences, particularly in her views of what is causing her own emotions, beliefs, and actions. Second, it attributes her experiences to socially unacceptable characteristics of personality traits. The environment may insist that the individual feels what she says she does not (“You are angry, but you just won’t admit it”), likes or prefers what she says she does not (the proverbial “When she says no, she means yes”), or has done what she said she did not. Negative emotional expressions may be attributed to traits such as overreactivity, oversensitivity, paranoia, a distorted view of events, or failure to adopt a positive attitude. Behaviors that have unintended negative consequences for others may be attributed to hostile or manipulative motives. Failure, or any deviation from socially defined success, is labeled as resulting from lack of motivation, lack of discipline, not trying hard enough, or the like. Positive emotional expressions, beliefs, and action plans may be similarly invalidated by being attributed to lack of discrimination, naivete, overidealization, or immaturity. In any case, the individual’s private experiences and emotional expressions are not viewed as valid responses to events.”