New Spouse by Friday

I’ve been working with a very successful attorney who has been struggling to find a way to stay in his marriage for a couple of years.  The heart of the matter is that his wife had a serious health problem, which is now resolved. Through the process of dealing with this health problem she probably became depressed and certainly became …

Friends and Family Don’t Understand – Bipolar Communication Problems

Sometimes those without the challenges of bipolar neurochemistry simply “don’t get it” – how moods can shift abruptly and dramatically, and often without warning, or with subtle hints of the mood shift about to confront you  – and at what might be the slightest trigger a sudden onslaught of  overwhelming sensations due to hypersensitivity to stimuli, someone chewing can sound thunderous;  a repetitive noise, such …

Helping Your Spouse

You have gotten help for your depression. You have seen a therapist or psychiatrist and spent long hours working to understand and improve your situation. Your spouse, who has been there for you during this process, has not. And now you are confronting the almost inevitable realization that he, or she, is really uncomfortable in the psychological world. Maybe she …

The Big Fight

How is it that so many couples end up having knock down, drag out fights?  How can seemingly rational people end up saying things that just don’t make any sense? Several people that I’ve seen recently have told me a similar story.  As in every relationship, they have had certain long-standing issues in their relationships, areas where one or the …

New Spouse by Friday

I’ve been working with a very successful attorney who has been struggling to find a way of staying in his marriage for a couple of years. The heart of the problem is that his wife had a serious health problem (which is now resolved), but through the process of dealing with this health problem she  became depressed and discouraged about her health and …

Creative Tension

I was inspired to write today’s post after watching a video sent out by a colleague as her “Valentine’s Day gift” to a group of mental health professionals interested  in women’s issues. The video was from the TED series (strongly recommended) and had to do with the challenge of having a long-term passionate relationship. The author was a delightful, French …

The “Pause” Button

Do you know the feeling of desperate urgency in a conversation with a close friend or romantic partner? The sense that you have to defend yourself from attack, or make a very important point? This feeling is often a signal that it is a good time to use the “pause” button in the conversation. The “pause” button is a previously worked out …

Mismatched Energy

The wife of one of the people I work with sent me a short note saying that her husband was energized (not quite hypomanic), and she was finding it hard to cope with his constant animation and enthusiasm. It got me thinking about scale and how we constantly change the way we talk based on our audience. I am in …

Relationship Fear

I have been working with a couple of young women who seem to be unable to move beyond a recently ended relationship with a young man.  In both cases, there’s no question that the young man is coming back, and yet their thoughts keep turning back to trying to analyze the failed relationship, wondering what might have gone differently and …

Attachment

For most of us there is nothing more important than the quality of our closest relationships. In sometimes frustrating ways, many of us notice that our close relationships seem to follow familiar patterns. Attachment theory derives from the work of John Bowlby, who observed that separated infants would go to remarkable lengths (crying, clinging, frantically searching) to prevent separation from their …

Family Scapegoat

I had a conversation with two women today about their relationship with their husbands and children. They often find themselves feeling scapegoated for things that go wrong in the household. While I was talking with them, I recalled many other women who have described similar experiences. I started to wonder how this happens, and what can be done about it. …

Aikido for Bad Behavior

We had an opportunity to visit Japan several times, over the course of a decade working with Japanese psychiatrists to improve how Japanese psychiatric hospitals work with potentially violent patients.  During one of those trips, we came across a wonderful story that has stuck with us ever since.  It is the story of a young man who is confronted by …

Therapists Can Be So Annoying: Feeling Like You’re On Celebrity Roast

Therapists Have you ever found yourself all of a sudden the guest of honor at celebrity roast special. Sometimes that is what it is like being a therapist…. or husband… or wife… employee… boss…. or you name it… What do you do? You probably know that being defensive is not going to work. But how can you sit there and listen …

Codependent no more

We have never been big fans of the way the term “codependent” evolved in the non-professional world into a way of describing almost any show of compassion for someone with difficult problems. On the other hand, after years of struggle (and, yes, our own therapy) we finally came up with our own rules of thumb for when to back away …

Misunderstandings: Feeling and Thinking

Misunderstandings. There are so many ways that we can misunderstand each other. We like the Myers Briggs for its non-pathologizing approach to understanding and describing the differences among human beings. Yesterday we were talking to a young woman who told us of a “classic” misunderstanding that potentially could have had a catastrophic outcome. The young woman was talking with her …