The Cycle of Disappointment

Today’s post revolves around the universal desire to find one or more other people who is perfectly attuned to our needs, and the resulting cycle of disappointment. A woman we have seen for years continually experiences a strong sense of disappointment and loss because her highly anxious mother was never really able to be attuned to her needs. She told …

Coming Out Bipolar

When and whether to tell people about a mood disorder is a topic of great interest to readers of this blog. Disorderly Chickadee is a very personal, and very well written, blog about living with bipolar. Yesterday’s post was all about coming out about bipolar – in this case it was about telling your boss. We think many of you …

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 …

Who’s to Blame?

“Is it my fault?” This is one of those questions that seems to easily dominate conversations between people in a romantic relationship who are having trouble getting along. It is also a question that is usually impossible to answer (who decides? what standards do you use?) and quite unhelpful. I was talking with a recently married woman yesterday about her …

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 …

Coming Out

Coming out– One of the topics that has generated the most interest on this site has to do with whether to tell others about the challenges you have to deal with as the result of moods, especially whether to tell people that you have a diagnosis of a mood disorder. I have written a bit about this topic in a …

To Tell or Not – Part 1

One of the hottest topics on our forum, and one that led to a request for a blog post ,is the topic of whether or not to tell someone about your moods, particularly if you have a mood diagnosis. For mostly historical reasons, this issue is especially a concern for people with bipolar mood variations as opposed to unipolar moods …

A Little Romance

This week we spent some time with a couple of people who, in different ways, have become “addicted” to romantic relationships. One is a man in his early 40’s. The other is a woman in her early 30’s. They are quite different in terms of personalities, but there are some very strong similarities in terms of their childhood and relationship history. Both had quite …

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. …

Giving Thanks

A friend asked “What is Thanksgiving all about?” There is the traditional answer about the Pilgrims and the Indians, but Thanksgiving as a national holiday has a shorter history. The holiday was first celebrated on the same date by all states in 1863. The idea was largely the product of author Sarah Josepha Hale, who wrote letters to politicians for …

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 …

Retraumatization

After nearly 20 years of work in the field of post-traumatic stress disorder, one thing that continues to trouble and baffle me is the phenomena that was described by Freud as the repetition compulsion.  Why is it that people who have been victimized in terrible ways are at much higher risk of being victimized again.  One would think that they would be …

Relationships: Love the One You Are With

We had an interesting conversation this morning about the reality of romantic relationships… which ended up being about much more than relationships… When I did more couple’s counselling, I often would think to myself, these two folks are coming in here complaining about each other. But really, if they want to know if the relationship is a good one and …

Relationships: Too Many People in the Bed

Many years ago, a consultant we worked with made the observation that there are always at least four people in any intimate relationship. And often, six or more. The four people are (in the case of heterosexual relationship) the man, his female partner, his introjected mother (the internal mother that  developed from his childhood), and his partner’s introjected father. Often, …

Loneliness

This seems to have been the week for discussions about loneliness. We have been talking about the experience of loneliness with a number of people in different situations: A married woman whose husband is away on business, A widowed professional man, A woman who recently ended a two year relationship. What has been interesting in these conversations is that they start …

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 …