- Little Voices
(Prior version excerpted in a guest column at The Natural Child Project) If parents do not enter a young child’s world, but instead require him or her to enter theirs to make contact, the resulting damage can last a lifetime. Different temperaments spawn different adjustments to this situation: some children, by their very nature, are incapable of
- Understanding Narcissism
Many people spend a lifetime aggressively trying to protect an injured or vulnerable “self.” Traditionally, psychologists have termed such people “narcissists,” but this is a misnomer. To the outside world it appears that these people love themselves. Yet, at their core they don’t love themselves–in fact their self barely exists, and what part does exist
- The “When Push Comes to Shove, Mini-Titanic Narcissistic Parent Poll”
Do narcissistic parents love their children? Most narcissistic parents feed, shelter, and provide basic necessities for their children. But do they do this out of love? Evolutionary psychology suggests one possible way to explore the question of love in narcissistic parents. In a matter of life and death, would a narcissistic parent choose to die
- Giving Your Child “Voice”
(Earlier version reprinted as a guest column at The Natural Child Project) If I asked you what children need in order to be psychologically healthy, you would probably answer: love and attention. Of course, you would be right–love and attention are essential for every child. But, there is a third psychological need critical to the emotional
- Why Do Some People Choose One Bad Relationship After Another?
Some people unwittingly choose destructive relationships over and over again. The consequences of their choices are painful and emotionally damaging, yet those that engage in this repetitive behavior never seem to learn from their experience. Instead they go from one bad partner to the next, much to the chagrin of those closest to them (including
- Why Can’t Some People Maintain Intimate Relationships?
It is always striking when a bright, attractive and otherwise accomplished person cannot maintain an intimate relationship. I have seen many people like this in my practice, and one of the first tasks is to figure out why. Most of the time the person appears in my office as the bewildered half of a distressed
- Couples Counseling: Is Better Communication Enough?
“What we have here is a failure to communicate.” You may remember (if you are at least 60) this signature line from the movie “Cool Hand Luke.” And if you’ve been in couples counseling, you’ve probably heard it spoken in some form or fashion by your counselor. The problem is: for most couples, the line
- Subtext and Therapy
Many students from around the world have e-mailed me about becoming a therapist. “What do I need to learn?” they ask. One of the most important tasks of “insight” therapists is to understand and appreciate subtext. What is subtext? It is between-the-lines communication that conveys powerful messages indirectly. Subtext affects all relationships, and is especially
- Holiday Blues
If you are unhappy or dissatisfied with your life, chances are you suffer even more during the holidays. People compare their lives to those around them–when they perceive others are intimate and connected, their alienation becomes even more painful. They also blame themselves for their inability to take pleasure in events that are supposed to
- Therapy on the High Seas: A Search for Self
(in memory of H.) H. drank for thirty years, so much and so frequently that his heart, swimming continuously in alcohol, was failing. He was still drinking when he came to see me. Long ago H. had discovered that no one heard him. Not his parents who were wrapped up in their own worlds, not
- A Person Appears in My Office…
She or he could be suffering from depression, anxiety, or relationship problems. They could have begun a few weeks ago or have existed for many years. What goes through my head as a therapist? Inside everyone has a vulnerable self. That self is subjected to both affirming and destructive life experience. Parents, school, friends, lovers,