Thursday, August 31, 2006

Language is Powerful

Perverted triangles

Emotional incest.

When I was a grad student and these kinds of terms popped up I would wake up (not always easy for a graduate student, right?)

Like the word I'm hearing a lot of lately is FABULOUS, and I'm wondering if the current vernacular is coming from a television show that I'm missing (TELL ME, PLEASE, WHICH ONE GAVE US "FABULOUS?") or from the blogger community.

I asked the question to the female community on one of the women blogger websites Is Blogging Therapeutic? We came to a resounding Yes, probably because all kinds of people can pontificate and swear about whatever they want (including me) and anyone reading it is a captive audience.

Sure, you can stop reading at anytime, but you get mired into a web of links to other sites that make you happy and send you to still other sites and before you know it, you're up until 2 a.m. (3?) Last night I started out with a Hawaiian blog, Kwanyin's Who's Yo' Mama and ended up with a rock and roll band I'd never heard of (I'm old, I'm old, I'm old) who apparently made it to National Public Radio.

All this means is that the power of words and the right to express them (G-d Bless America) is indeed riveting and for sure good for us. Or bad, I guess, if they're an expression of violence.

Why else would we go absolutely nuts when a nine month old says, Da Da?

Perverted triangles are explained in the Blood is Thicker than Water page in the archives, and Emotional Incest is yet to come.

Shalom, btw.


Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Assertiveness Training

This is not to say that shy people can just do it, like the Nike people say. It is harder than it looks, and yet, easier than it sounds.

Let's begin with my favorite example. Those of you who have seen me in therapy could have narrowly escaped without ever hearing this, but it's unlikely.

You're standing in line at the movies. Or at the grocery store.

You're in line, just waiting, wondering when you'll get to the ticket agent, talking to your friend. You notice that someone has just budged.

Budged means, in case you aren't familiar with the vernacular, someone stepped in front of you without permission.

Now there are three choices in this case:

1) you say nothing, the passive choice.
This one is likely to make you feel angry or powerless. Maybe you really don't care, but NOTHING will change in your favor here. If the person who cut in line in front of you gets the last ticket in the theater, you're just plain out of luck.

2) you say something assertive.
ASSERTIVE MEANS JUST THE FACTS. You gently tap that person on the shoulder, point to the back of the line and say, "Excuse me, sir, you must not have noticed, but the back of the line is OVER THERE."

You say this in a calm, rational, factual voice. NO EMOTION. NO EMOTING OR ACTING deserving or snide or angry. NADA SIGN THAT YOU'RE UPSET. This is just the facts, and the facts speak for themselves. Most people move to the back of the line. You have just been pro-active and impressed your date (or yourself) and certainly, me.

3) you can be aggressive.
"Hey, (expletive)," you say. "What the (expletive) do you think you're doing, you (expletive-ing) (expletive)," and shake him by the shoulders.

The preferred choice is choice number 2, the assertive approach.

THERE ARE EXCEPTIONS. If the person who cut in front of you is very tough-looking and seems likely to kill you or beat you, then use your own discretion. Perhaps go the passive route.

The slightest snear from the aggressor and you might consider saying, "Oh, never mind, it's cool." DO NOT GET INTO "discussions" WITH PEOPLE WHO SEEM TO HAVE VIOLENT INCLINATIONS. Again, use your best judgement.

One thing about asserting, if you assert with a more assertive or aggressive person, you'll lose if you're not into conflict. It's okay to lose. Most of the time, however, if you're assertive and not aggressive you'll get what you want. That's winning. I know it's an incredible concept. I know.

Why try it and risk conflict? Like I said, most of the time there won't be any. You have to try this to believe it, but it's true.

Why even bother to try it? It's so scary? I'm sort of shy?

Well, we know that by asking for what we need we are more likely to get it than if we wait around for people to read our minds or Divine Intervention. People who don't ask, who would rather not make waves, are called "passive."

And passivity is associated with depression because if you don't get what you need, you feel unhappy, unfulfilled. Therapists push assertiveness. I practice with clients, script out things like that to help you get better and better at it. Filled is better than unfulfilled any day. Go for filled.

Copyright 2006, Therapy Doc

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Anxiety-- Look Mom, No Drugs


I'm not saying that people don't need them. This is NOT a Christian Science blog or in any way anti-psycho-pharmacological. But people do ask me if there's any way to NOT use medication. My response is that it truly depends upon one thing. How Bad IS IT? Can't assess that here, sorry. However. . .

There are MANY cognitive (thinking) and behavioral therapies that do lower anxiety without pharmocological intervention. Lowering anxiety is a very good thing. We live in a HIGHLY stressful universe, apparently. In the LAX airport, soon after the British caught terrorists plotting to blow up planes, the tension was simply palpable. The event surely reminded us that there's NO good reason EVER really to relax. Don't let down your guard.

But that's no fun, now, is it?

The quick and dirty is that relaxation is better, and self-relaxation, being able to relax ones' self without drugs and much alcohol (did you hear me?) is the best.

The self-relaxation exercises that are behavioral, meaning you DO them, require doing something physical, like jogging, to work off the adrenaline rush that fuels anxiety. These also include breathing exercises and muscle contraction exercises.

My patients know that squeezing a pen (or flipping one into the air on occasion) is fabulous. Squeezing a roll of coins is better if you have manicured nails that are a tad on the long side.

You squeeze until the bicep of the arm that's squeezing quivers, then let it quiver away for as long as you can, then relax. Do it until you get tired. This is a majorly great exercise to use during a panic attack, by the way. So are any isometric exercizes, and you don't have to buy running shoes.

A cognitive exercise is something you do with your mind, like question a thought that is making you crazy. Your boyfriend dumped you and you think you're unlovable? You go over all the reasons that your friends and family actually think that you are.

A cognitive-behavioral exercise is one where you do both (think and behave). Writing is a behavior that requires thinking, a good example. If you write a list of all of the things that are making you anxious (angry, sad, etc.) you are writing (a behavior) but you're also thinking (a cognitive process). Writing is a great way to get things out of your system. It's why people blog, if you ask me.

I just read a blog by a young mother (Rookie Mom) who apparently is sick of having to justify the things that she never gets around to doing (she's PARENTING, for crying out loud) during the day. She suggests young mothers make lists of things that they DO do with their day. These tend to get quite long, although they're hardly glamorous.

That's the idea. That's therapeutic.

More on this another time, but SEE, there's hope here. Anxiety can be crippling, I'm not trying to minimalize it, but there are techniques that work in very natural, physically-psychologically sensibly ways.

Next time. . .STRESS EATING!

Copyright 2006, Therapy Doc

Friday, August 25, 2006

16 Blocks and Change

By way of introduction, for many years this therapist didn't even watch television. My significant other (okay, spouse of many years) once won a television, maybe it was 64 inch? I don't know. Big screen. We sold it for $300. The kids were furious.

Anyway, things change, and now I do try to relax watching videos, and those of you who have read this or another blog know that I don't mind using them to make a point.

Moving right along, my son-in-law, who grew up in L.A. where movies (films, okay, okay) rule, insists on watching with the sub-title feature on. It doesn't matter how well anyone can hear, he says, actors drop words and he doesn't like to miss any of them. As much as I try to do that, too, watch with subtitles, the remote throws me. Seriously. It's hard to work it. Could be some "remote" learning disorder, strange too, because as a kid taking apart my phonograph and putting it back together was this girl's idea of a really good time.

Why do we care? Well, while watching 16 BLOCKS, some of the words did get lost. Maybe 25% for all I know. But I really liked the film in spite of that, which was unusual since movies that HAVE to have a car chase and a bus that either bursts into flames or crashes into a building in an alley aren't generally thumbs up by me.

None of the reviewers were as enthusiastic, gotta' say, especially the ones at Rotten Tomatoes.

But the point of the movie made it worth a look. (FINALLY, the point)

Bruce Willis plays his Die Hard best, but he's a depressed alcoholic cop.

digress. . . digress. . .This doc has very little tolerance in general for reality at the end of the day; happy is better. Plus, violence isn't my thing. Most review will be about Woody Allen movies, old ones, or anything with Jim Carey. Despite this blood-intolerance, I will watch anything with Bruce Willis. Don't know why.

digress some more . . .In case you are a regular reader and wondering why there has been NO follow up on movies since My Cousin Vinnie, it's because the summer weather was too good to stay in to WATCH, plus it was a dull summer movie season. The only thing this doc saw was The Devil Loves Prada, which works as eye candy, plus Meryl's always worth watching, right?

Back to 16 HOURS, Jack Mosley (Bruce) is a burnt out, depressed, alcoholic cop who does the right thing. But so what. It is Eddie Bunker (Mos Def), who plays a fast-talking ex-con trying to get to the courtroom to testify against a handful of very dirty cops, who keeps the pace. (If he hadn't keep my interest, well, there was always that remote.)

Bunker, with his annoying, whiny voice, encourages the burnt out alcoholic Jack Mosley to change. He wants to convince Jack that people do change, but he's just a kid with a big mouth, like any other kid you see on Law and Order.

Jack Mosley says, “People never change. Seasons change, but people don’t change.” Eddie disagrees, throws out the names of a few of his heroes who did, Barry White, Chuck Berry, and a few more.

I'd have to watch the movie again to tell you who else, apparently, changes, and that's not going to happen.

PEOPLE CAN CHANGE. That's the theme of the movie.

Of course Therapy Doc liked it.

So please, people. Stop telling me you can't. If Jack can change, if Jack Mosley, Chuck White, and Chuck Berry can change, anyone can. Check out the movie yourself to see whether or not Eddie Bunker made that short list.

Email me or Comment here if you've know of any movies that make an emotional point (other than, perhaps, love conquers all, or disease is not cool).

Wednesday, August 23, 2006



I'm old. Discovered a little late that thousands of people write blogs, post diaries, essays, photos for everyone to see ranging from the perverse to the hysterical.

Some are so good, so well-written, it's amazing that anyone bothers with paper things at all anymore.

Radiation from the computer be damned, you got the result.

Has it been therapeutic? Well, yeah.

For a lot of reasons: You get stuff out of your system, talk tx, AND you get feedback from people, generally positive.

For me it was like being on the flip side of an office visit. Instead of me reading you, however, you're reading me.

You should know that bloggers check statistics obsessively to see how many people are reading their blog. I'm not going there, peeps, but it's true. (If the shoe fits, uh)

Anyway, some of you know that I started blogging to get the Grandparents Who Missed Their Grandchildren thing out of my system. Those of us who raised our kids to be independent only to regret it later when they flew the coop (taking OUR grandchildren with them, such a chutzpah) would theoretically unite and commiserate on this blog.

Turned out, of course, other grandparents didn't want to have anything to do with me. My luck.

One guy from Evanston, bless him, wrote a comment that included the entire Harry Chapin song, Cat's in the Cradle and a very long letter about his experience being sandwiched between the East and West coasts, missing family, missing the opportunity to be with everyone, parents, sibs, nieces, nephews. He missed them all of the time.

I felt really bad, like I had stirred up something.

But I got into reading blogs, and my d. told me to write one and she was right. So therapeutic.

But why, really?

I'm thinking because BLOGGERS GET TO SWEAR a lot in public. And this is a good thing.

I'm in good company, too. Check out MIR on BlogHer.Org who totally gets it

Fish and Family's good one. I jolt it all the time. So is Poop and Boogies (not what it sounds like, exactly) . Poop rallied behind his mom who swore appropriately.

Maybe it's unconscious, or a guilty pleasure, or people are embarrassed to talk about it, but we certainly do love to swear.

True confessions, here. Therapy Doc almost became a “hell and damn guy," despite her female genderness.

I learned about "hell and damn guy" when a patient lovingly, affectionately, reverently, referred to her father, a military officer, as a “hell and damn guy,” meaning he refrained from the bigger stuff, the "s" word, the "f" word, the "b" word.

But it's not me to be a "hell and damn guy". It's not fitting for a professional, seriously, to swear. Period. It's just not right.

So at the office I'm always apologizing when it happens. But you should know, d-it, I try, seriously, I try.

Copyright 2006, Therapy Doc

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

SELF-BLAME: I caused the divorce I know I did

It's so funny how starting to write on one topic MAKES the next one happen sometimes. Yes, I know, it's totally random, but still.

So today I posted something on Everyone Needs Therapy-- really a piece for therapists who may not have a lot of family therapy experience.

It was about BLAME. And you certainly don't have to be a therapist to get something out of it. Anyway, after I finished, I thought, How do I write a quick little post on the same topic for the other blog (this one)? Then it hit me. I'll write about self-blame.

Seconds later a kid came into the office. We talked about what it was like when her parents got divorced and I remembered the Ultimate Self-Blame Guilt Trip. DIVORCE.

They all think they caused it-- kids, that is. It goes something like this.

Kid is aware that parents are fighting a lot. At some point, usually while looking at the parents, praying no one is going to get hurt, one parent says, Well, YOU should have put away YOUR toys. If YOU had, then Daddy (Mommy) wouldn't be so mad.

Or: Parent TELLS kid a secret, like perhaps that he/she has a boyfriend who is really nice. It doesn't matter if the kid tells the other parent. In kid's heart, when the parents get divorced, it's because one or the other thinks he did. Kid screwed it all up somehow.

Even if there's absolutely no reason to rationally think your kid is self-blaming, you HAVE to check this one out if you're going through a divorce. You HAVE to tell your kids that they did nothing to cause the dissolution of the marriage.

A child thinking that he or she is responsible for the breakup or the marital problems in the family underlies untold, massive, huge numbers of depressive disorders in children and adolescents.

It's one heavy guilt trip that can be prevented with simple clarification. TALK TO YOUR KIDS. FIND OUT WHAT THEY'RE THINKING.

Parents rarely tell their children the real truth behind their divorce, and sometimes that's okay(I have a lot to say on this, usually that it's not). It is NOT okay to allow children to take the responsibility for the breakup. Not ever.

Copyright 2006, Therapy Doc

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

A kid and suicide- not a Prairie Home Companion

Picture this. He's 14, and big for his age, tall, strong, built like a wrestler. And he is an athlete, actually. A very good one.

But he's had this cloud over his head for as long as he can remember. Like many kids with this particular burden to bear, cloudy outlook on life, he's struggled desperately with academics, barely passing but getting by most years. At this point he can't concentrate at all. He's far behind. No use in trying, really, he says. He's always sad, always has been sad. His thoughts are dark, gothic, and violent.

Of course his body image is TERRIBLE, complicated by the fact that his face suffers the plight of adolescent boys who have a fair amount of testosterone. I can barely believe there's a great looking guy in there but I know there is. His parents say he's seen a dermatologist. I say, push that doc a little, would you? Take it MORE seriously.

Our Boy writes poetry, death poetry. I've seen a lot of kids who write suicidal poetry like this. It's a good release.

If you see the new Garrison Keilor movie, A Prairie Home Companion, you'll get a bit of Lindsey Lohan and her character's suicidal poetry. Lindsey's character is lucky because her mom (played by Meryl Streep) and her aunt (Lili Tomlin), are radio entertainers on the show.

Our Boy hasn't got that advantage. His parents are regular folks and they can't launch him a career in radio/television. But they believe in him as a person who has something to offer to this world. Lo and behold, there's a girl who's been calling him, too.

This poetry thing turns out to be an amazing advantage. He believes in his writing and not only does he believe in his writing, THE WHOLE HIGH SCHOOL BELIEVES IN HIS WRITING! All the kids try to get a glimpse of his notebook. He has to make copies at Kinkos of his entries (this was several years ago).

His parents believe in him, too. They're willing to send him to a poetry contest, in fact, one that I'm pretty sure is a gimmick to benefit the sponsors. But who cares? It's helping Boy's self-esteem.

Boy's parents recognized that their son had an endogenous depression, one that they both suffered as children and still suffer from as adults. We think it's genetic, since it presents so early without any radical environmental triggers. This is a loving family, if not usually happy.

Because of the clear history, his family doc tried him on a very low dose of an antidepressant and we watched him very carefully. Eureka! Worked like a charm.

I write this because there really is concern about overmedicating people and making poor choices vis-a-vis adolescents. Done well, with some good therapy, btw, medication can be a real life saver. Our Boy graduated and is now in college. Heck, by now I imagine he's blogging, not making copies at Kinkos.

I'm going to write the nuts and bolts about suicidal adolescents in my other blog, Everyone Needs Therapy real soon. Bare in mind that "Our boy" in the story above could very well be a girl, and "she" could be great at volleyball or track. But yes, she would be kind of tall and even without the testosterone, she would surely have acne. Our girl or our boy could have written folk songs, played electric guitar, had six holes in one ear or tattoos up and down both arms. I won't tell. I see you all in broad strokes, anyway.

Copyright 2006, Therapy Doc

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Patience Patients, a Rant by T.D.

Today something happened that has NEVER happened before.
I'm throwing it out there for comments.

I've been real busy. New patients call every few hours. Usually, if I can see them, I'll schedule them. If I can't get them in relatively soon, I'll refer them out.

Today I got a call from a woman who sounded shy. She said she might be a new patient. I really did have time to talk to her (about five minutes, but that's TIME). At that moment someone knocked on the door. When that happens it means a new patient is early, or confused, what-ev. Established patients only knock when it's THEIR TURN. I told the woman on the phone to please hold.

It was something different, something I had to attend to for several minutes, something I can't go into now. I completely forgot about the phone. When I returned to my desk, I continued doing what I do between patients, billing, writing, entering patient data, filing. The usual.

Suddenly I heard her trying to get my attention. I picked up, realized what had happened and apologized profusely.

That wasn't good enough. "Well, DOCTOR (snide). That isn't good enough. I'm calling the health insurance to complain about YOU."

Well, Okay, I said, thinking, Do what'cha' gotta do. I heard her click off and I hung up.

She called back while I was with the next patient, about a minute later and left this voice mail. DOCTOR F. . .YOU HUNG UP ON ME. (actually, I thought she hung up first). I'M STILL CALLING THE HEALTH INSURANCE ON YOU!

Readers, I can't tell you how grateful I am that I learned about her BEFORE I saw her as a patient. She's probably litigious and difficult. There's much to teach about borderlines, and I'm going to get to that real soon.

By the way, I started another blog, When Therapists Blog. I want to keep posts on that a little shorter. Like this one belongs there, too. To get there, click on that link. The new posts need editing, I know, but be patient.

Copyright 2006, Therapy Doc

Friday, August 04, 2006

Change-- Learning From Your Children

In the spirit of keeping my entries on this blog short and rambling on Everyone Needs Therapy instead, here's something that everyone knows, but most people who are a little older (no, I won't divulge) tend to forget.

We LEARN from them.

There are parents who never quite get out of the idea that they're always supposed to be teaching their kids. I started blogging to pass on what I know to mine. That's narcissistic, I know, but what else can I do? Call it, if you want.

So when you do that, always direct your communication TO your kid, you are on the talking side of the relationship, no matter to whom you are directing your thoughts, not the listening side.

Quick example.

So I'm getting a little older. (People get gray in their thirties, right?).

My daughter, son-in-law, and their two little guys come for a visit. M. says to me, "Mommy, let's get the gray out. It's fun." She writes a terrific blog, by the way, Fish and Family. Fish is about the fish tank that almost killed their relationship. You know how that is.

Now I sort of liked the natural dulling of my brown hair, the salt and brown pepper look. I have a lot of hair and it grows fast. So I've resisted this move. But when M. tells me to do something, I instinctively trust her. We did it, me moaning thoughout the procedure, sensitive eyes and all.

'Nuf said, gang. It's okay. I'm happy with this. So my suggestion, Let go of the control. Just do it. Listen to them when they're talking to you, at every age.

BTW, It's like getting your first perm but MUCH better.

Have a great weekend, T.D.

Copyright 2006, Therapy Doc

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Blog Titles

Hi all,
I'm getting flack for writing on this blog and not on the one I started on, Everyone Needs Therapy. That's where most of my work is at. I did it because I liked this title better. Anybody have an opinion on this? Thanks, T.D.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Good Ol' Fashioned Nervous Breakdown

Just before people crash and burn they're sitting in an office like mine, relatively, well, trashed. Docs like me code their disorders to the tune of major affective disorder-depression, adjustment disorder with depression, usually some kind of depression, and there are many.

Then we fill out the family-leave or disability papers to stop the crash, if it isn't too late for that.

Telling a person to quit work is like, contrary to everything we usually recommend or will ultimately recommend as soon as depressed people are back on their feet.

We like work. It's healing. It distracts us from our problems, earns money so that we can buy things we need, keeps us off the streets, makes our mommies and daddies proud. We in the mental health biz especially like it when folks can function and go to work, or can function at their stay at home jobs.

Functioning highly. That's where it's at.

Then there are those of us who have children, in which case functioning highly is an oxymoron. Getting help, getting support, is KEY for young parents who are over-whelmed with housework (which can be tough in ant infestation season), marital responsibilites (can be ridiculously emotionally draining), childcare (what are we talking about, that's so easy, right?), their own school-work (what were you thinking, going back to school), or simply getting in a shower.

And we're not even talking about co-dependent care-taking, here. For that, see the link to T.D.'s Anecdotes and Essays. I wrote a lot. In those cases it's about cutting the chaff. Getting a dependent to fend for him or herself.

So how're we doing, gang? Are you starting to worry that you haven't finished something, that there are too many toys on the living room floor, that the washing machine only has another day or two left before it completely stops working and you don't have the money to replace it?

Do you not seem to have much time for anything that remotely has anything to do with YOU? Yet, here you are, reading, not washing the floor (car), cooking dinner (taking the kids for ice cream), studying, or working on your resume. So there's hope.

One of the complaints of stress, prior to the crash of depression is that people don't have enough time to do the things they want to do. The obvious corollary is that if we had more time we'd be less stressed.

Seems we have to make more time, then, right? That's why I fill out the disability forms (assuming people are really disabled). But BEFORE you get sick, people, cut back. Do less and don't care.

Get on line and find some time management skills. There are several good resources. For young moms, for example, there's Sara Zeldman's Solutions for Busy Moms.

There's no time to be proud, get help, pay for it if you have to, get a loan, I don't care. Therapy's expensive, too. Do it before the crash. It makes me sad to see folks this way.

Copyright 2006, Therapy Doc

My Cousin Vinnie and Conflict Resolution--Movies

I know, I know, I'm supposed to call them FILMS.

Anyway, I'm on the hunt for flicks that demonstrate functionality and/or dysfunctionality. The kinds of things I talked about ad nauseum on T. D.'s Annecdotes, Rants and Occasional Lectures Think about movies you've seen, the ones that made an impact.

An example of what I'm looking for is a scene from the movie MY COUSIN VINNIE. The scene demonstrates marvelous conflict resolution. Vinnie (Joe Pesci)and his fiance (Marisa Tomei) are arguing in a motel room. One of them can't sleep because of a drip in the bathroom.

They argue it out until they have both said everything possible that there is to say about water dripping from a bathroom sink. It is fabulous. If I can, I'll get a transcript of the scene.

But try to imagine that as she is telling him her perception of the problem, that he gets it. A light bulb goes off in his head because he's LISTENING, a novel concept, I know. But he sees her point, and as this happens, you can actually watch his love and admiration for her grow. The fight is hilarious and heartwarming.

The point is, they argue, they get closer.

That's what emotional intimacy is all about.

LMK your favorites, or the ones that made you cry. Use the COMMENTS section below, or email me,

I'll keep it confidential if you'd like. Comment writing on blogs is generally kind of short, so respect the culture. If you're a professional movie critic, of course, feel free to blog on.

Best, Therapy Doc (T.D.)

She Goes Out, He Freaks

Here's how it goes.

HE goes out every few weeks with the guys, has some beers, comes home a little drunk. SHE doesn't care, puts the kids to bed, or pampers herself, talks on the phone. . .whatever. She has her space.

SHE goes out once a month (at best) with her girlfriends, gets drunk. At home, HE'S doing the same kinds of things, putting the kids to bed, puttering, what-ev, but is obsessing about her, and the fact that she's OUT withOUT him.

He knows she's not screwing around. He knows she's not going to cheat. He knows she's crazy about him. But he's freaked.

What's that about and what does that make him?

SHE says to him, It makes you a freak, man! Quit your worrying. You're not my mother.

HE says to her, Your mother doesn't look like you. You're so hot. You're gorgeous. Those guys are all hitting on you. Two of them gave you business cards! What's that? They want you to call them. And you flirt back, you take the cards! (He's seen her, he's been at the same table, they do it in his face).

BACK UP, RIGHT? If you've been reading my other blog T. D.'s Annecdotes, Rants and Occasional Lectures then you know I think that intimacy is key, and if conflict is going to be constructive, it takes patience, time, and work.

But when people get emotional they find it hard not to interact in ways that might shame them later on.

So she says, You're a freak! Translation: You're over-reacting.

He says, No. I'm not over-reacting. You're rape bait. Look at how you dress!

She says, You're a perv if you think that way. No one thinks that way. You have a sick mind.

Again they're back in conflict mode. Not very intimate, right?

So how DO you get out of a loop like that where you're fighting and nobody's wrong and everybody's right. Agree to disagree? For starters. But taking the time to argue well is where it's at. I'll write much more on that another day.

Copyright TherapyDoc, 2006

Is Being Needy/Dependent an Intrinsically Woman Thing?


Yes, some of the self-help books might have you believe.

But No, says Therapy Doc.

This a gender-free issue and most misunderstood.

There are many sides to dependency, which is mostly a state of mind. When it's pathological it's a fear that you can't quite make it alone.

Needing your significant other to be there to make you feel whole not only feels bad for you, but it gives your s-o a burden that he/she may or may not want to shoulder.

When you're needy you're also vulnerable to predators who recognize that you want and need someone around. Then they can use you as their whipping board, so to speak.

So we docs push you to make it alone, to put yourself into situations where you HAVE to be alone, even if you're in a good relationship. That way you prove to yourself that you are okay, just you, yourself, and you. "Me, myself, and I" is an awesome triumverate. You guys get to do what you want. No sharing the remote. All the ice cream you can eat.

But sometimes being dependent is really not being dependent, it's wanting intimacy from someone who sees that need as being "needy." Like you shouldn't have a need for intimacy.

We in the relationship biz value intimacy. It stretches a person's identity. Especially emotional intimacy. In E-I a person can reach right into another's soul and really feel how that person feels, understanding why. When we listen and learn about another the knowledge makes us bigger, smarter, more caring. Wiser.

A capacity for intimacy is a GOOD thing, an indication that a person is more highly evolved, wants to share and be a part of another's life.

So wanting that when your partner isn't interested or ready may make you seem needy when you're really not. When one of you needs more psychological space than the other, it's a serious culture clash that can bust the relationship.

How do you negotiate that?

It's a big deal in couples therapy. Seasoned therapists work on getting the one who needs more space more comfortable with listening, if not sharing. At least if he/she is listening there's a hope for understanding and empathy.

So you can see why this being needy thing is not a woman thing or a man thing at all. If it's needing intimacy, then it's a good thing. We don't get hung up on fixing what isn't broken. A PERSON'S DESIRE OR NEED FOR CLOSENESS IS NOT DEPENDENCY. The fear of being alone can be.

The warning, of course, is that if your partner's need for closeness is ignored, it won't be for long. Someone will pick up the slack for you after awhile. And that is NOT a good thing.

Therapy Doc

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