Posts Tagged ‘psychology’
The Fantasy Bond in Childhood and Intimate Relationships
The human experience can be conceptualized as a series of separation experiences ending with death, the ultimate separation. Each successive separation or movement through life — separating from the mother’s body at birth and later from her breast, beginning to walk, talk, and develop a sense of self, going to school, dating, marrying, and becoming a parent and grandparent—predisposes an individual to anxiety. The basic tenet of my theoretical system is the concept of the fantasy bond: the core defense against separation, and later, death anxiety. The fantasy bond refers to the forming of a fantasy of connection or fusion, originally with the mother or primary caretaker, and later with other family members and romantic partners, in order to compensate for emotional pain and separation anxiety. The illusion offers the child some relief from primal pain, but at the same time, the fantasy processes contribute to various degrees of maladaptation. How people cope with trauma and existential fear, and form defenses, will ultimately determine the course of their emotional lives. Hellmuth Kaiser’s germinal idea that the delusion of fusion represents “universal psychopathology” is analogous to the conceptualization of the fantasy bond as the primary defense mechanism in neurosis (Fierman, 1965). → Read more
Selena is a precocious five-year old girl who could not stop sucking her fingers. Her teeth were beginning to protrude. Because she still believes in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy, I was positive that she would be very susceptible to hypnosis.
I asked Selena to “move to the magic chair where kids stop sucking their fingers .” Then, at my request, she named each finger. She responded with, “Bunny Rabbit,” “Robin” and other similar titles. I directed her to ask each finger if it liked being sucked. She said, “No.” Then, I asked her to find out what her fingers would rather do instead. After some conversation with her fingers, she told me they would rather play dolls, jump rope, and do puzzles. → Read more
Our life is what our thoughts make it. ~ Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
The critical inner voice is made up of a series of negative thoughts and attitudes toward self and others, which is at the core of a person’s maladaptive behavior. It can be conceptualized as the language of a defensive process that is both hostile and cynical. The voice is not limited to cognition, attitudes, and beliefs; it is also closely associated with varying degrees of anger, sadness, shame, and other primary emotions. It can be thought of as an overlay on the personality that is not natural or harmonious but rather learned or externally imposed.
The voice is a form of internal communication – usually critical, yet sometimes self-nurturing and self-aggrandizing, but in either case opposed to one’s self-interest. It is experienced as though one were being spoken to. It includes attacks such as, “You’re so stupid!” “You’re a failure!” “No one could ever love you.” “You can’t trust anyone.” “They don’t appreciate you.” → Read more
Tom, a young adult, has had a bipolar mental illness with episodes involving complex paranoid delusions. He had been hospitalized four times during the eight-year interval since his diagnosis and the time I saw him. Tom’s latest admission followed a trip, with his parents, in December 1991. Tom’s delusions intensified, on that trip, and he believed the name of a town where they had stopped (Winslow, Arizona) held a special message for him. He walked the streets through the nights, “circling around a U-turn exit and ending back at the hotel.” Tom said he could “…WIN the battle if he went SLOW.” → Read more
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 46 seconds.
An athletically built young man in his mid-20s, neatly attired in a business suit, consulted me to deal with “rage issues,” “depression,” and a desire to get to the “root” of his relationship with his mother. He told me that he had been raised by a single mother who was alternately extremely dependent upon him, and then physically and emotionally absent. They had suffered poverty when he was a child, and he was determined to continue to rise financially in the world as an adult.
Recently, his last two therapists, both women, had dismissed him because he had refused to enter a drug rehabilitation program as a condition of therapy. He thought that he might be a “borderline alcoholic” because of his daily use of alcohol, marijuana, and opioid pills, which left him “faded,” but still able to work in a high-pressure, high-stakes business environment. → Read more
An admonition from William Alanson White, M.D., then Superintendent of St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, was given to this writer early in his psychiatric career, and a year or so later he was again given the same admonition by Adolf Meyer,
M.D. Both strongly advised the writer never to refuse to consult with a patient. A single interview graciously granted during which the patient’s story was listened to attentively, while not especially remunerative, had often permitted them to encounter many unusual instances of psychopathology and to achieve, in many cases, astonishingly effective results. These results had sometimes proved to be far better than the doctors had considered possible at the time of the interview, even if long-term therapy could have been instituted. They likened such instances to the processes of behavior wherein “love at first sight” has drastically and positively altered the lives of various individuals. One such historical example was the schoolteacher who thought it wrong for an adult man making his living as a tailor (Andrew Johnson) to be so uneducated. The events that unfolded began with teaching and led to love, marriage, a law degree, a judgeship, and eventually the presidency of the United States. → Read more
I’m remembering recess in the schoolyard. We are in the process of deciding who gets to go first and we play the game of Rock-paper-scissors. Each child assumes a hand posture resembling either a rock, a piece of paper, or scissors. According to the rules of the game, each of these items “can “defeat” one of the other items and the remaining one is the winner. For example, scissors “beat” paper; rock “beats” scissors. These relationships make perfect sense, given that scissors cut paper, and rocks can smash scissors. Yet, one of the relationships spelled out in this childhood game is counter-intuitive: paper rules over rock. But doesn’t a heavy rock rule paper? An anonymous comment on the Internet sheds light on this issue: Paper rules rock because paper represents the realm of higher knowledge. We master the world of physicality symbolized by the rock, by using principles of higher knowledge. Ah yes, paper does, in fact, rule rock! → Read more
Paul Ekman and his Daughter, Eve Ekman
By Dan Short, PhD
At the December 2017 Evolution of Psychotherapy Conference, I had the pleasure of hearing several talks delivered by the renowned researcher, Paul Ekman, Ph.D., and his daughter, Eve Ekman, Ph.D., MSW, who is also a researcher of emotion. Their back-and-forth discussion during the lectures helped illuminate multiple perspectives from which each concept could be considered. The energy that they shared seemed extra special — the kind you only see with people who have a deep and secure connection. Even as they stood on stage in front of a large audience, it did not matter if one disagreed with the other. Each remained flexible and interested in the other’s thinking. For these reasons, I was all the more delighted when the Ekmans graciously agreed to sit down with me for an interview at breakfast. → Read more