Rethinking Adultery

Attached is a review of Esther Perel's newest book, The State of Affairs: Rethinking Adultery, in which she talks about the surprising concept that affairs, if processed honestly, can actually save a relationship.

In this review Zoe Heller also brings up larger points about how much we can expect from our partners overall. A quote from the article:

"This—the impossibility of absolute romantic security—is the bracing moral at the center of Perel’s book. There is no “affair proof” marriage, she warns, whatever the self-help industry tries to tell you. To love is to be vulnerable. Relationships can inspire varying degrees of trust, but trust is always, as the psychoanalyst Adam Phillips puts it, “a risk masquerading as a promise.” To believe yourself to be the sole progenitor of your partner’s desire, rather than merely its current recipient, is a folly. Elizabeth Hardwick, who stoically endured the countless infidelities of her husband, Robert Lowell, knew something about this. In her famous essay “Seduction and Betrayal,” she described the terrible wisdom vouchsafed to the betrayed heroine of classic literature: she 'is never under the illusion that love or sex confers rights upon human beings. She may of course begin with the hope, and romance would scarcely be possible otherwise; however, the truth hits her sharply, like vision or revelation when the time comes. Affections are not things and persons never can become possessions, matters of ownership. The desolate soul knows this immediately and only the trivial pretend that it can be otherwise.'"

Burnout, and how to avoid it.

Dr. Kate Tepper's thoughts about the causes of burnout and how to avoid it are featured in Girlboss' 8 Ways to Avoid Falling in to a Black Hole of Burnout:

"Just as the airlines recommend putting on your oxygen mask before tending to the person next to you," says Dr. Tepper, "it’s critical to look after your own personal well-being first and foremost."

The first step of addressing potential or impending burnout is to take stock of your work situation and your mental health. If you find yourself experiencing an "underlying anxiety about the unknown" or stress about "the internal demands for success, happiness, perfection or ideals," you might be headed toward a "reactive state of mind: fight, flight, freeze, or faint," according to Dr. Tepper.

Against Empathy

"In this video, Paul Bloom, psychologist and Yale professor, argues that empathy is a bad thing—that it makes the world worse. While we've been taught that putting yourself in another's shoes cultivates compassion, it actually blinds you to the long-term consequences of your actions. In this animated interview from The Atlantic, we hear Bloom’s case for why the world needs to ditch empathy."

He says in the video, "If you really want to make the world a better place, spend less time thinking about how to maximize your own sense of empathic joy, and spend more time, in a cold blooded way, about how to help other people."

The Problem with Anger

Unresolved anger can build up and be damaging in relationships. This article discusses the issues surrounding anger, precipitants of anger, and leaves readers with a message of how to handle anger in a healthy way.

Why Does Therapy Work?

A nice take on what we do in therapy:

"Various types of long-term, in-depth psychotherapy have a few things in common. They depend on a safe and trusting relationship with a therapist. They follow lived time, meaning life happens during treatment, enabling a client to work and understand in parallel with actual events and changes. They also allow the client to make manifest internalized material, to dredge up and acknowledge thoughts and feelings they may have otherwise just left alone (Drisko, 2004)."


Mental Health Apps: The Therapist At Your Bedside

In this article in Departures magazine, one inquisitive reporter takes on the emerging world of mental health apps, where therapy is accessible on your phone day and night. While it certainly is convenient, Dr. Shubert talks in the article about some of the pitfalls of quick and easy psychotherapy.



I AM BORDERLINE: Self-Regulation Project

This award winning, and powerful short film aims to reduce stigma about borderline personality disorder through spreading awareness. It was made for the Self-Regulation Project, whose mission is to create personal growth through increasing emotion regulation skills and self-understanding. It beautifully illustrates many of the daily struggles and triggers for those living with this diagnosis. The short film highlights common thoughts, emotions, and behaviors associated with borderline personality disorder. Take a look here to increase your knowledge about borderline personality disorder. 

Yes, It's Your Parents' Fault

Lately, attachment theory is getting heightened attention, due to its relevance in the explanation of our current relationship patterns. This article demonstrates how early caregiver relationships show increasing impact on our daily lives. Find out what type of attachment style you have by reading this piece by New York Times.

How Mindfulness Helps our Brains

Here's an article from The Week that explains how our brains often misinterpret cues we pick up on in the world, and how that causes us strife. Observing our thoughts in a few specific ways can help us misinterpret less and feel more calm. This is in many ways where mindfulness and psychotherapy meet. 

This article also has a number of helpful links for those wanting to learn more about meditating and mindfulness.




Masters of Love

From The Atlantic: Science says lasting relationships come down to—you guessed it—kindness and generosity.

What truly makes us happy?

In this TED talk, psychiatrist Robert Waldinger describes the results of a study he directs at Harvard where they have tracked over 700 men for 75 years to find out what actually makes us happy. Not surprisingly, what they found is that good relationships keep us happy, and healthier. People who are more socially connected, they have found, are happier, physically healthier, and live longer. People who are more isolated than they want to be find they are less happy and their health declines earlier. Also, Waldinger says, it's not just the number of relationships, but the quality of relationships that matter. He reminds us that while we would all like a quick fix for happiness, relationships can be messy and take work, but it's that work that can make for a rewarding life.

Wedding Support!

Planning a wedding and preparing to get married can be an incredibly special and exciting time in an individual's and a couple's life. And if you're engaged and you pay attention to social media, Pinterest, wedding blogs, etc. (as it's hard not to), then it might look like everyone else who has ever been engaged or planned a wedding had an incredible time, the perfect celebration and loads of support. And perhaps some people really do have that experience for the most part.

The truth is, though, that planning a wedding and getting married is a time of major transition, and can easily highlight relationship difficulties, body image problems, family disappointments, and financial stresses. Navigating some of those issues would be difficult enough in and of themselves, but they greatly intensify when one or more of those things gets triggered while you're trying to plan and pay for a wedding, look and feel your best, please the important people around you, maintain the integrity of the relationship you have with your partner and perhaps even plan a honeymoon. Not to mention, sometimes the people you expect to support you are not able to give you what you need, creating a sense of disappointment and loss during a very important time. I often hear people say, "this was supposed to be the most exciting time in my life" or "I just thought I would be a lot happier." It's not unusual to have that experience, even if you are beyond excited to marry your partner.  

In therapy, we talk about how to obtain support, how to set boundaries, prioritizing what's most important to you, and processing the many complicated feelings that one experiences during this important life transition. We might also look for ways to find joy and meaning throughout this wonderful, intense, emotional process. 

Written by Lauren Harb, Psy.D.

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