Defenses

Withholding: A Personal Story

To Withhold Verb: 1.  Refuse to give (something that is due to or desired by another)            2.  Suppress or hold back (an emotion or reaction)   Are you sometimes aware of holding yourself back from being fully engaged in the experience of the moment?  Do you find yourself avoiding activities that bring you pleasure… Read more »

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Becoming Your Real Self: Shedding the Baggage of Your Past

“To be what we are, and to become what we are capable of becoming, is the only end of life.” – Robert Louis Stevenson What gives a person’s life meaning is unique to every individual. At one point or another, most of us find ourselves asking if we are truly living a life that is… Read more »

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How Childhood Defenses Hurt Us As Adults

As adults, we are often asked to reflect on the positive influences, role models, and experiences from our past that shaped who we are today. Just as often, in everything from college essays to job interviews, we are asked to retrace an obstacle we overcame, a challenge we faced head on, or a disadvantage we… Read more »

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It Is Immoral To Stop People From Loving You

Some of the most destructive behaviors, commonplace in relationships, are those that people act out in an attempt to ward off loving responses from their partner. In The Ethics of Interpersonal Relationships, I wrote about the dynamics underlying this phenomenon, explaining why we often punish the very person who appreciates and acknowledges us for our positive… Read more »

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Don’t Play the Victim Game

In Psychological Defenses in Everyday Life, (1989), I described a patient who complained that her husband was habitually late for dinner. Dinner was ready at 6:30, but he often came in as late as 8:30 without calling to let her know that he would be late. She asked me, “Is that right?” in a tone that… Read more »

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How to Become Your Best Self

The month of December is not only a time of holiday festivities; it is also a time of reflection. In the midst of the merriment, we find ourselves assessing the year that is passing and thinking about our expectations for the upcoming one. More often than not, we are disappointed that, once again, we have… Read more »

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What Are Defenses?

When he was 3-years-old, Kevin watched his dad drive away. For the few months following his parents’ split, Kevin and his brother had moved in with their father. The three of them lived together contentedly until the day Kevin’s mom showed up out of the blue and announced that she was taking the kids back…. Read more »

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Your Worst Enemy is Within by Robert Firestone, Ph.D.

My life’s work as a psychotherapist has focused on the problem of resistance. In my study of people’s resistance to change, I was deeply perplexed by a seemingly paradoxical phenomenon: the fact that most people consistently avoid or minimize experiences that are warm, successful, or constructive. I observed that most of my patients tended to… Read more »

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Psychological Defenses in Everyday Life

Robert W. Firestone, Ph.D. – This book is a rich resource that broadens personal understanding by examining the origins of childhood pain, subsequent defense formation, and the pervasiveness and destructiveness of resulting maladaptive, addictive behaviors in adults. The authors point a way toward reversing the damaging process that keeps individuals from experiencing genuine satisfaction. The… Read more »

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Addictions

Addictions and addictive behaviors are appealing because they offer immediate relief from psychological pain and anxiety. However the relief is only temporary; they never provide a lasting solution to our problems. When we “sober up” we find that our emotional pain is still there. A serious side effect of addictive behaviors is that they do… Read more »

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