defenses

Defense Mechanisms

“When children are faced with pain and anxiety in their developmental years, they develop defense mechanisms to cut off that pain. But the tragedy is that in cutting off the pain, you also cut deeply into their lives, so that defenses that were basically survival-oriented psychologically also serve as terrible limitations to the self.” ~… Read more »

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Addiction Recovery: Why My Approach Is Trauma-Informed

It’s so hard to watch a loved one struggle with addiction. Whether it’s to using drugs, alcohol, food, pornography gaming, or something else, friends and family often feel helpless and hurt. We grieve losing connection with the person we care about. Why does addiction happen? What can friends or family do? I see addictive behavior… Read more »

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“You Need Psychotherapy”

Psychotherapy is a luxury that you deserve. When I was in my early 20s, I went into psychotherapy. At that point in my life, I had tried all of the things that were supposed to bring me happiness—college, marriage, moving to a different city—and I was getting more and more miserable. I wasn’t a mental mess; I wasn’t seriously… Read more »

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The Fantasy Bond in Couple Relationships

By the time they reach adulthood, most people have solidified their defenses and exist in a psychological equilibrium that they do not wish to disturb. Although they may be relatively congenial with more casual acquaintances, over time there is typically a noticeable deterioration in the quality of relating within their most intimate relationships. As a… Read more »

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The Paradox of Psychological Defenses

Should we contend with painful realities or avoid them? Although psychological defenses offer a degree of comfort and a form of security, they also predispose distortion and maladaptation in adult life. Yet varying degrees of defense formation are a virtual necessity for the developing child. All children experience a certain amount of emotional pain and… Read more »

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The Fantasy Bond or Primary Defense

This is the first in a series of blogs describing my theoretical approach known as Separation Theory. It represents an integration of psychoanalytic and existential systems of thought and describes how early interpersonal pain and separation anxiety and, later, death anxiety, lead to the formation of powerful psychological defenses. The primary defense is the fantasy… Read more »

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You Don’t Really Want to Get Better

Of course psychotherapy clients want relief from their symptoms, depression, anxiety, and other painful emotions. But at the same time, they don’t want to change the fundamental defenses that would then allow them to develop and overcome their psychological maladies. Most people fear a basic change in their identity, be it positive or negative. From an early age, children form a powerful bond… Read more »

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A Psychological Perspective on Human Destructiveness

My inspiration for writing this blog springs from a deep feeling for people and a grave concern that without a proper understanding of the reasons for their inhumanity in relation to one another and the development of a compassionate world view, it is likely that human beings will eventually destroy themselves and life on the planet. Despite… Read more »

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Changing Your Sense of Identity

Recently, I wrote about “Living with an Accidental Identity.” I described how painful early experiences, definitions, and defenses affect the way individuals perceive and present themselves throughout their lives, leading them to develop an “accidental identity,” rather than a true sense of who they are. Understanding this process can lead people to question their negative identity and make… Read more »

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Are You Giving Up on Love?

It’s hard to really wrap our heads around this. Yet, I find—over and over again—that it’s true. Love doesn’t always just slip away; we push it away… actively. This may sound accusatory and dooming, but to my mind, it is one of the most optimistic realities about relationships. To the degree that we ourselves control… Read more »

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