psychological defenses

Staying in Love While Staying Yourself

A lot of couples talk to me about their struggles to stay close to each other in a way that feels vital and intimate. At the same time, they may also complain about a feeling of sacrifice or a way they’re having to compromise and give up certain aspects of themselves to be in the… Read more »

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Denial: The Danger in Rejecting Reality

“Denial was a weapon; it killed truth, numbed the mind, and I was a junkie.” – John Hart If you read the title and thought, “Oh, I don’t struggle with that,” then this post might be for you. In fact, one of Western society’s biggest problems is rooted in the defense mechanism theorized by psychoanalyst… Read more »

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3 Ways to Tell You’re Afraid of Intimacy

While most of us say we want love, pretty much all of us have some degree of fear around intimacy. The type and extent of this fear can vary based on our personal history: the attachment patterns we developed and the psychological defenses we formed to protect ourselves from early hurts. These patterns and defenses… Read more »

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How to Go “All In” in a Relationship (Without Losing Yourself)

As a therapist, I spend a good amount of time exploring the push and pull that occurs in relationships. For example, between couples, a lot of friction occurs when one person is wanting more closeness, while the other is seeking more space. With individuals, I observe many people who say they want love and intimacy,… Read more »

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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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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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The Simple Truth about Anger

Feeling angry is a universal human phenomenon. It is as basic as feeling hungry, lonely, loving, or tired. -Theodore Rubin “A thought murder a day keeps the doctor away.”  What this quote emphasizes is that feeling one’s angry thoughts is a healthy manifestation, whereas the denial or suppression of angry feelings has a pathological effect…. Read more »

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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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Why It Is Good For You to Feel Negative Emotions

How can we best deal with our day-to-day emotional reactions? What can we do when our partner lets us down, when we have a struggle with our child, or when we feel provoked by a friend? Oddly enough, the first piece of advice is to stay with the pain. It turns out we expend much… Read more »

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