Monday, October 29, 2012

Creating Mutually Effective Affirmative Strategies

Creating Mutually Effective Affirmative Strategies                         Thomas Carver LMFT

This family systemic therapy model is used during an assessment phase while the therapist determines if the child can be treated in family therapy rather than being referred to an outpatient or inpatient program. 

The Therapist must ascertain the parents degree of adolescent world sophistication.

Adults who fail to recognize this are considered ignorant by their children and therefore unilaterally dismissed.

The Therapist helps the parent to ‘get’ the world of an adolescent and therefore gain credibility.



*Child:  “Mom, can I go to a concert with my friends

*Mom:  “I trust you, but I am worried.   What band is it?”

*Child:  “uuuuuhm, BDS”  

*Mom:  “What is BDS?”  

*Child:  “Bloody Death Sex”

*Mom:  “Whaaaat!”

Mom had said in therapy that her true intention is to have her daughter make choices as she gets older and that she wants her to become an independent thinking teen.

When Mom baulks at the idea of BDS her daughter can highlight Mom’s hypocrisy.

AND The Game begins again… unless the Therapist shows them a new paradigm.



The Therapist works individually with the parents to identify family-of-origin trauma from their own experiences as children being parented by their parents.

Mom does not want to be an Authoritarian parent, rather an Authoritative parent. 

Authoritarian parent:  Setting boundaries without sensitivity to their child’s feelings.

Authoritative parent:  Setting boundaries with sensitivity to their child’s feelings.

Mom’s parents dictated her life goals, limited self-expression, determined her friends, and usually preferred actions that were most convenient to the parent(s), BUT claimed to trust her.

This caused her to feel helpless when she submitted to it.

Mom actually rebelled herself by choosing friends that were known to have poor behavior as a reaction to her parent’s rigidity.   YET her initial/instinctive response to her own daughter is to deny her without explanation just like her own parents.

The Therapist shows Mom the difference between the teenage Mom and her teenage daughter and the difference between how Mom had to deal with her parents and the way that her daughter has to deal with her.

Mom’s willingness to be introspective enabled her to decide to act collaboratively with her daughter.


As an over-correction to her own trauma Mom has co-created The Game with her daughter.

The Game:                                              “Make Me An Offer So I Can Spit On It”: 

Mom tries to appease child over and over to no avail by offering solution after solution that would all be rejected.  The daughter learns that she can exhaust Mom by frustrating her therefore enforcing that negativity begets power and control.

Negativity as a way to be in control is a strategy will carry on to a child’s adult relationships.


The Therapist does not always remain neutral because it can inadvertently validate the family’s dysfunctional patterns by reinforcing each other entrenched roles. 

Instead the Therapist enforces the responsible boundaries that each member has to fulfill. 


*Mom:  “I believe that you and your friends do not intend to do anything inappropriate”

*Therapist:  “It sounds like you want to be able to say YES, but that you are being a worried mother”

*Mom:  “YES”

*Therapist;  “Mom, you want to say ‘yes,’ and daughter, you want to hear ‘yes.’  How do you two make it so Mom can say yes?”

Child:  “Just say YES!”

*Therapist:  Mom just can’t say YES.  She needs motivation to say YES, because you are asking her to let the girl she loves the most, who she wants to trust so badly, and believes she is responsible.. go to a Bloody Death Sex show!”  “Make your Mom an offer she can’t refuse.  Mom, do you want an offer?”

*Mom:  Yes, help me out here!  I am willing to say YES”

*Child:  “Why do I need to make her an offer just because she worries!”

*Therapist:  “Well, you don’t have to.  You don’t have to go to the concert.  But Mom is willing to let you go if you can come up with something… or you will not come up with something and not go.  Right, Mom?”

Indecision creates anxiety and keeps families in relationship purgatory. 

By the Therapist setting a default consequence it eliminates the indecision purgatory.  The default consequence is not going to the concert if the daughter chooses to not participate.

Paradigm Shift From First Order Change To Second Order Change

First order changes are small or minor improvements/adjustments that do not alter the family system.

Second order change alters the fundamental structure from everything resetting itself when the child gets their desired decision to the child getting their desired decision by making it workable to the parent.


*Child:  “Why can’t you just chill!”

*Therapist:  “Your Mom is being a mom.  That’s what moms do.  They worry; they can’t help it.  It is not possible for her to stop being a mom.  Mom, is it possible for you not to be a mom?”

The Therapist is enforcing the responsible boundaries.  Usually in therapy the child can get to a point where they admit that their parent cannot just stop being a parent and that they even need them to be parents (sometimes!).

*Child:  “Just don’t worry’

*Mom:  “I am trying to let you be a teenager by being willing to let go, but don’t tell me to not be a mother.  Don’t tell me I can’t be a mother especially when I’m trying to let you be the teenager that you are.”

*Therapist:  “By being allowed to be who you need to be as a teenager also means that you allow your mother to be who she is.  If you want to assert power and control you must give up some power and control (to your mother).”  “By the way, Mom, there is nothing that your daughter can say that will totally alleviate your worry.  All you can ask for is for her to come up with something that will alleviate your worry enough so that you don’t worry too much.  Daughter, make Mom an offer she can’t refuse.”

Children will often go into despair if they think that they have to come up with an idea that will totally alleviate their parent’s fear, because they all know it is impossible.

*Child:  “Why should I have to!”

*Mom:  “You don’t have to.  If you don’t, the answer is NO.  If you can, you can go.”

Children will offer ideas like:  they won’t nag you anymore, they won’t hang out with the wrong people, they won’t do drugs, etc.  They offer a deal of things they know they should not be doing anyway, therefore not valid.  This is because the have practice in staying in the negative.  The affirmative is practiced in therapy. 

The Therapist reminds the parent(s) that they do not have to justify themselves anymore at this point.

The child will continue to be oppositional.  The parent keeps saying, ‘make me an offer.”  The Therapist continues to help the child to understand what is a reasonable offer. 

They may need breaks and or to continue the discussion later.  Deescalate and allow each person to regulate their nervous systems down.

*Child:  “How about I call you at (prearranged) times throughout the show to let you know I am safe.”

*Mom:  “I think that is a very good idea.”

The mom was allowed to be a worrying mother and the child was allowed to be an independent teenager.

True power and control obtained not through negativity, but through creative, mutually respectful affirmative strategies.

This developmental strategy teaches a child that power and control is gained with responsibility to each other’s needs.

Parents who continually restrict and restrain their children take away developmental experiences of experimenting appropriately with power and control.  This can lead to rebellion and defiance. 

When a child is given choices they are more willing to accept boundaries.


Ronald Mah, The Therapist Magazine, July/August 2012

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Humanistic Psychology

Humanistic psychology includes several approaches to counseling and therapy. Among the earliest approaches we find the developmental theory of Abraham Maslow, emphazising a hierarchy of needs and motivations; the existential psychology of Rollo May acknowledging human choice and the tragic aspects of human existence; and the person-centered or client-centered therapy of Carl Rogers, which is centered on the client's capacity for self-direction and understanding of his or her own development.[33] The therapist should be focusing ensuring that all of the client’s feelings are being considered and that the therapist has a firm grasp on the concerns of the client while ensuring that there is an air of acceptance and warmth. Other approaches to humanistic counseling and therapy include Gestalt therapy, which puts a focus on the here and now, especially as an opportunity to look past any preconceived notions and focus on how the present is affected by the past. Role playing also plays a large role in Gestalt therapy and allows for a true expression of feelings that may not have been shared in other circumstances. When using Gestalt therapy, non-verbal cues are an important indicator of how the client may actually be feeling, despite the feelings expressed. Also, humanistic psychotherapy, depth therapy, holistic health, encounter groups, sensitivity training, marital and family therapies, body work, and the existential psychotherapy of Medard Boss.[2] Existential-integrative psychotherapy, developed by Kirk Schneider (2008), is a relatively new development within humanistic and existential therapy. Existential psychotherapies apply the existential philosophy, which emphasizes the idea that humans have the freedom to make sense of their lives. They are free to define themselves and do whatever it is they want to do. This is a type of humanistic therapy that forces the client to explore the meaning of their life, as well as its purpose. There is a conflict between having freedoms and having limitations. Examples of limitations include genetics, culture, and many other factors. Existential therapy involves trying to resolve this conflict.[3] Empathy is one of the most important aspects of humanistic therapy. This idea focuses on the therapist’s ability to see the world through the eyes of the client. Without this, therapists can be forced to apply an external frame of reference where the therapist is no longer understanding the actions and thoughts of the client as the client would, but strictly as a therapist which defeats the purpose of humanistic therapy. Included in empathizing, unconditional positive regard is one of the key elements of humanistic psychology. Unconditional positive regard refers to the care that the therapist needs to have for the client. This ensures that the therapist does not become the authority figure in the relationship allowing for a more open flow of information as well as a kinder relationship between the two. A therapist practicing humanistic therapy needs to show a willingness to listen and ensure the comfort of the patient where genuine feelings may be shared but are not forced upon someone.[3] The therapist should be focusing ensuring that all of the client’s feelings are being considered and that the therapist has a firm grasp on the concerns of the client while ensuring that there is an air of acceptance and warmth.[3] A student of Carl Rogers, Marshall Rosenberg's Nonviolent Communication emphasizes empathy in the relationship. Self-help is also included in humanistic psychology: Sheila Ernst and Lucy Goodison have described using some of the main humanistic approaches in self-help groups.[34][citation needed] Co-counselling, which is a purely self-help approach, is regarded as coming within humanistic psychology.[35] Humanistic theory has had a strong influence on other forms of popular therapy, including Harvey Jackins' Re-evaluation Counselling and the work of Carl Rogers, including his student Eugene Gendlin ; (see Focusing). The ideal self and real self involve understanding the issues that arise from having an idea of what you wish you were as a person, and having that not match who you actually are as a person (incongruence). The ideal self is what a person believes should be done, as well as what their core values are. The real self is what is actually played out in life. Through humanistic therapy, an understanding of the present allows children to add positive experiences into their real self concept and continued their good behavior. The goal is to have the two selves become congruent. Rogers believed that when a therapist was able to be congruent, a real relationship occurs in therapy. It is much easier to trust someone who is willing to share feelings openly, even if it may not be what the client always wants to hear and that allows the therapist to foster a strong relationship.[3] Humanistic psychology tends to look beyond the medical model of psychology in order to open up a nonpathologizing view of the person.[33] This usually implies that the therapist downplays the pathological aspects of a person's life in favour of the healthy aspects. A key ingredient in this approach is the meeting between therapist and client and the possibilities for dialogue. The aim of much humanistic therapy is to help the client approach a stronger and more healthy sense of self, also called self-actualization.[2][33] All this is part of humanistic psychology's motivation to be a science of human experience, focusing on the actual lived experience of persons.[2] The role of the therapist is to create an environment where the client can freely express any thoughts or feelings. In this form of psychology the therapist cannot suggest topics for conversation nor can he guide the conversation in any way. The therapist also can not analyze or interpret the client’s behavior or any information the client shares. The role of the therapist is to provide empathy and to listen attentively to the client. The therapist works to understand how the client feels.[3]

See Depression’s Truth

We are normally charmed by the world, under the spell of samsaric entertainment. But it's when we're depressed, says TRALEG KYABGON RINPOCHE, that we can see through that. Depression is something we all experience. For some people depression is mild, while for others it is very intense and debilitating. For some people it lasts for a short time and then disappears, while for others it may persist over many years, or even an entire lifetime. We generally think of depression as a terrible state to be in: it is something we think we have to overcome, and we go to great lengths to hide it from others. This is probably because when we suffer from depression, our energy levels and motivation go down and we become withdrawn, uncommunicative, irritable, resentful and basically very difficult to be with. There is also often a lot of anger, jealousy or envy mixed with depression, because seeing someone who is happy only makes our depression worse. The point is that depression, in terms of its symptoms, can be debilitating and paralyzing because of what the Buddhists call the “conflicting emotions” associated with it. When we are depressed, our self-esteem and self-confidence plummet. We begin to doubt ourselves. We begin to think that we have become a failure at everything. Western psychotherapists say that you can learn a person's reasons for experiencing depression if you look into their biographical or biological history. From the Buddhist point of view, though, the fundamental understanding is that depression is based on our interpretations of our life situations, our circumstances, our self-conceptions. We get depressed for not being the person we want to be. We get depressed when we think we have not been able to achieve the things that we want to achieve in life. But depression is not necessarily a bad state to be in. When we are depressed, we may actually be able to see through the falsity and deceptive nature of the samsaric world. In other words, we should not think, “When I am depressed my mind is distorted and messed up, while when I am not depressed I am seeing everything clearly.” According to Buddhism, the world that we perceive—the world we interact with and live in—is insubstantial. Through the experience of depression and despair we can begin to see things more clearly rather than less clearly. It is said that we are normally charmed or bedazzled by the world, like a spell has been put on us by the allure of samsaric excitements and entertainment. When we get depressed, though, we begin to see through that—we are able to cut through the illusions of samsara. Depression, when we work with it, can be like a signal, something that puts a brake on our excesses and reminds us of the banality of the samsaric condition, so that we will not be duped into sliding back into the old habits again. It reminds us of the futility, insignificance and non-substantiality of the samsaric condition. That is extremely important, according to Buddhism, because if we are not convinced of the illusory nature of the samsaric condition, we will always be two-minded. We will have one foot in the spiritual realm and the other in the samsaric realm, never being fully able to make that extra effort. We are not talking, though, about chronic or clinical depression here, depression that has got way out of hand. We are talking about the kind of depression that makes us stop and think and re-evaluate our lives. This kind of depression can aid us in terms of our spiritual growth, because it makes us begin to question ourselves. For all these years we may have been thinking, “I'm this kind of person,” “I'm that kind of person,” “I'm a mother,” “I'm an engineer,” or whatever. Then suddenly that familiar world crumbles. The rug is pulled out from under our feet. We have to have experiences like that for our spiritual journey to be meaningful; otherwise we will not be convinced of the non-substantial nature of the samsaric world. Instead, we will take the world of everyday life to be real. With a genuinely constructive form of depression, we become nakedly in touch with our emotions and feelings. We feel a need to make sense of everything, but in new ways. Now, making sense of everything from the samsaric point of view does not work. All the old beliefs, attitudes and ways of dealing with things have not worked. One has to evaluate, say and do things differently, experience things differently. That comes from using depression in a constructive fashion. Depression can be used to curb our natural urges to lose control, to become distracted and outwardly directed, dispersing our energy in all directions. The feeling of depression always reminds us of ourselves; it stops us from becoming lost in our activities, in our experiences of this and that. A genuinely constructive form of depression keeps us vividly in touch with our feelings. In that sense, a modest form of depression is like a state of mental equilibrium. Everything we experience is normally experienced from an egoistic or narcissistic point of view. But a constructive form of depression takes away the brashness, the security and the illusory forms of self-confidence that we have. When we are depressed, instead of thinking with such confidence, “I know what is going on, I know where things are at,” we are forced to be more observant and to question our assumptions, attitudes and behavior. That is what we have to do if we are to make progress on the spiritual path. The individual is then open to new ways of doing things, new and creative ways of thinking. As the Buddhist teachings say, we have to ride with life, we have to evolve. Life itself is a learning process and we can only evolve and learn when we are open. We are open when we question things, and we only question things when we are aware of our inadequacies as much as of our abilities. Being aware of what we do not know is more important than being aware of what we do know: if we concentrate on what we do not know, we will always be inquisitive and want to learn. And we want to learn if there is that slight experience of depression, which in Tibetan is called yid tang skyo pa, which has the connotation of being tired of all that is unreal, of all that is sham and illusory. The mood of depression can, in fact, propel us forward. Even though many people who experience depression say that they feel stuck, the feeling of depression can be a motivating force. The Christian mystics used the expression, “dark night of the soul,” which means that you have to experience the darkness in order to go forward. You cannot just embark on the mystical journey and expect everything to be hunky-dory. You have to have the experience of the carpet being pulled out from under your feet and you have to experience yourself dangling and questioning, filled with doubts and uncertainties, not knowing what the hell is going on. As Lao Tzu says, “Those who say they know, don't know, and those who say they don't know, know.” I suppose he is making a similar kind of point, in that the true intuitive knowledge necessary on the spiritual path comes from doubt, uncertainty and not knowing. The arrogance of knowing is expiated. In other words, the spiritual path does not just consist of things that massage the ego or make the ego feel good and comfortable. The ego has to be continuously and repeatedly challenged in order for us to grow spiritually. One of the first things that the ego has to learn is that nothing in this world is stable or absolutely true. In order to deal with depression effectively, we must cultivate five qualities in our meditation: courage, awareness, joy, love and compassion. Cultivating courage means that we have to have the willingness to allow ourselves to be in a depressed state. If depression is the state that we find ourselves in, we should not become alarmed and regard it as a sign of something terrible. We have to have the courage not to recoil from our experience but simply allow it to arise. It is not helpful to indulge in negative internal dialogues like, “How long is this depression going to last? Is it going to get worse? How am I going to be able to cope with myself? What will people think of me?” Approaching everything that we experience courageously will result in those experiences having no effect on us: on the contrary, we will become empowered by them. This sort of courage is based on a fundamental conviction that we are capable of dealing with whatever it is that arises, rather than thinking that somehow or other what arises is going to have an adverse effect on us. When we start to think that our experience is going to affect us adversely, then fear, anxiety and all of those things come up. But when we are able to say, “Whatever arises is O.K.,” we do not have to be so self-protective. By allowing the depressive mood to be there—if that is what comes up—we are showing courage. If we have that kind of courage we are not harmed. More damage is done by hiding behind our illusions and delusions; when we do that, the conflicting emotions become insidious. Most damage takes place due to lack of courage. This lack of courage is almost like a pathological need to protect ourselves. We think, “I won't be able to handle this, it will be too much. I will be destroyed. I will go crazy.” We indulge in all kinds of negative monologues. This is the reason our minds get disturbed, not because we have had such-and-such experience. It is not our experiences but our reactions to them that cause damage. We have to forget about our fear that we will somehow be harmed by our negative experiences. If we concentrate more on the courageous mental act of being able to accommodate and accept, we will provide room for the depressive state of mind to be there and we will no longer react to it with alarm. Having courage in meditation practice means that there automatically will be awareness there. Awareness means being able to see what is going on. If we do not show courage in our meditation there will be no awareness either, because we will instinctively recoil from our meditative experiences. As soon as something disturbing or unpleasant arises, such as a depressive mood, we will recoil. We have to practice awareness in relation to things that we think of as harmful, as well as the things we regard as innocuous. Through showing courage, we can be aware of what we have allowed ourselves to experience. Awareness is not a state, but a process: an “aware-ing.” All the mental states that arise in the mind are also processes. This is an important thing to notice. Even if you are in a depressed mood, you see that the mood changes—if you are aware. If you are not aware, there is no change, no transmutation, no movement. But if you are aware, you will notice that subtle permutations of change are continuously taking place: you will see that the experience of the depressed mood itself fluctuates. Normally we assume that it is the same depression, but it is never the same. It is always presenting itself differently. This kind of attention is one of the things that Buddhism encourages us to exercise through the practice of meditation, because not noticing things is what leads us to solidify our experiences. When that solidification takes place, our minds become fixated on things and awareness is instantly dissipated. We are no longer in touch with our own mental state. When we are directly in touch with our mental state, we can see the changing hues of our depressive mood. One sign of depression is a person’s posture. In meditation, we pay attention to our posture. We do not sit with our shoulders slouched, looking defeated and forlorn. It is said that the shoulders should be extended and the chest out, showing some kind of majesty and royal bearing. That has to be included in the practice of awareness. The way to stay in touch with our mental state is simply by paying attention to what we are experiencing in the moment. But when Buddhists talk about “being in the now,” they often think that the “now” has no relevance to the past or the future. That is not true. The way to experience the present moment is not by ignoring the relationship between our present experience and where that experience has come from or where it might be going. The past and the present are embodied in the experiences that we have as human beings. Whatever experiences we have, we have them because of the past; we cannot have an experience that is totally disconnected from our past. The reason why a particular experience arose in the first place is because of our past. That is the reality of karma. Our present mental state is the product of previous mental states and previous life experiences. In other words, what we are experiencing now is the fruit of what we have experienced in the past. When we pay attention to what we are experiencing now, through awareness, we are able to determine our future karma by making it take a different course. If we do not pay attention, our future karma will not be altered. Besides courage and awareness, we need to cultivate joy in order to work with depression. Joy here does not mean elation, which is always a bad sign. When we are feeling really high, we crash really hard. In this context, joy means a sense of physical and mental wellbeing. That is, if we have good experiences in meditation, we do not feel too excited, and if we have bad experiences, we do not feel too down and hopeless. Joy in Tibetan is called dga' ba; it means not being like a yo-yo, basically. In either elation or depression, according to the Buddhist teachings, there is no real joy—we are just being swept along by our emotional currents. When we are happy we are so happy—and we become completely overwhelmed by that—and when we are unhappy the emotion is so strong that we cannot bear it. Joy is more about being on an even keel. This does not mean that we cannot sometimes feel really uplifted and joyous. But if we have a joyful disposition—an underlying mental attitude of joy—then we do not completely break down when things do not go our way, or lose it to the other extreme when things go well. Instead there is a sense of equilibrium. The fact is, we do not know what to expect: sometimes things will be wonderful, and other times things will be terrible. But having practiced meditation—having dealt with our depression and other states of mind—there can be that underlying sense of joy. So dealing with our present situation is the most important thing, according to Buddhism. We should not always be thinking that things should be different, that something else should be happening based on our own wishes. If we stop doing that, we will experience joy. Along with courage, awareness and joy, we need love and compassion in order to work with our depression. In Buddhism, love and compassion are related to how we view ourselves and others. When we are depressed, we do not feel worthy of receiving love, let alone giving love. We do not feel worthy of receiving the gift of compassion from others, let alone capable of giving the gift of compassion. But through the practice of meditation on love and compassion—called “mind training” in Buddhism—we begin to realize that we have something to give and that we can give it. When that feeling returns, we feel more connected to other beings. The gift of love or compassion is in the act of giving itself. We do not have to receive something in return to make these gifts worthwhile. The simple existence of others is what makes them worthwhile, because without others we would be solitary, lonely, cut-off and miserable people. Life would be far less rich if other people were not part of our world. It is said in the teachings that even people who cause us difficulties help us to grow if we are able to deal with them properly. Practicing love and compassion—along with courage, awareness and joy—will keep what Winston Churchill referred to as his “black dog” at bay. That does not mean we will get rid of our depression overnight, but we do not have to. The negative effects of depression will gradually decrease and our ability to make use of depression in a constructive fashion will increase. If we are able to meditate and learn to develop courage, awareness, joy, love and compassion, we will grow and depression will dissipate. We do not have to get rid of it—depression will get worn out by itself. That is important. Thinking of depression as an enemy and trying to conquer or overcome it, at least from the Buddhist point of view, is a self-defeating task. Our task in meditation is not to do that, but rather to learn the skills necessary to deal with whatever it is that we are experiencing. The Venerable Traleg Kyabgon Rinpoche is president and director of Kagyu E-Vam Buddhist Institute in Melbourne, Australia. He is the author of The Essence of Buddhism: An Introduction to Its Philosophy and Practice. Originally published in the March 2003 Shambhala Sun magazine.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Trying to Please Our Parents Forever?

Living for Ourselves by Madisyn Taylor We may not realize until we are adults that we are living our life to make our parents happy. Most of us come to a point in our lives when we question why we are doing what we are doing, and many of us come to realize that we may be living our lives in an effort to make our parents happy. This realization can dawn when we are in our 20s, our 40s, or even later, depending upon how tight a hold our family of origin has on our psyche. We may feel shocked or depressed by this information, but we can trust that it is coming to us at this time because we are ready to find out what it would mean to live our lives for ourselves, following the call of our own soul, and refusing any longer to be beholden to someone else’s expectations. One of the most common reasons we are so tied into making our parents, or others, happy, is that we were not properly mirrored when we were children. We were not honored as individuals in our own right, with a will and purpose of our own, to be determined by our own unfolding. As a result, we learned to look outside of ourselves for approval, support, and direction rather than look within. The good news is that the part of us that was not adequately nurtured is still there, inside us, like a seed that has not yet received the sunlight and moisture it needs to open and to allow its inner contents to unfurl. It is never too late to provide ourselves with what we need to awaken this inner being. There are many ways to create a safe container for ourselves so that we can turn within and shine the light of awareness there. We may join a support group, go to therapy, or start a practice of journaling every day for half an hour. This experience of becoming is well worth the difficult work that may be required of us to get there. In whatever process we choose, we may feel worse before we feel better, but we will ultimately find out how to live our lives for ourselves and how to make ourselves happy.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Five Love Languages

• Quality time: For a person who speaks this language, things like eye contact, deep and meaningful conversations and shared activities are needed to feel loved. Bonding time with their partner is what is most important to them. • Receiving gifts: When you are with a partner who love little gifts and surprises, this is precisely what you will get. You will constantly be showered with new clothes, flowers or even chocolates. This is how they want to be loved, so this is exactly what they do for their partners. Giving the gift of self is also an important symbol of love to these people. • Words of affection: This works by giving your partner constant compliments, sweet love notes and lots of encouragement. This is important because those who speak this language are sensitive people and don’t take criticism as well as others. They may illustrate their frustrations by using sharp words or even by harassing you. • Physical touch: If this is the language of your partner they will be very affectionate or, as some like to call it, touchy-feely. Sex to them means much more than just an orgasm - it is a way to connect. If you deny someone who speaks this love language sex, they may feel unloved. • Acts of service: Some people find pleasure in doing things for others. This may mean that they will feel loved when their partners help out with chores or doing things for them. However, acts of service should be done out of love, not obligation.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Vyvanse vs Adderall XR – Benefits, Problems

Vyvanse is a new treatment for ADHD and this article compares it to Adderall. If you want to learn the 10 most important things you should know about Vyvanse, see here. Are you confused by all your medication options? (Ritalin, Adderall, Focalin, Vyvanse, Intuniv, Metadate, Pemoline – and that’s just getting started!) Figure things out – a Full List of ADHD Medications tells you what you need to know. Now… First, it’s important to realize that Vyvanse is Shire’s replacement for their old blockbuster drug, Adderall XR, which is losing its patent. If you’re being suggested to take Vyvanse, it’s not necessarily because it’s a better medication. Shire wants to turn it into a billion dollar drug, and has unleashed a marketing campaign of that magnitude, aimed at consumers and doctors. On the other hand, Vyvanse does have some advantages over Adderall. It also has a few disadvantages. Comparing Vyvanse vs Adderall is made slightly harder because both drugs are amphetamines. If you take either, you’re getting pretty much the same thing. That said, there are some important differences. 1) Vyvanse is 100% d-amphetamine, while Adderall XR is a mix of 4 different d and l-amphetamines. This mix in Adderall may make it more effective, stronger. But it might cause more anxiety or physical side effects. See later for discussion of the differences between the amphetamine types. The next big difference is that: 2) Vyvanse is released via digestion, while Adderall is released by bead technology. The digestion release may make Vyvanse smoother, last longer, and have less variability. What you eat might not effect it so much, while Adderall XR may be more effected by, say, having a cup of orange juice. This release also means that snorting or injecting Vyvanse provides less of a high. As many have pointed out, however, Vyvanse can provide a high just by being taken at higher doses. Advantages of Vyvanse We have a full article discussing the Advantages of Vyvanse. Vyvanse has been shown to have effect for a very long time, up to 14 hours in some studies. While realistically that duration of effect may not happen, it works fairly well for fairly long. This is likely because its release mechanism is typically smooth, meaning less variability. Finally, Vyvanse is pure d-amphetamine, which may mean less of certain side effects compared to the l and d-amphetamine of Adderall. Disadvantages of Vyvanse Vyvanse is basically nothing more than extended release Dexedrine. And while it seems to have fewer side effects relating to anxiety and release, it may cause more side effects like reduced appetite. Because Vyvanse is so new, it may be significantly more expensive than other options or not covered by insurance, especially since both Dexedrine and Adderall are available in generic form. We also simply do not know as much about it as we do about the older drugs. Finally, some users feel that it’s not as strong as Adderall, and that it stops working earlier than advertised. l versus d amphetamine Remember that Vyvanse is pure d-amphetamine, while Adderall is a mix of d- and l-forms. The d form may be more effective at reducing impulsiveness and overactivity. The l form, on the other hand, may increase concentration better, but it may also cause more anxiety. It is also per molecule less effective than the d form, but such a distinction is perhaps irrelevant. The d form may effect more dopamine, as opposed to both noradrenaline and dopamine in the l form. This theory, however, is not established. Noradrenaline is involved in anxiety responses, which may explain why Adderall XR seems to be worse for anxiety. Adult ADHD: ADHD is a lot different in adults than in children. Hyperactivity, for instance, is not necessarily there or in the same form as in kids. If you are over 18 and worried that you might have ADHD, check out an ADHD Test Made for Adults. Link: Whole Article

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Niacin: The Depression Cure

Niacin (or vitamin B-3) has been a long-standing known cure for chronic depression and anxiety. Unfortunately, most of us have never heard of the potential emotional benefits to Niacin. Though the reason for secrecy surrounding vitamin therapy has a complicated and deep-rooted past, a simple explanation is that natural remedies are not supported by the U.S. medical field.

A Brief Niacin History

One of the most publicized cases of Niacin used as a cure for depression surrounded Bill Wilson (the founder of AA). Bill struggled with chronic depression much of his life, and after being introduced to psychiatrists Humphrey Osmond and Abram Hoffer in the late fifties, he began participating in a study including the use of Niacin for depression.

Bill supported Niacin so strongly, that he attempted to introduce its use to the AA organization, but the idea was fully rejected by the fellowship. Bill published several articles, and detailed his experiences with depression and his cure, in the book, “Pass It On.”

Since the research in the fifties, various nutritionists (and very few enlightened doctors) have prescribed high doses of Niacin for chronic depression. Unfortunately, treatment of serious illnesses with vitamin therapy has become dangerous ground for most doctors to walk on. In fact, in the United States, it is against the law to prescribe nutrition or vitamins to treat cancer patients (promoting natural cures landed Juice Master, Jason Vale in prison).

The Myth That Vitamins Are Dangerous

OK, so this may not be completely a myth… In the “Annals of Emergency Medicine” there were 2 documented cases of serious reactions to high doses of Niacin. These patients had taken the Niacin to clear their system of Cocaine in order to pass drug tests. So how does this compare to conventional medicine? Over 783,936 people die EVERY YEAR from medical mistakes and approximately 100,000+ of those deaths are people taking prescription drugs as directed.

Treating Depression and Anxiety Naturally

First and foremost, it is important to recognize that depression and anxiety can actually be enhanced by poor diet and stress. Niacin itself should not be the first option to treatment if nutrition, exercise and stress are not being addressed. Simply improving your diet, exercising regularly and taking time to meditate or relax, could greatly improve problems with depression and anxiety.

It is also important to note that many prescription medications for emotional illness have their own side effects. Taking these drugs can actually enhance emotional distress, or have other adverse effects.

If depression and anxiety are severe enough however, you should probably seek out medical care from a doctor who is familiar with natural remedies and treatments. Niacin has not been known to cause death, but should be taken in carefully managed doses and supplemented with other vitamins (especially the other B vitamins).

Most doctors will prescribe Niacin in small frequent doses, and slowly increase these doses daily. Large amounts of Niacin will cause your skin to flush, but a slight niacin flush should end in about ten minutes or so and is considered normal. A doctor will most likely suggest that Niacin be taken after each meal in a small dose (such as 25 mg), and may increase that dose each day (such as 50mg at breakfast, then 25mg for lunch and dinner). These doses will not usually exceed 3,000 to 9,000 mg a day, and will be reduced if the patient’s skin continues to flush.

Niacin not only treats depression, but has also been shown to aid with sleeping problems, alcoholism, schizophrenia, and high cholesterol.

Choosing the Right Type of Niacin

Sufficient research has not been performed on the effectiveness of No-Flush and Flush-Free varieties of Niacin for depression, however research has shown that they have no impact on patients with high cholesterol. We suggest taking pure nicotinic acid (if you cannot find this at the grocer, try your local organic store or purchase it online).

Natural Sources of Niacin

Some foods Niacin can be found in, include almonds and seeds, wheat products, beans, rice bran, green leafy vegetables, carrots, turnips, celery, lean red meat, fish, organ meats (kidney, liver), prawns, and pork.


Annals of Emergency Medicine
Pass It on: The Story of Bill Wilson and How the A. A. Message Reached the World by Alcoholics Anonymous
Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, Revised Second Edition by Michael Murray and Joseph Pizzorno

Poem: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy By John le Carre,

"I knew what it was like…to be brought up by a man so oversized that your only resort as a child was to subterfuge and deceipt. And I knew how easily the anger and inwardness thus born could turn themselves into a love-hate relationship with the father images of society, and finally with society itself, so that the childish avenger becomes the adult predator."

Imago Relationship Therapy: Harville Hendrix, PhD

Imago Relationship Therapy is a form of marriage therapy founded by Harville Hendrix, PhD, author of Getting The Love You Want: A Guide For Couples, Keeping The Love You Find: A Personal Guide, and Giving The Love That Heals: A Guide For Parents.


IRT claims to integrate and extend western psychological systems, behavioral sciences, and spiritual disciplines into a theory of primary love relationships. Its basic premise is that:

We were born whole and complete.

We became wounded during the early nurturing and socialization stages of development by our primary caretakers (usually inadvertently).

We have a composite image of all the positive and negative traits of our primary caretakers deep in our unconscious mind. This is called the Imago. It is like a blueprint of the one we need to marry someday.

We marry someone who is an Imago match, that is, someone who matches up with the composite image of our primary caretakers. This is important because we marry for the purpose of healing and finishing the unfinished business of childhood. Since our parents are the ones who wounded us, it is only they who can heal us. Not them literally, but a primary love partner who matches their traits.

Romantic Love is the door to marriage and is nature's selection process that connects us with the right partner for our eventual healing and growth.

We move into the Power Struggle as soon as we make a commitment to this person. The Power Struggle is necessary, for embedded in a couple's frustrations lies the information for healing and growth.

The first two stages of marriage, "Romantic Love" and the "Power Struggle," are engaged in at an unconscious level. Our unconscious mind chooses our partner for the purpose of healing childhood wounds.

With conscious effort and dialogue, our Imago love partner is most compatible with us and able to help us to resolve unfinished issues of self-wholeness.

Practice of Imago Therapy

The goal of Imago Relationship Therapy is to align our conscious mind (which usually wants happiness and good feelings) with the agenda of the unconscious mind (which wants healing and growth). Thus, the goal of Imago Therapy is to assist clients in developing conscious, intimate, and committed relationships.

The core practice of Imago Therapy is the "Couple's Dialogue," in which a couple engages in a structured conversation, with or without an Imago Therapist.

The Couple's Dialogue consists of Mirroring (repeating) each statement, Summarization, Validation ("That makes sense because ...") and Empathy ("I imagine that makes you feel ..."). This enables each partner to extend himself or herself to understand the experience of the other as different from his or her own.
The process of trying to help one's partner to heal his or her childhood wounds ends up growing parts of one's own personality that need the most growth. This is largely due to the unconscious process of finding a partner that matches one's Imago. As partners help each other to heal, they are also helping themselves to grow, moving them both closer to becoming whole and complete again.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

If you experience anxiety, you experience a fear of anxiety

By Jodi Lobozzo Aman

I find the concept that fears can be assessed as rational or irrational hilarious. Does this mean some fears are “valid” and other are not? How do we know which fears are legitimate, rational, right?

Say, your mother has cancer and you are afraid of her dying. Is that considered a rational anxiety, because she actually might die? Everybody is going to die. Fear of one’s mom dying is actually a fear of being afraid when mom is dying, or most accurately fear of not be able to handle the anxiety when mom dies. Is that rational?

Can you handle fear?

If behind all fears is the fear of fear, (an illusion) then ‘true fear’ is an oxymoron.

We mistakenly think some fear is “rational.” It is as if some fears have evidence and some don’t. Let me let you in on a secret: The evidence is an illusion. The meaning is construed to support the fear. “It could happen.” “You can’t trust yourself.” “It will be awful.” These are what the fear tells us, to get us to buy in. This doesn’t mean it is true! However, many of us get caught; hook, line and sinker. If you think about it, they may hold the energy of fear’s evidence, but they don’t really mean anything.

Conversation with Irrational Fear

“You have to do this or else.” Fear says.

Or else what?

“Or else something bad will happen.”

What, what will happen?

“Something real bad. You will hate it. It will be awful.”

Damned if we know and fear doesn’t tell us. The evasiveness is part of the PR plan to hold the market on our lives. Evasiveness is fears trademark. The mystery of it gives it power.

Twelve year old Samantha came to see me for therapy. She’s experienced many losses over the last few years. Her younger sister was hospitalized from a life threatening illness that left her permanently disabled. Both her maternal grandparents died within a few months of each other. Her parents got separated and divorced. And her mother had gone through her own bout of breast cancer, incurring surgeries, radiation and chemotherapy treatments. Though all of this, Samantha remained calm and engaged in life and school. Now it is one year since any tragedies, and she began to feel excessively anxious in school, needing to call her mother several times during the school day. She was worried about her mother dying by the cancer returning, getting kidnapped, ‘just stopping breathing’ or getting into a car accident.

Many family members were curious how she was strong through the troubling times, only to be immobilized once everything was peaceful. Her school counselor, who had been supporting her, offered the following explanation: You were young before and did not understand the serious nature of the events when they were happening. Now you understand and that is why you are afraid.

Oh no! I thought. This comment might not sound too fatuous off hand. However, I propose that it elevated Samantha’s anxiety to a truth status: Now you are smart enough to know you are supposed to be afraid. You should be afraid of these things. Fearing these things is right, you were just too stupid before.

Not helpful. It constructed the anxiety as “rational,” associating it with being more mature, more knowledgeable and, I hate to say it, more normal. This confirmed anxiety for her, making matters worse. Irrational and rational are just meanings we make to chide or justify ourselves. One more way to assess we are on or off track. It is judgment plain and simple and it is one more way to keep us attached to anxiety. Do any of you want to be attached to anxiety? I don’t! Treatment needs to deconstruct that “We should be afraid.”

Fear is Not Rational or Irrational: Fear is Relative

What is apparent is that fear is relative. It is not real or imagined; logical or illogical; rational or irrational; valid or invalid. Fear is just an experience. It may be an intense experience and have many unappreciated effects on our lives. But, the good news is, we can change it.

Next time ask fear and anxiety: What is the worst that can happen?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Dalai Lama Teaching: Training the Mind: Verse 1

With a determination to achieve the highest aim
For the benefit of all sentient beings
Which surpasses even the wish-fulfilling gem,
May I hold them dear at all times.

These four lines are about cultivating a sense of holding dear all other sentient beings. The main point this verse emphasizes is to develop an attitude that enables you to regard other sentient beings as precious, much in the manner of precious jewels. The question could be raised, "Why do we need to cultivate the thought that other sentient beings are precious and valuable?"

In one sense, we can say that other sentient beings are really the principal source of all our experiences of joy, happiness, and prosperity, and not only in terms of our day-to-day dealings with people. We can see that all the desirable experiences that we cherish or aspire to attain are dependent upon cooperation and interaction with other sentient beings. It is an obvious fact. Similarly, from the point of view of a practitioner on the path, many of the high levels of realization that you gain and the progress you make on your spiritual journey are dependent upon cooperation and interaction with other sentient beings. Furthermore, at the resultant state of buddhahood, the truly compassionate activities of a buddha can come about spontaneously without any effort only in relation to sentient beings, because they are the recipients and beneficiaries of those enlightened activities. So one can see that other sentient beings are, in a sense, the true source of our joy, prosperity, and happiness. Basic joys and comforts of life such as food, shelter, clothing, and companionship are all dependent upon other sentient beings, as is fame and renown. Our feelings of comfort and sense of security are dependent upon other people's perceptions of us and their affection for us. It is almost as if human affection is the very basis of our existence. Our life cannot start without affection, and our sustenance, proper growth, and so on all depend on it. In order to achieve a calm mind, the more you have a sense of caring for others, the deeper your satisfaction will be. I think that the very moment you develop a sense of caring, others appear more positive. This is because of your own attitude. On the other hand, if you reject others, they will appear to you in a negative way. Another thing that is quite clear to me is that the moment you think only of yourself, the focus of your whole mind narrows, and because of this narrow focus uncomfortable things can appear huge and bring you fear and discomfort and a sense of feeling overwhelmed by misery. The moment you think of others with a sense of caring, however, your mind widens. Within that wider angle, your own problems appear to be of no significance, and this makes a big difference. If you have a sense of caring for others, you will manifest a kind of inner strength in spite of your own difficult situations and problems. With this strength, your problems will seem less significant and bothersome. By going beyond your own problems and taking care of others, you gain inner strength, self-confidence, courage, and a greater sense of calm. This is a clear example of how one's way of thinking can really make a difference.

The Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life (Bodhicaryavatara) says that there is a phenomenological difference between the pain that you experience when you take someone else's pain upon yourself and the pain that comes directly from your own pain and suffering. In the former, there is an element of discomfort because you are sharing the other's pain; however, as Shantideva points out, there is also a certain amount of stability because, in a sense, you are voluntarily accepting that pain. In the voluntary participation in other's suffering there is strength and a sense of confidence. But in the latter case, when you are undergoing your own pain and suffering, there is an element of involuntariness, and because of the lack of control on your part, you feel weak and completely overwhelmed. In the Buddhist teachings on altruism and compassion, certain expressions are used such as "One should disregard one's own well-being and cherish other's well-being." It is important to understand these statements regarding the practice of voluntarily sharing someone else's pain and suffering in their proper context. The fundamental point is that if you do not have the capacity to love yourself, then there is simply no basis on which to build a sense of caring toward others. Love for yourself does not mean that you are indebted to yourself. Rather, the capacity to love oneself or be kind to oneself should be based on a very fundamental fact of human existence: that we all have a natural tendency to desire happiness and avoid suffering. Once this basis exists in relation to oneself, one can extend it to other sentient beings. Therefore, when we find statements in the teachings such as "Disregard your own well-being and cherish the well-being of others," we should understand them in the context of training yourself according to the ideal of compassion. This is important if we are not to indulge in self-centered ways of thinking that disregard the impact of our actions on other sentient beings. As I said earlier, we can develop an attitude of considering other sentient beings as precious in the recognition of the part their kindness plays in our own experience of joy, happiness, and success. This is the first consideration. The second consideration is as follows: through analysis and contemplation you will come to see that much of our misery, suffering, and pain really result from a self-centered attitude that cherishes one's own well-being at the expense of others, whereas much of the joy, happiness, and sense of security in our lives arise from thoughts and emotions that cherish the well-being of other sentient beings. Contrasting these two forms of thought and emotion convinces us of the need to regard other's well-being as precious.

There is another fact concerning the cultivation of thoughts and emotions that cherish the well-being of others: one's own self-interest and wishes are fulfilled as a by-product of actually working for other sentient beings. As Je Tsong Khapa points out in his Great Exposition of the Path to Enlightenment (Lamrim Chenmo), "the more the practitioner engages in activities and thoughts that are focused and directed toward the fulfillment of others' well-being, the fulfillment or realization of his or her own aspiration will come as a by-product without having to make a separate effort." Some of you may have actually heard the remark, which I make quite often, that in some sense the bodhisattvas, the compassionate practitioners of the Buddhist path, are wisely selfish people, whereas people like ourselves are the foolishly selfish. We think of ourselves and disregard others, and the result is that we always remain unhappy and have a miserable time. The time has come to think more wisely, hasn't it? This is my belief. At some point the question comes up, "Can we really change our attitude?"

My answer on the basis of my little experience is, without hesitation, "Yes!" This is quite clear to me. The thing that we call "mind" is quite peculiar. Sometimes it is very stubborn and very difficult to change. But with continuous effort and with conviction based on reason, our minds are sometimes quite honest. When we really feel that there is some need to change, then our minds can change. Wishing and praying alone will not transform your mind, but with conviction and reason, reason based ultimately on your own experience, you can transform your mind. Time is quite an important factor here, and with time our mental attitudes can certainly change. One point I should make here is that some people, especially those who see themselves as very realistic and practical, are too realistic and obsessed with practicality. They may think, "This idea of wishing for the happiness of all sentient beings and this idea of cultivating thoughts of cherishing the well-being of all sentient beings are unrealistic and too idealistic. They don't contribute in any way to the transformation of one's mind or to attaining some kind of mental discipline because they are completely unachievable." Some people may think in these terms and feel that perhaps a more effective approach would be to begin with a close circle of people with whom one has direct interaction. They think that later one can expand and increase the parameters. They feel there is simply no point in thinking about all sentient beings since there is an infinite number of them. They may conceivably feel some kind of connection with their fellow human beings on this planet, but they feel that the infinite sentient beings in the multiple world systems and universes have nothing to do with their own experience as an individual. They may ask, "What point is there in trying to cultivate the mind that tries to include within its sphere every living being?" In a way that may be a valid objection, but what is important here is to understand the impact of cultivating such altruistic sentiments.

The point is to try to develop the scope of one's empathy in such a way that it can extend to any form of life that has the capacity to feel pain and experience happiness. It is a matter of defining a living organism as a sentient being. This kind of sentiment is very powerful, and there is no need to be able to identify, in specific terms, with every single living being in order for it to be effective. Take, for example, the universal nature of impermanence. When we cultivate the thought that things and events are impermanent, we do not need to consider every single thing that exists in the universe in order for us to be convinced of impermanence. That is not how the mind works. So it is important to appreciate this point.

In the first verse, there is an explicit reference to the agent "I": "May I always consider others precious." Perhaps a brief discussion on the Buddhist understanding of what this "I" is referring to might be helpful at this stage. Generally speaking, no one disputes that people--you, me, and others--exist. We do not question the existence of someone who undergoes the experience of pain. We say, "I see such-and-such" and "I hear such-and-such," and we constantly use the first-person pronoun in our speech. There is no disputing the existence of the conventional level of "self" that we all experience in our day-to-day life. Questions arise, however, when we try to understand what that "self" or "I" really is. In probing these questions we may try to extend the analysis a bit beyond day-to-day life--we may, for example, recollect ourselves in our youth. When you have a recollection of something from your youth, you have a close sense of identification with the state of the body and your sense of "self" at that age. When you were young, there was a "self." When you get older there is a "self." There is also a "self" that pervades both stages. An individual can recollect his or her experiences of youth. An individual can think about his or her experiences of old age, and so on. We can see a close identification with our bodily states and sense of "self," our "I" consciousness. Many philosophers and, particularly, religious thinkers have sought to understand the nature of the individual, that "self" or "I," which maintains its continuity across time. This has been especially important within the Indian tradition. The non-Buddhist Indian schools talk about atman, which is roughly translated as "self" or "soul"; and in other non-Indian religious traditions we hear discussion about the "soul" of the being and so on. In the Indian context, atman has the distinct meaning of an agent that is independent of the empirical facts of the individual. In the Hindu tradition, for example, there is a belief in reincarnation, which has inspired a lot of debate. I have also found references to certain forms of mystical practice in which a consciousness or soul assumes the body of a newly dead person. If we are to make sense of reincarnation, if we are to make sense of a soul assuming another body, then some kind of independent agent that is independent of the empirical facts of the individual must be posited. On the whole, non-Buddhist Indian schools have more or less come to the conclusion that the "self" really refers to this independent agent or atman. It refers to what is independent of our body and mind. Buddhist traditions on the whole have rejected the temptation to posit a "self," an atman, or a soul that is independent of our body and mind. Among Buddhist schools there is consensus on the point that "self" or "I" must be understood in terms of the aggregation of body and mind. But as to what, exactly, we are referring when we say "I" or "self," there has been divergence of opinion even among Buddhist thinkers. Many Buddhist schools maintain that in the final analysis we must identify the "self" with the consciousness of the person. Through analysis, we can show how our body is a kind of contingent fact and that what continues across time is really a being's consciousness.

Of course, other Buddhist thinkers have rejected the move to identify "self" with consciousness. Buddhist thinkers such as Buddhapalita and Chandrakirti have rejected the urge to seek some kind of eternal, abiding, or enduring "self." They have argued that following that kind of reasoning is, in a sense, succumbing to the ingrained need to grasp at something. An analysis of the nature of "self" along these lines will yield nothing because the quest involved here is metaphysical; it is a quest for a metaphysical self in which, Buddhapalita and Chandrakirti argue, we are going beyond the domain of the understanding of everyday language and everyday experience. Therefore "self," person, and agent must be understood purely in terms of how we experience our sense of "self." We should not go beyond the level of the conventional understanding of "self" and person. We should develop an understanding of our existence in terms of our bodily and mental existence so that "self" and person are in some sense understood as designations dependent upon mind and body. Chandrakirti used the example of a chariot in his Guide to the Middle Way (Madhyamakavatara).When you subject the concept of chariot to analysis, you are never going to find some kind of metaphysically or substantially real chariot that is independent of the parts that constitute the chariot. But this does not mean the chariot does not exist. Similarly, when we subject "self," the nature of "self," to such analysis, we cannot find a "self" independent of the mind and body that constitutes the existence of the individual or the being. This understanding of the "self" as a dependently originated being must also be extended to our understanding of other sentient beings. Other sentient beings are, once again, designations that are dependent upon bodily and mental existence. Bodily and mental existence is based on the aggregates, which are the psychophysical constituents of beings.

For the rest of teh verses cut and paste the following link into your browser:

Backpacking: Sespe Hot Springs

Sespe Wilderness, California

Not far from the skate parks in Ventura sits a lonely, boulder-strewn valley patrolled by circling condors and peppered with bubbling springs. Put aside your Tinseltown stereotypes: This is raw, unspoiled country. The Sespe is the last free-flowing river in Southern California. The 219,700-acre wilderness, which also encompasses the 53,000-acre Sespe Condor Sanctuary, is the heart of the largest core of roadless land abutting a U.S. metropolis.

The 18-mile hike to Sespe Hot Springs starts at the Piedra Blanca Trailhead and climbs over smooth river stones, past numerous cool-water swimming holes (sometimes filled with steelhead trout), and shapely sandstone cliffs. Do it in one long day or two shorter ones, stopping to camp at 8.5 miles near 108°F Willett Hot Springs (which can be crowded on weekends). Claim the first-come, first-served cabin or one of a dozen free tent spots, and tackle the next 10 miles the next day. By the time you reach Sespe's pools you'll be ready for another soak. Just remember that these waters top out at 190°F: It takes buckets of runoff to cool them, but once they're bearable you can float until you prune, watching resident bighorn sheep that often graze nearby.

Getting There
From Ojai, go 25 miles north on CA 33 to the Rose Valley turnoff. Turn right, and drive until you reach the Piedra Blanca Trailhead. Sespe Hot Springs UTM: 11S 0316774E 3830569N

Ojai Ranger District, Los Padres National Forest. (805) 646-4348; For the best route, consult the Sespe Wilderness Trail Map ($9;

Spring, when streams are running and fairy dusters bloom on the hillsides. Winter's good too, as long as the road isn't closed due to snowfall. Fall can be perfect: crisp or beautifully balmy. Summer's just too hot.

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Borderline/Narcissist Couple


You've probably heard by now, that these two personality types are drawn to each other, but might have wondered why this is true. I'll try to demystify this mutual attraction, and provide a little insight (as usual) along the way. For simplicity's sake, I discuss female Borderlines and male Narcissists, but these roles can certainly be reversed, and may include same-sex unions--in fact, the prevalence of borderline pathology could be considered heightened within the gay community.

Relationship issues are universal--and homosexual men and women struggle with many of the same concerns heterosexual couples do, because of their core disturbances throughout childhood. Frankly, I have never met a lesbian who didn't have major issues with her mother--but that's another article.

Many people who contact me for help, are already aware of a distinct pattern of attraction in their life. These romantic selections are thrilling at first, but later become disappointing and pain-producing--yet these patterns remain intact (despite self-promises to do it differently, "next time"). The only way to explain this odd phenomenon, is to understand the basis for these unwise relational choices, and that's what this piece attempts to address.

It's critical to understand that both narcissistic and borderline personality disordered individuals incurred similar types of wounds to their developing sense of Self, and isn't it simply natural to be drawn to someone with whom you have things in common, or who echoes personality aspects in yourself? Well, this attraction is a lot like that--it feels as if you've found your 'soul mate.' There's a similar vibration/frequency you two share, due to childhood abandonment issues. While the nature of those early difficulties were alike, they've played out in different ways for each of you--but the scars from that time remain, unless there's been some serious core-focused intervention.

Narcissists are frequently 'super-givers,' but authentic intimacy/closeness is often avoided, given their engulfment fears. Caregiver types can be drawn to borderline disordered individuals who match their own attachment issues, so that 'safe' emotional proximity becomes a non-issue.

Do not presume that a Narcissist and Borderline can construct a successful marriage. If they haven't resolved their respective childhood traumas, they'll continually trample on each other's emotional land mines, and trigger highly explosive episodes, while remaining hopelessly enmeshed.

In truth, the Narcissist is no match for the Borderline. It doesn't matter how smart or powerful he is, she'll turn his world upside-down to where he could lose his entire fortune, acquire a serious disease, and become a shadow of his former self. The Narcissist's grandiosity works against him in this type of coupling, because he has an unquenchable need to win, due to self-worth issues. He won't let himself be one-upped by anyone, but the Borderline is always better at this game than he is. As he cannot tolerate this loss of control, he'll literally fight to the death to maintain it--never realizing what he's losing/giving up, while highly focused on surmounting this challenge.

A Narcissist relentlessly tries to 'crack the code' with his BPD lover, due to long-standing, faulty assumptions about himself he adopted as a boy, when his parents required him to be the perfect child. If he succeeded, he might have received praise. If he failed, their disappointment was palpable, which triggered feelings of shame. This child enters adulthood shaming himself, if ever he senses that he's performed less than perfectly! But what constitutes "perfection," and isn't it always a subjective state of mind?

A Narcissistic perfectionist believes; "If I feel bad in a relationship, it must be my fault." The Borderline believes; "If I feel bad in a relationship, it has to be your fault." This sets up an endless cycle, within which the Borderline rages or retreats--and the Narcissist attempts to fix it by cajoling, pursuing, rescuing, etc., to flee his (childhood) shame of feeling unlovable/neglected.

It's not terribly unusual for two people with borderline traits to engage, and regardless of the psycho-babble you may have read elsewhere, anyone who's actually done any work with borderlines would know this! Still, this coupling presents a highly combustible mix; their respective pathology draws them to each other--but the mutual harm/damage that's sustained by both parties in this type of dynamic is considerable. It should also be noted, that a person involved with a Borderline for even a limited time, will be prone to adopting psychotic (BPD) symptomology, due to proximal exposure. That's why we call their behaviors, "crazy-making."

This same sort of 'mutual dysfunction' principle holds true for two Narcissists who hook-up. Metaphorically, we have two crippled/impaired partners trying to construct a normal life together, when they can barely get around on their own. Each has lived with (core) insecurity and self-loathing for most of their life, due to unresolved infancy and childhood wounds to their sense of Self. You can surely imagine two individuals trying to navigate their environment in wheelchairs, but it could get pretty challenging in cramped quarters.


Core injuries that undermine/derail self-esteem start during infancy, and are reinforced and perpetuated throughout childhood. In the simplest of terms, core disturbance means that the 'hub' of your wheel is broken or damaged in some fashion. When the very center of your being has been compromised, all the spokes which emanate from this point, will be weak and susceptible to breaking under any amount of strain. Core trauma impacts every aspect of our existence. It influences self-worth, and determines how we think about and take care of ourselves, in personal and professional relationships.

The Narcissist usually compensates for core self-worth deficits, with rescuing or fixing compulsions, athletic, scholastic or professional over-achievements, charm/charisma, amassing material wealth, etc. The Borderline compensates for core deficits--but does it with her well-worn ability to seduce, for that is the only arena where she feels any true sense of mastery or self-confidence.

The son of a Borderline is typically attracted to females who echo the traits he saw in his mom or dad--and his boyhood trauma will be resuscitated over and over, with nearly every romantic partnership he forms in adulthood.

Borderlines grew up watching how their mothers behaved around men. They learned how to be adorable and seductive, to manipulate people into giving them what they wanted or needed. In short, they repeatedly observed these tactics being deployed by a masterful teacher, and adopted them.

A Borderline mother is often envious of her child's achievements/successes, and could be flirtatious or seductive with her daughter's romantic interests. She may have no compunctions whatsoever about stealing boyfriends/lovers from her teenage or adult child. Competition with her offspring might begin very early, and acutely influence/derail the father-daughter bond.

A variety of betrayals in childhood have deeply fractured a Borderline's core, and psychic trauma from this period can't help but seriously impact all adult relationship endeavors. Add to this, the imprint from a narcissistic parent is retained, and may be subconsciously sought after in her adult attachments.


Narcissists have built-in grandiosity. This is a defense against their feelings of inadequacy and inferiority, which triggers their compulsion to rescue, fix, teach and train others. They automatically presume to know what others are thinking and feeling, and can come across as absolute authorities on various topics. A Narcissist loves to tell you what you're feeling, rather than asking about it, which can be infuriating for anyone. Borderlines have such a fragile sense of Self to begin with, they'll usually act-out their frustration with the Narcissist's 'Mr. Know-it-all' defenses by retreating or raging. He may regard her as explosive or crazy, but he's the one who's unwittingly lit her fuse. His ongoing need to be in the one-up position and exert control, forms the basis of many conflicts and struggles with this couple. The sad reality is, he has observed these traits in his narcissistic parent, and has emulated them.

A Narcissist lover will more readily trigger his borderline partner's defensive acting-out behaviors, as his engulfment fears and self-involvement catalyze her abandonment concerns. This is a two-sided coin however, as while she's yearning for his attention and affection, she experiences painful sensations that were once confused/entwined with loving an unresponsive parent, and those dramatic feelings are reinvigorated--and equated with love!

Both Borderlines and Narcissists associate Love with painful longing. This is the crux of all those come here/go away (push/pull) cycles with this couple, and a whole lotta country western songs! Love equals pain, and vice-versa.

When their intense craving for love is met, painful sensations they've come to interpret as loving feelings, evaporate. At this point, the Borderline feels bored or annoyed, and pushes away. With healthy/whole partners who need continuity of loving feelings, the Borderline feels emotional claustrophobia, which compels her to disrupt episodes of authentic intimacy between them. The Narcissist responds to his need for distance and autonomy, by selecting unavailable BPD lovers who won't trigger his engulfment fears.

When closeness or engulfment fears become heightened, both NPD and BPD partners can experience anxiety, which prompts their need to draw back. The distance between them eases tension, but a narcissistic perfectionist makes it his fault, and experiences shame. This catalyzes his frantic efforts to win-her-over again. It isn't that he's needing her--he's needing reprieve from his toxic sense of unlovability/unworthiness (shameful remnants from boyhood).

I'm often asked if Borderlines are capable of loving, and this appears to be a very central concern during the course of these relationships--and afterward, when the discarded partner needs to cling to the ideation that they were in fact, truly loved. Borderlines felt pain in relation to longing and striving for their parent's affection throughout childhood--and learned to interpret those difficult/dramatic feelings as Love. Chasing partners who are emotionally or physically unavailable--or married/attached, keeps their yearning alive, and inhibits them from embracing somebody who's actually able to provide love on a consistent basis. Narcissists are similarly attracted to someone who's slightly out of reach, for this eases engulfment concerns (more about this, a bit further down). The search for a partner who's able to magically surmount this issue may continue for a lifetime--as the "right one" never materializes.

It's virtually impossible for the Narcissist to accept that his BPD lover has no real capacity for love, as during the 'good times,' he's felt jubilant, calm and at peace. To begin questioning these feelings, triggers significantly painful inner conflict--for this challenges long-held definitions of love, and what it's supposed to feel like! Attachment difficulties in childhood strongly influence this struggle, as he had no suitable frame of reference in infancy or boyhood for consistent, nourishing attention, mirroring and affection. Any crumbs of nurturance he got from his parents, solidified his sense that he was valued by them--but these episodes were miniscule/brief compared to their neglect or abuse. This early pattern has set the stage for his obsessional attraction to a borderline disordered individual, as he can't painfully yearn for someone who's consistently present and available! It has also impaired his self-worth.

It is critical to accept that if a Borderline partner becomes healthier through core-focused assistance, there will be considerably less chaos and conflict in this coupling, which can prompt sensations of deadness or discontent in the narcissistic partner. He thrives on stimulation (either pleasurable or painful) that triggers feelings of aliveness he can't produce for himself. At this point, he may feel the need to look outside their relationship for more excitement, or behave in ways that create disharmony between them. What this means is, the Borderline is damned if she doesn't get well, and damned if she does, for she may no longer be able to hold her lover's attention.


Early wounds to one's narcissism, breeds narcissistic adults. If a child had to shut down his needs and difficult feelings in order to survive the rigors of his painful childhood experiences, he may have acquired a sense of invincibility, and assumed he could handle anything that came up. This was his defense against feeling vulnerable or fragile. These 'weaker' sensations can often lay dormant for many years, until he joins with a Borderline who reawakens the excruciating anguish he learned to put aside or adjust to as a little kid.

The core shame that's invoked in him during these times, is monumental. He remembers how powerful, in-control and popular he was before he started up with the Borderline and his world began to collapse. He cannot reconcile his current (dispicable) frailty with the entrenched Superman persona he erected in boyhood--and it causes him a deep sense of despair, embarrassment and frustration. Self-worth repair within core trauma work can help him, but it's like 'boot camp' for the soul. Few will make the effort to heal and grow.


A chameleon's coloring will change according to its surrounding environment; this reptile's protective camouflage helps it capture its prey, and hide from natural predators. Borderline personalities are chameleon-like--they'll quickly discern what's important to you, and become that, in the early phase of your relationship. Most of us have been seeking this sort of romantic congruency our entire life. To even get close to finding it, can seem like a miracle! The trouble is, as soon as this guy or gal senses that they've captured you, their normal colors return--and you're dealing with a different sort of creature.

The molting process of reptiles involves shedding their skin to accommodate growth--it's like outgrowing a Tee-shirt you wore as a child. Sadly, personal growth is threatening to Borderlines, and underneath their perfectly adoring veneer is the dark side they've hidden from you, just long enough to get you hooked. Once you're really theirs, this part emerges--and you spend the rest of your time in this dance trying to figure it all out, and reconnect with that person you fell for initially.

I'd watched this happen with a BPD colleague, who married her lover only six months after meeting him. On the eve of their wedding, I'm sure he believed he'd finally found the pot of gold at the end of his rainbow, in this perfectly adoring female. Then it changed, and got pretty ugly. I think she'll kill him.


The Borderline's captivating allure is nearly impossible to ignore--particularly for a man in mid-life. Long term marriages are often destroyed in the midst of affairs with considerably younger women who've enlivened the Narcissist's sense of grandiosity, along with his penis. Erectile dysfunction is generally blamed on the wife of many years--when it's actually just a symptom of pre-existing intimacy issues, that have reached critical mass. I think of ED more as Emotional Dysfunction, than any problems with male physiology. In most instances, this is a psychic/emotional issue--not a physical one.

The narcissistic male places himself in a double-bind, when he attributes his organ's enthusiastic response to the female who's awakened it from a deep slumber. Initially, some magical thinking presumes that she's responsible for his newfound sexual prowess--and as such, they're meant to sail off into the sunset together. Before long though, all this power he assigns to her is a bit intimidating. A Narcissist may need to be needed, but he can't allow himself to need anyone. Sexual dependency on someone brings up deep fears about loss of love and control, and here's where his distancing maneuvers can kick in. This is not consciously held by the Narcissist--it's just an archaic defense mechanism, that helps him maintain his emotional equilibrium.

A healthy, whole woman might be disappointed to miss out on a phone call from her lover the morning after an especially close/loving evening--but the borderline-disordered female interprets the most subtle signs of neglect, as loss of love and affection. Her abandonment fears are instantly triggered. In self-defense, she shuts down, rages or takes herself away. The Borderline's been poised for this to happen anyhow (due to losses in childhood), so she'll imagine abandoning behavior, even when/where it doesn't exist.

Now, the self-protective defenses begin, as neither partner wants to venture too far out on this limb, for fear of falling from their love nest of infatuation. This mutually held anxiety can inhibit genuine expressions of caring from the Narcissist, while triggering frantic, premature declarations of "love" from the Borderline. Like a small child, her emotional responses are unboundaried and irrepressible. The toxic shame that's catalyzed when her impulsivity (in love) isn't reciprocated, is intolerable--so she shames her partner via projections.

Sex may be the glue holding these two together, while their respective need for autonomy is motivated by fear about getting too close. This ambivalence automatically sets off a series of controlling behaviors within each, for being physically and emotionally naked with someone, means feeling too exposed and vulnerable; "what if he/she sees the real me, and leaves?"

Hypersexuality in the Borderline is an intricate issue. On one hand, she uses it to escape her numbness and emptiness. On the other, she believes that she can control lovers in this way. This facet is magnified when there's been incest or sexual molestation during her childhood, because she was made to feel 'special' by accommodating/catering to an adult's prurient appetites. Her self-worth is inextricably linked to performance and will continue--especially with rebound (or auxiliary) lovers who are struck by its exciting novelty. This issue was at one time, referred to as Nymphomania. Sex addiction is fairly common among male and female Borderlines.

Your coupling could be sexually intoxicating--but that's generally because it isn't 'safe' (or possible) to connect in other domains of this relationship. In short, all that energy gets funneled--and flows wherever and however it can. Even fighting can become a couple's only means of connecting.


Narcissistic individuals are frequently People Pleasers, which means they're passive-aggressive. They're more comfortable giving rather than receiving in relationships, which is part of a control issue they adopted during childhood, in response to parental neglect. In couplings, the one who needs the least, is always the one in power--and the Borderline's needs usually far outweigh those of her partner. The Borderline is like a little child when it comes to impulse control and asserting wants/needs, so she's the active partner in this dynamic. The Narcissist has never really felt worthy of having needs, so he suppresses them; he's the passive partner. Somebody must be willing to carry the emotions for this relationship, so that typically falls to the active partner--or the Borderline. She'll keep pushing the envelope until she gets a rise out of her partner. She literally thrives on drama and chaos, but rebels like a three year old, when he takes a stand--even though she requires the containment and comfort that boundaries and limits provide.


A Borderline needs the qualities in you, that are lacking in herself; honesty, dependability, strength of character, etc. She possesses an uncanny ability for finding men who've built stable, flourishing lifestyles (whether married or not), but who have insecurities and self-doubts left over from boyhood. The Borderline methodically goes about finding out where your vulnerabilities are buried; when she discovers what's behind your props, she cleverly uses your weaknesses against you, for her own advancement/gain. Decades ago, these women were referred to as gold-diggers or home-wreckers. The male version was a Gigolo or Casanova who took sexual/emotional advantage of females, and/or robbed them blind.

When a Borderline encounters a successful, charismatic Narcissist, she sees power in him, and security/comfort for herself. Since she has never really felt protected in her world, this male is perceived as her ticket to safety. He may never have felt especially attractive or worthy of attention from a girl who's a real 'traffic stopper'--so he's flattered out of his pants by the Borderline's seductive pursuit. His grandiose false-self has craved this type of attention his whole life--even though he's never felt deserving of it. Thus begins their dance, which replicates an intoxicating pattern that neither can resist.

Based on a Borderline's level of emotional desperation, she may not choose men who've attained significant acclaim, stability or success. Abandonment fears always influence partner selection, and are key to these attractions. Essentially, the greater your need is for this female (sexually, emotionally, psychologically or financially), the more easily she can keep the upper-hand and control you--and it's always about control for the Borderline.

Having been raised by narcissistic people who couldn't respond to her needs for consistent mirroring and affection, the Borderline feels at home when she locates a partner who initially showers her with adoration--but then retreats, or finds fault with her. Girlhood longing for love was associated with pain, so she's programmed to keep striving for that which cannot be satisfied. Each disruption of loving attention reactivates her core despair, so she settles for scraps of love, that echo her early conditioning. A lover who's more available or responsive, doesn't fit this paradigm--or inspire her passionate response.

It's impossible to avoid personalizing the Borderline's abusive behavior--but her rage isn't about you. It's misdirected feelings of disappointment, anger and hurt she's stored for a lifetime--and couldn't express to Mom or Dad.


The narcissistically injured male continually seeks females who can perfectly mirror his attributes and qualities--and whom in some manner, need him. He then gets to assuage his abandonment concerns--but the flip-side of being needed, is being engulfed. The Borderline can initially smother/suffocate her prey with attention that causes him to retreat or distance, because while it's flattering, and mitigates his abandonment fears--it triggers vaguely familiar sensations of engulfment he had to endure in boyhood, with Mother.

His constant challenge then, is staying close without being swallowed-up by the Borderline's needy, clingy, demanding nature. This challenge is lessened of course, by the Borderline's continuous pattern of seduction and retreat. In this way, the Narcissist's fear of engulfment/too much closeness, becomes a non-issue. If he were truly emotionally available, he could not tolerate these erratic (come here/go away) patterns--and would seek a female who is more consistently responsive to him and his needs (past the Honeymoon stage).

If this male's mother had BPD Waif features, he grew up having to meet her needs for attention, mirroring, flattery, emotional soothing, etc. She could have made him her confidant in adult matters--especially concerning issues with his dad. A little boy is overburdened by these complaints, and doesn't relish this role--but at the same time, all this special attention from Mother imbues him with a sense of value/importance--which forms the core of his self-worth. Her awareness of his needs is painfully limited, so he welcomes this 'surrogate husband' job, which (at least) provides vicarious satisfaction. This sets him up for codependent relationships in his adult world, for being needed was his only way of replenishing any viable self-image, and escaping shameful feelings connected to disappointing someone.

Codependency and engulfment concerns resulting from this type of dynamic, are then transferred onto all later attachments. There's an automatic reflex that comes into play with a mother-enmeshed man. Sensations of closeness are entwined with loss of Self. Thus, his inner narrative becomes; "if I get too close to you, I'll have to relinquish too much of me." Commitment has gotten confused with engulfment, which means having to give up important needs and freedoms. Hence, profound control issues have evolved, and he'll only choose females with whom he thinks he can maintain the upper hand. A needy, BPD female perfectly fits this paradigm--at least at the onset. Any man who persistently chooses borderline disordered women, has attachment fears that run as deep as those of the females he's courting.

To contemplate leaving a Borderline presents significant inner struggles, for not only is the Narcissist enmeshed, he's terrified of potential ramifications his departure might catalyze. He's all too familiar with her acute instability, and frightened that she'll either bring great harm to herself--or to him. Some men have described suicide and/or murder threats and attempts, trumped-up domestic violence charges, stalking, vandalism to their property, etc., when they've tried to flee these tormenting relationships. The tragic reality is, it's often easier to remain, than to leave--but this can spawn risks to his health, his livelihood, his family ties, and all other associations. Leaving triggers his guilt as well, which is an old remnant from childhood individuation struggles.


The mother of a Narcissist could make her son feel that he is the center of her universe. He is the Golden Boy who can do no wrong--but only when he's perfectly responsive to her demands and wishes! A couple of problems arise here; she's imbedded and fueled his grandiosity--even though he's unable to discern why he's so "special," but has simultaneously implanted self-esteem issues, which surface when he experiences himself as flawed or imperfect. A borderline lover always reconstitutes this early confusion and wounding, with her push-pull emotional gymnastics. Intermittant episodes of adoration and abandonment revive familiar patterns from boyhood, that he has normalized. This keeps him striving for continuity of love/affection that's unattainable--but uncomfortable/bored with any female who can provide loving constancy.

The Borderline Waif mother makes certain her son knows that she could not survive without him, and that he is the guardian of (both) her pleasure and pain. These early dynamics set him up for very specific relational patterns in adulthood, which have driven him into the arms of needy/clingy Borderlines. On a subconscious level, his valiant efforts to save her and fortify self-worth (despite all her loving/rejecting behaviors), replicate his boyhood blueprint for attachment.

If a male was raised by a Queen or Witch-type Borderline, he'll be drawn to women with similar traits or characteristics, who will retraumatize him. It's also possible that he might select a female who's relatively devoid of those features, and with whom he can access more empowerment and autonomy, than he could as a child. These needs can propel him toward someone with waif traits--but even the Waif must exert control over her partners.

Men raised by borderline disordered mothers frequently adopt and retain BPD features, due to an inability to trust and forge close, intimate bonds during boyhood. This has them persistently choosing relationships with women who are poorly equipped to meet their needs for connection and closeness--and turning away from those who are able to offer genuine love and care. They might fantasize that a female will come along who can magically break down their attachment avoidance--but this fantasy won't be realized, unless they get solid (core) help. Even then, their defenses could remain entrenched and implacable.

Narcissistic males generally cannot commit to esteem-building work, unless their 'props' have vanished--meaning, they've lost their fortunes and good health, after involvement with a Borderline. At this point, their defenses are lowered, and we have a chance to construct a Man from a broken little boy.

Solid inner work can invoke feelings of needing the therapist, which instantly produce anxiety. This catalyzes his reflex to sabotage that relationship with 'tests' he suspects may result in abandonment. If this occurs, his entrenched belief that anyone who could have value/importance to him will let him down or leave, becomes prophesy fulfillment. Sadly, this reflex keeps real love at bay--and he'll continue to dabble with Borderlines (and clinicians) who have no actual capacity to meet his vital emotional needs.


A Borderline's needs were severely neglected in infancy and childhood, which left her with painful self-worth issues. She may have only received praise for her looks, or being the "perfect" little girl, and this became the basis of her self-esteem. Sadly, her mother may have been envious of the attention she got, and jealous of the connection she shared with her father--or any male, for that matter. Thus began a steady erosion of her sense of Self, especially when it threatened the mother's sense of worth. Borderline mothers usually detest other females. First, they view them as threats--and second, there's such primal rage left over from infancy (with Mom), this hatred is transferred onto all other women. For the Borderline, even minor disappointments can mean fatal ruptures to solid, nourishing relationships of any type.

I saw a TV advertisement one day, for a 'Little Miss Perfect' beauty pageant. I must tell you, I felt nauseated and heartsick at seeing these little girls in adult costumes and full makeup, and I thought; these are the Borderlines of tomorrow! We're aghast when one of these children is abducted, raped and killed--but in my view, a society that sanctions these contests is demented.

The Borderline's perfectionism can drive endless plastic surgery procedures, which may begin earlier, rather than later in life. Her inner pain, emptiness and self-loathing dramatically distort how she views her physical being--and she believes that if she fixes all her (imagined) external flaws, she can feel happy and lovable. She could also invest in body ornamentation like tattoos, piercings, jeweled implants, etc., that temporarily ease her self-hatred and dysphoria. An endorphin rush is triggered by these painful procedures, which is part of their appeal--very much like self-cutting or burning, distracts from (and temporarily assuages) emotional anguish.

Extreme, unresolved rage issues toward Mother, can catalyze a Borderline's detachment from any/all aspects of femininity within the Self, and spawn bi-or homosexuality, transvestism or transgenderism and sexual reassignment surgeries. She may continue searching for an external solution to her despair and dissatisfaction--but happiness is an inside job. With each attachment to a new female, her hope for healing the mother-wound is revived. Sadly, few partners are equipped to provide this soothing, and a Borderline will usually triangulate relationships with partners who are--for an available/responsive lover doesn't trigger dramatically intense sensations associated with longing for a parent's love, that was unrequited or undersatisfied.

The Borderline continuously searches for affection, acceptance and approval, due to extreme deficits in childhood. Her needs for closeness and emotional safety overwhelm her--but while she might seek these elements in a male, she's really looking to mend her primal wounds from infancy. These profound needs are displaced onto romantic partners--but as she begins to feel that they can actually be responded to, deeply entrenched abandonment terror is invoked. This reaction is automatic and reflexive--and so is her retreat. Does this perpetual no-win cycle ever end? Not without specialized recovery work.


To their partner, the Borderline's behaviors seem counterintuitive, and I get questions about this all the time; "If they're so afraid of abandonment, why do they push people away?" Here's my analogy: If you've chosen never to go through a divorce because you've seen the destruction it's wreaked in others lives--wouldn't you have to avoid getting married? The Borderline is terrified of abandonment. He/she doesn't allow themselves to attach, for fear of the annihilating pain that could follow if they do! You will never change this.

The Borderline will punish/deride you for failing to love her well enough--but she'll push you away, the instant that you do! Quite literally, you're damned when you adore the Borderline, and damned when you don't. This is totally confounding, and leaves you with a sense of hopeless longing for that which cannot be gratified. This lack of grounding (in love) is highly toxic to you.

When you've grown up gaining a sense of worth from being the perfect child or accommodating a parent's needs, and backing that up with rescuing/fixing impulses in adulthood, you're pretty confident you'll turn this deal around--if you just keep working at it! If you can just stabilize your partner, all will be right in your world. After all, you've accomplished other great feats, and this will prove no different, right? Wrong. This is your narcissistic injury talking, and it's needing to be healed. Core issues that are not resolved, are doomed to keep repeating.

By Shari Schreiber, M.A.