Inside the Head of an Abusive Man

Abusiveness is not a product of a man’s emotional injuries or of deficits in his skills. In reality, abuse springs from a man’s early cultural training, his key male role models, and his peer influences. In other words, abuse is a problem of values, not of psychology.                ~ Lundy Bancroft

Contrary to popular belief, abusive men are typically not clinically mentally ill, deranged, or have so-called personality disorders (Narcissistic, Antisocial, etc.). Instead, they simply believe that their behaviors are perfectly OK and justified. In this article, we look at the beliefs the abusive man has, his mentality you might say, and offer you an opportunity to gain some perspective about someone you might know (husband, father, grandfather, son, son-in-law, brother, brother-in-law, boss, priest, minister, President of the United States, etc.). Continue reading

The Man Code: What Is and What Could Be

Abstractions and programs about gender always miss the mark, because gender, genuine and full of blood, can never be separated in real life from individuality.

~ Thomas Moore

Most boys in our culture, somewhere around three to seven years old, have imposed upon them something called the “Boy Code.” In its shortest form, it reads as follows: “Don’t be a girl.” Later in life, this evolves into the “Man Code” (also called Male Code or Male Agenda or Guy Code), essentially “Don’t be a woman.” There’s a bit more to it, which I’ll get into, but you get the idea. Both codes involve a so-called “negative achievement,” in each case a rejection and renunciation (as well as devaluing) of what our dominant culture deems as feminine.

Below, after some review of the situation and the damage that’s being done, I propose a new, improved Man Code. This new code does no damage, actually leads to psychological health, and does not require boys and men (or anyone else for that matter) to go through life constantly trying to prove a negative (which is impossible).

Continue reading

The Patriarchy and Me: We’ve Agreed to See Other People

In order to lead men and women into happiness and intimacy — intimacy with others and really a good relationship inside your skin as well — we have to lead men and women out of patriarchy, because the old rules were not built for intimacy and happiness.                                ~ Terence Real

It’s been a long and rocky relationship between me and the Patriarchy, starting way back in the mid-fifties, when I was about three years old. Like many relationships, it’s been on again/off again. It’s worked for me in some ways. In other ways, it’s caused great pain. We’ve tried to make it work, but at long last I’ve discovered that my motivation to continue is just not there. It’s time to say goodbye. While I’ll probably keep in touch with that part of me, we’ve finally agreed to see other people, other parts of me. While the Patriarchy is probably not happy, I know that I am. This is where I want to be.

Continue reading

Ask Your Doctor If Couples Counseling is Right for You! – Part 2

Attempting to address abuse through couples therapy is like wrenching a nut the wrong way. It just gets harder to undo than it was before. ~ Lundy Bancroft

This is the second article exploring the appropriateness of couples counseling in various situations. See the first article here. In this article, we explore the situation where one of the partners treats the other partner very badly, disrespects the other, bullies or intimidates or otherwise tries to control them, and doesn’t consider the other partner’s opinion worth taking seriously. If you guessed that couples counseling can do little or nothing (and may actually be harmful) in these cases, you guessed right. Let’s look at this situation more closely, then explore some alternative options.

Continue reading

Ask Your Doctor if Couples Counseling is Right for You! – Part 1

Take time for all things: great haste makes great waste.                                                  ~ Benjamin Franklin

Have you been feeling “not-exactly-happy” with your relationship lately? Do you and your relationship partner have “communication problems?” Do you or your partner have “one foot out the door?” Are you wondering whether getting a second opinion from a professional might be in order? This article explores some things to think about before making that step. The idea here is to set your expectations, open your eyes before going in, and give your efforts, should you decide to go for it, the best chance they can have.

Continue reading

Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda: Three Places You Don’t Need to Go

Do the best you can until you know better. Then, when you know better, do better.         ~ Maya Angelou

So, you’re going along in your therapy process and many light bulbs start to go off. You now realize so much more about what’s been happening around you that you never realized before, how your own well-intentioned actions have worked against you, or how your or your family’s version of “normal” was anything but healthy. All well and good.

BUT, you now start to beat yourself up about this. “I coulda spent these last 25 years living such a different life. It woulda been so much better for me. I shoulda known what to do. Why did I DO that?” Another wave of depression sets in as you contemplate what coulda been if you only knew then what you know now. Well, I’m here to tell you: You don’t need to go there! Continue reading

Seven Things I Learned During 21 Years in Corporate America

Excellent firms don’t believe in excellence – only in constant improvement and constant change.                   ~ Tom Peters

The bad news is that it only took me 21 years to figure out that I didn’t really belong in Corporate America. The good news is that I can now apply many things I learned during that time to help me better do the work of a clinical psychologist today. Admittedly, Corporate America has its good, its bad, and its ugly, just like anything else. Here I focus on the good and how I incorporate that good into my practice so that you can benefit. Continue reading

Making 1 + 1 Equal More Than Two in a Relationship

There are two questions that we have to ask ourselves. The first is “Where am I going?” and the second is “Who will go with me?” If you ever get these questions in the wrong order, you are in trouble.                            ~ Howard Thurman

For all you romantics out there, the equation 1 + 1 = 1 probably sounds familiar to you. You’ve come together (or want to) with a special person who “completes” you. You and they become “as one.” And certainly “love is blind” at that point. This can feel incredible for the first part of your relationship, and you find yourself not wanting to spend any time apart. Often, this leads to “taking it to another level,” possibly even marriage, or some other intended lifetime commitment. Then, after a while, something happens. You wake up one morning and begin to ask yourself, “Where did I go?” If this is happening to you, let’s find out where you went and, more importantly, how to get you back. Continue reading

Ask Your Doctor If a Button-ectomy is Right for You!

You have to learn to get rid of the buttons instead of the button pushers.                         ~ Yogi Amrit Desai 

Our parents, our children, our spouses, and our friends will continue to press every button we have, until we realize what it is that we don’t want to know about ourselves, yet. They will point us to our freedom every time.                                                             ~  Byron Katie

I often talk to clients about getting rid of their hot buttons, rather than getting rid of the people who push those buttons. Imagine life without buttons, where nothing triggers your stress and you’re able to stay conscious and in your “thinking” brain rather than your “emotional” or “survival” brain. To some, this might seem unimaginable, boring, or unromantic. Whenever I am able to do this, however, I find it quite exhilarating and freeing. Try it on for size and see what you experience. Continue reading

I Am Only Here Because YOU Think There is a Problem

What would happen if you stopped looking for solutions and check to see if there was actually a problem?   ~ Jeff Foster

More and more, I have people coming to me believing that they have a problem when they only think they do. Maybe they’ve lived their life being told by others that they are not good enough, need to shape up or get with the program, are too sad, too anxious, too happy, too calm, too fast, too slow, too distracted, or whatever. What if they were actually doing a great job of being “perfectly themselves?” What if they’ve only been led to believe there is a problem by others who are different from them and therefore find fault in them? If everyone realized this, I’d be out of a job. So, shhh! Continue reading