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Violence as a Defense Against Intimacy - Part One
History is replete with evidence that aggression, leading to acts of violence and assassinations, has always been part of the human experience. As weaponry becomes ever more destructive to even larger populations than possible in the past, there is an urgency to better understand and modify our propensity toward violence. Early Freudian concepts focused on two human drives: aggression and sexuality. A sophisticated psychology of sexuality was developed but one for aggression was left wanting....

Violence as a Defense Against Intimacy - Part Three Leaders and Assassination
The political arena characterizes the recapitulation of the earliest developmental state in an individuals psychological growth. It demands clear-cut differentiations between candidates and their parties. Emphasis is not upon similarities but differences, which can be artificially judged as all good us and all bad them. This infantile need for such a dichotomy makes the bad, meaning the other, a threat engendering fear. Of course, the reality is that reasonable positions are far closer...

Violence as a Defense Against Intimacy - Part Two I was Alone
Martin Niemoller, a Lutheran pastor in Nazi Germany, said, When they came for the Jews, I did nothing, for I am not a Jew. When they came for the Socialists, I did nothing, for I am not a Socialist. When they came for the labor leaders, the homosexuals, the gypsies, I did nothing for I am none of these, and when they came for me, I was alone, and there was no one to stand up for me. The U.S. Census form lists 15 ethnic categories with three additional write in spaces if one does not identify...

Violence as a Defense Against Intimacy - Part Four
Rioting and Civil Rights Movements The murders of civil rights workers and leaders, most especially those of Medger Evers and Dr. Martin Luther King, further illustrate this thesis explored in part three, Dr. Kings fervent policy of non-violence is dangerous to both black and white society because what is emotionally perceived is not non-violence, but non-alienation. And frightened segregationists mobilized their resistance. Covertly within the non-violent movement there also develops a...

My Family Is Me: I Am My Family - Part Four
Obviously, in the kind of pressure-filled society in which we live, all families are subjected to stresses and problems requiring a high degree of flexible adaptability in order to mobilize emotional resources for the maintenance of meaningful interactions. There are danger signals that can alert the family to potential trouble including: 1. False togetherness ' A tendency to promote intimacy and affection not for its genuine value of developing warmth, trust, and co-operation, but to cover...

My Family Is Me: I Am My Family - Part Two
Copyright (c) 2010 Sheldon Kardener Let us look at some interesting studies done with monkeys. Those who had as their only companions and mother-surrogates a warm, shaggy, cuddly, always available, stuffed doll at first looked as though they did all right. But then they were followed into maturation and studied further upon reintroduction into a more normal captive monkey colony. It was found that they did not get along with the group; there was a lack of normal or adequate sexual...

My Family Is Me: I Am My Family - Part One
Copyright (c) 2010 Sheldon Kardener Until the latter part of the 19th century, science did not dare look at the family. Witness the laws on child-beating. Society acted 100 odd years ago to prevent cruelty to animals - one had best not beat or mistreat them - but struggled to assure a similar protection for children. There was a logical reason for this glaring oversight. The family and its individual integrity were sanctioned by religion and tradition. The home was, and is, in the final...

My Family Is Me: I Am My Family - Part Three
Copyright (c) 2010 Sheldon Kardener Since the family is a system, everyones behavior influences, and is influenced by, every one elses behavior. Much to the painful surprise of some parents, their children display what they did not know or recognize in themselves. Children may take over from their parents what was repressed deep in the unconscious or expressed only in complex, neurotic ways. This is what is most feared - that the child will expose the parents faults, forcing them to defend...

Copyright (c) 2010 Sheldon Kardener To benefit from reflecting on past behaviors, we must avoid the trap of self-recrimination I was so dumb to have done that. Recriminations serve only to perpetuate problems, locking us in a self-negating loop. Establishing an environment of self-acceptance, self-reflection, and understanding enables us to grow. I am, after all, human, and humans do make mistakes. Acceptance of the self while examining adverse behaviors is one of the keystone benefits in...

No Initial Mistakes
Copyright (c) 2010 Sheldon Kardener An important corollary regarding the actions we take, and the decisions we make, deserves special emphasis: Whatever a person does at any one time is exactly the right thing to do, in that persons mind, or he would not have chosen to engage in that specific behavior at that time. This may seem paradoxical and philosophically difficult to recognize. A simple example will illustrate the point. It is the middle of the night and the streets are empty. You...

A Guide for Listening
Copyright (c) 2010 Sheldon Kardener When the listener finds expressed feelings painful and difficult to hear, he often steps in and tries to negate the feelings. Oh, you do not have to feel that way. It is silly for you to feel that. How could you possibly feel that? Your feelings make no sense. This may even represent a well-intentioned attempt to solve the other persons problem and make him feel better, or it may be an effort to avoid feeling uncomfortable oneself. In any relationship,...

Accepting Loss
Copyright (c) 2010 Sheldon Kardener The natural rhythms of life between the constants of birth and death involve change, the third constant. In the face of change, our ability to adapt determines how we emotionally approach lifes seasons and new situations. One part of us tries to keep change at bay, which can lead to conflict if we no longer desire what we attempt to preserve. Then, avoiding the dreaded feelings of hopelessness and helplessness dictate our actions. Another part of us...

The Impact of Deprivation
Copyright (c) 2010 Sheldon Kardener An infant without an emotional bond with a caretaker cannot survive. In the 13th century, King Frederick II of Sicily wanted to know what language humans would speak if they were allowed to develop that language on their own without hearing any other. Would it be an ancient language, contemporary one, or that of the parents? He ordered nurses caring for a group of infants not to speak to them. Of course, prohibiting verbal engagement led the nurses to...

Good Enough Will Do
Copyright (c) 2010 Sheldon Kardener No connection means no survival. Does this mean that we must have a perfect connection in order to survive and thrive? No. That would require having perfect parents, and there are no perfect parents. Not only that, there are no parents who were not once children themselves. I will return to this point when discussing the impact of our unique familial experiences. Donald Winnicott succinctly said that what we require is good enough parenting. Such parenting...

Four Stages in Therapy
Copyright (c) 2010 Sheldon Kardener In addition to the four general components of all therapies described earlier, I have formulated a specific methodology, also divided into four stages, which I find especially useful when working with couples. Together, we explore the name of the game that perpetuates their conflicts, how the game is played, that is, kept going, and how to quit the game and replace it with something new and different. This approach gives the couple a broad outline of where...

Courage to Change
Copyright (c) 2010 Sheldon Kardener When we are unhappy with our circumstances, we often speak enthusiastically of the importance of change. Realizing that this entails giving up unresolved Needs, we try to have change on the one hand without doing anything different on the other. Therein lies the essence of conflict in the process of change: The Adult, wanting change, runs into the tenacity of the child needing nothing to be different. The tension between these two states generates both the...

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