Aug 06 2016

Relaxation Script

Relaxation Script

Prepare to relax by finding a comfortable place where you won’t be disturbed for 20-30 minutes…loosen any tight or restrictive clothing and remember relaxation is something that happens all by itself if you let it…

and learning to allow relax is allowing relaxation to happen…no one really knows exactly how you relax, but as you think relaxing thoughts, your body responds by letting go…

we don’t really know how you walk, talk, ore scratch your head…you just decide to do these things and your body responds…in the same way your body responds to your decision to let go and relax…

as you learn to relax, please don’t concern yourself with how quickly you are relaxing or whether you are relaxing deeply enough…

you will find, as you practice relaxation, that at different times, you will relax at different rates…sometimes relaxation will occur slowly and subtly…

other times you will relax very deeply, very quickly…

and it really doesn’t matter how you relax at this time, just that you notice how relaxation feels to you when it does occur..

as you begin to let go and begin to notice the sensations of relaxation you have …

that learning to relax is learning to allow relaxation to happen. Your body knows how to relax and as you begin to breathe more deeply, relax your muscles, and use peaceful imagery you will be able to relax, feel more comfortable, and manage challenges more easily.

just allow the intelligence of your body and mind guide you…

Start by finding a spot furthest away from where you are and stare at it. You will notice your eyes becoming slightly tired, they may begin to blink, signaling you are ready to close your eyes and move from your external focus to an internal focus.

Begin to relax more deeply by taking 3 deep, slow breaths.

As you inhale, let that “in” breath be associated with fresh air, peacefulness and relaxation.

As you exhale, let that “out” breath be associated with the release of any unnecessary stress and tension.

As you breath more deeply, allow the muscles in your body to also more deeply relax. Begin with the muscles in your feet and legs, take a deep breath and as you “let go”, allow the muscles in your feet and legs to more deeply relax.

Then the muscles in your stomach and chest…lower back and upper back…arms and hands…neck and shoulders…face and even the muscles around your tongue…allow those muscles to more deeply relax.As you find your body becoming more relaxed, you may notice that your mind is also becoming more quiet, calm and still.

Take a few moments and enjoy this comfortable feeling in your mind and body.

Relaxation is something you learn to do and the more you do it, the easier it becomes…

In order to deepen your level of relaxation, allow an image of a staircase with 10 stairs come into your mind. Notice what the staircase looks like, whether it is wooden or steel, spiral or straight, indoors or outdoors…

Imagine that as you step down each stair, you are stepping into a deeper and deeper level of relaxation. Count backwards from 10 to 1, and when you get to 1 imagine stepping off the stair into a peaceful place, maybe your favorite vacation place or an imaginary beach, woods, or by a pond, whatever comes to your mind… just allow yourself to go there…

So begin to count backwards to yourself from 10…9…8…deeper and deeper…7…6…5…4…3…2…and 1.

Now, allow an image to form in your mind of that safe and beautiful place and just be there…notice what you can see, hear, feel, and smell in that peaceful place…enjoy being there and stay as long as you want…as you allow yourself to become more and more deeply relaxed…

Continue to breathe deeply and comfortably. When you are ready to come back, start to open your eyes, notice the increased light against your eyes and any sounds in the room. Stretch your muscles. Come back refreshed, relaxed and feeling better than before.

When you wake up, write or draw about your relaxation experience and the peaceful place you imagined. Allow yourself to explore any of this experience that you want.

From Guided Imagery for Self-Healing, by Marty Rossman (2000)

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Aug 06 2016

John Gottman Relationship Scales: Evaluate Your Relationship Here

If you are interested in thinking about the strengths and vulnerabilities of your relationship, here is a survey for you to explore.

1.    Staying emotionally connected ___, or becoming emotionally distant___

Check all items below:

  • Just simply talking to one another.     Not a problem___     A problem___

  • Staying emotionally in touch with each other.   Not a problem___     A problem___

  • Feeling taken for granted?    Not a problem___     A problem___

  • Don’t feel like my partner knows me very well right now.  Not a problem___A problem___

  • Partner is (or I am) emotionally disengaged.         Not a problem___     A problem___

  • Spending time together.   Not a problem___     A problem___

2.    Handling  job and other stresses effectively____, or experiencing the “spill over” of non-relationship issues

Check all items below:

  • Helping each other reduce daily stresses     Not a problem___     A problem___
  •     Talking about these stresses together    Not a problem___     A problem___
  • Talking together about stress in a helpful manner   Not a problem___     A problem___
  • Partner listening with understanding about my stresses and worries  Not a problem___     A problem___
  • Partner takes job or other stresses out on me   Not a problem___     A problem___
  • Partner takes job stresses out on the children or others in our life   Not a problem___     A problem___

3.    Handling issues or disagreements well ___, or gridlocking on one or more issues____

Check all items below:

  • Differences  have arisen between us that seem very basic   Not a problem___     A problem___

  • These differences seem unresolvable    Not a problem___     A problem___

  • We are living day to day with hurts      Not a problem___     A problem___

  • Our positions are getting entrenched     Not a problem___     A problem___

  • It looks like I will never get what I hoped for    Not a problem___     A problem___

  • I am very worried that these issues may damage our relationship   Not a problem___     A problem___

_

4. The marriage is romantic and passionate___, or the it is becoming passionless; the fire has gone out____

Check all the items below:

  • My partner has stopped being verbally affectionate.     Not a problem___    A problem___

  • My partner expresses love and admiration less frequently.  Not a problem___ A problem___

  • We rarely touch each other.  Not a problem___     A problem___

  • My partner (or I) have stoped feeling very romantic. Not a problem___ A problem___

  • We rarely cuddle.   Not a problem___ A problem___

  • We have few tender or passionate moments.       Not a problem___ A problem___

5.    Our sex life is fine_____, or there are problems in this area____

Check all the items below:

  • The frequency of sex.        Not a problem___ A problem___

  • The satisfaction I or my partner get from sex.     Not a problem___ A problem___

  • Being able to talk about sexual problems.    Not a problem___ A problem___

  • The two of us wanting different things sexually.   Not a problem___ A problem___

  • Problems of desire.     Not a problem___ A problem___

  • The amount of love in our lovemaking.    Not a problem___ A problem___

6. An important event (like the birth of a child, job loss, changes in job, or residence, an illness, the death of a loved one) has occurred in our lives_____. The relationship is dealing with this well____, or it is not___.

Check all items below:

  • We have very different points of view on how to handle things.

  • This event has led my partner to be very distant.

  • This event has made us both irritable.

  • This event has led to a lot of fighting.

  • I’m worried about how this will turn out.

  • We are now taking up very different positions.

7. Major issues about children have arisen (this could be about whether or not to have a child).____ The relationship is handling these well_____, or it is not_____.

Check all items below:

  • We have very different points of view on goals for the children.

  • We have different positions on what to discipline the children for.

  • We have different positions on how to discipline the children.

  • We have issues about how to be close to our children.

  • We are not talking about these issues very well.

  • There is a lot of tension or anger about these issues.

 

8. Major issues or events have arisen about in-laws, a relative, or relatives._____The relationship is handling these well_____, or it is not_____.

Check all items below:

  • I feel unaccepted by my partner’s family.

  • I sometimes wonder which family my partner is in.

  • I feel unaccepted by my own family.

  • There is tension between us and what might happen.

  • This issue has generated a lot of irritability.

  • I am worried about how this is going to turn out.

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Aug 02 2016

Personal Growth Weekends: They Can be Great, But Look Before You Leap

How can you tell you might be going to a personal growth program?

It’s easy. In the marketing materials you will find words like transformation, breakthrough, shadow, initiation, healing, a big price tag (usually over $600), and so forth.

One of your friends, family, or in some cases, therapist or coach will also be the one to “invite” you to  “a weekend.”

There are many psychotherapists in the Chicago area who are familiar with personal growth workshops and may have referred many of their clients.

I think it can be assumed the vast majority of people who attend these programs benefit, some tremendously.

It’s probably safe to say there are 3 camps when it comes to these programs:

  • ·         Often the most enthusiastic are the ones who love the experience and claim it has changed their lives for the better.
  • ·         The ones who give it some credit, but are not likely to repeat their experience.
  • ·         This is the usually very quiet group, but when asked “trash” the experience. A few of this third group file complaints and lawsuits.

However, when people feel harmed or are injured or killed, it’s a very different story. While it may seem negative to raise these issues the facts remain individuals with pre-existing medical and mental health issues may be ill-advised to participate in these programs.

A quick view of the research offers multiple examples of serious negative outcomes for participants of these experiences. These include:

  • ·         The 3 deaths and injuries of participants of a James Arthur Ray program (Stroud, 2015)
  • ·         Reports of psychotic episodes after the Landmark Forum (Glass LL, 1977)
  • ·         Report of a suicide after a Mankind Program weekend (Wikipedia, Mankind Project, 2016)

Obviously, these are very serious problems, and any family member or friend would be concerned and upset by these occurrences.

Some programs I have experience with are the Mankind Project’s New Warrior Training Adventure and the Victories of the Heart. I have staffed both weekends and became a leader of the Victories of the Heart Breakthrough weekend and helped to create the Victories psychodrama training program.

Our leader team instituted an evaluation process and always scored about 4.7 on a 5 point scale. The comments of the participants were enthusiastic and inspiring. Life-changing was the common theme. Aside from the huge burden of responsibility, it was an incredible experience to share in such momentous work with these men.

The Breakthrough weekend was the brainchild of Bob Mark, PhD and the late Buddy Portugal, LCSW. It’s brilliantly conceived with a wonderful balance of engaging men in a process of deep personal exploration. Science helps us understand now that because of the unique way trauma memory is stored, humans need to feel safe in order for that memory to be accessed. (Van der Kolk B. , 2014)

I had some truly wonderful experiences working in the leader team we created. Many of those guys are now in leadership positions in Victories and have made many, many positive changes.  I also like many of the workshops offered via the MKP men’s centers all over the globe.

Not everything about these two local programs (MKP has a center in Chicago but is an international program) is perfect and MKP has had its share of controversial moments, complaints, deaths, and a few lawsuits.

What were the influences of Victorie,  MKP and other similar programs evolve?

It’s surprising in a way that more leaders and stakeholders of these organizations have not studied the historical connections to other similar programs.

In the social science literature, these programs are referred to as large group awareness trainings (LGATs). (Wikipedia, LGATs, 2016)

LGATs evolved out of the Human Potential Movement (HPM) and the New Age Movement (NAM) in the 1960’s and 1970’s. They shared similar goals in helping people increase self-awareness and become more empowered in the world, but had significant differences.

Suzanne Snider in her excellent article, est, Wernard Erhardt and the Corporitization of Self-Awareness, states:

“the HPM  and NAM movements diverged philosophically when it came to attributing the source of human experience. The HPM (think Werner Erhard or L. Ron Hubbard) credited/blamed each individual as the sole determiner of his or her own experiences, whereas NAM (think Shirley MacLaine, but please think well of her) explored spiritual, metaphysical, and extraterrestrial realms as forces guiding and even determining a person’s life.” (Snider, 2003)

Suzanne’s article is a fascinating review of this history and anyone interested in these issues will benefit from starting with this article.

So, LGATs started with lofty goals of increasing self-awareness and personal success and the methods were a mixture of many common psychological techniques, like guided imagery, self-hypnosis, meditation, group process, and more unorthodox methods, like enforced no-bathroom use for long periods of time (people apparently wet their pants) and verbal abuse.

Suzanne goes on to say:

“the Human Potential Movement (programs) engaged in far less soothing awareness-training sessions, filled with screaming and crying and verbal abuse. HPM groups such as Lifespring, Mind Dynamics, and est aimed (often in competition with one another) to goad us into more fully realized versions of ourselves…”

I never experienced any of these LGATs, though my wife attended the Landmark Forum here in Chicago and encouraged me to attend a orientation session. It was a fail, as the young woman leading the event seemed barely out of college and her diagrams on the blackboard left me pretty confused.

But those early LGAT sessions had to be pretty memorable. For me and any of my Catholic school friends, the idea of someone standing in the front of the room verbally abusing us is pretty easy to imagine. We experienced that all the time.

Most of these early HPM programs were motivated by profits and there was a lot to be made. Over time, modifications were made, like est became Landmark Forum and continues to this day to offer programs which many find very helpful. Wikipedia reports there may be as many as 2.4 million graduates of Landmark Forum programs. (Wikipedia, Landmark Worldwide, 2016)

One has to admit there is something happening in Landmark which people find meaningful. In fact, the Landmark website features an endorsement from Alan Menken, 8-time Academy Award Winning Composer who says:

“This is basic training for the mind, the heart and the soul. It is the most positive transforming experience I’ve ever been a part of.”

There are other celebrity graduates of Landmark who offer a boost in testimonial value to the organization. No doubt, Landmark Forum, the direct descendent of est is mainstream now and boasts millions in revenue yearly.

Landmark is only one of the LGATs reviewed in the literature both from the point of view of success and failure. A law firm defending Rick Ross of the Cult Awareness Network wrote a an excellent review of the litigation involving Landmark’s attempts to quiet it’s critics. (Skolnik, 2006)

It’s quite a read and shows clearly an organization with a lot of money and attorneys can make people’s lives miserable they deem harmful to their image/brand.

When you consider the effort to silence critics of LGATs, you begin to question Suzanne Snider’s definition of the HMP movement as:

“well-meaning… a movement which put a premium on human possibility, with an emphasis on the spiritual side of humanity.” (Snider, 2003)

One wonders why programs which claim to do such good in the world would need to be so harsh in their effort to squash people’s First Amendment rights. I guess one reason is because they can.

What are the characteristics of LGATs?

The four main characteristics include the following:

  • creation of an altered state of awarenes
  • catharsis or the intense expression of emotions
  • rebirthing or some exercise leading to a sense of new beginnings
  • recruitment

It’s been fascinating to me that many people involved in leadership of these programs have not understood the historical influences of other LGATs or even the underlying structure and processes of these programs.  Social scientists have been studying LGATs for decades and there is a lot of interesting literature out there.

Mind Dynamics started in 1968 and is widely understood to be one of the first, and perhaps, most influential LGAT, leading directly to the creation of EST or Erhard Seminar Trainings, which then led to the Landmark Forum operated by Landmark Education. A second LGAT evolving from Mind dynamics was Lifesprings Seminars.

Writers suggest Mind Dynamics and it’s owner were influenced by Edgar Cayce, Theosophy, Silva Mind Control and Curtiss’ Depression is a Choice. (Edgar Cayce, 2016) (Theosophy, 2016) (Curtiss, 2016). I’m providing links here for anyone to read more about these early influences on LGATs. It wasn’t all pretty and Mind Dynamics was sued for false advertising and forced to cease operations in the early 1970’s.

Most of the smaller Chicago based programs have been influenced greatly by the Mankind Project’s success. Imitation is flattery and I know the MKP guys welcome other programs learning from them and moving on to create other programs. MKP has been an incubator for leadership, healing & recovery, and global change. With men’s centers in many parts of the world, they bring the opportunity for health and well-being to tens of thousands of men and their families, especially through their skillful use of psychodrama.

One example of this influence is my own participation at psychodrama training workshops sponsored by MKP or men associate with MKP, like David Karr. I thought it was a great learning experience for me. When I began to work with my leader partner, Kurt Schultz, in the Victories Breakthrough weekend, it was apparent we had to develop a conceptual map about leading psychodrama. Kurt was very good at it, but I was not and needed to do catch-up. I had been trying to study psychodrama and MKP offered the only way to do so at the time.

Our work there with the other participants was very helpful and enabled us to continue to work with the informal team of guys at Victories to develop a cohesive way of teaching and facilitating psychodrama. I credit my relationship with Kurt Schultz and the other guys for their ability to collaborate in what was a transformative step in the history of volunteer training in Victories. Many of those men are now leaders and Board members/stakeholders in the organization. I am very proud of this accomplishment.

For some reason, keeping processes secret has been important to LGATs. A lawsuit against MKP several years ago led to more transparency on the website where prospective participants can learn more about what actually happens. Victories has also increased their transparency with their Breakthrough and Wisdom years weekend website descriptions, yet keeps their shadow weekend processes more secretive. This secretive process is one reason I have been so critical of the Victories Shadow weekend over the years.

Victories seems to be increasing the transparency of the Shadow weekend, as their website now offers more detailed testimonials from participants which really offers insights into the experience. I was very impressed by what I read and could tell these men had a meaningful experience which might even be called life-changing. I helped staff one of the first Shadow weekends and did not have a good experience. Like all bad experiences, this was imprinted more powerfully in my memory system, so it’s been difficult for me to change my opinions.

Victories also had an open, free meeting to learn more about the Shadow weekend, probably an experiential program just a few weeks ago. I would have actually gone to this and will watch for another opportunity. I am fascinated by the impact of personal growth weekends and can only discuss what I know or can learn from reading or experiencing.

I swore I would never go to another Shadow weekend,  but I would really love to know the ways in which it’s been improved. I’ve been assured it’s been redesigned and believe the people who have told me this. I have always been against the keeping stuff secret, but in this case, I really believe the Shadow weekend’s viability as a program has been damaged. I have been privately and publically critical, but several problems existed which made it difficult, and for me, impossible to refer men.

Although the leaders of this program had decades to create enthusiasm, the program is offered, at best, once a year. By any marketing standards, it has not been successful and it really could have been. The conceptual material is there and the leaders have been some of the most popular, intelligent and charismatic leaders in the organization.

Ironically, I think the growth of non-therapists as Board members, stakeholders, and program leaders has been helpful to Victories. These non-therapists guys I know are really bright and successful men in their own professions. The most brilliant example of this is Kurt Schultz who I was lucky to have mentor me and enable me to stretch into a leadership role in the Breakthrough weekend.

Kurt was one of the most powerful lawyers in the country, placed in the top 5 of his graduating law school class, was a veteran (when other men were seeking deferments), and dedicated himself to public service as a Board member at various Chicago social service agencies. Kurt was a successful, wealthy man who I knew helped others financially almost whenever he was asked. He was certainly generous in his contributions to needy causes.

To absolutely anyone who has been involved with Victories, Kurt is well-known as a great program leader and the President of the Board who guided Victories through its tumultuous post-2004 Strategic plan period. This was a very difficult period, as new policies were created which led to leaders earning a fixed stipend and eliminated leaders sharing profits from weekends.

You can do the math. With 20 participants paying $600 and the average costs for each man being about $200, the leaders shared in these profits. So, the stipend was a big step down. I know. In my first weekend as a leader, I shared the profits, while the very next weekend I received the stipend, a 50% reduction in compensation. I admit I felt a little tweaked, but wonder how the other leaders felt who earned substantially more profits.

The other problem Kurt had to deal with was the power dynamic related to program decisions and the allocation of resources. The founders were intent on building a Wisdom years leadership group and expanding this program to other cities. Boston was the first target city.  Ironically, I attended the Boston Wisdom years weekend, in part to support the guys and attend a weekend where I would have more anonymity. I later became embroiled in a personally damaging conflict which, like most conflicts, was layered on the surface about content issues (how I thought the program could be improved) and process issues (who really had the power to make decisions now).

Kurt had his hands full trying to appease and satisfy the founders and their interest in expanding the Wisdom years, while still keeping the larger organization stable and in the necessary transition. It was not easy for him. I would hear some of these conversations while we were driving and talk about them with him when we had time. In hindsight, I think we all would have been better off and the organization avoid all the sharp elbows, the damage of conflicts going subterranean, and the understandable, but very petty jealousies about just about everything.

I was the biggest advocate for an expanded leadership team and a move away from what I considered the cumbersome and conflict inducing dyadic leader structure. However, I can see how each leader team developed a cadre of guys which formed a safe and beautiful place for them. An oasis from the seemingly endless demand to smile and say fine, when so much was brewing under the surface.

What married person doesn’t feel better after talking about a problem with their spouse? How brilliant men can languish in the mire of unresolved conflicts for decades is confusing and tragic. I heard “I love you” a lot. I guess it’s partly true that “love means you never have to say you’re sorry.” Secrets always create a wall between people.

The progress in making programs and their processes more transparent is welcome in the world. All medical and mental health care is based on the premise of “do no harm” and informing patients of diagnoses and available treatment options. A personal growth weekend promises change, even transformation, so to keep details secret runs in conflict with the ultimate goal of the program. It’s counterproductive to keep such positive programming secret.

I remember sitting in leadership meetings at Victories and conversations with MKP folks many years ago saying, if we know this program can be very helpful, we should be more transparent.  If it’s too secretive, even stakeholders and board members of these organizations may not know what happens.

None of these programs are perfect and one person’s transformative experience is another person’s waste of money. I understand this.

Needless to say, licensed therapists are advised to avoid any leadership role in such weekends. Although the threat of malpractice may be low, they should imagine what might happen if someone is seriously injured or dies during a weekend where they have some official role. There will be an investigation, perhaps criminal charges, and lawsuits.

Notably, there is the James Arthur Ray program which had a national audience, thanks to Oprah Winfrey. Ray’s program exploited vulnerable people for a lot of money and was recently convicted of negligent homicide in the deaths of participants in a sweat lodge.

Another example of a psychotherapy practice evolving into a personal growth program is the Wright Institute, the brainchild of Robert Wright and his wife Judith Wright. Robert (Bob)Wright is a graduate school colleague of mine who now runs his own graduate school or something akin to this. Knowing him from then, I do believe he is doing this now. While there are scores of Wright’s clients whose lives have been transformed, one only use google to learn of many more who have filed complaints.

Generally, these programs have charismatic leaders who put naive people into intense exercises where an emotional release takes place. Often, participants may be the psychotherapy or coaching clients of leaders of these program, increasing the risk of exploitation. How can a psychotherapy client refuse his own therapist or coach?

During these programs participants have what’s called an “abreaction” where emotional memories stored implicitly are released. This may provide an immediate sense of relief, even healing, if the exercise is done well. A successful breakthrough like this creates a profound sense of connection between the participant and the facilitator therapist.

Ethically, this can be argued as a good and bad thing. Good because it can cement the relationship and bad because it can inflate the status of the therapist to unrealistic proportions. One of the arts of therapy is for the therapist to remain connected to the client in ways which equalize the relationship so change is more seamless and not dramatically associated with the magic of the therapist.

In my review of Bob Mark’s book, Clearing the Path: Opening the Spiritual Frontier, I explore Dr. Mark’s centrality to the positive changes in his client’s lives. A constant theme is his encouragement of the reader to reduce their doubt, in a sense become more open to the spirit world. I didn’t really know Dr. Mark very well, but understood his training in family therapy and Gestalt and could see this influence in the creation of the Breakthrough weekend. For you history buffs, this was originally called the Men’s room program.

Without giving away details of the Breakthrough weekend, one can easily recognize the initial phase of connecting, building a safe container for work, helping participants begin to focus internally, then engage them in a deeper process where emotional memories can be accessed, explored and resolved, then the preparation for the return to ordinary life with the opportunity to continue the work in a group with other interested participants from the weekend.

There is no doubt I liked the Breakthrough weekend a lot and had many, many memorable experiences with assorted members of leadership teams. My most gratifying times were with Kurt Schultz who helped me and other guys (many of whom are current leaders and Board members) be leaders.

While I really liked the experience, I had concerns about the structure of the early Victories organization, the Men’s Room. It was essentially an offshoot of the leader’s private practice and leaders shared profits from the weekend. Most often, leaders had many of their own private practice clients participating in their weekends, creating dual and multiple type relationships, a dynamic which risks the exploitation of the client by the therapist.

I was most critical of this aspect of his book, which I otherwise thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommend. ,

Here’s what I said about therapist and magic:

” Therapists do not create magic to change their clients; they experience it right along with their clients. Together, the magic of the therapeutic relationship unfolds, changing both the client and the therapist for the better.”

This was not the view of how change at weekends happened for several leader teams. For them, it was their own unique gift and the love for their partner that flowed into the participant to create change. One can look at this simplistically and say the leaders thought of themselves as mother-mother, father-mother and were providing unconditional love to their hurt and injured child.

This can also be viewed in a more grandiose way in that the leader sees himself and their relationship with their leader partner as some type of “leader as central source of power” where they create miracles out of thin air. I sensed this in Bob Mark’s book on spirituality. It was about him as a conduit of spirit energy, reading palms, throwing stones, etc which created the change.

This type of thinking is flawed and disregards the voluminous research on the attachment and neuroscience. Understanding that research as I did, and trying to integrate it into the Victories programs was welcome and applauded when it came to the psychodrama training, but led me into conflict with the leader teams for the Wisdom years and Shadow weekends.

After a good faith effort, I grew tired of the old systemic problem of leaders swinging sharp elbows, working behind the scenes to get Kurt on their side, then issuing unilateral pronouncements about the way things were going to go. By the way, thank you for wasting hours of your time and showing up for a 90 minute meeting which gives me the chance to let you know how little your opinion is worth to me.

This was part of the older system. I remember spending hours (I was a great acolyte) trying to think up new names for the organization to change it from the “Men’s Room.” The study group unanimously recommended Breakthrough. We all found out the new name would be “Victories of the Heart” which coincidently was the name of the founders’ new book. Ok there!

So, some people may have felt I abandoned them and the organization. I was unable to stay in a situation where I felt so out of alignment with the leadership structures. I’m thinking now of the college fraternity where I lived and how I told the chapter I was not planning to become an active member and was moving into the dorms for sophomore year. I had been disgusted by the rampant alcohol abuse, providing alcohol to high school seniors visiting and what I suspected was the abuse of an intoxicated female student. This was never discussed, but I reported it to the school many years later.

The point here is the majority of the upperclassmen secretly voted to “blackball” me after I told them I was moving out. Classy. It’s widely known a characteristic of narcissism is to react with rage when they feel criticized. In terms of this fraternity, I had to ask what this blackballing meant and although it was the responsibility of the men who blackballed me to speak with me, you can guess none of them did. They were probably drunk when they did it and were afraid to confront me directly. I had been on the freshman football team and had the second highest grade point after the first semester in the freshman class.

Like with Victories, I still liked many of the friends I made from that class, but they were sworn off having any contact with me. I was persona non grata, just as I had become with Victories.

By now in my own personal journey, I was recovering from a deep depression, having begun anti-depressant medication and was beginning to see things more clearly. I could see how being a leader of these weekends was a powerful experience, a rush of amazing proportions. I was hooked by the extreme positives of leadership and also my crusader effort to change some of the ways Victories operated, especially an effort to move it away from the dyadic leader model to leadership teams, leader selection by merit, competent evaluation of programs, and ethics policies and standards.

My efforts, although consistent with the 2004 Strategic Plan, were confronting the principals in ways in which they were not accustomed. It was not pretty and I decided I would not be able to sustain my efforts. I was challenging both their fundamental beliefs about what made the Breakthrough weekend (at least) work. They felt criticized, understandable, and reacted. It was not in my character to ignore such reactions.

To view some of my accomplishments asserting myself on behalf of vulnerable people, view here and here on my website.

I also knew something else was deeply wrong with my judgment and ability to maintain a stable mood that participation in Victories was not helping.

I knew the anti-depressant medication was helpful right away. It was the “vitamin” my body and brain needed. With the correct levels of serotonin, I began to sleep better and think more clearly. I also was diagnosed with hypo-gonadism (low production of testosterone), so adding testosterone to my medication regimen also made a big improvement in my energy levels and improved brain functioning. It was all good.

In my own search accurately diagnosis my vulnerability, I did diagnostic brain scans and neuropsych testing. I learned I had brain damage likely from early childhood trauma which directly caused many of my life’s ups and downs. Serious medical and mental health problems men’s work would never cure. So, it was all a bad idea for me. Some gains and good times, but likely the stress of it all caused more damage.

Devoting myself to Victories, especially when it meant a more uncritical support of the original leaders dreams, was no longer a good idea. I knew the effort to expand the Wisdom years to Boston would fail. I participated in that Wisdom years, experienced the program, and met the possible Boston leaders. I knew it had very little chance to fly.

I was asked to give my evaluation both at the weekend (I signed my name) and afterwards.  In sum, I said I had a wonderful experience and really enjoyed being there and helping the Boston program get started. I also offered specific parts of the weekend to change. You can guess how popular this made me.  Only in some ideal and unrealistic world would my change efforts at that time have been well-received.

How would you get men to do a Wisdom years in Boston? Only through some recruitment effort by guys who knew very little about the program with virtually no source of referrals locally.

It’s ironic I became embroiled in a conflict about the Wisdom years, as I was determined to stay out of the undercurrent of disagreement. When I returned from the weekend, Kurt nonchalantly asked me how I liked it. I told him it was great and I enjoyed myself, especially the dose of “geritol” they gave me before bedtime!. Kurt laughed with one of his full-throated laughs and we enjoyed our moment of brevity. Then he asked me about a particular practice on the weekend.

I told him I had seen that before and was surprised they did it at the weekend. I won’t say more about Kurt’s view, but at the next Board meeting, he spontaneously raised the issue and appointed another Board member and myself to “study” this practice and make recommendations. The other Board member and I looked at each other as if to ask, “did you know he was going to do this?” We both answered silently, no.

I made a joke to make sure everyone there knew there was no conspiracy against the Wisdom years and I did not know about this appointment. Kurt knew I did not want to get involved, but when Kurt asked, you said yes.

Fortunately, the other Board member called me a few days later and told me the issue was dropped and there was no need to “study” it any longer. We were both relieved to pull ourselves out of the hornet’s nest without being stung.

The 2004-2008 period when I had re-engaged in Victories was a tough period when the original leaders had to yield the total power they had over programs and details and allow the Board to assume authority.

I do not believe this time went well and think it was ultimately harmful for me. There are several neuroscience concepts which help explain some of the unresolved conflicts, but implicit memories are very important. (Zimmerman, 2014)

Memories of hurt and injuries are stored implicitly with no time stamp. This means whenever triggered, the stored feelings can surface as if the hurt and injury had just occurred. Such is my life and the life of other trauma survivors. The brain damage I lived with only made matters worse.

Recruitment is a key characteristic of an LGAT.  It becomes problematic when the participants are encouraged (some might say pressured) to become ambassadors for these programs and recruit other family members and friends.

It’s not too fun to have one of these individuals start to pressure you to attend one of these weekends.

The Mankind Project has made many contributions in the personal growth arena, especially making psychodrama, a sophisticated therapy model, available to many thousands of men (and some women) around the globe. I think this one of its significant accomplishments.

While they can be criticized for other aspects of their program, they have developed a way of training and facilitating psychodrama that is quite excellent. They have specific types of psychodrama that are offered for specific types of presenting issues during their weekends.

The men facilitating these exercises have experienced psychodrama themselves, received training, and are being supervised or teaming with more experienced leaders during the program.

Over the years, the Mankind Project has been forced to confront some problems in their programming and have made progress in creating more transparency (men know what they are getting into), attempts to evaluate the mental health of potential participants, and other ways of bringing their program into the 21st century.

The Mankind Project has also influenced many other personal growth programs. While these programs would publicly deny any influence, the similarities are unmistakable to a well-trained eye. While these other programs may deny this, imitation is a form of flattery. In some cases, I would suggest an unhealthy type of envy. It’s called Warrior envy.

These other, smaller programs have faltered as the “identity quest” of the 1980’s and 1990’s has faded, especially when such programs were organized around charismatic leaders who financially profited from their programs. Many participants and volunteers in such programs could see through the veneer of greed and eventually dropped out.

Some filed complaints and lawsuits. For example, James Arthur Ray, (Times, 2015) was so negligent, he was convicted of negligent homicide in the deaths of several of his followers. Each participant paid $15,000 for a personal  growth experience in which 3 died and several injured in a failed sweat lodge experience. (Stroud, 2015)

When these programs are built around charismatic personalities, internal conflicts are often suppressed. Anyone who dares to challenge the “leader” is likely met with some type of threat, expulsion, etc. It’s usually not pretty. This inability to address and resolve differences and conflict can damage organizational ability to grow and expand.

So, although I was in and out of involvement myself for many years, I tread cautiously. It seems impossible to create any quality control, although I think  Victories and Mankind Project do a pretty good job with this.

Individuals have been hurt and killed in the past, but hopefully, this will not happen in the future. There are too many good men trying to do good things.

Do I recommend these local and national programs anymore? I mention them as possibilities, but nothing else. I wouldn’t encourage anyone to join a church, synagogue, mosque or other religious institution.

I know providing good psychotherapy based on research will be more helpful to individuals in developing better lives. Let people choose their own organizations. That’s called self-determination and it’s a good thing.

Like in everything we do, look before you leap. It can be a long way down.

Bibilography:

ACLU. (1997, Januray 2). Freedom of Expression: ACLU Position Paper. Retrieved from ACLU: American Civil Liberties Union: https://www.aclu.org/free-speech/freedom-expression-aclu-position-paper

Berry, J. (1985, May 23). The tragedy of Gilbert Gauthe. Retrieved January 28, 2014, from Bishop Accountability.org: http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news/1985_05_23_Berry_TheTragedy.htm

Brackinridge, C. (2001). Spoilsports: Understanding and preventing sexual exploitation in sport. London: Routledge.

Bremer, J. D. (2002). Does stress damage the brain? New York: W.W.Norton.

CDC. (2012, August 24). Sexual violence at a glance. Retrieved March 4, 2015, from CEnters for Disease Control 1991-2011 high school youth risk behavior survey data.

Cori, J. L. (2008). Healing from trauma: A survivor’s guide to understanding your symptoms and reclaiming your life. Philadelphia: Da Capo Press.

Courtois, C. A. (1999). Recollections of sexual abuse: Treatment principles and guidelines. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.

Cozolino, L. (2010). The neuroscience of psychotherapy: Healing the social brain. New York: ww Norton & Co.

Davidson, R. J., & with Begley, S. (2012). The emotional life of your brain. New York: Hudson Street Press Penguin Group.

Dewane, C. (2010, January/February). Respecting Boundaries. Retrieved from Social Work Today: http://www.socialworktoday.com/archive/012610p18.shtml

Drucker, D. M. (2016, August 16). Only sociopaths deliberately hurt animals. Retrieved from PETA Prime: Celebrating kind choices: http://prime.peta.org/2010/04/only-sociopaths-intentionally-hurt-animals-a-professional-view

Edgar Cayce. (2016, August 16). Retrieved from Edgar Cayce’s Association for Research and Enlightenment : http://www.edgarcayce.org/

Eisen, J. (2014, August 21). Sigmund Freud and the Cover-Up of “The Aetiology of Hysteria”. Retrieved from Jonathon Eisen: http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/ciencia/supressed_inventions/suppressed_inventions16.htm

Emerson, D. &. (2011). Overcoming trauma through yoga: Reclaiming your body. Berkeley: North Atlantic Books.

Freud, S. &. ((2002)). Beyond the code of ethics, part II: Dual relationships revisited. Families in Society, 83(5), 474-482 …

Freyd, J. J. (1996). Betrayal trauma: The logic of forgetting childhood abuse. Cambridge, Ma: Harvard University Press.

Glass LL, K. M. (1977, March). Psychiatric disturbances associated with Erhard Seminars Training: I. A report of cases. American Journal of Psychiatry, 3, 245-247. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/842699

Hammersma, R. (2015, June 15). Clearing the path reviews. Retrieved from http://www.amazon.com/Clearing-Path-Opening-Spiritual-Frontier/dp/0615388493/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1434402192&sr=1-1&keywords=robert+mark%2C+clearing+the+path

Herman, J. (1992). Trauma and recovery: The aftermath of violence-from domestic abuse to political terror. New York: Basic Books.

Hopper, J. P. (2014, August 26). Recovered memories of abuse: scientific journals and resources. Retrieved from Jim Hopper, PhD: http://jimhopper.com/

Imagery, A. f. (2011). What is guided imagery? Retrieved from Academy for Guided Imagery: http://acadgi.com/whatisguidedimagery/index.html

Johnson, S. M. (2003). Attachment theory: A guide for couple therapy. Attachment Processes in Couple and Family Therapy, 103-121.

K., A. (2010, April 15). Sweat Lodges Part II: No you can’t. Here’s why. Retrieved from Native Appropriations: http://nativeappropriations.com/2010/04/sweat-lodges-part-ii-no-you-cant-heres-why.html

Levine, P. R. (2008). Healing Trauma: A pioneering program for restoring the wisdom to your body. Boulder: Sounds True.

Levine, P. R. (2011). In an unspoken voice: How the body releases trauma and restores goodness. Berkeley: North Atlantic Books.

Lewis, T., Amini, F., & Lannon, R. (2001). A general theory of love. New York: Vintage Books.

Mark, P. R. (1996). Victories of the heart: The inside story of a pioneer men’s group. Rockport: Elements Publishing.

Mark, P. R. (2010). Clearing the Path: Opening the Spiritual Frontier . Evanston: Robert Mark Publisher.

Masson, J. M. (1984). The assault on truth: Freud’s suppression of the seduction theory. New York: Harper Perrennial.

Psychology, S. (2015, August 15). Systematic desensitization. Retrieved from Simply Psychology: http://www.simplypsychology.org/Systematic-Desensitisation.html

Roesler, C. (2013, October 24). Evidence for the effectiveness of jungian psychotherapy: A review of empirical studies. Retrieved from Behavioral Sciences- Open Access: www.mdpi.com/journal/behavsci

Rothschild, B. (2000). The body remembers: The pschophysiology of trauma and trauma treatment. New York: W.W. Norton & Co.

Self-Help Author Imprisoned For Sweat Lodge Deaths Is Making a Comeback. (n.d.). Retrieved from Bloomberg: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-03-03/self-help-author-imprisoned-for-sweat-lodge-deaths-is-making-a-comeback

Siegel, D. J. (2012). Pocket guide to interpersonal neurobiology: An integrative handbook of the mind. New York: W.W. Norton & Co.

Siegel, D. M. (2010). About interpersonal neurobiology. Retrieved from Daniel Siegel: Inspire to rewire: http://www.drdansiegel.com/about/interpersonal_neurobiology/

Silva Method. (2016, August 16). Retrieved from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silva_Method

Skolnik, P. L. (2006, February). Introduction to the Landmark Education litigation archive. Retrieved from Cult Awareness Network: https://culteducation.com/group/1020-landmark-education/12390-introduction-to-the-landmark-education-litigation-archive.html

Snider, S. (2003, May). EST, Werner Ehrard, and the Corporatization of Self-Help. Retrieved from Believer: http://www.believermag.com/issues/200305/?read=article_snider

Stroud, M. (2015, March 3). Bloomberg. Retrieved from Bloomberg: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-03-03/self-help-author-imprisoned-for-sweat-lodge-deaths-is-making-a-comeback

Taylor, K. (2004). Brainwashing: The science of thought control. New York: Oxford University Press.

Tech, G. (2014, October 17). neuroscience and brain. Retrieved from neuroscience of emotions: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tShDYA3NFVs&list=PLFF903D75F2A3D657&index=2

Theosophy. (2016, August 16). Retrieved from Theosophical Society: http://www.theosophical.org/

Times, P. N. (2015, September 9). Phoenix New Times. Retrieved from http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/news/guru-james-rays-comeback-attempt-disgusts-sweat-lodge-victims-family-7637678

Van der Kolk, B. (2014). The body keeps the score: Brain, mind, body in the treatment of trauma. New York: Penguin Group.

Van der Kolk, B. A. (1996). Traumatic stress: The effects of overwhelming experience on mind, body, and society. New York: Guilford Press.

Webster, R. (2014, August 22). Charcot, Freud, Hysteria: lost in the labyrinth. Retrieved from Richard Webster: http://www.richardwebster.net/freudandcharcot.html

Wikipedia. (2016). Landmark Worldwide. Retrieved from Wikipedia.

Wikipedia. (2016, August 16). LGATs. Retrieved from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Large-group_awareness_training

Wikipedia. (2016, August 16). Mankind Project. Retrieved from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ManKind_Project

Wikipedia. (2016). Mind Dynamics. Retrieved from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mind_Dynamics

Zimmerman, K. A. (2014, February 2014). Implicit Memories. Retrieved from Livescience: http://www.livescience.com/43353-implicit-memory.html

No responses yet

Aug 02 2016

Victories 2016: Acknowledging the Positives

I have a lot of experience in what’s called the “men’s work” field in the Chicago area. Most of my experience is with the Victories of the Heart, formerly known as the Men’s Room.

While it’s somewhat known my 2006-2008 involvement and ending with Victories was problematic, it does not reflect on this organization’s efforts to offer quality programs.

The two founding leaders, Bob Mark and Buddy Portugal (deceased)and the second leadership team, Paul Kachoris and Kevin Fitzpatrick are/were creative, brilliant and effective therapists and workshop leaders. They are/were sincere and dynamic men who changed many men’s lives and their loved ones’ lives for the better.

This does not mean  they were perfect and I discuss some of the difficulties I had with these men in other writing. It’s been many years since I was actively involved and the men who are in key leadership positions are really terrific guys. The women on the Board are also terrific and it’s great to have that balance.
Since 2008, there have been many positive changes in the organization which I am very happy to see and acknowledge. These changes include:

  • movement towards a team style of leadership
  • leadership training and development
  • sensitivity and reduction of the dual-relationship problem within the organization
  • improvement in the support group program
  • development of ethics policies and standards.
  • inclusion of women on the Board
  • more diverse programs, especially the Couples weekend and Shame workshops

It’s true I have been most critical of the transition from Victories as a private practice and Victories Shadow weekend. This is based on my personal experience, participation as a leader and Board member, and my knowledge about neuroscience, especially the way our brains store trauma memory.

The specific neuroscience concepts I refer to include priming, implicit vs. explicit memory, context and state dependent memory and the function of the amygdala. You can find some of these research based ideas on my website here.

A recent phone conversation has led me to believe the Shadow program has been redesigned and might be a good program to attend.

I loved the Breakthrough weekend, the Mankind Project’s Warrior weekend and also enjoyed the Victories Wisdom Years weekend. After I attended the Wisdom years weekend in Boston, I told some of the staff guys I was looking forward to volunteering to staff the Wisdom years. I have never published anything negative about those programs. I experienced them, studied them and understand them from the inside-out.

I have encouraged many men to attend these programs, including my cousin’s participation in the Philadelphia Warrior weekend. It was life-changing for both of us and our families.

When I say I wish I had not participated in “men’s work”, I refer to my own unique brain and trauma related problems. Men’s work had a lot of moving parts, sharp elbows, and fragile egos. Men’s work can be enormously stressful and this was not healthy for my vulnerable brain. I know this from diagnostic Brain scans taken a few years ago.

It would have been better for me to practice more yoga.

I’m shortening this post to just say I see the volunteer Board moving the organization in a very positive direction. I listed the specific positive changes above, and I’m sure there are many others I am not aware of.

For some reason now, I’m remembering how I was asked to “roast” Kurt at his 60th birthday party. I teased him  by saying he would bring several bottles of shampoo to camp  and the squirrels would follow him around because he wore a cologne called “muskrat love!”

I remember Kurt laughing with his full-bodied, deep laugh when I was teasing him. I realized then it must have been so much fun for Kurt, one of the most powerful lawyers in the country, and certainly the most powerful Victories figure, to have his friends tease him in such a loving way.

We had some amazingly good times then. Kurt enabled me and many other guys to become leaders.  I was only one of the guys who Kurt was devoted to and did his best to love and support. This makes me a very fortunate person.

I have promised to write more and will do so. I hope this offers some balance to previous writing I have done on this topic.

One response so far

Apr 30 2015

American Psychological Association’s (APA) Support of Torture

The APA’s support and involvement in the Bush/Cheney’s Administration’s torture program is back in the news. There are many details about this program and you can read about them here, here, here, and here.

No responses yet

Apr 04 2015

Give and Take in Marriage: Men should accept influence from their wives

John Gottman’s research informs a key factor in the work I do with couples. His longitudinal research shows one key to a successful marriage is for men to learn to accept influence from their wives.

When the give and take in a marriage stops and the husband rejects the influence of his wife, the marriage is more likely to end in divorce.

For more information, click here.

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Mar 14 2015

Bibliography: Mindfulness Series

 Imagery Bibliography Specific

Hall, Eric, Hall, Carol, Stradling, Pamela, Young, Diane.(2006). Guided imagery: Creative interventions in counselling and psychotherapy. London:Sage Books

Hopper, J. P. (2014, August 26). Recovered memories of abuse: scientific journals and resources. Retrieved from Jim Hopper, PhD: http://jimhopper.com/

Levine, P. R. (2008). Healing Trauma: A pioneering program for restoring the wisdom to your body. Boulder: Sounds True.

Levine, P. R. (2011). In an unspoken voice: How the body releases trauma and restores goodness. Berkeley: North Atlantic Books.

Rossman, M. L. (2000). Guided imagery for self-healing. Novato, CA: HJ Kramer/New World Library.

Siegel, D. J. (2012). Pocket guide to interpersonal neurobiology: An integrative handbook of the mind. New York: W.W. Norton & Co.

Mindfulness Bibliography

(2014, March 11). Retrieved from The Psychology of Secrets: http://www.wjh.harvard.edu/~wegner/secrecy.htm

Bernard, S. J. (2007, May 18). Fatal Injuries Among Children by Race and Ethnicity — United States, 1999–2002. Retrieved from Center for Disease Control: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR): http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ss5605a1.htm

Berry, J. (1985, May 23). The tragedy of Gilbert Gauthe. Retrieved January 28, 2014, from Bishop Accountability.org: http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news/1985_05_23_Berry_TheTragedy.htm

Blaustein, M. E. (2010). Treating traumatic stress in children and adolescents: How to foster resilience through attachment, self-regulation, and competency. New York: Guilford Press.

Boynton, R. (1994, November 28). Till death do us part: the trial of Janet Malcom and Jeffrey Masson. Retrieved from Robert S. Boynton: http://www.robertboynton.com/articleDisplay.php?article_id=20

Brackinridge, C. (2001). Spoilsports: Understanding and preventing sexual exploitation in sport. London: Routledge.

Bremner, J. (1999, April). Does stress damage the brain? Retrieved from PubMed.gov: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10202566

Butler, Susan. (1986). Non-Competitive games for people of all ages.

Catherall, D. R. (1992). Back from the brink: A family guide to overcoming traumatic stress. New York: Bantam Books.

CDC. (2010). Leading Causes of Death in Males in the United States. Retrieved from Center for Disease Control and Prevention: http://www.cdc.gov/men/lcod/2010/LCOD_WHITEmen2010.pdf

CDC. (2012, August 24). Sexual violence at a glance. Retrieved March 4, 2015, from CEnters for Disease Control 1991-2011 high school youth risk behavior survey data.

Child Maltreatment Facts at a Glance: Center for Disease Control. (2014). Retrieved January 8, 2015, from National Criminal Justice Reference Resource: https://www.ncjrs.gov/childabuse/prevalence.html

College, H. (1985). The complete letters fo Sigmund Freud to Wilhelm Fliess, 1887-1904, excerpts. Retrieved from Frued-Fleiss Letters-Haverford College.

Courtois, C. A. (1999). Recollections of sexual abuse: Treatment principles and guidelines. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.

Davidson, R. J. (2012). The emotional life of your brain: How its unique patterns affect the way you think, feel and live- and how you can change them . London: Hudson Street Press.

Davidson, R. J., & with Begley, S. (2012). The emotional life of your brain. New York: Hudson Street Press Penguin Group.

Duncan, B. L., Miller, S., Wampold, B. E., & Hubble, M. A. (2010). The heart & soul of Change: Delivering what works in therapy. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Eisen, J. (2014, August 21). Sigmund Freud and the Cover-Up of “The Aetiology of Hysteria”. Retrieved from Jonathon Eisen: http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/ciencia/supressed_inventions/suppressed_inventions16.htm

Emerson, D. &. (2011). Overcoming trauma through yoga: Reclaiming your body. Berkeley: North Atlantic Books.

Freud ccc. (2014, August 25). Retrieved from Rigorous Intuition: http://www.rigorousintuition.ca/board2/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=38086

Gartner, R. B. (1997). Memories of sexual betrayal: Truth, fantasy, repression, and dissociation. Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson, Inc.

Gottman, J. (1999). The marriage clinic: A scientifically-based marital therapy. New York: W.W. Norton & Co.

Gottman, J. (n.d.). Raising Emotionally Intelligent Children.

Hall, Eric, Hall, Carol, Stradling, Pamela, Young, Diane.(2006). Guided imagery: Creative interventions in counselling and psychotherapy. London:Sage Books

Hall, S. (2013, June 17). Repairing bad memories. Retrieved from MIT Technology Review: http://www.technologyreview.com/featuredstory/515981/repairing-bad-memories/

Herman, J. (1992). Trauma and recovery: The aftermath of violence-from domestic abuse to political terror. New York: Basic Books.

Hopper, J. P. (2014, August 26). Recovered memories of abuse: scientific journals and resources. Retrieved from Jim Hopper, PhD: http://jimhopper.com/

Hudgins, M. K. (2002). Experiential treatment for PTSD: The therapeutic spiral model. New York: Springer Publishing Company.

Imber-Black, E. (1998, July 1). The Power of Secrets. Retrieved from Psychology Today: http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200909/the-power-secrets

Kempe, H. C. (1962). The battered child syndrome. Journal of the American Medical Association , 181:17-24. Retrieved from file:///C:/Users/Bill%20Martin/Downloads/The_Battered_Child_Syndrome_sm.pdf

Kimmerling, R., Ouimette, P., & Wolfe, J. (2002). Gender and PTSD. New York: The Guilford Press.

Levine, P. R. (2008). Healing Trauma: A pioneering program for restoring the wisdom to your body. Boulder: Sounds True.

Levine, P. R. (2011). In an unspoken voice: How the body releases trauma and restores goodness. Berkeley: North Atlantic Books.

Lewis, T., Amini, F., & Lannon, R. (2001). A general theory of love. New York: Vintage Books.

Masson v. New Yorker Magazine, Inc. (89-1799), 501 U.S. 496. (1991). Retrieved from Cornell University Law School Legal Information: http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/89-1799.ZO.html

Masson, J. M. (1984). The assault on truth: Freud’s suppression of the seduction theory. New York: Harper Perrennial.

McCarthy, J. (2009). Deep deception: Ireland’s swimming scandals. Dublin: The Obrien Press Ltd.

McKay, M. F. (1994). Couple skills. Oakland : New Harbinger Publications.

Memory. (n.d.). Retrieved FEbruary 14, 2014, from Memory: http://psychology4a.com/memory%202.htm

Meyers, J. (2008). A short history of child protection in America. Retrieved from A short history of child protection in America: http://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/publishing/insights_law_society/ChildProtectionHistory.authcheckdam.pdf

Mintz, s. (2015, January 8) . Placing childhood sexual abuse in historical perspective. Retrieved January 8, 2015, from The Immanent Frame: http://blogs.ssrc.org/tif/2012/07/13/placing-childhood-sexual-abuse-in-historical-perspective/

Ogden, Pat.(2015). Sensorimotor psychotherapy: Interventions for trauma and attachment. New York: W.W. Norton & Company

Penn state scandal fast facts. (2015, January 25). Retrieved from CNN: http://www.cnn.com/2013/10/28/us/penn-state-scandal-fast-facts/

Pope, K. (2001, October 21). Sex with clients. Retrieved from Ken Pope: http://www.kspope.com/sexiss/sexencyc.php

Robinson, P. (1993). Freud and his critics. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Rossman, M. L. (2000). Guided imagery for self-healing. Novato, CA: HJ Kramer/New World Library.

Rothschild, B. (2000). The body remembers: The psychophysiology of trauma and trauma treatment. New York: W.W. Norton & Co.

Schiller, D. M.-H. (2009, November 9). Preventing Preventing the return of fear in humans using reconsolidation update mechanisms. Retrieved from Nature: http://www.psych.nyu.edu/phelpslab/files/Schiller_nature.pdf

Siegel, D. J. (2012). Pocket guide to interpersonal neurobiology: An integrative handbook of the mind. New York: W.W. Norton & Co.

Siegel, D. M. (2010). About interpersonal neurobiology. Retrieved from Daniel Siegel: Inspire to rewire: http://www.drdansiegel.com/about/interpersonal_neurobiology/

Snowball, O. (2014, September 18). Cegrin Goodman Teen Institute and Operation Snowball. Retrieved from http://www.os-cgti.org/

Sobel, Jeffrey. (1984).  Everybody Wins:393 non-competitive games for young children.

Sullaway, F. J. (19709). Freud, Biologist of the Mind. New York: Harvard University Press.

Tannen, D. (1990). You Just Don’t Understand: Women and Men in Conversation. New York: William Morrow and Company.

Taylor, K. (2004). Brainwashing: The science of thought control. New York: Oxford University Press.

The second mile sandusky scandal: Searching for truth in a fog of deception. (2012, August 1). Retrieved from http://notpsu.blogspot.com/2012/08/dr-alycia-chambers-psychological.html

Triplett, H. (2004). The misnomer of Freud’s “seduction theory”. The Journal of the History of Ideas, 65-4, p 647-665.

Van der Kolk, B. A. (1996). Traumatic stress: The effects of overwhelming experience on mind, body, and society. New York: Guilford Press.

Webster, R. (2014, August 22). Charcot, Freud, Hysteria: lost in the labyrinth. Retrieved from Richard Webster: http://www.richardwebster.net/freudandcharcot.html

WHO. (2002). World Report on Violence and Health: Summary. Retrieved January 29, 2014, from World Health Organization: http://www.who.int/violence_injury_prevention/violence/world_report/en/summary_en.pdf

Wright, L. (1994). Remembering satan: A tragic case of recovered memory. New York: Vintage Books.

No responses yet

Feb 22 2015

Sandra Bland’s Arrest = the clash of two human being’s implicit memory systems.

Implicit memory is a type of long term memory which has an unconscious influence on the way we think, feel and behave. In a stressful situation, our implicit memory systems kick in and we react in a “same pattern over and over way.” For Sandra, an educated woman sensitized to systemic brutality of African Americans, she was upset by what she experienced as a unnecessary police stop and the lack of courtesy and professionalism (already determined by authorities) of the policeman. For the policeman, I can only speculate, he experienced some type of victimization himself early in his life that caused him to react so harshly. The policeman clearly becomes emotionally hijacked, meaning he is adrenalized, his thinking slowed down, and he is reacting automatically (unconsciously) to his mistaken view Sandra is a threat to him. Maybe an earlier trauma, abuse by someone in authority, taunting by bullies, or some other victimization is related to his unprofessional treatment of Sandra.

For more information on implicit memory, watch this video.

No responses yet

Jan 01 2015

Fee Schedule

 Fee Schedule
$40,000 and less                             $90
$40-$60,000                                   $130
$60-80,000                                     $150
$80,000  & over                               $175
Determination of fees also include assets such as real estate and stock funds.

Dec 09 2014

A Review: Clearing the Path: Opening the Spiritual Frontier by Dr. Robert Mark

Summary: Dr. Mark gets an A+ for writing an interesting narrative of his personal and professional development. However, a diminished grade for encouraging people to dispense with their critical thinking to entertain the possibility of higher powers and alternative realities. Discouraging a belief in science is a surprising part of this book and therapists especially should not take this advice seriously, lest they begin to practice unethically.
My acknowledgement: I was involved in Dr. Mark’s men’s program and have insights about him and his work. Perhaps there is no good ending in a relationship with people or organizations. This was true for me, so any negative views I express may be colored by my ending experiences.

I was very curious about this book when I learned it had been written and recently had a chance to read it. I surprisingly enjoyed it, as an autobiographical account of the author’s development as a human being and professional therapist. In person, Dr. Mark is both impressive and charismatic.

As the depth of his book demonstrates, he’s intelligent and highly skilled as a therapist. You can tell he has an ease and comfort with traditional forms of therapy and having seen him in action, I can confirm he is an exceptional agent of change in people’s lives.

His book is a timeline of his own evolutionary process and offers an interesting reflection of what was happening in the psychotherapy field along the way. Trained as a traditional psychologist, he describes his movements outside his own and his professional field’s comfort zone, into a more shamanic practice. Dr. Mark effectively describes his use of the I-Ching, Tai Chi, hypnosis, imagery, drumming, altered states due to tequila and/or imagery in his own personal work and work with his clients. No doubt, his own personal shamanic work is the most fascinating part of his book.

As Dr. Mark suggests, shamans have been an organic part of every community since the beginning of civilization and have used most of these methods, herbs and whatever healing substances they could find. There was really nothing else. Between shamans and our ancient grandmothers, kindness, warmth, holding, and magic were the only options.

Dr. Mark taught Tai Chi at one of his men’s retreats at which I attended. He taught us to flow and release, bringing energy from within and letting it out in the world. It was the eternal healing method of accessing internal energy and externalizing it, providing some relief from our human suffering. He wasn’t too serious about all of it either and allowed for a lot of humor to mix in with the seriousness of the powerfully subtle movements. It was a brief exercise in an intense, potentially life-changing weekend experience. This was a highlight of the weekend and Dr. Mark an excellent teacher. I was in awe of him, mesmerized like many others at this experience.
Dr. Mark takes us along on his life journey, finding meaning in the unknown, and ways to anticipate and predict what may happen in the future. For him, throwing coins, reading palms and analyzing handwriting are all elements of exploring alternative realities and powers.  His book demonstrates his belief about how powerful and effective it was for him and his clients. In a sense, it demonstrates the faith part of change.  He doesn’t try to convince his readers about any contemporary religious ideas, but rather encourages the suspension of doubt so the possibility of a “higher power, power within, or god” might be experienced.

He tells the story of his friend Doug who seemed stuck in an ordinary, superficial way of viewing the world. Dr. Mark says,
“…I asked him if he could suspend his rational mind and his judgments and hold out the possibility that some “God”, spirit, a power greater than he and unknown to him, actually existed. And, I asked, ‘If it did, what would that mean to you personally?”
Dr. Mark goes on to describe how his friend is moved by this idea that some things in life may be beyond his control and his efforts to control them were a source of distress.

It’s a great lesson Doug learns, and the theme is the possibility that God exists, some power greater than ourselves being the source of change in the world.
This belief in a higher power was surprising to me about Dr. Mark. I realize I never got to know him well even though I spent a lot of time in meetings and workshops. I don’t remember him ever speaking about this deeply held belief about spirit in the world. There is certainly some relief to the idea that “things happen for a reason, or TANA, as he describes in the book. If some things happen for a reason, then we humans don’t have to blame ourselves for something we hate about ourselves or shame we have felt about life’s unfortunate events.

However, there is something else science tells us about non-scientific beliefs. Namely, humans have a tendency to incorrectly believe in the spirit world, god, prayer, our ability to influence people and events around us, or what is called in the experimental research world as “magical thinking.”

Regarding an extensive research project by the University of Oxford, the website Science Daily reports,

“The £1.9 million project involved 57 researchers who conducted over 40 separate studies in 20 countries representing a diverse range of cultures. The studies (both analytical and empirical) conclude that humans are predisposed to believe in gods and an afterlife, and that both theology and atheism are reasoned responses to what is a basic impulse of the human mind.”

So, as humans we are predisposed to a belief in gods and an afterlife, so religion, and interestingly, atheism both respond to that innate human need. The researchers did not try to answer the question as to whether god or the spirit world exists or not. Their project focused on a cross-cultural study of whether notions of god or afterlife are taught or part of our essential humanness.

Dr. Mark’s book presents his own personal beliefs about god and spirit. His alternative methods are based on the idea that there is a spirit world and he is able to find insight, knowledge and power through his ability to connect with the spirit world. His message is an invitation for the reader to believe in the energy available from the spirit world.

In his chapter, “Answering the questions of youth”, Dr. Mark offers many interesting answers to questions he has been asked most often by clients and ones he imagines we readers may ask.  His answer to whether it’s possible for someone who does not believe in god to “still believe in miracles, powers greater than myself, energy or what you call spirit?”

Dr. Mark answers,

“Why not? All of what I have discussed would lead one to see that if there is spirit or energy beyond our 5 sense perceptual abilities, then no one belief or non-belief system has the corner on the ‘miracle’ market…and never forget that spirit resides everywhere…that means within each of us.” (Mark, 2010, pp. 152-153)

Researchers have given a name to what Dr. Mark is inviting his readers to believe. It’s called “magical thinking.”  Researchers at Harvard have been able to prove that educated adults can be led to believe they had the power to influence events completely beyond their control. (Pronin, Wegner, McCArthy, & Rodgriguez, 2006) It’s provocative research suggesting there is something very human in our desire to believe we can have some influence over seemingly uncontrollable human events.  Many of us can probably remember a time when we were forced to pray about something over which we knew nothing else might help, like a loved one in surgery. What else could we do?

So, the magical thinking we could have an influence over people and life events is common and scientific research helps us understand that although we might believe or want to believe we are have some power to change the course of human events, we do not. Why Dr. Mark would spend the enormous effort to write and publish his book asking us to forgo our critical minds and accept the fact he has some magical powers to read palms, tell the future, and alter the course of his clients’ lives is perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of his book.  At one time, I think I would have believed him; now I do not. As well, he is not asking his readers to believe him, simply to dispense with their critical mind and give the notion of some higher power a chance.

Dr. Mark invites us to lessen the grip of our internal “doubter”, the part preventing us from knowing other states of reality. This is not a book about scientific research. In fact, therapists working in these times should never seriously consider most of the methods presented in this book.  There is “magic” in the therapeutic process, but it’s in the authenticity of the relationship between therapist and client.

Therapists do not create magic to change their clients; they experience it right along with their clients. Together, the magic of the therapeutic relationship unfolds, changing both the client and the therapist for the better.

Dr. Mark’s book is a revelation about one man’s journey into the unknown, searching for his deeper truth.  For this message, it is well worth the read.

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University of Oxford. (2015, May 12). Humans ‘predisposed’ to believe in gods and the afterlife. Retrieved from Science Daily: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110714103828.htm

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