You are here

Midweek #1, 2017

Midweek is the summer replacement for the regular "That's how I see it!" newsletter. It will have more information on my newest book C &R, an article, and a concept from the book.

Stay tuned to find out how you can receive your "free" hardcover copy of "Communication & Relationships".

                "Communication and Relationships" (C&R)

The learning concepts in this book are derived from the composites of many different sessions with many different clients. It is about what was learned from the interactions of client and therapist.

The book is written for people who seek understanding of the issues they face in their everyday lives. It is for anyone living in an unproductive relationship, with feelings of distress, guilt, and anger, or struggling to make a decision about that same relationship. They may come to appreciate that they are not alone, that others have similar issues and that they have found a way to proceed. By reading these concepts about people just like them, and seeing how they and the therapist dealt with their issues, they can learn how to better deal with their own.

In the book I share 110 different concepts (learning opportunities) ranging from 1-3 pages in length. Some of the other topics include: stress, anger, grief, strokes, guilt, ego, self-esteem, change, affairs, sex and power, abandonment, friendship and more (see concept "Time Together Isn't the Whole Answer, but...") after the article.


                               Stress and Serotonin

    The human body is a remarkable vessel that is complex beyond comprehension. When one of its systems becomes impaired due to injury or illness, our body has the ability to "pick up the slack" by using one of its other systems to compensate. A good example of this is when we lose our vision. Automatically, our hearing and intuition improve.
     However, one of the few systems that does not have an alternative backup mechanism is when we are compelled to deal with stress. When under stress, either real or perceived, the body not only doesn't produce more of the hormones-Serotonin and Dopamine-that are required to deal with this higher level of stress, but it actually cuts back their production and sometimes stops producing them altogether.
     My background in biological science is weak, so I won't pretend to understand nor try to explain the cellular workings of the natural upper hormones that are found in the brain. I do know, however, that Serotonin and Dopamine are responsible for our being upbeat.
     When we are under stress, the body stops producing these hormones and we feel flat. As mentioned, the system doesn't adjust and our body doesn't make up for these absent hormones. In fact, we experience a double whammy!
     First, the stressful situation itself weighs heavily upon us, and second, we are then forced to carry on without these vital hormones. If the stressful situation is perceived to continue for an extended period of time, we could become depressed.
     There is no simple solution to stress. Still, that hasn't stopped hundreds of authors from writing their books to explain what you can do to reduce the stress in your life. And although I just said there is no simple solution, here I am about to give you one. The simplest methods that anyone can use to compensate for the depletion of Serotonin and Dopamine are:

          You can change the stress level in your life by
          getting rid of some of the negatives-change your
          address, quit your job, and fire your backstabbing friend.
          You can change your perception of what is stressful
          by taking better care of yourself-eat better, exercise
          more, create more networks of friends, and find more
          to laugh about.
                              Take antidepressants.


                Laughter is a reflex; it's a free pharmacy of
                     Serotonin and Dopamine.

Concept from "Communication & Relationships"

Time Together Isn't the Whole Answer, but  ...

It was my first session with this couple. He had seen me once before on his own, and had described how unhappy he was. As a consequence of this bad relationship, he had even begun "leering at women in the workplace!"

This session was quite informal and they chatted about how their relationship had changed over the years to the point where it was now one "of convenience". His analysis was, "She doesn't care much about sex and I have stopped pushing for it."

The hour went by quickly and I suggested that we meet again to explore what they both wanted to do about the empty place they had fallen into.

Our second session took place on a snowy Saturday at a time when, as he declared, he "usually had a nap!" I wasn't sure what to make of this declaration. She was her usual, timid self, but I detected a resolve and strength that said he was not going to get out of this relationship so easily.

It was obvious to me that he was trying to force her to do all the work and make all the changes in order to save their relationship. I suggested that his lack of involvement, which carried over into counselling, was "a great way to sabotage the process and guarantee that it will fail".

We discussed how their backgrounds contributed to their present situation. We examined how they met, their first couple of years together, family life, lifestyle choices, and, inevitably, how their sex life had changed to where he now felt "nothing sexual for her".

Before they departed at the end of the session, I encouraged them to agree to spend some time together and engage in more fun activities. And I included the edict that they have "absolutely no sex"-as if they would at that point anyway!

It wasn't exactly the most dramatic therapeutic intervention I could offer, but one that I felt necessary. At least they would be in the same room doing something together. No swords were drawn and they were even smiling a little. Lots of work lay ahead for this couple, but they had at least given themselves permission to start.

I'm not sure why, but sometime between our second and third sessions, I began to reflect on the work of noted Jewish physiotherapist Dr. Feldenkrais. Stay with me-it has relevance! Dr. Feldenkrais had pioneered a particular method of bodywork, and as I understood it, when primary muscle and nerve pathways are damaged, it becomes possible, through manipulation, to create new pathways around the injury and restore function.

Feldenkrais demonstrated that when original nerves and muscles responsible for a certain movement can no longer function due to injury or disease, it was possible to restore movement by working around the injury with secondary nerves and muscles, helping to focus the mind on rerouting messages to a substitute muscle. He believed that our memory stores cues, and that it is difficult to prevent associated feelings from flooding back when those cues are presented.

My male client had developed a few negative cues from previous experiences in the bedroom. His perception was that he had been sexually rejected many times. Immediately upon entering the bedroom, he would turn cold and construct a "wall". I referred to it as the frozen chasm, and they agreed that they could actually feel the coolness between them in the bedroom. So something needed to be done about the bedroom cues. What popped into my mind was not Brief Therapy or Cognitive Restructuring, two common techniques used in these situations, but Feldenkrais. Go figure!

On the surface, this is all very nice-Feldenkrais rerouting nerves, restoring muscle function using various cues, etc. But what did this have to do with my clients' problems in the bedroom? Maybe nothing, but the whole issue of cues and how they can set us up positively or negatively before anything is even said or done, got me thinking that this was perhaps truest for the male partner in this relationship.

Based on past negative experience, he no longer sent messages from his brain to his libido when he entered the conjugal bed. Although he confided that he felt nothing for her, my assessment of the situation was that it was actually worse than nothing. In fact, he felt anger, disappointment, and the need to snipe at her. The kind of cues he was seeing and feeling were not the kind that would ever lead to his feeling frisky toward his partner.

Methinks we need to replace his old, negatively imprinted cues with new, positive ones!

When I posed this rather bizarre and elongated theory as a potential solution to their problem, they shrugged and looked at each other with a kind of, "He took all this time just to tell us this?" Then he interrupted their puzzled stares by interjecting, "You mean, I need to do something different, so that my brain will perceive the bedroom and my wife differently, positively, so that I will feel friskier?"

Bingo! Here I was, afraid that they might not get the message, and he synthesized it in a nutshell! Shame on me for not having more faith in people! She chuckled, "You need to send more messages to that part of your anatomy-you know, the part that men think with! " We all laughed, and both he and I concurred with her analysis.

The couple agreed to develop a new set of cues for the bedroom, and as starters they proposed engaging in fun activities with each other (i.e., cards, chess), purposeful discussions, sharing popcorn, back massages, and reading to one another. And off they went with my stern warning-"No sex, it's too early! Remember we just want to warm up the bedroom, not start a fire."

It turned out that it didn't take long for him to re-wire his brain and for them to ignore my stern warning of no sex. Some people just don't listen to sound counsel. Go figure!

Remember, when you:
                   Change the cues, you change the feelings.
        When you change the feelings, you change the behaviour.

                                       Frisky is good!

We didn't get our play/musical choosen this year but my friend Frank is directing another musical you might want to see. I'll tell you about it as soon as he sends me the information.

Grab summer when you can--it comes and goes quickly