The Dating and Relationship Group: 
"Defending the Caveman" and "The Erotic Hinge"
Actor and comedian Rob Becker
wrote and starred in "Defending the Caveman," an award-winning play still in production which features a sole male narrator accounting the history of his life, his family and peer relationships, and the meeting of the woman who eventually became his wife.  The major contention of the play is that despite the rise of feminism, the breaking of the glass ceiling, and the gradually evolving (though still incomplete) equality of men and woman in contemporary Western culture, the male protagonists has consistently found his emotional and psychological rudder in his essential "maleness"; it is precisely his core masculine characteristics that  allow him to appreciate, bond with, and love his wife's different and, in his impression, more complex and sophisticated feminine qualities and tendencies. Although the play has been criticized  for essentially espousing an adherence to stereotypical gender roles, this perspective is misguided in my opinion.  What I am suggesting is that I think Becker was onto something.  In my clinical work with couples over the last several years I have observed a rising trend in relationship dilemmas that seem to be due NOT to issues of inequality between partners or some resistance to taking on activities and responsibilities formerly associated with the opposing gender but, rather, to one or both partners' complete abandonment of the essential ingredients of their stereotypical gender roles.  Comments such as a man saying, "I can't just be a man in this relationship," or a woman saying, "I wish I could just sometimes be treated like a woman and feel feminine," signal this dynamic.  

In the next meeting of the Dating and Relationship Group on Saturday, August 20, 12:00 to 1:15 PM, I will explore these ideas in more detail and introduce "The Erotic Hinge," a paradigm for understanding heterosexual romantic relationships as hinging on archetypal "masculine" and "feminine" roles from evolutionary history.  How male and female partners lose contact with these archetypes in the day-to-day goings-on of their relationships, resulting in the relationship "dislocating" (similar to a joint in the body), will be described.  Finally, I will address how these archetypes do not oppose, but in fact, support the necessary, appropriate and continued alterations of gender roles in contemporary life and relationships. 

The Men's Group:
When Lover Becomes Mother 
A psychological challenge for all men is the capacity to maintain, as Freud suggested, a "phallic position" toward romantic partners in adulthood.  By the term "phallic position" Freud was attempting to differentiate metaphorically the erotic nature of adult male sexuality (i.e., to be "firm" and "penetrate") from the infantile sexuality of childhood (i.e., to be dependent on and soothed by a powerful maternal figure). Throughout all of his work, Freud demarcated the successful transition from infantile to adult/erotic sexuality as the main criterion by which a man achieves psychic health, enabling him to set goals, compete, achieve, and maintain a solid sense of self in relationships as well as in professional and leisure pursuits.  However, for the contemporary heterosexual man, a surprisingly common phenomenon is movement and shifting between the phallic position and more regressed, primitive forms of being reminiscent of infantile sexuality.  Nowhere is this more notable than in a heterosexual man's romantic relationship with his female partner.  In the next meeting of the Men's Group on Saturday, August 20, 2016, 10:45 AM to 12:00 PM noon,  I will describe in more detail the components of infantile sexuality and the phallic position, and outline what supports or obstructs the transition from the former to the latter.  I will specifically address the most common derailment of this transition, i.e., when a man begins to treat his female partner not as lover but as mother.  This erosion of the erotic bond between partners typically occurs gradually and insidiously, may be signaled by a reduction in or loss of sexual desire, and is commonly manifested in more superficial couples' complaints and problems including poor communication, unresolved conflict, jealousy/cheating, and perceived inequities in tasks and responsibilities.   

Parenting in the 21st Century: An Educational Support Group for Parents: 
 Inaugural Meeting
I am very excited to announce that on Saturday, August 20, 2016 (9:30 to 10:45 AM),  I will be hosting the inaugural meeting  of the "Parenting in the 21st Century: An Educational Support Group for Parents."  Please review this flier for details on this new group. 

In the initial meeting on August 20, I will describe my vision for and goals of this new group: (1) to serve as a supportive forum for parents to share their struggles about parenting and to hear the challenges other parents are facing, and (2) to present key concepts, ideas and approaches to parenting from the scientific research, psychological theory, and pragmatic skill-building approaches. 

Specifically, in this initial meeting, I will present the concept of "induction" which is a fundamental way in which parents are coerced and manipulated by their children and is, in my opinion, the most significant stumbling block for parents to parent effectively.  I will talk about how induction essentially is the child's psychological way of preventing growth and bypassing their own emerging internal, emotional turmoil. Strategies to help parents overcome induction attempts will be presented.  

The Silent Epidemic of "Self-Estrangement" Among Today's Adolescents and Young Adults
This article evolved from my work with teens and families over the last year, and I intend to explore the issues and ideas I raise in more detail in future writings.  Any reactions or comments on this article would be greatly appreciated. 

To register for the August 20th meetings of the Educational Support Group for Parents, the Men's Group, and/or the Dating and Relationship Group: 
If you would like to attend the Educational Support Group for Parents (9:30 to 10:45 AM), the Men's Group (10:45 AM to 12:00 PM noon), or the Dating and Relationship Group (12:00 to 1:15 PM) on Saturday, August 20, 2016, please RSVP ASAP to Dr. Tobin at 949-338-4388 or There is a limit of 14 attendees for each group and registrants will be accommodated on a first-come/first-serve basis.  The fee is $25.00 and the location is The Water Garden Business Center, 23421 South Pointe Drive, Suite 130, Laguna Hills, CA, 92653.  Please note that these groups are educational in purpose, not therapeutic.
James Tobin, Ph.D., PSY 22074 | 949-338-4388 |