November 14, 2017

I. From My Desk
 
Here are some thinkers whose work I have been exploring:
 
The acclaimed therapist and author of Mating in Captivity and a new book, The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity, attempts to deconstruct and refine traditional views of affairs.
 
The founder of interpersonal neurobiology, this prolific scientist and clinician turns his attention toward defining "the mind" and understanding the relationship between the mind and social experience.
 
3. Robert Wright on "Why Buddhism Is True"
Robert Wright, the author of Why Buddhism is True: The Science and Philosophy of Meditation and Enlightenment, is interviewed.
 
This Canadian psychologist characterizes the psychological and emotional significance of the father in modern family structures.  

II. Group Meeting Schedule on Saturday, November 18, 2017
 
  • The Men's Group: 10:15 to 11:30 AM
  • The Relationship Group: 11:45 AM to 1:00 PM
  • The Dynamic Psychotherapy Process Group:  1:15 to 2:30 PM 
 
The Men's Group: The "Fear-Shame Dynamic"
A common dynamic among heterosexual couples is the woman's inevitable expression of fear/concern/anxiety and her male partner's corresponding response of anger/rage/shame. Several authors, most notably Steven Stosny, Ph.D., have conceptualized this relational pattern as the "fear-shame dynamic."  These writers argue that the fear-shame dynamic is common and, unfortunately, responsible for significant levels of distress among couples, even breakup.  As the dynamic repeatedly unfolds and rigidness, each partner ends up feeling poorly misunderstood, misperceived, and caricatured.  
 
In the next meeting of the Men's Group on Saturday, November 18, 2017 (10:15 to 11:30 AM), we will explore the fear-shame dynamic, its origins, and ways to resolves it.  Moreover, we will consider how the fear-shame dynamic captures only one of the ways in which a man's vulnerability gets played out in romantic relationships.  In our discussion we will consider other common patterns and dynamics that emerge in relationships due to the activation of the male partner's vulnerability. 
 
The Relationship Group: Rethinking "No Strings Attached": The Capacity to See the Other 
When we love, we love with "strings attached." By this I mean that the object of our affection is always approached with the hope of fulfilling one's needs, wishes and desires.  In short, we want the other to be who we want him/her to be.  This is common and "normal," reflecting the deep evolutionary legacy of our human need to relate, bond and depend on an other.  Early in development we each approached our primary caregiver with the unconscious wish that this figure be what we need and want.    
 
However, most romantic relationship problems in my view are due to the failure to let go of this "strings attached" approach to bonding.  The other is never who we want him/her to be, and much suffering and conflict arise when this realization cannot be accepted and worked with. In the next meeting of the Relationship Group on Saturday, November 18, 2017 (11:45 AM to 1:00 PM), I will explain how a "no strings attached" attitude toward relationships is actually an advanced psychological capacity.  This capacity enables one to see his/her partner truly and authentically, without any contingencies or conditions.  It is this "seeing" that creates the potential for intimacy.
 
The Dynamic Psychotherapy Process Group
Our next group session will be on Saturday, November 18, 2017 (1:15 to 2:30 PM) at The Water Garden Business Center, 23421 South Pointe Drive, Suite 130, Laguna Hills, CA, 92653.  Group members are now being considered for a second psychotherapy process group that will begin at some point in the next several months.  If you are interested in exploring the possibility of joining this newly-forming psychotherapy process group, please contact me directly to schedule a consultation interview.   
 
**To register for the November 18th meetings of the Men's Group (10:15 to 11:30 AM) and/or the Relationship Group (11:45 AM to 1:00 PM):  If you would like to attend one or both of these groups on November 18, 2017, please RSVP ASAP to Dr. Tobin at 949-338-4388 or jt@jamestobinphd.com. 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 psychoeducational groups are educational in purpose, not therapeutic, and do not constitute psychotherapy or counseling.**

 
James Tobin, Ph.D., PSY 22074 | 949-338-4388 | jt@jamestobinphd.com