(I) Psychotherapy The Utility of Regret in Psychodynamic Psychotherapy  

The following talk will occur on Thursday, March 5, 2015 (12:00 to 1:00 PM) at Argosy University in Orange, CA: Regret is a complex, multi-determined, and significant component of the patient's interiority that is often de-emphasized in contemporary psychotherapy and superficially approached as a pathological mental activity. There is perhaps no other affective state more difficult to understand and tactically approach by the clinician than regret.  At any moment in the therapeutic process, regret could reflect masochistic self-contempt, narcissistic remorse, a defense against mourning and/or neurotic guilt.  Drawing from Michael Mann's feature film "Ali," in this presentation I will detail the psychic experience of regret by focusing on the film's climactic depiction of the "Rumble in the Jungle" fight in 1971 in which Ali utilized his rope-a-dope strategy to unexpectedly defeat the stronger and more powerful George Foreman.  When Foreman is knocked down by Ali and not able to continue, a profound mental process occurs in which the defeated fighter gains awareness of his naive self-representation, mourns the failure of his observing ego, and grieves the outcome of his continuing tendency toward self-sabotage.  This process of regret interrupts what Susan Kayaler-Adler calls the "perpetual sealing off" of the "psychic image system." My talk will elaborate on the experience of regret as a mechanism to support more realistic self- and other-appraisals and promote self-integration. 

(II) The Dating and Relationship Group:

Recognizing Personality Disturbance (Part II): Who Our Lover Becomes at the Inflection Point of Regression 

In this, the second installment of my series on personality disturbance, I will elaborate on ideas presented in Part I including the notion that personality is an adaptive organization steeped in early developmental experience and unresolved relational trauma.  In our next group meeting on Saturday, March 7, 2015 (12:00 to 1:15 PM), falling in love and the early phases of a committed relationship will be characterized as "regressive" -- that is, based on the emerging vulnerability and needs cultivated in the relationship, each partner recedes to unconscious levels of self-to-self and self-to-other configurations that are poorly developed or entirely arrested.  This marks the "inflection point" of the relationship and introduces a highly dramatized, often intensively conflictual, phase in which each partner re-traumatizes the other.  It is at this time that our partner literally becomes someone else.  Who this someone else is or may be will be portrayed utilizing Kernberg's components of the personality (i.e., cohesion, defense, and reality-testing).  Further, 9 styles of personality including narcissistic, manic, depressed, and hysterical, among others, will be presented and depicted as the psyche's way to defend against regression.  Implications of these processes for dating and romantic love will be explored.  If you plan to attend, please review Recognizing Personality Disturbance and Deprivation: An Introduction from our last group meeting. To register to attend the group on March 7th, please see the directions below. 

(III) Parenting:  Upcoming Webinar Series on Mircoanalytic Communication Patterns in Parent-Teen Conflict 

Empirical research by John Gottman and his colleagues shows that couples demonstrate characteristic ways of relating to each other that constrict how one partner engages with and responds to the other during communication.  This constriction leads to certain "contingencies" in couples, "rules" of being with and relating to each other that become rigidified over time and limit the potential for more vibrant, empathic, and healthy relational patterns.  The problematic communication patterns that yield poor relationships also occur in parent-child dynamics, most notably in parent-teen confrontations. Utilizing transcriptions of videotaped interactions between parents and their adolescent sons and daughters, I have developed a methodology for helping parents identify negative contingency patterns as they occur during verbal exchanges. In an upcoming webinar series, I will showcase this methodology and provide viewers with strategies for acknowledging and dis-embedding from numerous dysfunctional processes including induction, projection, identification and personalization.  Through the analysis of real parent-teen interactions, enhanced forms of relatedness will be promoted in which the parent will learn how to respond more effectively to the teen's bids for psychological usage. If you are interested in learning more about this webinar series, please send an email with "Parenting Webinar Series" in the subject line to me at jt@jamestobinphd.com. 


(IV) The Men's Group: 

Lifestyles of Accommodation vs. Assimilation: Distinguishing Characteristics  

In the next meeting of the Men's Group on Saturday, March 7, 2015 (10:45 AM to 12:00 PM noon), I will expand upon notions of the False Self presented in our last meeting.  As we have discussed, the False Self is a personality style which adheres to constructions of what others desire while simultaneously compromising self-relatedness.   In our next meeting, I will elaborate on the psychic significance of boundary formation by drawing on Freud's Oedipal Complex, Peter Fonagy's notion of "mentalization," and Esther Perel's conceptualization of eroticism in long-term monogamous relationships.  In these diverse frameworks, I will show how the boundary potentiates self-experience and "interiority," establishing a psychological capacity of assimilation in which life experience is utilized to inform and refine one's identity.  Alternatively, depending on the degree to which this capacity is fragmented or inhibited, life experience may be merely accommodated to; the result is that one's personhood may remain under-developed, conflicted or fraudulent.  The challenges of assimilation as they pertain specifically to masculinity will be emphasized in the next group meeting on March 7th.  If you plan to attend, please review the False Self document from our last group meeting. To register to attend this group, please see the directions below. 

To register for the March 7th meetings of the Men's Group and the Dating and Relationship Group: If you would like to attend the Men's Group and/or the Dating and Relationship Group on Saturday, March 7, 2015, 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.  
James Tobin, Ph.D., PSY 22074 | 949-338-4388 | jt@jamestobinphd.com 
Website: jamestobinphd.com
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