Psychoanalysis • Psychotherapy • Counseling

David I. Brandt, LCSW, LLC

Montclair, NJ Area

Tools & Insights

Blog

Does the Perspective of the Listener Matter?

Posted on April 9, 2014 at 11:36 PM Comments comments (8)
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Interesting Commentary on Marriage

Posted on March 29, 2014 at 4:46 PM Comments comments (0)
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(Do you see these couples as potentially peaceful? Bored and mechanized? Close or distant? OK or not OK?)

Can One Ever Successfully Possess or Fully Know Another Person?

Posted on March 29, 2014 at 4:38 PM Comments comments (4)
“Marriage … that odd mixture of violent devotion and legitimate lust in which desire eventually gives way to a forced and decorous composure that captures the essential opacity of even one’s most intimate partner”

Alberto Moravia (translated from Italian)

Getting to Know You!?™

Posted on March 29, 2014 at 4:17 PM Comments comments (0)
Getting to Know You!™

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"A man must eat a peck of salt with his friend, before he knows him.” Miguel De Cervantes

And that is A LOT of salt!  It takes time to really know if someone will become a friend or not (or a lover or not).  Too often we impulsively jump into a relationship, whether out of desperation, fear of being alone, insecurity, and/or over-exuberance - only to find that we actually had very little on which to base the relationship. We were really living out some projection, vision or fantasy in our heads.  It takes time to allow ourselves to be more vulnerable, which is what we need to do in order to grow and evolve greater intimacy. One cannot rush this process!!!

Additionally, getting to really know someone takes work at times and is definitely NOT all fun and games.  Part of eating a lot of “salt” together is, indeed, taking the time needed to learn about our interactional dynamics and styles and then learning to be mindful of them. We must also learn to DEVELOP OUR MUTUAL WILLINGNESS AND INTEREST IN adjusting in response to these dynamics and styles as needed.  So many run away at the first sign of rupture or difficulty.  Others simply avoid anything that smacks of confrontation. Often, we simply want it to go our way.

So one can see that a whole set of skills is needed in order to achieve truer and deeper relationships, not the least of which include patience, tolerance, empathy, interest and motivation, faith and ability to delay gratification, to name a few.  This is not to say that one cannot fall in love at first sight or shack up right away, or that it isn’t okay for passion to rule the day.  But it would probably be wise to at least be CONSCIOUS of what we are looking for in any given scenario!

Problem vs. Solution Focus

Posted on January 26, 2014 at 5:44 PM Comments comments (0)
Problem vs. Solution Focus

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Found this quote below. Sometimes, we really do need to focus in on, and deconstruct, issues, if only to raise our own consciousness of their essential components and/or of the issues themselves. There also comes a point where:

"If I focus on the problem, the problem gets bigger. If I focus on the solution, the solution gets bigger."

Thank you to Twitter @jonniqueen (whoever you may be!?) for this one.

As Paul Simon said, "Remember, one man's ceiling is another man's floor!

Posted on January 21, 2014 at 9:19 PM Comments comments (0)
(Thank you Laura Slap for this one.)


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A Friend is ...

Posted on January 2, 2014 at 3:23 PM Comments comments (0)
A friend is one to whom one may pour out all the contents of one's heart, chaff and grain together, knowing that the gentlest of hands will take and sift it, keep what is worth keeping and with a breath of kindness blow the rest away.

~George Eliot

Walking on Eggshells™

Posted on November 9, 2013 at 9:23 PM Comments comments (2)
Walking on Eggshells™

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Having to walk on eggshells around someone can be irritating, self-esteem annihilating, and may, over time, encourage completely giving up on communication with the person that makes one feel that way!  This in turn can lead the 'eggshell-walker' to passive-aggressive responses, over-sensitized responses, non-democratic decision-making (usurpation), and/or a whole host of other sequelae, as communication  devolves  over time!

The person who consciously or unconsciously makes others walk on eggshells has evolved this self-protection method, probably in the service of guarding themselves against potential (perceived or real) threats to their sense of control. Actions that cause others to walk on eggshells often are comprised of intimidation, anger, rage, stern faces, threatening-looking scowls, or oversensitivity and frequently feel an awful lot like being bullied feels.  As with bullying, these behaviors may be a cover for an underlying experience of powerlessness or a lack of another more effective and adaptive means of control. Thus, they serve a sort of positive "protective" function by limiting the amount of perceived danger and anxiety that can get in thereby helping one remain in control. But, like so many other defenses which start out in good service of the self, they end up undermining, angering, alienating and otherwise disconnecting the eggshell-maker from his or her world.

Interestingly, the person walking on eggshells may inadvertently be creating their own eggshells through their reactions and/or responses to experiencing this constant wall whenever they approach the eggshell creator. So a viscious cycle gets created, and perpetuated, and no one feels able to communicate and everyone involved feels unheard and hopeless!! Not a good place to be or way to feel!!

What does one do if one finds one's self in this scenario?  The best chances for success reside in helping the eggshell-maker raise his or her own awareness of his or her eggshell-making!  So often, one is not aware of the impact one's ways have on another!  Just having some truth or awareness to carry around in one's back pocket often starts the wheels of change a-rollin’!  We all know, however, that defenses don’t die easily since the need for protection from loss of control and anxiety is long accumulated and habituated - over years!

Also, defiance and confrontation are not typically the norm for people who find themselves frequently in patterns of walking on eggshells around others - nor is wave-making confrontation typically all that useful. What would seem to be most useful, at least in many cases, is some form of persistent (relentless even), but calm and matter-of-fact, management of these dynamics.  Remember that the eggshell-maker is (often unconsciously) very invested in these dynamics.  So a careful and yet steady zero-tolerance and consciousness-raising plan is probably needed, as are better communication skills (for both parties). 

In future blogs I will further detail strategies that can be used effectively in couples, parent-child, and other relationships, including with employers and employees.  If these strategies seem to be getting nowhere over time, then the direction of this management might need to change towards a calm, matter-of-fact ultimatum to go to couples, family or individual therapy.  Such an ultimatum must be thought about carefully as using it most certainly may exacerbate defenses.  Such an ultimatum should only be used as a last resort when one means business.

One last point:  Eventually, the eggshell-maker must learn to let go of his or her tremendous need for control and his or her such absolute takes on situations.  The door for healthy communication cannot be opened without some aspect of this "letting go" occurring!

Honest for Whom™

Posted on November 3, 2013 at 7:54 PM Comments comments (4)
Honest for Whom™

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How many times have we heard: “Honesty is the best policy.”  Or, “Be Real." Or, “I tell it like it is." Or, "I pull no punches.”  Or, “I say exactly what is on my mind.”  Whereas, in general, "the truth  will  set you free”, there are several situations where it may be better to think before we speak, or, in other words, where “discretion  is  the better part of valor”!

When one feels like “telling it like it is” and being totally up front and honest with another, it is a good idea to ask oneself, Honest for whom???  Are we being so honest and direct because  we  feel better after it?  To prove a point?  Exact our pound of flesh? Or, is there really a good purpose in our honesty?   What are our motives?  Are we helping someone or some situation or does it just end up being purely hurtful and gratuitous?  These questions to ourselves are important filters through which to test whether or not to disclose, or confront others with, our “truths”, as we subjectively experience them.  Taking a moment to reflect upon our motives vs. impulsively blurting out the “truth” is essential!

Since truth is often a subjective interpretation of matters, it is  our  truth and not necessarily another’s.  (And, by the way, IT IS INDEED important to attempt to be as honest as possible with ourselves!)  Much thought must therefore go into whether or not it would be helpful to confront another with our views/feelings.  There certainly are times when it is of great value.  As often, though, there are times when silence or letting a person come to their own sense of themselves and/or their actions is equally as valuable and perhaps much more likely to bear positive fruit!!


Save Your Analysis for Your Patients!!??

Posted on October 26, 2013 at 10:12 PM Comments comments (0)
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