Archive for the ‘Columns’ Category

IT’S beginning to look a lot like that time of year when couples fight about their families. The festive season is upon us, with all the high expectations for fun times and sacks of raised hopes of family togetherness. If the prospect of spending holiday time with your partner’s family is about as attractive as shingles, take heart, there are ways to thrive in their difficult territory. I asked one of the best family relationship specialists around, psychologist and best-selling author Harriet Lerner, to help with some tips on how to be your best self under trying festive circumstances.

You can read the rest of the article at news.com.au right here

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d8678d2b3c65270e38531cec24739141Selfish, damaged, cold-hearted, shallow, overeducated and greedy. Women who choose not to have children are often labelled in these ways by everyone from the Pope to their co-workers.

Australian women experience marked social exclusion if they choose to remain childless – and it’s the choice part of the equation that leads to their deviant status. While all childless women experience some exclusion, women who have rejected the traditional ideal of motherhood are at the greatest risk of social disconnection. It is the very act of making a conscious and public choice to reject the role of mother that is overtly or tacitly criticised.


you can read the rest of this article here at the conversation.


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I am in the business of listening. Two days a week I settle into my chair in an act of mundane surrender. For the most part I am here to listen. But sitting like a slowly softening pat of butter will not do nicely. Like trying to meditate, listening is fraught with trivial and pressing distractions. I get carried off by my own concerns, the day-to-day detritus, things I’ve forgotten to do, mistakes it’s too late to repair, my knee that’s hurting again, the flash of the iPad on the desk with a message from my daughter.

Today as you talk, I feel your desperate need for an answer. Can you really leave your ageing mother, your autistic sister, and finally live on your own? I leave you as I weigh up the options on your behalf. Moving into territory that can be none of my business, waylaid from paying you attention by my own fear of your seemingly impossible situation. I must come back to you, to what you’re saying, come back to hearing you. And just as I do, your tongue slips, and instead of saying you’ll finally be able to leave when it’s your wedding day, a tired old family story, you say funeral. And we’re jolted awake, conscious, our eyes meeting, yours large and dark, mine smaller and light, that you’re dying there in that crumbling house caring for ingrates. And your decision comes closer to taking care of itself, finally fuelled by fires that have so far been hidden, unheard.

you can read the rest of this piece here John_William_Waterhouse_-_Thisbe_1909 at Meanjin.

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One of the more common pieces of advice given to new dads is to “learn by doing”. Think too much – as several comments to a recent Guardian piece on fatherhood argued – and you risk prejudicing the father-child relationship with ideology, psychological projections or other cerebral mess.

It’s not terrible advice but it rests on a key assumption: that parents emerge into their role the same way behavioural psychologists see their children, tabula rasa. But parents are not blank slates (nor, arguably, are kids). They inherit ideas, techniques and philosophies of parenting well before any “on the job” training starts.

you can read the rest of this article here at the guardian.

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One of our most persistent psychological myths is that what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. Abuse and disadvantage in fact have the opposite effect. We are weakened, and in some cases permanently diminished by significant traumas.

But some of us fare better than others in the lottery of endurance and renewal, and employers have recently set their sights on how to train us to be more competitive in the challenge of rolling with life’s punches.

Companies including NAB, BP and Royal Dutch Shell are now offering “resilience training” to their employees, and in line with recent studies of similar programs across a number of companies, it appears to be working.

Like the army, police force and schools, which have been delivering programs to help soldiers and their families accept and adapt to the horrors of war, the trauma of policing and the impact of bullying, corporations are having some impact on their workers’ ability to continue to be productive within a culture of hard knocks.

You can read the rest of this article here at theconversation.com/au

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The story of how psychology framed women for their own assaults began, as so many of psychology’s stories do, with some trapped animals. In the late 1960s, psychologist Martin Seligman conducted a series of behavioural experiments with dogs. He electrically shocked them at random and observed their responses.

After being locked in cages and subjected to pain that was unpredictable and uncontrollable, the dogs eventually gave up their attempts to escape, even when their cage doors were opened. In a now classic case of reframing, Seligman coined the term “learned helplessness” to describe their responses.

This new theory was incredibly attractive. It neatly and conveniently located the problem in the victims of violence, and manipulated their reality-based perceptions of a toxic and life-threatening environment.

Learned helplessness was such a socially palatable label for repeated victimisation that it’s still regularly applied to many victims of social, institutional and interpersonal violence. This includes, most notably, women subjected to domestic violence.

Like the slippery concepts of low self-esteem, Stockholm syndrome, co-dependence or traumatic bonding, learned helplessness has entered our vernacular. It has swallowed up socially accurate explanations for violence, until nothing is left but to blame the victim.

You can read the rest of the article here

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MY BOYFRIEND is incredibly hot. A manly furnace. A living sunbeam. Stand next to him and he radiates a lovely warmth. Lovely that is, until you’re under the covers with him in January and hoping for sweet, dreamless sleep.

Maybe you know the feeling? Your partner is a toaster oven and you prefer to sleep in a room where you can see your own breath. Maybe they love the night-life and you like to hit the pillow not long after the sun goes down. Maybe they snore, gnash their teeth or speak in tongues in the wee hours. Whatever the source of your bedtime incompatibility, it can really wreak havoc with both your sleeping habits and your relationship.

And if the forecast around parts of Australia tonight is as hot as they predict, lots of us will be having the same problem and the same argument as we toss and turn in the heat.

Let’s face it, sleep is bloody important. Without enough sleep we all eventually turn into snappy sugar-craving monsters. Sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture because it is torture. So if you’re looking for a solution to your couple sleeping woes, make sure you remember this: Sleep must always be king.

Many years ago I had a design all picked out for my forever love bed. It would have four posters and a canopy, lots of small pillows and a bedspread with eyelet lace. It was my friend Lyn’s bed, and when I slept over at her place, after we’d finished dinner and watched The Monkees, I got to share it with her.

You can read the rest of the article here

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