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ManagingHostile Anger in Relationships

July 1st, 2016 Comments Off on ManagingHostile Anger in Relationships

Anger, Stress and Anxiety Management Tips for Satisfying Relationships


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How does hostility show up in your relationship?

Are you shocked when your partner suddenly turns nasty? Do you wonder what on earth made someone you love become angry, hostile and aggressive in their attitude towards you? Does it feel like they have a surprising well of hatred directed at you?

Perhaps you cower in fear until your partner calms down, not daring to breathe in case the hostile attitude becomes physically violent. Maybe you try to stand up for your side of the story but find that you are drowned out, mocked and or dismissed. But when all is said and done, you’re still left wondering how it got this way. You still don’t understand what makes your partner so mean and even cruel when you haven’t done anything different and are not knowingly provoking them.

This was exactly the puzzle facing 35-year-old Cara, a school nurse, who loved and cared for her partner Miles, a 38-year-old district sales manager for a soft drinks firm. They both loved their 3 young children, and had a good standard of living. The only problem was that Cara frequently  got destabilized when Miles suddenly flew off the handle and either accused her of being disloyal, or devalued her role in the family by suggesting that her financial contribution was insignificant and she cared more about the kids in school she worked at than her own.



The Trifecta of Hostility

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The language Miles used when he verbally abused his wife was contemptuous and demeaning. It made him feel strong and superior, exactly the feelings he wanted but daren’t express when he was growing up. Now he could stand his ground and let that long held defiance, aggression and sense of righteous power take the stage.  He had nothing to lose.  In that moment when he felt that Cara was more into her job than her family, he was filled with contempt, making his wife a dispensable object. He was better than her!

When Cara heard his contemptuous words and tone, she did feel inferior, just as he intended. It took her back to her childhood when she heard her mother talk to her father as if he was a wimp, threatening to leave him, and going as far as having an affair; confident that her husband wouldn’t do anything about it.


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2. Anger

When Miles was calm Cara tried to talk about their way of relating, hoping that he would make room for her need to have a job that was fulfilling. She hoped to get him to understand that just because she worked with kids and enjoyed it, it didn’t mean that she didn’t love him or their kids. But he never believed her and refused to talk about their different views about love and how each of them wanted it shown. Other times he would be so furious if she came home late that he would literally corner her into ‘talking’ about their relationship. It was more like a monologue of ranting about how he wasn’t going to take this anymore because she was not acting like a loving wife.


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3. Disgust

 Often his sadness over her not being the kind of wife he wanted, and his fear that she might leave him underpinned his hostility. He would get rid of the sadness and fear because they made him feel weak. Instead he felt disgusted with her, as if her inability to be what he wanted somehow tainted him.  At these times he threatened her with moving to another place so she would have to stop working, or by refusing sex and affection.

Cara travelled her own path of fear that their marriage would become untenable, and sadness that her husband didn’t see that she loved him and, that her actions were not a sign of lacking love. She too felt angry that there seemed to be so little room for her to be herself, but she just couldn’t get her head around the hostility erupting from Miles.

Anger, Contempt and Disgust (ANONI) Are Triggered by Different Relational stresses

So let’s help Cara out. An article in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, February 2016 described hostile people as having a combination of anger, contempt and disgust, and to a lesser extent experiencing fear and sadness too. This group of people are referred to as ANCODI . Researchers found that those who fitted into this hostile group were more physically forceful moving around from task to task. People in the ANCODI group would show anger if they felt obstructed in a goal, like Miles felt when he couldn’t get Cara to obey him. The feelings of contempt emerged when a person felt superiority, just as Miles felt when he demeaned her role in the family. When an ANCODI person perceived their partner to be ‘contaminating’ then they would show disgust, as Miles did when he was disgusted with Cara for loving her work more than her family. So Miles is a perfect ANCODI candidate.

How does someone like Miles Become Hostile?

But these labels and descriptions still don’t help Cara in understanding how Miles got this way and what she can do to manage it when he becomes hostile. An article in the journal Psychiatry Research, 2016 detailed a history of childhood trauma that messes with the development of impulse control in the frontal lobes of the brain. The experiences of being bullied, ridiculed and emotionally abandoned by two alcoholic parents on an ongoing basis interfered with the normal development of his executive function. He wasn’t able to develop impulse control, self-monitoring and goal directed behavior when provoked, scared or angry. His early emotional traumas stunted his psychological growth, leaving him operating without those crucial abilities.

We also know from research published in the journal Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging, 2016, that when the development of these vital executive functions are disrupted or stopped, there is reduced volume in frontolimbic brain structures and that it is associated with increased aggressiveness. The traumas of his childhood disrupted the development of his brain’s emotion-regulating circuitry that now increases his propensity of rage and aggression, two factors associated with hostility.

Hostility shows up when each partner’s history mixes and creates a perfect storm

Cara’s responsibility to make the marriage more balanced and settles



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So now that Cara has a better idea of where and why Miles’s hostility is coming from, she can breathe one sigh of relief that it is not personal in the way she experienced it. Miles has undeveloped and poorly formed skills of emotional control and use of judgement. But her childhood experience of watching her father get kicked and trampled by her mother led her to see men as walk overs. So when Miles acts in a hostile manner she is off guard and can’t deal with it.

Cara now needs to develop her assertiveness and personal boundaries – the very things she wished her father would do, but didn’t! She can begin that process by working through her experiences of witnessing a strong powerful mother overshadow a meek doormat of a father. In a psychodynamically oriented therapeutic relationship she can gain a more balanced view of romantic relationships without fearing that if she owned her own power, she would become like her mother that she disliked and feared. A good relationship with a strong but not overbearing female therapist would enable Cara to get up to speed on developing her assertiveness and sense of comfort with her own self-empowerment. Then she can deal with Miles’s hostile attitudes as he focuses on building up his abilities in self-monitoring and control.



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Miles’s responsibility to make his marriage more stable and comfortable

Miles would benefit from having the optimal developmental experiences that he missed out on, so that he can wire his brain in a more mature manner, so that he can integrate emotion and judgement, and develop a better control of his impulses. He can do this in a nurturing psychodynamic therapeutic environment where he receives the appropriate parenting experience. Then the right neural connections can be created, reinforced and practiced. As he uses the therapeutic relationship to foster the essential emotional learning he needs, he will be less fearful of Cara not loving him enough. He will become more comfortable with the idea that love of her work is different to, but not in competition for her love of him. Miles will feel more secure and less in need to using hostile attitudes to control and force Cara to obey him out of fear.

Some of you might be wondering why couples therapy is not a good option. It’s a good question. The answer is that both Cara and Miles have very personal and unique traumas that prevent them from making a team based on equality and stability. So unless they work on themselves and come to a point of development where they are ready for that, couples therapy will only escalate their already rocky relationship.

copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D. 2016

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5 Ways Self-Care Strengthens Relationships

June 13th, 2016 Comments Off on 5 Ways Self-Care Strengthens Relationships

Anger, Stress and Anxiety Management Tips for Satisfying Relationships

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Are you exhausted taking care of your partner, your family, your extended family, your colleagues and your living arrangements?

Does it make you feel good that you attended to your partner and children, put them first and played the role of dutiful and loving care giver?

Perhaps you think that by making everything and everyone else your priority that you will be rewarded with appreciation, recognition, and admiration.

But there is probably another part of you that is aching to get off the treadmill and feed your soul. You know you are depleted and often not able to enjoy your relationship as much as you would if you didn't feel burdened with never ending duties and jobs.

You know that most of the day you shut off your feelings and needs because they conflict with your dutiful self. So you kind of 'die' inside, feeling less than human.

When you aren't able to fully enjoy your relationship, you put it in jepoardy. If you can't fully participate emotionally then the threads of connection get lose and threaten the unity between you.

In order to avoid losing your connection, you have to take care of yourself and others. It's not an either or situation, it's a "both" scenario. It doesn't mean leaving them and going on trips or avoiding chores for a day or two, but rather a recognition of your humanity and the important role it plays in maintaining and sustaining your most important relationship.

What is self Care and Why is it So Important In a Long Term Relationship?

Self-care means you tune into your feelings and needs, and take charge of getting them met. Self-care involves putting your contentment and fulfillment in your own hands, being empowered to create and utilize opportunities to have your emotional needs met – for security, stability, achievement, caring and being cared for.

Self-care is about valuing yourself in an authentic manner and taking your emotional and psychological wellbeing seriously. It’s more than just surviving physically so you can get by on autopilot. It’s about functioning as a tuned in, grounded, centered and flexible person, able to go with the flow of emotional upheavals that would otherwise decimate you.

Self-Care is relevant to both men and women struggling to keep their balance in relationships in same sex and heterosexual connections

The evidence for self-care in maintaining good mental, emotional and physical health

Science tells us that self-care is essential for healthy relationships with good boundaries and realistic expectations. Without proper regular and consistent self-care people end up in abusive relationships, co-dependent relationships, use and abuse substances and are prone to anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and psychosomatic conditions like chronic pain, gastric and skin problems.

When we neglect self-care we are depersonalizing ourselves and giving the power and authority to others to value us enough to take care of us.

For example many of my clients will go on till they drop to show their commitment and martyrdom to their loved ones. They do this hoping to get permission to slow down and take care of their need for down time, alone time, play time and soul replenishing time. Then they get angry when those same loved ones respond by saying, " I never asked you to do this!" Resentment festers on both sides, and distance grows as each party tries to navigate the trecherous waters of isolation versus relying on one another in a healthy way.

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Taking Care of You Own Emotions and Needs Makes Less Demands on the Relationship, Making More Time for Enjoying Each Other


How did you get to be this way? How have you become a master at taking care of everyone else and a loser when it comes to taking care of yourself?

Growing up in an atomosphere where your parents needs competed and conflicted with your own sowed the seeds for neglecting yourself. You were probably focused on making sure your parents were okay and were rewarded for it by getting some attention or treat. On the other hand, if you cried out for what you needed or showed displeasure when you didn't get it, you were most likely berated and or punished. So your needs became dangerous and ugly. You survived by putting all your energies into taking care of those around you, waiting for the praise and recognition, that you were important and deserved care too.

Real life examples of clients who struggle with self-care

A. Joanne, a 37 year old carer in a residential home for the elderly, cannot stop working and has projects lined up so that when one finishes she has another. She gets anxious when she has ‘space’ for herself because it echoes her childhood desperate need to “work” to please and get attention from her mother who was a work- a- holic! Now as an adult she is not able to be emotionally present for her husband, She is drowning in guilt She has to break a toe, forcing her to stop her frantic work/exercise routine and take time for some personal space. As her therapy progresses she is beginning to notice that she gets care from me just for being herself and that she doesn't need to please me in order to get it. This is the beginning of her entertaining the idea that she is worthy, and deserves to care for herself.

B. Brody a 39- year- old banker is permanently stressed out. He travels for work, has a large team to manage, and feels overwhelmed when he is at home and the demands of a wife and young children get to him. He feels guilty if he spends time with friends, sleeps too long or responds to work calls when he is home. He tries to organize activities and do practical household repairs and such to take care of his family, but never feels that he earns some "me time." He keeps waiting and hoping that his wife will see the pressure he is under and take him off the hook. But she doesn't, making him feel inadequate. Instead of taking care of his emotional needs he doubles down on doing things in the home, and then in the guise of 'fitness', goes for bike rides, in an effort to free himself of the vicious cycle.

C.Helen a 45- year- old personal assistant and single parent of a teenage boy has a hard time with self-care. Keeping house and home for her son, earning her way in life and managing co-parenting with a difficult divorcee she is easily overwhelmed. She gets exhausted, depressed, angry, protests and then drops off the world into a bubble and does nothing – giving herself back to herself in a way. She also develops pains and ‘fainting’ that make her stop being a robot and take care of herself. Otherwise she numbs herself with food.After a period of therapy when she has allowed me to nurture her, she then takes care of herself by joining dance, photography, and other creative arts classes, as well as being with friends. 

D. Tyrone a 32-year-old self made business man worried about his three young children all the time. He didn't trust his wife to treat them with care and kindness becasue of her harsh personality. He put all his efforts into ensuring that his kids had good nannies, extra-curricular activities to which he accompanied them, and most of all he made himself available to adddress their emotional hurt, anger, frustration, desires and fears. He went overboard on the latter because he didn't have those important things when he was young. He knew the toll it took on him and went all out to make sure his children didn't suffer in the same way. But while doing this, he completely ignored himself. He was tired all the time, pushed himself when he was exhausted and irritable, He hoped that his wife would notice, and learn from him so he could let go a little. But that was a pipe dream. He was always at hand to help his mother and siblings when they needed something, and they never hesitated to ask because he was so willing . Similarly with cousins and other extended family figures He was known for his unselfish devotion to duty, except that it was killing him. He didn't have any sense of self-care until his health started to deteriorate. His blood pressure rose with his weight, he started drinking and suffered insomnia. Finally well into his therapy he began to see the value of self-care. He was feeling empty and cut off from his loved ones. He gave of himself, but got nothing in return and was angry and bitter. We worked on him saying 'no' when he didn't want to do things. At the same time, we worked on his guilt about it, and his fear that he would be alone and shunned if he didn't take care of everyone the way he had been doing.





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Beginning The Act of Self-Care: Setting up strategies

One of the most important aspects of self-care is to realize when you need to depend on someone for something. Self-care involves knowing and allowing yourself to ask for help and support for as long as you need it while you are dealing with difficult issues.Recognizing your energy limitations, stress overload, need for sleep or solace is a vital component to self care. Waiting till you get ill and incapacitated or someone rescues you to ease your guilt and suffering is the opposite of self-care.

1. Develop a hobby and or interest outside the family and make it part of your life, not just fit it in if you suddenly have a few free minutes.

2. Work on being aware of and in tune with your body without trying to push yourself into exhaustion just to feel the 'burn!'

Yoga, running, hiking, biking, swiming, dancing, tai chi, etc. 

3. Make sure you have healthy boundaries with family and friends. That means not getting sucked into other peoples needs and treating them as kids, while being encouraging when they begin to take care of themselves. Healthy boundaries includes developing a skin that takes care of what you are experiencing in ways that honor yourself, without panicking or leaking out for others to mop up.

4. Make time for personal 'check-ins' to discover what's going on inside you so that you plan for and take care of your needs before they reach a crtical point. A 30 second check in several times a day works and when it becomes automatic, your awareness will ensure effortless maintaining of boundaries and satisfaction of need. That means you won't be over dependent or have others be overly dependent on you.

5. Express your feelings when they come up in the moment. That ensures that you don't stuff them, become stressed, ill and angry. Expressing your feelings in the moment educates others and maintains authenticity on both sides. Being true to yourself means you take responsibility for yourself, another term for self-care.


How do I as a therapist help clients engage in Self-Care?

In addition to helping my clients understand their mind-body connection, I help them view the repeated patterns of relationship interaction that create co-dependency rather than mutual inter-depenency. 

I have used art therapy – specifically collage to give them a chance to get in touch with and talk about their feelings, processing their experiences rather than just going at it. In addition I have found giving clients permission to step out of their routine and go to a museum, hike, spa, tea shop, farmers market etc. has been enormously powerful in developing habits of self-care.


copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D. 2016

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Releasing Pain in Your Body By Getting in Touch with Buried Emotions

June 6th, 2016 Comments Off on Releasing Pain in Your Body By Getting in Touch with Buried Emotions


Anger, Stress and Anxiety Management Tips for Satisfying Relationships

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Chronic pain is the most common debilitating experience for a quarter of all American’s under 60 years of age, and costs $635 billion a year to health care services. Opioids caused 18,893 overdose deaths in the United States in 2014, according to the American Society of Addiction Medicine. Andrew Ahn, chief scientific officer of pain research at Lilly, said opioids are effective against acute pain, but have limited and decreasing effectiveness against chronic pain. Recently, in May 2016 in JAMA Internal Medicine reported that opiods perform in a subpar manner for chronic low back pain. .An article in the Journal of Neuroscience, 2105, reports that strong opiates like morphine offer little relief because they don’t release the rewarding dopamine neurotransmitters that would ease chronic pain. The Journal Anesthesia & Analgesia, 2007 indicates that pain disrupts the process whereby you consolidate your learning into long-term memory storage. So when you can’t form a memory of a good feeling or experience during relaxation, meditation, yoga or other non-invasive practices, your chronic pain quite literally, drives you to distraction.

In many cases there is no organic source for chronic pain – MRI and CAT scans reveal no particular abnormality or malfunction that could be medically corrected. Alternative medicine such as acupuncture can help for some types of pain, but chronic emotional stress renders the benefits moot. Exercise, Tai chi, and meditation involve life style changes that many with chronic pain are not inclined to invest in while suffering.

But, there is enormous hope and relief available to you at little cost as a large body of research shows that intense negative emotions unexpressed are held in the body and are usually at the root of chronic pain.

It starts from early childhood when your care givers fail to tune into your feelings and soothe you while helping you feel safe. Perhaps you were shut down if you tried to express your anger, fear, distress or need for comfort. If so, you will have learned that it’s not safe to let your feelings out. So you stuffed them in the body trying to be strong. You may have little or no conscious memory of being hurt in this way, because early childhood memories are stored in the body. Furthermore if you grew up in an environment where no one talked of feelings, you never developed a vocabulary of emotional expression, and continued stuffing the bad feelings in your body.

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Chronic Pain in Adulthood Often Stems From Childhood Adversitites

Children from high conflict homes, by training their brains to be vigilant, process signs of interpersonal emotion, either anger or happiness, differently than children from low conflict homes, (Journal of Family Psychology, 2015) and are more likely to feel stressful emotions in their body since they learned it was the safe thing to do.

You have been doing a valiant job trying to survive by holding in your stress, fear, hurt and desperate need for comfort and security. You’ve been so brave not showing how neglected, rejected and undervalued you felt by those who you were supposed to rely on. But in order to be the good soldier, you had to stuff those unbearable feelings somewhere, and the easiest place to do so was your body. After all, fear and anxiety is a physical experience – that pit in your stomach, and the racing heart, with tension in the muscles. You freeze and that fear is stored as a memory in your body because you daren’t show or tell for fear of being ridiculed or ignored. Over time, it’s become overwhelming and screaming out to you in pain, begging you to own those awful feelings, look at them, touch and feel them, understand them, digest them and free yourself forever.

For example the way in which you were attended to as an infant when you were uncomfortable and needing soothing, has a huge influence on the severity of chronic pain in adulthood. If you were left hanging as a kid, and never knew when or if you were going to be taken care of when you were then your focus was on getting the care, or trying to handle the fear of being ignored. These two styles of attachment, known as the ‘preoccupied’ and ‘fearful’ styles of attachment are associated with heightened pain severity, and pain catastrophizing’ according to a report by the American Pain Society in 2009.

Another study reported in Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 2015 found that greater levels of cumulative stress during childhood and adolescence predicted lower reward-related  activity in the ventral striatum of the brain in adulthood. Lower rewards in this part of the brain means that pain becomes more prominent and persistent.

Childhood stress and psychological abuse and neglect has been shown to increase inflammatory markers in the blood stream that continues into adulthood. Inflammation caused by stress leads to chronic pain and becomes a major health issue, (Molecular Psychiatry, 2015). Women who have been severely mistreated and abused emotionally and or physically end up with chronic pain through heightened cortisol levels that reflect permanently altered stress hormones.



Chronic pain can be viewed as a learned memory, reported The 9th Annual Canadian Neuroscience Meeting, 2015 Just like in the way that repetition of a piano piece enables you to learn it by facilitating transmission of the appropriate signals through your neurons, pain that persists can become chronic because your neurons become more efficient at transmitting pain signals. This strengthening of connections between neurons through repeated use is called Long Term Potentiation, because you have kept those emotions stuffed, and then add repeated layers of uncomfortable feelings. So the pain gets stronger and they feed off each other.

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Chronic Pain is Reduced By Expressing Anger and Sadness Bottled Up For a Long Time

Let’s take the case of 35-year old Matthew who suffered chronic right hip pain with excruciating sciatica all down his right leg. He was irritable anticipating the pain as he woke and got out of bed, having to brace himself against the pain as he stood up. The persistent chronic pain affected his mobility, sapped his energy and made him want to give up on life. Imaging scans revealed no abnormalities or bone loss. Strong medication made him nauseous, physical therapy increased the pain; and massage was only temporarily soothing. Matthew was constantly tense and ‘armored up’ ready for the pain, wishing he could control it. He tried comfort food and alcohol but it was a fleeting sense of taking action that made him feel good. The pain remained, like a dark shadow he couldn’t shake and had to succumb to.

While in therapy to deal with marital conflict, Mathew noticed that when he felt understood and accepted, his pain went away. He discovered that when he went camping or sailing, and when he played with his kids, he was pain free. But he wasn’t aware of it at the time: it was only when he reflected on his experience of comfort versus discomfort that he made this connection. As he got more connected with his emotions Matthew realized the rage inside him about having to play a parental role in his marriage, just as he had parented his mother during his childhood when she ‘lost it,’ and frequently panicked. As we explored his earliest experiences with information from his grandmother and mother, we learned that his mother was sick after giving birth, , and his care became somewhat haphazard. Matthew as you can imagine wasn’t secure and couldn’t rely on care givers to meet his needs. Fear for his survival and later anger at his mother for not being emotionally strong – all went into his body, and it was only when he was safe and received consistent care in therapy could he reconnect with these awful feelings. When he did feel them in session the pain lessened, once we started putting words to them.

He began to notice that the pain got worse when he anticipated his wife demanding that he behave a certain way, and haranguing him when he didn’t live up to her expectations. It was the same when he knew he had to spend time with his mother and brother who derided him for not molding himself to their ideal. But he never told them how he felt. He never shared how angry he was at being controlled, nor how he feared that his autonomy and individuality was being crushed. He tried to be ‘above’ it, as if nothing touched him – except that it did, on a continual basis, resulting in severe and chronic pain in his body. The journal Emotion , 2007 published a study that showed that attempts to suppress anger may amplify pain sensitivity by ironically augmenting perception of the irritating and frustrating qualities of pain. Matthew was keeping his pain bottled in and feeling more pain as a result.

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Chronic Pain Management Success – Research Shows Emotional Expression Relieves Pain

It took a long time for Matthew to feel safe enough to express his anger and terror of being squashed in session with me. But when he did, he felt seen, heard and acknowledged. He was validated and the pain vanished until the next time he ignored his feelings and let his body scream out his emotional pain.

The Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 2013, published a study that anger awareness and expression training was effective in helping with headaches, and it’s likely that Matthew whose therapy was facilitating anger awareness, will also be helped to deal with his hip and sciatic nerve pain.


Chronic Abdominal and Musceloskelatal Pain Releieved By Expressing Long Suppressed Emotions

At the age of 40 Sara had been suffering from a range of chronic pains including stomach cramp, ankle pain, ear ache, neck and shoulder pain as well as back pain. These chronic conditions that flared up from time to time and caused enormous exhaustion trying to manage them, since neither homeopathic nor traditional medicine appeared to offer relief or an understanding of the source of the pain. There were no organic abnormalities and other than binge eating when she needed to comfort herself, health wise Sara was doing okay. She went through life pretending to be interested or present with family and others. But inside she was always on guard. Would they see and acknowledge her or would she just be on the periphery of their lives, just as she had experienced as a child? Wanting comfortable connection but fearing being ignored or chided, it was easier to just become part of the scenery as if she didn’t exist. The only problem was that she suffered a deep and insatiable longing for connection from a receptive caring person that she could trust. That longing became stuffed because it would be weak to show it. The longing and pain of not having that connection and nurturance was reflected in her ankle pain when she didn’t want to go to work, and wished to be put to bed and cared for. As soon as she and I worked on exposing the feelings of needing reassurance and being important enough to be cared for, the ankle pain abated.

Stomach cramps plagued Sara often. They seemed to come from nowhere and despite Sara’s desperate efforts to relate it to her menstrual cycle; we noticed that the cramps came at random. She did not have any disease such as Irritible Bowel Syndrome or Inflammatory Bowel Disease, although those who do often experience non-organic pain. The Journal of Gastroenterology, 2011 reports that a tendency to experience the world in negative ways (neuroticism) tends to be higher in patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and is a risk factor for chronic, unexplained pain in IBS.

After I drew out Sara’s anger at her father for not protecting her as a youngster, and her current feelings of being unsafe in her apartment, it was as if the cramps were massaged away after she expressed the suppressed emotions. Other times our discussions would reveal that her abdominal pain was a sign of the stuffed terror of being forgotten by her parents, leaving her alone in a big storm. I encouraged her to put her terror into words and speak the fear to her parents as if they were there with her. The dry nauseous sobs coming from the pit of her belly released her from her pain – until the next time she felt her alone and abandoned. She let out her fear, rage and anxiety about being unloved – otherwise why would they have abandoned her. Then we worked on her abandonment fears, helping her express them, and receive the security she craved from my consistent presence and nurturing in a reliable way.

As Sara became more aware of all her stuffed emotions, and therapy made it safe for her to feel them, she released the pain from her body, owning the emotions and letting out the years of unresolved relationship stress. At first Sara found it easiest to access and express her intense emotions through various artistic activities and then talking with me about them. We also used her vivid dreams to help access her unbearable and overwhelming emotions that had been stuffed for her whole life. Getting her to write journal letters to her mother, grandmother and father about all the times she felt rejected and unimportant helped her to keep up the emotional expression in between therapy sessions.

In 2016 the American Pain Society at their 35th Annual Scientific Meeting presented a study that showed that patients with Fibromyalgia did best when offered Emotional Awareness and Expression Therapy, as I did with Sara. These patients did least well with Cognitive Behavioral therapy that is more intellectual and doesn’t release the feelings buried in the body, giving pain.

The two examples I have described represent many of the patients I see with similar chronic pain issues. They all have concurrent mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, eating disorders and chronic pain disorders. An article in the Journal of Pain 2015 reports that one quarter of young people have co-existing emotional disorders and chronic pain, showing the intimate connection between them. The onset of pain was frequently preceded by mental disorders. For example, affective disorders such as depression occurred particularly frequently before headaches. Furthermore, anxiety disorders often occurred before neck and back pain, as well as before headaches.

With so much evidence pointing to early mistreatment and neglect causing stress, with suppression of emotions leading to chronic pain in adulthood, it’s important to take your feelings seriously in terms of releasing yourself from the pain that plagues you. We now also have a good deal of evidence that therapies involving emotional expression especially anger and sadness work! Chronic pain is reduced and that reduction is maintained as you feel safe to continue expressing feelings as they arise.


Copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.


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Disclaimer: this article is for educational and informational purposes only. There is no liability on the part of Dr. Raymond for any reactions you may have when reading the material or following the suggestions therein. Interacting with this material does not constitute a therapeutic relationship with Dr. Raymond.

A Series of Dreams About Failing Tests Rescues Damien From Ruining His Life

February 22nd, 2016 Comments Off on A Series of Dreams About Failing Tests Rescues Damien From Ruining His Life

Anger, Stress and Anxiety Management Tips for Satisfying Relationships


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Damien's Dreams Prevent Him From Ruining His LIfe – part 4

Settling into married life felt good. Damien was content and very relieved that he had got that part of his life sorted out. But now he was having problems at work. He was making errors on tasks that he routinely did with no difficulty. His confidence cracked and his stress levels went through the roof. His rhythm became disturbed and he couldn’t get back on track to do things on time, and that jarred even more on his perfectionistic attitude. Irritable when he got home, he found it hard to tell his wife about his ‘failures’ and deprived himself of comfort and understanding.

Fearful for his reputation and job, Damien had a series of scary dreams about being tested for exams, just like he felt tested in his life at the time. These dreams were instrumental in getting his confidence back and performing adequately.

The first dream shows how he is on the brink of an emotional crisis

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The pendulum swings from over confidence to an expectation of failure

“I was studying for my final biology exam. I was in lab tech school. It was just before 8 and I thought I had time to visit my spiritual guide. So I walked to his house to say hi. Then I saw my mother and brother come in but I didn’t stay to talk. I knew I had to go to school to do my test on time. I thought I had time to walk, but as I walked and walked I saw that it was 8:10. I wondered if I should go back to the spiritual guide’s house and get my car. But I decided to keep walking. Then it was 8:30 and I thought I should get an Uber. Everyone could see how upset I was, and how I failed.  I was trying to download the app and was getting very frustrated and anxious. My whole life was about to be ruined. Then I woke up. “

Damien was shaken by the stark precipice of success versus failure he encountered in his dream – dependent on his ability to use judgement and make the right choices, which he isn’t sure he can do. Discussing the dream in therapy, Damien was able to see how scared he was in his real life that he may not succeed. The dream shows him that when he becomes over confident, he loses his balanced center. He over estimates what is possible and doesn’t check into his inner core to make sure he is adequately prepared psychologically.

We analyzed the dream together by talking about the symbols that came up

He knows he needs to check in with his spiritual guide (a symbol of his inner wisdom) but doesn’t quite do so. Then he ignores both his family members both of whom symbolize his broken link with his core self, putting his whole future on the line. He shuns the female part of him (his mother, the grounding and nurturing part of his soul); and he doesn’t greet the male part of him (his brother) the strong rational dependent part of his core self. The act of dismissing these two balanced parts of him put him in jeopardy. He becomes frustrated, looking for something outside himself to rescue him (the Uber application). But it doesn’t work. In the dream he feels exposed and judged by those around him – a symbol of his waking self being ashamed of his lack of judgment and overconfidence. He is being made to feel how bad things get when he loses touch with his authentic self that has the wisdom to guide him.

The message this dream is offering is one of learning to access, tune in and attend to his inner soul which will guide him into making the right choices for his well-being, rather than looking outside of himself to be rescued from possible failure.

Focused exclusively on the part of him that was involved with his new marriage, he had broken loose from his center, heady with the success of his relationship. The dream gives him a scare so that he reunites with his inner core and use his inner guide and all parts of himself to be a success.

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Damien didn’t take the dream message seriously and within a few weeks he had a nightmare to drive the point home.

“I was doing a test in school and I didn’t pass. The dean called me and he was crying and said sorry he couldn’t do anything about it. If I took it again and failed I would be thrown out of med school and that would be the end of everything. I had to put more effort into it and not get distracted.  I wouldn’t have a good life and no career. It was a nightmare and when I woke up I was so happy it wasn’t real. It was a huge relief.”

Talking about his relief, Damien realized that his nightmare could become a reality if he didn’t pay attention to balancing his inner self. He wouldn’t be anything if he just assumed that things would work out without the link to his ‘guide’ that could keep him nourished and stable. His reliance once again on an outside force to rescue him (the dean) wasn’t going to work.

The experience of failure in the dream came to remind him that he hadn’t fully absorbed the lesson in the prior dream. Damien tends to hand over his authority to someone else and suffers as a result. So this dream is an even sharper reminder that he has to tune in and trust his inner guide who will ensure that he will pass life’s tests as and when they come along.

This time Damien took the message to heart and his next dream exemplified it.

“I was walking from school up a hiking trail to a mountain. There was a museum there like the The views were spectacular. It was open and there were lots of people there. It was magnificent. The museum had stuff that people had made from the past and I thought about how they did it and that that person in that time touched this.”

We talked of the place of learning that brought back memories of being there for 10 years as a student. He had gone there to study and it felt like a home. Damien is now showing signs that he is tuning into himself (home) as a source of wisdom because it’s a place where he learned and matured.

He described the museum as being a place of respect – that keeps history and shows what people did in the past, where one can see what they once worked on. Damien is learning to respect his own personal history and development, respecting it and honoring it, instead of always looking to someone or something outside of himself to guide him.

In the dream he enjoyed the scenery and good views indicating that it made him feel free, good, and alive. So we can see how Damien is in touch with his own internal scenery that liberates him and brings him vitality.

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The need to be perfect rocked Damien's boat, threatening to capsize his boat and throw him into choppy seas

In the next few weeks, Damien experienced several triggers at work that shook his confidence, propelling him towards trying to be perfect and please everyone around him. He was going back to what was familiar – yet irritated that he couldn’t maintain his inner calm. Another dream came along to help him feel solid again.

“I am in high school, and have to do a math test but feel like I’m not prepared. My wife is with me. I see a booth where you can take a practice test that predicts how well you do on the real thing. I took it and got 95%. That was good and I knew that I could do it. It was empowering.”

We noticed that the good feelings Damien had after this dream were very different to the fear and panic at the end of the previous dreams. Something has shifted inside him that points to a greater sense of self-trust as he keeps putting himself to the test. He seems to continue to need proof that he is okay and isn’t just lazy and dependent like his father and brother.

He wants to be sure that he has what it takes for his future, needing to ‘practice,’ get assurance and relieve his anxiety.

The symbol of Math is probably related to ‘adding and subtracting’ things in his life. Almost as if he is sorting out what’s useful and discarding what gets in the way. In real life he is ‘adding’ other activities in his personal life like picking up his interest in comic books. His wife is with him in the dream suggesting that he is identifying more with his adult self and less with his family of origin that had held him back. But unfortunately he only gets it right 95% of the time. Ninety-five is an odd number indicating he still has a way to go to make his life more even and wholesome

Damien is fortunate to work on his inner core with a therapist who helps him understand the value and power of his dreams. You can too.

In part 5 I’ll show you how Damien struggled with his journey towards greater confidence and more self-trust in his life, as his dreams continued to illuminate his progress as he navigated fears of not being perfect, constantly needing proof of his ability to pass life’s tests.


Copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.

AUTHOR OF:' Now You Want Me, Now You Don't! Fear of Intimacy: Ten ways to recognize it and ten ways to manage it in your relationship.

You might also like:

How a dream can help you overcome the fear of making your own choices (Damien's dreams, part 1)

How a dream about an aligator helped Damien choose between his girlfriend and his mother ( Damien's dreams, part 2)

How a dream about an interview helped Damien trust himself ( Damien's dreams, part 3)


Disclaimer: this article is for educational and informational purposes only. There is no liability on the part of Dr. Raymond for any reactions you may have when reading the material or following the suggestions therein. Interacting with this material does not constitute a therapeutic relationship with Dr. Raymond.

7 Ways Anxiety Leads to Erectile Dysfunction

September 25th, 2015 Comments Off on 7 Ways Anxiety Leads to Erectile Dysfunction


Anger, Stress and Anxiety Management Tips for Satisfying Relationships


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When a man is unable to get an errection despite stimulation from a partner or self-manipulation.

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How do you know if your Erectile Dysfunction is physiological or psychological?

When it occurs with one partner but not another it's psychological

If you can masturbate but can't get erect for intercourse its psychological

If you can't get to the point of orgasm by any means, it's probably psychological with physical underpinnings

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Anxiety and Erectile Dysfunction

Anxiety caused by relationship stress is the greatest precursor to Erectile Dysfunction that men face. The International Journal of Impotence Research (2003) reports that "anxiety plays a major role in the development of problems associated with Erectile Dysfunction."

Anxiety is an experience of anticipating a future threat or danger. The sympathetic nervous sytem gets ready to meet that danger by providing blood flow to your limbs so you can fight off an enemy or run for safety. Either way you need energy. But when you have no real enemy or threat, all that energy is floating around in the form of adrenalin, making you antsy, edgy and unable to relax. When you are in that state you are not up for being aroused sexually, because that would mean talking your eye of the potential threat.


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Anxiety factor one: Needing nurturing – not to prove prowess

In his late 30's Brett a tall, handsome Olympic swimming coach was ashamed to admit that he suffered Erectile Dysfunction often, just nine months into his marriage. His thirty-seven year old wife Francine, a yoga instructor seemed understanding and didn't push things, but he felt that he let her down and was an inadequate partner. Highly anxious about not being a proper sexual partner, he came to therapy and discovered that he needed to feel cared for and treasured just for being himself, but felt that his masculinity precluded him from asking for it or even admitting he needed it. In fact he felt weak, disgusted with himself for wanting soft, gentle holding, concern and comfort. BECAUSE that's how he felt when he was a young boy wanting it from his mother, who admonished him, and made him feel dirty and bad for wanting her to nurture him.

He lived in constant anxiety about coming across as a wimp. He was angry that he had to live life feeling bad about his needs. Anger toward a parent is often dangerous, since you need your parent to provide for your basic needs. So the anger gets turned into anxiety, and Brett learned to use that anxiety when he was angry about not getting his emotional needs met. He covered the anxiety with his strong, beefy bravado, but it seeped through when he felt safe in the nest of a marriage. The nurturing and understanding response he got from Francine when Erectile Dysfunction prevented sexual intercourse felt good, and that was the way Brett got his emotional intimacy needs met.

Learning how to communicate his anger at getting what he needed helped Brett feel more in touch with his true self, not this fake 'strong guy' exposed by Erectile Dysfunction. It took a lot for Brett to work through his anger, stress, and fear of having needs and speaking them to his wife. But once he took his emotional needs seriously, so did Francine. Satisfying the starving emotional hunger for nurturing allowed Brett to let go of his anxiety and his Erectile Dysfunction. 

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Anxiety Factor two: Sexual performance becomes another duty creating anxiety based Erectile Dysfunction

Married just 6 months, 36-year-old Anil dreaded bed time. His 30-year-old wife Therese read books on marriage and told him that newlyweds should have sex at least 3 times a week. A hard working Chiropractor Anil was usually worn out when he got home and looked forward to down times. But he was also keen to prove himself a good husband and do his 'duty.' He imagined that Therese, a day-shift nurse at a convalescent home expected him to do his sexual duty and make love to her just as her book said. So when they got into bed, the pressure on Anil was enormous. His anxiety about performing when he didn't really want to hit the roof. Conflicted by his own need to sleep when his body wanted to switch off, and maintaining his image of a 'good, dutiful husband,' he would begin foreplay and just as intercourse was begining, Erectile Dysfunction stopped the sexual encounter. He apologized and she said it was fine, but he felt ashamed and wondered if she would tell her friends, or complain to her parents. But the tension between them increased and affected their flow of communication. Until Anil came t0 therapy to deal with his anxiety, triggered by his shameful Erectile Dysfunction.

In therapy we discovered that Anil had grown up always wanting to be the 'good son' to his mother. Fulfilling roles in the family setting were especially important when he watched his father turn to drink after his business failed. He never wanted to be like his father, and wanted to make up to his mother for his father's failings. Little Anil took on the role of superman when it came to performing family duties of care taking, meeting expectations, doing what was asked and sacrificing his own needs. He started to judge himself by how well he performed these familial duties. You can imagine how stressed and anxious he was that he wasn't the perfect son, brother, and now husband. The huge burden of responsibility Anil adopted from his childhood to be the 'good boy' and do everything right to make up for his father's flaws, now took a toll on his marriage.

Appreciating the impossible task he had given himself, Anil worked with me in therapy to find out what HE wanted and make it okay. He learned to tune into what felt right for him, acknowledge, own and respect it before jumping in to be that dutiful person that set himself up for failure. As he became more comfortable with what he wanted, he had sex with his wife when he and she both felt like it, rather than following some standard from a book. Anil's anxiety was significantly reduced as he gave himself permission to stop playing the hero, and just be himself. They actually had more sex than before, enjoyed the spontaneity, and thanked the Erectile Dysfunction for saving their marriage.


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Anxiety Factor three: When a man feels used as a stud to pleasure his partner

In the second year of his marriage, Adean a twenty-seven-year old lawyer enjoyed sex with his beautiful wife Carrie, a twenty-nine-year-old court reporter. But he got turned off when she wanted to bypass the foreplay and just get to an orgasm. She pulled him to touch, lie or stimuate her in a way where she could climax quickly, caring nothing for his experience. He wanted  her to enoy it as much as he did, but lately he felt like her pleasure toy. It made him feel disgusted with the sex act when she urged him to make her body scream out in ecstacy – pushed away as if he were a dirty rag immediately afterwards. Angry and hurt, he had fantasies of overpowering and hurting her. He couldn't talk to her because it made him feel crazy that he was complaining about a sex crazed wife! But his displeasure turned into anxiety each time sex was initiated by either one of them. The anxiety reached massive proportions as he tried to control himself and just work on Carrie, until Erectile Dysfunction ended everything. His wife was immensely frustrated and complained about his lack of staying power, depriving her of her right to be pleasured. He felt shame, but also some secret pleasure. Things continued down this path with Adean suffering scathing attacks from his wife about his inability to get and sustain an errection no matter how much she stimulated him.

Adean's anxiety and fear that he may never be able to have an errection again brought him into therapy. He was able to get an errection when he masturbated and when when watching sexy pictures, but not with his wife. Adean loved to please those that he loved. He felt good making others happy, often happier than if he had just satisfied his own need. But it hurt when other people took advantage of him and never wondered about his experience. He gave the message that he was a non-person and that's exactly how he was treated. It happened within his own family when his sister always got the best of everything and he just made do with left overs. At work, he was the one to take care of his assistants and the support staff, who offered neither thanks nor reciprocation. They slaved for the other attorneys, wanting their approval. Adean was a push over.

Therapy helped Adean gradually value himself and take care of himself without feeling selfish. He mourned his losses and began to value his own needs and wishes. It took a while before Adean was comfortable putting his sexual needs on a par with Carrie's. But he realized the cost of not doing so, and became a more equal sexual partner. He learned how to communicate his experience of Carrie using him, and they refreshed their sex-life. Erectile Dysfunction no longer came between them enjoying physical intimacy. But from time to time he found that he couldn't get an errection – as soon as he noticed it, he knew he had moved too far in the direction of making Carrie the only important one, and adapted accordingly.


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Anxiety Factor four: When the need to converse superceeds that of sex

Coming home from a friend's house warming party 32-year-old CPA Morgan sat on his anger and hurt that Suzie, his 33-year-old partner had showed him up yet again. She was always saying something to embarrass him to make herself look good. She thought it was all a big joke, but it wounded him. Tipsy after a night of drinking, Suzie wanted to top it off with sex. He responded to her fondling, but his errection didn't hold up. Suzie grumbled, turned around and snored in her sleep, as if trumpeting his lack of ability to be a man.

He wanted to tell her how let down he felt when she talked disparagingly about him, making fun of his handyman skills,or his food tastes. But memories of Suzie dismissing his feelings as if he were a kid who wasn't worth paying attention to silenced him. Each time he tried to get up the courage to have it out with her he was flooded with anxiety and lost heart. He had made friends with a female co-worker in his Accountancy Firm, and she made him feel important. She listened and took him seriously. He had fantasies of running off with her. But he knew that wasn't the answer. While he made no scene in public when Suzie used him to humor herself, he found a new and strange power in the bedroom – his body didn't obey her, and in that way he got the upper hand. Anxiety about needing to talk about the relatoinship led to Erectile Dysfunction, which spoke for him.

Suzie seemed closed to discussing the power struggles in their marriage and the anxiety it produced for Logan. But when she realized that she might lose her husband who didn't seem to want her in bed at all, they came in for couples therapy. They benefitted from talking about their role expectations, but the breakthrough came when Morgan saw the connection between the way he felt humilated by Suzie and his father's humiliation at his mothers hand.  He had fallen into that smae way of being, and Suzie obliged by playing the part he assigned her. Suzie too realized that she had learned from her mother that men needed to be kept 'down' or else they would cheat! With a great deal of work, they were able to come up with fresh goals and free themselves of their parents way of thinking. Talking became the precursor to any sex act, to clean themselves of anything that was making either feel bad in the relationship. As relationship anxiety faded and self-esteem grew, Erectile Dysfunction became a thing of the past, but a reminder of how bad things get when relationship issues go unaddressed.

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Anxiety Factor five: When a man feels he is being used just to create babies

The wish for another baby was something 32-year-old Ken, a furniture importer shared with his wife. Dominque, a 31-year-old home maker was desperate to have a daughter. She had two sons that she adored, but she wanted to complete her family with a little girl before her biological clock killed her dream. Ken had visions of spoiling his little princess if she came along, but he didn't want to be a cog in the wheel of Dominque's ovulation cycle, her astrological charts, and her panicked way of approaching their sex life, for the sole purpose of fertilizing an egg. In fact when he was pulled into having sex at her insistence, he often lost the desire. When he wanted sex as part of the marital relaionship, Dominique pushed him away if she wasn't ovulating. He was merely a sperm donor and not her sexual partner any more.

Within six months of sex becoming a baby making endeavor, the couple rarely talked about anything else. Dominque was consumed with everything to do with having babies and in particular a girl. They drifted apart emotionally and Ken began to go off the idea of having another child if his marital relationship was the price to pay. He started to get anxious on the way home from work, and the anxiety rose to an almost paralysing levels when he was alone with his wife, after the boys were in bed. He dreaded getting texts from her to come home at all hours to have sex as many times as possible during her short ovulation time. On such a day he couldn't get an errection during one of Dominque's 'special times' and that's how it stayed for several weeks. Dominque went ballistic and anxious. She wanted him to try and ejaculate in a doctor's office and freeze it for artificial insemination, but he couldn't get an errection in those circumstances either.

Ken tried Viagra but his anxiety was so great that the drug failed to work. Even if he got a mild errection, he was sick to his stomach about having to do it on Dominque's schedule – being used just for his stud qualities. But he found himself excessively aroused when attractive women passed near him at work, or in other public places, afraid that his errection would show!

Eighteen months later, Dominque and Ken were alarmed that their marriage was threatened by the tension and lack of emotional intimacy in their day-to-day lives. Their boys were suffering, and they eventually decided to come to couples therapy. Dominique talked of her fear that she wouldn't be the kind of mother her parents brought her up to be if she was without a daughter before she was 35 years of age. She also spoke of her concern that Ken would be disappointed in her if she didn't produce a daughter because he wanted one so badly. Ken shared his sense of loss – the loss of his wife as his best friend, and sexual partner during this time of pressure to conceive a female child. Letting his wife know that he wanted her more than he wanted a daughter stabalized them. They were able to reconnect as I encouraged them to share their deepest fears and fantasies about not being the perfect spouse in terms of producing offspring. Couples therapy provided the platform for them to put their relationship at the center of their worlds, and show love sexually without thinking about making babies.

Ken's erectile dysfunction was cured and nine months after they completed the first phase of their couples therapy, Dominque conceived a daughter!


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Anxiety Factor six: When sex is just another demand to pretend that things are really okay between a couple

Bored with his 11 year relationship with Venus, 39-year-old Logan,owner of a Dry Cleaning business spent a lot of time online to pass the time when he was at home. He signed up for classes to refocus his mind, and chatted a lot with friends on Facebook. Venus, a 38-year-old sales assistant, had fallen into a rut and rarely wanted to go out and socialize. She was content watching TV and cooking from time to time. But she had lost her spark.  Her depressive tendencies had a profound effect on the couple's relationship. Logan loved her, but he felt trapped in an insular relationship that was slowly dying from the inside out. Venus had relied on Logan as her right arm, and thought she was assured of that for life. But she sensed that things had changed. Yet she didn't want to liven up. It was too much effort and not worthwhile.

Every Wednesday the couple had sex. It was their night to reaffirm that there was an adult sexual and emotional partnership between them. For over a year they went through a ritualistic sex act. Neither particularly enjoyed it, but it was a sign that they were still committed to each other. Out in the world Logan could still hold his head up as a loyal partner with an apparently functioning relationship. Most of their friends thought they were an ideal couple, and kept pushing them to get married. But then one Wednesday Logan was unable to get an errection. He had dreaded going to bed in order to perform this "lie" about what he really felt and it showed up with a dose of Erectile Dysfunction.

Alarmed that they might lose the only thing that proved they were still a 'unit', Logan did extensive research on Erectile Dysfunction online. He was too embarrassed to discuss it with friends, and felt less alone and ashamed when he discovered that many men experienced Erectile Dysfunction from time to time. But his anxiety got whipped up like a tornado. He was terrified that this was the first sign that Venus wasn't doing anything for him anymore, and that he would have to face talking to her about that, or even worse, consider splitting up. Time didn't make anything better between them. Each Wednesday night Venus would give him an 'out' if he wanted it, but he chose to make things work and tried his best to fantasize about sexy women, hoping it would produce an errection. But nothing happened worked. Logan took to numbing his anxiety with alcohol, hoping that Venus would just let things slide so that he wouldn't have to be a nervous wreck on Wednesdays.

Meal times and bedtimes were full of unspoken concerns about the status of their relationship. It got so bad that Logan's work was being affected. He was making mistakes with ordering chemicals and with payroll. He got short with customers. Colleagues took him aside and told him that he was putting his business in jepoardy. That brought Logan into therapy.

Wracked with guilt Logan needed permission to have negative feelings about a relationship that was no longer working. We learned that he had promised himself that he would never be like his father and leave his long time partner. He worked on his need to feel good only by proving that he was better than his father. Logan's guilt diminished when he discovered that he had been attracted to Venus because of her 'neediness' – and his need to care for her – to make up for what his father did. That was the point at which he allowed himself to find out who he was – other than the 'anti-father person!'  For a long while, Logan was unable to come to terms with the fact that his relationship with Venus was not based on true connection and that he needed to address that.

Provided with the tools to communicate his true self in therapy, Logan found the courage to talk to Venus and found to his surprise that she already knew the relationship was flawed, and although angry at having to end her dependent ways, she agreed it was better to separate. They were able to have 'comfort' sex as Logan regained his ability to have an errection, and found a way to part in a way that allowed for sadness at the ending of a pairing, but also hope that a more authentic one was possible for both.

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Anxiety Factor 7: When a man feels responsible for initiating sex at all times

Settled into a comfortable life with his wife, 33-year-old Dylan, an audio enginer, missed the early days of his relationship with 29-year-old Amelia, a mexican food franchisee. She was the one who came onto him, and made the first move in bed. Now she participated, but never showed that initial enthusiasm. She didn't take the lead, and Dylan felt less attractive, and less wanted than before. Initiating their sexual romps made him feel heavy, as if he was the only one who wanted to be physically intimate. Sometimes he felt he was forcing her to play the dutiful wife, and other times he felt that he had a right to experience his conjugal rights.

Lost confidence and concern about not being desireable made Dylan extremely anxious whenever he thought about having sex with his wife. He agonized with the pros and cons, trying to grapple with the burden of initiating sex when he felt so bad about himself as a lover. One night he had planned to take the lead and started caressing Amelia's arms and back as they settled into their bedtime routine. But instead of getting aroused, he was flooded with anxiety and was unable to get an errection. While Amelia didn't push him away or stop him from continuing the foreplay, Dylan felt she was just 'going through the motions.' He tried to stimulate himself but that didn't work. Amelia wanting to get the whole thing over with, also tried hand stimulation, but his anxiety over powered everything else.

A low grade depression took over from his anxiety, while Dylan tried to regroup from this wretched experience. Amelia tried to brush it off, but it was a serious blow to his manhood. He began to crave porn, strip clubs and hand jobs in order to wipe out his embarrasing experience. He restricted himself to hand jobs, and stopped trying to have sex with wife for quite some time. When he finally decided to try again, anxiety about failing to get an errection produced Erectile Dysfunction. Dylan's brain had made a strong connection with touching his wife and failure. Knowing that he was able to get errections with hand jobs, he entered into therapy and worked on the anxiety and fear he harbored towards his wife. First we talked about his experience of women in general and in particular his cold and neglectful mother. He had never felt wanted by her, especially when she said she never wanted children. She rarely held him, so he grew up longing to be as close to a woman physically as possible – to "get inside" – so he couldn't be ignored. When he met Amelia, she was so warm, affectionate and wanting him for sex that he believed his wish had come true. But now things had changed, and he was once again feeling the pain of being rejected in the most intimate of places.

Now Dylan's experience with his wife was bringing back all the hurt and powerlessness of his childhood. As he processed those wounds and began to heal, he brought Amelia into couples therapy with him, because he wanted the relationship to work. She came to help him and to restore their floundering connection. Invited to talk about their experience when one or other was the initiator of sex, they learned that they both wanted to feel desired and attractive, but that when Amelia was the one taking the lead, she sensed his need to be enveloped and comforted through sex, making it more like a maternal act. When Dylan initiated sex, then she felt more like he was a man wanting his wife as a woman rather than a mother.

Relieved at understanding each other's perspective, they fell into a more spontaneous pattern of love making without putting all the focus on who was initiating sex. Dylan no longer suffered from Erectile Dysfunction having treated the wounds of the past, showing up in a more emotionally mature place, where Amelia could enjoy taking the initiative and being the one on the receivng end. Of course Dylan too had what he wanted, a wife that took the initiative in bed.

Copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.

AUTHOR OF:' Now You Want Me, Now You Don't! Fear of Intimacy: Ten ways to recognize it and ten ways to manage it in your relationship.

You might also like:

Why your sex life goes from  fantastic to boring  in the blink of an eye

Why your sex life is non-existant and how to get it going again

Why your sex life doesn't work and three ways to revive it

Disclaimer: this article is for educational and informational purposes only. There is no liability on the part of Dr. Raymond for any reactions you may have when reading the material or following the suggestions therein. Interacting with this material does not constitute a therapeutic relationship with Dr. Raymond.

7 Ways Journaling Can Help You De-Stress and Live Up to Your Potential

September 11th, 2015 Comments Off on 7 Ways Journaling Can Help You De-Stress and Live Up to Your Potential

Anger, Stress and Anxiety Management Tips for Satisfying Relationships


stress management Los AngelesWrite out your turbulent emotions and get smell the freshness!

Have you ever been told to keep a journal and felt your heart sink to your boots?

Is the idea of journaling stressful in itself?

Perhaps you don't want to dwell on what's going on inside you because its messy.

Maybe you want to feel strong and the best way of doing it is to ignore bad feelings and hope they will just go away.

You may be very good at keeping your anger, stress, resentment, revengeful thoughts and feelings under cover, but they have a way of coming out in full force when you are least expecting it. Out of the blue a small irritation turns into a melt down and you don't understand how this could have happened. Your store of anger and stressful experiences found a tiny window when you got irritated and used that moment to escape, embarrasing you in the process.

Many of my clients are masters at covering up, ignoring and dismissing their unhappiness. They disown their fear of being abandoned, as well as losses past and present as if they have zero impact. They are so tightly wound that they walk around like knots, unable to open and connect with anyone or anything. Eventually the knot frays and they come unglued. Journaling is a very powerful and useful vehicle that puts words to long held feelings of being badly treated and uncared for.

Journaling to manage stress and anger can help you

  1. Begins the process of owning your feelings, validatng them, making them feel less messy and unattractive
  2. Helps you tolerate your most painful and uncomfortable feelings
  3. Spurs you to find words to explain and express painful feelings in a coherent way
  4. Writing the words that you are putting into a meaningful narrative helps you understand the source of your distress
  5. Allows you to think about your need to be in control and how that impacts your way of handling your interactions
  6. Evokes curiosity about why you coped by being silent – assessing pros and cons about whether you did the best for yourself
  7. Enables you to see, feel and understand the enormity of your emotional burden so that you can begin to develop self compassion

Three People Who Benefitted from Journaling to Mangage Stress and Anger

1. One of my clients was unable to talk to her mother because she was terrified of being dismissed or ridiculed.  "Writing' to her mother in a journal provided safety and free expression. She didn't have to censor herself, tread on eggshells, nor try to please her mother by negating herself. What she noticed in this exercise was how angry she was and how irrelevant she felt she was in her mother's eyes. She got in touch with her own need to be a player, to exist in her own right and accept that her feelings mattered.




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  • Holding in rage, resentment and stress at not having a caring parent

2. Another client used journaling to talk to her estranged mother, putting into words the deep hurt she had carried all her life, feeling invisible to her parent. It was a long rehearsal that years later gave her the impetus to actually make contact, and experience her mother differently. She found that her mother was nothing like the one that her little child self had experienced. Her current day mother was willing to listen, and show care. That was a huge healing moment that continued over time, releasing her from the grip of playing the victim in her life, hoping to be rescued by a parental figure.




west los angeles stress management    Release from the hold of stress and anger, a new life emerges

3. A third client used journaling to speak to her father whom she felt had taken her entitlements as a daughter and given it to other women in his life – his time, his energy, his love, and his money. She was mortified by the idea of telling him directly and lived in a 'holding pattern' of not working and not making committed relationships – imagining that her father would some day feel guilty seeing her so down and out – and take care of her as his number one priority. As she journaled and processed the outcome in therapy with me, she finally told her father what she wanted, and when he refused to take care of her financially, she was released from her fantasy and began to take charge of her life.



west los angeles anger management Getting Aquainted With Oneself Gets Opens Up Channels of Communication


Journaling as a way of getting to know yourself, directing goals and making sound decisions

 For many other clients I recommend writing about their day to day emotional experiences as they feel them. They benefit from becoming aware of their emotional experiences rather than burying them ( which lead to anxiety, OCD, depression, panic attacks, phobias and psychosomatic complaints.) They are amazed when they do so on a regular basis and use it to direct their goals, interactions and decision making.

west los angeles counseling for stressed and anxious couplesUnresolved grief can put a strain on relationships



Journaling as a way of expressing unresolved grief

 For one group of clients who are in complex and unresolved grief at the death of a loved one – journaling is very useful. It is private and intimate, yet allows the bereaved to connect with the source of their loss – especially for older children who lost someone early in life. They can ask questions and create answers – begin a dialogue that eventually with therapy, release them from their unresolved grief and let them get on with their own lives.


Copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.

AUTHOR OF:' Now You Want Me, Now You Don't! Fear of Intimacy: Ten ways to recognize it and ten ways to manage it in your relationship.

You might also like:

Is anger spoilng the enjoyment of your achievements?

Five ways to use angry energy to empower yourself

How to express anger when you feel used and abused


Disclaimer: this article is for educational and informational purposes only. There is no liability on the part of Dr. Raymond for any reactions you may have when reading the material or following the suggestions therein. Interacting with this material does not constitute a therapeutic relationship with Dr. Raymond.



4 Ways Your Partner’s Anxiety Style Causes Conflict in Your Relationship, and 4 Ways to Solve it

August 19th, 2015 Comments Off on 4 Ways Your Partner’s Anxiety Style Causes Conflict in Your Relationship, and 4 Ways to Solve it


Anger, Stress and Anxiety Management Tips for Satisfying Relationships


west los angeles therapy for anxiety problems

Have you ever felt that your loved one took out their anger, frustration and anxiety out on you?

Do feel like a walking target for your family member’s angst with the world, just because you are there?

Maybe you have spoken up and said that you don’t want to be their dustbin and or punching bag, and yet it has stayed exactly the same. You continue to feel the butt of your loved ones stress and worry and anger that their world isn’t right. There is a constant undercurrent of tension and conflict in your relationship and you can’t seem to fix it.

There is an explanation for your partner taking it out on you.

It all hinges on your loved ones Generalized Anxiety Disorder,  (GAD). This disorder is the cause of more marital conflict than any other major anxiety or mood disorder. Those who suffer from it worry constantly, but the way they express it in their personal relationships varies. Research, reported in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 2011 describes four different styles of interaction that GAD sufferers use, impacting marital conflict.

You may be seriously impacted by your partner’s way of showing their anxiety, and if you recognize it in one of the examples below, you can use that information to manage your conflicts more peacefully.


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Anxiety Style 1 – Cold and Harsh

Anxious about being accepted into the elite management group at his Internet Company, 33-year-old Noah seemed to walk around with a permanent frown, living in a world of his own.  His 32-year-old wife Tori, a pastry chef at her own café, complained of being met with angry and mean remarks when she tried to engage him in day-to-day conversation. Tori didn’t know what she had done to deserve being treated this way, especially as she had been the one to encourage and support him in his efforts to climb his career ladder. She had made allowances day-in and- day-out when he didn’t join in family activities, busying himself with boning up for work hurdles. It hurt her deeply that she was carrying the weight of family life, and it wounded her in an already sore spot – her need for physical contact. His words of attack were the only thing she received, and it stung.

Noah is a great example of a person with GAD who expresses his anxiety in his most intimate relationships by being cold, and harsh. In his place of heightened anxiety, the world seems a threatening and unpredictable place. Any change in his experience of the world could make him feel inadequate, unacceptable and a complete failure. So he had to make sure no one, especially his wife, could penetrate his safe zone. Tori had a way of finding just that spot that made him feel like a loser, and all those other awful feelings cascaded like a gushing waterfall, drowning him in fear and shame about not cutting it.

His cold way of expressing anxiety turned the couple in warring factions. They were constantly on guard for a surprise attack, armored up to take the blow. Not a good recipe for togetherness, tenderness or touch.

Solution: Talk to him about his fear of failure and sense of inadequacy. As soon as you name it you can discuss the impact it has on each of you, coming up with healthier ways of feeling good enough. Go to couples therapy and discuss the impact on the relationship – open up a dialogue and learn a new language to talk about rather than fight about the hash and cold way anxiety destroys the relationship.


los angeles couples therapy for anxiety

Anxiety Style 2 – Intrusive

Looking forward to having her partner home after the work day, twenty-nine-year-old home maker Kendra, texted Romero, her 31-year-old man and asked if he was on his way. He didn’t respond because he was in a meeting. Kendra’s anxiety kicked into high gear. It was as if she was invisible and forgotten about. Her texts became more urgent, fast and furious, using up that adrenalin caused by the anxiety. When he finally got home, she kept asking if he was okay, and whether he liked her hair, the food she made, the DVD set she bought for him; desperate for an update on whether he was “okay” – and therefore available to him.

He found it all exasperating, and ignored her frantic efforts to pierce his personal space and invade him. But his shield only made Kendra’s anxiety worse. She kept intruding on him – in the bathroom as he got washed and changed and then again as he ate. There was no room for him to unwind and relax. Eventually he blew his top and went into his home office, put on his headphones and watched a movie online. Kendra became frantic. She needed to be center stage in his mind, but at every turn he was avoiding her. Within ten minutes Romero was interrupted with the news that the faucet sink was leaking, that their DVD player wasn’t working and umpteen ‘check-ins’ about whether he wanted a coffee.

Kendra is an example of a person with GAD whose anxiety comes out in a way that intrudes on their significant others personal space, thoughts and actions. The intention is to take their partner’s attention away from everything else, and put the focus on the anxious one, creating a feeling of security and safety as the attachment feels more real. However her way of doing it unsettled Romero, who instead of finding a way to reassure and comfort her with a connection, escaped instead. Kendra’s manner of addressing her anxiety backfired, causing conflict and distancing. Hardly conducive to a warm and empathic couple relationship.

Solution: Become a mirror for Kendra’s fear that she doesn’t exist unless she is in your face. Each time she intrudes tell her that she is anxious you will forget her, and then give her times when you are available to help her feel more secure. Go to couples therapy and learn about the triggers that make her anxious and intrusive and how your responses may reinforce rather than calm it.

los angeles west side therapy for anxiety in relationships

Anxiety Style 3 – Nonassertive

Seeing her 10-year old daughter scolded by her dad, Tamara, a 28-year-old medical insurance agent felt anxious. One part of her wanted to comfort her daughter Holly who had lied about her homework, but a bigger part of her didn’t want to get involved. She was anxious about upsetting her 31-year-old husband Liam, a film set gopher, and losing his love. She stayed quiet and got on with clearing up after the evening meal. Her heart raced when her daughter asked her to take her side. She opted out, being non-committal. When Liam attempted to get her to back him up, she wriggled out, not wanting to be part of the parental discipline machine.

Holly felt let down and betrayed by her mother’s apparently uncaring attitude, while Liam was furious about being turned into the ‘bad cop’ parent. He was disappointed and felt alone in the parenting arena.

However awkward the sensation of being noncommittal, Tamara avoided the consequences of upsetting or hurting the two people she loved most in the world. She allowed them to call the tune and went along with whoever was ‘driving’ the scene in the moment. If Tamara wanted to go to the mall, then that’s where they went. If Liam yelled at her for not putting gas in the car, she allowed it, apologizing rather than sharing where she was coming from. Her anxiety about losing the thread of connection with her loved ones, turned her into a placid ‘non-person,’ allowing them to control her life.

Tamara is an example of a person with GAD who deals with her anxiety about upsetting and therefore losing loved ones by being nonassertive – effectively eliminating herself as a separate person with a mind of her own. She believes that if she stands up for herself no one will tolerate it and she will be abandoned. However, her stance simply makes them angry, disappointed, resentful and upset that they don’t have a partner or a parent! A poor set of ingredients for a strong, healthy and resilient adult romantic partnership.

Solution: Show Tamara that you are aware of her fear that she might lose you if she showed up as a person in her own right. Tell her that by not showing up she is the one cutting the ties! Go to couples therapy and learn how to encourage her assertiveness in a safe way.


couples therapy west los angeles

Anxiety Style 4 – Exploitable

Logan, a 27-year-old mechanical engineer hated bureaucracy. He put off renewing licenses, filling out administrative paper work, and most of all he loathed anything having to do with lawyers and courts. When it came to claiming on insurance for out of pocket medical bills, or household losses, he couldn’t face it. The thought of any interaction with these agencies made him feel anxious, inept and overwhelmed.  

His partner Michelle, a 30-year-old grant writer got upset when Logan left things till the last minute and then got really worried, coming to her to sort things out. His anxiety made him nauseous, his hands shook, and to all intents and purposes he was debilitated. Concerned for Logan, she tended to his discomfort and soothed him by telling him she would take care of things. She completed all the transactions that needed to be done if they weren’t going to be without insurance, or be penalized for late payments.

Logan is a person who expresses his anxiety about not feeling competent or adequate to exploit loved ones into caring of him, so he can rely on them and feel secure.

His anxiety is relieved as soon as he can depend on Michelle to take over and make him feel okay about it.

Logan is relieved of his anxiety two-fold. First he got the reassurance and loving concern he needed when Michelle attended to his nauseous feelings, and trembling. Second, he managed to pass on his jobs and have them completed.

From Michelle’s point of view, her initial concern for Logan turns into annoyance, a feeling of being used, and eventually resentment and hate. Their relationship becomes one where Logan is dependent on Michelle. It is out of balance and unstable.

Solution: As soon as you become aware that you are being pulled into doing things that Logan has left undone and that are now urgent, remember that it is a sign of being exploited by his anxiousness. Let him know that you know he is depending on you to take care of things, and that you will for now. Go to couples therapy and start a conversation about Logan’s dependency needs so that he no longer has to get nauseous and tremble to justify them. Talk about your needs and how you want them fulfilled, so that you both get to a place of interdependency – a healthy balance.


Copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.

AUTHOR OF:' Now You Want Me, Now You Don't! Fear of Intimacy: Ten ways to recognize it and ten ways to manage it in your relationship.

You might also like:

Is anxiety your relationship glue?

Two ways to avoid the shame of being needy

Four ways to deal with a hostile and aggressive partner


Disclaimer: this article is for educational and informational purposes only. There is no liability on the part of Dr. Raymond for any reactions you may have when reading the material or following the suggestions therein. Interacting with this material does not constitute a therapeutic relationship with Dr. Raymond.



How Pregnant Mothers Can Avoid Passing on Stress to Their Unborn Child

July 23rd, 2015 Comments Off on How Pregnant Mothers Can Avoid Passing on Stress to Their Unborn Child


Anger and Stress Management Tips for Satisfying Relationships


managing stressStressed About Having Second Child

Getting the news that she was finally pregnant, should have been immensely relieving to 25-year-old Kerri, but she was as stressed if not more than before. Previously she had been stressed about having her second child before she was 35 years old, but now she was stressed about not having enough energy for her lively first born, 4 year-old Eric. She fretted over giving him less attention and potentially creating a long term problem

 Family Relationship Issues Began the Negative Chronic Stress Cycle for Kerri

Recalling her own childhood Kerri remembered being the oldest in her family, and with each new baby that came along, she was pushed further and further into the background, being forced to take on parenting tasks. Her father worked long hours and was also in competition for the scant energy his wife may have for him when he was home. Kerri had vowed to herself that her children weren’t going to suffer like that, and she was going to make sure her husband Ari would never feel he had to battle to get quality adult time with her.

As a teen ager, Kerri tried to feel wanted and cared for by her school friends but it just wasn’t the same as being wanted by her mother. The only time her parents seemed to show any interest in her was when she was needed as a babysitter. She focused on her school work determined to be an independently wealthy professional, tamping down her anger, and the part of her that ached for the love and attention her parents never gave.


los angeles stress management for pregnant mothers

Stress made her want to eat – but she tried to gain control over her bingeing and purging


 Lonely, angry, stressed and depressed, Kerri started to binge and purge. Those activities filled in the gaps between her school and then college schedules.  When she saw clumps of hair falling out in the shower she had a wakeup call and stopped the binging and purging.  The stress of not being in control anymore gave her eczema. Her immune system had been compromised by stress.  Kerri did her best to deal with each new symptom as I came up.  Until she met Ari at a smoothie bar on her way from class.

He seemed entranced by her and she fell head over heels in love with his attentive and thoughtful nature. They were married within the year. Both decided to finish college and put off having children until their careers were well established. Ari became a hot-shot-celebrity lawyer, traveling all over the place to be on all the prime time talk shows. Kerri fulfilled her dream of becoming a business owner at the age of 30 with a profitable nanny and babysitting agency.   

Stress Effected Kerri's Health

Ari’s absences triggered her stress and she began to feel that same old sense of overwhelm, lack of control and a need to get even more busy to blot out the feelings.  She was angry but once again never allowed herself to process it or express it. That added to her stress. Shadowed with fatigue and insomnia, Kerri did what she knew best – distract herself with another goal. She decided to expand her business into a daycare facility. The bureaucracy involved did the job of using up the excess adrenalin from the stress, but the stress hormones like cytokines depleted her energy. She never talked to Ari about her stress, or her wish that he wouldn’t travel. She didn’t want to upset him or his career, and plus she was used to taking the burden in the household. It was a job she grew up doing, and doing it well. Aware of her previous response to stress, Kerri made sure she ate properly because she wanted to conceive her first child. She was careful to look out for skin problems and made sure she was well hydrated, used nourishing skin lotions and had regular appointments with her dermatologist. So far so good. Then one morning she awoke with stomach cramps and nausea. The cramps intensified after eating and she felt as if she needed to have a bowel movement at least 3 times per hour. Kerri was diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome a week later. No organic causes were found, and stress was the named culprit.


stress management therapy los angelesKerri deliberaetely blinded herself to her stress and it's harmful effects on her  future children


The recommendation to reduce stress didn’t strike Kerri as helpful. She had a new business plan and discovered that she was pregnant. She plowed on thinking that things would just get better and for a time the joy of pregnancy countered the stress. She had no idea that she had chronic stress and that it could affect her unborn child.

Research Evidence Predicted Problems for Kerri's First Child Directly Related to his Mother's Chronic Stress

Eric was diagnosed with Asthma at the age of two and a half. He had always been a colicky baby but now he needed an inhaler. The thought of him not being able to breathe at night unless she was watching like a hawk spiked her stress levels to acute proportions. Kerri was devastated, but did her duty and made sure Eric had his inhaler at hand at all times. What Kerri didn’t know was that in 2010 the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine reported on a study with high and low stressed pregnant women. They found that in the high stress group, women like Kerri passed on their lowered immune response to their child as they passed through the birth canal, making them more likely to have allergic diseases such as asthma.

The journal Endocrinology published an article in June 2015 demonstrating that stress during pregnancy altered the healthy eco system of the gut microbiota in the maternal vagina, passing on that changed and less healthy bacterial system to the offspring on its way out.  Stress hormones passed onto the baby effected the gut and brain development, making the infant’s ability to manage stress much weaker than otherwise, especially for boys.

How can Kerri make sure her second child doesn't inherit her stress and be disadvantaged for the rest of its life?

Kerri didn’t want her second child of whatever gender to inherit her weakened immune response and be prone to all the stress related diseases that she had faced and more. Was it too late for her to manage her stress and give her second baby a strong immune system from the get go? No, but she must be willing to learn to de-stress and maintain that as a new way of life, because her stress is chronic and unrelenting.

Since she never learned how to recognize and attend to her stress before it became acute,

  1. She has to begin to become aware of the earliest signs of stress like

Irritability, going from excess energy to depletion, exhaustion after rest, inability to concentrate

stress management for pregnant mothersTuning into signs of stress is the first step in managing it

  1. She has to watch for her usual coping mechanisms and change them:
  • For example, instead of bingeing and purging – write down her feelings regarding loss of control.
  • Instead of getting busy with interminable lists of things to do – draw, paint, collage, make art in other forms which calms the brain and reduces stress hormones.
  • Go to therapy and work on her stressed childhood. Above all this is the most useful long term way of letting the stress go, making sure she doesn’t pass on an compromised immune system to her next child, BUT that she doesn’t model stress behaviors for either child.

Copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.

AUTHOR OF:' Now You Want Me, Now You Don't! Fear of Intimacy: Ten ways to recognize it and ten ways to manage it in your relationship.

You might also like:

Three ways to prevent chronic stress from making you fat!

Cure Insomnia by dealing with anger and relationship stress

Keeping silent about your feelings predispose you to stress related Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Disclaimer: this article is for educational and informational purposes only. There is no liability on the part of Dr. Raymond for any reactions you may have when reading the material or following the suggestions therein. Interacting with this material does not constitute a therapeutic relationship with Dr. Raymond.

How Therapy Can Prevent Premature Aging By Tackling Stress and Depression

July 14th, 2015 Comments Off on How Therapy Can Prevent Premature Aging By Tackling Stress and Depression

Anger and Stress Management Tips for Satisfying Relationships

west los angeles therapy for stress


At the age of 37 Brittany, a quality control manager, woke up each day wishing the night had lasted a little longer. That awful feeling of dread permeated her body with sweat. She had been slipping at work and the factory owners had noticed that she wasn’t her usual sharp self. It didn’t seem like she was trying any less hard or with less interest in her job. But the jeans coming off the production line and shipped to stores were being sent back with broken zippers and fabric tears.

Even though she was still relatively young, she felt as if she were 20 years older, and  her recent annual physical showed that her heart, blood pressure and skin were all showing signs of deterioration usually seen in older people. Her 50 year old husband Derek looked more like her son and with commensurate energy!

Too tired to cook in the evenings, Brittany’s kids ate fast food. The guilt stressed her out some more. Brittany’s husband tried to understand his wife’s reduced interest and ability to concentrate on family life. She seemed to forget even the most routine of things, like the meds their son needed for his asthma.


west los angeles stress management therapy

Stress and Depression Alter Your View of Reality


Trying to Manage Stress and Depression on Your Own Makes Matters Worse

Withdrawing into her shell to hide from this awful experience, Brittany became depressed. It was a low grade depression that lasted for years. She was too ashamed to seek help and didn’t want to take pills. Her doctor had previously noticed how anxious and stressed she was, and offered anxiety medication. But she declined, thinking she could beat it on her own.

Not able to connect with her family because of her depression, she became a stranger to her family. There was little conversation other than routine matters, because Brittany slept most of the time she was home. It was as if she was an elderly frail person who appeared to be in early dementia due to the effects of stress on her memory. Derek and their two young teenage boys felt helpless. They had lost their upbeat, energetic, sharp and funny family member who was always there to rely on. Nothing they said or did cheered her up. She complained of pain which turned out to be arthritis following early menopause.

The depression led to Brittany having to take more and more time off work. She was relieved when she couldn’t go in, but later felt self-loathing and critical of herself. Depression feeds on those two factors, making her more stressed and less able to function normally. She was often unaware of the time, and as days rolled into one another, her personal hygiene suffered. Friends stopped dropping in and calling, and her sons barely poked their heads into her bedroom door. Derek tried several times to take her to the doctor but she was too scared to face her condition, and was terrified of being told that she needed to see a psychiatrist.

 west los angeles stress management

Stress and Depression Accelerates the Aging Process

Brittany’s problems stemmed from having reduced levels of the hormone klotho that regulates the aging process. When women are stressed and depressed, they have lower levels of klotho, making them less cognitively proficient, adding to the risk for Alzheimer’s disease, as reported in an article in Translational Psychiatry, 2015.  This hormone appears to be the link between chronic stress and premature aging diseases and death. It has a protective function in maintaining mental acuity and physical health.

What if Brittany had addressed her stress in therapy at its earliest stage?

She might have felt safe enough to talk to her family about her fear of letting them down, and being less than perfect. They probably would have reassured her, and as a family may have distributed the stress more equitably. The likelihood of depression would have been minimal. Brittany would have developed emotional intelligence skills that would have kept her stress under control.

What if Brittany had taken preventive action by attending therapy and learning the source of her stress before it led to depression?

She would have stopped the stress from becoming chronic and harmful to her memory and physical health.

In therapy she would have learned how to understand and accept that she couldn’t control everything and everyone.

She would have learned to express her feelings in the moments of uncertainty and unpredictability, freeing up space to think and use reasonable logic to manage here anxiety.

Most of all Brittany would have made the connection between her childhood relationship stress and her current relationship stress, so that she could separate them out, and use her adult intelligent mind to cope differently.

What if Brittany had gone to therapy when she became anxious about losing her job?

She would have learned that it was normal but coming from a place inside her that lacked confidence and always wanted to prove herself.  Treating herself as human rather than superwoman might have been a goal, together with being comfortable talking openly about her shame about not being good enough – thereby removing the harmful effect of stress on her hormonal system.

Practicing a non-judgmental and more self-compassionate stance towards herself would have kept those klotho hormones at their optimal levels, so that she looked young and kept her faculties razor sharp. That would have meant quality experiences with her family and colleagues.


Copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.

AUTHOR OF:' Now You Want Me, Now You Don't! Fear of Intimacy: Ten ways to recognize it and ten ways to manage it in your relationship.

You might also like:

Five Benefits of Mindfulness

Unresolved Anger and Stress Keeps You Depressed Longer

Pull Out the Roots of Your Anger and Stress By Exercising Amid Nature



Disclaimer: this article is for educational and informational purposes only. There is no liability on the part of Dr. Raymond for any reactions you may have when reading the material or following the suggestions therein. Interacting with this material does not constitute a therapeutic relationship with Dr. Raymond.








Fastest Way to Recovering From an Anger-stress Induced Depression

June 22nd, 2015 Comments Off on Fastest Way to Recovering From an Anger-stress Induced Depression

Anger and Stress Management Tips for Satisfying Relationships

stress-induced depression


Thirty-five-year-old plumber Tyler got angry with Gemma, his thirty-seven-year-old partner for inviting his brother over for the weekend pot-luck event. She knew that he didn’t get on with Roy but she kept trying to get them together. Tyler didn’t speak to Gemma unless it was absolutely necessary. He was civil in front of family and friends, but the stress was killing him. He was too tired to fight!

The folk music she put on while the guests were out on the patio grated on his nerves. He hated it, and Gemma knew that. But she went right ahead and turned the volume on full blast, disregarding him. Feeling himself get more stressed, Tyler played with the dog for a few minutes to calm himself down.


west los angeles therapy for stress

Over the last year Gemma seemed to do things that made him feel like she didn’t think of him, and nor was she interested in catering to his tastes. Feeling unacknowledged over and over again made him feel small and devalued – two key ingredients that made him insecure and stressed him out. He could do nothing to control it, and this weekend was the straw that broke the camel’s back. When the guests had gone, Tyler didn’t have the energy to clean up. He crashed on the sofa and slept for over 24 hours – straight, as if he had been drugged.

Waking up the next night, Tyler’s heart was heavy. He didn’t want to get up; he wasn’t hungry and had no interest in checking the messages on his phone. It was as if he were in a parallel world, looking at himself, lifeless and unmotivated to attend to his work calls or the notes left by his angry wife.

Tyler had fallen deep into a stress-induced depression. It had been creeping up, and now he was in a weird place – he wasn’t exactly numb, but he wasn’t full of the joys of spring either. His anger was subdued but so was his ambitious nature.  Nothing seemed to matter that much, except the hopelessness that he felt.

Gemma nagged to no avail. She tried to bring him back to normality with seductive acts, and dangling vacations in front of him, but nothing jump started his motor. He stayed in this morose, worn out, hopeless place, anxious about doing anything but hiding out.

What’s going to become of Tyler, his health, his marriage and his business if he stays locked in this stress-induced depression?

It’s a good bet he will suffer loss of self-worth and feel powerless. He will probably be zonked out on medication and or alcohol to make things easier. He may lose his wife and business if he remains in this awful place.

The secret to getting out of a stress-induced depression

Research published in the journal Nature in June 2015, found that focusing on positive memories could ‘override’ the negative effects of a stress-induced depressive mood. Stress is known to damage the memory centers of the brain, making it harder to learn, or unlearn and retain the new information. But a deliberate focus on past positive experiences can dampen if not negate the harmful effects of stress that triggers a depressive state.

Recalling those positive experiences alters the neurochemistry in the brain by neutralizing the effects of stress hormones in memory cells of the dendate gyrus area in the brain.

recovering from depression

So, how can Tyler use this research to counter his depression and empower himself again?

1. Recall times in his marriage with Gemma when he experienced her as caring and sensitive to his needs.
2. Re-live and recapture the good feelings of lovability and self-worth he once enjoyed by using photos and videos of better times.
3. Listen to music that evokes those happy times.
4. Watch shows that remind him of his carefree, humorous and wild times with or without Gemma.
5. Eat foods that he once enjoyed and looked forward to.
6. Share all of the above with Gemma.

Copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.

AUTHOR OF:' Now You Want Me, Now You Don't! Fear of Intimacy: Ten ways to recognize it and ten ways to manage it in your relationship.

You might also like:

Six ways to avoid anger, stress and depression that ruins your relationships

Anger makes you swing from one type of depression to another

Pull out the roots of your anger and stress by exercising amid nature


Disclaimer: this article is for educational and informational purposes only. There is no liability on the part of Dr. Raymond for any reactions you may have when reading the material or following the suggestions therein. Interacting with this material does not constitute a therapeutic relationship with Dr. Raymond.