Category: Relationships

A meditation on love

The Indian union of Shiva and Shakti (also known as lingam and yoni), along with the Chinese Yin-Yang, show the power of love resides in joining opposites. Love overcomes antagonism and dualism, dissolving difference in a complimentary and binding whole. In Plato’s Symposium, Aristophanes gave a similar account of love. He told the myth of …

What I learned about the importance of ‘tend and befriend’ while surrounded by a SWAT team

The pretty South African woman sitting next to me said our flight from Johannesburg to Port Elizabeth was taking longer than expected, although I hadn’t noticed. I arrived in South Africa only a few hours before. Jet lagged, I was wrestling with the cellophane wrapper guarding the plastic cutlery that came with my in-flight meal. …

“Goddesses” By Joseph Campbell

Joseph Campbell, as the popularizer of the hero’s journey, has been criticized by feminist scholars for creating a somewhat lopsided and masculine view of the role of mythology in personal and cultural development. For example, in a lecture* on Joseph Campbell’s chronicling of the hero’s journey, Christine Downing argued the myths shared in Campbell’s classic …

Attachment theory through a cultural lens

In an article titled “Attachment and Culture (citation below),” Heidi Keller exposes attachment theory’s Western, middle-class assumptions. She argues: “… the definition of attachment in mainstream attachment research are in line with the conception of psychological autonomy, adaptive for Western middle-class, but deviate from the cultural values of many non-Western and mainly rural ecosocial environments.” …

The “Ides of March” in the cycle of growth

“Beware the Ides of March,” says the soothsayer to Julius Caesar in Shakespeare’s drama about the leader’s demise. This phrase, which once forewarned Caesar’s assassination, is uttered each spring by mental health professionals. According to folk wisdom, the season coincides with an increase in mental disorders and symptoms of psychological distress. “March Madness” has become …

A world without “narcissists”

Photo of Zeng Fanzhi's "Mask Series No. 9" (1994).

The Committee responsible for revising the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders has gone back and forth in their deliberations over Narcissistic Personality Disorder, but it looks like the diagnosis will remain. Never mind their concerns. I doubt omitting narcissism from psychiatry’s Bible would curb the common practice of hurling the label at foes …

“Crazy Love”: Leslie Morgan Steiner on staying with an abuser

Photo: Leslie Morgan Steiner Speaking at TEDxRainier.

Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate love, and love certainly deserves celebration. Except, of course, when it is “crazy love”— a phrase Leslie Morgan Steiner gave to her memoir, Crazy Love, of domestic violence as well as to the TED talk below. Her brief, 16 minute account of her experience of domestic violence is …

All those lingering lusty images…

Large Lizards Copulating

There’s something untoward about a married woman of my age writing about lust, let alone feeling it. I should be spending time managing my hormones rather than hot flashes of an entirely different sort. But I am here to disclose that, yes, lust continues well into middle age. And here lies the problem: lust continues …

Love and the split self

The other night, I watched the movie, Take This Waltz (2011). (I try not to give the ending away, but if it’s in your movie queue, you might want to pass on reading the rest of this paragraph.) The protagonist, a young Canadian woman, is happily married, although not excited about her life.  She writes …

Shopping for families

After decades as an American consumer, I have finally developed the acumen necessary for surviving the holiday shopping season. With the exception of a few hectic hours, I have so far successfully avoided malls and online shopping. Truly, I feel blessed this holiday season. Unfortunately, I have not escaped saturation with advertisements for the makings …

Alexithymia, emotional neglect & capitalism: How are they related?

Alexithymia. Now that’s quite the word. Derived from the Ancient Greek, it means “without words for emotions,” and identifies difficulties with recognizing and naming feelings. Since emotions are central for understanding oneself and others, not being able to discern what you feel can cause distress, agitation, and anxiety — along with rocky, unsatisfying relationships. (Honestly, …