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Presentation on theme: "INTIMACY, SEXUALITY OF ATTACHMENT ISSUES OR ADDICTION"— Presentation transcript:

April 3, 2014 INTIMACY, SEXUALITY OF ATTACHMENT ISSUES OR ADDICTION Dr Mark Schwartz Avalon Malibu & Monterey Institute of Mental Health

2 Introduction

3 Love and Compulsion Cannot Coexist
Love is willingness and ability to be affected by another human being and to allow that effort to make difference in what you do, say, become. Compulsion is the act of wrapping ourselves around an activity, a substance, or a person to survive, to tolerate and numb our experience of the moment. Love is a state of connectedness, one that includes vulnerability, surrender, self-valuing, steadiness, and willingness to face, rather than run from, the worst of ourselves. Compulsion is a state of isolation, one that includes self absorption, invulnerability, low self-esteem, unpredictability and fear that if we faced our plan, it would destroy us. Love expands; compulsion diminishes

4 People go to great lengths to maintain the illusion of connection
People go to great lengths to maintain the illusion of connection. Many select mates who remind them of their parents to try to recreate their past. They ignore their children’s individuality and try to mold them into an image of themselves in an attempt to achieve a kind of immortality. Others work compulsively, taken refuge in routines, or choose addictions to avoid real experiences that threaten their illusions. In contrast, individuals living a self-actualized existence discover what lies beyond defenses and illusions of connection. They make real contact and establish genuinely loving relationships with actual people in real life in spite of the awesome spectre of existential aloneness and interpersonal pain. Fireston, Robert W., Creating a Life of Meaning and Compassion


6 Love is not primarily a relationship to a specific person; it is an attitude, an orientation of character which determines the relatedness of a person to the world as a whole, not toward one “object” of love. If a person loves only one other person and is indifferent to the rest of his fellow men, his love is not love but a symbiotic attachment, or an enlarged egotism... If I truly love one person I love all persons, I love the world, I love life. If I can say to somebody else, “ I love you,” I must be able to say, “I love in you everybody, I love through you the world, I love in you also myself.” From “The Art of Loving”, 1956, Erich from

7 Re-Framing the Meaning of Symptoms
Start with the assumption that every symptom is a valuable piece of data Use psycho educational material to make educated guesses about the meaning of symptoms, as a symptom-memory or a valiant attempt to cope. Ask her,” how would this ___ have helped you to survive in a unsafe world? Helped you to feel less overwhelmed? Less helpless? More hopeful? Look for what the symptom is still trying to accomplish: i.e., chronic suicidal feelings might offer comfort or a “bail-out-plan;” cutting might help modulate arousal; social avoidance could be an attempt to avoid “danger” Once it is clear what the symptom is trying to accomplish, then the therapist and patient can look for other ways to accomplish the same goal in a context that describes the patient as an ingenious and resourceful survivor, rather than a damaged victim.

8 Burdens The concept of “burdens” is brilliant in its widespread application. It sidesteps the need to compare, contrast, count symptoms to diagnose, and postulates instead more of a “no one escapes unscathed” framework. Thus, “burdens” can encompass beliefs, feelings, and energetic residue of events and experiences that overwhelmed the internal and/or external accessible resources of the organism and its attachment environment at the time, thereby creating constraint.

9 Attachment

10 Developmental Model of Disturbance
Developmental deviation of ontogenetic process, failure of adaptations, pattern of adaptation reflecting the totality of the developmental context to that point. Maladaptation can be the result of different developmental pathways, which are probabilistically related to disturbance. Individuals beginning in similar path may diverge, showing different pathology.

11 Fear activates the attachment system but, if the primary attachment figure is the source of fear, the result is the collapse strategies for dealing with stress, preparing the capacity to regulate arousal by using others for self-soothing and delayed use of self-controlling behaviors.

12 Stroufe Longitudinal Study
Attachment is an organizational construct not a causal agent. Disorganized attachment correlates 34 percent with global pathology and 36 percent with dis-associative disorder . Anxious attachment is uniquely and specifically associated with anxiety disorders while avoidant attachment with conduct disorders. Both physical and sexual abuse increased incidence of conduct disorder to 73 percent and was the greatest predictor of adult depression.     40 percent of parents who experienced childhood abuse maltreated infants.

13 Dissociation and Self-Development
Sexual and physical abuse at the hands of family members cause the child to split off experiences, relegating them to an inaccessible part of self. Dissociation of one’s experience sets the stage for loss of one’s true self. The true self becomes corroded with inner badness and is concealed at all costs. Persistent attempts to be good, thus leading to a socially acceptable self, are experienced as non-authentic. The adolescent is compelled with demand to create multiple selves in different contexts.


15 Secure Attachment I Because their caretakers have been routinely available to them, sensitive to their signals, and response with some degree of reliability (though by no means is perfect care required), these develop a confidence that supportive care is available to them. They expect that when a need arises, help will be available. If they do become threatened or distressed, the caregiver will help them regain equilibrium. Such confident expectations are precisely what is meant by attachment security. L. Alan Stroufe, 2000

16 Clinical Manifestations of Anxious Preoccupied Attachment
Excessive worry about relationships Worry partner won’t care as much as s/he does Obsessive preoccupation & rumination about relationships Excessive need for approval Ignoring signs of trouble in relationship Fear will scare people away Fear of abandonment/rejection/criticism Resentment when partner spends time away from relationship Angry withdrawal Frustration if partner not available or if don’t get what need Feel extremely bad in face of disapproval Easily upset; intensified displays of distress or anger jealousy

17 Clinical Manifestations of Anxious Preoccupied Attachment, cont.
Fear of being alone Compulsive care-taking submissive, acquiescent, suggestible Attachment at expense of autonomy Work, school or friends get less attention Compulsive care-seeking Partner describes as “smothered” or “suffocated” Eager to be with partner all the time Need excessive reassurance Clinging, demanding, nagging, or sulking Desire to merge Proactive attempts to win favor or impress Forcing response from partner Self-centeredness, showing off, center of attention Dan Brown, 2008

18 Fonagy: Attachment & Mentalization
Peter Fonagy and colleagues have described this ability as a product of the adults’ “reflective function” in which parents are able to reflect (using words) on the role of states of mind influencing feelings, perceptions, intentions, beliefs and behaviors. For this reason, reflective function has been proposed to be at the heart of secure attachments, especially when the parent has had a difficult early life.

19 Active Implementation
The avoidant infant actively restricts attention to mother – as if to distract from the anxiety and distress of wanting mother’s comfort. The preoccupied actively seek and confines self to monitoring mom’s whereabouts, ignoring the toys and exploring the environment. Gives up the development of self to survivor. The disorganized capitulate in external relationships, they also extend internal relational exchanges between parts of the self, leading to chronic inner conflict, internal abandonment of parts of self holding traumatic affect and ruthless self-criticism. Outpatients actively live by the rules of attachment. Dismissive client find attention focused on needs of others, denying their own needs. Preoccupied are consumed with doubts about self and others and yearnings. They store up strategies to justify and maintain pre-existing beliefs.

20 Developmentally Based Psychotherapy (Mobilized Developmental Process)
Self-regulation (security, control) - look, listen, attend, feel calm, modulate affect and behavior Forming intimate relationships ( optimism, security, dependence) Engaging in boundary-defining communication (self-other) Representing internal experience (wishes, intentions, affects, complex sense of self)

21 Over Indulgence Feeding without nutrition
Treated like an infant, rather than as a capable adult. Parents preoccupied with work and themselves, and at the same time are over-focused on children. Parents irresponsible and over-responsible: Absent and hovering Give little of themselves and shower with material goods. Uninvolved with homework or do homework for kids. Child raising child. Parenthood is ego dystonic. Only as good as last accomplishment: Don’t derive mastery and efficacy from last accomplishment.

22 Over Indulgence vs. Control
Such behaviors include: Installing guilt Installing anxiety Withdrawing love Excessive achievement demand Avoiding tenderness Affective punishment Hostile detachment Interfering with decision-making Excluding outside influence Not fostering self-reliance Place child as subordinate to confirm completely Inhibiting child’s discovery Inhibiting expression of self Excessive parental expectations

23 Sexuality

24 Sexual Dysfunction for Women (1999)
Low Desire Arousal Disorder Sexual Pain Daily alcohol consumption .46 .87 .58

25 Sexual Dysfunction Men are 3x as likely to have erection problems and low desire than younger men. Impotence 9.6% in older men. Non married women 112 times more likely to have climax problems and sexual anxiety. High educational attainment negatively associated with sexual problems. Women graduated from college are half as likely to experience low desire or orgasm problems. Male college grads half as likely to report non-pleasurable sex and sex anxiety. Arousal disorder highly associated with sexual trauma history in men and women.


27 Sexual Disorder WOMEN MEN Unaffected – 58% Unaffected – 70%
Low desire – 22% Premature ejaculation – 21% Low arousal – 14% Erectile dysfunction – 5% Sexual pain – 7% Low desire – 5%

28 Trauma Bonding I don’t know that we’ve ever experienced true sexual arousal, only fear arousal; Arousal driven by terror, anxiety or excitement that is basically over-stimulation. “When I feel tense, it translates into a physical response in the vaginal area.”

29 Affect and Compulsive Behavior
Abused children discover they can produce release through temporary alterations in their affective state by voluntarily including autonomic crisis or extreme autonomic arousal. Purging and vomiting, compulsive sexual behavior, compulsive risk taking or exposure to drugs, and the use of psychoactive drugs become vehicles which abused children regulate their internal state. Judith Herman, M.D.

30 Treatment of Intimacy Disorder


32 Seeding Development of Self

33 Qualities of Self Calmness Joy Curiosity Gratitude Clarity Humor
Compassion Equanimity Confidence Perspective Courage Peace Connectedness Kindness

34 Coaching Issues self punitive voice perfectionism Avoidance of anxiety inability to take action harm avoidance social inhibition emotional- recognition tolerance expression saying no/ yes shame binds keep commitments self compassion chaotic lifestyle clean house files papers-mail out of control /over control regular schedule eat /sleep /exercise overly self /other focus self care sexuality destructive relationships showing up surrender self forgiveness formulating meaningful life coherence dissociation

35 INTER-PSYCHIC INTIMACY (between the couple) vs
INTER-PSYCHIC INTIMACY (between the couple) vs. INTRA-PSYCHIC INTIMACY (within the individual)

36 Consensus Proposed Criteria for “Developmental Trauma”
Self and relational Dysregulation. The child exhibits impaired normative developmental competencies in their sense of personal identity and involvement in relationships, including at least three of the following: Intense preoccupation with safety of the caregiver or other loved ones (including precocious care giving) or difficulty tolerating reunion with them after separation. Persistent negative sense of self, including self-loathing, helplessness, worthlessness, ineffectiveness, or defectiveness. Extreme and persistent distrust. Defiance or lack of reciprocal behavior in close relationships with adults and peers. Reactive physical or verbal aggression towards peers, caregivers, or other adults. Inappropriate (excessive or promiscuous) attempts to get contact (including but not limited to sexual or physical intimacy) or excessive reliance on peers or adults for safety and reassurance. Impaired capacity to regulate empathic arousal as evidenced by lack of empathy for, or intolerance of, expressions of distress of others, Or excessive responsiveness to the distressed of others. The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN)

37 Self-Empathy The internalizing of the attentive, validating, caring relationship to oneself. This involves helping the client articulate her experience and bring it into her own internal relational context.

38 Self – parenting: according to survivors, qualities of ideal parent
Unconditionally loving and accepting. Affirming. Takes responsibility. Sets and teaches healthy boundaries. Is protective. Values play. Is forgiving mistakes. Encourages growth Listens to child in open and receptive way. These are the qualities of the ideal “self-parent”

39 Hypo/Hyper Sexualities


41 Hypersexuality Low threshold for sexual responsiveness, often with obsessive-compulsive rituals of sexual expression that displace the unfolding of connection or caring for the partner. The rituals may also revolve around masturbation rather than partnered sex, or paraphilic sex, accompanied by a great deal of shame with primary emphasis on relief or anxiety or tension.

42 Contradictory Aspects of Sexual Arousal (cont)
It is therefore, quite common for one individual to be both hypersexual and hyposexual within the same or different periods of their lives. Their extremes of responsiveness seem contradictory, but are actually a predictable adaptation to a set of complex overwhelming contradictory internal cognitive-affective, behavioral structures, evolved in a response to original rejection, abandonment, neglect, assault and resultant recreations and misappraisals.

43 Hypo Sexuality Sexual response is consistently inhibited.
Low initiatory behavior. States, “I don’t enjoy sex very much and would prefer to have less than once a month.” In relationships, often one partner is hypersexual and the other feels pressured and thereby hyposexuality and this dynamic becomes amplified, creating labels “too much – too little” which becomes disposition.

44 Relationships & Sexuality
In sex therapy, entitlement refers to the therapist giving the client permission to not to be sexual. For example, a therapist might say: “ it is understandable that, given what happened to you and what you’ve done to yourself as a result of what was done to you, and the destructive influences on your choice of partner and the relationship you’ve each created, you do not feel sexual. It would be a miracle or even dysfunctional if anyone could feel sexual under these circumstances!’

45 Cybersex as Dissociative Re-enactment
Re-enactments of past conflicts or traumata, with underlying motive to resolve unfinished business. Perversion: Turning childhood tragedy into triumph. Illusion of being wanted/desired Illusion of having power and control Management of dissonance and paradox

46 Trauma Recovery Domains (Mary Harvey, Ph.D.)
Authority Over Memory - Can take event from past, talk about it with sense of empowerment. Integration of Memory and Affect - Can feel appropriate affect with cognition. New affect (adult-oriented)(1995). Affect Tolerance and Trauma - Related Affect - Feelings no longer overwhelmed, get overwhelmed and back into the trauma, ignore and walk into danger. Symptom Mastery – Hyper vigilant, anxiety, depression, dissociation, somatic, compulsivity, how much do we need to measure remission.

47 Trauma Recovery Domains (Mary Harvey, Ph.D.)
Self-Esteem - Capacity for self-care and regard, properly eat, exercise, sleep, self soothe. Self-Cohesion - How one experiences oneself, fragmented, compartmentalized, self-trust Safe Attachment - Negotiate and maintain safety in relationships. Making Meaning - Making meaning of their experiences.


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