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American Gods by Neil Gaiman.

 

"The central premise of the novel is that gods and mythological creatures exist because people believe in them (a type of thoughtform). Immigrants to the United States brought with them spirits and gods. The power of these mythological beings has diminished as people's beliefs waned. New gods have arisen, reflecting America's obsessions with media, celebrity, technology, and drugs, among other things."

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Putting this book up again and IMO it should be compulsory reading for everyone, even if one never reads any other book.

 

"Stalking the Soul" by Dr. Marie-France Hirigoyen

 

"This book is an eye opener to how our society puts on blinders to emotional abuse to the extent that even the victim can be forced to feel that they need to tolerate the abuse and that's its something they did wrong to trigger it or that they are the weaker one's. It helps to demystify these falsified claims and whilst psychologists and society seem to favor the abusers (without realising they are easily being manipulated and seduced themselves) and say that the abuser suffers from a mental illness, Marie- France Hirigoyen states that psychiatric illness does not cause abusiveness. It arises from dispassionate rationality combined with an incapacity to respect others as human beings. Whatever society may think the simple truth is that there is no reason for abuse and victims are not to be held responsible for it.

She also challenges society who only responds to physical forms of abuse and neglects the destructive consequence of emotional abuse at times not even giving this abuse an existence in society"

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Not a book, but a great article:

 

The 6 Talks a Couple Needs to Have Before Marriage

Tackling the hard stuff ahead of time may save your marriage in the end

 

Ironically, before romantic love became the basis for marriage—a game-changer that historian Stephanie Coontz dates to the 1700s—marriage was based on talk because it was a contractual binding of individuals, property, and families. (And marriage is still a contract, as anyone who has ever gone through a divorce knows.)

 

"You and your partner should know about these, be vigilant should they appear, and be prepared to fix them: Criticism, or attacking someone on the basis of their personality or character, rather than a specific behavior; contempt, or consciously intending to abuse or insult your partner; defensiveness, which can include refusal to take responsibility, withdrawal, or talking over the person or repeating yourself; and stonewalling, which is a component of demand/withdraw."

 

"Marriage is a partnership that can take many different forms depending on the emotional needs of the people in it. The important thing is to articulate and define how you and your soon-to-be spouse see your marriage: Will it be drawn along traditional lines, with one partner focused on finances and the other on running the household, even if you’re both working? Or are you looking for a more egalitarian relationship? How will you balance your or your partner’s need for autonomy while maintaining intimacy? Some people marry and make few shifts from their former single lives—they still socialize with their own friends and keep their money separate from their spouses—and are content to live on parallel tracks that sometimes connect. Other people want to function as a couple by melding interests, friends, and assets into a single, shared pool. Being clear about your own needs"

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Stop Spinning, Start Breathing: A Codependency Workbook for Narcissist Abuse Recovery by Zari L. Ballard

 

"an intuitive workbook designed to help you distance yourself from the spinning mindset that prevents a narcissist's victim from ever getting to a place where feeling better - let alone feeling normal - seems even remotely possible. A person who has never experienced this type of relationship first-hand will simply never understand!

"

 

 

and:

 

From Charm to Harm by Gregory Zafutto

 

"You loved this person and they SAID they loved you back. They participated in the relationship and it seemed like ‘normal’ reciprocation as far as them loving you back. BUT today you are looking at this relationship and wondering HOW did this turn around in such a hideous manner that you feel so lost, so confused, so broken, and disabled. What did you do wrong, why did this person that you loved unconditionally now seems to hate you and blame you and WHAT IS THE REASON?"

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Given that this porn topic so often comes up on many threads in ENA I thought I'd mention this book:

 

David J. Ley, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist and the author of a book: Insatiable Wives, Women Who Stray and The Men Who Love Them.Dr. Ley wrote Insatiable Wives following two years of interviews with couples around the country.

 

His new book: Ethical Porn for D**k s, A Man's Guide to Responsible Viewing Pleasure came out in Summer/Fall 2016

(I love that title lol!)

 

"Our media is filled with confusing, polarizing messages about the dangers of porn, while at the same time sexually explicit images are pronounced in advertising and entertainment. Using a natural question/answer format for people feeling fear and shame about porn use, this accessible, funny, and well-informed book is the first one to offer men a nonjudgmental way to discover how to view and use pornography responsibly.

 

David J. Ley, PhD, is an internationally recognized expert on issues related to sexuality and mental health. "

And in an article "Women Watching Porn? Not in My Town!" he remarks:

 

"And after all, women don't really like porn! Do they? In fact, studies by Meredith Chivers show that women react as strongly to porn as men do. In some cases, it seems that women actually react more strongly to porn than do men, as women respond with physiological arousal to visual depictions of almost any sexual activity, whereas men seem to be much more rigid and limited in what they respond to. But, whereas men respond with both physical and psychological arousal, women more frequently show physical arousal, at the same time they deny being turned on. So, women react to porn, they may just be unwilling or unable to acknowledge it - after all, they are taught from childhood that "good girls don't do that!"

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So much desperation.......

 

A good article here:

 

http://www.psychalive.org/toxic-relationship/

 

"A toxic relationship is often characterized by repeated, mutually destructive modes of relating between a couple. These patterns can involve jealousy, possessiveness, dominance, manipulation, desperation, selfishness or rejection. However, one common theme in a toxic relationship involves the partners’ intense draw toward each other, despite the pain they both cause one another. This is apparent with a couple who have entered into a “Fantasy Bond,” a term developed by psychologist and author Dr. Robert Firestone to describe an illusion of connection created between two people that helps alleviate their individual fears by forging a false sense of connection. A fantasy bond is toxic to a relationship because it replaces real feelings of love and support with a desire to fuse identities and operate as a unit. As the couple relates as a “we” instead of a “you” and “me,” their relationship becomes more about form (based on appearances and roles) than substance (based on genuine feeling and authenticity"

 

"There are specific behaviors that have a toxic effect on relationships:

Being selfish or demanding, behaving as if you have power over your partner.

Acting out the role of parent or child, by showing submission or dominance.

Using emotional coercion or manipulation to get what you want.

Denying your own or your partner’s separateness or individuality, instead seeking a merged identity.

Confusing real love with desperation or emotional hunger.

Refusing to act in kind ways with actions your partner would perceive as loving."

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A book:

 

"The Seven Principles For Making Marriage Work" by John Gottman

 

"Criticism, Contempt, Defensiveness and Stonewalling" The Four Horsemen.

 

Review:

 

"Gottman debunks many myths about divorce (primary among them that affairs are at the root of most splits). He also reveals surprising facts about couples who stay together. They do engage in screaming matches. And they certainly don't resolve every problem. "Take Allan and Betty", he writes. "When Allan gets annoyed at Betty, he turns on ESPN. When Betty is upset with him, she heads for the mall. Then they regroup and go on as if nothing's happened. Never in forty-five years of marriage have they sat down to have a 'dialogue' about their relationship." While this may sound like a couple in trouble, Gottman found that they pass the love-lab tests and say honestly that "they are both very satisfied with their relationship and they love each other deeply". Through a series of in-depth quizzes, checklists and exercises, similar to the ones he uses in his workshops, Gottman provides the framework for coping with differences and strengthening your marriage. His profiles of troubled couples rescued from the brink of divorce (including that of Rory, the out-of-touch doctor) and those of still-happy couples who reinvigorate their relationships are equally enlightening. --"

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Book:

 

Women Who Think Too Much: How to Break Free of Overthinking and Reclaim Your Life

by Susan Nolen-Hoeksema

 

Review:

 

"Practically everyone agonizes over decisions or situations from time to time, but overthinkers carry analysis and introspection to unhealthy extremes, "getting caught in torrents of negative thoughts and emotions,"according to this book. Even minor events can trigger a chain of second-guessing in which negative emotions are "amplified instead of managed." Kneading damaging thoughts like dough, overthinkers fall victim to a "yeast effect" that causes negativity to grow and take control of their lives, distort their perspectives and damage relationships, careers and emotional (and perhaps physical) health. Nolen-Hoeksema, a University of Michigan psychology professor and author of five professional books, explores why people overthink, contends and explains why too much thinking is predominantly a woman’s disease and prescribes a three-step program to overcome overthinking."

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The Mask of Sanity: An Attempt to Clarify Some Issues About the So Called Psychopathic Personality

by Dr. Hervey M. Cleckley

 

Dr. Hervey Milton Cleckley (1903 - January 28, 1984) was an American psychiatrist and pioneer in the field of psychopathy. His book, The Mask of Sanity, originally published in 1941, provided the most influential clinical description of psychopathy in the 20th Century. The term "mask of sanity" derived from Cleckley's observations that, unlike people with major mental disorders, a "psychopath" can appear to be normal and even engaging, while typically not suffering overtly from hallucinations or delusions. However, the "mask" covered a concealed psychosis.

 

 

"Cleckley doesn't deal in his book with hardened criminals or serial killers, but rather the kinds of psychopaths that wandered into his practice. For this reason, there are no heinous crimes to distract or any anger to make us turn away, but rather we can observe with a more detached curiosity and learn a lot about the nature of psychopaths."

 

"Hervey Checkley's gives a great understanding of how these people function and also how come even professional people can be taken in by them. Like the book says they carry a mask of sanity and only careful observation over time gives the clues that something is amiss."

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Something to ponder:

 

An article:

 

Only a minority of British people think infidelity should put a strain on a relationship - while disputes over the dishes rival sex among threats to domestic harmony

 

Anxieties about paying bills and tensions over long working hours outrank adultery on the list of possible threats to stable family life, according to new figures published as part of the UK’s official happiness index.

 

 

 

 

More here:

 

/

 

"In contrast, it has to be said that adulterous sex is often a consequence of marriage troubles, rather than the cause of them.

 

In other words, many men and women who are in unhappy marital relationships respond by deciding to go to bed with someone else, who they find more understanding or pleasant or attractive than their current spouse."

 

"There are various reasons for the probable increase in adultery in recent decades.

 

The availability of almost 100 per cent effective contraception has made it less risky for people to 'have a fling'. The man who has had a vasectomy, or the woman who has been sterilised, may well feel that it's fairly safe to 'play the field'. Without doubt, the Pill gave many women the chance to try a little dalliance.

Society is more tolerant of sexual behaviour, than it was.

People travel much more in their work, and it's common for someone to decide that a trip to Paris or New York provides the justification for a night of passion.

Wives are much more likely to have high-powered jobs that enable them to travel around or involves going out for drinks or dinner with business contacts."

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An important article. No wonder so many women seek out and are further damaged by abusive and dysfunctional relationships.

About shame.

 

"In the court of public opinion, when the mother-daughter relationship is damaged beyond repair, it’s always the daughter who’s on trial. The cultural myths about motherhood—that all women are nurturing, that mothering is instinctual not learned, and that all mothers love their children unconditionally—both shape and inform people’s responses to the daughter who either cuts her mother out of her life entirely or maintains so little contact that her position is clear to both intimates and strangers alike. The culture sides with the parent—a view bolstered by the authority of a Biblical Commandment—regardless of the circumstances.

 

Most tellingly, when a parent cuts a child off, there’s a sympathetic murmur, an acknowledgement that parenting is hard and that adult children can be difficult"

 

"Cultural disapproval often impedes a daughter’s road to both recovery and reclaiming her life by creating another kind of inner conflict, as one daughter wrote: “How do I explain exactly how toxic my mother’s behavior is without sounding whiny and ungrateful? Every time I broach the subject, even with close friends, I see nothing but disapproval. But is filial duty supposed to be painful? Am I supposed to see her when she’s actively out to get me?”"

 

From an article by Peg Streep, titled

 

Unloved Daughters and the Culture of Shame

Taking a close look at the elephant hidden in plain sight.

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So much common sense in this article:

 

Five Reasons Why Relationships Fail by Dr Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic

 

.....daters may differ in openness: if one of them has a "hungry mind" but the other one has no interests in culture or knowledge, they will struggle. Indeed, highly open people are constantly trying out new things: they love travelling to new places, trying out new foods, and doing unusual things. Conversely, people with low openness are conservative, risk-averse, and will end up seeming boring to their more curious partners.

 

Third, daters may differ in emotional intelligence: if this difference is minor, it will be tolerated. However big differences will cause one of the partners (the less emotionally stable one) to use the other one as a shrink! Indeed, stable people are the perfect target for neurotic partners, because they have sedative effects on them! So, if you are highly emotionally stable and single, beware of needy, neurotic, people!

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Desperation, such a bad advisor.

 

 

Excellent article:

 

 

"Unfortunately, desperation, anxiety and insecurity act as terrible magnets that unfailingly attract men who take advantage of women. Always remember: The desperate woman is the narcissistic man’s prey.

 

Men who prey on vulnerable women always look for the woman who tries too hard. The selfish man learned long ago that he doesn't have to do much of anything to keep the anxious woman interested and "off-balance."

 

"The following is a list of things women do that guarantee she will NOT attract good men:

 

By canceling plans with friends because he called to say he wants to see you. (Women are notorious for doing this)

By making excuses for him when he fails to do the thing he said he would do, like calling or meeting somewhere---on time.

By sticking by him and having sex regularly with him, even though he rarely takes you out on a real date.

By feeling obligated to have sex with him by the 3rd date. (Let me say right now that you don't have to do anything until you are ready)

By NOT realizing the emotional ramifications of a premature sexual relationship.

By sexting him, before you truly know him.

By doing his laundry, cooking, and/or cleaning, even though you don't live with him.

By being available for "booty" calls anytime of the night.

By paying off his debts and/or giving him money."

 

From:

 

 

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Predators.

 

Comprehensive article here:

 

 

 

 

They are masters at exploitation. Predators know your own weaknesses and blind spots (though they are oblivious to their own). They will press for very deep, intimate knowledge of your life in order to use that sensitive information later. In light of knowing your triggers, they will push your buttons and manipulate you into doing whatever it is they want you to do. They use intimidation, ridicule and shame with abandon. They rule by fear, not by grace. In their presence you will feel small and needy, and in some ways, you will need them in your life to feel okay about yourself. (They’ve made you believe you’re incomplete without them). They long for this kind of dependence. They thrive when you’re the messed up one, and they are the savior.

 

"They feign intimacy. Predators are chameleons. They know that intimacy is important, so they pretend to be whatever it is you need from them. They do this to gain your trust. But their heart is not in it. Instead they playact their way toward false intimacy. They demand your intimate allegiance, but they will never truly share their own hearts. This keeps victims confused and off balance. Think of them as the most clever con artists."

 

"This is why when a victim begins to assert his/her rights, sparks fly. Huge fights come when the victim begins to stand up. At this point the victim will either be further slammed into submission, or he/she will flee. (If that’s you, go to a safe place. And then pursue counseling and health. You chose to be with this person for various reasons, and it’s important you learn why you’re attracted to predators. Get healthy before you approach a new relationship, or you might end up with another predator)."

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Predators.

 

Comprehensive article here:

 

 

 

 

They are masters at exploitation. Predators know your own weaknesses and blind spots (though they are oblivious to their own). They will press for very deep, intimate knowledge of your life in order to use that sensitive information later. In light of knowing your triggers, they will push your buttons and manipulate you into doing whatever it is they want you to do. They use intimidation, ridicule and shame with abandon. They rule by fear, not by grace. In their presence you will feel small and needy, and in some ways, you will need them in your life to feel okay about yourself. (They’ve made you believe you’re incomplete without them). They long for this kind of dependence. They thrive when you’re the messed up one, and they are the savior.

 

"They feign intimacy. Predators are chameleons. They know that intimacy is important, so they pretend to be whatever it is you need from them. They do this to gain your trust. But their heart is not in it. Instead they playact their way toward false intimacy. They demand your intimate allegiance, but they will never truly share their own hearts. This keeps victims confused and off balance. Think of them as the most clever con artists."

 

"This is why when a victim begins to assert his/her rights, sparks fly. Huge fights come when the victim begins to stand up. At this point the victim will either be further slammed into submission, or he/she will flee. (If that’s you, go to a safe place. And then pursue counseling and health. You chose to be with this person for various reasons, and it’s important you learn why you’re attracted to predators. Get healthy before you approach a new relationship, or you might end up with another predator)."

I need to look further into this predator concept. Nearly all the personality issues I've had to overcome to be in a relationship are on that list.

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From an article by Frances Cohen Praver

 

Our Aging Parents, Our Existential Angst, and Our Love Lives

 

"Meet Danielle who is obsessed with exercise, diet, grooming, and cleanliness, Danielle's routine was set in stone. If she tried to deviate ever so slightly her anxieties mounted to such heights, she feared she'd lose her mind. She needed a blueprint for everything. That way she had certainty. Remember the adage ‘we make plans and God laughs'? Alas, such was Danielle's fate."

 

"In case you are wondering why Danielle needed these obsessive compulsive behaviors, Danielle was trying to manage her fears of uncertainty. The most daunting uncertainty is, without a doubt, the uncertainty of death. In denial of death, her existence had become a living death.

 

Solution? When Danielle became aware of her existential angst, she realized she was missing good living. She began taking slow, incremental steps of exposure to her fears. She found that a dirty dish, smudged mascara, or an extra ounce of fat did not mean she would crumble. Instead she began to live and love more freely.

 

"......you too have choices to make. This could be a time of dread or a time of hope. The greatest tragedy of life is not in dying; it's in not living and loving well."

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A selection of very insightful, precise and readable articles here:

 

 

 

With shame often comes the expectation of abandonment and loss of love, it’s an overwhelming experience.

 

In adulthood, despair, loneliness, depression etc. often are related to the fact that something had gone terribly wrong early in life when the self was beginning to develop. In early childhood, parents carry the archetype of the divine, which has awesome power and responsibility. If parents, because of their own woundedness or narcissism, cannot see the true nature of their child, they cause great injury. If we’re not appreciated for who we are, we end up with a self that is unacceptable. When we’re either not seen or disapproved of we experience shame resulting in a self-image of feeling ugly, unwanted, unworthy, unlovable etc.

 

Shaming is one of the most dangerous child rearing practices to the child’s self-esteem. “What a fool you are!” “Everyone knows you can’t do anything right!” “You ought to be ashamed of yourself!” These attacks, often delivered under the guise of wanting to do ‘what’s best’ for the child end up in the child’s self-loathing and self-contempt. “I am stupid!” “I can’t do anything right!” “I’m bad” When shaming parents continuously turn away, withdraw love and ridicule they express contempt for the child which leads to the child forever feeling small, inadequate and unworthy.

 

Psychotherapist Sheldon Kopp said his mother often told him, ‘I love you but I don’t like you.’ This implied that his mother loved him ‘because she was a good mother’, but that she didn’t like him because he was an unsatisfactory child. The message was ‘surely no one but my mother would have put up with me’ and led to a shame based personality, which he worked long on to repair.

 

If we’re not accepted for who we are as children, we may lead a life looking for approval by others hoping of finding a self that is finally validated. Some approach the world with a ‘compliant self’ which eventually leads to depression and loss of inner authority. They have to be ‘nice and loving’ to everybody-it’s a life of pretense and leads to meaninglessness and loss of soul. Others are no longer able to carry the burden of overwhelming shame and secretly decide to misbehave. The natural self hides behind spiteful shamelessness. Many patients enter therapy because of severely limited self-acceptance. If therapy works and they feel safe, they will slowly face the hidden aspects of themselves. With greater self-understanding comes greater self-acceptance. Greater self-acceptance leads to a richer and more soulful life. Fooling others always consumes energy and limits freedom.

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