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Posts Tagged ‘Moishe Herskowitz’

The Fear Of Abandonment: A Self-Fulfilling Prophecy (Part II)

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

In part one (Family Issues 04-29-2011) we mentioned that often a symptom of the anxiety disorder, the fear of abandonment, is a strong need to be in control. That is because the person suffering from the disorder has lost someone in their past – due to separation, divorce or death – and may unconsciously blame themselves for the desertion.

The insecurity associated with the fear of abandonment can ruin relationships, and prevent an individual from living a normal married life. In general the abandonment issues begin in childhood, possibly when a child/teenager loses one or possibly both parents. However, even in cases where both parents are alive and lived with the family, the child may not have gotten the emotional support, love, guidance and care that is necessary for healthy development. As a result, the child may be left with feelings of abandonment. As these children grow up, they become extremely sensitive to rejection. People with this disorder often misinterpret even innocent comments or actions and interpret them as rejection. For example: a person choosing to spend time with his or her friends instead of the spouse – this could be perceived as abandonment. Another example: if a spouse stays out late and forgets to call, the partner, who suffers from fear of abandonment, may move into a whole other level of fear.

If these feelings continue to linger, as they often do, the event will be etched into the portion of the mind that is sensitive to the feeling of abandonment, until the anxiety sufferer will begin to question the viability of the relationship. As this process begins, the one who perceives being abandoned will start to feel unloved and unworthy, and can begin to get angry. The afflicted partner may start to get very controlling in an attempt to save him or herself and the relationship. Sufferers may start to smother their partners to the point where they become jealous if he/she spends free time with anyone else.

People with this disorder fear that their partner will not be dependent upon them, and will leave them to be abandoned once again, as they were in childhood. At times they may feel that in the end people will always let them down, and with these thoughts they can justify why they live defensively, and end relationships prematurely. This also means that they will be constantly on the lookout for signs and proof that they are right, even if they are truly not.

What is fascinating is how Hashem sets up the healing process: the individual with abandonment issues will often marry someone with a need for independence. As a result, he or she will be forced to face and work through these childhood issues. At first he or she may not even be aware of the abandonment fears because the mind will keep the feeling in the unconscious portions of cognition, so that the relationship can progress. In time, and sometimes right after sheva brachos, the one who is prone to feelings of abandonment will begin to react to signs of independence from their partner, fearing being left.

The problems begin as sufferers become emotionally blind-sighted by their own oversensitivity, and don’t realize how they have begun to smother their partners. This, in essence, creates self-fulfilling prophecies or self-projection. While self-projecting, people paint a picture of what they see happening in the future, which may then materialize because they already expect that scenario to occur. In this case, people self-projecting assume their needs will not be met, and then the other spouse will fail to provide the emotional support needed.

This was the case for Raizy & Yoni. Soon after the wedding Yoni made it clear that Raizy must listen to Yoni and not her family anymore. He explained that he is looking out for her best interest – not her family – and that as long as she listens to him everything will be fine. Yoni had been abandoned in early childhood, yet he was not aware that he needed to work out his many abandonment issues. He was also not aware that Hashem creates situations where two incompatible people meet for the purpose of healing. That is why when Raizy opposed some of Yoni’s requests, he thought he needed to end the marriage. Yoni could not comprehend that Raizy also had needs and one of them was to be self-sufficient. Somehow Yoni perceived her need for independence as her family’s interference and felt it would only be a matter of time before Raizy would leave him. These feelings caused Yoni to become more needy and clingy, which in turn caused Raizy to pull away and defend her needs to be self-sufficient and independent. The opposition threatened Yoni more and caused him to become more attached. When Raizy felt stifled she stayed out late and didn’t bother to call.

The Fear Of Abandonment (Part I)

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

The fear of abandonment, also known as autophobia, is an anxiety disorder characterized by an acute fear of being alone. Often, one of the symptoms of this particular anxiety is a strong need to be in control. This is because one has previously lost someone close through separation, divorce or death and may unconsciously blames his or herself for the event. When this happens, any type of separation may traumatize the person, even the marriage of his or her own child can be viewed as a life-threatening event.

Many years ago, my brother, who is an attorney, shared the following situation with me. A woman had recently lost her husband and needed an attorney to handle all the financial and legal ramifications of her case. The woman was a Holocaust survivor, like our parents. She had come to his office accompanied by her single daughter, who was very bright and extremely personable. Her daughter was caring, thoughtful and patient as she spoke on her mother’s behalf.

Sol was very impressed by the dynamics of their mother-daughter relationship, and with the young lady herself, so much so that he felt it would be a great idea to set me up with her.

He asked the mother if the daughter would be interested in meeting his brother who is also single, personable and interested in getting married. The mother’s immediate response was, “I am sure your brother would not be interested in my daughter since she recently had a nervous breakdown.”

Needless to say, Sol’s reaction was one of shock and disbelief that anyone, especially a person’s own mother, would share this type of personal information so readily.

It’s seemed to him that she was trying to sabotage her daughter’s chances of ever getting married, and for the most part he was correct. She loved her daughter very much, and as with all Holocaust survivors, her daughter was her purpose for living.

The thought of being alone, however, and losing another intimate attachment was too frightening.

As part of the life cycle, as with all intimate attachments, sooner or later there will be some sort of separation. When children marry, this too is a process of intimate separation, but with family support everyone adjusts. If parents have experienced separation as a positive experience, then the adjustment is less intense. For others who have autophobia and have been faced with previous loss, as with Holocaust survivors, this separation event can become a very crippling experience. A child getting married can cause a state of extreme vulnerability with loss of control. The fear of abandonment leaves them feeling pain and rejection – and it can affect the ability to make proper decisions.

For this, and other reasons, it is important to have the support of a rav or mentor to help us think rationally through these most difficult and yet, joyous times.

Moishe Herskowitz, MS., LCSW, developed the T.E.A.M. (Torah Education & Awareness for a better Marriage) approach based on 20 successful years of counseling couples – helping them to communicate effectively and fully appreciate each other. As a licensed clinical social worker and renowned family therapist, he developed this breakthrough seminar to guide new couples through easy-to-accomplish steps towards a happy, healthy marriage. Moishe Herskowitz is a Graduate School Professor at the Touro College Mental Health Program. To discuss topics from an article, or ask questions, he can be contacted at CPCMoishe@aol.com or 718-435-7388.

Children of Shame

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011
Children who grew up feeling shameful for the most part will have also grown up without someone to talk to about how it made them feel.
Shame is one of the most destructive feelings there is. It is a feeling that something is wrong within us and has a negative affect on a child’s self-development.
These children have had no voice with which to express themselves, and even if they did there was no one who would listen. So, as a survival strategy, they learned at a very young age to disconnect their anger, hurt, fear and pain.  They learned how to build walls around themselves so they can feel safe. These survival strategies are a good thing – in fact they are brilliant! Without them these children would not be able to function developmentally as children or as adults.   This wall gives them hope – hope that one day in the future – they will marry and find some one who will listen and connect with them. Logically this sounds great.  However, there is a problem.  These children have programmed their brains to disconnect.
Symptomatically similar to someone who is going through Post Traumatic Stress, the brain of a child who feels shame will temporary disconnect the pain until a later date, when it feels safe. When the connection with another person is made and he or she does feel safe, sadly the pain, anger and hurt will return. These children, when they become adults, have been disconnected for a very long time.  In fact, they have forgotten how to feel safe and how to let their walls come down. Shame involves a fear of being exposed, and if these walls come down, that’s what would happen – they and their feelings would be exposed.  It is at this point that their unconscious mind will go on Red Alert, shouting Danger! Danger! You’re getting much too close, shut down now and please evacuate immediately!
This is why couples often tell me that, “The closer we get the more we fight.” These adults are emotionally trapped and angry because these walls are no longer working for them and they don’t know how to cope.  What is happening is that they end up pushing away and hurting the very people they are trying to connect with – those they love.  This causes them intense pain – and there is nowhere to hide from it.
Many adults in this situation find themselves at a crossroads in their relationships – between staying and leaving.  When we are dealing with a married couple, for the most part, they don’t want to end the marriage, just the pain. However, because they perceive the connection as a threat, some will choose divorce as a means to an end.
 Such was the case for Yoni and Shifra, a young newlywed couple.  Her husband recalls that, “soon after the wedding she started to withdraw. The closer I got the more she would distance herself. It’s the strangest thing, when we dated there were not enough hours in a day to be with each other. Now she finds fault with everything I do.  She will find all kinds of excuses to leave the house and if I confront her with it she wants to end the relationship.”
When couples arrive at my office they wonder if they will ever feel safe with each other. They often say, “lets cut our losses and get divorced”, but that’s not the answer.  The answer is that if the brain had been programmed to disconnect, it can be programmed to reconnect. Hashem created human beings to be dependant on each other and with that dependency comes the process of healing and love. In fact pain and conflict arise not out of lack of love for our partners, but from a misunderstanding of what a true love relationship is all about.
When a person learns how to love their partner the way they want to be loved, they begin to feel more connected and understood. They find that issues and problems they once argued about seem to resolve themselves.

 

Moishe Herskowitz, MS., LCSW, developed the T.E.A.M. (Torah Education & Awareness for a better Marriage) approach based on 20 successful years of counseling couples – helping them to communicate effectively and fully appreciate each other. As a licensed clinical social worker and renowned family therapist, he developed this breakthrough seminar to guide new couples through easy-to-accomplish steps towards a happy, healthy marriage. Moishe Herskowitz is a Graduate School Professor at the Touro College Mental Health Program. To discuss topics from an article, or ask questions, he can be contacted at CPCMoishe@aol.com or 718-435-7388.

In-Laws

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008

A few years ago I was invited to be a guest on a talk show. An interesting question came up from a young man who wanted some information on the topic of in-laws. He wanted to know if I had ever known of a couple divorcing because of their in-laws. My response was that although divorced people may blame the in-laws for the marriage failure, in most cases this does not happen directly, but indirectly- YES!

Let me explain; it’s important to understand that every newlywed couple wants the same thing in their marriage. That is to have a relationship with their in-laws that consists of L.A. – something we call at T.E.A.M. (L)ove and (A)cceptance. The young couple needs to feel loved and accepted by their new set of parents, otherwise this often becomes a source of tension and strain on the couple’s marriage.

There are several reasons for the difficulties. Such as: 1. the wife’s mother may be very sensitive to the way in which her daughter is treated, because the daughter symbolizes herself, to some degree. 2. The son-in-law’s occupation or lack of it as compared to the father’s. 3. The difference in the husband or wife’s working style may tend to freeze social relationships between the households. It’s interesting to note that when in-laws feel grudgingly that they are forced to accept the new couple, it often has an effect on the young couple’s relationship.

When working with couples, I have a 1 to 10 Assessment Scale of the L.A. (level of the in-law relationship), 1 being lowest and 10 being the highest. If this level is too high I find that couples will blame and say hurtful things to each other and not even know why.

In-laws are often not aware of the transference that takes place if they show any signs of the 4 R’s Resistance, Resentment, Rejection and finally Repression. Repression is the most dangerous stage of them all, when it seems to husband or wife that the in-laws no longer love them. We call this stage numbing when the couple and their families no longer feel anything towards each other.

Over the years in analyzing the cause and effect of in-law friction, I have come to the realization that the individual’s reaction to his/ her parents indirectly affects the way spouses communicate with each other. The process takes place in unconscious or semiconscious motive.

What takes place is that the self-directed hostility directed toward an in-law may shift toward a spouse who is a safer target or less dangerous adversary.

In plain English what this means is that the relation to one’s in-laws may rest on frustration or substitute reaction toward a new stimulus.

It is of the greatest importance for in-laws to have an understanding that Happy in-laws = happy relationships, then happy relationships = much joy and Shalom Bayit in the young couple’s marriage.

T.E.A.M. is endorsed by many prominent Rabbanim. If there are any topics you would like me to discuss in my articles, or have any questions, please feel free to contact me at CPCMoishe@aol.com or at 718-435-7388. You can also log on to CPCTEAM.org to download past articles and for more information about the T.E.A.M. approach.

Moishe Herskowitz MS., LCSW, developed the T.E.A.M. (Torah Education and Awareness for a better Marriage) approach based on 20 successful years of counseling couples – helping them to communicate effectively and fully appreciate each other. As a licensed clinical social worker and renowned family therapist, he developed this breakthrough seminar to guide new couples through easy-to-accomplish steps towards a happy, healthy marriage. Moishe Herskowitz holds a certificate from the Brooklyn Institute for Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis in couples and marriage therapy. He is also a graduate professor in Touro College’s Mental Health Program.

Help Me, If You Can

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2007

Dear Moishe,

I am writing to you because frankly, I just don’t know where else to turn at this point. I know that statement makes it sound as if I have been married for years, but the truth is I have only been married for six months, and the changes that are taking place are scary.

I am quite aware that Shana Rishonah is supposed to be the hardest year, but the problems I am having are breaking my heart and my will to stay married. My husband and I dated each other for about six months and we were engaged for another five months, so I thought I knew him quite well. What I was not prepared for was the way we fight. We have had less than five fights throughout our short marriage, but each one is still a burden on my soul. When the first fight happened, in the heat of the moment he suggested divorce. I was so devastated; I was shocked to a complete silence. “Divorce?” I thought, “It’s just a fight!” so I calmed down, he apologized, and it was forgotten.

Or so I thought. About a month later we had another intense argument, and when the argument had reached its boiling point, he again said that we should get divorced. Again I let it go. But the third time we fought, he insisted that we look into divorce and I realized that something was really wrong. We had a very long talk and he told me that he does love me, but he is just not happy. I can’t understand why he can’t imagine working out our issues, and the only reasonable option for him is divorce!

When we aren’t fighting we have a pretty nice marriage, but the minute that we get into a sticky situation, he wants right out of our lifelong commitment. I am afraid to really speak to my own husband. It breaks my heart to imagine divorcing the guy of my dreams, and to know that he does not want to continue our marriage when we reach a stumbling block.

I feel so helpless and so depressed, because I don’t see how I can continue my marriage with someone who is unwilling to work through problems along the way. I just don’t know what to do. It’s all I can think about, all the time. I cry myself to sleep every night, and I wake up in the morning with a knot in my stomach from fear and stress. I just don’t see how this marriage can work if I am the only one actually willing to put effort into it.

Is there anything you can do to help me?

Dina Dear Dina:

Disillusionment is a common factor for newlywed couples, especially in the first year of marriage, a time period the Torah states as the Shana Rishonah. Soon after a couple gets married, they come to the conclusion that the person they knew before marriage is not the same person they had married. More so, I often hear couples in my office remarking to one another: “you know, you’ve changed…” “No! You’re the one that changed!”

The reality is that no one has changed. Let me explain: When you and your husband first met you were both in the Romantic love stage, a stage of anesthesia that Hashem provides couples with when they get engaged. At T.E.A.M we divide this into two stages; A. Romantic love, and B. Acquired love.

The Romantic love is based on taking, meaning, what you can give me to make me happy. Acquired Love is based on giving, meaning, what I can give you to make you happy. For most of us, when we were growing up, our parents were the givers and as children we were the takers. This is the normal cycle of family relationships and rightfully so. Hashem set this life cycle in place so that one day when we get married we too will be in the position to give, and act as role models for our children.

Now here is where it gets interesting. We watched our parents give, but we were programmed to take. This is why when looking for a partner in marriage, we look for what we can get, not give! In fact, if we really knew ahead of time how much we would have to give, we would never get married! This is why Hashem gave us Romantic love, in order to ease the transition of giving as a stage in our marriage.

No Child Left Behind: The Zevulun − Yissachar Partnership

Wednesday, January 10th, 2007

I teach a graduate course in trauma and family crisis. The question most often asked by students is, “Why are there so many families in crisis compared to the families our parents grew up in?”

Whenever changes in a support system occur, making it no longer secure and defined, our ability to cope, adapt and problem-solve will be impaired.

In the past, the parameters of the yeshiva system were secure and well-defined. There were two Torah methodologies by which children were placed into classes as they entered high school. These Torah methodologies were modeled after two famous Torah partners: Shevet (tribe) Yissachar and Shevet Zevulun.

What made this Torah support system so secure and effective is that each partner catered to the other’s needs and resources, as though they were his own.

Shevet Zevulun were the businessmen who financially supported Shevet Yissachar, who would sit and learn Torah, and teach it to the children. As a result of this partnership, Hashem rewarded them and all of Klal Yisrael!

When Hashem made a covenant with the Jews as His Chosen People, He set up two business accounts in order to keep the whole Jewish nation interconnected. The first one was the “The Brothers Keeper Cable Account.” Recall the famous question, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” asked by Cayin to Hashem in Sefer Beraishis. This parsha teaches that yes, you are your brother’s keeper. “Kol yisrael areivim zeh lazeh” teaches us that Jews are responsible for each other’s actions. When one Jew is in pain, the nation feels his pain, and when a Jew is celebrating a simchah, the nation feels and joins in his celebration.

“The Torah Partners Business Account,” the second account, is a financial and educational support system used for those learning Torah in our schools.

In the past, when a child entered high school, he/she had two classes to choose from: Class A or Class B.

Class A housed Shevet Yissachar. These children learned Torah well and listened to the rules and regulations as stipulated by the administration. The yeshivas took great pride in them, in hopes that one day they would grow up to be the role models and Torah scholars of the future.

Class B housed Shevet Zevulun. These children were not ready to take on the challenges of the school system. As a result, they were not into learning and required an innovative and creative rebbe or teacher who would present the materials in a way that would be more conducive to learning. In the past, our support system was secure and well- defined, in that the Class A and Class B partnership would stay intact. As a result of this partnership, Hashem would reward not only these two classes, but all of Klal Yisrael. These children grew up, got married and became great business leaders. Today they support most of our mainstream yeshivas.

I recall that many of my friends were in Class B, and it’s interesting to see their names in all the journals and community newspapers as honorees for major chesed organizations and school dinners. I often wonder what would have happened to these children if there had been no Class B. I guess they would be labeled “at risk teenagers” and put into “alternative” schools. For the most part, they would feel rejected, and without a “Torah Partners Business Account,” the resources from Shevet Zevulun would be lost.

One evening at the Touro College Advisement Center, a young man in his mid 20′s came to see me. He had questions about his major. As he shut the door behind him, he sat down and started telling me a little about himself. It seems that a few years ago, he was expelled from yeshiva. He got very lucky and found an alternative yeshiva that would accept him. He told me that he went to yeshiva in the mornings and worked part-time for a Manhattan electronics firm in the afternoons. He began at Touro College as a Business Major. He now owns a very successful mail-order electronics business. What shocked him is that the very same school that expelled him contacted him for financial support. They wanted Shevet Zevulun’sfinances, but not Shevet Zevulun!

Problem A: There is inherent danger in using methods that are normally associated with negative values to achieve desirable goals. The negative energy from “The Brother’s Keeper Account” is affecting our families throughout Klal Yisrael. As a result, there are so many more families in crisis, compared to the previous generation.

Something Hurts – And I Don’t Know!

Wednesday, August 30th, 2006

A truly successful relationship has more than love and compatibility; it has Couples Awareness, an approach used in T.E.A.M. Couples Counseling, when we feel understood by our partner. This heightened awareness provides the positive energy for connecting and detecting miscommunication early on. When my nephew Chaim was three-years old, he used to have nose bleeds quite often – so often, that he had a procedure done in the doctor’s office to stop the constant nosebleeds. It worked, but he walked around the house saying, “Something hurts and I don’t know! Something hurts and I don’t know!” My brother Sol said at that moment, “Chaim your nose hurts! – Oh yes, my nose hurts!” Now that he was aware of what was bothering him, he felt so much better.

It’s often the same thing in relationships. A partner may not be aware of something he/she said or did that hurt the other partner. As a result, the other partner may start to feel distant, and the “offending” partner does not know why. When that person asks the question, “Honey is there something wrong?” he/she may respond with… “Oh, not really; I just had a hard day.”

Having this dialogue is okay if it’s forgotten, and it is something that hardly ever happens. But if this happens too often, the emotional tension will not be forgotten. In fact it will turn to negative energy, a process we term “Tanking.” Every person has his/her own “Emotional Storage Tank,” where it stores positive or negative energy. If you push down and suppress all negative energy in to your own emotional storage tank, the pressure it contains will start to move the tension into your partner. This is because energy is never lost; it just changes form.

The fact remains that the emotions you suppress, your partner will eventually feel and express. Let me explain. When a couple gets married, Hashem sets up a two-part cable system. In this process the cable that Hashem connects to the married couple splits, so that the couples are not only connected to each other but also to their emotional storage tanks. The two of them now have the ability to become one and feel what the other one feels. This way the relationship can move to a higher level for healing and growth.

Please be aware that what we want in marriage is to have this positive energy moving within us. If each of our partner’s tank overflows with positive energy, this energy will flow through your connecting emotional cable into your partner’s tank and produce powerful LSP; Love Safety and Passion. Then again, if one partner (or both) is filled up with suppressed negative energy it will flow through the cable into the other partner. As a result both partners will start to feel irritable and tired; something will be wrong, but they won’t know why. This is because holding onto negative energy is very draining. If a couple continues to “tank” each other with negative energy, four things may occur: Distance, Anger, Rage and – in time, Depression. Your emotional storage tank needs positive energy to function.

The walls of the cable then become too thick with pain and unresolved issues of the past. The negative energy being pumped into your partner takes up all the space so that no positive energy can pass through the cable, making you feel tired and depressed. The negative energy will cause the tanks to become unbalanced and shut down, which will prevent us from feeling. This is because anger and passion do not mix, and if you stop feeling, you stop loving. Every marriage has some sort of healing that takes place and as long as you have more positive energy than negative passing through those cables, these tanks can still operate.

I find that when couples become aware of what is really hurting them, and learn to use the tools that Hashem has given them to keep the cable free-flowing with positive energy, their marriage moves to a level of Shalom Bayit that they never knew was possible.

Moishe Herskowitz MS., LCSW, developed the T.E.A.M. (Torah Education & Awareness for a better Marriage) approach, based on 20 successful years of counseling couples – helping them to communicate effectively and fully appreciate each other. As a licensed clinical social worker and renowned family therapist, he developed this breakthrough seminar to guide new couples through easy-to-accomplish steps towards a happy, healthy marriage. Moishe Herskowitz holds a certificate from the Brooklyn Institute for Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis in couples and marriage therapy. He is an active member of the New York Counseling Association for marriage and family counseling. T.E.A.M. is endorsed by many prominent Rabbanim, including Rav Pam zt”l, Rav Belsky, Rav Dovid Goldwasser, Rav Herbst, Rav Lehrfield, Rabbi Pikus,and Rav Ralbag.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/marriage-relationships/something-hurts-and-i-dont-know/2006/08/30/

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