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Book Review: I Love You But I Don’t Trust You

Author Mira Kirshenbaum

I Love You But I Don’t Trust You is national bestselling author, Mira Kirshenbaum’s, 11th book about healing relationships. I had the privilege of working with Mira when she was part of my medical expert team at Revolution Health, so I welcomed the chance to review her latest work. Although I had to endure some curious looks from my fiancé (who wondered why I was reading a book with that title), Mira’s writing sparked some interesting discussions between us and reinforced our own trust in each other.

When I first read the title of the book, I assumed that it would be focused on what to do when your partner has an affair. I was surprised to discover that I was utterly wrong. In fact, relational trust deficits can be caused by anything from broken promises, to misrepresenting financial situations, to lording one’s power over another. I Love You But I Don’t Trust You opened my eyes to all the subtle ways that trust can be eroded, and at the same time offered “actionable” advice for shoring up relationships.

Mira’s writing is particularly engaging because she illustrates her ideas with poignant, real-life examples. For every breach of trust under discussion, she offers a case study. Sometimes the couples she describes make outrageous gaffs, and the emotional train wreck that ensues is both terrifying and riveting. Example after example of poor judgment, bad behavior, and selfish acts could potentially be depressing, if it weren’t for the good news that follows. Many of these couples were able to resolve their conflicts and restore trust against all odds. Illustrating how that happens is part of the reason why Mira’s book is a page-turner.

Beyond advice for couples, I Love You But I Don’t Trust You is actually quite relevant for anyone who has been deeply wronged. Mira describes how she herself was able to offer true forgiveness to a former Nazi soldier who had participated (indirectly) in putting her own parents in a concentration camp. She describes a life-changing moment when she was traveling in Europe as a young woman, and she became very ill and fainted at the train station. A German couple took her to their home and nursed her back to health. Mira learned to trust the “untrustable” and became convinced through this experience that no relationship was beyond help. She devoted the rest of her life to relationship counseling, and her passion fosters hope in each of her books.

Some things you will learn from I Love You But I Don’t Trust You:

*All the ways that mistrust can enter a relationship

*Is your relationship worth saving?

*The typical response to broken trust, and the way to minimize collateral damage

*Suggested timeline for change and trust repair

*How to restore trust by working through 6 key questions

The only downside to Mira’s book is that it is based upon, as far as I can tell, the informed experience of only one therapist. Mira does not refer to the academic literature to support her theses or suggestions, nor does she appear to rely upon outside sources for additional insight. Mira speaks from her gut – she has a brilliant way of positioning arguments, and helping people to approach each other in ways that are minimally inflammatory in what is otherwise an emotional mine field. Beyond that, I can’t say if Mira’s approach to conflict resolution is optimal. My instinct says it’s as fine a methodology as any I’ve seen, but from an evidence-based perspective, there isn’t necessarily a lot of data behind it (just had to add that caveat for my science-loving friends).

Nonetheless, in my opinion, I Love You But I Don’t Trust You would be an excellent workbook for people in couples’ therapy. In fact, the Appendix lists suggested topics and questions for discussion groups, so I’m sure that Mira was thinking the same thing when she wrote it.

But most importantly, I think that reading the book in advance of any trust violations in your relationship, could be the best course of action. Simply learning about all the damage that one impulsive decision can cause to a lover and/or family could make you less likely to make that decision! I Love You But I Don’t Trust You might best be used as a preventive health measure for your relationship(s). I’m sure it has strengthened me against trust violations in my future.

**You can order the book on Amazon.com here **

Single-Session Psychotherapy: The Cab Driver Story

Here’s a story that came out of the American Psychological Association (APA) conference:

I was in a cab going to dinner. The cab driver found out I was a psychiatrist so he told me about his life-changing experience with therapy.

At one time he was having an incredible problem with his life. He was using cocaine, couldn’t keep a job, and his relationships were going down the tubes. Therapy helped him quit cocaine and change all that. (Which was good, since he was the driver of my cab. I really wanted him not to be high or in distress.) This kind of turn-around story isn’t unusual for me — parolees will often come back and tell me about things they’ve done in free society that they’re proud of. The unusual part of this story is the fact that he made all of these changes after a single one-hour session. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Shrink Rap*

The Problem Of Positive Thinking

Since the publication of Norman Vincent Peale’s 1952 book called The Power of Positive Thinking, the world has been bombarded with a plethora of self-help books guaranteed to show us the way to happiness. But is there a down-side to these suggestions?

If we do as instructed, by a multitude of sources, to push away the negative, or bad thoughts and focus only on the positive, or good thoughts, how do we prepare for the bad times of reality?

Come with me, if you will, on a journey through the cluttered half-baked theories of my mind, but watch your step, there’s no liability insurance in here. If you trip into the corpus callosum, you’re on your own.

Part one of the half-baked journey begins with the extreme outcome of pure positive thinking. If I am truly thinking positively, then nothing at all could possibly go wrong, I have nothing to worry about, I am perfect just the way I am, and the world exists just so that I might gain pleasure from it.

If nothing could go wrong, why should I plan for a rainy day? My job will last forever, the roof will never leak, and my kids will remain perfectly healthy. There is only sunshine in my world.

If there is nothing to worry about, then I can count my life savings while walking down a dark alley without fear, my car will last forever- that banging under the hood means nothing and adds an interesting beat to the music playing on the radio, and I will never grow old. Throw away the botox; there are no wrinkles here.

If I am perfect just the way I am, why should I exercise to take off that extra ten pounds, why should I try to improve my mind with literature, the theater, or a higher degree. Why should I get off the couch?

If I buy into this extreme sport of pure positive thinking, why would I work like a dog to get ahead? Wouldn’t I be perfect enough for everything to be given to me?

Now for part two of the half-baked journey; are you still with me? We are getting really deep in the frontal lobes now.

If I remain in a positive thinking mode until I gain a serene, carefree state, does that mean my brain is unstimulated? And in turn, does that mean that the firing of neurons has diminished so much that if danger were to occur, I would not be able to act quickly enough for self-preservation? Would I react at all if I were a true positive thinker? What could happen if I stayed on the couch?

Let’s go back to the unstimulated idea. If I continue to not stimulate my brain, will my brain begin to deteriorate? After all, the old adage “Use it or Lose it” has been around longer than “Think Positively”. Let’s throw in another adage: Necessity is the Mother of Invention. That being said, if we have no necessity because we are positively thinking about everything and therefore need nothing new, why would we trouble ourselves to invent new things?

If I remain unstimulated for an extended period of time, what will happen to my mood? If there are no highs or lows, no release of adrenaline to handle excitement or danger, no need for the release of serotonin or dopamine to stimulate my brain, will these receptors be decommissioned as no longer needed? Will my mood sink into depression?

Now for the flip side of this saga.

What if I experienced continual negative thoughts? Would my life mirror the same lack of moving forward I found while hanging out on the couch with positive thinking? I may have more supplies stored in the basement with negative thinking and the door would be locked, but would my life be any more interesting? Would it be just as flat, but in a negative way?

If danger startled me off of the couch, would I be too paralyzed by negativity to react in time? If I think nothing good will ever happen, have I made this come true simply by closing the door to the possibility?

This leaves us with the good old fence straddlers.

Ordinarily, sitting on the fence is thought of as a bad thing. We are urged to choose a side, be decisive and stick with our convictions. What if I had a mixture of positive and negative thinking tempered with a good dose of reality thinking? Would my life attain a better balance necessary to survival? Would I have happy little neurons firing quickly and efficiently because they were getting a healthy dose of exercise and rest? If I use reality thinking with a mixture of both positive and negative thinking, will I be better prepared to weather hard times?

If I have a huge project due at work, would I be more effective if I used a dose of negative thinking that I don’t have enough time to complete this project, mixed in a little anxiety that if I don’t finish then my job may be finished, added some positive thinking that all I can do is my best, and stirred it around with reality thinking that I’ve proven myself by meeting hard deadlines in the past and have the ability to do so again. My project will most likely be completed on time because I have made this mixture of positive, negative, anxiety and reality work for me instead of against me. Too much positive thinking and I won’t push myself hard enough to make the deadline. Too much negative and I will give up before really trying.

The fence straddlers can enjoy a healthy mixture of both positive and negative thoughts, knowing each has its own value if kept in balance. And the view from the fence is not bad either.

Thank you for coming along on this trip through the half-baked theory region of my mind.

Now that I’ve shared some of my thoughts, feel free to share some of your own.

*This blog post was originally published at eDocAmerica*

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