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In Gratitude

My book event and signing occurred at 1:00 PM 2-24-18 at Book Passage, Corte Madera. I was deeply moved by all who came to listen, support and engage. The community of patients, students, professionals, and friends all present together celebrating the publication of my book was both thrilling and humbling. As I stated in my presentation, I carry a debt of gratitude to so many whom have been part and parcel of the arduous journey that lead to the exhilarating birth of my book.

First and foremost, I want to express my gratitude for each and every patient that came my way over 40 years in practice. The ones that were challenges taught me important lessons; they showed me my strengths and weaknesses. The intricate give and take with my many patients who stayed the course with perseverance, courage and diligence, I deeply respect their efforts. Many have worked with me for decades, healing significant traumas. The relationships run deep and create a reciprocal flow that evolves into a third synergistic field. At the event I reconnected with patients that long ago left my practice as they had completed their work or a chunk of it. I felt a warm satisfaction that they still held the gains of the work. The threads of deep connection remained over many years of absence.

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Getting Help Creates (some) Happiness

Do you feel exhausted at the end of the day, dashing from work to handle domestic tasks or personal business? Are your weekends absorbed in laundry, paying bills, running errands, cleaning house (or leaving it a mess!), cooking meals, and shuttling your kids here, there and everywhere?

Are you in-over-your-head running your own business or involved in a creative project and do not have the advanced skills of navigating social media, website development, database organization and other technological and organizing challenges now required?

Does the pressure and stress result in irritability and anger towards those you love? Or are you simply depressed as life has lost its glow and you feel stuck at an impasse.

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Jung: Call to the Dreamer

The New Year, 2018, is upon us and many of you have battled ferociously in 2017 with tumultuous events in our country and on the world stage. Political trends have held sway and have enveloped many in a reoccurring sense of foreboding leading to a constant teeter-totter between anxious alarm, fury, dismay and exhaustion, as forces, seemingly out of our control, have moved our country in directions never imagined. We require a way to sustain our inner balance and resilience as we weather the destruction of values that many have relied on as a democratic world-view.

I am inviting you to turn inward – in contrast to our current externalized way of life – as we are catapulted insistently toward outward preoccupation. We are pulled, dragged, mesmerized by the outer world: the constant stream of input, night and day – either by choice or by our propensity for distraction. Our brains fire up as we flit from topic to topic, picture to picture, posting to posting, until we feel fragmented, as we disintegrate into pieces of information and the emotions they fetch; up and down, in and out, we run like a wild merry-go-round – but a not so merry one. Then exhaustion and depression hit; we are drained.

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A Call to Transformation

Significant transformative experiences are life changing and make an enormous difference to the trajectory of one’s life. There are limited opportunities for significant personal transformation presented in a lifetime, although smaller growth moments may present more often. The smaller growth moments may be harbingers of larger changes but are incremental. These opportunities may come to us benignly — because we are receptive to subtle clues and have accomplished a healthy wholeness of self-identity and creative flow — or we are catapulted into a physical and/or psychological crisis that provokes us to make drastic changes. At times, no matter how we are living our lives, how healthy and responsible we are psychologically and physically, we can be tossed out of our comfortable status quo and thrown into the mysteries of the unknown, shocked and upset and have to learn new rules of the game.

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Contact: Our Suffering Planet

This post was originally written in May 2017 around the time the U.S. pulled out of the Paris Agreement and mysteriously it was not posted. As I revisited this post in light of our current roiling planet, it made sense that I publish it now.

In the last few weeks many of us have been experiencing an apocalyptic foreboding as fires rage through brittle dry trees creating falling ash and dark skies filled with smoke resulting in unbreathable air; violent hurricanes dismantle islands and pummel cities — storm surges create overwhelming deluges as hurricanes, one after the other, batter our cities tearing up lives and structures as if they are weightless toothpicks to be tossed aside; earthquakes flattened areas in Mexico and we watched all of these events with deepening alarm. One could not help but feel the climate chaos and our sustained blindness to planetary suffering. (See: This Season, Western Wildfires Are Close By and Running Free; New York Times, 9/16/17.)

My son, Kyle Lemle, published a potent and psychologically provocative article titled in June 2017: Beyond America & The Paris Agreement: Eco-Cultural Regeneration as Climate Justice.

Kyle writes of our country’s climate denial: our contactless relationship to planet earth, our habit of squandering vital resources as it relates to our historic and current American psychology of consumption, manifest destiny and chronic absence of collective responsibility. Currently, American leadership is but an exaggerated parody of our enduring American style of plundering the weaker; a culture that preserves selfishness, self-centeredness and greed and harbors a delusional, non-inclusive attitude that we are not all in this together. We have always lacked reciprocity, “the process of giving back what we have taken.” Kyle reminds us that this has been a continuous cultural mandate and we must not deny and fall into the current blame game. Rather, we must look deeply within to alter the ways we interact within our environment. I encourage you to read his article.

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Reich’s Understanding of Character and Body Expression

Reich discovered, through years of working with patients as well as methodical research, that “…the psychic structure is at the same time a biophysiological structure which represents a specific state indicative of the interplay of the person’s vegetative forces.” 1

What does this mean and how do we apply it to our lives?

In Orgonomic therapy we work to disrobe, if you will, the character — layer by layer. That means the therapist observes, points out, and explores with the client the way — the style that defines how the person engages within himself and the world. How do these character attitudes manifest and shape his total expression and are they effective or problematic? Our job as clinicians is to release our client from the severely limiting character traits that are defensive in nature, learned as a way to cope with early and later life challenges. Although the defenses ‘worked’ to some extent, they become liabilities with negative repercussions increasing with age if not altered.

For example, if a client habitually withdraws as a way to cope with life, that defense is unmasked and deeper feelings are released that have been bound in layers of armoring (the term Reich coined to describe character and biophysical defenses). Then the client learns a more effective and expansive way of relating by developing skill in self-expression rather than relying on retreat. Another example is if a client is emotionally controlling with outbursts of dramatic expression that dwarf the other; that habit is sheared away such that deeper feelings that drive the dramatic display are revealed and new ways of relating are instated. Harshness in style and tone is a sign of character and biophysical armor.

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On the Way to Publication

Writing a book has been on my radar for many years as my method began to take shape; yet, the material had not ripened sufficiently until April 2015 when I officially committed to the process at Sea Ranch, California. I discovered a no-nonsense editor and began what would become a 2.5-year process.

In my mid-20’s, I was drawn to the theories and clinical approach of Wilhelm Reich while in a master’s degree program at Goddard College. As my own clinical practice and role as a mentor and teacher developed over the years, I realized the importance of updating Reich’s character typologies to include attachment theory while keeping the legacy of Reich in tact. Jung, the great master of dream analysis and transformational psychology, was an essential component of my analytic perspective. My method has taken shape over the years and is now ready to be shared.

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Love: A Co-Created Narrative

“Love is a story we tell with another person. It’s cocreation through conarration.”

I am referencing an article in the This Life section of the Sunday New York Times that highlights the significance of a rather natural routine of couple’s joint storytelling, (for example, the “how they met story”). Storytelling is integral to the deeper process of establishing a bond with another person. It is both challenging and rewarding to create an intermingled identity with another. Couples may engage in joint narratives without realizing that it is a stabilizing vehicle as they try to embrace each other’s differences. Creating a shared story of the couple’s life and how it has unfolded actually strengthens the relationship. Often, new couples share the story of how and when they decided to partner up or marry with family and friends. The stories can include mystery, humor and laughter, synchronicity, hardship, and elements of destiny. As the couple’s life evolves over time, their story becomes more elaborate and the feelings deepen through their varied shared experiences and inevitable challenges. Possibly children are added, the spice of extended family, and all matter of ingredients are poured into the pot. The co-creation of the story establishes the identity of the couple and reinforces their shared life. Mr. Feiler, the author, notes that as couples construct a joint reality, it balances the “contradictory impulses of independence and interdependence or selfishness and selflessness”. Those conflicting needs battle within all of us as we try to establish an intimate bond.

Inevitable hardships and “unforgiveable” events become integral parts of the story; a break-up that threatened to destroy the relationship, difficulties with blending families, a betrayal – there can be many obstacles along the path of solidifying a relationship over time. After an initial attraction, there is a long road ahead and you either hang-in for the reward of a stable, committed bond with another or move on and start the search all over again.

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Addicted to Your Devices?

We live in a brave new world of people walking with heads down, being led by their screens – as they float through space distracted and preoccupied. I am amazed at their ability to cross through busy intersections while barely looking up. We can be with our mates, our family, our children or our favorite friend yet continue to engage in a ‘conversation’ with our devices rather then converse with whom we are with. We dine out, witnessing couples and families with one or both mates glued to their screen and, even if sharing a photo or input, there is little sustained contact or conversation that goes uninterrupted.

Supposedly, social media and our devices express our desire to stay connected and that can be a good thing. We want to share with our extended communities our experiences told in photos or shared ideas, view others, converse through text etc. We can engage in a way that supports connectivity. Yet we need to be attentive to our present situations so we don’t miss valuable opportunities for face-to-face exchanges, meaningful conversations, humor, casual talk and physical tenderness in a sustained way, without distraction.

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Becoming Whole in Relationship

My last post was on achieving wholeness and the challenging inner conflicts we endure within ourselves if we haven’t achieved this developmental passage, academically referenced as whole object relations. It is as if our psyches are split in two and one side voices our deeply ingrained self-doubt, self-criticalness and self-hatred (referenced as splitting). The other side may compensate with regressive clinging, grandiosity or submersion into the other. The split psychic structure results in pathological defensive character patterns that manifest in chronic physical symptoms, difficulty in relationships and other psychological symptoms. We are unable to balance our disappointments with self through a natural ease of self-acceptance that reinforces our inner wholeness over and over again.

What is the effect of our lack of wholeness on our relationships? Relationships present challenges in the best of circumstances and are always perpetual learning edges. Bringing two individuals into constant proximity – with every aspect of their lives interconnected – presents the quintessential opportunity for both a gloriously connected relationship that, at the same time, can be fraught with painful miscommunications and disappointments that pitch one or the other right out of heavenly bliss.

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