Family Relationships

Join other women in the sandwich generation - share ideas and solutions as you learn to nourish family relationships without starving yourself.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Virtual Book Tour with Dr. Erica Goodstone

We want to welcome Dr. Erica Goodstone to our Virtual Book Tour today - we know you'll enjoy our discussion about her book, Love Me, Touch Me, Heal Me: The Path to Physical, Emotional, Sexual and Spiritual Reawakening. So let's not waste any time getting started:

Nourishing Relationships: Why does Part I and your first book, Love Me…Please, focus so heavily on the power of love? Aren’t there really some good people, some good love partners, and some that are destructive and hurtful? Shouldn’t we just get rid of the “bad” partners and seek the “good” ones?

Erica Goodstone: The theory or premise behind my beliefs about the power of love developed from the writings and teachings of many different researchers and seminar leaders. First, my doctoral dissertation focused on the mother-infant bonding research of psychologist, Dr. Margaret Mahler. She observed mothers and infants during the first 3 years of life. When bonding was less than adequate, the child would develop separation anxiety, intense ambivalence and anxiety about merging or becoming close. These early anxieties would set the stage for lifelong relationship patterns unless recognized and consciously changed later in life. Next, was the wonderful writing of Ken Keyes, Jr. about letting go of resistance and learning how to begin “living love.” And I can still recall the comforting words of author, Leo Buscaglia, that we can live life without love but it is empty and dull and not full of adventure and surprises and delight.

Most of us tend to choose our most intimate partners because of an unconscious need to overcome our less than adequate childhood bonding with our earliest careteakers. We recognize signs in the eyes, tone of voice and body language of potential partners, signaling that this person could help us to relive and perhaps overcome our past anxieties and insecurities. Often we sense this without consciously realizing what it all means. We just feel an intense attraction. But then, if we continue into a long term committed relationship, those initial good feelings often give way to the opposite. We feel as if we are losing our sense of self and it looks as if it is the other person’s fault. This is the point where counseling and couples therapy can help each person and the couple to heal and finally become able to create true love and passion and joy together.

NR: In Part II and your second book, Touch Me … Please, why do you say “Your Body Believes You?” Our brain is our consciousness. Our body is just our body.

E G: Our brain contains neurons but the signals coming from the brain spread throughout our body. We have nerve endings almost everywhere. True, our body does not have a mind of its own. It responds to the commands we give it. Therefore, if we say that someone we know is a “pain in the neck.” Our neck hears that message and guess what? We may soon find we have a pain in that body part and we don’t know how that occurred.

Our emotions affect the tension in our muscles, the strength and flexibility of our tendons and ligaments, and even the overall posturing of our body. When we feel proud and confident, we stand with our head up, our shoulders back and our chest open. When we feel depressed or ashamed, our shoulders may slump and we drop our head or let our eyes glance downward. Be careful what you tell yourself because your body will respond.

NR: Why do you talk so much about touching and what is the benefit of all these different types of body therapies? Isn’t touch just a natural part of life and shouldn’t it be reserved only for our most intimate partners?

E G: Touch is powerful. Touch can soothe and nurture and heal. Touch can also hurt and harm and destroy. Our sense of self-worth, our ability to love, and our sexual desire and passion often hinges upon the way we touch and respond to touch. Loving touch assists us to release painful memories and to open our heart to others. Of course, it is wonderful when we can easily and regularly share loving, nurturing touch with those closest to us: our parents, our children, and our most intimate partner. But many of us have grown up in homes where touch was either sparse, absent or only used to cause punishment and pain. Without touch, our bodies often remain stuck in habitual tension patterns that affect our emotional states and the ways that we interact with others. When we receive some form of body therapy, from a skilled practitioner, the cells and tissues, muscles and nerves respond. Emotional memories may be released. We can more easily relax, alone or in the presence of others. Physical touch can literally touch our inner being, our spirit or our soul.

NR: In Part III and your third book, Heal Me … Please, you talk about your own healing experiences and ask the reader about theirs. Isn’t healing just a matter of luck or genetics?

E G: The true stories, with names and events altered to protect my clients’ privacy and anonymity, reveal the incredible healing potential of somatic or body-oriented psychotherapy. Combining gentle touch with body awareness, talk, visualization and memory, helps to shift habitual body tension patterns and reframe life events and prior circumstances. As you increase awareness and allow your mind to create new visions for your relationships and your life, it become easier to handle challenges and problems as they arise. As you learn to listen to your own body messages, you are more able to tell the truth to yourself. Gradually, it becomes safe to let go of old, familiar patterns that no longer serve you. As you allow yourself to be more authentic and vulnerable with friends and family and your most intimate partner, you also offer the other person permission to let down and be vulnerable with you. Love builds on that mutual open communication. And some of your chronic health conditions may begin to lessen and disappear as you build a stronger and more lasting mind-body connection.

NR: In Part IV and your fourth book, Sexual and Spiritual Reawakening, you ask the reader to review their own personal history as far back as when they were in their mother’s womb. What does that have to do with a current sexual problem between two people in a long term relationship now, 20, 30, maybe 50 years later?

E G: Age has nothing to do with it. Our childhood memories remain for a lifetime. Our bodies and our brains recall those happy, spirited, free flowing times as well as those moments of shame, embarrassment, humiliation, defeat and even abuse. Many of us develop a way of posturing, a body armoring, to keep us strong so that we do not have to think about the early painful times. But that armoring keeps us at a distance, not only from others, but also from our own inner knowing. As we explore our own earliest memories, conscious and even pre-verbal, we can begin to make sense of our current circumstances. We begin to understand why we have chosen a particular life partner and even why we may have chosen to remain single. We recall those times when our body and our mind felt free and exuberant and this gives us the impetus to find ways to return to that state. As we unravel our own past and focus on our own patterns within our relationships, we can much more easily forgive the transgressions of our friends and most intimate partner. Once we acknowledge our own part in creating any relationship, we are ready to build a new foundation of trust and love and authentic relating.

NR: How does spirituality affect relationships?

E G: Someone can appear “spiritual.” They can talk the talk but not actually be living according to what they say. A spiritual perspective implies an open-minded, forgiving and accepting outlook on life and relationships. There is a strong willingness to overlook flaws and past hurts, to face the present moment with strength, courage and integrity, and to believe in the power of love for oneself and for everyone else. Without a strong spiritual foundation, many relationships flounder and are torn apart by the vicissitudes of changing worldly conditions.There is a sense of overwhelming relief when we realize that this situation, this relationship, the healing of our body, and the creation of happiness and emotional well-being, is beyond our immediate control. When we can truly allow ourselves to “let go and let God,” we can endure and overcome life’s trials and tribulations with grace, confidence and peace of mind.

Thanks, Erica for sharing your theories, thoughts and wisdom. Learn more about Erica by logging on to her blog. You can contact her directly at her website and check out her new venture.

Now, readers, it's your turn to ask questions. Just click on 'Comments' at the bottom of this post and follow the prompts. You can even sign in as 'Anonymous,' it's as easy as that.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good information, thanks. Can you give me your definition of true love?

7:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My husband's mom was depressed after he was born and it has always been hard for me to be close with him. How do I help him now these many years later if, as you pointed out, his mom didn't bond with him? Cathy

7:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In your work, what methods do you use to help your clients process their memories that are preverbal?

7:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We've been married for 22 years and that's a long time! Now that the kids are out of the house we argue a lot and our sex life is awful. I believe in the mind body connection but he thinks it's a joke. What do I do? Thanks, Hilary

7:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know that everyone is different as are their problems but how long does a course of treatment for someone with intimacy problems usually take? Gillian

8:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm 43 and have trouble being intimate. Several good relationships have broken up because of it but this time I'm determined to make it work. Can you tell me a little about somatic therapy?

11:42 AM  
Blogger Dr. Erica Goodstone said...

What is true love? The truth about love is that it involves a heart connection, a decision, an attitude, an emotion and a desire to focus on the object of one's love. People often feel "true love" for a child, for their parents, for their work and even their beloved pet. True love is not to be confused with the early stages of attraction, hormonal highs and a state known as "limerance."

Dr. Erica

12:16 PM  
Blogger Dr. Erica Goodstone said...

As a spouse it is difficult to be the only source of help for someone to overcome inadequate childhood bonding. So much depends upon your own bonding process. Often, we choose to marry someone whose level of intimacy matches our own and we begin the dance of push, pull, pursuer, distancer. With the help of some private counseling sessions for each of you and the addition of a series of joint marriage counseling sessions, together you can develop a deeper understanding of each other's blocks and fears and gradually become closer.

12:20 PM  
Blogger Dr. Erica Goodstone said...

What helps my clients to process preverbal memories is the Rubenfeld Synergy Method of talk and touch. A client lies on a massage table, removing only the shoes, and I guide the person to become aware of and gradually let go of tension patterns in the jaw, neck, shoulders, lower back, legs, etc. As we dialogue about the current issue, I return to asking questions about what is going on in the client's body, thoughts and emotions. Sometimes they have returned to a state that is preverbal but now they are having that emotional experience in a safe and supported environment. New brain synapses and body memories can develop from that.

12:25 PM  
Blogger Dr. Erica Goodstone said...

We cannot change or control or even work hard to convince anyone else. If your husband thinks the mind-body connection is a joke and you want to explore it more, then stop expecting him to do it with you. Just focus on YOU, read about it, receive mind-body therapy sessions, write about it, and allow your own internal connections to help you become more integrated and clear about YOU. He will either shift his perspective as you change or he will stand firm in his old ways and you will have some new decisions to make.

Dr. Erica

12:28 PM  
Blogger Dr. Erica Goodstone said...


You questions is good. How long does it take to overcome intimacy problems? First, think about how long those problems have been there and have become entrenched. My original series is 10 sessions. Some couples have intense AHA moments and their relationship transforms quickly.
Most, however, require more time (a few months to even a few years)to acknowledge their real issues, understand their own impact upon those closest to them, and then to begin the work necessary to heal the rifts and return to harmony and love.

12:31 PM  
Blogger Dr. Erica Goodstone said...

Soma is a word that means body. Somatic therapy focuses on the body - body awareness, body movement, body symptoms, body disconnections and body harmony. Our body stores memories from all the events snd our reactions throughout our life. Through talk therapy alone, we may develop a deep "understanding" of how and why we respond the way we do. However, it is not until we connect our thoughts from the cerebral cortex of our brain to our bodily sensations and our habitual body tension patterns, that we can truly unwind and release the patterns that keep us stuck.

12:37 PM  

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