Are You Your Own Sex Object?

One of the “fuzziest” concepts in the entire field of human sexuality is autoeroticism (or autosexuality). Despite the term’s familiarity, there’s little consensus on what it actually means. Does it denote a lifestyle preference, or general sexual orientation? Or does it allude to nothing more than the simple practice of masturbation? . . .

Why We All Need a Fairy Godmother

As children, there were times when all of us felt alone: Not feeling any positive connection to those around us. Not feeling listened to, appreciated, encouraged, or validated. Or not feeling safe or protected. In short, times when we experienced extreme vulnerability—completely unable to feel loved, or secure in our own skin.

The Package That Is Sam, Sue . . . and All the Rest of Us

It’s rather curious how we talk about individuals as “packages”—endowed with qualities as miscellaneous as a bag full of groceries. For that matter, it seems equally peculiar to refer to people (ambivalently, no doubt) as “mixed bags.”

Contemporary Humanism and Spirituality, Part 5

In emphasizing that humanism doesn’t represent some kind of star-gazing, New Age, airy-fairy movement—and that its philosophical tenets are solidly grounded in rationality and science—humanists may inadvertently have created a false dichotomy between reason and emotion. In their idealism, they may inadvertently have portrayed humanism as overly cerebral.

Contemporary Humanism and Spirituality, Part 4

So what, exactly, is the case that’s been made against incorporating the whole notion of spirituality—however secularly defined—into the humanist lexicon? For many humanists still frown upon employing that term to describe their lifestyle and ethical philosophy.

Contemporary Humanism and Spirituality, Part 3

In Part 3 of this series, I'd like to describe how various authors have sought to portray a "secular spirituality"—to characterize it as discrete and, if anything, purer (and possibly more virtuous?) than the spirituality exemplified by organized religion.

Contemporary Humanism and Spirituality, Part 2

Spirituality of a humanist nature can be viewed as essentially harmonious with a variety of secular life orientations (e.g., the scientific). It actually "complements" them by adding to them a more emotional--and idealistic--dimension.

Contemporary Humanism and Spirituality, Part 1

It’s obvious that if the notion of a “humanist spirituality” is to take hold, it needs to be defined in a manner that vividly distinguishes it from spirituality as portrayed by institutionalized religion.

How Rational Are “Rational” Marriages?

As a psychologist who’s worked with innumerable couples, it’s a phenomenon I’ve witnessed many times. And it’s really saddening to see: A marriage based on reason, logic, and “good sense”—that, ironically, has proved untenable.

Anger—How We Transfer Feelings of Guilt, Hurt, and Fear

It can be extremely tempting to try to escape blame or criticism by counter-blaming your attacker. But while Impulsively projecting mistakes, or misdeeds, onto another may safeguard your ego, it typically creates far more problems than it solves.

Atheist vs. Atheist—What?!

Most people would probably assume that an atheist is an atheist, period. After all, individuals who don’t believe in God are, at least in their unbelief, essentially the same, right? But there’s a subtle—yet crucial—difference in degrees of incredulity that can meaningfully distinguish one person’s atheism from another’s.

The Golden Rule, Part 4: Dreams of Utopia

If humans could regularly demonstrate the "conscientious caring" of empathy, we'd reach an ethical summit as yet unknown to humankind. In which case, what was right--and what was loving--would be harmoniously fused. But. . . .

The Golden Rule, Part 3: Its Uncanny Resilience

Recognized by all major religions and humanistic ethics alike as an essential moral imperative for living an honorable life, the golden rule has yet been subject to all kinds of caveats and attacks. In this post I’d like to advance some commonsensical arguments to counter the objections to its basic validity—which finally I see as more “academic” than real.

The Golden Rule, Part 2: What's It Missing?

Part 1 of this 4-part post highlighted various ways in which the laudatory, much-acclaimed golden rule might be misapplied—at times, disastrously. Complementing that piece, this post will attempt to describe what this so-familiar dictum leaves out. For in the end, its ambiguities and omissions disqualify it as a foundation for any comprehensive ethical system.

The Golden Rule, Part 1: Don't Take It Literally!

The golden rule mandates that we treat others as we'd like them to treat us. What moral principle could be simpler, or more elegant? Yet the rule's very simplicity has made it highly vulnerable to attack--as too simple, maybe even a bit simple-minded. . . .

Memo to Therapists: “It’s the Motivation, Stupid!”

Independent of their client’s professed goals, therapists must regularly zero in on their client’s session-to-session willingness, or “drive,” to actually achieve them. Nothing is more critical than therapists’ doing everything they can to keep a client’s motivation for change as committed and intense as possible.

When All Else Fails,Try Reverse Psychology!

Many years ago I wrote a text for therapists on employing paradoxical therapeutic techniques—for the most part, more intricate and refined versions of reverse (or negative) psychology. The book,*Paradoxical Strategies in Psychotherapy*, was primarily about motivating (though deviously!) highly resistant clients and families to change dysfunctional behaviors.

A New Take on Manipulation

There may be times when you’re strongly motivated to assist someone who genuinely needs your help. Yet, for whatever reasons, they turn down all your straightforward attempts. Might it then be okay to “manipulate” them into compliance?—that is, for their own good?

What’s “Wall-Socket Sex”?!

I first encountered this intriguingly provocative term in reading the eminent sex/relationship therapist David Schnarch’s *Passionate Marriage*. But what, exactly, does “wall-socket sex” refer to? And assuming that you yourself might aspire to such electrically charged eroticism, just how might you go about achieving it? . . .

Two Ways to "Win" in a No-Win Situation

My title probably sounds paradoxical, something like a trick question. And in fact trick questions—similar to Catch-22s, double binds, conundrums, and quandaries—are all terms describing a lose-lose, or no-win, scenario. So can you escape the inescapable? . . .

One Marriage = Two Realities

No matter who you marry, there’s one thing you can count on. Unless you’re able to create an opposite-sex clone of yourself, then walk down the aisle with it (and the technology doesn’t exist yet!), the person you wed will bring with them a reality that at times will feel alien—even unacceptable—to you. . . .

Why People Don't Acknowledge You

More often than not, people don’t—or won’t—acknowledge you for your contributions and accomplishments. Though it might seem almost intuitive that people would be glad to give what they’d greatly appreciate getting themselves, this typically isn’t the case.

"When God Wept": An Intriguing Fictional Hybrid

If ever there were a day deserving to be called—secularly—a “day of reckoning,” this would be the day for Owen Ross, the 47-year-old atheist narrator. For it is on this fateful day that he's compelled to re-live and re-evaluate unresolved traumas from his past.

Couples—Stop Fighting Over Money!

No question about it. Fighting about money is hazardous to your relationship. Obviously, couples fight about many things—from child rearing, to sex, to household chores, to dealing with in-laws. But, above everything else, frequency of money disputes remains the single best predictor of divorce.

Celebrity Quotes on Divorce—And They Should Know

Many of these quotes aren’t so much droll or funny as they are uniquely revealing about the particular celebrity from whom they’re taken. The varied feelings expressed—from wistfulness and regret, to thinly veiled anger or rage—add an intriguingly personal aspect to our understanding of their lives off camera.

The Wittiest Quotes on Divorce

Many of the quotes below—cleverly poking fun at both marriage and divorce—admittedly have an abrasive edge to them. We may laugh at their wry observations, yet not be entirely comfortable doing so. For when speakers and writers (who may well have split up themselves) talk about divorce, they frequently betray a certain resentment and bitterness.

The Most Heartfelt Quotes on Divorce

I think the quotes offered here will touch you—especially if you've ever gone through a painful break up. They speak poignantly of so many emotions experienced in this wrenching process: like grief and mourning (for hopes and dreams that can now never be realized); shock, bewilderment, guilt, regret and remorse, acrimony and antipathy . . . and downright devastation.

Value the Means, Not Just the End

If you’re like most of us, you’re driven to accomplish certain goals—goals that are personally meaningful to you. It doesn’t much matter whether the end of your pursuits is completing a manuscript or a marathon. And your “payoff,” your “high,” revolves around your final achievement. . . .

Grade Your Parents! The 10 Crucial Criteria

It’s generally accepted that many of the challenges you now face may stem from your upbringing. Typically, they derive from what your parents—because of unresolved psychological issues from their own upbringing—were unable to provide you with, or instill in you. Here are 10 elements that are the essence of adequate childhood nurturing.

Greed: The Ultimate Addiction

Of all the things one might be addicted to, nothing tops the greed-laden pursuit of wealth in its sheer audacity, manipulativeness, and gross insensitivity to the needs and feelings of others.