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

You may be strongly motivated to assist someone who really needs your help. Yet, however irrationally, they turn you down. Might it then be ok to “manipulate” them into compliance?

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 can create an opposite-sex clone of yourself, then walk down the aisle with it the person you wed will. . .

Why People Don't Acknowledge You

More often than not, people don’t acknowledge you for your contributions or accomplishments. Though you'd think they'd be glad to give what they’d appreciate getting themselves...

"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 . . .

The Wittiest Quotes on Divorce

Many of these quotes poking fun at marriage and divorce admittedly have an abrasive edge to them. We may laugh at their wry observations, yet not be that comfortable doing so....

The Most Heartfelt Quotes on Divorce

I think the quotes offered here will touch you—especially if you've gone through a painful break up. They speak poignantly of many emotions connected to this wrenching process....

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.

Flirt vs. Tease: What's the Difference?

The overlapping terms "flirt" and "tease" are sometimes used interchangeably. So clearly distinguishing between them can be confusing, or downright tricky. But psychologically—and even morally—they can be worlds apart.

Rebuffed? 4 Reasons Someone Might Reject Your Help

When you try to help someone—or, for that matter, give them something—it can feel like a personal affront when they turn you down. It's useful to explore why they say no.

Are You a Victim of Predatory Capitalism?

Though admirable as a humanist ideal, study after study has shown that in the real world socialism doesn’t work very well. Sadly, it leaves workers insufficiently motivated to put forth their best effort. Capitalism, on the other hand...

Feel Attacked? The Most Powerful Defense You'll Ever Have

Whenever someone turns on you, there’s one thing you can do that, almost immediately, will emotionally protect you. If, that is, you can do it immediately.

How—And How Not—to Stand Up for Yourself

It’s become conventional wisdom that it’s crucial to stand up for yourself. But certain ways of doing so aren't advisable. For they can hurt both you and your relationship. . . .

A Powerful Two-Step Process to Get Rid of Unwanted Anger

When—without warning—something provokes your anger, you struggle not to succumb to it. Since what typically makes you mad is feeling powerless in the face of what seems unfair. . .

The Double-Edged Sword of Desire, Quotes, Part 2

The first part of this quote-filled post on desire focused on its many positive aspects. And with so many writers persuasively indicating its exceptional power to motivate us—to enable us not simply to aspire to, but also to reach, our most coveted goals—you might well ask: "What exactly is its downside?"

The Double-Edged Sword of Desire, Quotes, Part 1

If ever there were an emotion or state of mind laden with apparent contradictions, it would have to be Desire. For although desire is typically linked to excited anticipation, motivation, and drive, it also relates to longing, frustration, and disillusionment.

Internet Porn: Its Problems, Perils, and Pitfalls

In my 12-part series on human sexual desire, I’ve discussed our richly varied carnal appetites and how the porn industry seeks to gratify them. I’ll now offer a perspective on...

Six Recent Innovations in Porn and Erotica

Producers of Internet erotica and pornography can generally turn a sizeable profit if they’re able to craft sexually supercharged images, videos, and fiction. And to satisfy . . .