What is Brainlock?

Now you get it: You are trapped—by your own brain activity and chemistry, by developmental patterns from the past, by the way your patterns and your partner's patterns interlock with one another, and by social forces that are hard to see. Read about how this becomes "Brainlock" and cements you (in a plural sense) into a state of irrelationship.

The Disposable Person—Being Unvalued in the Modern Age

Do you ever get the funny feeling that something isn't right? Not to make trouble or anything—but maybe you are right. Do you feel like you’re in a state of chronic interview, a cog in the system, a rat the race, and that seemingly significant people in your life—in romance and at work—may not care about you as a human being? Here's why...

The House Drunk: Finding Our Way Out Together, Part 2

Following up on the previous entry, Ray and his mother learn skills for building a real relationship despite the complications that are part of addiction. And here we are, learning how to do the hard work of building better relationships, together, when addiction makes it even harder.

The "House Drunk"—Irrelationship & Addiction, Part 1

Irrelationship is not alcoholism; but, it is similarly chronic, compulsive and progressive. Regarding families suffering from alcoholism and addiction, having one's role as a caretaker usurped by a foreign and anonymous source—even when treatment has been strongly encouraged or even demanded—is often an unexpectedly conflicted, confusing and complicated experience.

Is Human Connection the Antidote for Addiction?

In the 1970's Bruce Alexander ran an experiment to question the universality of the “drug-induced addiction.” He built a "rat park" where test subjects (rats) were offered enrichment rather than (the usual) deprivation. He found that when given a choice to bond with others, most test subjects do. Human parallels are drawn, comparisons with irrelationship are offered.

Seeing the Person Within the Persona

Irrelationship is about a lot of things: a co-created and shared defense, compulsive caregiving, Performing and Audiencing, suffering and feeling trapped and helpless. It is also about hiding out in a routine, a song-and-dance routine. That routine is like a mask that protects the self from observation—it is a persona-in-action (an enacted disguise).

The Meaning of the APA's Dealing With the Torture Scandal

After years of deception, and opposing strong and clear dissent from within its very ranks, the APA finds itself in a particularly awkward position. What does a professional organization which has lost its moral compass do when the news breaks? What does its reaction to the current controversy tell us about the APA’s organizational character?

Backing Away From Lovers' Leap

The heartfelt sense that we've met some long lost part of ourselves in that new friend with whom we so readily, easily, and fluidly fell into what seemed like the rare moment of intimacy within which we can share our "darkest" and "deepest" is irrelationship all dressed up to look, once again, like the cure to our disconnected state.

Friendship as a Moving Target

By keeping our need and desire for closeness with others diffuse, migratory and superficial we are able to play out irrelationship dynamics in larger social circles. We suspend—at least postpone indefinitely—our awareness of how we have secured ourselves from being realistically disappointed by people in our current lives.

Self-Other Help

As we are developing the irrelationship theory, model, and recovery process, we see it as our most primary of tasks to be inclusive of the experience of our readers, clients and colleagues. We are committed to building this model in a way that is in synch with our recover model: in a collaborative reciprocity with those for whom these ideas are resonating.

Between Obsessions

What if what our irrelationship—and obsessional-compulsive—routines are really protecting us from is how truly and totally at risk we are when we acknowledge and accept ourselves and our lives—those in it (our friends, our spouses, our children, our families) and our circumstances (our history, our experiences, our education, our jobs, careers)—exactly as is?

“Daddies Are Not Mommies”

Irrelationship starts as reversed caretaking often initiated because parental resources are stretched thin. Irrelationship is less likely if parents are being taken care of—if they are taking care of each other, are able to be empathetic, intimate with each other and to share parental responsibilities. A "Direct-Care Dad" is someone who does just that: Happy Father's Day!

Intergenerational Transmission of Irrelationship

Irrelationship can manifest powerfully in places where we least expect it to. Subtly, our family relationship patterns, when carefully examined, are shown to span generations. We are not as individual as we think we are... but we can choose to change the future by breaking the chain right now.

Monkey See, Monkey Don't

It important to continue to explore not just the sticky irrelationship dynamic that we have seen so many many of us get tangled up in, but also to ask: what are the resiliency factors? What allows one person from the same family to break the pattern, when others cannot?

Irrelation(Friend)ship

Irrelationship does not just have to do with romance, but friendship too. Do you get into a fix with friends sometimes? Do you recognize in friendships troublesome relational—irrelational—dynamics that are tanking opportunities for genuine emotional connection? Do you regret friendships which have failed and wish that you'd been able to hang onto those folks? Read on...

GRAFTS: Variations on Our Irrelationship Song-and-Dance

Our specific song-and-dance routines—ways that we reverse caretaking role with our key caregiver(s)—become the basic blueprint the pattern of interaction we will develop to care for our key caregiver. These patterns can be called GRAFTS and the acronym describes—in a very basic broad stroke—some of the habits that can become part of our caregiving conditioning.

How Can We Get Relief With "Mad Men" Ending?

In Mad Men’s season six finale, Don Draper asks, “What is happiness?” He then answers, “It’s a moment before you need more happiness.” Substitute happiness for relief—or, perhaps, merely mistake relief for happiness, or satisfaction, or fulfillment—and you have yourself at the very eye of the hurricane of the whole irrelationship song-and-dance routine. Goodbye, Don.

Irrelationship Is Not Codependency

Codependency may sometimes dovetail with irrelationship to the point that they’re not easily distinguishable. They may sometimes seem like kissing cousins, but at the level of purpose and of points of origin, they’re decidedly not identical twins.

Doctor-Patient Communications are Out of Whack

Given the high-stakes of medical testing and treatment, the doctor-patient relationship is shaped to varying degrees by apprehension and fretfulness for both parties involved. When there is irrelationship between doctor and patient, it is more likely that there will be irrelationship between the healthcare system and everyone else.

What is Relationship Sanity?

Insanity is defined as repeating the same behavior and expecting different results. But how might we broach a definition of relational sanity? If we accept a simple and straightforward definition of sanity as "soundness of mind," could we say that experiencing ourselves as being loving and lovable is a (if not the) definition of relational/relationship sanity?

Brainlock 101—How We Can't Help Becoming Stuck

You are trapped—by your own brain activity and chemistry, by developmental patterns from the past, by the way your patterns and your partner's patterns interlock with one another, and by social forces that are hard to see. Read about how this becomes "Brainlock" and cements you (in a plural sense) into a state of irrelationship.

Happy Mother-Someone's Day

As there are "good enough mothers,” there are also good enough "mother-someones" who do not give up when things go terribly awry, but are able to use the failures and derailments as opportunities to work together to right the wrongs, get the relationships back on the rails together—to repair interactively.

Care for Nepal

Irrelationship is a shared defensive system that serves the purpose of shielding the participants from true connection. How might this be relevant for something as seemingly clear-cut as disaster response where responders and organizations trying to help are acting from altruistic motives? What can irrelationship tell us about care for the caretaker in disaster relief?

When Is a Doormat Not a Doormat?

Irrelationships may cross the line into frank abuse. However, the abused partner's seeming acquiescence may not be simple acceptance of the unacceptable. Despite his abusiveness, she may believe her partner needs what she has to offer. And her abuser may be equally committed to demanding it even while refusing to validate it.

Caring For Mother Earth

The Earth is our par excellence caretaker. The Earth is a source of care that—like any "sane" caregiving mature relationship—will only be able to offer and give care if the love and care that we come up with, offer, and implement as individuals, communities, societies, and as a planet constitute genuine reciprocal—we care for the Earth, the Earth cares for us—solutions.

Business As Unusual

Bring it or blow it. Can you stand the feeling of intimacy and closeness in a new business relationship? Does this throw you off your game and make you back off, or blow it? In this entry we address how it is that irrelationship can trigger old, and familiar anxieties, kick up old song-and-dance routines, and ultimately, cause you to fail in your entrepreneurial efforts.

Letting Things Have a Life of Their Own

Turning people—turning all things—into projects is a very effective defense against allowing them to have a life of their own. Irrelationship provides a place for our attention to be focused instead of on our fear of real relationship, real intimacy. The conclusion to this brief case study provides an exemplar for how we can recover from the irrleational defense—together.

To Fix or to Build?

People prone to irrelationship commonly make projects of fixing other people’s problems in much the way some people are drawn to the challenge of rescuing a foundering business. However, while saving a failing company is an exhilarating exercise for some, fixing another person’s life is usually attractive only to people who need to deflect awareness of their own anxiety.

Hiding From Relationship—In Relationship

Suppression of the high emotional investment called passion is both the benefit and the cost of irrelationship. A side effect is the suppression of the full range of emotional experience. A mutually created irrealtionship protects both partners from the dangers and anxiety that come with passion and intimacy, but the price is very high.

Together/Apart in Irrelationship

When acting as Performer or Audience, the long-term need to be in healthy supportive relationships is sacrificed to the immediate imperative of smothering our deep-seated discomfort, thus putting us radically out of balance with others and ourselves. We can live like this for awhile. But at some point, the debt will come due, and must be paid back—with interest.

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