Love Vs Hate — How much Love can We Share to Eliminate Hate? by Dr. Erica Goodstone

November 27, 2008

A coordinated, mastermind collaborative effort to attack, damage, destroy and kill in India.  My first glimpse of this horrifying event was on AOL, in a moment when I was peacefully checking and responding to emails from around the world.  I sat there with my mouth open and tears in my eyes as I watched the horror of those attacks in India. I kept imagining what it must be like to be enjoying a lovely dinner or walking through the lobby or sitting contentedly near the swimming pool, sipping a cocktail. And then, in an instant, death and destruction all around, blood, screaming, pain.


For what reason? Why are these people so intent on destruction rather than creation, separation rather than oneness? What has to happen for a loving consciousness to enter that part of the world and that sect of humanity?


Is there anything we can do, right here, right now, to alter the consciousness of a growing sect of hatred indoctrinated people?  Can we raise our own consciousness to a high enough level that the energy of love and creation pours forth into their consciousness?  Is there enough power in thought and prayer and love to dissipate and eliminate hatred?


Let’s start with out own personal surroundings – the people, places, animals and activities – and send love and appreciation for what we have and what we can touch with our eyes, ears, hands and hearts.  Now is the time to pray for those we love, those we fear, those who hurt us and those who want to destroy us.  Everyone needs love in their heart.  Hatred is merely the absence of love.  How can we share our love so powerfully that we help everyone to get back to love?


Counseling and Therapy: No Quick Fix or Magic Dust by Dr. Erica Goodstone

November 10, 2008

Counseling and deeper therapy is not a quick fix. There is no magic dust that can be sprinkled over your body and your life to make it all better. We cannot just brush away your deep emotional wounds and years of emotional relationship baggage. So, if you have been struggling with a difficult relationship that is emotionally painful, even devastating, with lots of anger, drama, confusion, turmoil and intermittent upsets, maybe you could really benefit from some counseling sessions.

The first one or two counseling sessions might be interesting, enlightening, and create a sense of hope because you are briefly reviewing your past and then hopefully moving into your present and preparing for your future. The first one or two sessions often involve revealing your unique history: your early childhood upbringing, your previous relationships, education, career track, lifestyle, etc., etc. It may feel good talk about all that has happened to you, knowing that this person, this therapist, is listening intently to your entire story.

Many people start therapy enthusiastically, sharing their history willingly and anticipating a quick and painless solution to their lifelong problems and dilemmas. But there is no magic dust, no simple quick fix formula, no easy way out. If you believe you can bypass the past, the memories that are stored in your body cells, in your living tissues and even in your brain, then good luck to you. My experience reminds me over and over again that by ignoring the past and suppressing it, we cannot get past it or overcome it. On the other hand, if you keep dwelling on the past and blaming it for your current life dilemmas, that is another trap.

If you choose to go for therapy with a qualified and experienced therapist, then it behooves you to do the therapy the way the therapist organizes it. Otherwise, it’s like going to a financial expert and telling that person how you want to handle your money rather than listening to that person’s educated and experienced perspective and advice.

If you have been struggling with relationship problems or some other life issues that are keeping you up at night and causing you emotional pain and anguish, then it might be time to consult a therapist. But let the client beware. If you truly want to re-create your life, to change and overcome familiar patterns that are problematic, then realize that counseling and therapy may not be fun. During the first few weeks and months, you actually may feel as if you are on an emotional roller coaster. You may feel that you’ve gotten into something way over your head. You may touch on something significant in your early childhood and then make every possible excuse to ignore it and attempt to never think about it again.

Persistence, despite emerging emotional pain, self-reflection, and honest — from the heart — sharing, will yield long term benefits that you could not have possibly imagined before.

Love and Desire – Companions or Enemies? by Erica Goodstone, Ph.D., LMHC, LMFT, Sex Therapist, Love and Relationship Therapist

September 17, 2008

I think I can safely say that most of us have a desire to love and be loved by someone we are intimate with.  Many of us actually attain this goal, at least for a brief period of time.  We feel attracted to someone.  We desire to become intimate with that person.  And, if we are lucky, we do become intimate with someone who feels the same way about us.  However, this is where the fairytale often ends.

My first question is:  Does the fairytale of desire, love, passion and intimacy have to inevitaby end?                 My second question is: If desire, love, passion and intimacy inevitably end, why does this happen?            The third question is:  Can love and intimacy coexist with desire and passion?

1.  When we desire and feel passion for someone, it is our imagination, our fantasy feeding us thoughts and stimulating our hormones to flood our brain and body cells with the sense of urgency and need to be intimate with this person.  Desire is often fueled by attraction, novelty, inaccessibility, obstruction, trials, tribulations, and difficulties.  

2.  Once we achieve our goal, become intimate, share our time, space, activites and feelings, and once we begin to feel safe, secure, relaxed and satisfied, our sense of passion and urgency often diminishes.  In its place, we may start looking more carefully at the object of our desire, the very real person.  Often, the special qualities that tantalized us at first become the thorns in our side that drive us crazy with annoyance, anger, irritation and even rage.  What most of us call “love” is really a state of desire, passion and lust, a state of neediness brought on by the false illusion that this one person has and “should have” what it takes to satisfy all of our needs.  Sometimes we compromise a bit and feel that we “love” someone who doesn’t meet some of our needs because they do meet some, perhaps more overriding, needs.  But many of us will soon find, if the other person stops meeting our needs, we are quickly out of there, on to the next person who offers the promise of satisfying our needs.  I might label this type of love “Serial Need Fulfillment.”

3.  So, can love and desire coexist?  Yes, yes, yes.  But creating the possibility for love and desire to both grow and expand, together, is not unlike creating a gourmet meal.  Each of the ingredients must be mixed together in the correct proportions, at the perfect time and the appropriate temperatures, with just the right amount of added spices.  In other words, creating a combination that heats up and transforms two separate individuals into one hot, spicy, delicious, flavorful and longlasting couple is a work of art in progress.  The process has many starts and stops, twists and turns, and ups and downs.  When you step into a relationship with a new person, you are stepping into uncharted territory.  Together you create the map.  You can add new shapes and designs, new territories to the map.  You can find guides and mentors and lots of assistance when the terrain becomes impassible.

Remaining in a longlasting relationship, and managing to continually fuel passion and desire with love and intimacy, is not for the faint of heart.  It is often difficult, you sometimes feel totally helpless and alone, and you may often want to give up and run away.  But staying through the hard times, pressing on with vision, determination and lots of assistance from knowledgeable experts, can bring you to a state of internal and external pleasure and fulfillment that dreams are made of.  Seek the help of a qualified sex therapist, marriage counselor or psychotherapist who can help you learn how to create love and desire in the same relationship, if that’s what you truly want.

Watching His Wife With Other Guys

June 4, 2016

So glad you are addressing this issue that does affect couples and many may be too embarrassed or confused to talk about it with anyone.

Male Sexual Desire – Suppressed by Lap Dances? by Dr. Erica Goodstone

January 2, 2009

Why do some men spend many evenings away from home and exhorbitant sums of money at strip clubs, watching dance performances and receiving lap dances?  If a man is single, without a current intimate relationship, perhaps this fulfills his need for sexual arousal.  But what about a man who claims he “loves” his wife or girlfriend, a man who has a family, a home and a lifestyle that other people might envy.  What draws a man to these adult clubs and what keeps him there?

A married man might respond,  “I’m attracted to my wife, but she expects me to “perform” for her or she expects me to always initiate sex. She thinks I don’t desire her because I have not been so interested in being intimate with her lately.  Truth is, I’m sometimes afraid of her.  She expects me to always be ready and to satisfy her.”  Perhaps his wife has been paying less attention to him or she has been neglecting her own appearance which has affected his desire for her.  Maybe she really doesn’t enjoy sex with him or because of a problem of her own.


A single man might say, “Meeting and connecting with a woman is difficult.  There is this whole process you have to go through and so much uncertainty.  You spend time and money and she may say at the end of the night that she’s involved with someone else and not interested.


So what is it about strip clubs, strippers and lap dances that causes some men to eagerly return for more while neglecting his readily available partner if he has one? A typical male response might be:  “At the dance clubs, I can relax, be myself, have a few drinks, listen to music and watch some beautiful bodies moving slowly, seducing me into a state of arousal.  I might invite one of these beautiful young ladies to my table.  She might smile at me, perhaps touching my arm, or whispering something seductive into my ear. She might call me honey or baby, offering to make me feel good if I want to dance with her.”


What do strippers and exotic dancers do that men are craving but not receiving at home?  First, the man is totally receiving.  There is nothing he has to do but be there. Second, the exotic dancer’s goal is to stimulate the man, tease him, act as if he is a master at arousing her, and to continually promise him greater and greater pleasure.


The truth about exotic dancers is that they are working in a business, the business to sell sexual arousal and enhance desire, to keep customers coming back for more.  The girl is working to earn money and behind their smiles, erotice movements and seductive words, many of these women actually feel disgust for men or at best are somewhat neutral.


The man who frequents strip clubs is getting his own narcissistic needs met for attention, arousal, stimulation and praise.  He is actually depriving himself of the opportunity for true intimacy, closeness, communication and unraveling of his deepest childhood fears and insecurities.   Also, by receiving such immediate excitement and sensual arousal in such a supercharged environment, he may actually be suppressing his ability to feel aroused in a situation in the outside world with a partner he really cares about.


Intimacy and love are not easy commodities to attain.  They require skill, patience, understanding, honest communication, and most of all, the willingness to do what it takes to know your own self and to know your partner.  It also takes both people in a relationship to bring out the best in each other, including desire, arousal and love. 

Fortunately, there are still many men who enjoy sharing their time, their love, and their sexual intimacy with a real woman with real needs in the real world. 

If you or your man is caught up in the treadmill of frequenting exotic clubs, all many not be lost.  Bringing it all out into the open, with the help of a skilled therapist and support groups, can actually transform your relatinoship into something you may never have thought possible.  Isn’t it worth trying?

Have You Ever Had a Peak Experience? by Dr. Erica Goodstone

December 3, 2008

When was the last time you were so high on life that you were actually lost in the moment, unaware of time, unaware of your environment, thoughtless, emotionless, relaxed, carefree and not concerned about the next moment?  Do you actually remember ever having such an experience?


For most of us, a peak experience is exactly that, a peak experience for a brief moment in time, an experience that we may have only once to twice in our entire lifetime.  But the moment ends and we may never be able to recapture that feeling, that experience, ever again.


So, how does one consciously create a peak experience?  And how can we create peak experiences that last longer than a brief moment?  The answer is both simple and complex.


The simple response is to simply remember details of people, places, things, activities, and events that stimulated you and gave you pleasure when you were a child.  Simply recall those moments, way back when, when you lost track of time and perhaps someone was calling to you and you didn’t even hear. 


A more complex response is to notice details of people, places, things, activities and events that create within you a feeling of loss, envy, emptiness, desire or longing.  Perhaps there is something you have always wanted to do or some type of person with whom you have always wanted to share yourself, your views, your time and perhaps your love. And then, the complex part of this is to find a way to open yourself up to the possibility of actually having this experience.  It may require putting yourself into unfamiliar environments with unfamiliar people, studying and learning new and even difficult skills, and taking chances and calculated risks in some new endeavors.


It is never too late to have a new peak experience.  However, it is not something that can be planned for and organized.  What makes it “peak” is that it is unexpected, a surprise, a gift from the unknown, and beyond your capacity to have consciously created it.  A peak experience happens when you are open to the universe of possibilities and allow yourself to remain open, in spite of doubt and fear and loss of control.

Cheating – Why are so Many Relationships Affected by it? by Erica Goodstone, Ph.D., LMHC, LPC, LMFT

November 11, 2008

 Why are so many of us so concerned about cheating?  What is cheating anyway?  Perhaps we are somewhat complicit and even more at fault than we realize.  A brief Webster’s dictionary definition of cheating is: to swindle, to defraud or to be dishonest.


Is an intimate partner in an ongoing relationship with you purposely and maliciously swindling you if he or she chooses to get unmet needs (emotional and physical) met in the arms of another willing partner?  Is your intimate partner purposely defrauding you when he or she lies about whereabouts and activities when not with you?


Some people in relationships hold extremely tight reigns on the person they supposedly love.  They might truly believe that their partner “belongs to them” and must be loyal and connected first and foremost and only to them.  The partner of a person with such strong dependency needs can feel smothered, stifled and emotionally and physically handcuffed.  This unsuspecting partner can feel as if he or she is in a living prison and may not know how to escape.  Then some attractive person pays attention, listens with open arms and an open heart.  This person may end up cheating.


Many people in relationships tend to ignore their partner’s subtle requests until the partner either makes it blatantly clear by becoming silent, enraged, screaming, or even resorting to physical violence.  People reach out to their partner for specific reasons and to get certain needs met, e.g.,  affection, a listening ear, assistance with a task or problem, financial assistance, understanding, advice, privacy, or time and space just to be alone with their own thoughts and activities.


Okay, you are probably thinking, sure there are people who stifle their partner or ignore their partner’s requests, actually almost pushing their partners into someone else’s arms.  But aren’t there some people who purposely and deviously cheat, even when their partner is loving, understanding and allows them all the space they want?


This is where intimacy enters the picture.  In an intimate love relationship, you are continually learning about your partner.  You ask questions about their life.  You are concerned about the issues that affect them.  You know something about their early childhood upbringing and the ways they might have learned to deal with relationships and cope with stress.


Intimate relationships are not magical fairytales.  In those beginning days and weeks of “limerance,” when your hormones are flowing and both of you can do no wrong, let that be a memory to fall back on when the fairytale falters and you are both facing a real, live human being, one with good qualities, unproductive qualities, and downright destructive personality traits.


Cheating can often be prevented.  Cheating and its consequences can also often be overcome with a lot of communication, soul searching and re-commitment to creating the love you once believed in.  Are you up to the task?



Veterans with PTSD May Have Intimacy Problems by Erica Goodstone, Ph.D., LMHC, LMFT, LPC

November 4, 2008

A Rand Corporation telephone survey of 1,965 former soldiers found at least 14% were suffering from PTSD and another 14% had major depression.  Lisa Jaycox, Ph.D., author of the RAND report called “Invisible Wounds of War: Summary of Key Findings on Psychological and Cognitive Injuries, discovered that veterans are not receiving adequate medical and psychological attention and treatment.  If left undiagnosed, untreated, or inadequately treated, the long lasting effects can be devastating for the veterans and their families, coworkers and friends.


PTSD affects veterans both physically and cognitively.  They may have sweaty palms, heart palpitations, and feel jittery and ill at ease.  They may also have difficulty communicating with family members and intimate partners about their thoughts, feelings and the traumatic experiences they lived through.


Cognitive behavior therapy, anti-anxiety and anti-depression medications, as well as healing touch therapy and the mind-body awareness that comes from body psychotherapy, are all methods that can be used to assist veterans to overcome the initial stages of PTSD.  As the treatment progresses and PTSD symptoms start to decline, veterans can begin to reorganize their brains and their relationships.  Couples therapy, marriage counseling, and even group therapeutic situations can help veterans return to civilian life with traumatic memories receding and current (more pleasant and relational) memories forming in the forefront of their brains.



Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – Is Someone You Know Suffering from PTSD? by Erica Goodstone, Ph.D., LMHC, LMFT, LPC

November 4, 2008

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a common problem for many people in this society.  Nearly 7.7 million Americans have the symptoms of PTSD at any given time.  Many of the PTSD sufferers have never been in an actual war zone, but PTSD has no borders.  Traumatic experiences and its devastating aftereffects can happen anywhere, sometimes in the most unlikely places, e.g., in your own home or with someone you know and trust.


Signs and Symptoms of PTSD


How do you know if you are experiencing PTSD?  What are the common signs and symptoms?  These symptoms often resemble other psychiatric diagnoses.  It is important to consult with a professional counselor, psychotherapist or physician to get an accurate diagnosis and receive appropriate treatment.


·                 easily startled, jittery, or a sense of being “on guard”

·                 feeling detached and distant from people, numb, and unable to be affectionate

·                 sleep problems, nightmares, sexual problems, or an inability to relax

·                 depression and loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities

·                 feeling irritable, easily angered, more aggressive than before, even violent

·                 difficulties with working or socializing

·                 flashbacks or intrusive images (sounds, smells, feelings reminiscent of the traumatic event)

·                 reliving the event for moments or even hours

·                 avoiding places and situations that bring back memories of the trauma

·                 survivor guilt: feeling guilty that others have died and you have lived

If you or someone close to you is exhibiting 3 or more of the above symptoms, that may be a sign of PTSD.  Contact a local psychotherapist or physician who has training and knowledge in dealing with this overwhelming problem to get an accurate diagnosis, to rule out other diseases or brain disorders that may exhibit similar symptoms.  Work with a qualified and experienced body psychotherapist (someone skilled in working with mind/body interactions, someone who can help you to express, release and overcome traumatic memories).  There is a life after PTSD.  Go for it.  


Love Makes the World Go Around — Where is Your World Going? by Erica Goodstone, Ph.D., LMHC, LMFT, Sex Therapist

October 28, 2008

So here you are, you met this wonderful new person.  Maybe at first you were resistant and the other person kept pursuing you.  Finally, their efforts paid off and you succumbed to their loving words and actions.  You thought you hit the jackpot, that you were finally getting the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.


Suddenly, out of nowhere and for no apparent reason, the other person begins to back away, taking longer and longer to return your phone call, email and text messages.  At the same time, those wonderful words and loving actions seem to be replaced by a bit of snappiness, less personal attention, and an attitude of complacency or even disdain.


What happened, you wonder?  What did I do wrong?  What can I do to get this relationship back the way it was before, when this person adored me, constantly flattered me, gave me gifts, paid attention to me, and always showed love for me?


At this stage in the relationship, for whatever reason, the other person now has control and all you can do is weather the storm.


This is where self-confidence, self-esteem and self-love are essential for you to be able to make sense of what is happening and to maintain your own emotional stability.  Knowledge is also essential: knowledge and understanding about the way the world works, the laws of attraction, what creates passion and desire, and what it takes to sustain an intimate, loving relationship.  As the initial passion and idealistic view of another person wears off, one or both of you may begin to really look at the other person.  What you see now may be very different from what you thought you saw through the rose colored eyes of passion.


As your vision of the other person gains more clarity, you may not want to rock the boat by explaining your internal changes.  You may actually be pretending to remain the same — while inside, your thoughts and feelings have changed.  The other person usually can sense this change, but without the clarity that you are developing.  At this point, you may begin criticizing and finding fault with the other person. This is the point where unresolved childhood issues can glaringly block any further intimacy.


Relationships are complex and require a high level of self-awareness, interpersonal communication skills, and emotional balance to sustain love, affection, sexual passion and romance over a long period of time. If you believe you are ready for love, but realize that you are lacking some important skills, relationship counseling can help you in ways you probably cannot imagine.  Decide what you really want in your life and then seek out help rather than struggling all alone.  Love makes the world go around.  How do you want your world to be?

Sex Therapy – How Do I Know If I Have A Sexual Problem? by Erica Goodstone, Ph.D. LMHC, LMFT Sex Therapist, Love and Relationship Therapist

October 12, 2008

Your sexuality and sexual expression are not separate from the rest of your life.  Conscious or unconscious beliefs, attitudes and emotions expressed with family, friends, coworkers, and acquaintances do no disappear when you become intimately involved with someone in a sexual relationship.

Here are a few examples of typical sexual problems that you might not view as a problem in your own life.  You might even think the situation is “normal,” “typical,” or the way it is in long term relationships.

I don’t need sex therapy.  Sex is not all that important to me.  I know my disinterest sometimes bothers my partner, but we really do love each other.  My partner just has to accept the fact that I’m not that sexual.  Sex is such a small part of our relationship, anyway.  We have so much in common and we’re actually best friends.  The truth is, if we never had to be sexually intimate together again, that would be just fine for me.


I don’t have a sexual problem, my partner does.  She has so much trouble getting aroused.  She is very rarely in the mood and when she says she’s ready to have sex, her body is obviously not that responsive.  She doesn’t enjoy oral sex and she sometimes seems irritated by my touch.  Now she seems almost totally disinterested in sex. I’m a normal sexual person.  What’w wrong with her?


I don’t have a problem enjoying sex.  It’s just that my partner wants sex all the time – and I have so many things I have to do.  Ever since we had our children, I get up really early, I do all my household chores (and my husband doesn’t help much). I take care of the children and clean up some of the mess they make every day, I get dinner ready, I help the children with their homework, I get them ready for bed. By the time I get into bed, I’m exhausted.  How can my husband expect me to feel sexual?  He starts touching me and I have to find excuses so that I don’t hurt his feelings, but my body is just saying, “No.”

I love my wife, really I do.  But lately I’ve been flirting with women at work and hinting at getting involved with them.  My wife doesn’t look the way she used to. She gained weight and doesn’t dress as sexy. When I get the feeling she wants to be sexual, lately I am making excuses and even going online to look at other women instead of her.  I guess this is what happens in long term relationships.


The scenarios listed here are not uncommon among couples today.  Both are often working and both are often stressed.  And not everyone was raised to freely express their sexuality.  Most of us did not grow up with healthy adult role models, parents and caretakers who taught us by their living example how to create loving intimacy in long term committed relationships.  This is where a qualified sex therapist can help.  Through a brief series of sessions, you can actually transform your attitudes and develop new relationship and sexual skills that will carry over into other aspects of your life.