Sex, Money and Power

Sex, Money and Power

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[Background music]

Dr. Kate: Good evening Los Angeles. Welcome to Behind Closed Doors. Heard every Saturday at 6pm right here on Talk Radio 790 KABC. I’m Dr. Kate Balestrieri.

Lauren: And I’m Lauren Dummit.

Dr. Kate: And we are the co-founders of Triune Therapy Group here in Los Angeles. Behind closed doors is a show about sex, relationships, mental health, addictions, staying healthy and related current events. And today we’ll be talking about all of those things; focusing specifically on a hot topic in today’s media: The Relationship between Sex, Money and Power. In a few minutes, we’ll be speaking with Debra Kaplan. She’s an esteemed therapist, an author of the book For Love and Money: Exploring Sexual and Financial Betrayal in Relationships. So if you have any questions about this topic, call us now at 800-222-5222. That’s 800-222 KABC.

Lauren: We wanted to start the segment today by addressing suicide as it’s recently come up in the media with the tragic loss of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. It just reminds us of the really profound pain that so many people live on a daily basis that often is cloaked by smiles. Many people have no idea that they are suffering.

Dr. Kate: No idea.

Lauren: And these cases that you know, we’ve had an opportunity to see just how the immensity of the shame and how crippling that can be you know, preventing people from getting help and ultimately causing their death.

Dr. Kate: Absolutely. When I think about models like Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain whose lives recently were lost to suicide, that’s just mind blowing. I mean they are extreme examples, an optimal examples of what you’re saying. These are people to whom the world looked up to and thought they had it all.

Lauren: Right.

Dr. Kate: And unbeknownst to most of us, they were really suffering in really deep tragic ways.

Lauren: Right. And I think that goes on a lot. People don’t often don’t want to be a burden.

Dr. Kate: Right.

Lauren: And feel the need to maintain this image that everything is okay. There’s a lot of stigma around mental illness and depression and it can be a really complex set of issues.

Dr. Kate: It is. I mean even in the treatment rooms, a lot of my patients are afraid to talk about suicide for a lot of reasons, right? Sometimes they think “gosh! If I start talking about suicide, Dr. Kate is going to have me hospitalized.”

Lauren: Right.

Dr. Kate: And that’s only the case in very extreme situations where there’s an immediate threat to their safety. But people are terrified to talk about suicide when in reality, it’s pretty common for most people to have suicidal thoughts or passively suicidal thoughts from time to time.

Lauren: Right. I get so many clients making that clear distinction like “I don’t want to live, I’m not telling you I’m suicidal, but I just don’t want to live.” I think that’s a common feeling of hopelessness that people feel when they feel overwhelmed with stress and anxiety, and just many of the issues people face today.

Dr. Kate: Absolutely. I mean life can be really hard sometimes and you know, we get wrapped up in the rat race of trying to succeed and get ahead. And often, you know, a lot of people get stuck in a hero complex and they don’t want to be a burden like you said. And they feel like the weight of the world is resting on their shoulders and it’s up to them to carry through for their family or for their employees. And we see a lot of high-powered, C-level executives really struggling with the pressures of trying to maintain this facade of having it all together, instead of getting help.

Lauren: Right. I love the phrase that I’ve heard that it’s a permanent solution for a temporary problem. And you know, usually what we’re going through passes— not always the case, but you just want to grab people and tell them to hang in there, but many people aren’t even sharing that they have a problem.

Dr. Kate: Right.

Lauren: I just thought that I’d share some statistics that I read according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the US.

Dr. Kate: The tenth leading cause?

Lauren: Yes.

Dr. Kate: Wow.

Lauren: I think I read today that there was thirty-three thousand deaths per year by suicide.

Dr. Kate: Oh my gosh! That is so much more than I would have thought.

Lauren: Another thing we don’t think about is the survivors that are left. So for each person that commits suicide, there’s an average of six people that are their survivors, who then in turn suffer their own you know, traumatic grief or PTSD and then they become at risk for suicide as well.

Dr. Kate: Right.

Lauren: It often becomes an epidemic, which is something that we really need to be careful with.

Dr. Kate: Absolutely. Well, I think that probably explains why it’s costing the US sixty nine billion dollars annually to treat suicide.

Lauren: Wow.

Dr. Kate: And the after effects of it annually. That’s a staggering price tag.

Lauren: It is. And if you look at that as a mental health issue, I mean you know, with all the gun violence and things that are going on, you know homicidally and suicidality I just opposite ends of the coin. Right? Sides of the coin I guess. [laugh]

Dr. Kate: [laugh]

Lauren: But we really have some pretty severe mental health issues in our society and…

Dr. Kate: Oh yeah I do.

Lauren: It seems like people are not given the treatment they need.

Dr. Kate: Yeah. Well let’s talk about why they don’t. I mean it seems like if someone’s in pain, the natural progression would be to get help, but often people feel really stifled by their pain and I wonder you know, from your perspective Lauren what you think are some of the biggest impediments to people getting treatment when they are hurting so badly?

Lauren: Well, shame is huge; that’s a big one. Fear is another one. I have clients that come in for their weekly therapy and when you start talking about a higher level of care, which sometimes is being hospitalized, sometimes it’s going to a residential facility that might specialize in mental health or trauma, sometimes it’s just an IOP level of care which is an intensive outpatient. But there’s a lot of fear of the unknown and even though what they are experiencing seems like the depths of suffering, the solution is unknown and even though we think “well it could only be better.” It often involves digging underneath what’s causing them the pain that they often don’t want to face. And so fear really stands in the way.

Dr. Kate: I agree with that. And often, just the fear of the unknown is much scarier than a discomfort we’re already familiar with. And that’s a big reason why a lot of people don’t take steps forward to heal.

Lauren: Right. And hopelessness is a big part of depression. So, someone is struggling with hopelessness, they just don’t see any hope for the future so why bother. They’ve completely given up on the idea that there could be a solution or that there could be any progress.

Dr. Kate: Yeah. And at that point, a lot of people believe that their suicide would actually relieve their loved ones of the suffering that they are feeling. So they think they are doing people a service, when in fact they are devastating them.

Lauren: Right

Dr. Kate: Yeah. Well, let’s talk about shame a little bit more cause you mentioned shame and that seems to be a topic that a lot of people don’t quite understand, especially as it relates to how it impacts mental health, and how it impacts people’s ability to get treatment or willingness to get treatment really.

Lauren: Well, I think working with addiction, shame is huge. First of all, I think shame is one of the underlying emotions that drives addiction.

Dr. Kate: Yes.

Lauren: So, it’s also a very intolerable emotion. So, a lot of addicts are so uncomfortable with the feeling of shame that it drives them to seek out their drug of choice or behavior of choice.

Dr. Kate: That becomes a vicious circle, right?

Lauren: Right

Dr. Kate: I feel so ashamed by my behavior that I’m seeking relief from that, so I go to my drug or I go to my behavior, whatever my addiction is. And then I feel even more ashamed that I’ve gone to the drug or gone to that behavior and so it just continues; rinse and repeat down a rabbit hole of insurmountable shame.

Lauren: Right. At the same time trying to maintain quite frequently a facade that everything is okay. Most people, when they’re in the depths of their addiction, are not openly admitting that they are in addiction.

Dr. Kate: Absolutely.

Lauren: There’s a lot of denial, there’s a lot of hiding. A lot of their behavior or whatever the substance may be is really stigmatized.

Dr. Kate: But how does shame relate to suicidality in your opinion?

Lauren: Well, I think it’s the same issues. I mean it… whether it’s an addiction or a mental health issue, I think people are often afraid to come forward and talk about their flaws, their vulnerability. I think vulnerability can be immensely scary for people.

Dr. Kate: Right. Well intimacy right?

Lauren: Right

Dr. Kate: Into-me-see.

Lauren: Right.

Dr. Kate: Whenever we think about someone being able to see through to our core and recognize what we perceive to be as flaws. Other people really don’t have the same level of investments in our imperfections, but you know, most of us are pretty good at [laugh] a little self-flagellation from time to time. But when somebody is so shame bound, it really prevents them from showing up in their relationships and that means showing up for other people. But also, you know, being able to receive help and ask for it.

Lauren: Right. Or feeling like they deserve it, you know.

Dr. Kate: Yeah. Right. Wow. Well, I wonder about shame and we are going to talk a lot more actually about shame next weekend or next week and how it relates to sex and relationships, and even achievement and professional growth. Cause shame is pretty important and it’s so well understood on the surface, but highly misunderstood emotion, even though all of us feel it from time to time.

Lauren: Yes. Definitely. And I think you know, you brought up intimacy, and I think it’s so interesting that quite frequently people have the fear of being vulnerable and you know, exposing their flaws yet it’s really in our imperfections and our pain that we connect with others and often that’s how we form intimacy.

Dr. Kate: Absolutely. Yeah. Well, what can we do when we have friends who might be suicidal or love the ones who might be suicidal? What would you recommend Lauren?

Lauren: Well, first and foremost, I think it’s really important that everyone is aware of the number for the suicide prevention hotline and that number is 1-800-273-8255. Again that’s 1-800-273-8255.

Dr. Kate: That’s great. Yeah. And if you are someone who is suffering from this level of pain, please reach out and call that number or reach out to a friend or a loved one immediately. But if you are someone who is caring for someone and you recognize that they might be pain, or you see that there is someone who is carrying a big burden and often doesn’t want to be a burden for other people, I would recommend that you check on that person and don’t make a big stink about it. You know, I’m not saying call them up and say “hey, are you suicidal today?”

Lauren: [laugh]

Dr. Kate: But, call them up and say “hey, what are you doing for lunch next week. Let’s grab coffee or let’s grab a drink.” You know, get someone to commit to a date and time so that they have something to look forward to, and or even another commitment that they just don’t want to break.

Lauren: Right. And so they don’t feel insignificant and forgotten about.

Dr. Kate: Yeah.

Lauren: You know, which plays into the idea that other people would be relieved if they were gone.

Dr. Kate: Good. So, we’re going to take a break in about a second, but I just want to take one more point and just remember that even though suicide can be scary to talk about, talking about it doesn’t mean it’s going to happen.

Lauren: Right.

Dr. Kate: And so I really want to press upon that you know. Be empathic, listen with an open mind and an open heart, don’t rush to conclusions, cause most of the time just speaking our pain is enough to let a little bit of steam out of the pot.

Lauren: Yeah. Absolutely.

Dr. Kate: So, we are going to take a quick break, but when we come back, more about sex, money, and power with Debra Kaplan, author of For Love and Money: Exploring Sexual and Financial Betrayal in Relationships.

[After break]

Dr. Kate: Welcome back, you are listening to behind closed doors. I’m Dr. Kate and my co-host is Lauren Dummit. And we’re talking about sex, money and power today with esteemed author and a personal role model of mine: Debra Kaplan. She wrote the book For Love and Money: Exploring Sexual and Financial Betrayal in Relationships. Debra thank you so much for joining us today.

Debra: Oh! You’re so welcome. Dr. Kate, Lauren it’s a pleasure and an honor to speak with you both today. I’m excited.

Lauren: Well, it’s an honor for us as well. I’ve… definitely you have been one of my favorite presenters I’ve ever listened to. So, I was wondering if you could share with us a little bit about your background and what interested you in sex, money and power.

Debra: Well, my background began on Wall Street. I spent many years on Wall Street and while I was there, I worked in both the commodity option pits, I worked in junk bonds and I spent a lot of time also on training desks. Now as you would imagine, it is a male dominated, testosterone driven environment.

Dr. Kate: Absolutely.

Debra: And I really enjoyed those years, I have loved those years and I’m still involved in finance today. So, my past is a businesswoman and there is a much longer story that I won’t deliver the audience with about how I’d came to transition to working in the field of psychotherapy actually occurred on a trading floor one day when… and it became very apparent to me that emotions drive the market. And I knew at some point in the future that I would transition and segue into the world of psychology. But the world came together when I started seeing in my practice the issues of money and sex and power play out in particular with couples.

Dr. Kate: Well there’s so much interwoven between those three things right? Sex, money and power. What couple doesn’t navigate that territory?

Lauren: Right. And I think a lot of what you’ve talked about and that is the intensity both on Wall Street and then coupleships that involved: sex, money and power.

Debra: Yeah. There was a lot of intensity on Wall Street and I’m in recovery 18 years, so for me, the intensity that I gained today is in a very healthy way and I enjoy stepping into that abyss with couples in the sessions because the intensity that plays out with couples can often be underscored and driven by what is not consciously either a atuned to or being spoken about. So, if I can name that in a room and help build a balance and actually offer a balance and a counterpoint to what is not being understood in the coupleship, then we’ve already changed the dynamics for the positive and for that couple.

Lauren: It’s quite a butterfly effect.

Debra: It’s actually… it’s a very short and direct butterfly effect. It’s an intentional intervention that calling out the elephant in the room and actually exposing what is the tail driving and wagging the dog and couples don’t always recognize that this is happening.

Dr. Kate: Right.

Lauren: I was reading in your book, you were talking about how often couples are having these you know, are involved in these deep complex that they are not even aware that the underlying issues have to do with sex, money and power and that they are focused on the surface issues and really when you

Debra: Right.

Lauren: Peel away the layers, it comes down to that.

Debra: Yeah. You know, I’ve often said, and as I wrote about in the book, when two people come together, and they often come together under emotional and erotic cosmic trance, and the one conversation that isn’t occurring is “hey what do I value in a relationship? Or “what do I most value about bringing into the relationship and how will I express this to my partner?” And this speaks to the issue of relational currency: what I value and my unspoken or esteemed dynamics that will drive how I relate. But for many couples, it’s really unexplored yet incredibly present.

Dr. Kate: Right.

Debra: They may come together, I may you know, work with a coupleship that have come together because it’s a mutual love, it’s prestige, it could be access to financial security, convenience, eco-status. and absolute love, but the connection may not actually be based on recognizing what the relational currency is that each individual brakes.

Dr. Kate: Relational currency. That’s such an interesting term. I wonder if you can describe that a little bit more for our listeners. It sounds like you’re talking about worthiness.

Debra: Yeah. It’s exactly what it is Dr. Kate. So, this is what I value; my self-worth and what I bring into a relationship. And what I value about myself and well, what I bring into the relationship may or may not be what is valued by my partner. So, to know this in advance… you know, the assumption is that I marry and or get into this relationship; committed relationship and that my partner will love me for who I am, and while that would be hopefully the case, what if it isn’t for who I am but who he or she needs me to be or for what I’m bringing but not necessarily for who I am.

Lauren: Right.

Dr. Kate: Right. Yeah. Well, we certainly see a lot of that here in Los Angeles.

Lauren: Yeah. Definitely.

Dr. Kate: People are getting married for reasons of opportunity and reasons other than intimacy and love bonds.

Lauren: That happens everywhere too, right?

Dr. Kate: Right,

Lauren: And not to mention all the childhood trauma that not only gets triggered, but it gets played out on who we choose as our partner.

Debra: Yeah. Very good point. In the childhood trauma, what I’ve often found in my work with couples and individuals is that anger which often is one of the emotions that most people have an allergy to. People really don’t know and are afraid to express anger appropriately.

Dr. Kate: Right.

Debra: I mean, I could say I’m angry that you came home late the other night and I prepared the dinner and you asked me to make a special dinner for us and it was going to be our night together and the kids weren’t here, and yet you showed up late and you didn’t care. I’m angry at that, but I may not be able to say that. I may not be able to show up in the relationship and I might be uncomfortable with feeling or expressing that anger for any number of reasons. One of which is childhood trauma; how was anger expressed, how did my family “do anger” and what did anger look like? So, if that anger, if I can’t express it and I have anger because I feel it, it’s part of our natural human equation and very much present, it’s a protection, it’s showing right… you know, righteous wrong. I’m being wronged and..

Dr. Kate: Anger is necessary.

Debra: Absolutely necessary. It’s strength. It’s power, self-denied power. But if I don’t know how to own that, and or know how to express it, that becomes passive aggressively played out and very potentially in the context of sex or money.

Dr. Kate: Absolutely. I mean, in your book for love and money, you write about eroticized rage and monetized rage. Can you tell our listeners a little bit more about these terms? Because it sounds like it might be related to what you’re describing and how anger and rage get acted out passive aggressively.

Debra: The concept of monetized rage speaks to unhealthy and exploitative or manipulative abuse of money, currency and or relational tender in a rage full, exploitive or controlling nature. But the same can happen with sex: eroticized rage is the fusing of sex, shame and anger. If I’m unable to really own my emotions and the fact that I may feel angry, but I can play that out sexually or I can play that out through money. Then I can express it, but I get to distance myself from the uncomfortableness that comes up for me when I feel it.

Dr. Kate: So, it’s a protective function for people to kind of act this out sideways.

Debra: It’s a protective function but protection that may show up in the form of assertion, hostility, aggression and exploitation.

Lauren: Could you give us some examples for our listeners who don’t quite grasp the concept? Let’s say of eroticized rage. Just a few examples of how that can play out.

Debra: Sure. I’ll be… I wanna be in very simple, although this is a very complex issue, but…

Lauren: Of course.

Debra: Let’s say growing up, and I’m not going to put everything and pin it all on childhood. So, it’ll be very stereotypic. But let’s pretend I got into high school or college and I had a girlfriend or boyfriend, and he or she cheated on me and I never got over that hurt, that wound. I never got over feeling wronged. And so, I now grow up, I become a mature adult and I enter into romantic relationships and my fear which drives my behavior of being abandoned in the current relationship plays out in the form of anger that I will distance you or I will try to control sexually what happens so that I don’t get hurt. It’s eroticized anger and it plays out in how I am sexually with you; my partner. While that might be exploitive, it might be hostile, it might be shame based and it could be playing out and parading the wounds from the unresolved past.

Dr. Kate: Wow.

Debra: In the current relationship; in the here and now.

Laura: I think a lot of people can relate to those dynamics.

Dr. Kate: Well, we have to take a quick break now, but when we come back, more about sex, money and power with our guest Debra Kaplan. And don’t forget to follow us on Instagram and Facebook @behindcloseddoorskabc and message us now with your questions.

[After break]

Dr. Kate: Welcome back you’re listening to Talk Radio 790 KABC. This is Behind Closed Doors. I’m Dr. Kate.

Lauren: And I’m Lauren Dummit.

Dr. Kate: And our guest today is Debra Kaplan, author of For Love and Money: Exploring Financial and Sexual Betrayal in Relationships. And Debra specializes in treating sexual and financial betrayal. And just before the break, we were talking with Debra about examples of eroticized rage. So, Debra can you tell us a little bit more about some examples of monetized rage and what that looks like in relationships?

Debra: Glad you asked because this is a concept that is not very well known at all. In fact, I spoke about it in the presentations that I give, I often to refer to examples because most people, if they have heard about eroticized rage can understand that it might be the playing out of anger and the shame that is wrapped around sexual behavior. Very much like that with sex, money serves as a weapon, so it’s weaponized if you will, and serves as a channel for controlling, shaming or exploiting another person.

Dr. Kate: Okay.

Debra: We’ve certainly heard a lot about this that has prompted the Me Too movement come to life and with the recent headlines about how money certainly and sex have been used to control or exploit another vulnerable individual.

Lauren: So, can you give us some specific examples perhaps in relation to the Me Too movement how monetized rage might play out?

Debra: Specific examples how they play out. And certainly as we’ve all read in the headlines. Here, you have individuals who are trying to make a place for themselves in their own chosen fields and profession, and how access to that profession may be forted by having to perform sexually.

Laura: Right.

Debra: And if sexual exploitation takes place. So, if you do this for me sexually, I will advance your career and therefore monetarily you will also prosper… profit and prosper. But if you don’t do this, then there will be retribution and revenge and retaliation. That will come in the form of money and control and from detrimental place; monetarily really and financially for the individual involved. So it gets to be very complex and it’s at times very insidious because the individuals who are often exploited in this way are vulnerable and may actually be in the position of having to compromise against their values for what they would want to see happen of their career. But I mean, it’s a horrible dilemma to be in.

Lauren: It certainly is.

Debra: You have to sacrifice.

Lauren: I’m really glad that you give that example because I think for a lot of people that have a basic concept of monetize rage, I think that they see it as perhaps just revenge. So, my husband cheated, so I’m going to max out their credit cards. And they… you know, that is one example, but it’s simply a lot. I mean it’s definitely a lot more complex than that.

Dr. Kate: Yeah. We see this in so many different avenues; both in the workforce and in personal relationships. Even in non-sexual relationships.

Lauren: Right.

Dr. Kate: And they think about failure to launch families where there’s an adult child who is really dependent on mom and dad’s finances. I mean often times we see monetized rage get acted out in that context as well.

Lauren: Absolutely.

Debra: So, I see it very much sort of monetized rage here’s a… much more insidious, much more subtle playing out that in families where money is the currency of love; money equals love, if I can’t really as a parent show up for my child or in the family as a loving, nurturing, care giving, caring parent, but I will throw money at this situation, I will throw money in lieu of love.

Dr. Kate: Right. Like gifts.

Debra: And so it really doesn’t capture the wound that’s taking place and the exploitation of that vulnerable being because we’re now… it’s very transactional.

Lauren: Right.

Dr. Kate: Right.

Debra: And it’s being played out from a caregiver. It’s very hard to parse as a child; to make sense of that: well, the parent is loving me, they are giving me clothing and food and money and anything I could ever want, but yet why do I feel so empty and hollow inside?

Dr. Kate: Right. You know I work with couples and families. Often, some of the two most glaring issues that we come across are the issues of sex and money, yet they seem to be the most uncomfortable topics for people to talk about, either in therapy or behind their own closed doors. Why do you think that’s the case Debra?

Debra: I think that is the case because so many individuals may not have actually looked at where their beliefs about sex and money come from and what their beliefs are. It does head back to the concept of the relational currency. If I come into a relationship, and I don’t have a very strong sense of myself, and I believe that I have to kind of earn my way in this marriage or this partnership, that I have to do something to earn your love because the basis for growing up was if I got your approval, and only if I got your approval that I feel loved. Well I’m going to bring that into my current adult relationships. It may not be that I don’t want to talk about it, I may not be aware that this issue is existing for me in the way that it is and it is an unearthing thing and the coming in and bringing into light of these issues in therapy… That client such as all of us work with, get to expose what has been driving that discomfort. And you know, we’re often, we recoil from what we are afraid of; we are pain avoidant.

Dr. Kate: Right.

Debra: As creatures and we are pleasure seeking or perhaps more importantly pain avoidant. So the uncomfortableness is the “I don’t know what I don’t know, but I don’t want to go further to look either.”

Dr. Kate: Right. Well, what kinds of questions can people ask themselves to get a better sense of whether or not there is a power in equality related to sex or money in their relationships?

Debra: Absolutely. The questions I have and pose to my clients is to look inward. And they are also in their last third of the book For Love and Money because I work with and speak to the practices and principles of emotional and psychological well-being, the monetary and sexual well being too. I asked… I posed to my clients to ask themselves: what do you value in relationship? But it has to start with the very all important what are your needs? And what are your wants? And I have people describe what they need is. I ask them to please tell me what you define needs, not an example of, but what is a need. And once someone can say “well, alright. A need is a bottom line, got to have it, no ifs, and, or buts. Deal breaker. Without it…

Lauren: And what are some of the needs that you see commonly?

Debra: The needs I see is emotional availability. Having worked on… a partner having worked on him or herself, no active addictions, a need for financial security which is a slippery slope there. Because the need depend doesn’t decide you know, who brings that security.

Dr. Kate: Right.

Debra: So that can get us all things with different tangent for a second. But back to need. The need to be in a stable committed relationship. And if it’s… if it’s a diode; just you and I committed between the two of us relationship.

A want is would be great if I could have it, but it’s okay if I don’t. I want to have two homes, I want to go to… I want to travel the world when I’m 40, I want to have 5 children. A need is I have to have children. To the best of my ability, I want to be a parent— that’s a need. And a person gets to determine that.

So, I ask clients to look in themselves and say what am I bringing to this relationship? What is my partner bringing to this relationship? What do I value? How do I express my needs? And do I express my needs to my loved one? And how do I show and express affection and love? And what do I ask for in a relationship? Do I ask for my needs to be met?

Lauren: So exploring power as a relationship issue. What are some of the challenges that you see couples face as they began to explore power?

Debra: Yeah. That can take us into another one whole hour.

Dr. Kate: [laugh]

Lauren: [laugh]

Debra: And I’d love the opportunity to come back and talk about that. Cause when we start talking about power, I’m looking with couples about what is that one deems as all-powerful. And does each individual understand that they are negotiating. That there is a power differential is not in question. How that’s negotiated is.

Dr. Kate: Can you give us an example of…

Debra: Because the power…

Dr. Kate: Some things that couples might bump up against they’re starting to have that conversation?

Laura: Sure. A great example of that would be financial decisions about where the children… how they would be cared for. What access do we… what do we give them in terms of money being spent? What is the nature? Who will make these decisions? Power struggles about when do we decide that we want children? When maybe I want to retire? Maybe I need to continue to go to school for a while before my partner gets to change jobs and we’ll move cities. The very basic day in day out struggles in a couple ship that have to concentrate around what the needs and wants in the relationship are. And they could be everything from what part of town we live in? What city do we live in? To will we have children or will we not have children? Will my parents come to live with us? Will my parents not come to live with us?

Dr. Kate: So how do you differentiate between what sound like a lot of normal kind of relational milestone conversations and is an example where there is monetized or eroticized rage being acted out as a power grab.

Debra: The difference between those two. When two people are coming together in a couple ship, when two individuals are discussing and having a difference of opinions about whether or not life events will take place or whether we’ll get married In the Jewish faith or the catholic faith or the Christian faith. As long as both individuals’ opinions are being weighed evenly and being heard, then we know this isn’t negotiation, this is a conversation and potentially room for compromise.

Dr. Kate: Good. Thank you. So…

Debra: When there is…

Dr. Kate: Debra we have to take a quick break, but when we come back, let’s finish that thought and discuss sex, money and power a little bit more. And don’t forget to follow us on Instagram and Facebook @behindclosedoorskabc and message us now with your questions. Thank you.

[After break]

Dr. Kate: Welcome back. You are listening to Talk Radio 790 KABC. This is Behind Closed Doors. If you just tuned in, I’m Dr. Kate and I’m here with Lauren. We’re taking your calls about the topic related to sex, money and power, or anything really concerning you. So call us now at 800-222-5222. That’s 800-222 KABC or message us on social media @behindcloseddoorskabc.

So just before the break, we were talking with Debra Kaplan, author of For Love and Money about the way that couples navigate power and control once they start recognizing that there’s an imbalance. Debra can you walk us through some examples of what you’ve seen work for couples and where they have landmines?

Debra: Yeah. I wanted to… I wanted to kind of ducktail where we left off. The listeners that may not have heard the last segment. So, the difference between what is negotiated and talked, it’s when both individuals’ perspectives are being taken into consideration and there might need to be a compromise between both individuals, but the perspectives are being shared equally.

Dr. Kate: Okay.

Debra: When there’s control is when one perspective is breeding and there is not room for the other individual’s opinions or to express feelings about what the decision might be. So for example, control the access to household money; how much it gets spent, where it gets spent, the account that have spent. What I see examples of often times are: there is accounts with only one signature on them and that there is not equal access to the funds or to the monies by both individuals equally. And that decisions are made without mutual consent. And this gets to be a very slippery slope, can breed resentment and anger very quickly in a couple ship.

Dr. Kate: Absolutely. And can foster a kind of dependence that is scary.

Lauren: And only dependence, but then it also has the opportunity to lead to some pretty serious financial betrayal.

Debra: Yeah. It’s the depend… less the dependence, more so the exploitation. And while I always say to clients: choosing not to know about your financial situation is not a strategy; it’s an avoidance.

Dr. Kate: Absolutely.

Debra: And to not know what your financial situation is will often times lead to some very painful realities. And while the best of intentions can be had between two individuals, leaving that up to hope or not knowing, even in the best of circumstances, in the time of a debt, not having access to monies because there isn’t names or numbers given or information about finances. These are ways that exploitation can happen inadvertently.

Dr. Kate: Right.

Debra: So it only gets worse when there is a betrayal financially and an acting out of the monies behind another partner’s back.

Lauren: Right.

Dr. Kate: How do you see…?

Lauren: Do see a lot of that.

Dr. Kate: We do. Yes, we do. You know, Debra I was reading recently a book called The End of Men by Hanna Rosin and it’s a pretty provocative book. And in it she talks about the way that the shift in women’s relationship to being the bread winner has impacted gender roles, both impacted women and men. And how it’s creating a really significant paradigm shift in the way that men who are more traditional and see themselves as the provider are reacting to either being less of a provider than their female counter parts, or being unemployed and not having any income to contribute to the family household. And I wonder if you’re seeing that at all in your work and how that impacts these concepts of eroticized and monetized rage in relationships.

Debra: Yeah. How I see that play out in my practice is: a couple will come in and often have… they’ll come in because of a precipitating event, and yet that event is really inconsequential to the larger wounds that has been festering for the couple ship. And the wound is that that shift in identity is happening right before their very eyes, but they’re not capable or aware enough to discuss that. And what happens is society at large really predetermines for us by way of what we read and what we see and what we see get depicted in the media about how men should be and their identity and how what the idea of masculinity and protection looks like. And I’m saying these words specifically in a very stereotypic way. Yet when the woman in the relationship comes in, if this is a heterosexual relationship, when the woman comes along and she’s making more money, is the bread winner, is out in the office, it really calls into question once in this case gender, binary gender roles that are preordained and predetermined. And the couple really has to be given a language to work with this for them and to recognize that the society at large may feel differently, but that doesn’t have to determine how they as couples work with it in their home.

Lauren: Right. And it also speaks to the value as a society that we place on work, money and how that’s related to having power verses someone who is having a more traditionally female role within the family; taking care of the children and doing all the household chores which can be enormous responsibility and work as well.

Debra: Oh, absolutely. There are many… I mean I… as we started out this program. I come from a world of Wall Street and Wall Street does not and has not historically taken well to female CEOs. They’re very very few females represented in ranks of the C-suite on Wall Street. And to that point, many industries need it that way. And they are racist, they are heterosexual, they are stereotypic, there are very determined societal norms that are being broken today. One with the Me Too movement and with the fact that they are now shifts happening for women, and in technology and in finance. Well, this will call into question and bump right up against belief systems: cultural, familial and value systems.

Lauren: Right. I think that’s what we see happening all over the country right now.

Debra: It’s very unquieting for individuals that I work with. They… for many women for example, they themselves have to come to understand that their own authentic power is something to be valued, and actually to be celebrated. And the shift is about really kind of settling into “hey, you know, I am as powerful as I have felt myself to be and I don’t have to diminish myself, I don’t have to distance myself from that.” And so too many clients… some of my clients they say “Hey. You know, are you prepared for greatness?” And it’s okay to lean into that and to actually enjoy that. There’s no selfishness about that. This is a hard one; an earned celebration and success.

Dr. Kate: I couldn’t agree more. You know, one of the things that can be very frustrating for me personally is just hearing a lot of my female patients talk about the resistance that they get to being in their authentic power. And as they’re leaning more and more into that and refusing to attenuate and make themselves small, they’re coming up against a lot of push back from men in their respective industries, and also from some women who aren’t maybe in the same relationship to their growing sense of power. And so I wonder what advice you might have for women who are sitting in that very tenuous tension.

Debra: That’s a wonderful question. I came up against it myself. In fact, some of the women I came up against on Wall Street were much more detrimental and destructive than the men.

Lauren: Interesting.

Debra: And that is very common.

Dr. Kate: Yes.

Debra: But what I would recommend and what I’ve followed as my own truth and what I recommend to clients and to those that I work with. You know, I say to them, don’t give your power away by becoming the person someone says you should be.

Dr. Kate: That’s beautiful.

Debra: Find the person who will celebrate you for who you are.

Dr. Kate: Yes. I love that.

Debra: And that person may not be in your chosen field, they maybe outside of your chosen field, but they are out there.

Dr. Kate: That’s great.

Lauren: That’s great advice.

Dr. Kate: So Debra, what work is on the horizon for you?

Debra: I am currently underway in the next book about sex, money and power in couple ships and how this shows out, and how couples will… how to work with that in different power theories. And it’s fascinating work because I hear it played out every single day. I’m very excited about that. And training other therapist to work with this, because much is written about sex and a lot is written about money, but up until now with my first book, and now with this, much less is written about the three together.

Dr. Kate: That’s right.

Lauren: Yeah.

Dr. Kate: So, when might we expect to see that book on the shelves? Can’t wait to read it.

Debra: With any great luck, next year.

Dr. Kate: Oh great. [laugh]

Lauren: [laugh]

Debra: Keeping my fingers crossed. [laugh] However, before the book is on the shelf, it will be out. If not in presentations and conferences, but other trains of ideas.

Lauren: Oh great.

Dr. Kate: Wonderful. Wonderful.

Lauren: I’ll be signing up for those.

Dr. Kate: Debra how can our listeners contact you if they want to have a consultation more in-depth about this topic?

Debra: They can find me on the web at

Dr. Kate: Great.

Debra: You can just google Debra Kaplan Arizona. My office and practice is located in… physically located in Tucson, Arizona. I do travel. And they can find me at LinkedIn, Facebook.

Dr. Kate: Okay. Great. Thank you. And for all of our listeners, thank you for joining us today. You can tune in every Saturday at 6pm for Behind Closed Doors. Next week, Lauren and I will be discussing shame in more depth, and exploring its role in sex, relationships and professional achievement.

Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram and Facebook @behindcloseddoorskabc and message us with your questions. We always welcome your thoughts. And if there are topics you want us to address, let us know. You can also visit our website: for more resources and information about mental health and addiction.

Thank you so much Debra Kaplan for being our guest today. And of course, thank you to our listeners. We do it all for you. Have a great weekend everyone.

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This show furnished by Triune Therapy Group.


Ask the experts

Often, when anger is the first response, it’s considered impolite, crazy, bitchy or dismissed as overly emotional. Yet, there are many instances in which one’s anger is stirred, and the key is putting it to good use. For instance, when a loved one is unfaithful, or when insensitive remarks are made concerning one’s ambitions or dreams, when feelings are questioned or when a woman is told to be more vulnerable and subservient. Though family and social expectations place unnecessary burdens on women (and men too), they can channel their anger-filled responses into action by going against the grain, pursuing their own interests or business, going to graduate school and much more. In turn, they’re encouraged to surround themselves with like-minded individuals, committed to supporting and cheering on one another, and ultimately helping the other discover their true potential. This system of support will continue to help individuals convert their anger into action, and perhaps enjoy a few laughs, too.

Yes. One hundred percent. Women are socialized to put relationships before themselves, and this often leads to stifling anger or any feeling that might compromise the bond between two people. This is especially the case in their relationships with men, or in competition for men, and over time, women’s anger and aggression has become more user wraps, or covert. Passive aggression seems to be both the only “acceptable” means of communicating anger, but women are also labeled “manipulative” when they attempt to express themselves indirectly. It becomes a vicious circle of anger, denial or minimization of anger, and then make ourselves smaller just to avoid being a “problem.”

While it is becoming more acceptable for women to show anger, progress is slow. Most of the time, female anger is couched in comedy or parody, and only accepted in small soundbites. Those invested in a patriarchal perspective, men and women, hold firm in their beliefs that women ought to act a certain way, or not make waves. The vary act of saying “we’re angry!” is a bold and pioneering move. Further, some women hold more internalized oppressive views, and refuse to participate in a movement that is labeled feminist or angry. For some women, to do so would compromise their social standing, romantic relationships, financial security, etc. It is scary, because the backlash is real. To take a stand is mark of bravery, and not everyone is ready to avail themselves to the fiery response of those in opposition. My opinion is that over time, the backlash will subside and change will take place. Cultural growth is a slow moving process, and with every voice heard, the collective voice of a paradigm shift grows louder and more effective. I don’t think women (or men) should care about acceptability. The more those who are angry attempt to hustle for the approval of their oppressors, the more power is given away. From my perspective, those who are angry a well suited to unite and establish new norms, refusing to tolerate mistreatment any further.

There are so many way to channel one’s anger constructively. I do not condone any violence (unless in self-defense) and instead think about using anger as a collaborating force within and with others. Being of service to others is one way to channel anger. This is especially relevant because so many women today do not have strong female role models, who they can turn to for advice. Get engaged. Mentor younger women, get a mentor, get creative. How can you pass along the resources (i.e., emotional, financial, logistic, etc) that were not available to you and resulted in your marginalization? What do you wish existed that could have helped you through a particularly challenging experience? Create it. I did, and it changed my relationship with anger and helped me take it for what it is a healthy emotion that lets us know when we feel disrespected or mistreated. This is key information that keeps us psychologically and rationally healthy. Anger is invaluable and an essential part of the human experience. When we embrace that, we can make it work for us in myriad ways.

As a psychologist, patients, friends and family are always asking me advice on their relationships and, let’s be real, everyone else’s relationships. One of the biggest questions they have, is why are there no good men or no good women out there? There are good people out there, I reassure them, but they inevitably come back with some retort about having to settle or face being single forever; for some, a fate worse than death. So herein lies the conundrum stay single forever or settle. Well, let’s back out of the black and white thinking that keeps us stuck for a moment and think about what it means to settle. Most of us have arbitrary ideas or checklists we drag around to assess our swiping situation. Does he make a certain amount of money? Is she pretty enough to take around my friends? Is she/he tall enough/too tall? Is she/he fit enough? What kind of car does he/she drive? Do they like dogs? All-important questions, but what do they really mean about a person’s character or how well you’ll get along? When considering the question of settling, it is important to ask what we:

  1. need in relationships
  2. want in relationships and
  3. won’t tolerate in relationships?

No two relational blue prints will look the same, and there are no right or wrong answers. Let’s look at needs first. We all have intimacy needs, like support, trust, security, communication, touch, respect, etc. They may change over time. That’s okay. Its hardwired in us. We also have relationship wants, the qualities that might ignite our fire a little more intensely. Physical appearance, fitness level, similar hobbies, values, job, financial standing, etc. are examples of wants. There is nothing wrong with wanting whatever you want in a partner. But many times, we mistake our wants for needs and then we feel like we’re settling if the want boxes are not checked, because we’re ignoring the meaning we assign to these traits. For example, consider meeting someone who is two inches shorter than your preferred height in a partner. He or she is funny, witty, charming, consistent, honest, and generous with their time, all of the other wants and needs you’ve identified. They just happen to be a little short-changed in the height department. What does height mean to you? Does it represent strength? Safety? Protection? Status? What does it mean about you if you date this person anyway? Whose judgment do you hear in your head? Why is their judgment so important? Asking these tough questions can help you decide if this is a want or a need, and if the underlying meaning is a need, can that need be met in other ways by this partner or other people in your circle? We often expect our partner to meet all of our needs, and overlook the inevitable disappointment in that expectation. Many people do not know what they need or want in relationships, because they are so eager to be in a relationship that they haven’t stopped to consider what they are looking for in their other half. They accept what is available, to avoid being alone. One day, they wake up and think, “Hey, I think I want more than this. I wish my partner would….” and realize that they might be settling but are afraid to leave. This brings me back to the last point, knowing what you won’t tolerate in relationships. It is just as important to know what doesn’t work for you when considering whether to start, stay in or leave a relationship. For some, deal breakers might include violence or infidelity. For others, perhaps smoking or liking heavy metal is the end of the line. Knowing yourself is key in defining your needs, wants, and deal breakers for relationships. If you don’t know some answers to these three factors, perhaps you’ve been neglectful (and settling!) in the most relationship of all, the relationship you have with yourself. Only when you set intentions and cultivate a relationship with yourself can you invite in the kind of love you are seeking and deserve to have. Until then, you’ll be running in circles, chasing ideas and looking to define yourself in the reflection of another.

Obsession, a thought that continually preoccupies or intrudes on a person’s mind, is often what drives addiction. Obsession is about hypervigilance. When we feel the object of our affection (whether real or in fantasy) may not feel the same way, we perseverate about them, ourselves and the relationship. This rumination and over-focus is an emotional survival strategy that keeps our brain playing out all of the what-ifs and looking for answers to the sometimes unconscious ques- tion, “How can I make sure my partner doesn’t leave me?” A milder version of obsession can look like ruminating thoughts. “What if he likes her more than me?” “Did she talk to her ex-boy- friend last night?” “If only I lost those last 10 pounds…” Perhaps you find yourself checking their social media accounts for proof they are with you, or have moved on. Maybe you enlist your friends or family to investigate or check on your desired. At the extremes, obsession can morph into stalking and domestic violence. If we feel threatened at the loss of someone, and re- taliate with this level of possession, it can be dangerous for everyone involved. Contrary to what may be glamorized in movies, extreme jealously and stalking are not healthy courtship behaviors, and can lead to emotional and physical trouble.

Obsession with another person may be a symptom of love addiction, which is essentially an ad- diction to the experience or “high” of being in love, and generally appears on the form of putting another person on a pedestal, creating the fantasy that they are perfect or the one, ignoring their faults or certain red flags that point to the contrary. Love addicts often expect their partners to care for all of their needs. Love addicts often neglect to care for or value themselves while they in the relationship. There often exists a toxic bond or an obsessive attachment in love addicted relationships. Love addicts often continue to engage in the relationship, trying desperately to connect as they search for their self-worth in the relationship, even if the object of their desire is pejorative, hurtful, or abusive. Inappropriate boundaries, abuse, neglect, intimacy issues, chaos, drama are some of the deleterious characteristics of these relationships. Love addicts suffer from profound feelings of shame, anguish, and fear of abandonment.

Since love addicts typically suffer from an anxious or preoccupied attachment (hypervigilance about their partner or the relationship), some signs to watch out for would be someone who is wanting speedy closeness, says “I love you before the first argument, has poor boundaries, is constantly expressing insecurities and worrying about rejection, is often very unhappy when not in a relationship, plays games to keep your attention, has difficulty with direct communication, struggles to effectively express their wants, needs, thoughts, and feelings, expecting you to guess or read his or her mind, acts out, tries to make you jealous, always makes things about him/her- self in the relationship, lets you set the tone of the relationship, seems preoccupied with the relationship, calls or texts excessively, stops by your home or work unexpectedly, fears that the small acts will ruin the relationship, seems to be trying too hard to keep your interest, and is extremely jealous.

If you suspect that the person you are getting to know has obsessive or love addicted tendencies, this does not mean you have to cut them out of your life completely. However, it is important to take things slowly, establish very clear boundaries, assess what works for you and get consulta- tion from friends and loved ones about your experience, pay attention to any attempts to get you to change or disregard your boundaries or needs, use direct, clear communication, and effectively verbalize your wants, needs, thoughts, and feelings. – Dr. Kate Balestrieri, Psy.D., CSAT-S, Licensed Clinical and Forensic Psychologist, and Lauren Dummit-Schock, LMFT, CSAT, CoFounder

The first step to getting help from this type of toxic relationship is to recognize narcissism in your partner or spouse. This involves identifying the traits and warning signs of this disorder, which you may have been living with for quite some time. At Triune Therapy Group, we have skilled clinicians who are highly trained to treat those that are in a relationship with a narcissist.

To help you understand the condition and how you may or may not have been affected, please explore the following Frequently Asked Questions and Answers provided by Licensed Psychologist Dr. Kate Balestrieri: Read More FAQs About Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Perhaps the greatest hope surrounding the #MeToo movement and other similar movements is that it will generate an awareness of the magnitude of sexual assault and harassment, particularly in the workplace. In doing so, maybe it will initiate and rebirth conversations regarding equality that have since gone underground. This is important, because many people fail to see the ways in which others misuse power and privilege, and how this leads them to engage in predatory behaviors. In another sense, the #MeToo movement could educate people on how to avoid being exploitative, while enlightening them on affirmative consent, power imbalances and how to classify and pursue intimacy and happiness in a authentic, healthy manner.

I work with new mothers and I have on multiple occasions worked with mothers who have experienced a the loss of a pregnancy close to becoming a mother. It is indeed a double whammy. There is so much that gets stirred up, and it intensifies the transition into motherhood and the processing of these loss, exacerbating common life-cycle events, and resulting in undue pressure on new moms, emotionally, physically, spiritually. When we’re trying to understand how motherhood and losses affect us, it is imperative to remember that the transition into motherhood and assimilation of loss are multi-dimensional and encompass physical, social, emotional, spiritual aspects of humanity. Although we mostly associate motherhood with new beginnings and joy, the questions of loss and death and endings actually also come up. Becoming mothers is a definite end to our earlier self, our pre-motherhood bodies and relationships, and mothers must mourn how the idealized fantasy of motherhood is never matched with the reality of the day to day. This is all considered “normal” to go through unless it gets complicated with trauma or major stressors. But if the transition to motherhood coincides with a loss, mothers get all of this thrown at them at the speed of light. It’s like existential pressure overload. – Helena Vissing, M.S., Psy.D. Clinical Associate, Psychological Assistant

The mental health of mothers is a major public health concern. Research demonstrates that depression and anxiety in mothers impact their children. The exact ways children are impacted by their mothers’ mental health involves a complex interplay of factors. We always have to look at the unique combination of risk factors and protective factors for each mother-child couple. If you grew up with a mother who suffered from postpartum depression, you are not necessarily determined to suffer. But we know that on a large public health scale, there is a clear connection between mothers’ mental health and lifelong mental health of their children. The immediate effects of mothers’ depression is that babies become withdrawn and irritable. This is happening at a sensitive time when babies are beginning their lifelong development of emotion regulation. Development is layered and scaffolding throughout life, so a baby who is experiencing these challenges already during their first years will be What we often experience in the consulting room is adults who struggle with feelings of shame and inadequacy or “never being enough”, even when they are normally functioning. They might describe a vague sense of unworthiness that has always “haunted” them. Although it’s widely acknowledged now that our sense of ourselves is rooted in our earliest relationships, it is still overlooked how issues in this area can stem from the emotional pain the child of a depressed mother experienced. This pain does not just disappear as the child grows or if the mother’s mental health improves, as it has influences the very core of the child’s sense of self. Infants and children are developmentally unable to make sense of the intensity of their mother’s depression, but they still feel it. This is because our earliest sense of self is built from our early nonverbal and physical experiences of being cared for. The only way and infant can interpret the signals from a depressed mother is to internalize it, which manifest as a sense of never being enough. Even when the child grows up to be an adult who can rationally separate their mother’s emotions from their own self-worth, the early experiences can still linger and manifest as issues with unworthiness. For each person, it’s a unique story of with all the risk factors and the negative impact on one hand, and then all the mitigating factors and strengths on the other hand. The adult who describes feeling shame and unworthiness might struggle to pinpoint the root of their issues, especially if their mother’s emotional issues were hidden, denied in the family, or minimized. The mother’s emotional state during the crucial early years is often that missing piece to help an adult fully understand their development and life story. Often they are not in a position to communicate about sensitive material with their mothers. This is why it’s crucial that maternal mental health is addressed clearly at all levels of society. The taboo still surrounding motherhood and postpartum emotional issue has devasting consequences for the entire family. I know this is a lot. Feel free to use what makes sense, and let me know if I should clarify things? I tried to use language for laypeople. – Helena Vissing, M.S., Psy.D.