[QUIZ] 4 Questions to Decipher Your Partner’s Brain Type, and How It Impacts Your Love Life!

To My Dearest Hearts-Open-to-the-Universe Community Members,

Have you ever wondered how your partner’s brain type might be affecting your love life?

Oh, maybe you never thought about it quite like that…

But I guarantee you’ve had more than one moment, in the heat of passion, when you begged God and anyone else who might be listening, “What the hell makes this person tick?!!”

In those moments, our compassion fails us and we are dumped in the rapid waters of confusion and anger; feelings we particularly dislike.

Trust me, I’ve been there!

But after spending four years of my professional life as a research outcomes coordinator for the executive team, at the Amen Clinics Inc., those moments don’t have the same power to knock me off my center.

Dr. Amen has pioneered a method of psychiatric practice that focuses on using brain scans and SPECT technology to provide accurate diagnosis and integrative treatment for mental health problems, poor nutrition, and other obscure conditions.

He has been a guest on CNN, PBS, Dr. Oz, Entertainment Television, Dr. Phil, The View, TedX, Rachel Ray, Larry King, and more. Currently, he has a show, Lying on the Psychiatrist’s Couch on PBS.

Also the author of The Brain in Love, Dr. Amen has found it useful to think about the brain in five different systems that relate to human behavior.

The brain is very complex and there are, of course, more than five systems. However, these systems appear to be the “Big Bosses.” Each of these systems interacts with other areas of the brain to produce the effective or ineffective human behavior.

What we do, how we perceive the world, interpret other people’s actions and perceptions, process our bodily and sensory experiences–especially in LOVE and attachment relationships— are ALL a reflection of our brain function…and our brain function is a reflection of all these influences!

This is the heart of Mindfulness–as is within, so is without. 

We must acknowledge the interrelationship between mind and body, which is the basis for understanding how one mind and body interacts with someone else’s!

It is the resiliency and plasticity of the brain and body that makes real therapeutic and life changing experiences possible.

To give you a taste of what we will explore in this months FREE WEBINAR on Brain Basics in Relationships… 

I put together a little quiz and assessment to help you discover your partner’s brain type, based on Dr. Amen’s “Big Bosses” system.

TAKE THE QUIZ!

In our webinar this month,  Creative Arts Therapies and Brain Basics in Relationships, we will:

  • Explore “The Five Big Bosses of the Brain” in the context of relationships.
  • Conduct a self assessment.
  • And create our own Brain Maps, to foster consciousness around our experiences of love.

We will also explore:

  • 4 Deep versus surface structure communications
  • 3 Dimensions of interdependency
  • 3 Creative Arts Therapies Techniques for Affect Regulation and Communication
  • And explore a “Heart-Soul” Mindfulness-based experiential and guided meditation, focusing on fostering empathy and compassion in relationships, through mirroring and entrainment.

We will be offering this LIVE Webinar twice this month, so pick the day that works best for you! Registration is FREE.*

*If you are an LCAT interested in CE contact hours: the course materials, learning assessment and certificate of completion will be made available for $35.


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Creative Arts Therapies and Brain Basics in Relationships

A LIVE Webinar

Wednesday, April 26th, 2017 @ 8pm

Sunday, April 30th, 2017 @ 2pm

(1.5 Live event, continuing education contact hours available for LCATs in New York State and with the ATCB; $35 fee applies.)

REGISTER HERE FOR FREE!

 

We hope to see you there!

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Briana MacWilliam ATR-BC, LCAT

Licensed and Board Certified Creative Arts Therapist

Author, Educator and Reiki Practitioner

CreativeArtsTherapiesOnline.com

BrianaMacWilliam.com

YouTube Channel

If you have any problems or technical difficulties, please contact Briana MacWilliam at Briana@CreativeArtsTherapiesOnline.com.

CreativeArtsTherapiesOnline.com is recognized by the New York State Education Department’s State Board for Mental Health Practitioners as an approved provider of continuing education for Licensed Creative Arts Therapists. (#CAT-0014.)

[Quiz & FREE Webinar] Healing the Heart Chakra: What Kind of Lover Are You?

To My Dearest Open-Hearted Romantics,

In the spirit of this month’s theme, which focuses on love and relationships, the Shamanatrix, Kristen Boyer, and I are hosting a FREE, LIVE Webinar on…


Healing the Heart Chakra 

Wednesday, April 19th, at 8pm

(1.5 CE’s are available for LCATs and with the ATCB, for a $35 purchase of the learning assessment and course materials).

This webinar will focus on how  your attachment style informs the balancing of your heart chakra energy, and vice versa.

To give you a taste and to get you excited, we have created a quiz for you to determine what kind of lover you are!

TAKE THE QUIZ!

If the results surprise you, intrigue you, or down right piss you off, I hope you will join us Wednesday, April 19th, at 8pm to ask the hard questions in the chat box, and learn more about attachment and heart chakra energy!


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Healing the Heart Chakra: Mindfulness and Creative Arts Therapies

A LIVE Webinar

Wednesday, April 19th, 2017 @ 8pm

Applicable for self help and mental health professionals.

(1.5 Live event, continuing education contact hours for LCATs in New York State, and with the ATCB)

REGISTER HERE FOR FREE!


We hope to see you there!

electronic signature

Briana MacWilliam ATR-BC, LCAT

Licensed and Board Certified Creative Arts Therapist

Author, Educator and Reiki Practitioner

CreativeArtsTherapiesOnline.com

BrianaMacWilliam.com

YouTube Channel

If you have any problems or technical difficulties, please contact Briana MacWilliam at Briana@CreativeArtsTherapiesOnline.com.

CreativeArtsTherapiesOnline.com is recognized by the New York State Education Department’s State Board for Mental Health Practitioners as an approved provider of continuing education for Licensed Creative Arts Therapists. (#CAT-0014.)


Please click here for Webinar FAQs.

Please click here for a full webinar calendar.

Creative Arts Therapies and Brain Basics in Relationships: Unlocking Your Brain’s Love Map

To My Dearest  See-the-Big-Picture Subscribers,

For four years of my professional life as an art therapist, I had the privilege of being a research outcomes coordinator for the executive team, at the Amen Clinics Inc.,

Dr. Amen has pioneered a method of psychiatric practice that focuses on using brain scans and SPECT technology to provide accurate diagnosis and integrative treatment for mental health problems, poor nutrition, and other obscure conditions.

Dr. Amen has been a guest on CNN, PBS, Dr. Oz, Entertainment Television, Dr. Phil, The View, TedX, Rachel Ray, Larry King, and more. Currently, he has a show, Lying on the Psychiatrist’s Couch on PBS.

Two LIFE CHANGING things happened to me while I was working for the Amen clinics.

First, I got divorced.

Second, I was diagnosed with ADD.

Now, when the doctor told me, I scoffed and my ignorant pride replied, “What are you talking about? I was an A student! In all the advanced placement classes. I was valedictorian of my undergraduate class. I even faked mono to get out of gym class my senior year!”

The doctor nodded and said, “Well, sure, but how hard did you have to work for all that?”

And then I started to think about all the notebooks I have kept since I was a little girl; how I can’t bring myself to throw them away because in order to keep up with my cohort, I would basically have rewrite my text books by hand.

I also remembered how my mother used to tease me for biting my nails and wringing my hands all the time. Whenever she’d catch me white-knuckling it, she would laugh and narrate my inner state as if I were Oliver Twist. “Please Sir, can I have some more?” She would mock.

And, of course, it only made me wring my hands harder. But how was she supposed to know what was going through my head? Kids are reticent, mysterious creatures. And I thought it was just a weird, eccentric quirk of mine.

Now, I realize, it was how I embodied my anxiety.

I was academically successful because I was motivated and very good at drawing connections. But it took me twice as long and I had to work twice as hard as my friends, just to keep up.

You might be wondering, how did they know I had this diagnosis when it had gone undetected for 30 years of my life?

Well, Dr. Amen is known for using SPECT scan technology to diagnose and treat conditions like ADHD and others. SPECT is not necessarily a new technology, but it is used infrequently because the images that the SPECT machine creates are only tiny, thin slices of the brain. Like this image below:

But Dr. Amen had the idea to put all those slices together to create a three dimensional image that would give us a clearer picture of how all the different systems of the brain were functioning simultaneously. Like this image below:

This technique assisted in the development of reframing the brain and human behaviors into “Five Big Bosses.” And THAT helped him come up with the 7 Types of ADD, depicted below:

But what does all this have to do with getting divorced?

EVERYTHING.

What we do, how we perceive the world, interpret other people’s actions and perceptions, process our bodily and sensory experiences–especially in LOVE and attachment relationships– are ALL a reflection of our brain function…and our brain function is a reflection of all these influences!

This is the heart of Mindfulness–as is within, so is without. 

We must acknowledge the interrelationship between mind and body, which is the basis for understanding how one mind and body interacts with someone else’s!

It is the resiliency and plasticity of the brain and body that makes real therapeutic and life changing experiences possible.

In our webinar this month,  Creative Arts Therapies and Brain Basics in Relationships, we will:

  • Explore “The Five Big Bosses of the Brain” in the context of relationships.
  • Conduct a self assessment.
  • And create our own Brain Maps, to foster consciousness around our experiences of love.

We will also explore:

  • 4 Deep versus surface structure communications
  • 3 Dimensions of interdependency
  • 3 Creative Arts Therapies Techniques for Affect Regulation and Communication
  • And explore a “Heart-Soul” Mindfulness-based experiential and guided meditation, focusing on fostering empathy and compassion in relationships, through mirroring and entrainment.

We will be offering this LIVE Webinar twice this month, so pick the day that works best for you! Registration is FREE.

If you are an LCAT interested in CE contact hours: the course materials, learning assessment and certificate of completion will be made available for $35.


brain basics reduced size.jpg

Creative Arts Therapies and Brain Basics in Relationships

A LIVE Webinar

Wednesday, April 26th, 2017 @ 8pm

Sunday, April 30th, 2017 @ 2pm

Applicable for self help and mental health professionals.

(1.5 Live event, continuing education contact hours for LCATs in New York State.)

REGISTER HERE FOR FREE!


We hope to see you there!

electronic signature

Briana MacWilliam ATR-BC, LCAT

Licensed and Board Certified Creative Arts Therapist

Author, Educator and Reiki Practitioner

CreativeArtsTherapiesOnline.com

BrianaMacWilliam.com

YouTube Channel

If you have any problems or technical difficulties, please contact Briana MacWilliam at Briana@CreativeArtsTherapiesOnline.com.

CreativeArtsTherapiesOnline.com is recognized by the New York State Education Department’s State Board for Mental Health Practitioners as an approved provider of continuing education for Licensed Creative Arts Therapists. (#CAT-0014.)

Six Signs of The Anxious-Avoidant Trap & LIVE Webinar Opportunity!

My Dearest Lay-in-the-Grass and Find-Shapes-in-the-Clouds Community Members,

A big thank you to those that attended Sunday’s webinar, it was a wonderful crowd!

We also got some great feedback, particularly from Ms. Hannah White, who is a Pratt alumni and works in a setting “where CBT style interventions are celebrated” and she finds herself “drifting far…from her integrated psychodynamic roots.”

Hannah shares,

This webinar was a revitalizing 90 minutes, and reminded me about the depths of attunement and understanding that are needed to facilitate true healing.  It’s weird how easy it is to forget that!   I’ll definitely be revisiting my counseling approach with some clients – finding, in particular, where self-compassion should be prioritized over self-esteem.

One of the topics we will discuss in our second presentation of this webinar on February 17th, 2017 at 7:30pm, includes The Anxious-Avoidant Trap. (If you would like to register for this event, click here.)

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Six Signs of The Anxious-Avoidant Trap
The Anxious-Avoidant Trap occurs when partners of an anxious-ambivalent attachment style and an avoidant attachment style, find themselves locked in a dramatic, yo-yo relationship dynamic. Here are Six Signs that you or someone you know, may have fallen in!

1. The roller coaster effect. In the relationship, you never feel as if you were on an even keel. Every once in a while, when the avoidant partner makes him or herself available to the anxious partner, the anxious partners attachment system is temporarily quieted and there is the achievement of an extreme sense of closeness, which is quite literally a “high” experienced in the same part of the brain as ingestive addictions! This will ultimately freak the avoidant out (remember, in his or her early experiences closeness = loss of self-identity), which will cause him or her to withdraw. This again stimulates the anxious/ambivalent persons activating strategies, and up and down we go, endlessly riding the roller coaster.

2. An emotional token economy. If you are avoidant you inflate your self-esteem and sense of independence in comparison to someone else. If you were anxious, you are programs to feel “less than” when your attachment system is activated. Frequently, avoidants feel independent and powerful only to the extent that their partners feel needy and incapable. This is why avoidants hardly ever date each other. They do not feel strong and independent in relation to someone who shares the same sentiment that they do.

3. Stable instability. The relationship may last for a very long time but an element of uncertainty persists. You may be “together” on the surface, and in name, but the emotional and mental connection just isn’t there.

4. Pointless fighting. You may feel that you were constantly fighting the things that you should not be fighting about it all. The arguments may be centered around something concrete and seemingly unimportant, but are really metaphors for the level of intimacy (or lack thereof) between you.

5. You are perceived as the enemy. If you are the anxious partner, frequently you will find that the closer you get to your partner, the worse you are treated. This is because of the projections we discussed above. The more connected you become to this avoidant person the more they will project onto you all of the “needy” parts they reject in themselves. This is the paradox of the anxious-avoidant trap; The closer you become the less you will be able to actually see each other for who the other is–as opposed to your own self projections.

6. Feeling trapped. When you think about it rationally and logically you know the relationship is not right for you, but you are too connected (addicted) to the other person to leave.

But how and why does this happen?

To learn more, we are launching two self-study courses at discounted prices

We are also hosting a LIVE Webinar introduction to Attachment and Creative Arts Therapies, Friday, February 17th, 2017 at 7:30pm. (Register here.)

Hope to see you there!

electronic-signature

Briana MacWilliam ATR-BC, LCAT

Licensed and Board Certified Creative Arts Therapist

Author, Educator and Reiki Practitioner

CreativeArtsTherapiesOnline.com

BrianaMacWilliam.com

YouTube Channel

The Best Kind of Holiday Healing

To My Deliciously Creative and Open Hearted Community,

Thank you for signing up for my newsletter, and expressing an interest in CreativeArtsTherapiesOnline.com (formerly, Create Your Bliss).

(If you haven’t signed up, please fill in your information here.)

For many, 2016 has been a bit of a hellish year. The rug was pulled out from underneath many of us, on EVERY level. Some of us might have enjoyed the change in perspective once our back hit the floor, while others might have felt more like they face-planted into cement!

As we say goodbye to  2016 and all it’s Karmic detritus, we all have a little work to do to end a 9 year-cycle (according to astrology and numerology circles) and make the transition into 2017 a “quantum leap into an awakened potential.”

Thus, I am thrilled to be offering two amazing opportunities this holiday season, to brush your shoulders off and get back up!

First, I’d like to announce an upcoming live workshop and collaboration with the lovely Shamanatrix, Kristen Boyer, called Shamanic Journeying Through the Chakras.

Before sharing the details, however, let me tell you how Kristen and I came to find each other (again) and put this workshop together.

A few months ago, while in a financial (and emotional) rut and struggling to find my way out of it, I decided to spend what little money I had on a consultation with a spiritual wealth coach and psychic, Jenny Schiltz. (Who just so happens to have a daughter named Briana,  interested in studying art therapy—coincidence? Read on!)

During our session on financial wealth, what came up as my biggest block to abundance?

LOVE!

Or rather, a lingering angsty feeling about it. Indeed, a piece of my soul had apparently walked off with my ex, after we broke up over a year ago, and I was holding on to a piece of his too. Ms. Schiltz was convinced ours was a Twin Flame relationship, the purpose of which was to catapult each other to the next level of spiritual ascension—NOT live happily ever after together, on this earthly plane.

Energetically, I was still holding onto the latter.

Now, in my head, I was a bit annoyed. Because I had done EVERYTHING right, to get over this person.

And yet, if I was honest with myself, in the quiet of the morning, that moment just before sleep, and once a while in the shower, I would still break down sobbing like we had broken up only yesterday. I still had dreams in which our souls visited each other as lovers, and nightmares in which he left me all over again. This couldn’t just be about that relationship anymore, right? It had to be due to some intra-psychic problem of mine, no?

As you might imagine, my analyst was getting bored.

Gahhhh!!! What else could I possibly DO?!

Ms. Schiltz advised that I needed to ground my soul in this present body. That I needed to stop looking for something to DO and simply SURRENDER to the fact that it wasn’t in my divine plan.

I needed to GRANT PERMISSION, for my guides and angels (or the Universe, if you prefer) to take away my grief, and ask for the pieces of my soul back.

And then, I realized, all that I had done had been a way to hold on to my grief; endlessly analyzing my relationship kept me attached to a fantasy I didn’t want to give up. My heartbreak was blocking my financial abundance because ALL of your energy is CONNECTED. And my energy was clinging to the impossible; the immaterial. And so that’s what I had.

Ms. Schiltz informed me,

“If we replace the word ‘money’ with ‘energy’ everything begins to shift. Look at your life as existing in one bucket, and that bucket holds all your energy. If you allow the bucket to empty out, you will see many areas suffer. Relationships, finances, health…you cannot break your life up into these categories. Shift the focus and think, ‘How am I supporting me?’”

To help me find the necessary supports, she sent me a link to a YouTube video about Shamanic Soul Retrieval and Journeying. I thanked her and ended our Facetime session.

Then I checked the link…and laughed out loud.

It was a video on Soul Journeying by the fabulous Kristen Boyer. Why that is funny, and what Ms. Schiltz did not appear to know, was that Kristen had been my very first art therapy intern, ten years ago, (here, in New York City), during her time at Pratt Institute (my alma mater and current place of employ).

I reached out to Kristen. She was not surprised to hear how I came to see her video. We reconnected. We laughed at how similar our paths had been, and shared our painful heartbreaks. She helped me get pieces of my soul back.

And now, we are teaming up to help you do the same.

In our workshop, Shamanic Journeying Through the Chakras, we will:

  • Help you connect, cleanse and activate your chakras

  • Attune to any disruptions in your energy and spirit

  • Connect with your animal spirit guide 

  • Receive three wisdoms to help manifest your resolutions in 2017 

  • Process the experience through writing and art making

Self-care is so important. And it’s not just about bath salts, pedicures, and a sugar-free diet! It’s about taking care of your spirit. Because, remember, ITS ALL CONNECTED!

Give the gift of healing for the holidays. Whether it’s to treat yourself, or offer it to a loved one you think might benefit from spiritual healing and attunement. Come join us for our live workshop:

Shamanic Journeying Through the Chakras

7:00-9:00pm
Thursday, January 12th, 2017

Reflections on Conscious Living and Yoga Studio
(Zen Garden Studio)
227 E 24th St.
New York, NY 10010

Register here, on Eventbrite.

Early Bird Registration is only $25 (ends December 31st, 2016, at midnight).


Can’t Make it?

We are so excited about this work, we are going to be extending and deepening our understanding through a series of free webinars and online course content.

If you can’t make the live workshop but would like to learn more, stay tuned to receive updates about our upcoming events and offerings. 


Secondly,  I am offering special packages for the holiday, to receive a Reiki Treatment and Chakra Cleansing.
Reiki is a Japanese healing technique in which the therapist can channel “life force energy” (Ki) into the patient, to activate the natural healing processes of the patient’s body and restore physical and emotional well-being.

Many Reiki practitioners practice in a style that is all their own. My approach incorporates a cleansing of relevant chakras, as well as a disavowal of any karmic promises or contracts that my still be impacting your present incarnation.

Some drift off to sleep or report floating outside their bodies or have visions and other mystical experiences. At the end of the treatment, one feels refreshed with a more positive, balanced outlook.

This holiday, I am offering the following packages if purchased between December 20th, 2016 and January 10th, 2017. 

  • 1 Reiki Session, to be used within six months: $60 (save $30)
  • 2 Reiki Sessions, to be used within six months: $130 (save $50)
  • 3 Reiki Sessions, to be used within nine months: $200 (save $70)

Five Differences Between Male and Female Brains

For four years, I had the privilege of being a research outcomes coordinator for the executive team, at the Amen Clinics Inc., an agency focused on using brain scans and SPECT technology to provide accurate diagnosis and integrative treatment for mental health problems, poor nutrition, and other obscure conditions. Dr. Amen has been a guest on CNN, PBS, Dr. Oz, Entertainment Television, Dr. Phil, The View, TedX, Rachel Ray, Larry King, and more. Currently, he has a show called, Lying on the Psychiatrist’s Couch, on PBS.

Of all the amazing things I learned while working at the Amen Clinics, learning about the neurological differences between men and women, probably changed my life the most! It so deeply affected the way I saw myself and my behavior in the context of relationships, with both men and women. Men and women are not completely different, of course, but we are different in subtle ways that can have a big impact, and may be why we so often misunderstand each other.

It’s important to note, these five items we will examine below are measurable differences that always fall within a range of responses with a lot of overlap between groups. In fact, research shows that when comparing men and women, there are more differences within gendered groups, than between them. Not all women are the same. Nor are all men the same. Some women have low activity in their brains, some men have high activity. Some women’s brains act more like the average man’s, and some men’s brains act more like the average woman’s. There is evidence that the brains of homosexual or bisexual individuals may lie somewhere in between. Both men and women can be great mathematicians, engineers, doctors, lawyers, astronauts, cooks, real estate agents, parents, and caregivers. But overall, there are significant brain differences between the sexes that can be measured in a laboratory, seen on a brain scan, and observed in our everyday lives. Even when men and women succeed at the same task, they may call on different strengths and areas of the brain to do it (Amen, 2013).

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male_vs_female-1200x545_c1. Size

Male brains tend to be larger than female brains, about 8% to 10% on average. This is not surprising since male bodies also tend to be larger, overall. But even when correcting for total body weight men have 4% more neurons or brain cells than women. The size difference is not consistent across the entire brain however, some brain parts in the female are larger than the corresponding parts of the male, and vice versa.

For example, Dr. Joel Goldstein of Harvard Medical School use MRI scans to compare male and female brains. She found that compared to men, women have a larger volume in the frontal cortices and limbic cortices; these are the areas involved in higher cognitive functions, including language, judgment, planning, impulse control, and conscientiousness, as well as emotional responses. Dr. Amen suggests this might explain why women tend to be less impulsive and more concerned with emotions than men, and also why they may struggle with worry. It could also explain some key strengths, including intuition, collaboration, self-control, and empathy.

Additionally, SPECT scan imaging consistently shows that the hippocampus is larger in women than men, which is a memory center. Men on the other hand have larger amygdala, the part of the brain that processes fear and anger. This might explain why women may have a more accurate and detailed memory, while men tend to jump to fear and/or anger in a high stress situation.

Men also have a larger volume in the hypothalamus, which is associated with greater sexual interest and behavior.

2. Intelligence and Lateralization

Men and women are equally smart but each tends to use different parts of the brain to solve problems or achieve goals. For example, researchers at the Kennedy Krieger Institute found that male and female brains show different patterns of lateralization (which side of the brain they used more often), when performing different types of tasks. During a language task, men seem to rely almost completely on the left language side of the brain, showing more activity there (the more logical side). However, during a visual spatial task, like building blocks, men showed activity on both sides of the brain.

In contrast, women showed more activity on both sides of the brain during a language task and we’re more “lateralized” to the right, during a visual spatial task (the more expressive and creative side). This could explain why women tend to be more adept at language, while men tend to be more adept at visual-spatial tasks.

Additionally, women have a larger corpus collosum (the fiber band that connects the two sides of the brain), and this means they tend to use both sides more often, while men are more often using only the left side. For example, when it comes to language, men use fewer words, and are more to the point. Women use more words, and are overall more expressive. Because of this, men may become overwhelmed in arguments and say things like, “What’s the point?” or “Specifically, what do you want?” This might infuriate his partner who feels she is telling him exactly that, she just has more to say about it from all the extra input she is receiving.

3. Gray and White Matter

central-nervoussystem0910-21-728The percentage of gray matter versus white matter is another key difference between male and female brains. A consistent finding is that females have a higher percentage of gray matter compared to males, whereas males have a higher percentage of white matter. But does that matter?

Gray matter is composed mainly of brain cell bodies, while white matter is made up of brain cell tracks (communication cables) that provide connections between the cells. BUT, it turns out that in the parts of the brain that are related to intelligence, the proportions are reversed: men have more gray matter (6.5 times the amount found in women), whereas women have more white matter (10 times the amount found men). This means that men are likely to do more localized processing of information, using only a few areas to work through a problem or task, while women draw on many areas at the same time.

These findings suggest that “nature has created two different types of brains designed for equally intelligent behavior” (Haier, as cited by Amen, 2013, p. 36). It is the gray matter that “thinks,” but it is the white matter that connects different brain areas so that thinking can benefit from a wider range of information and the relationships between them. Basically, men find it easier to focus on one thing at a time, and they may have an easier time of finishing a task because they are not as easily distracted. Women are better multi-taskers, but they may struggle with task completion because they are so tuned into (and worrying about) a variety of things happening around them.

4. Sensory Perception

Women are equipped with more sensitive sensory equipment than men. Women are better at reading facial expressions and noticing the feelings of others. Additionally, mothers have been found to be able to quickly identify a range of emotions from hunger to pain to gas and tiredness, based on the recordings of an infant’s cry. When fathers have been put to the same task, less than 10% recognize more than two emotions (Pease & Pease, 2001).

Women also have better peripheral vision than men. From birth, girls are dramatically more sensitive to touch and as adults their skin is at least 10 times more sensitive than a man’s. Women also like and need to be touched more so than men; in one study, researchers found a woman is 4 to 6 times more likely to touch another woman in a social situation that a man would (Amen, 2007).

A woman’s sense of taste and smell is also more sensitive. And during times of ovulation, a woman is better at picking up male pheromones that cannot be detected consciously. Women are also much better at picking up on body language, which makes them better at spotting a lie.

5. Love

Couple kissing in restaurantScans taken of over 3,000 “madly in love” college students reveal gender differences in brain activity. When asked to look at a picture of their lover, women showed greater activity in the parts of the brain related to memory, emotion, and attention, as well as in the septum—also called “the pleasure center.” Men showed greater activity in the visual cortex, including one area responsible for sexual arousal (Fischer & Brown, 2004).

Notably, men might have fewer illuminated areas than women, but when viewed in color, those areas are more intensely active. This could account for the propensity for men to fall “in love at first sight,” (perhaps more aptly described as “lust at first sight”). In general, these variations in brain activity across gender lines are supposed to aid humans in perpetuating the species. Men are better equipped to determine fertility by scouting an attractive hip-to-waist ratio, and women are more discerning of behavior and character, to determine if he would be a good father and provider.

Love and lust are also located in different areas of the brain, at least initially. A subsequent study in which individuals looked at erotic imagery while having their brains scanned, revealed none of the “in-love” brain activity. Activity was found in the hypothalamus and amygdala, part of the Limbic system of the brain involved with instinctual needs such as hunger, thirst, and arousal (Fischer & Brown, 2004).

In conclusion, male-female communication styles, bodily experiences, and ways of interacting are often different. We have a tendency to expect our partners to be mind-readers; women tend to think of men as selfish women, and men tend to think of women as emotionally indulgent men.

Many people attribute differences to cultural influences, yet similarities appear across cultures. In recent years, gender roles and expectations have become less rigid, and as a result we are witnessing just how far this hardwiring, in combination with cultural conditioning, extends.

Again, it’s important to remember, however, that not all women are the same. Nor are all men the same.  Some women’s brains act more like the average man’s, and some men’s brains act more like the average woman’s.  In fact, studies show greater variance among men and women, than between them. However, becoming aware of some of these differences between men and women may help you to recognize what fits or doesn’t fit, in your individual partnership.  And this may help you to be more effective in interacting with your partner, and help you navigate relationships without feeling hurt or rejected.

If you’ve enjoyed this post, I invite you to subscribe to my newsletter to learn about upcoming courses, webinars, and workshops on similar topics.

Also visit my online school, Creative Arts Therapies Online, for more knowledge and creative inspiration!

 

Resources:

Amen, D. (2007) The Brain in Love. New York, NY: Three Rivers Press

Amen, D. (2013) Unleash the Power of the Female Brain. New York, NY: Harmony Books

Laskas, A. M. (2009) Bennet Omalu, Concussions, and the NFL: how one doctor changed football forever. GQ. Retrieved from http://www.gq.com/story/nfl-players-brain-dementia-study-memory-concussions

Pease, A. & Pease, B. (2001) Why men don’t listen and women can’t read maps. New York, NY: Harmony Books

Pease, A., & Pease, B. (2009) Why men want sex and women need love. New York: Broadway Books

Links:

To learn more about The Amen Method, which focuses on the biological, psychological, social, and spiritual aspects of life and treatment:

http://www.amenclinics.com/the-science/see-the-process/

To take an online brain health assessment and learn your brain type:

http://portal.mybrainfitlife.com/new/index.php/bha2/intro/

Attachment, Imago, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

This weekend, I watched Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, (screenplay written by Charlie Kaufman, the same guy who wrote Being John Malkovich and Adaptation). I first saw it when it came out in 2004. I was 22 years old.

At the time, I thought it was a great movie. Probably because it was funny, the timeline jumped around, and Kate Winslet’s character, Clementine, had multicolored hair. (I had long ago committed myself to loving anything Jim Carrey did from the moment he first stepped on stage for the sketch comedy TV series, In Living Color. )

But this time, the movie was different. It left me in tears. With a giant elephant sitting on my heart. Twelve years ago, it was a good movie. This weekend, I actually got it. And the “getting it” is due in no small part to two things that have occurred, over the past twelve years of my life: experience and research.  And without both components I wouldn’t  understand just how hopeful this film really is, today.

For those of you that haven’t seen it, here is the IMDb description:

When their relationship turns sour, a couple undergoes a procedure to have each other erased from their memories. But it is only through the process of loss that they discover what they had to begin with.

And the trailer: https://youtu.be/quuMv7cGUn0

To begin, however, I need to give a brief explanation of attachment and complicated grief.

Attachment is a bio-psycho-social process by which affectional bonds are formed between human beings, most critically examined through the earliest phases of development. Attachment is often discussed as synonymous with bonding, but this is not the case. Children automatically attach to their parents, whether or not they are “good enough” parents, because it is an instinctual behavioral pattern ingrained in your cells from birth. Its involuntary. And partly why children will defend and go back to abusive parents.

If that still sounds abstract, Neufeld and Mate identify six ways of attaching, ascending from the more simplified to complex:

  1. Senses. The emphasis is placed on physical proximity. A child needs to feel attached through smell, sight, sound, or touch.
  2. Sameness. Usually in evidence by toddlerhood, the child seeks to be like those he or she feels closest to.
  3. Belonging and Loyalty. To be close to someone is to feel possessive of him or her, and to be obedient and faithful to that person.
  4. Significance. Needing to matter to the person we are closest to, and seeking to please him or her and win his or her approval.
  5. Feeling. Marked by a seeking to be emotionally open and vulnerable with an attachment figure; a willingness to share one’s feeling states.
  6. Being known. Usually observable by the time a child enters school, this is when a child seeks to share his or her secrets and insecurities in the hopes of being completely seen, heard and embraced, in spite of them.

Bonding describes the QUALITY or NATURE of the attachment pattern that forms, and this is dependent upon temperamental compatibility, and whether or not the parents are “good enough.” What are popularly considered “attachment styles” are more or less the result of whatever bond was formed, and how that bond continues to evolve in our attachment relationships as adults. There is a cyclical, interrelationship between attachment and bonding.

Complicated Grief  occurs when an individual experiences prolonged, unabated grief. Brain studies have shown that individuals with complicated grief experience grief as rewarding, because the same pathways that relate to attachment light up in their brains, when they grieve. Attachment is necessary to survival, so the brain will pursue whatever makes it feel “attached” as opposed to “happy” because survival trumps happiness. So, the underlying fear is that if you accept the loss, it’s the same thing as dying, on a mental, emotional, and perhaps even spiritual basis. (This is particularly true for individuals whose parents were NOT “good enough.”)

Complicated grief is the result of an insecure attachment. And these attachment dynamics will play themselves out in adult relationships, over and over again, until they don’t.  Unhealthy patterns of loving and relating are not immutable. 

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a great film to illustrate these concepts. The main characters’ relationship begins with an elated feeling, most likely because they see in each other a piece of their earliest attachment relationships and bonded experiences. But the relationship goes from great, to good, to bad, to worse, to the point where they both pay a doctor to physically erase their memories of each other.

Yet, by the end of the film, after they meet each other again for the first time, they are still willing to do it all over, because they are deeply attached to one another, even though the bond became a torture. And they EXPECT it will BECOME a torture again.

But I find this movie hopeful, as opposed to some reviewers who interpret it as the inescapable torture of life and love. Because what is special about this couple, is they are given back their attachment, with a knowledge of their egoic obstacles, wiped clean of the pain. Its like someone gave them a cheat sheet for the test. How could they not pass this time?

Harville Hendrix would say these characters have found an imago relationship, which is a relationship that has all the good and bad qualities of their parents, PLUS a bit of what each partner felt their parents lacked. So the brain-heart-soul thinks this relationship could be a reparative one. A relationship that can re-create AND heal, the wounds of the past. Hendrix believes this is not magical thinking, but a real opportunity for deepening our love relationships and finding healing.

We see this most poignantly depicted when Clementine tells Joel about the ugly doll she identified with as a child. Joel proceeds to make love to her after this confession, calling her “pretty” over and over again.

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Additionally, their most loving scenes are scenes where they are playful and childlike in their interactions. Such as when Clementine pretends to suffocate Joel with a pillow, and he pretends to struggle, grabbing her breasts, then playing dead. (A loaded metaphor from a psychoanalytic perspective!)

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The film is also a good illustration of what Levine and Heller refer to as “The Anxious Avoidant Trap.” This is a roller coaster relationship that usually results of the combination of a partner with an avoidant attachment style and an anxious attachment style.

Joel (Jim Carrey) would appear to be the avoidant partner. While he appears enlivened by Clementine’s (Kate Winslet) quirky spirit, he also maintains emotional distance in the relationship, as revealed by a scene between them in bed.

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Clementine: I am an open book. I tell you every damn embarrassing thing. You don’t trust me?

Joel: Constantly talking isn’t necessarily communicating.

Clementine: I want to know you. People have to share things Joel. That’s what intimacy is…I want to read some of those journals you’re constantly scribbling in. What are you writing in there if you don’t have any thoughts or passions or love?

Clementine’s speech about being a “fucked up girl looking for her own peace of mind” in which she denounces being a “concept” that men think will make them feel alive, suggests a relationship history in which she has played the anxious role, shaping herself to suit the fantastic (or anima) projections of her partners. Joel also suggests  Clementine sleeps with people to get them to like her, which may also indicate an anxious attachment style.

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But if we are not able to step enough outside of our own egos, or become too overly identified with our feelings (or preoccupied with suppressing them), it can quickly become a cyclical pattern of toxicity. Ultimately, you have to ask yourself, “What is the lesson here? Is it best served by staying, or leaving?” Sometimes the healing is not to stay together, but to walk away. The ending of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind allows for both possibilities to equal a happy ending.

I think that’s pretty damn hopeful.


If you would like to learn more about attachment styles and how they impact your relationships, as well as how to call in a secure relationship, please check out my online course:

Beyond the Breakup: Attachment Styles and Meeting Your Match. In this course you will have access to lectures, experiential, and assessment tools that will facilitate self help, and/or your practice in working with others.

Be sure to enter the code: HALFOFF at check out, before October 15th, to receive a 50% off discount