The Amygdala Hijack

The amygdala is an almond shaped mass of nuclei (mass of cells) located deep within the temporal lobes of the brain. The amygdala hijack is an immediate, overwhelming emotional response with a later realization that the response was inappropriately strong given the trigger. Daniel Goleman coined the term amygdala hijack based on the work of neuroscientist Joseph LeDoux, which demonstrated that some emotional information travels directly from the thalamus to the amygdala without engaging the neocortex, or higher brain regions. This causes a strong emotional response that precedes more rational thought. The amygdala hijack basically equates to “freaking out” or seriously overreacting to an event in your life. You want to tell your partner how you are feeling, but you are anxious. The prosody of your voice– tone, rhythm, pitch, may communicate annoyance, anger. Your body language may appear to be aggressive, you lean forward, squint, make your hands into fists. You do not mean to be aggressive, but your partner reacts, not to your words, but to what appears to be a threat You instantly perceive your partner as aggressive. Your immediate, unconscious reaction, by way of the amygdala, is fight, flight or freeze. The amygdala screams danger and the thinking part of your brain goes off-line. You respond with an overwhelming emotional reaction, which triggers your partner’s amygdala.   Congratulations you and your partner are now dancing the primitive, amygdala...

If I Have Gay Children: Four Promises From A Christian Pastor/Parent – John Pavlovitz

Sometimes I wonder if I’ll have gay children. I’m not sure if other parents think about this, but I do; quite often. Maybe it’s because I have many gay people in my family and circle of friends. It’s in my genes and in my tribe. Maybe it’s because, as a pastor of students, I’ve seen and heard the horror stories of gay Christian kids, from both inside and outside of the closet, trying to be part of the Church. Maybe it’s because, as a Christian, I interact with so many people who find homosexuality to be the most repulsive thing imaginable, and who make that abundantly clear at every conceivable opportunity. For whatever reason, it’s something that I ponder frequently. As a pastor and a parent, I wanted to make some promises to you, and to my two kids right now… 1) If I have gay children, you’ll all know it. My children won’t be our family’s best-kept secret. I won’t talk around them in conversations with others. I won’t speak in code or vague language. I won’t try to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes, and I won’t try to spare the feelings of those who may be older, or easily offended, or uncomfortable. Childhood is difficult enough, and most gay kids spend their entire existence being horribly, excruciatingly uncomfortable. I’m not going to put mine through any more unnecessary discomfort, just to make Thanksgiving dinner a little easier for a third cousin with misplaced anger issues. If my children come out, we’ll be out as a family. 2) If I have gay children, I’ll pray for them....

Why successful couples have boundaries – by Esther Perel

“A boundary is simply what’s ok and what’s not ok.” — Brené Brown Every couple will negotiate boundaries: what is individual, what is ours, and what is public. The architecture of a relationship is made up of a web of rules and roles that we begin weaving on the first date. It never ceases to amaze me how a little unit of two can be such a complex social system. The moment two people become a couple, they set out to negotiate boundaries—what is in and what is out. Who is in and who is out? What are we free to do alone and what do we share? Do we go to bed at the same time? Do we combine our finances? Whose name is on the deed? Will you be joining my family every Christmas? There are explicit boundary markers that delineate our public contract and spoken agreement (i.e. wedding vows), as well as implicit boundaries we make with ourselves about where we draw our lines and create our own demarcation. Sometimes we work out these arrangements head on, but more often we go by trial and error. We see how much we can get away with before trip-wiring on sensitivities. “Why didn’t you ask me to join you?” “I thought we’d travel together.” “Why don’t you want to stay over at my place?” A look, a comment, a bruised silence are the clues we have to interpret. We infer how often to see each other, how often to talk, and how much sharing is expected. We sift through our respective friendships and decide how important they’re allowed to...

Sexual Honesty: You don’t have to fake it. – By Esther Perel

“When we first started dating, we partied and drank a lot. And when I drink, I don’t orgasm, so I got into the habit of faking it. We got married and I stopped pretending, but I never told him. And now, he can’t understand why I don’t orgasm in five minutes any more. He married this hot, young thing who was crazy for sex but essentially, I lied. I want a fulfilling sex life with my husband. How do I turn things around? Do I tell the truth?” — Sarah, 32 It’s old news that women lie about their pleasure (or lack-thereof). When sex was primarily a woman’s marital duty, and it was all for him, she often faked orgasm to get it over with. But what are we to make of the fact that so many women in our “liberated” Western society still feel compelled to play the same game? One would think that an increased level of sexual freedom is correlated to increased honesty. Not so. Now that her orgasm is an important affirmation of his sexual prowess, women have a new reason to keep pretending. Her pleasure is proof of his masculinity and how adept he is in bed. I see ‘faking orgasm’ as part of longstanding gender dynamics, traditional power structures, poor sexual education, and persistent myths and stereotypes about sexual performance. Chief among them, that reaching the finish line signals the deed is done. Orgasm is not just that moment of climax; it’s a full body pleasure, not just one event. Nobody is served when partners lie about their needs, preferences, and dislikes. The...