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The Open Secret

Affairs Are Usually a Collusion of Mutual Deception

May/June 1993
A secret affair is almost like an oxymoron, like an unmoving earthquake—no matter how much effort is expended on keeping it hidden, its impact severely shakes, and sometimes devastates, the comfortable certainties of marriage.

The Silent Tyranny

Secrets Often Oppress Those They Were Meant to Protect

May/June 1993
When I was 46, I developed an obsessive need to delve into the memories of my grandmother's past. Like a grave robber, I began to search compulsively for answers to questions I couldn't yet form. I didn't know what I sought—I only knew that I felt compelled to learn about my family's genealogy. I didn't yet realize that one secret buries another. The more protectiveness I encountered from family members, the more suspicious I became, and the more passionate to discover the truth.

Inside the Sexual Crucible

The Thrill of Connection Opens Us to the Terror of Loss and Pain

March/April 1993
For most married people, the magnetic force that drew them together in the first place has so weakened that marriage has become almost synonymous with sexual ennui. Indeed, the withering away of eroticism in marriage, particularly as spouses age, is apparently so widespread in our society that it's commonly rationalized as normal, if not actually desirable. But whether defined by the sex therapy establishment as "functional" or "dysfunctional," people complaining of a loss of the vital sense of connection they once knew often are deathly afraid of the very intimacy and eroticism they're craving.

It's Not My Fault!

Political Correctness v Therapeutic Correctness

January/February 1992
When Networker film critic and in-house provocateur Frank Pittman wrote this piece 25 years ago, the concept of “political correctness” was just beginning to seep into our national consciousness. With an iconoclast’s passion and a dash of dry wit, he cataloged the hazards of PC thinking for the field of psychotherapy—and for the souls of therapists themselves.
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Welcome to the Postmodern World

Tired of Your Old Reality? There Are Plenty More to Choose From.

September/October 1991
Over the past four decades, a new word entered our lexicon—postmodernism—the awareness of the multiplicity of many possible realities, along with the increasing difficulty of believing in the importance of any one. Therapists, as usual, had a front row seat on the psychological uncertainty of living in a “postmodern society.”
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Family Therapy's Neglected Prophet

Murray Bowen knew that personal freedom never comes cheaply

March/April 1991
Murray Bowen had always been something of a loner, never in the mainstream of pragmatic, problem-oriented family therapy practitioners. Since the earliest days of his career, he had considered family therapy a by-product of the vast new theory of human behavior that he believed it was his real mission to develop. Toward the end of his life, he had denounced family therapy for its intellectual vacuity, and dismissed it as an "evolutionary misadventure" doomed to extinction.

Confronting Homophobia in the Therapy Room

Are We Still in the Dark?

January/February 1991
Back in the therapeutic Dark Ages of the 1990s, many clinicians, like the rest of the population, were still just beginning to confront their own discomfort with gender and sexual nonconformity. Today—when an “unstraight” client might be transgender, gender fluid, agender, gender dysphoric, or genderqueer—this article on homophobia, which seemed daring 25 years ago, may strike some readers as an almost quaint reflection of a simpler time.
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The Mother Journey

Traveling on an Unmarked Road

September/October 1989
Before Molly Layton became a mother, she was a graduate student who pondered philosophy and allowed herself some existential angst. But becoming a first-time mother rocked her to the core, forcing her to confront the awesome responsibility of parenthood—not just in the wailing, diaper-changing present moment, but forever.
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What Price Camelot?

Modern Day Myths of Infidelity

May/June 1989
What is infidelity? This question of just what is an infidelity, and what isn't, is a surprisingly touchy one, as I discover each time I talk to either professional or nonprofessional audiences. I try to define infidelity, and describe it as best I can, and somebody will invariably come up to me anxiously and sheepishly and tell me about some experience, and ask for reassurance that this act was not an infidelity.

Marriage at the Turning Point

The Affair as Crisis and Opportunity

May/June 1989
Back in the 1950s, Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, Hollywood's perfect young couple, shocked their fan-magazine public by divorcing after Fisher's scandalous affair with Elizabeth Taylor. In those innocent times, lots of people, myself included, took this spectacle very seriously.
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