Happy New Year! We have completed our first
decade into this milennium, and I hope that
what lies ahead includes more connection,
meaningful work, job and economic security,
health and well-being, peace and happiness
Many readers resonated with the article in
the December newsletter "You Can Get Too Much
of A Good Thing: The Relentless Promotion of
Positive Thinking." It's always meaningful
when an article really strikes a chord! Here
are a few comments, with permission, from
"Thanks for writing on 'too much of a good
thing.' I wholeheartedly agree. When I
teach, I remind students that sadness, fear,
anger are not 'negative.' They are simply
part of the package of learning, healing and
growing. The more we can tolerate and
explore our inner chaos, the richer life is!
Too much duality! And way too much
judgment. Here's to a good cry anytime!"
-- Ruth Levy
"I really appreciated the article 'The
Relentless Pursuit of Positive Thinking.'
Very validating....especially for me....one
who sometimes forgets to deal with realism."
On Saturday, January 23, I will be leading a
special one day workshop looking at What
DO We Really Need?" by exploring our
fundamental developmental needs and wounds.
Most of what we need to be a human being, and
the experiences that define who we become
take place between conception and age 6.
Through experiential exercises, meditation,
discussion, and a presentation of a
body-centered developmental psychology
framework, you will gain insight both into
your history and formative experiences, and
those of others by observing body structures,
thought processes, beliefs, missing
experiences and basic needs.
This workshop will meet from 9 am - 5 pm, and
has a sliding scale of $100 - 150 for fee.
Articles in this issue include:
"Hoarding, the Paperless Office,
Attachment and Detachment: What Do We Hold
exploring how hard it is to define "enough"
when we are both overloaded with things and
choices, and simultaneously asked to live
with less and less, and
"Reflections on Perfectionism and
inspired by and drawing from an article
written by my colleague, Hillary Rettig on
"Perfectionism and Addiction.
Your comments and feedback are always welcome!
Hoarding, Paperless Offices, Attachment and Detachment
What Do We Hold On To?
As a child, I remember learning that there
was value in having everything in moderation.
Most people who I know who are truly happy
have come to a place where they feel they
"Enoughness" is a very elusive concept in
an age where we are taught to want more, more,
more, and also work in environments that ask
us to have less, less, less.
believe "you can't be too
rich or too thin," we have seen first hand
that, in the case of Bernie Madoff, and the
epidemic of anorexic models in the fashion
industry, one who lives by this philosophy
does so at great risk.
We also receive contradictory messages, as we
are inundated with options for a simple
handle for a kitchen cabinet, at Home Depot,
then go to work
in paperless offices, where the "clean desk
police" forbid any pens, photos of loved ones
or even plants in ones workspace. (Despina
Moutsouris wrote a very powerful article
about the sterility of the modern day work
environment in a past issue of this
Decision making can be a hard process to
start with, but how much harder is it to
decide "what is right" or "what is right for
YOU," when presented with overwhelming
choices and things or being mandated to have
nothing at all? Too many choices or no
choice does not lead to finding a happy
These contemporary examples teach us, you CAN
get too much of a good thing. Or perhaps,
even more accurately, taken to an extreme, a
good thing can even turn bad.
"Hoarding" has become a very newsworthy
topic, as a growing number of people "hold
on" to what an insider might judge as
"anything and everything," from used paper
cups, to old pillows, to newspapers and even
When there is so little emotionally to hold
on to, people are attaching to stuff, rather
than other people or life's pursuits. As I
read through a series of articles on
hoarding, one theme that emerged is that
"people are fickle, stuff is always there."
So, the hoarder feels safer holding on to
things than people.
One can rationally argue that holding on to
things, especially "useless" things, and too
many things, does not really provide safety,
and can even lead to illness or death, as in
the case of Homer and Langley Collyer, "two
pack-rat brothers who for four decades
crammed their Harlem mansion with heaps of
debris," until Homer died of starvation and
Langley was smothered by a heap of debris.1
Yet, as I remember learning in college
Psychology class with the cloth and wire
monkey experiments2, when you are deprived of
real love, touch, care and human contact in a
consistent way, unimagineable sources of
pseudocomfort become not only acceptable, but
On the other end of the continuum, when we
hold on to nothing, as is mandated in the
sterility of the paperless office, we are
emotionally and spiritually anorexic, even
dead and certainly numb. We become so
detached, nothing matters. Our emotional
bonds are fleeting. Everything is short-term
or just for now. Our virtual world, where
little is physical and tangible, and so much
is transient, does not support our investment
of emotional or historical energy into
creating treasures and keepsakes to pass on
to future generations.
If a volcano were to bury a major city like
Chicago, New York or Boston, and
archeologists were to dig up the ruins many
years into the future, what they would
discover first is our technological
infrastructure--plastic and metal from
computers and wires, and not the more
personal communications, and treasures closer
to the heart of human beings.
Even in the here and now, people don't do the
"work" required to build and sustain healthy
relationships, because what isn't easy or
convenient is too easy to dispose of and
replace. So, we attach to things and detach
from our hearts and human beings who could be
loved ones. I guess, some of us are cloth
monkeys and others of us are wire monkeys,
and the legacy we pass on to our children
will include attachment disorders, without
models or experiences of what we really need
emotionally, spiritually, physically and
practically to feel we have "something to
hold on to" that will sustain us in a healthy
If we do not find ways of getting regrounded
in the basics of being a human being--where
the emotional and spiritual intangibles count
for as much as power, status, money, and
things, we really don't have anything to hold
on to. And we will continue to come up with
addictions of unhealthy, compensating
attachment or stark, depriving unhealthy
Human beings seem to be the only animals that
take hoarding to a pathological extreme. And
I suspect humans are also the only animals to
take starkness and detachment to pathological
extremes as well. Perhaps that is why so
many of us are realizing the importance of
our four-legged friends. They are angels in
our midst, trying to help us come back to a
place of balance and peace.
1. From "The Psychology of Hoarding" by Mary
Duenwald, Discover Magazine.
2. In the cloth and wire monkey experiments,
baby monkeys were taken away from their
mothers, in order to study attachment
patterns. Some of the baby monkeys were put
in a cage with a "wire mother monkey,"
offering a cold, comfortless structure to
hold on to. Others were put in a cage with a
"cloth mother monkey," who, while inanimate,
was at least soft, and therefore, most
comforting. The studies found that the
comfort of the cloth monkey was important in
contrast to the starkness of the wire monkey.
As a college student, I felt the loss for
all baby monkeys, because even a soft cloth
"pseudo-mother-monkey" is a far cry from a
baby monkey's living, breathing, loving mother.
©2009 Linda Marks
Please share your thoughts...
Reflections on Perfectionism and Addiction
Several weeks back, my colleague, Hillary
Rettig sent me an article she had written to
review. The topic was "Perfectionism and
Addiction," and as I read her reflections, I
realized she was opening a very important door.
In my practice, I see people who are trying
to heal from both addictions and
perfectionism, and very often the two are
In many ways, perfectionism is an addiction,
since the perfectionist is internally driven
to continuously pursue an unattainable
target, while feeling like their best
falls short. The drive for perfection is a
compensation for a deeper, unfufilled need
that the perfectionist is usually unaware of
and likely out of touch with.
Alcoholics, workaholics and other addicts
often suffer from perfectionism and the
active judge or critic in the head for whom
nothing is good enough, and black and white,
compassionless thinking dominates.
Rettig identifies two ways perfectionism
"First, it causes persistent feelings of
frustration, despair, shame and guilt that an
addict might turn to alcohol or some other
addictive substance or behavior to soothe."
"Second, it distorts your view of reality in
ways that promote addiction and interfere
with recovery. Distorted perspective and
thinking are fundamental to addiction, which
is often referred to as a 'disease of denial.'"
Rettig notes that in AA, this dysfunctional
thinking is called "stinkin' thinkin'."
To illustrate how perfectionism supports
addiction, she compares a typical
perfectionist scenario with a typical
"In the perfectionist scenario, a writer
expects her first drafts to be polished and
well organized--in other words, like other
people's final drafts. When she fails at
that unreasonable goal, she reacts with great
harshness, calling herself a 'loser" and
other names. And then, losing confidence and
perspective, she is likely to abandon her
"In the addictive scenario, a compulsive
eater sets an unreasonable weight-loss goal
for herself--say, to lose five pounds a
week--and fails to meet it. The cycle is
then the same as for the writer: self-abuse
followed by despair followed by abandonment
of the project (in this case, eating plan)."
Both the addictive and perfectionistic
scenarios illustrate some key aspects of
perfectionism, which Rettig identifies:
1. "Setting unreasonable goals and then
punishing yourself harshly for failing to
meet them." Both the addict and the
perfectionist lack grounding in what is
doable and how to break a project down to
manageable chunks that allow you to succeed.
2. "Seeing things in rigid absolutes, in
this case, as total success or total
failure." One of the sources Rettig cites,
Abraham J. Twerski's in his book Addictive
Thinking, notes that addictive thinking
is often characterized by a rigidity of
thought, "what we may call 'the either/or
rule.'" Things are black or white, and there
is no middle ground, no progress towards a
goal, no partial success.
3. "A focus on the product, not the
process." This single-minded focus
interferes with the thought process needed to
break down any goal into manageable pieces
and to take them one at a time to meet the goal.
4. "Magical thinking," of which grandiosity
is an example. The perfectionist or addict
either lacks the awareness of the emotional
work or practical work needed, consistently,
over time, to produce a result, or has not
translated this awareness into practical
action steps. The grandiose thinker believes
they should be able to do things
effortlessly, including difficult and complex
things that can only be done with hard work
over time. Too, the perfectionist, addict or
grandiose thinker is unlikely to be open to
outside help, support or coaching, believing
they should be able to do something all by
Rettig makes another excellent point, that
"'the emotional roller coaster' of extreme
highs and lows is, in itself addictive.
Sobriety often feels weird and boring in
comparison, at least initially, if you're
hooked on the highs, that alone could lead
you back to the addictive behavior."
Just as it takes a village to raise a child,
it takes connections, feedback, support and
coaching to succeed at most anything
important in life. There is a reason the
saying "no man is an island," has become a
cultural truism. We are not meant to be
isolated and living in our own bubbles of
perfectionism and addiction. They are
self-destructive and destructive to those we
care about and who care about us.
Yet, whatever wounding or missing experience
underlies addictive behavior and its
underlying thought process, is so strong,
that our need to isolate, insulate and keep
others out may override feedback from those
who may see us more clearly than we are able
to see ourselves. The survival instinct is
very strong. And if a relationship with
another human being led to our wounding and
unmet needs, then other human beings are
deemed dangerous at a primal level, and not
to be trusted or let in.
I do believe it is a matter of divine grace
for a perfectionist or other addict to reach
a point of "bottom," where they realize the
cost of their self-isolating and
self-destructive behaviors is greater than
the benefit, and that they really do need
help and outside intervention in order to heal.
Once this door is opened, it takes a lot of
work to rebuild one's life and rewire one's
responses. However, the work is well worth
it: love, connection, self-esteem, self-care
and inner peace are just rewards.
©2009 Linda Marks
You can read Hillary's entire article at the
Share your thoughts on this article...
Would you like to learn how to do EKP?
Applications are being accepted for the
2010 EKP Apprenticeship Program. The
apprenticeship group meets once a month for a
weekend training session beginning in
September 2010. For more
information, contact LSMHEART@aol.com or call
Linda at (617)965-7846.
If you are interested in learning more about
EKP, attending the special daylong workshop,
What DO We Really Need?" will give you
a good introduction to a body-centered
approach to developmental psychology.
We study this material in more depth in the
second year of the apprenticeship program.
This introduction will give you healing and
practical insights into your own life
experiences, challenges and needs, as well as
of those you love.
Sliding scale $100 - 150. Saturday, January
23 from 9 am - 5 pm in Newton. To register,
e-mail LSMHEART@aol.com and send your
registration check (including your e-mail
address and phone number) to Linda Marks, 3
Newton, MA 02460.
The Thursday night EKP Therapy Group has
openings for a couple new members. An interview
and one EKP session are required to apply.
Linda if you are interested at LSMHEART@aol.com
Keeping A Vital Heart,a new EKP
workshop, will now take place on Sunday, January
31 from 2 - 5 pm in Newton. Taking care of
your heart is an important practice that will
deepen happiness and fulfillment, as well as
help to heal trauma and pain.
To enroll, send an e-mail to
LSMHEART@aol.com, and a check for $50 to
Linda Marks, 3 Central Avenue, Newton, MA
02460. Please include your name, phone
number, address and e-mail.
Saturday, February 20 will be an EKP
Clinic Day featuring free 60 minute EKP
sessions facilitated by EKP apprentices.
To sign up for a session, contact
If you are interested in being part of an
on-going EKP group that meets once a month,
let me know. We had run a Sunday EKP Process
group for many years, and could consider
forming another one, if there is interest.
Whether your schedule is too busy for a
weekly group, or you live far enough away
that a monthly session is more sustainable,
if a monthly group would best meet your
needs, we can try to put one together.
EKP opportunities in Newton include:
- Being a guest client in the Student Clinic
- On-going Thursday night EKP Body
Psychotherapy Group (which currently has room
couple new members)
- Apprenticing in EKP
If you would like a Healing the
workshop near you, or have a group of people
who you would like to bring EKP to, please
To find out more....