A Man Searches for His Father

October 26, 2008

A meal, a movie and a discussion.  This is how the evening unfolded as we hosted the Arts Meeting of the Dallas Society for Psychoanalytic Psychology last Friday.   The movie was the award winning “My Architect”, a documentary journey of an illegitimate son seeking to discover personal information about his world-renowned architect father, Louis I. Kahn.  He visited the buildings his father built around the world.  He asked everyone who know anything about his father the simple question, “What can you tell me about my father?”  The movie shows how Nathaniel had to know more about his father (who died when he was only eleven), in order to finally say good-bye to him.  I had not realized prior to last week, that the Kimball Art Museum in Fort Worth was designed by Louis Kahn.  We all agreed that the Kimball is a notable work of art itself, even though a not-so-sensitive news reporter in the movie called it “a concrete cattle barn.”

So, what does all this have to do with psychology and theology?  Here are some of the questions and comments that the twelve of us shared.
How did Nathaniel seemingly escape any understandable anger that might have come from a young boy who experienced so many broken promises from his dad?  When Louis found out that his mistress was pregnant with Nathaniel, he said, “Oh, no.  Not again.”
What is a family?  Nathaniel asked this of his two stepsisters, one by Louis’ wife and the other by his first mistress.  Three adults, connected by their common father, discussing what is a family, where not able to say clearly that they were.  Nathaniel clearly wanted a family.
Is the contribution to the field of architecture and the resulting worldwide fame worth leaving three women and three children so wounded?  How does a man cope with his success in his vocation juxtaposed with his failure as a husband and father?  One of Nathaniel’s questions was, “How did he think about this?”

What is the meaning of the “spiritual dimension” of architecture?  Many references were made to this spiritual dimension of his creations.

Charlie Rose interviewed Nathaniel Kahn and his show includes several clips from the movie.

Listen to CAPS Meetings from Dallas/Fort Worth

October 21, 2008

If you were not able to make one of our Dallas/FW CAPS meetings (Christian Association for Psychological Studies), you can now listen to the audio portion of the talk.  We’re struggling to find ways to do this at no cost and this is the best way we’ve found so far.  Enjoy.

“A Therapeutic Approach to Dealing with Issues of Sin” April 18, 2008, Dr. Dana Wicker speaker.   It was a 3-hour talk and is broken up into two parts.  Dr. Wicker is a Psychologist who teaches at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.  Here’s the abstract of her talk:

Religious clients often wrestle with concerns about sin and these concers impact the counseling process. This presentation reviews both the traditional Christian and psychological understandings of sin.  Clinical implications are examined and practical suggestions are given on how to address sin in counseling.

Dana Wicker 1

Dana Wicker 2

“Depression in the Pastorate” September 26, 2008.  Tommy Nelson, Pastor of Denton Bible Church and Dr. David Nicholson, Psychologist in private practice in Richardson, Texas team up to address this issue of anxiety, burnout, depression and stress that threatens all pastors.  Tommy told his story of how depression sidelined him for several months and what it took to bring recovery beyond Bible study and prayer.  David Nicholson weighs in on the clinical aspects of depression and shares research on how this problem impacts pastors.

Tommy Nelson 1

Tommy Nelson 2

Nicholson 1

Nicholson 2

A New Psychiatrist in Town

October 12, 2008

Ever try to find a psychiatrist who’s available to help your child with ADD or other problematic childhood issues?

Here’s some relief.

He’s a psychiatrist who works with children, adolescents and adults.

He has room for new patients because he’s new.

I don’t think that’s going to last long.

I met him. He’s also a very trustworthy Christian man. I like him.

Sean Mathew, MD (Click here for his website)


October 5, 2008

Managing interpersonal boundaries challenges all of us every day.  Good boundaries wall out negative influences from others that could disrupt our lives.  Good boundaries restrain some our own toxicity to respect the dignity of those around us.  Good boundaries result in good manners, poise, grace, propriety, diplomacy, and so on.  One of my interns offers a very readable and substantive article on this issue as well as some recommended reading.  Give Lorraine a read and check out her own web site.


By Lorraine Turbyfill, LPC Intern

My English friend was learning to drive his rental car “on the wrong side of the road” in America. He did well until we came to an intersection. Though the light was red and he knew to come to a stop, he could not find a line on the road to tell him where to stop. Before I could say, “stop” he had drifted into the middle of the intersection! The line he was looking for (and the invisible line that existed though unknown to him) is a kind of boundary. Boundaries provide direction to us, telling us where one thing stops and another begins. They may be physical, emotional, relational or spiritual in nature.

In relationships, boundaries clarify the nature of the relationship between two or more people. Positively, they help us enjoy a balanced life and healthy relationships. Negatively, they may lead to relational distress. Sometimes people can’t say “no” to others (can’t set boundaries) or can’t hear “no” (they violate the boundaries set by others).  Other times people can’t say “yes” (to loving others) or can’t hear “yes” (to receive love/care).  Some people feel controlled, manipulated, and/or exploited by others and others may become controlling, manipulative, and/or exploitive of others.

The bottom line is that a person with poor boundaries may frequently take responsibility for others or situations (things they cannot truly control or change) and they may not take responsibility for themselves (the things they can control or change). As a result this person often pays the consequences of another’s behavior while the offending party continues out of control with no consequences (whether they be emotional, physical, or spiritual). In this way people may enable others’ poor choices. Though it may be difficult to do, the healthy thing to do is to take responsibility for the enabling behaviors and to let others experience the natural consequences (the pain) of their choices in hopes that they will acknowledge the problem and take steps to change.

Some common obstacles to setting boundaries may include the fear of losing the approval of others or losing the relationship itself. Some may worry about getting an angry response, feeling guilty or selfish, and appearing unloving if they say “no.”  With little emotional muscles to set boundaries people may pretend things are “okay” but in reality resent it. They often feel sad, frustrated or angry, unappreciated, lonely, unsupported, running on empty, and out of control of their lives. In the end, individuals and relationships suffer because boundaries exist and affect us whether we talk about them or not.

The key to boundary building is rooted in healthy, supportive relationships with others (and especially established in relationship with God who is perfect Love).   Foundationally, boundary development takes place primarily during childhood in the context of relationships with our primary caregivers. For example trust is developed to the degree that the caregivers meet a baby’s basic needs. When the child’s needs are not met, he (she) learns that others cannot be depended on. Mistrust develops. Over time this child may decide it is better to be self-reliant than to get disappointed or hurt. Further, one may believe that to ask for help is a sign of weakness, and that he (she) does not want to appear weak.  In that a child views God largely through the lens of their experiences with their caregivers and in that caregivers cannot meet a standard of perfection, the child may come to believe God cannot be trusted either. Ultimately, the tension for us is that this runs counter to God’s design and our deep desire to belong in relationship with others and Him. When relationships are severed, our deepest God-given need for true intimacy (to be known and to know another person) goes unmet. The good news is that we can unlearn old ways of being that we once used to survive and we can adopt healthy ways of being so we can truly live (thrive).

For a fuller understanding of boundaries, I recommend reading Boundaries by Drs. Cloud & Townsend (1992) and From Bondage to Bonding: Escaping Codependency, Embracing Biblical Love by Nancy Groom (1991).  Cloud and Townsend have also written books devoted to specific topics – Boundaries in Marriage, Boundaries in Dating, etc. Groom lays out a plan to help boundary-injured people who function in a codependent way with others. She unmasks the behavior that seems loving (but is actually very self-focused) and points the way to healthy relationships and becoming truly loving.