Academic journal article Journal of Psychology and Christianity

Together and Strong: Overcoming Fear in Relationships

Academic journal article Journal of Psychology and Christianity

Together and Strong: Overcoming Fear in Relationships

Article excerpt

TOGETHER AND STRONG: OVERCOMING FEAR IN RELATIONSHIPS. Mary Franzen Clark (2005). NY: iUniverse, Inc. Pp. 50 + x, pb, npi. Reviewed by J. Harold Ellens.

Dr. Mary Franzen Clark is a clinical psychologist in private practice in Michigan. She is internationally known for her extensive work with the Christian Association for Psychological Studies (CAPS). This is her second book on professional issues related to psychology and spirituality. Her first book was entitled, Hiding, Hurting, Healing (Zondervan, 1985), and spoke to the woundedness of a host of humans who perpetually try to gain love by meeting the needs of immature and damaging loved ones. This second volume speaks of overcoming fear by building relationships which give and require strength.

Most relationships of couples, friends, coworkers, and families, start off as caring, happy, safe, and healthy connections. Sometimes, for reasons hard to discern, one or the other person in the constellation begins to function in ways that make the relationship unsafe, threatening, abusive, or manipulative. That causes us to love and fear the same person, a dilemma which often seems to be a Gordian Knot we cannot cut.

Together and Strong looks that dilemma full in the face, lifting the fear at the center of it to the surface for honest consideration. seeing it for what it is makes choice of a course of action easier. Clark asks how fear becomes the controlling force in the relationship of love, how it harms and undermines relationship, and whether it can be removed, overcome, or healed. Can the relationship ever be safe again? This fine little book suggests six types of adaptations which we use that create this problem, with a description of how they are counterproductive. Each strategy is presented with a rich set of case examples to illustrate how relationships get sick and at what kind of spots they need healing.

Those six types of mal-adaptation are: The Sacrifice Strategy, denying one's own needs for the sake of the needs of the feared dominator; The Suppression Strategy, suppressing one's own opinions so as to avoid affronting the attitudes of the feared dominator; The Stroking Strategy, suppressing one's own desires so as to please the feared dominator; The Submission Strategy, giving up one's own power in those places and circumstances in which the feared dominator desires to experience power; The Sex Strategy, providing the feared dominator sexual gratification whenever desired, regardless of one's own values or desires; The Scholarship Strategy, using research and authoritative sources to try to influence the thinking of the feared dominator. …

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