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Author Topic: MLC Monster Resources: About MLC

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MLC Monster Re: Resources: About MLC
#90: August 21, 2011, 12:20:03 AM
I liked this article about infidelity. It is not expressly about MLC, but it does discuss  that leaving marriage for an affair usually makes personal growth for the WAS impossible. I don't know if it belongs here or in resources for dealing with infidelity (sorry RCR, OP, HB if this is the wrong place - please feel free to move it!

What Happens When an Affair Ends a Marriage?

These days, nobody's social circle is without someone who's gotten, getting, or about to get a divorce. The impact of divorce looms so large--or perhaps it's so commonplace--that it's easy to ignore how it comes about.

A couple I know is in the middle of a divorce. In this case, one partner moved out suddenly, filed for divorce, and "quickly" took a lover. All indications point to the prior existence of a hidden affair.

In this situation, our hearts go out to the partner who remains monogamous. We understand their feelings of humiliation, envisioning themselves as the butt of derision from the trysting couple--or as the object of scorn from neighbors and coworkers. Overwhelmed by a potent mixture of anger, guilt, and wounded narcissism, they're often kept afloat by the solace and support of caring friends. The faithful spouse is perceived as the more disadvantaged, almost without fail. After all, the other partner is now comfortably ensconced in a new relationship.

PATTERNS OF FALLING OUT As a sex and marital therapist, I've seen lots of marriages dissolve in this pattern, and it has changed how I focus my efforts to help both partners. For all the emotional turmoil monogamous spouses endure, I've also known them to emerge from this situation in better emotional shape than they've ever enjoyed before. Not so for the spouse who "found someone new" before separating from their current partner, all the while lying about it.

While the pain of the monogamous spouse is immediate and apparent, the fallout for the adulterous spouse is usually longer in coming and less predictable--until you understand what's going on.

PATHS TO GROWTH Some people become richer, fuller, happier human beings by staying in their marriages; others accomplish this by getting divorced. But I've never seen growth occur when someone continues an extramarital affair while ending their marriage.

"I've outgrown you"--sugar-coated as "We've grown apart"--is often the stated reason for the split. They may look like they're standing on their own two feet, or even standing up to their spouse, but when there's an extramarital affair going on, it only seems that way. Such behavior is a charade of independence, integrity and personal growth, not the real thing. The departing spouse isn't just holding onto a "new" partner while they let go of the other; more often, they're leaning on the new partner because they can't or won't stand up--or hold onto--themselves.

Although real efforts towards autonomy may get worked out in the new relationship, that's not often the basis on which the new partner is selected. The spiffy new relationship frequently lacks sufficient resilience and motivation to support the tough struggles of self-development and bonding. But neither spouse appreciates this while they're divvying up the household.

MAKING A HEALTHY BREAK Getting out of your marriage is one thing; how you go about it is another. Using an affair as a support system or transitional process is often like leaning on a rubber crutch. It offers the least benefit to people who have difficulty standing on their own two feet. Yes, some people find this is the only way they can "make the break." But in that case, what looks like an act of autonomy and growth is really pseudo-maturity--which actually interferes with personal development while masquerading as the real thing.

The bottom line: If you've got to go, use different advice for extramarital affairs than you do for your credit cards: "Make sure you leave home without one."
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It's a new dawn
It's a new day
It's a new life
For me
And I'm feeling good

Nina Simone

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Re: Resources: About MLC
#91: September 05, 2011, 05:12:30 AM
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H43, M44
M 22 years
T  23 years
3 Kids
Crisis began 4/08
Divorced 2/13

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Re: Resources: About MLC
#92: September 05, 2011, 10:55:47 AM
I like those....  unsurprisingly.

And even though I've been in this for so long I STILL feel like sending them to H.  A couple of years ago I probably would have done it, actually.....    but of course I won't.

I particularly like the line about us "deserving to be happy" (yes), and the idea that that CAN be done within the marriage. 

It wouldn't surprise me if I did use that with H at some point; what will be different this time is that I will wait for the proper time (if ever), rather than just trying to work it in as soon as I could.


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Re: Resources: About MLC
#93: September 15, 2011, 11:43:55 AM

In one of our Daily Newspapers yesterday and though it would be worth adding to this thread ....
B x


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No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which one is true.”
Strength is when you have so much to cry for but you prefer to smile instead. - Andy Murray

Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together. -Marilyn Monroe

"The past cannot be changed. The future is yet in your power." - Mary Pickford

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Re: Resources: About MLC
#94: September 24, 2011, 06:36:27 AM
"During their marriages, these men developed the equivalent of a self-object transference with their wives, in which they re-experienced earlier, unsatisfied developmental needs such as the need for mirroring, merging, and holding (tension regulating). All marriages have aspects of these need requirements within the couple, but where the self is defective, these needs are greater and there is a greater hunger to have them met. These men used work to cover up this primary defect in the self. They attempted to realize their ambitions and compensate for the defect in this way. The spouses were not up to the almost impossible task of empathic attunement required by these men, to provide the reparative experience they needed".

I really understood the part of the article above.  Before I knew anything about MLC.  Before my first BD, I felt this 'pressure' and expectation from H.  I couldn't understand it but it was like I could never make him happy and he was always asking for more affirmation and affection.  Before he left I actually asked him what did he want in terms of affection and he couldn't answer.  When he was sick, I felt like he was treating me as his mother.  Wanting heaps of hugs and reassurance.  He would get very moody if he was missing attention.  I have 4 young children and he didn't have broken legs, but would still be in bed all day. (not man-flu)

He played the drums and does it very well.  I like listening to him. However, each time he'd play in church, he'd come back and sit down next to me and ask how he sounded and did I notice the mistake he made.....  I would answer it sounded great and no, didn't notice the mistake.  What I was thinking though was "H, I keep telling you, you are a great drummer.  That you have a gift for it (self taught).  Why do you keep asking me every time you play?  Wasn't I the person who encouraged you to play in church in the first place when you thought you weren't good enough????"

Even just after BD, he said he needed to praise himself because no body else did.  I countered that comment by letting him know that I praised him about work he did on installing our shower just a few days before but it seems to never sink in.

I don't think I could ever fill his need for affirmation and affection.

Here's another link that ties in with this theme:

The difference in the bigger part of the article is that my H was not successful at school.  However, he did manage to keep employment without rising to executive status.  He has had many lower paid jobs, but always employed, even self employed for 7 years now.
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BD 18th Oct 2009
exH Left home 9th April 2011
Split with OW3 (fiance) Jan 2016. (no break between OWs).

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Re: Resources: About MLC
#95: September 24, 2011, 07:09:09 AM
SP... that I think of it, I would constantly praise my H for his abilities...He also plays drums..:)
Self taught as well...and he does it very well....Everything he has ever tried or done, he always asked me what I
thought...How he did...When he would struggle at work...I would always tell him that I believed he could do anything
that he put his mind too....That I believed in him...that I knew he would make it work..Complete faith in him.

But, when it came to affection...he would say I never gave him enough...but yet when I tried to pursue him..
(get him in bed) he would turn me down.....then at BD telling me I never tried  :o

my H was/is a big baby when it comes to being Ill..he would want me to take care of him...treat him like a child.
but, when I was sick...I still had to take care of everything else....If he had some little cold he would think he was dying..

I think in my H has severe self esteem issues and needed praise and ego stroking to feel better about himself.
I hope he realises happiness comes from within...I cant make him happy. On some level he knows that know and has
mentioned it in the last year....
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Me 45
H deceased 11/09/2015
Married 16 yrs Together 25 yrs
BD 09/10
living with OW 12/10
OW moved out 03/11
H moved home 06/11
Affair ended 05/12 again and again and again
H Blocked xOW from contacting Him 10/12
Ended ALL contact with xOW Dec 26th 2012 (So I thought!) I filed for D June 10th 2013
Moved out.

"Never, ever be afraid to do what's right, especially if the well being of a person is at stake. Society's punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way."

"What if you woke up today with only the things you Thanked God for yesterday?"

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Re: Resources: About MLC
#96: September 24, 2011, 08:33:50 AM
This article is quite long but i tried to copy the download address however it wouldn’t allow me to......its quite informative xxxxxxxxxx

This article is due to be published in Human Relations.

In this paper, attention is paid to a dysfunctional emotional behavior pattern whereby
individuals experience very little (or a total absence of) pleasure. Instead, there is a
feeling of emotional numbness. Although this phenomenon touches all parts of life, this
paper focuses on the organizational context. For some executives, the stresses and
strains of midlife (including stresses involving career issues) become the catalyst for
this dysfunctional emotional behavior. Their reactions are of a quasi-alexithymic and
anhedonic nature. Some of the characteristics of this dysfunctional emotional pattern
are delineated in these pages. In addition, the related experience of depersonalization is
highlighted. Some of the factors that contribute to these kinds of phenomena are
explored. At the end of the paper, a number of recommendations for dealing with these
difficulties are given.
KEY WORDS: Midlife crisis; emotion; passion; anhedonia; alexithymia;
depersonalization; isolation; withdrawal; manic defense; generativity.
Organizational Sleepwalkers
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By passions I mean appetite, anger, fear, confidence, envy, joy,
friendly feelings, hatred, longing, emulation, pity, and in
general the feelings that are accompanied by pleasure or pain.
The passions are the gates of the soul.
—Baltasar Gracian-
Man is only great when he acts from the passions.
—Benjamin Disraeli
Given that midlife is a time of reassessment, and given the power many executives
wield at this point in their life—the influence they have on their organizations—what
are the pitfalls and hazards that individuals and organizations should watch out for at
the approach of middle age?
At midlife many executives are at the height of their powers but simultaneously
subjected to many responsibilities which can become a drain on time and energy. For
some individuals this critical period can be a time of major revitalization, the prime of
life. Others, however, have great difficulty in passing smoothly through this life stage.
For them, midlife represents a perturbing period of serious reappraisal and self-doubt.
Whether it is experienced positively or negatively, the self-questioning that
characterizes this time is a logical development in the life of an individual. As Jung
once said:
Aging people should know that their lives are not mounting and
unfolding, but that an inexorable inner process forces the contraction of
life. For a younger person it is almost a sin—and certainly a danger—to
be too much occupied with himself, but for the aging person it is a duty
Organizational Sleepwalkers
and a necessity to give serious attention to himself. After having
lavished its light upon the world, the sun withdraws its rays in order to
illumine itself (1933, p. 125).
Mdlife is a time of greater reflection, of questioning and seeking; it is a period of
increased interiority. Personal relationships and work activities, the two anchors of
emotional stability, begin to be regarded in a different light. The ways in which people
respond to these impulses vary greatly, however.
There is no escape from the conflicts of middle age. Consciously or unconsciously we
protest that there are limits to our omnipotence, that there are limitations to what life
has left to offer us. Many people cope with this well, adapting to aging more or less
gracefully. They see midlife as an important transition point from which to review and
assess the past, and make plans for the future. But not everybody responds
constructively to the transitions of middle age. For some the passage through middle
age turns into a full-blown crisis. Dante's words in The Divine Comedy (1954, p. 28)
are telling:
Midway in our life's journey, I went astray
from the straight road and woke to find myself
alone in a dark wood. How shall I say
what wood that was? I never saw so drear,
so rank, so arduous a wilderness!
Its very memory gives a shape to fear.
It was in recognition of these conflicts that scholars introduced the notion of the
midlife crisis. According to Jaques (1965), this is precipitated by the growing,
inescapable awareness of the inevitability of one's own death which awakens fantasies
of annihilation and abandonment. He noted that the resultant serious psychological
disturbance could lead to manic behavior, depression and breakdown. Erikson (1959,
1963) viewed the middle years as a time when the individual has to deal with the
opposing forces of generativity and stagnation. In other words, a person has to make
Organizational Sleepwalkers
the difficult adjustment to feeling alive through their contact with others (particularly
the oncoming generation) or risk entering a cocoon of self-concern and isolation, and
eventually suffer from a sense of psychic deadness.
For many people this crisis point can cause considerable psychological pain, with their
fear and unease stimulating the sense that they need to act before it is too late. This can
be felt as an impulse to disrupt the comfortable routines of life, to make dramatic
changes. If they fail to act now, the alternative could be psychic deadness and
stagnation. These confrontations with the self can be accompanied by great stress. For
people who find this dilemma—generativity versus stagnation—very anxiety-
provoking, getting older is accompanied by considerable psychological pain.
The stress of this experience may be expressed in many ways. People may give in to
dysfunctional, impulsive behavior, often fortified by drugs or alcohol. Some people
become prematurely old and excessively routine bound, extremely wary of trying
anything new. Others may begin to lose interest, energy, and concentration. And there
are some for whom this period is characterized by depressive reactions. Unfortunately,
none of these symptoms—these states of negativity—augurs well for a person's
For many people a major source of stress is found in midlife changes in the home
environment—children moving out on their own, for example. Relationships at work,
however, can also be major stressors. At midlife many executives ask themselves
whether they should be content with what they have achieved in the workplace or
strive for something more. They evaluate whether their original career goals match
what they have achieved to date. What sets this evaluative process in motion is the fact
that the discrepancy between aspirations and current achievements becomes more
noticeable at midlife. For some executives this process of internal questioning is quite
alarming. They may feel stuck at work and become painfully aware that time is running
out. They may have difficulty dealing with the changes in life's circumstances. Some
become frantic; others acquire a zombie-like quality. Although people in this latter
group are present at work, they appear to sleepwalk. For these people the comment of
Organizational Sleepwalkers
one wit—"The brain is a wonderful organ; it starts working the moment you get up in
the morning and does not stop until you get to the office—seems appropriate.
Thus these people, instead of adding value in the workplace, seem to be only going
through the motions. Merely spending time at work—looking at the clock and
shuffling papers—replaces being engaged in creative work. These workers lack passion
in whatever they are doing; their sense of joy, affection, love, pride, and self-respect
appears to be weakened. Strong emotions seem to be absent. There is very little, if any,
pleasure in any activity they engage in.
In this article I want to focus on just this kind of reaction—on those individuals who
no longer seem to experience pleasure in what they are doing. What characterizes this
group of people is their absence of passion. In this context psychiatrists employ terms
such as alexithymia and anhedonia. I will describe some of the indicators of these
dysfunctional emotional patterns. In addition, I will pay attention to a related
experience called depersonalization. Furthermore, I will explore some of the factors
that contribute to these phenomena. At the end of the paper, I will give a few
recommendations for dealing with these difficulties.
The material for this article is based on interviews I conducted with over 200 senior
executives. Many of the individuals interviewed were presidents or members of the
board of their companies. Most of these executives had enrolled in a leadership seminar
at INSEAD—a seminar that had as its objective providing participants with a better
understanding of their leadership style and helping them develop their emotional
intelligence. The average age of the participants was forty-five. The interviews were
structured around verbal accounts of each executive's life history, major relationships,
key events, and major organizational complaints.
Because of the nature of the seminar and the time I spent with these senior executives
(usually three periods of five days), it was possible (in contrast to more traditional
interview formats) to engage in a deep analysis of these individuals' preoccupations,
motives, drives, needs, desires, and fantasies. Because participation in the leadership
Organizational Sleepwalkers
seminar was voluntarily, most of these people were highly motivated to engage in this
process of self-inquiry.
The Challenges of Midlife
Physiological Changes
Many things—experiential, behavioral; cognitive, and physiological—seem to be
happening at midlife. Let us start at the end of that list. A major catalyst for the
transition and reappraisal process of middle age appears to be physical wear and tear.
Painful and pleasurable experiences having colored the early developmental processes,
the primacy of bodily experiences continues throughout adulthood. To paraphrase
Freud's comment that "anatomy is destiny," physiology seems to be very much destiny.
As we know all too well from having been sick, the ego is foremost a bodily ego.
Bodily sensations determine our way of relating to the external world. When there is
something wrong with the body, all other problems tend to take second place.
One subtle way of experiencing bodily changes is by looking at ourselves. For some
people the daily process of staring in the mirror is like looking at death, but on the
installment plan. The mirror is where, incrementally, the decline of the body can be
observed. And when the integrity of the body image begins to disintegrate, that process
is echoed by a string of associated mental processes.
At midlife these concerns with altered body image come to a head. The changes are no
longer dismissible. The physiological implications of aging are there for all to see—
baldness, gray hair, wrinkles, sagging breasts, a belly, glasses, hearing loss, a decrease
in cardiovascular efficiency, and a slower response time (Butler, 1989). These
transformations, making the maintenance of a youthful image of the self more difficult,
are stimuli that force people to reflect on their lost youth.
Sexuality is also an important factor at midlife. Men, although generally referring to
this issue rather indirectly, may have concerns about a decrease in or loss of sexual
potency. From midlife onward there is a gradual diminution in sexual interest, arousal,
Organizational Sleepwalkers
and activity (Weg, 1983). For people for whom sexuality has been an essential part of
identity, concerns about failing sexual performance can be devastating. To have this
part of the self malfunction can cause considerable agony. Unfortunately, difficulties in
sexual intercourse are often translated into a self-fulfilling prophecy. When a person
doubts his ability to perform, the risk of failure becomes greater. Thus by far the
majority of cases of impotence are caused by psychological rather than physiological
factors. Furthermore, two of the major contributors to impotence are excessive alcohol
consumption and excessive use of drugs such as tranquilizers and antidepressants—the
side effects of stress—rather than aging.
For women the onset of menopause can be stressful, particularly to those who delayed
having children in order to pursue a career; menopause is a forceful and unwelcome
reminder of the implications of the biological clock. For some women this change in
life is marked by depression, weight gain, tiredness, headaches, palpitations, insomnia,
and digestive problems.(Greene, 1984).
Furthermore, given the premium society puts on looks, and given that self-esteem and
sexual body image are very closely linked, a number of women become preoccupied
with losing their femininity and sexual attractiveness. Having the sense that their
youthful good looks are fading and that the time for having a child is running out, they
may experience serious coping difficulties. Although women are more susceptible to
self-esteem problems rooted in appearance, many men suffer from such problems as
well. Both men and women may resort to cosmetic surgery in order to preserve their
youthful appearance.
Changes in Social Relations
For some individuals the stability of the marriage becomes a major concern at this life
stage. If increased routine has led to a sense of ennui and tediousness, couples may
begin to wonder whether they should be content with a boring but untroubled marriage
or should look for a new marriage partner as a way of revitalizing their emotional life.
What often brings matters to a head is the sense that time is running out, that some
kind of action needs to be taken. These people feel that if no immediate (and dramatic)
action is taken to get them out of the rut, change will never happen (Bergler, 1954).
Organizational Sleepwalkers
What often sparks these kinds of preoccupations is the empty-nest syndrome—the
depression that some parents feel when their children leave home. This is not
inevitable, however. For many people the empty nest comes as a relief. Those
individuals who do become depressed with the departure of the youngest child may
have invested so much in child rearing (having found no compensating activities) that
they experience a great sense of loss when their off-spring cease to be dependent on
them. It is difficult for these people to deal with being a twosome once more. As some
marriages may have been largely maintained through the children, there may be very
little left to hold the couple together once the children have gone. In some instances
this may be a stimulus for divorce. And although such a rupture may occur late in
marriage, it has its roots in a much earlier period of life together.
Changes in male and female roles may also contribute to disequilibrium at this life
stage. Men and women often start to take on somewhat different roles as they enter
middle age. The traditional stereotypes of men being more active, independent, and
assertive and women being more passive, dependent, emotional, and nurturing may no
longer be appropriate, if they were ever appropriate at all. A gradual reversal—a
redefinition of roles, if you will—may take place. At midlife men may shift toward a
more nurturing role, while women may become more assertive (Jung, 1933;
Neugarten, 1970; Chiriboga, 1981). In some instances these changes may destabilize a
marriage. Some partners are unable to adjust to these different ways of interacting.
Furthermore, what may have been good at twenty may not necessarily be exciting at
forty-five. People tend to age at different speeds: chronological, physiological,
emotional, and mental ages are not necessarily synchronized.
In general, at midlife people experience a growing awareness of aging, illness, and the
resulting dependence on others. Friends, relatives, and acquaintances to whom one has
been close become sick or die, which is for many an ominous sign of things to come.
Some people start to wonder when their time will be up. They struggle with the idea
that it is now their turn to grow old and die. Especially devastating—because it
shatters the unconscious conviction of one's own immortality—is the decline and death
of one's parents. Such an occurrence can cause a great sense of disorientation.
Organizational Sleepwalkers
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In the context of the physical decline of one's parents, there is the further question of
role reversal. As they grow older, parents begin to abdicate their role as caregivers and
need increasing care themselves. This reversal of roles—difficult, certainly, for those
who are aging—can be a major source of stress for the younger generation as well.
Changes in one's perception of aging parents, along with one's own role-change from
"player" to "coach," have a disruptive effect on a person's mental map. It is hard to
relinquish the inner perception of the omnipotent parent of childhood, the person who
was always able to make things right. To have this situation now reversed—to have the
one who could always be depended on now depending on the "child"—can be quite
anxiety- and stress-evoking. Depressive reactions may follow, as may regressive
episodes. Hypochondriacal concerns are also common. The care of a demented relative
can be particularly stressful, often contributing to emotional disturbance on the part of
the caregiver (Morris, Morris, and Britton, 1988).
Apart from the time and energy needed to take care of aging parents, there is also the
psychological drain of seeing what is happening to them. Not all people age gracefully.
If aging is a problematic process for our parents, we wonder whether we ourselves will
age in a similar manner. Will we follow a parallel pattern, or can we be different?
Frequently, in our parents we see caricatures of ourselves.
The problem of aging parents is exacerbated by the fact that the middle-aged are often
sandwiched between their aging parents and their children. Being in that position may
imply a considerable financial burden, especially if the children are in college. For
people so situated, midlife is a period characterized by overwhelming pressures and
obligations. Various stress reactions are often the consequence.
Above all, the realization of the gradual disintegration of the body—reflected in what is
happening to one's parents—evokes very primitive forms of anxiety. The fear of death
becomes stronger. Death, which used to be an abstraction, becomes a more personal
issue, a tragic reality pertaining to the self. Time, which used to be calculated as time-
since-birth, now becomes time-left-to-live. This can stimulate an overwhelming need to
come to terms with unresolved problems before it is too late.
Organizational Sleepwalkers
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An acceptance of the inevitability our own death is one of the challenges of midlife.
Denial of this prospect cannot be squared with a realistic appraisal of life. This period
also initiates a mourning process for our lost childhood and youth, along with a
reexamination of our life goals—that greater sense of interiority described by Jung.
Changing Perceptions of Work
Given all these transitions on various fronts, midlife is likely to be a time when
ambitions become less abstract. In the workplace executives are increasingly influenced
by the constraints and opportunities of reality (Buhler, 1968; Buhler and Goldenberg,
1968; Levinson, Darrow, Klein, Levinson, and McKee, 1978; Gould, 1980); the
illusions of adolescence and young adulthood are relinquished. After all, grandiose
fantasies are the healthy prerogatives of the younger generation. At midlife executives
have to come to terms with their limitations. They should become more realistic, giving
up fantasies of omnipotence and invulnerability, with their activities rooted in the here
and now. The instrumental approach to a career--doing things now to benefit one
later—is changing. The postponement of gratification is no longer attractive or
stimulating. It is important to be able to mourn unattained goals and to accept what has
been achieved. Confronting this necessity can be very hard, as it involves abandoning
old dreams and redefining the nature of the challenges to be faced.
One of the most difficult of these to accept is the possibility of loss of effectiveness in
the workplace. With the plateauing of an executive's career—a real possibility at this
stage in life—routine sets in. For some, new learning slows down or becomes non-
existent. The excitement of exploring new things has disappeared. Life at work
becomes repetitive. A sense of déjà vu may lead to a loss of self-confidence and
For some people these transformations in the "inner theater" may lead to
Torschlusspanik (literally, panic because the gate is closing)—the feeling that very
little time is left to pursue their original dreams. Such individuals may try to ward off
these feelings by taking recourse in the "manic defense"; in other words, they may
engage in a frenzy of activities. It is a form of denial, a way of dealing with the sense
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that time is running out, a'weapon against the encroaching sense of deadness. These
activities may take place at work, where a desperate effort may be made to achieve the
original career goals. Frenetic efforts may also be non-work-directed, however.
Nfiddle-agers may try to appear more youthful through their actions, resorting to age-
inappropriate (and sometimes even promiscuous) behavior as a way to prove their
youth and potency. Some executives become susceptible to love affairs as a way to feel
alive. After all, emotions tend to be more intense in new relationships. Such people are
unable to allow themselves to engage in contemplation; they sense that interiority
might set off thoughts of depression and death anxiety.
This "expansive mode," however—this preoccupation with doing, not being; this
illusion that there are no limit to one's abilities—comes at the cost of one's awareness
of inner reality. Moreover, given the emotional drain of this kind of behavior, its
uplifting effect may not last. Eventually, the other side of the coin will show, making
for feelings of depression and a sense of futility about whatever the person is engaged
Narcissistic individuals, in particular, begin to deteriorate at midlife. What sets this
process into motion is the fact that their charm and their good looks often wear out.
Other people within their sphere become less receptive, less willing to provide them
with narcissistic supplies. In addition, the awareness of the limitations of their
achievements may lead to feelings of envy, rage, and defensive devaluation of those
who are perceived as more successful. Envious of youth (even their own progeny) and
engaged in self-deception, they lose whatever external and internal sources of support
might have still been available. Some narcissists may become more introverted in a
world seen as devoid of meaning and perceived as hostile. Relational failures, fatalism,
isolation, and rigidity are common patterns (Kernberg, 1980).
Given the importance of narcissism in leadership development, many executives will be
especially affected by this category of midlife problems. Some executives, however,
may also have serious difficulties in dealing with the developmental tasks of this
period. Indications of such problems are the inability to enjoy sexuality, the incapacity
to relate in depth to others, emotional detachment, and a lack of satisfaction at work.
Organizational Sleepwalkers
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All these problems seem to have to have a common denominator: a lack of passion.
Feelings of zest and enthusiasm have dissipated; emotions have flattened; there is very
little, if any, pleasure. Instead, people succumbing to this sort of midlife crisis live in a
world permeated by deadness.
In psychiatry the word alexithymic is given to people who have a dead-fish quality to
their behavior—individuals who either struggle, -or are unable, to understand their
emotions or moods; they are incapable of perceiving the subtleties of mood change.
Such people also experience problems in expressing affect. The fairly recently coined
term alexithymia comes from the Greek and means, literally, "no word for emotions."
True alexithymics are individuals who feel and show no passion or enthusiasm,
individuals who have no fire in their belly (Nemiah and Sifneos, 1970; Sifneos, 1972;
Krystal, 1974, 1988; McDougall, 1982, 1989).
Identification of alexithymics is not difficult. The symptoms of alexithymia include an
impoverished fantasy life, a paucity of inner emotional experience, and a tendency to
adopt a lifeless, detail-oriented way of speaking. In dealing with alexithymics, other
people perceive in them feelings of dullness, and boredom, and become frustrated.
Winston Churchill's description of the Russian politician Vyacheslav Molotov fits this
type of person: "I have never seen a human being who more perfectly represented the
modern conception of a robot."
Alexithymics radiate a kind of mechanical quality. They appear to remain unperturbed
by what other people would find emotionally shattering experiences. A death in the
family, a partner's infidelity, being passed over for a promotion—nothing seems to
ruffle them. All experiences seem to slide down into a black hole of inexpressiveness
and blankness. They seem incapable of spontaneous reactions. Their incapacity for
empathy or self-awareness and mechanical, robotic responses to conflict amount to
psychological illiteracy. They are preoccupied with the concrete and objective;
metaphors, allusions, and hidden meanings are like a foreign language to them. They
Organizational Sleepwalkers
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have no sense of fun. They tend to negate and deny the existence of emotions. A
concentration of detail is used as a way of filling their inner deadness.
Psychiatrists and psychoanalysts trace the root of true alexithymic behavior to a lack of
transitional space in childhood. They suggest that some overprotective mothers
frustrate the child's individuality and attempts at play, not allowing the child to feel for
him- or herself The child becomes trapped in an aborted symbiotic relationship
whereby extreme dependence is artificially prolonged. Such mothers treat their children
as extensions of themselves and keep them under their constant surveillance. The
child's body is handled as if it were someone else's property; the child's natural
emotions are discouraged. The ability, to differentiate and verbalize emotions never
develops properly. Thus true alexithymics ignore the distress signals given by their
mind and body; they are out of touch with their psychic world.
This kind of behavior fits in well with many organizations. After all, few organizations
have a reputation for being places where emotional expressiveness is widely
encouraged. At senior management levels it sometimes seems as if a division of
emotional labor has taken place. Blue collar workers are permitted to express emotions
while white collar employees are supposed to be models of emotional control. It takes
a lot of energy, however, to keep emotions under lock and key for long periods of
time, and eventually, this will take its toll on an individual. Midlife seems to be the time
when this kind of wear and tear begins to show.
Thus we often see at znidlife, at the senior executive level, the regular occurrence of
quasi-alexithymic behavior. Think about all the corporate types scuttling around the
workplace—the men in their gray flannel suits, the women in their severely tailored
outfits—who make all the right noises, who seem to behave appropriately, but in
whom nothing distinctively human is revealed. They follow the rules, never rocking the
boat, but they do not know how to play. Interaction with this kind of people has a
draining quality; there is so little emotional resonance that we may wonder whether
there is anybody home. After a short while, being with them gets to be boring. One
feels like kicking them just to get some kind of reaction out of them. These people can
be extremely exhausting because of their lifelessness.
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The nature of quasi-alexithymic behavior is revealed in this excerpt from an interview
with a CEO:
I sometimes think back about the time when I was a child. I have the
image of a person full of life. I remember the tantrums I used to have as
a kid. I would scream and yell at my mother if things weren't going my
way. Not exactly pretty behavior, but at least I showed that I was alive,
that I cared. At university I remember the pleasure I experienced when
our team won a soccer game. There was this enormous feeling of
exhilaration. Even when I started working I remember temporary
highs—for example, when I was asked to set up a sales office in
Indonesia. Now, at the age of forty-seven, all these feelings seem
somewhat strange to me. It's as if they're from another planet. Whatever
passions I had, my company has taken care of them. I learned very early
on that "Don't show any excitement" is the rule here. And I've been very
good at following that rule. I know that behind my back people call me a
cold fish. I've overheard them say that I must have ice water in my veins.
They may have a point. I keep myself well under control. Doing so isn't
that difficult. Everything seems rather flat.
At home my way of interacting isn't that different. Now, with the
children gone, being alone with my wife, there seems to be very little to
say. We go through the motions. We're like two ships passing in the
Somehow the organizations where such people work encourage this kind of behavior.
And the years take their toll. Whatever life these people once possessed is driven out
of them. Such individuals may not be truly alexithymic, but because alexithymic-like
behavior is encouraged in the workplace, behaving in an emotionless way becomes
second nature to them. They conform to what their organization expects of them, and
this lack of emotionality eventually begins to stick. It turns into the real thing; it results
in a partial deadness. Whatever playfulness the person once possessed seems to be
Organizational Sleepwalkers
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gone, replaced by ritualism :and apathy. This kind of deadness, however, leads to a life
without pleasure.
The pursuit of pleasure is reflected in the Greek word hedonism. As professed by the
ancient Greeks, hedonism was a doctrine arguing that pleasure—the gratification of
sensual desires—is the highest good. This notion of hedonism led psychiatrists to
introduce a concept called anhedonia to describe the opposite state (Ribot, 1896;
Meehl, 1962; Klein, 1974; Snaith, 1993). The label anhedonic is applied to people who
have a lowered ability to experience pleasure; it implies a sense of apathy, a loss of
interest in and withdrawal from all regular and pleasurable activities. Anhedonics are
unwilling to seek out new sensations; their attentional function is diminished; they lack
a zest for life. Activities that would provide pleasure and satisfaction under normal
circumstances do not do so any longer.
Pleasure, in the context of anhedonia, can be grouped into three categories (Watson,
Klett, and Lorei, 1970; Chapman, Chapman, and Raulin, 1976). There is physical
gratification—the pleasures of eating, touching, feeling, sex, temperature, movement,
smell, and sound. Then there are interpersonal, social pleasures, being with people,
talking, doing things with them, interacting in many different ways. Finally, there are
pleasures that are neither physical nor interpersonal. Intellectual pleasures or the
pleasures of achievement fall into this category. In cases of true anhedonia, however,
these pleasures are absent or seriously reduced.
Full-blown anhedonia is a worrisome disturbance. In interviews, anhedonic people
indicate a paucity of inner life. This sort of prolonged, marked flattening of affect has
been associated with various forms of mental illness such as schizophrenia, and
schizoaffective and bipolar disorders. The nature of this connection between anhedonia
and mental illness is unclear. However, neurobiological disturbances have been
Organizational Sleepwalkers
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People in a depressed state' show many similar characteristics (Klein, 1974; Loas and
Boyer, 1993). Depressive symptoms, such as a lack of energy, a decrease in activity
level, reduced concentration, loss of appetite, weight loss, lack of sexual activity,
slowness of thought, inability to respond to the mood of the occasion, insomnia,
suicidal thoughts, and feelings of tiredness resemble some of the indicators of true
anhedonia. However, quasi-anhedonic behavior can be transient and does not
necessarily imply the life-long characterological defect in the ability to experience
pleasure that is found with real anhedonia.
Apart from depression, there are other mental states that result in quasi-anhedonic
behavior—mental states whereby an individual no longer enjoys a previously enjoyed
activity or pastime. My observations, which reveal that such behavior often comes to
the fore at midlife, support the conjecture that a contributing factor is the way people
cope with the process of aging. As with true anhedonia, what characterizes people
adopting such behavior at midlife is an absence of pleasure. They experience a loss in
the joy of living, a defect in the experience of pleasure. In its milder forms, this
anhedonic-like reaction is expressed as a difficulty in maintaining concentration and
interest in normal activities. It may also be symptomized as a steadily increasing
reluctance to take part in normal activities. People struggling in this way keep to the
minimum the effort they expend; their energy level seems to be fading. Activities that
used to be of interest to them are now of little consequence. Because boredom comes
quite easily to these individuals, their participation in activities drops off; undertakings
that continue are conducted at a minimal, desultory level. Negativity prevails.
Decisions are put off; indecisiveness becomes increasingly troublesome. Emotional
expressiveness is weakened. Sexual intercourse, if it takes place at all, gives no, or very
little, pleasure. To some extent these midlife quasi-anhedonics withdraw from "worldly
activities"; they become more introverted. They seem to be cut off from life, no longer
interested in other people. One senior executive recounted:
I realize now that the only time I've been creative—if that's the right
word to use—is when I was passionate about things. That seems now
ages ago. I can no longer remember when I had this feeling, when I
really felt alive. I don't know what's happening to me. I've lost interest
Organizational Sleepwalkers
in most things. Very little gets me excited these days. I feel very distant
from people. Oh, I put up a nice front, but that's what it is. I go through
the motions.
The same thing is happening at home. My relationship with my wife and
family has become quite ritualistic. My sex life is nonexistent. I assume
what keeps my wife and me together is sheer inertia.
This lack of interest also applies to other things of my life. For example,
I used to be quite passionate about food. No longer. I don't much care
what I eat these days. The same thing with reading. It used to be one of
my favorite pastimes. Now my concentration isn't what it used to be. I
start reading a book but very quickly put it down, because I lose
interest. I spend quite a bit of time watching television. Maybe watching
isn't the right word. I play with the remote control. One program seems
like any other. As a matter of fact, I forget immediately what I've seen.
I know things can't go on like this. There's no pleasure in what I'm
doing. I can't keep up this facade much longer. Something has to
It is not always obvious that these changes in behavior and attitudes are taking place.
The process can be very subtle. Often, someone behaving in this manner may not even
be consciously aware of it, although subliminally they may realize that there is
something wrong. In fact, many executives whose behavior could be termed quasi-
alexithymic or quasi-anhedonic comment on their sense of feeling detached, like
observers of their own actions.
Feeling Unreal
In psychiatry the term dissociative disorders refers to a disruption of the usually
integrated functions of consciousness, memory, identity, and perception of the
environment (American Psychiatric Association, 1994). Within this group of disorders
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we find depersonalization disorder, which is characterized by a persistent or recurring
feeling of being detached from one's own mental processes or body (although reality
testing seems to remain intact). This disorder might be described as a feeling of
unreality or strangeness regarding the self, a feeling of numbness or death, a feeling
that parts of the body are disconnected. People suffering from depersonalization
complain about a discontinuity in physical reality, in one form or another. A central
part of the experience is their disconnection or disengagement from the self and/or the
physical surroundings. Depersonalized individuals feel themselves to be detached from
their own ongoing perceptions, actions, emotions, and thoughts. What should be
familiar is perceived as strange and unreal.
This psychological detachment from the physical environment makes for a reduction in
the intensity and vividness of experiences (Dugas and Moutier, 1911; Jacobson, 1959;
Walsh, 1975; Fewtrell, 1986; Steinberg, 1993; Cardefia, 1994). Diminished capacity to
experience emotions is an especially worrisome part of this phenomenon. People
troubled by depersonalization experience a sensation of being an outside observer of
their own mental processes (American Psychiatric Association, 1994). It is as if these
people were watching a dream or a movie about themselves. No matter what they are
thinking or doing, their participation does not seem real; it no longer has a personal
relation or meaning. These feelings of depersonalization are more common than may
be initially thought. Most people, however, will not admit to this experience without
prompting. A Swedish CEO touches upon this feeling quite well:
When I was chief executive of Dagens Nyheter [a major Swedish daily
newspaper], my collaborators started to complain about me. . . . To my
horror, I noticed my tendency to emotionally disappear in the middle of
a presentation. Suddenly I would be gone, closed, no longer part of the
surroundings. People would notice; they would become edgy, as
evidenced by the way they would cross their arms and legs; their
attention span would wander off . . . To this strange state of mind was
also added my incapacity to listen and function in company (Douglas,
1993, pp. 65-66, my own translation).
Organizational Sleepwalkers
I overheard another senior executive make the following comments:
Here I am sitting in my office. People come and go, but there's nobody
home. I hope you realize that I'm talking about myself. Oh, they don't
really seem to notice. I ask the right questions; I make notes; I make an
effort to laugh with whoever is there. They assume I'm with them, but
I'm not. I'm looking at myself doing all those things and feel strange.
It's like I'm on automatic pilot. Whatever happens, it doesn't seem to
touch me. Things seem to take place outside me; I feel quite removed
from the experience. Sometimes I look at my reflection in the window
to see if it's really me; if I'm still there. I seem to oscillate between
being part of what's going on and feeling like a spectator. If I'm in the
latter state, it's like I'm in a movie or a participant in one of my dreams
from which I can wake up any moment. It reminds me of the story of
the sage who once dreamed about a butterfly. Afterward, being awake,
he would wonder if he was a sage who had dreamed about a butterfly
or a butterfly dreaming about a sage.
As these excerpts show, depersonalized individuals experience a split between the
observing and the participating self Because bodily actions seem to happen on their
own, there is a heightening of the function of self-observation; the self can merely
observe, instead of experiencing emotions or thoughts. Although reality testing remains
intact, all experiences have an "as if' quality to them: the person feels like an
automaton, physically numb, as if bodily sensations were happening at a distance.
There is also, however—somewhere—the awareness that what is happening is only a
feeling, that one is not really an automaton.
Because of the quality of unreality and estrangement attached to personal experiences,
the depersonalized individual has the dual perception that everything is the same as it
has always been but is at the same time different, since it lacks personal involvement.
Derealization may also be present: in other words, perceived objects in the external
world may have the same quality of estrangement and unreality.
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Depersonalization is viewed as a mechanism to mask anxiety—one that results in a loss
of affect (Oberndorf, 1950). As such, it can be seen as a primitive defense allied to
denial, an emergency measure used when the more usual defenses (such as repression)
fail. We can also view it, however, as an adaptive mechanism, a response to danger
that makes for a heightened alertness on one hand but a dampening of potentially
disturbing emotions on the other (Noyes and Kletti, 1977 One potential precipitating
factor for this strange state of mind can be the stress of the middle years, when work-
related factors may play an important role.
Passion and Work
An exploration of alexithymia, anhedonia, and depersonalization provides us with a
certain amount of insight into the kind of emotional malaise some people are subjected
to. We have seen how these processes can be viewed both as defensive reactions and
as adaptive mechanisms to assist in dealing with stressful situations—situations that
may include the vicissitudes of midlife.
As a caveat, it should be noted that it is executives at midlife, at the peak of their
careers, who are most often responsible for critical decisions in organizations. Some of
these decisions—such as downsizing, with its negative effects on other people's
lives—may take their toll in the form of stress reactions (Kets de Vries and Balazs,
1997). For some people, the combination of the stress associated with such difficult
organizational decisions and the stress of the challenging midlife transition can be
Defensive Reactions
Some individuals at midlife resort to psychological withdrawal as a way of removing
themselves from active participation in interpersonal problem solving. For them, the
outer world feels full of threats against their security and identity. They become
emotionally numb as a means of defense.
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Others, despite appearances, are not truly emotionally numb. They give this impression
because they have withdrawn from the outside world to hide in their own private
space. In resorting to this kind of action they may appear dull and boring. The reality,
however, can be quite different, as they may have retreated into an exciting world of
the imagination. But in acting the way they do, in creating a split between the self and
the outside world, a sense of estrangement may occur. To the external world they seem
purposeless, drifting.
As we have seen, there are also individuals who resort to isolation as a way of dealing
with painful states of mind—the isolation of feeling from knowing. They may
recognize the conscious experience but its emotional meaning is no longer there.
However, this way of coping with painful reality makes for emotional numbing,
creating phenomena resembling alexithymic and anhedonic behavior.
I have also mentioned that some people, as a strategy for dealing with the unpleasant
sensations associated with midlife, engage in vigorous activity to induce sensations of
an intensity that can breach the wall of numbness. However, this "manic" way of
dealing with the stresses and strains of midlife (although much more attractive than
withdrawal or isolation) also has its problems. Manic behavior does not make for a
stable state; it is only a temporary solution. It is a kind of "flight" behavior, a way of
escaping from painful emotions. The manic's many grandiose schemes, racing
thoughts, and apparent freedom from normal physical requirements (such as food and
sleep) eventually lead to a serious state of emotional exhaustion. In the long run, this
sort of manic behavior does not make for enjoyment; on the contrary, it leads to mental
impoverishment. It is a very ineffective way of dealing with the challenges of middle
age, serving only as a postponement of the dreaded depression.
Dysfunctional Leadership Behavior
As is to be expected, reactions such as social withdrawal, loss of a sense of purpose,
and depression not only cause serious problems at home but have a considerable
impact in the workplace. Studies of leadership have shown that emotional presence—
the energizing role of leadership—is a key ingredient in successful company
Organizational Sleepwalkers
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performance (House, 1977; Bennis and Nanus, 1985; Zaleznik, 1989; Bass, 1990;
Hogan, Curphy, and Hogan, 1994; Kets de Vries, 1995). Acting passionately makes
others feel alive, involved, and motivated. Without passion, there is no inspiration; and
inspiration is essential if others are to share and enact a leader's vision and create a
high performance organization.
Another important prerequisite is the ability of senior executives to create an
atmosphere which allows employees to enjoy their work. Many of the more effective
CEOs have discovered that people work harder when they have fun (Kets de Vries,
1995). A sense of pleasure at work makes for greater productivity and encourages
playfulness and creativity. Thus the ability to instill pleasure in the workplace is an
important contributing variable to effective leadership.
Leaders, at whatever level they may be in the organization, can be compared to
psychiatric social workers: they are the "container" of the emotions of their
subordinates. One of their tasks is to provide a sense of security, trust, and confidence.
Truly effective leaders possess a kind of "teddy bear" quality. Their presence is
reassuring. They know how to create a safe and comfortable holding environment for
their employees.
Leaders with this teddy bear quality are gifted with empathy. Their emotional presence
and "aliveness" puts people at ease. They are extremely good at picking up elusive
signals in conversation. And because of their teddy bear quality their employees are
willing to do things they would not otherwise do; they will make unusual contributions.
Empathic leaders also have a strong sense of generativity. They take pleasure from
helping the next generation, as mentor and coach. They do not suffer from the kind of
envy that characterizes other people who experience difficulties at midlife. This sense
of generativity is critical for organizational learning. Without it, organizational learning
will be stifled and the future of the organization will be endangered.
Obviously, leaders in the pangs of quasi-anhedonic and quasi-alexithymic behavior,
and those prone to depersonalization, are not organizational teddy bears. Neither do
they demonstrate a passion for learning and further development. Their emotional
Organizational Sleepwalkers
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absence is noted by those they work with. And given the power that senior executives
wield in their organizations, their negative mood states and their emotional absence—if
prolonged—can become quite infectious, coloring corporate culture, strategy, and
structure (Kets de Vries and Miller, 1984, 1987) and eventually contributing to the
organization's decrease in performance.
Love of Life
The key question is how the stresses of midlife can be transformed into a progressive
process. How can we retain an energizing role and recapture lost passion? What can
people do to maintain a sense of vitality? Regaining a love of life takes a lot of work
but we have to make it happen.
We should keep in mind that as adults our life situation is quite different than it was in
the days of childhood. When we were very young, everything was new; everything was
worth giving attention to; it was a world full of new experiences. But as adults,
retaining that sense of newness is not easy. We have to search out ways to stimulate
our exploratory disposition. A continuous effort has to be made to renew ourselves
(without resorting to manic defense solutions).
Various steps, in both the private and the public (i.e., work) spheres, can be taken to
maintain this sense of aliveness. We may not always be able to take these steps alone,
however. We may need professional help to get the process underway. Understanding
what is happening to us at midlife—that our emotions may be flattening, that we are
losing our zest for life—is not easy, given the blind spots we all have about our
character. Others may help us acquire the courage to address the issues we are
struggling with. Dynamic psychotherapy, personal coaching, and/or participation in
group dynamics seminars where feedback about personal style is part of the process
may provide us with insights into our own behavior.
Self-knowledge is the first step in the process of disentanglement from an unhealthy
situation. Thus it is imperative that anyone attempting to address midlife concerns
Organizational Sleepwalkers
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acquire a certain amount of emotional intelligence (Goleman, 1995). Awareness makes
for insight about one's own motivation; and from insight, strategies can be developed
to deal with the problematic situations represented at midlife.
In private life, marriage can be revitalized when children leave home. Breaking
established routines and doing things together can be a means of avoiding mourning
the empty nest. In fact, once the children are out of the house, there may be many new
opportunities for renewal within the marriage relationship.
New relationships can be built with children who have left home as well. Parents and
children relating to each other on an adult basis can discover different interaction
patterns. Leaving the parent-child role enables parents to see their children in another
perspective. The possible new role of grandparenthood may be of help in creating these
new relationships and may come with its own satisfactions.
Making new and different friends can be a very effective therapeutic exercise. Most
people have a tendency to associate with people in the same socio-economic bracket,
in similar occupations. Mixing with people from different backgrounds can be a
learning process for both parties. Joining different organizations may be one way to
meet new people.
Some people may take a very different route. They may find excitement in starting an
affair, or divorcing and finding a "trophy wife." For many, sexuality becomes a major
avenue toward a sense of aliveness (Bergler, 1954). Not surprisingly, there is a peak in
the divorce rate at midlife (Keys, 1975). When a marriage has become completely stale
and both parties are merely going through the motions—when the partners truly have
very little in common anymore—a divorce and a new relationship may be a good way
to engage in a new beginning.
Some people may see middle-age as a good time to pursue completely different
interests or to go back to interests abandoned earlier in life. This may mean doing
something for humanitarian, political or social organizations, becoming involved in a
social cause or pursuing altruistic concerns. Time can be made now to take up
Organizational Sleepwalkers
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different, less strenuous sporting activities or to rediscover old interests in aesthetic
and recreational activities.
In the work setting, a logical move is to set goals that will stretch us. Tackling new,
challenging tasks makes for a sense of "flow"—feelings of exhilaration about what we
are doing. Learning new things is the best way of making the most of humankind's
pursuit of exploratory needs. And organizations that put an emphasis on learning
create opportunities for creativity and innovation; they make self-improvement a
cultural imperative. To learn from experience and adapt successfully to the changes in
the business environment makes for a continuing sense of feeling alive.
Some people "do a Gauguin," an expression coined from the name of the artist who
gave up his job as a bank clerk and went to a Polynesian island to paint. "Doing a
Gauguin" means starting something completely new, making a dramatic change in
one's career. The catalyst for this is the feeling that unusual action is needed to get out
of a rut. At midlife it dawns on some people that they have chosen their career for the
wrong reasons, for example to please a parent. At this stage in their life, these people
are finally ready to make the jump and do what makes them- feel most alive, pursuing
activities that they had been interested in for a long time. To experience a sense of
renewal, to feel passion once more, they make a complete break from their previous
career and find new challenges.
Others revitalize themselves through mentoring. Getting involved in the development
of young people, enjoying vicarious gratification by sharing their disappointments and
victories, can be an exhilarating and enriching experience. It keeps the mentor young,
interested, and involved. As mentioned before, taking the generativity route also helps
to establish continuity in the organization. It institutionalizes learning and makes it an
intrinsic part of the corporate culture.
In connection with this, there is the notion that each of us has a kind of "generativity
script," our plan for what we intend to do in order to leave a legacy for the next
generation (Erikson, 1963; Kets de Vries, 1980; Kotre, 1982; McAdams, 1992). This
generativity script charts the way to attaining a kind of immortality; it lays out
Organizational Sleepwalkers
something through which the person will be remembered and which will outlive the
self. This creation can be tangible or intangible; be it a child, a book, a business, an
idea, or a good deed that becomes a statement of the self, it is a self-expression that
will be shared with others. In generativity the person gives guidance to the next
generation through parenting, teaching, leading, and/or doing things for the
community. Something of a lasting nature is done—something that will outlive death.
Because generativity promotes continuity from one generation to the next, taking that
route indicates a faith in the value of human life, a sense of hope for the future.
As someone once said, life is not a rehearsal. A major life task is to die young as late as
possible. We must do all we can to avoid being diminished by circumstances and
sleepwalking through life. It can be a daunting task—but what is the alternative?
Socrates said that "the unexamined life is not worth living" and we can equally
maintain that a passionless life is not worth living. At midlife, we must be alert to the
dangers of inertia, the tendency to detachment and emotional absence, the panicked
rush into action—all negative responses to the crises that accompany this stage in the
life cycle. We must recognize and create new sources of energy and excitement, for, as
the French writer Diderot said, "Only the passions, only great passions can elevate the
mind to great things."
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« Last Edit: September 24, 2011, 08:48:20 AM by OldPilot »
Life is like photography, you use the negatives to develop!!!!!
H returned after 8 years bd may 2009 multiple returner high energy cling boomerang

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Re: Resources: About MLC
#97: September 24, 2011, 09:43:49 AM
Just found this thread.....OMG, we must all have the same H's, somehow he must be time travelling or the knack of being in so many place at the same time!!

"During their marriages, these men developed the equivalent of a self-object transference with their wives, in which they re-experienced earlier, unsatisfied developmental needs such as the need for mirroring, merging, and holding (tension regulating). All marriages have aspects of these need requirements within the couple, but where the self is defective, these needs are greater and there is a greater hunger to have them met. These men used work to cover up this primary defect in the self. They attempted to realize their ambitions and compensate for the defect in this way. The spouses were not up to the almost impossible task of empathic attunement required by these men, to provide the reparative experience they needed".

Even just after BD, he said he needed to praise himself because no body else did.  I countered that comment by letting him know that I praised him about work he did on installing our shower just a few days before but it seems to never sink in.

I don't think I could ever fill his need for affirmation and affection.

My H also said that I never appreciated him.....and like you all, I have done everything to please him.....and appreciate everything that he has done.....maybe too much!!

Thanks for the thread, Mermaid!!
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this too will pass

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Re: Resources: About MLC
#98: September 24, 2011, 10:23:04 AM
At BD, my H said that I was always there for everyone else - but never him.

Yet, in my memory - the times that I attempted to "be there for him" - he would get angry with me and tell me to stop.  It was difficult to ever be there for him - as he wouldn't allow me to.  Yet, at the same time - he put in the "Mother" role - and, resented me for being in that role and playing that part.

It is all so exhausting when one thinks about it.

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M -60,  ExH - 66 (56 at BD)
M - 33 years (do the last 3 years count?)
D - 30, D -27, S - 27 (only S 27 at home)
BD 5/29/2010, Ran away from home - 8/15/2010,
Found out about affair - 2/11
H asks for divorce - 8/11
H filed for divorce 10/11
Announced "new" girlfriend 12/12 (3rd OW)
Divorce final 06/13 (I decided to finish it)
Dumped OW#3 9/15 (After 4 years)
Married OW#1 2019
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Re: Resources: About MLC
#99: September 24, 2011, 11:59:57 AM
Mermaid, I'm the more introverted one, INTJ type or personality. Don't know what husband's one is but he is much more extroverted and like your husband's sister manages to generate more social support for himself.

I'm the oldest of 7 (4 boys, 3 girls, I'm also the eldest grandchild of both my grandmothers) he is the younger of 7 (has an elder sister). So, theoretically I'm the one who should be feed up with the responsibility (since I'm the oldest of the grandchildren I know, since I'm a kid that one day I will have grandmother's part, the family matriarch. That does not upset me a bit. In reality, I like it.  :) )

I would praise my husband as much as he would praise me, enough. But I would not praise just for the sake of praising. He never said he did not get enough affection nor would ever turn me down. The only thing he said, after BD, was that he though I no longer loved him. But he could not explain why did he though so.
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Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together. (Marilyn Monroe)


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