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Ask Dr. Norman Brown Your Own Question

Dr. Norman Brown
Dr. Norman Brown, Marriage Therapist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 740
Experience:  Family Therapist & teacher 35+ yrs; PhD research in couples
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I am recently engaged. He was my high school classmate and

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I am recently engaged. He was my high school classmate and liked me since then. After graduating HS, I left the country to pursue my degree. I did not like him and only see him as a friend. He knew about this as I had other relationships during this time. 11 years later (which brings to now), I went back home for a visit. He visited me and still loves me the same. I thought to give him/us a chance so started dating. As I needed to leave the country again for work, he proposed after a week together. I accepted. then I left.
I meant it when I accepted his proposal, but now that I am over the honey-moon phase, I started to think everything happened so fast. I am unsure of my feelings to him - do I love him? How come I do not have the excitement to go home to get married? I cried numerous times as I started feeling the pressure from his parents asking me when will I go home to get married. His parents even helped us buy a house (funded half), I mortgaged the remaining.
I did talk to him and asked him to slow things down as we only starting dating (long distance) beginning of this year. I know he loves me a lot, no doubt, but I do not know about me. I do not feel attracted to him at all. In fact I do not feel proud introducing him to my friends. Every time I get impatient with him, he doesn't get mad, then I feel guilty and apologised. Each time he says I love you to me, I feel like I need to say it back, but I do not how how truthful I am to both of us.
To top things off, my mother dislikes him as she thinks he is not good enough for me, and told me should I decide to marry him, it will make things harder to our mother-daughter relationship.
I have decided to go back to my home country to give the relationship a chance to blossom. What is your advice for me? Do you think the relationship is doomed and I should just call off wedding, sell property pay them back or I should give it time to see if this relationship will work? I know he will make a good husband, but without the attraction and love, I do not know if the marriage will last long. I am scared opportunity might present itself for me to be unfaithful. If I call off the wedding, I am so scared his parents will be mad at me for everything they have done.
Submitted: 8 months ago.
Category: Relationship
Expert:  Dr. Norman Brown replied 8 months ago.

Dr. Norman Brown :

You are indeed in a tough spot. Your life has taken place in a different country than his, and his great love for you has very little to do with the interpersonal reality of your interaction and everything to do with an idealized image he's built of you in his mind. It is totally normal for love relationships to be both a "solo sport" that occurs in each person's mind and feeds each person's inner needs very well, as long as the other person doesn't do or say something that collides with the smoothly functioning imaginary figure in one's mind. The problem is that there's no way to make sure that each partner's imaginary romance contains compatible stories and images with the other person's. You've had virtually NO time at all to conjure up a comparable imaginary romance starring this guy you never liked before.

Dr. Norman Brown :

The interpersonal romance is a different thing from each person's "solo sport," and normally it's there where the sparks need to occur from which each person can draw the excitement for their imaginary romance. To put this another way, your fiance has built on his adolescent crush for all of these years--and that itself suggests to me that he's never had the courage before to involve himself in a face-to-face interpersonal romance. But you have had some. So his charm, confidence and other interpersonal skills might be pretty underdeveloped--so no wonder the manufactured engagement is SO awkward and unsatisfying for you.

Dr. Norman Brown :

Your sudden engagement after 1 week puts you in the category of military-deployment romances, and they have a high failure rate, because the couples don't have time to develop a compatible fit for their personalities. In arranged marriage cultures, they usually use astrological matching, because they believe that one can predict with some reliability whether a pair will adapt and come to love each other even if they had no familiarity before marriage. But I've known a few Arabs that needed more than a year after their marriage to build the quality of mutual enjoyment that could support the love they both wanted to develop. (It's also common for arranged marriage couples to easily reject the union during the first year if their growing together is just not working satisfactorily.)

Dr. Norman Brown :

I think if you want to set yourself up to possibly start feeling love for this guy, you would best organizse a courtship phase that involves intermittent exciting and erotic encounters, and exciting--even scary adventures, because intense feeling experiences are more likely to kindle loving moments than feeling like your future is already planned out for you. I don't know how to avoid the awkwardness and feeling pressured by his parents. And your mother sounds like a good reason to live and work in another country, which you have done for many years already. I wouldn't be surprised if the guy's retarded development in the romantic arena is directly related to living with or near his parents, so living together premaritally in the country (Australia?) where you've worked might be very good for both of you--whether you end up wanting to be married or not. I say this because your fiance doesn't love YOU as you are, but the idealized image and imaginary relationship he's curled up with like a series of novels since high school. Seems like you're both having difficulty becoming your own adult selves because of intrusive parents that don't want to let go; but you have had the good sense to stay abroad enough to make more independence for yourself than he has done.

Dr. Norman Brown :

You could also go to an astrologer to have compatibility charts done. I used to do that, with couples therapy clients, because it's really easy. A composite chart will show whether the relationship is Compelling in its attractive and repulsive aspects, whether it'll have an easily felt love foundation or not, and whether there are miraculous or catastrophic aspects or not. That only shows whether it's a "naturally attractive" or dangerous type, or just uncompelling, so the couple has to make their own chemistry by commitment and willpower.

Dr. Norman Brown :

But my initial reaction is that the best hope for your relationship might be to suspend the engagement, so you're not living under a parental pressure (from either yours or his), and both go abroad for a year at least to work and have some adventures. That interim arrangement would give you the time to get completely away from parental pressures (by also making rules that you won't communicate often at all--Internet&skype be-damned). From the distance of that foreign work and adventure period you could then develop a compatibility worth continuing, or say "it's been fun, sometimes, but the reality of interacting every day is not what either of us expected and it's not worth continuing, so thanks for the memories." The house would be rented out, and then perhaps it could be sold and proceeds divided. You don't need to feel guilty about letting him and his parents down, when THEY've put the House before the Marriage, and they don't have to lose money.

Dr. Norman Brown :

Let me know what you think, since there may be more considerations I don't know about. But the origin-story of a marriage is very powerful in the marriage, so you shouldn't let this one be about a tug-o-war between his parents and your mother over a sleeping-beauty-prince who's been dreaming your image for over 11 years and now you're supposed to wake him up with a kiss and live happily every after.

Customer:

Good morning Dr Brown, thank you for your advice. Your explanation is very well and made me understand my own feelings more. The problem is, he does not want to be away from his parents. Yes you are right, he is sheltered and live with his parents - and that means I will be living with all of them if we get married. He is not independent like me. Therefore the idea of coming here with me (I live in NZ) even for a year is rather impossible. I thought of going home and see if I can settle comfortably in my home country (I'm from Asia). Postpone the marriage and see how we go.

Customer:

Because I do not have the initial attraction with him as I did with other guys, and only dated him to give the relationship a chance, I may learn to love him over time as he loves me a lot, maybe I can learn to appreciate his love. But in your professional opinion, do you think a relationship can last long-term without the attraction or this is a very important ingredient in a relationship? and without this the relationship will be doomed later? A friend of mine told me that things like this shouldn't be based on feelings, but rather should be based on rational thinking if he can give me a good life and treat me well, as attraction/butterfly feelings fade away over time anyway. She said eventually I will learn to love him and make the relationship work. What is your take on her advice?

Dr. Norman Brown :

You have openedup a cultural dimension of your relationships that I was unaware of. As an Asian (which country?) you're not supposed to consider becoming independent and distant from your parent(s) as a GOOD alternative to spending most of your life wrestling with parental traditions and parental control until they die, and also knowing that the other people that will be your friends and social and professional companions if you live in your home country will NOT understand any moves on your part to make yourself more independent (also known as "disobedient" or "wayward" or "undisciplined") that your kind of people are supposed to be.

Dr. Norman Brown :

You're dealing with a culture-clash: collectivist culture vs individualist culture, Asian vs Western. I assumed you were a Westerner and not an Asian, because you left your country to work in a Western country. But now you're Bicultural, so if you choose to move "home" to try to learn to love the guy who could not leave his parents in 11 years since high school, then you will have to give up Western kinds of excitement like romance and adventure for the security of having his parents watch over you and your mother fight with you because he's "not good enough for you." Your advisor is an Asian, but she's not experienced Western values with an open mind like you have.

Dr. Norman Brown :

But you have reached the age (around 30) where you'd normally make significant choices about what kind of a future adulthood you want to have. If you DON'T choose to build your marriage and family in your home country, but you stay in NZ instead, you will become an "expatriate" and have few or no countrymen in your local world. What were the reasons you did not end up marrying the men you dated in NZ?

Dr. Norman Brown :

It's true that attraction/butterfly feelings do fade away, typically in around 3 years. She is expressing the standard traditional societal presecription for marriage as a practical social relationship (but as a social relationship, he has to be "good enough" for you). But passionate feelings are more likely to come back if you lead a life with more geographical movement and more change, for which you have more potential now that you are bicultural instead of monocultural. So I can still recommend astrological consultation to estimate the potential of your partnership for attraction-chemisty. But you didn't have it in HS and you don't have it now, so that's not a good precedent.

Dr. Norman Brown :

So your other possibility would be to give up on this mating opportunity, because it's probably going to remain boring, because your wifely&motherly duties will keep you from continuing to grow you world-familiarity and mental sophistication from being bicultural. So you could seek a partnership by focusing on other bicultural people, either your homecountry (or other Asian) plus Western (Brit, Am, Canada, AU, NZ), or moving to Australia to find a larger community of your nationality and marry someone who enjoys travel, adventure, mental challenge, and possibly "world citizenship" which occurs around the Pacific as well as the Atlantic.

Dr. Norman Brown :

You seem unusual for an Asian woman, because you are not "tied to your mother's apron strings" like your fantasy-lover is--but I've heard of other Asian women who are happy to live outside of their native country, perhaps because it's in their personal nature to seek greater experience and understanding of the wider world, so they WON'T fit comfortably with their stay-at-home families-of-origin.

Dr. Norman Brown :

Example: I had a male student I loved at my aviation tech university in FLorida who felt invisible at that university because of his dark skin, and couldn't find a girlfriend, because there were too few girls to begin with (15%). He went to grad school in psychology because he loved it so much, and there fell in love with an American divorced mother. She dumped him after a year and he suffered terribly, because he had no experience with romance and loss, having grown up in an arranged marriage culture. Several years later he got into an arranged marriage with a Sri Lankan woman whose family lived in Australia. He was disappointed that he couldn't have a romantic love courtship. They lived in Atlanta Georgia for a few years (where I live now, but not then) but then she wanted to go back to where her parents were, so he had to leave USA. He was not happy about that either; but at least they both had elements of eastern AND western culture in their personalities.

Dr. Norman Brown :

I just wrote to my old friend to ask his opinion on my advice for you. He has a MA in psychology, but has gone back to Avionics engineering in Australia, and has 3 kids.

Customer:

Hi Dr Brown, thank you for your reply and advice. The Asian country is the Philippines. I am Asian, from the Philippines same as him. I left the country at 16 (alone - parents are still back home until now) to study here (now working and living) as my parents believed NZ is a far better country (which I agree). I am turning 27 this year, he turns 29. Perhaps I was younger when I dated the other guys back then. I was only 18-21 then.

Customer:

I now have better understanding with what I am dealing with. I will try the astrological chart as you suggested. I will also try to decide on the kind of adulthood I would like to have. Sometimes I find myself having the difficulty to decide - even the smallest things in life - let alone the life changing decisions. Should I decide on something, I will have doubts if I made the right decision. I feel like I cannot connect to my inner emotions and do not truly know what I want in life. I think this disability makes everything harder for me and for people who loves and cares for me. How can I overcome this indecisiveness and let go of the thinking that the grass is greener on the other side?

Customer:

I look forward to your friend's opinion.

Dr. Norman Brown :

I have a few thoughts and suggestions about your indecisiveness. I think your strong bigultural experience can contribute to decision problems; for most decisions most of the time are automatic, because our upbringing and cultural assumptions tell us what to think, so we don't have to weigh alternatives carefully at all ("ignorance is blisss"). But you might have lost the ability to "naturally" think like your family or neighborhood culture. Psychologist Carl Jung called ordinary unreflective decisions "mass-man thinking." But being bicultural gives you the capability to think in more different ways, and that means you can question more decisions . "Knowing your feelings" may often mean no more than noticing your habitual intention--such as assuming that you must feel guilty for accepting his parents' efforts and financial support for buying a house, even though they did nothing to question their son's untimely marriage proposal and your awkward and untimely (precipitous) acceptance. In fact you said YES partly for the same reasons that you feel compelled to say "I love you" when he does: SO YOU WON'T HURT HIS FEELINGS--and that means you're acutely aware of what he seems to be feeling. You're SO aware of HOW MUCH he seems to love you, that you KNOW he'll be horribly disappointed and hurt if you don't love him back. But you're SO trapped in fearing the sight of him being hurt because of you, that you can't feel anything else about him, besides TRAPPED in the guilt for not loving him, because all you can feel is his hurt and his parents' probable anger as they (over)protect their child.

Dr. Norman Brown :

If you will send me your birth dates and times and places, you can also look up their lattitudes and longitudes online, and I can put them into an astrology program I've downloaded. (The only problem is that I loaned out and never got back the program I used to know well, so I have to take the time to learn how to use the new one I now have.) Then I have the most highly respected composite chart interpretation book in America. And I would have to know where your relationship will take place if you go through with it, because that figures into the composite chart, which is mostly an average position of the planets and rising sign positions of your two birth charts. Please get the birth times within 15 to 30 minutes if you can. It's better to let the birthplaces be off by 25 miles than to let the birth times be off by an hour.

Dr. Norman Brown :

It sounds to me like you're very affected by the feelings of everyone around you, both your own family and him and his family. So you might be a highly sensitive person, and perhaps also very unwilling to risk displeasing anybody whose feelings you know. So that's a big reason for you to be very reluctant to return "home" from NZ, because in NZ, and living alone(?) or with roommates, you don't feel compelled to cater to other people's needs and feelings. So at "home" you may feel connected and loved, but also unable to know who YOU are or what YOU feel and want, the way you can when you're not living in someone else's feelings-force-field every day.

Dr. Norman Brown :

More tomorrow. It's past my bedtime.

Customer:

Yes that's exactly how i feel. I really feel trapped especially with the house in place. I now feel obliged to marry him in such a short period of time. They are actually trying to push marriage in March next year. ..

Customer:

Okay, thank you Dr. Have a good sleep :)

Customer:

Yes I feel guilty each time I displease someone. I do feel very affected whenever I do something and someone is unhappy with it. I will think about it for the whole day. .. How can I cure my problem and just be happy? I will get the birth dates, times and place to you shortly. Thank you again for today. Good night Doc and sweet dreams to you.

Dr. Norman Brown :

Go online and look for the self-test for Highly Sensitive Person and see how many questions fit you. I was able to go to Europe by myself and spend a year alone at 18-19, even tho I felt lonely a lot, and yet I'm a fairly highly sensitive person about 12 to 16 out of 27 questions as I recall. But in Germany, Italy, Greece, France etc. I didn't know enough to worry about how other people looked at me. Perhaps you feel that kind of freedom--actually due to feeling INVISIBLE because nobody else is trying to make you respond properly to their desires and feelings (except at work). I remember that in Florida my student-friend Nishan had a dream that he was Invisible until he would have hurt feelings: because it is partially true that it's hard to know what you are feeling until you see how other people important to you are reacting (presumably to you). So if they hardly ever react to you at all (in NZ) then you're free of pressure to feel & act one way or another, but you feel invisible. But if you're near the families in Philippines your feeling is dragged away from your insides by the outside magnetic fields of all the others with demands on you.

Customer:

I scored 14 out of the 27 questions.. I find that everything you are saying regarding my personality defines me which I did not realise before. What do you think I should do?

Dr. Norman Brown :

I am very cautious about what to recommend, because of our cultural differences and our gender differences, and also there's a matter of "calling." Both my wife and I responded to a calling from higher power (her at 9, when she began praying to God at 9 in a household that was rationally-religious but didn't pray, and began to aim towards becoming a psychotherapist; me at 18 when I went over to Europe in pursuit of what I thought was romantic love, but gradually turned into love and curiosity for humanity) and we both developed psychological & spiritual quests that separated us from the conventional religions of our families, though not in a hostile way, just in an individual quest. We both sought knowledge & psychological healing as a way of life, though we didn't meet until she was 33 and I was 41. 90-95% of humanity does not separate as much from their families and their society's material values as we each did separately. My wife is not bicultural like I am, But she's done me a great good deed by showing me to way of psychoanalyst Carl Jung that combines spirituality and psychology into a path of lifelong development that each person finds thru their own connection/dialogue with God or higher power, with dreams as one of those means of dialogue.--the path is called Individuation. That would seem to be even more unlikely for people in collectivist cultures than those in Western individualist cultures. But the Eastern methods of Meditation, Yoga, Wisdom and Loving Service also may function as quite individual ways for each seeker--and the idea of a highly valued connection/dialogue between ego-consciousness and Higher Power is pretty much common to all religions too.

Dr. Norman Brown :

My concern for you is about the extent to which you either want or are called (from beyond your conscious ego) to travel on a more individual-psycho-spiritual development path, which so far only your biculturalism (and high sensitivity) points towards, or you want to keep up your emotional closeness and comfort with your family of origin (with its traditional restrictions, at least on your mother's side) and do the right thing by conventional social standards in the Philippines.

Dr. Norman Brown :

The fact that you've long suffered from indecisiveness suggests to me that you might have even suffered from suppression of your own identity while living at home, and one or both of your parents may have unconsciously wanted you to be her or his puppet (as my father wanted me to be his puppet--"my son the nuclear physicist"). Yet someone also wanted you to live in NZ, where you had a chance to make many of your own choices; and that's why it feels good to live there, even though you're alone. You're still a few years short of your age 30 transition, so you have time to learn from your dreams and your passions and the what the winds of Chance bring up to you, IF you're not marching to somebody else's music.

Dr. Norman Brown :

I think the more important decision is NOT whether you want to marry this guy or not, but whether you want to lead a conventional wife-mother life with some work identity but less central, or a more unconventional life with bicultural interests, further development of your travel & curiosity about the world, perhaps more development of professional goals amounting to a calling, and possibly also an individual path of psychospiritual development and a love partner who's more world and/or spirit-focused and less conventional and family-centered.

Dr. Norman Brown :

I imagine this kind of a choice has not previously occurred to you. But it is available now, because thru your well-bred "please-others" cultural training has led you into a marriage trap that is undeniably distasteful to you, and also represents giving up the freedom you've earned by making living far from home a successful and satisfying alternative..

Dr. Norman Brown :

I know it's probably very embarrassing to turn down a housing offer that you have previously accepted. But you can use your mother's apparently hostile resistance as an excuse to put the house-deal AND the engagement on hold--and you can even secretly thank your mother for resisting the marriage because she wants a better husband for you.

Dr. Norman Brown :

One thing you should look into seriously is HOW you learned to give in to what others want without taking your own desires into account. I'm wondering if your mother might be somewhat Narcissistic, in that she KNOWS what she wants you to do, and you've learned growing up to always give her waht she wants--so you learned to be more receptive and responsive to her expressions than to your own. So look up on Google "Co-narcissism" and see if it seems to describe you. Instead of this being the right time for you to get married, it may be more true that this is the right time for you to start learning how to hear your own feelings instead of being deafened by the noise of other people's feelings, except when you're FAR AWAY FROM HOME, so nobody looks like she or he will be hurt immediately if you think or feel something different that what you know she or he wants from you.

Customer:

My mother decided everything about my life - from what to study at University to where to study to where to live, and now to what kind of man I should be married to. I did give in to everything she decided for me as she is my mother and she says she only wants the best for me.

Customer:

I had read up characteristics of narcissistic mother and I feel very hurt because it does describe how my mother is towards me. I was an overachiever at school and University. I topped my class each year, but never once did she praise me. I did talk to her about this and her reason was so that I do not become proud.

Customer:

She will always tell me my sisters are better than me and I have no common sense and cannot think for myself. So many times I have cried. But because she is my mother and I love her so much, I see past this and continue to do what she likes.

Dr. Norman Brown :

Ouch! My father carved me out to be his Nuclear Physicist and also praised me more to others than to myself.

Customer:

So your father is kind of the same as my mother? But you studied psychology, different from what your father wanted?

Dr. Norman Brown :

Is she doing the same thing to your sisters? You "love her so much" because you're being carved into her high-performance doll and you're so desperate for her to finally agree that you're performing well enough to deserve her love (that she doesn't really know how to give--because narcissists can only love their own reflection, or the ideal picture of themselves that they are projecting onto each of their daughters in turn. She has NO IDEA who you really are, but only knows WHAT she wants you to be.

Customer:

Not as much. my sisters are not over achievers like me. They are normal students at school, so each time they achieve something, they get praised for. To some extent my mother did tell them what to study at university, but she doesn't have high expectations on them. She did tell me that she thinks my sisters are better than me in everything and my academic achievements do not prove anything. I cried.

Dr. Norman Brown :

Yes, I left Physics at 19 when I was going to college in Germany and started studying music, philosophy, literature, and humanity instead. I also began reading Freud in German and interpreting my dreams then. By the time I ws 23 I wanted to study psychology, but I was a grad student at Stanford in German Literature, so I couldn't. I switched into graduate psychology study at 30, after using psychoanalysis, sociology and literary analysis techniques for my PhD in German and Humanities and then teaching college for 3 years. My father was DISGUSTED with me, even after I earned a second PhD in psychology, because I wasn't his Pinocchio-puppet anymore. Now I'll read what you wrote.

Customer:

that must be hard for you too during those times. I'm sorry to hear that. .. How did you cope with that? He must be very angry with you when you started studying something else apart from Physics. But it is good that you pursued what you wanted.

Customer:

I recently become fully qualified with the profession I am in (chosen by my mother of course). I told her. She did congratulate me, but that's about it. She told me she is proud of my younger sister as she wanted to do law. She has not started law school yet, but she's more proud of her than me when I have already achieved and become fully qualified.

Dr. Norman Brown :

So your mother must be looking at a twisted version of herself in the mirror that she has placed over your real face, that neither she nor you will ever know, unless you get around to discovering that your "so much loving her" is a "reaction formation" (exaggeration of positive pleading with her) to keep yourself from being aware of how TOXIC she is for you.) This is what that's like: She's a spidermom and you're her baby (who she doesn't want to grow up & find out who she is) who she's dangling by a filament over a vast abyss--the abyss is NOTHINGNESS, because if you're not who she wants you to be you're NOTHING, according to her. Your situation fits the title of one of the famous narcissistic mother books: Trapped in the Mirror.

Customer:

to some extent will it be because they love their daughters hence becoming controlling as they think they know best?

Dr. Norman Brown :

What are you qualified in? My father supported me only until I ws 21.5 yrs old, and after that I supported myself; and I got a love partnership at 20.5 with a girl who was also studying German and we went to Germany again for our masters degrees. After that I got a full scholarship/teachingassistantship to get my PhD at Stanford, and I never visited my father for more than a few hours after he tried to control me when I was 23.

Dr. Norman Brown :

Your mother does not love her daughters. She loves what she thinks she can make out of them. Apparently you are the oldest, so she might have identified more primitively with you than with the next two. Go online and look up "projective identification" because that's what she has done TO you. Mothers and fathers are supposed to "mirror" us, that is appreciatively empathize with us, for what we do and feel spontaneously, but your mother was only trying to see HERSELF in the best possible light when she looked at you, so she has never looked to find YOU at all.

Customer:

accounting. She chose it for me. I obediently followed. My mother stopped supporting me financially when I turned 18. Except for my tuition fee as I was an international student. I had to work and study to support my living expenses. I am actually the middle child. But I do not know why I'm the chosen one. Or probably because I care so much for the affection hence I tried too hard

Dr. Norman Brown :

I got away more easily than you (have so far) because mother's love is more essential than father's love, and it impacts us at an earlier age, and you're a girl so you're more likely to believe what she believes you should be as a girl. My mother was NOT a narcissist, but she was controlled, squashed and depressed by my father. And I had a highschool male teacher who picked me out to admire, NOT just because of my math stardom, but because HE wanted to show me (and other boys he admired) beatnik poetry, desert hiking, and interesting music and culture. "Admiring" means turning an appreciative mirror towards someone; but your mother doesn't admire you, she only UNCONSCIOUSLY uses you as a carved doll with which to admire herself.

Customer:

Do you think this is the where all my confusion with life stem from? So now I am so lost and I do not know what to do

Dr. Norman Brown :

The middle child is the one who gets the least attention, because parents are SO thrilled with their first born, and the last-born is "the cutest" and mom usually doesn't want her to grow up. But the Middleborn has to make a "name" for herself by doing something special, so YOU would fall more heavily for her demand that only Perfect Straight A's Top of the Class are enough to get you any notice at all.

Dr. Norman Brown :

Yes you are LOSTINLIFE because she won't let you have an identity of your own choosing after some search. But you're actually in a GOOD spot, being 27. For you are just 2 years from your age 30 transition, which is when you need to find out what's REALLY WORTH DOING in your adult life. You have time to start therapy now (in NZ or AU, where you can also support yourself. I can help you while you're getting into it. You need therapy, preferably with some psychodynamic depth to it, Jungian if you can find it. My wife had the SAME situation, 2nd born girl, NEVER praised by her mother, because she only wanted ONE girl, and the oldest got all the praise. But my wife knew by age 9 that she needed God as a close connection and by age 13 (2 years after her good father died suddenly, leaving her & 3 siblings alone with their lazy & narcissistic mother) that she wanted to be a psychotherapist. I entered therapy first at 23 when my mother died and my father blamed me for her death, but only briefly. Then I entered again at just under 29, so therapy saw me through my age 30 transition and I returned to grad school in Psychology at the same time.

Dr. Norman Brown :

Therapy is a Platonic love relationship (if the therapist is trained in psychoanalysis, as Jungians are) in which the "admiring" of the therapist enables the client to discover who she is underneath the false self that she's developed in hopes of getting the love from her mother that she's NOT capable of giving. (Mothers don't do this on purpose; they're unconsciously repeating something they developed out of their own childhood; but that doesn't mean it isn't Evil. In fact Jung taught that almost all harm done to children and other loved ones comes from being unconscious of the parts of ourselves. I was second born like my wife; but my father rejected my older brother as unfit to be his genius-physicist and inflated me instead, 5 years younger, as his last chance to get what HE wanted.

Dr. Norman Brown :

There is a lot of help I could give you as a teacher and Platonic mentor, but you should have a face-to-face therapist so you can feel the loving mirror you deserve. ;You could start with Trapped in the Mirror. By the way, what's your father like? Does he provide a counterbalance to your mother?

Customer:

Thank you .. I will get the book and read it. My father is very nice, he lets my mother decide whatever she wants. He does not really get into our (daughters) personal lives as this is already taken over by my mother.

Customer:

Actually at this stage I do not know what else to say. I am happy that you have helped me understand a lot more with what is going on in my life.

Customer:

If I see a therapist, what problem do I tell him/her I have? How do I start?

Dr. Norman Brown :

I think you should keep me involved in advising you, because your mother has overpowered your father. Again you can use your mother's opposition to your marriage to get out of that. And you shouldn't marry now, because you don't know who you are, except that you're probably a competent accountant, so you can support yourself quite well. And you've got easily 5-8 more years before you'd need to marry if you want to have children, and you shouldn't have children until you've found out how to be aware of what you want and don't want. Your mother will be a lot easier to deal with as long as you stay in NZ or AU, but I suppose she'll be pretty difficult and YOU will need at least a year or two to revise your personality structure enough to cope effectively with the challenges your mother presents. She might let go of you more easily if she can still pressure a younger daughter to be her dollface.

Dr. Norman Brown :

You would tell the therapist (either woman or man, but you'll need a woman sooner or later so you can internalize an image of a good mother--tho you've probably had a few tastes of what that feels like during schooling, and even your own mother has to have been good some times and in some ways (as my wife's was too). Now here's another thing that Jung taught (I'll find the book that it's in when I have time): The woman who grows up with a negative mother cannot just unconsciously imitate her mother and thus become a feminine woman, because she has to become conscious of the effects her mother has had on her. (You probably have the Co-Narcissist qualities, that is, you respond just the way your mother wants you to, because you've never had a chance to be admired for being your own self, instead of her toygirl.) Then she has to reinvent her own femininity, and definitely her own mother-qualities, because you don't want to do to any of your children what your mother has done to you.

Dr. Norman Brown :

OH I forgot to finish my image of you dangling from your spidermom's filament over the abyss of being NOBODY/NOTHING: When you're hanging by a threat like that and you know any sharp swipe of her anger would sever the threat and leave you falling forever into the abyss of nonbeing, you will CRY as loudly as you can how BEAUTIFUL she is and HOW MUCH YOU LOVE HER (and that's what my wife did with her first Jungian therapist when she was 24 in California, where I met her 9 years later)--because you desperately want her to be so pleased to have an ADMIRING DAUGHTER like you that she won't cut you loose!

Customer:

It actually happened. When she found out I was about to marry she got really angry she did not talk to me for months. When i call her on Skype she will pick up, but kept quiet. I stopped talking to her too, but in the end I found out I gave in first. That's when I got really confused with everything that is happening so I called her back, cried and apologised. She sometimes from time to time messages me now.

Dr. Norman Brown :

The Jungian writing I was thinking about is Psychological Aspects of the Mother Archetype, #3 the Mother-Complex, and this writing is found in Aspects of the Feminine, often paired with Aspects of the Masculine, as well as in Vol 9 Part 1 of the Collected works.

Customer:

I am going to get some lunch first, I will be back shortly.

Dr. Norman Brown :

You're actually better off if you don't talk to her about anything serious or emotional, and eventually learn to have a "greeting-card relationship" with her. That means you send short messages like "Hi, hope you're happy. I'm doing fine.

Customer:

I will try to google the Jungian writing to see if I can read it and get more understanding of my situation.

Customer:

I tried that with her before to see if she will miss me and call me, but it didn't work. She will call my sister instead. So I reverted back to the old me, being the good daughter I always wanted, call her, talk to her, chat with her. But I will try to refrain from sharing too much to her. See if that helps.

Dr. Norman Brown :

And gradually get rid of the fake love words like "Love ya." That doesn't mean you'll ever get rid of your deep longing to be loved unconditionally by her. But you'll be increasingly aware that that's a longing for what she's not capable of giving, and you can and will be loved unconditionally by other mothers, and other fathers (like you have my heart right now), and a husband. You want to give that mama's boy a chance to be your husband because he's foolish enough to stay in love with a fantasy image he has of you since high school, even though that has very little to do with the real you beyond the outer shell of what you look like. But it's a lot less DEMANDING (so far) of what you have to do to be loved than your mother has pretty much always been--so he's EASIER to tolerate. But if you marry him, he'll start needing you to be everything his mother has been and some more things that she hasn't been--needs and demands neither of you are aware of yet (nor is it time to become aware of them) and then he'll get as difficult as your mother or worse (but probably different). In fact you're getting what feels like Admiration, but it's WORSHIP, which is what my father did to my mother, putting her up on a pedestal but expecting her to be the family servant and never bothering to find out who she really was either.

Dr. Norman Brown :

You will have to learn how to stop craving your mother's love, and that's very difficult at first. But experiencing a platonic love relationship with a therapist will show you that other people DO know how to love you without you trying to be what they want (Tho you'll be a VERY GOOD CLIENT at first, because you'll think you have to please the therapist to have any chance of getting her (or his) love (That will help you make progress at first, but you'll have to outgrow that habit some time). I could work with you by Skype at first as you look for a therapist, but I just looked up ANZSJA and there are 4 therapist members in Auckland, 2 in Wellington, 4 in Christchurch, and 2 in Dunedin. You're lucky that your mother made you become an accountant, because you'll probably be able to afford to pay for therapy for the couple of years you'll need it. And Jungians are usually very well educated and interesting people. You should interview the people you'll have to choose from, and I can coach you for that. I understand that you've not been brought up to know what you wan, so you could use an advocate that wants to make sure you don't give yourself up as the helpless spiderbaby that you sometimes are. By the way, have you ever had any dreams of spiders? The spider is one of the most classical symbols of the negative mother complex, which is why I used it.

Dr. Norman Brown :

That analysts' website is www.anzsja.com.au You might think they're too expensive to see every week. But figure out what you can afford to pay on a monthly basis and negotiate for that. (I hope you're not sending lots of money home every month to support your parents, because you should not tell your mother or father that you're going to seek Jungian therapy.) And I hope that the knowledge base of the Jungian psychology is not too foreign to what you understand about psychology and humanity. There's another book that is still famous in America after 30 years that is a good introduction The Road Less Traveled (M. Scott Peck, MD, not an official Jungian analyst, but he does have the union of psychology and Christian/Buddhist religion that makes Jungian psychology more spiritual than the other types of depth psychology. The better know types of psychology of today, Cognitive Behavioral, Emotionally Focused, Rational-Emotive, Behavioral, are good for fixing surface ways of coping with everyday problems, and drugs help for anxiety and depression, but to discover the path for your own heart and soul, you need deeper psychology, and also the emotionally focused that Jungians do too (since you've noticed that your emotions won't go along with loving the mama'sboy because you think you ought to "give him a chance").

Dr. Norman Brown :

You asked what you would tell a therapist: Your mother made you become an accountant because that's what she wanted you to be, she's a narcissist (did you look up the 9 characteristic features of narcissistic personality disorder for her? needing only 5 to qualify) and you have NO idea what you really feel and want, except to NOT disappoint or hurt ANYBODY else, especially your mother, even though she's never been satisfied with you. [Have you ever read the Grimm's Fairy Tale "Sleeping Beauty?" Her mother looks into a magic mirror and asks "Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the fairest of them all?" and she wants to hear YOU ARE! But when her dauther (the story dodges the idea of a toxic mother by calling her "stepmother") starts to enter puberty, and thus begin to become her own person her mirror starts saying HER, not YOU.] Your mother wants to have YOU say YOU ARE! to her by calling her up and admiring/enjoying everything she says.

Customer:

I am so happy I came across you. thank you so much for helping me. I do not think I have dreamt of spiders, but I'm really fearful of them. Yes this morning I read up the characteristics of a narcissistic mother, she fits into some of the characteristics. If you asked me now what it is I wanted to study at University, I actually couldn't answer you because I do not know it myself.

Customer:

Since I have done everything my mother wants so far, will narcissistic mother ever be satisfied or this is a constant race for the daughter trying to race up to the mother's expectation?

Customer:

I have heard of the book The Road Less Traveled but I never read it. Maybe I should now. So my first step now is to find a therapist, then it means I should cancel my planned trip home and try to get to know myself first?

Dr. Norman Brown :

No, she will never be satisfied, because it's really a projected image of herself that she's trying to turn into something perfect, and she can't do that--but she can get jealous of you if you start to outperform HER in any way. I wonder if she wanted to be an accountant? Or if she chose accountant for you so you would serve her but not outshine her?

Dr. Norman Brown :

You can't get to know yourself in one month, but you can get a good start in 3 to 6 months.

Dr. Norman Brown :

I do think you should either have at least a month or two of therapy or a lot of coaching from me so you don't slide back too far when you go home--and you've also got that marriage situation to deal with.

Dr. Norman Brown :

It's very normal for young people to slide right back into being the age they were before they left home (18, or in my case 16.5) and also to get just enough of what feels GOOD about your mother--as some of her probably does feel good--that you're confused about even wanting to gain more distance and objectivity about her. One of the great motifs in Snow White (I got that name wrong) is that the evil (step)mother disguises herself as an old lady and gives Snow White at the 7 dwarves house an apple that's 1/2 poison and 1/2 good tasting&healthy

Customer:

My mother stopped working after giving birth to my younger sister and became a house wife since. She kept telling us this was a mistake hence she really wanted us to pursue something she doesn't have - a career.

Customer:

I will try to find a therapist here and I really appreciate your care towards me. It would be nice if you can coach me.

Customer:

I have talked to him about the marriage. He was quite understanding he said it's okay if that's what I wanted he will postpone it or cancel it if I am not ready. But he still really wants to marry me.

Expert:  Dr. Norman Brown replied 8 months ago.
The system is now messing me up. So I had to switch to this format. But it's just the same. The disguised mother bites into the healthy side of the apple to show it's good, but Snow White bites into the poisoned side and goes into a coma. That's the mixture you get with a narcissistic mother, some good feeling "love" and lots of poison: after all your boy "isn't good enough for you" implies that you're really good--but that's not what she really means.
Customer: replied 8 months ago.

Yes I do feel a mixture of love and no love from my mother from time to time. Loved - if she says she loves me. Unloved - she never sees anything I have done for her. If you say she does not really mean that, what does she mean then?

Expert:  Dr. Norman Brown replied 8 months ago.

I wrote a bunch more as a revision while you were writing, but I've saved it and I'll answer you first. Your mother is NOT CONSCIOUS of what she is doing, so she believes she loves you. But you see her ACTIONS: she never sees anything you have done for her. And she doesn't "see" your accomplishments even though she's pushed you to reach them. For to really "see" your accomplishments, your doing for her, and your human strengths and weaknesses WITH EMPATHIC APPRECIATION would be to "mirror" or "admire" you, and she can't do that because she has a void of self-appreciation inside of herself, so she has to suck in others' admiration, esp husband and daughters to try to "see" herself in your admiring eyes.

 

So one big shift towards more sophisticated understanding of human nature you'll need to make to understand what I'm writing is the realize that most of what we DO is unconsciously powered. So she THINKS she really loves you, as she may also think she really worships God, but, like your boyfriend, she doesn't really KNOW you because she doesn't SEE you with empathic appreciation, and she probably doesn't have a direct connection to her version of God either, except for conventional words she picks up from a priest--because dreams and very patient, loving and intuitive prayer are true paths to an ego-higherpower dialogue.

 

One of the most influential books for people thinking about the Jungian growth path is Jung's partial autobiography Memories, Dreams, Reflections. There are also a great many very good Jungian books for youngish women that are written by middle aged female Jungian analysts. I will think about which of those to recommend, esp since my wife Pamela has read most of them--but she can't think of any about the negative mother now (she's more interested in making and selling jewelry online and basically "retired" from doing therapy).

 

Your mother is throwing bits of preferential love around that might make the sisters want to think they're "better" and thus become toxic to each other; but the foundation of that all is that she doesn't love anyone properly for their own being and not for her efforts to make herself feel like she IS somebody IMPORTANT. The daughters that stay close to home will get preferred, because they do more "admiring" of mom. But you're also the lucky one, because the middleborn child is also the most likely to need to go far away from the family, because she needs to be somewhere where nobody can compare her to anybody else in her family for her to get the maximum chance for recognition (admiration) for herself as an individual. But you won't get a lot of admiration if you're still performing the way your mom seems to have wanted you to perform for an approval that isn't of your real self. On the other hand it's good you have an accounting career, because you'll always be able to support yourself, so you can learn and try out other things without starving in the process. And, like a client I had back in the early 1990s in Florida (where my wife&daughter & I lived from 1987-2012), you might use your accounting skills and well-developed people-pleasing skills to move into working with an organization that does more of what you're getting interested in as you grow a more personally relevant adult self to replace your mother-bound provisional self. (Everybody develops a provisional self in order to make it into adulthood, and age 30 is the beginning of transition toward the real self. Though some people are so successful with their 20something provisional self that they don't start to redesign themselves until midlife (40s) crisis. And you have the crisis/opportunity before marriage, which sure beats what your mother went thru. But she'll get really jealous and critical if you postpone motherhood longer than she wants AND break free of her controlling you by never quite approving enough.

 

Another thing about the therapist: Make sure she or he's really good at dream interpretation, because not anywhere near all Jungian therapists are good.at dreams. This is important, because dreams come from a higher power, so if the therapist is able to be true to the dream as an inner wisdom from higher power, then the therapist will be less likely to make mistakes with your soul development based on her or his own projected hopes for you.

 

I could work with you myself bia Skype, as my wife works with 2 former students of mine, one in Saudi Arabia and one in Western Australia. Your NZ salary would probably go further towards my flexible fees than in NZ too. But I want you to have a chance at a really good Jungian therapist who you can see face to face, as my wife saw both of these young men before they returned to their home countries. I take very seriously my responsibility to guide you towards what's most useful and, if necessary cost-effective for you. This kind of therapy is a gift of grace, because it activates your connection to Higher Power (aka God--but if you're not Catholic, just HP), and a vanishingly small % of modern people are even aware of the values of it, so in USA most clients want short-cuts. Jungian is strong in UK though; and 12 members in New Zealand is more than I expected. I hope it will work for you to see a Jungian in NZ, with age, dream interpretation, experience, having had personal therapy and having therapeutic supervision with a colleague more important than female gender. But if money is a major factor, or you don't feel a good connection with the people near enough to you (Auckland & ChristChurch sound pretty good) I would be happy to work with you, and I could continue whenever you're back in the Philippines. You might well have an easier time working with a man than with a woman as you're getting acclimated to inner work. Do you sometimes remember your dreams? Would you be willing to write them down?

Customer: replied 8 months ago.

Hi Dr Brown, I prefer to work with you via Skype if that's okay. I am just recently qualified beginning of this month. Eventually I will find a better job with more opportunities so I think at this stage I won't be able to see a therapist yet in NZ face-to-face, but rather work with you instead as I already feel a connection with you. Please let me know how should we organise the session and the fees for your time. Are we moving on from Just Answer to private email/Skype? Due to our time difference, I think Friday night for you, Saturday midday here might work best, XXXXX XXXXX times I might be at work or too late for you.


 


I feel a lot better and not as confused after talking to you. I start to understand a bit more about myself and why I behave the way I do. I do not feel as hurt now about my mother and understand I can never satisfy her no matter what I do. I will learn to listen to my own feelings. I hope you can help me achieve this.


 


With regards XXXXX XXXXX I have dreamt twice my father died. There was no cause, all I saw was a tomb and a casket. I woke up very scared.


 


I also recall having numerous dreams of my teeth falling off. sometimes just one tooth, sometimes my whole teeth, or sometimes wobbly teeth about to fall off. What does this mean?

Expert:  Dr. Norman Brown replied 8 months ago.

Dear Zindy Lily, I'm delighted to work with you. These dreams will be a good place to start. And also the first dream that you have and write down (in as much detail as you can) after beginning our work together will be valuable. It's also important to know what event(s) or thought(s) triggered a dream. Do you know what triggered your father-dreams (that is anything unusual that happened before the dreams)? We can use email for the dreams in advance and for me to ask you some questions about them, and Skype for real-time talking, and I can commit to Friday evening for me. I want the fee to be something you can afford on a monthly basis, and I will not limit our face-time to 1 hour/week, but let it reach 1.5hrs even in addition to the time spent in between responding to your dreams. So think about what you can afford, and don't worry, because we will work it out so it satisfies both you and me. We cannot transmit phone, Skype or email thru this site. But you can look up my name and low dose naltrexone, either on Google or pub med (US Govt medical data base) and find a medical research review article I've cowritten that's free online and for which I'm the corresponding author, though I'm not at the university where I taught in 2009. I suggest you respond to the email there.

 

Having your teeth loose and falling out refers to going through a change, like when you lost your baby teeth, so you're shifting towards a more mature stage of life, and your body uses teeth as one way to symbolize that. But losing teeth also creates a period when you can't chew your food well enough, so you might be swallowing material that's put into your mouth without predigesting it enough--that is, accepting too much influence from people outside of you--not having enough aggressive-defenses to keep others' desires and ideas from getting into you, which could contribute to your not knowing what is right for YOU vs what somebody else says you should want and believe and do. (And "somebody else" includes me.)

 

By the way, Nishan (in Australia) didn't want to give authoritative advice, but after trying not to push you one way or the other, he wrote that he would advise NOT to marry the guy--and he even thought you were older than 27, so your baby-clock might be getting late.

 

If you could finance taking a class or two in your favorite subject(s) with your wages as an accountant, what would you explore? Since you made top marks in everything at school, what did you really like? And do you practice any artistic activity, or writing or music? And when you have a whole day all to yourself to do anything you want, what things are you most fond of doing? Where do you live in NZ?

 

Good night,

 

Norman Brown

Dr. Norman Brown, Marriage Therapist
Category: Relationship
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Experience: Family Therapist & teacher 35+ yrs; PhD research in couples
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Expert:  Dr. Norman Brown replied 8 months ago.
PS, in your father dreams, you never saw your father as dead and never knew any cause, but you saw a tomb and casked. Describe the tomb (and is there already such a tomb in real life waiting for him?) and describe the casket. Is there anything unusual or remarkable about either one?
Customer: replied 8 months ago.

Hello Dr Brown


 


I have found your email via Google and responded there. I hope it is the right one and the message finds you.


 


 

Expert:  Dr. Norman Brown replied 8 months ago.
Thank you so we should end this session, as I presume you've already released your deposit so I am paid.+ I wish you all the best.
Dr. Norman Brown, Marriage Therapist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 740
Experience: Family Therapist & teacher 35+ yrs; PhD research in couples
Dr. Norman Brown and other Relationship Specialists are ready to help you

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