Jane R. Coyle, LCSW


Specializing in the Treatment of Anxiety 
Ask Jane                                                                                                                                
  Jane R. Coyle, LCSW

Myth #7, "Men are from Mars and women are from Venus"
This one got a lot of play, 40 million books-worth, for author John Gray. The idea is that men and women communicate, love, think, act, feel, respond, and perceive differently. For example, when a woman is upset, she expresses her feelings, while a man withdraws into his "cave."

I celebrate the differences between the sexes. As a woman, I appreciate the special dimension men bring to the table of life, and I trust that the men in my life appreciate equally what I bring. 

But the Mars/Venus thing excuses weakness in communication in couples. Falling back on the M/V myth, partners can resign themselves to an unsatisfying relationship. "I'm a man, and I'm just built that way," goes the excuse, or "He won't even try to understand me, and what's the point?'

Take one of the main M/V myths, that women talk more than men. That myth can be used to excuse a lack of communication from the male partner to the female. Clinical studies over the past decade show it to be untrue. Men and women each speak about 16,000 words per day. While it is true that the women in the studies talked more than the men, the difference was 1/10th of one per cent. 

Another M/V myth is that men interrupt more than women. That myth can be used by a man to justify rudeness to his partner as "guy behavior." Not so, say the studies: In situations where women are in charge, either socially or commercially, women are more prone to interrupt than men. 

When I treat couples I need them to be honest and forthcoming about their hopes, concerns, and feelings. The stereotype, however, fed by the M/V myth, is that in treatment women will disclose more than men. That myth, if believed by the couple, can block effective growth in their relationship. Again, the clinical studies show that women are better at self-disclosure than men but only by a miniscule 2/10ths of one per cent. 

If you have been excusing the poor communication in your relationships because of your Mars/Venus gender differences, it's time to grow up. Toss the myths and try the truth. 

Mental Health Self-test

The following self-test is adapted from the Epstein Mental Health Inventory.  Designed by renowned psychologist Robert Epstein, it was recently featured in the magazine "Scientific American Mind."  

Check those that apply to you. It should take no more than ten minutes to complete. If you want to download a printable version, click here.

Category One

__ I am sometimes unable to control my anger.
__ I often act impulsively, and this causes me great difficulty at times.
__ I am preoccupied with gambling, and I seem to have trouble controlling that behavior.

Category Two

__ Over the past year I have drunk more alcohol or taken more drugs to satisfy my needs.
__ Over the past year I have tried but been unable to reduce the amount of alcohol, drugs, or cigarettes I use. 
__ Over the past year I have had to use increasing amounts of alcohol or drugs to get the feeling I want.

Category Three

__ For at least the past two weeks, I have found it difficult to get any pleasure from daily activities I used to enjoy. 
__ For at least the past two weeks,I have been thinking frequently about wanting to die.
__ For at least the past two weeks, I have felt sad most of every day. 

Category Four

__ I have an extreme fear of some object or situation, and I believe this fear is unreasonable.
__ I am extremely afraid of some object or situation, and that fear interferes with my ability to function normally. 
__ I am extremely afraid of some object or situation, and when I am exposed to it, I experience panic.

Category Five

__ I am afraid to be around other people in certain situations, and I realize that my fears may be unreasonable or excessive.
__ In certain social situations, I feel extremely anxious. 
__ I am highly fearful of one or more situations in which I need to interact with people.

Category Six

__ I regularly eat a lot and then vomit or use laxatives to prevent weight gain.
__ I am preoccupied with my weight or body shape, and as a result I eat or exercise in ways that others find unusual.
__ I am unwilling or unable to eat enough to maintain a healthy body weight.

Category Seven

__ I often find myself having disturbing recollections related to a traumatic event in my past.
__ I often have disturbing dreams about a terrible experience I had in the past.
__ I sometimes find myself reliving the horror of an experience in the past.

Category Eight

__ For at least the past six months, I have experienced worry and excessive nervousness I find difficult to control.
__ For at least the past six months, I have been extremely anxious and worried about a number of different events and activities. 
__ For at least the past six months, I have felt unusually restless, fatigued, irritable, or tense.

Category Nine

__ Over the past year my mood has sometimes changed without any apparent reason.
__ My mood shifts rapidly from depressed to elevated for no apparent reason.
__ Over the past year my mood has shifted quickly more than once from depressed to highly elevated.

Category Ten

__ I repeat certain behaviors or thoughts a lot and I can't seem to stop doing so. 
__ Certain thoughts occur to me over and over again and cause me anxiety.
__ I do certain things or think certain things over and over to calm myself or to prevent something terrible from happening. 

Scoring: if you left all the statements blank, you don't need a therapist. If you checked one item in one or more categories, you might not need a therapist but if you are concerned, you might want to talk with one. If you marked two or three items in one or more categories, you would definitely benefit from seeing a therapist. There is no need for you to suffer unnecessarily. Use www.find-a-therapist.com to find qualified help quickly.  

See Jane's resume           
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