Enough Silliness

Let’s take a quick break from my world of ice fog and skinny dogs to discuss something serious (okay, quit your snickering in the back)  My guest today is Dr. Dennis Lewis, author of Dysfunction: Identify it. Own it. Eliminate it. Dr. Lewis is the real deal, a practicing psychologist in California.  {Brief breath to avoid the too obvious one liner} I’m honored to host him, with a brief essay on dysfunctional relationships and a wicked recipe for home made bread.  Can you smell it baking now?  May I introduce Dr. Lewis (polite applause)Dysfunction - Click Image to Close

Dissolving the epoxy of a dysfunctional relationship                    

Are you stuck in relationship that everyone has told you to get out of? Do you ask yourself in the mirror why you are staying? Do excuses bubble forth that delay you from making a decision? Such head-games ignore the fact that the glue that keeps you tied together is the hostile-dependent relationship.

Domestic violence is the best example. The reporter covering the story of a woman murdered by her spouse may marvel that she had separated multiple times from the abuser only to go back. The sociological analysis points to many factors: poverty, insecurity, lack of resources, homelessness, depression, lack of support. Yet from an outsider’s perspective, she had alternatives. Ultimately, the supposedly benevolent observer reverts to blaming the victim. In Social Psychology, this is known as the essential attribution error.

The error is to attribute the behavior to a voluntary decision by the person and impugn her character. In reality, the attractive force controlling the behavior is the vortex of the hostile dependent relationship. You can see this in other instances of unbreakable bonds. Situations include bosses with subordinates, military drill instructors, or dysfunctional family relationships.

Individual motivation draws on multiple factors in any given situation. Hostile dependency merely tends to pull the same players together over and over again. Why the participants act out the same repetitive dance can be traced to their individual dynamics, and such an analysis can be theoretically interesting. But the glue in the process is hostile-dependency.

The individual who recognizes this has one more tool at his or her disposal for escape. The awareness of the source of the pull will enable you to consider your options on level ground. Instead of an unnamed impulse pulling for a precipitous decision, you get to delay, to weigh the alternatives, and actually to make up your mind. In your attempt to separate, you can act with purpose instead of reflex. In this mindset, the alternatives that are available to you become more real and thereby attainable.

You might still need some support to stick with your decisions, but recognizing the taffy-like nature of the hostile dependent relationship will give you authorization to make the break. Summon up your courage. Recognize the hostility coming from the other person, and then stand on your own.  You’ll be healthier once you do.


Thank you Dr. Lewis

Rustic Wheat Bread

9 oz Water

3 Tbs Honey

1 ½ Tbs Butter

2 tsp yeast

1 ½ tsp salt

1 ½ Cups White flour

½ cup rye

½ cup whole wheat flour

½ cup whole rolled oats

1 Tbs Seminole flour if you have it.

2 Tbs Sunflower seeds

1 Tbs rice

2 Tbs Corn Meal

2 Tbs Nuts

2 Tbs Bulgar

1 Tbs Barley Malt

Optional: 2 Tbs flax seeds

2 Tbs Almond Meal

1 Tbs Millet

Mix in bread machine on dough setting. Remove and refrigerate over night. Remove and form. Air rise for 1 ¼ hours.

Place in warm 200 degree over X 20 minutes. Turn on oven to 395 for 17 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 for 20 minutes.


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7 responses to “Enough Silliness

  1. Excellent blog post. Great explanation of what keeps people together even when nothing’s going right. I’ve just read a 220 page memoir in which the author cries a river about his abusive and neglectful parents, yet he goes to say how they bought him stuff, gave him money, took him places… could be out of regret, but he certainly didn’t mention that bit. I’ll recommend your book.


    • Great comments, Zrinka. Memoir can be like hearing the person’s confession. The author’s story you cite seems to fit the idea of the glue holding people in hostile-dependent relationships of all kinds.


  2. Zrinka, great observation. We might joke about dysfunction but it has a severe negative effect on our lives, often long after the original situation is resolved.


  3. Sierra Woods

    The bread looks great, but I’m gluten free for the moment!


  4. Great blog post Dr. Lewis. It must take a lot of courage to leave a dysfunctional relationship. I have read good things about your book. Hope to get to it soon.


    • I believe that in the haste of the world, it takes courage to look at yourself and be a person. The process of uncovering your own story can give you a sense of freedom, of choice. As a writer, you bring your characters to the reader with the same challenge of finding themselves, identifying their goals and making decisions. “Life imitates art.”


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