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Mr. President: Go to War Against the Malignancy of Compartmentalization Before It's Too Late

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This blog is a plea to President Obama to stand up against a growing malignancy of ideas with no basis, and, with passion and plain talk (and no fancy words), explain to our citizens why we must join together and fight for the health and sanity of our country.

But first I am also going to talk about marriage and sex, as well as domestic abuse. There will be a connection, I promise. The connection is based on a potentially lethal psychological concept known as "compartmentalization" -- a blindness about how one action impacts another. So please stay with me and read on.

One third of my practice is marital, and I got a call yesterday from a reporter asking about the impact on divorce and infidelity of Viagra and other performance-enhancement drugs prescribed for erectile dysfunction.

It was a serious question that got me thinking: most see their sex lives as separate from their overall lives, which is a completely false impression. Our sexual lives and sexual functioning in a committed relationship are directly tied to our capacity for love, patience, intimacy and the ability to care for others beside ourselves. Viagra and related drugs are a helpful (yet usually unnecessary) tool in marriages where sexual changes are handled with care, patience, creativity and a sense of humor.

In marriages where either partner only cares for himself or herself, Viagra isn't going to do much good. Its availability may lead to separation or divorce, but if the partner who cares only about himself or herself moves on and does not change, life will not get any better in a successful, ongoing marriage, with or without Viagra. One-night (or one-hour, or 15-minute) stands, may, however, become easier as one ages. Sexual functioning on a long-term basis is not a matter of mechanics; it is instead a matter of love. Those who do not see this easily "compartmentalize."

Following this thought -- how important it is to see and understand flow and union in all things -- I began to think about the entire concept of "compartmentalization." Some degree of compartmentalization is necessary in effective living and dealing. For instance, if there is turmoil in the life of the surgeon, once that surgeon is in the O.R., he or she must completely block out the flow in order to give all to the patient. Or, more personally, when I went through my own divorce many years ago, I could not allow what my children and I were going through to impact my ability to see and hear the couples and families consulting me. It was instead essential to hear them as they were, not as I was.

The difficulty, however, is when one (or a group) refuses to ever give up compartmentalization and holds on to it in all functioning. A common example is the guy who sees his wife and kids as completely separate from his emotional and sexual involvements outside their home. Even if they put on a brave public front, women in this kind of situation suffer enormously, as do the children living with this kind of confusion.

Compartmentalization is always a major factor in domestic violence. Those who abuse their wives and children just do not care about the link between their actions and their disintegrating family life. Such bullies cannot be reasoned with, compromise or hear the voices or pain of others. They see kindness as weakness and true, heartfelt compassion as stupid. Often, in order to leave them, my clients must go to war. The cost is great but necessary for hope and family survival.

In politics, compartmentalization -- the belief that the impact of actions is irrelevant -- affords grave danger. A glaring example is the 1968 presidential campaign of Senator Gary Hart, when consistent rumors of infidelity led Hart to "dare" the press corps to follow him around with "a tail." Soon afterward it was written that a woman other than his wife was with him in his D.C. town house. Not long after that, a photo of Hart and Donna Rice, she on his lap on a yacht, was released. Though his wife Lee stood by him, Hart's campaign and his political power were over.

Very few politicians ever have, or ever will have, the rare abilities of intellect and personal communication skills that President Clinton possesses. But it is not necessary to point out the instances where compartmentalization in his life have hurt a family dear to him, and even imperiled his presidency and perhaps the nomination of his wife as a presidential candidate.

This brings us to Tea Party movement, whose use of compartmentalization is far more extreme, and given these treacherous economic times, far more dangerous than examples noted above. Those committed to the Tea Party have strong, deeply felt opinions. Tragically for our country, however, they refuse to see the absolute necessity of respecting other opinions, based on sound thinking, research and history. And they do not care about the grave dangers that their rigid and malignant compartmentalion poses to our country and the world.

Leaders of this movement wrap themselves in a false, deceptive and dangerous cloak of fiscal responsibility, but their actions scream far louder than their words. They show utter contempt for the terrified and struggling, poor and middle classes -- as the very rich among us just grow richer. They rob our country of hope and opportunity but say they are doing just the opposite. They cannot be reasoned with, and they will not compromise. Their power is growing as our president attempts to befriend, reason and compromise with them -- an impossible and defeating undertaking. Meanwhile, they attract followers turned off by President Obama's big words and lack of passion and straight talk.

The Tea Party movement is abusing our country in the same ways that abusive partners abuse their families. Right now, this movement has its hands in a murderous grasp around all of our necks. U.S. stocks plunged in reaction to our credit rating being downgraded one notch to "AA," removing us from our Triple-A rating for the first time in history. Global markets plunged as well.

Mr. Obama, you must use passion and plain talk and fight the fight of your and our lives. We need you to be strong, unwavering, fearless. This is why we elected you. Malignant, rigid, narrow-minded compartmentalization is killing our country, and you must go to war against it now. Tomorrow may be too late.

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