On my recent trip I began Leslie’s new book, The Emotionally Destructive Relationship: Seeing it, Stopping it, Surviving it (2007, Harvest House. Leslie is a LCSW here in PA. I first met her when I was a seminary student and she was a staff counselor/supervisor at CCEF, a local counseling center. Leslie has now authored several books, each of which shows her biblical understanding of people coupled with wonderful interpersonal skill and insights as a clinician. I often tell others that she’s a counselor I’d send any of my family members to see (including myself).
So, I’m looking forward to reviewing this new book. Let me highlight some tidbits from the first chapter:
1. In chapter 1 she defines the emotionally destructive relationship. While abuse is always destructive, destruction in relationship can be much more subtle and not always malicious as we often imagine abuse to be. Further, single episodes may be abusive but not destructive. Hence this definition: Pervasive and repetitive patterns of actions and attitudes that result in tearing someone down or inhibiting a person’s growth (p. 26).
2. Difficult relationships are not the same as destructive.
3. 5 patterns that are always destructive: abuse of any kind, overbearing/overprotectiveness, overdependency and demanding to be the center of attention, deception of the other, and chronic indifference, neglect, or disdain.
4. Lots of couples are in emotionally destructive patterns and it is easy to blame the other for one’s own behavior. She gives a great illustration of a couple (p. 29f). Neither feels loved. She attacks and demeans; he withdraws then explodes. Each wants the other to change first and justifies his/her own behavior as a “normal” response to being sinned against. Both need to take responsibility to name their own sinful reactions to the world.
5. She ends with a 30 question test to help those discern if they are in an emotionally destructive relationship.