The Science of a Happy Love Life: It’s A Lot Simpler Than We’re Led to Believe | Alternet

Posted: June 26, 2015 in Science

We often imagine the English as reserved stonewallers, even more emotionally constricted than we Americans are. But Susan Johnson, the daughter of two London pubkeepers and the inventor of Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFCT), has devoted her career to breaking that old stereotype and developing an approach that zeroes in on showing couples how to express their deepest feelings for each other. To get there, she had to break what was perhaps the biggest taboo of all.

When she decided to study love and connections in relationships, she had to buck the psychologist establishment, which dismissed love as a disreputable, totally unscientific four-letter word that no self-respecting researcher would dream of considering for serious study. When, as a graduate student, she told the head of her psychology department that she wanted to study emotion and the nature of human intimacy, he looked at her blankly and said, “We don’t do that. We do measurements, personality, and statistics.”

Today, thanks in good part to her groundbreaking work melding clinical innovation with rigorous research on the funniest valentine of subjects—love—she’s widely acknowledged as having developed one of the field’s most influential clinical road maps of that trackless jungle of primitive emotion where all couples lose their way sometimes and where some couples are lost all the time.

Johnson’s work is based on the fundamental understanding that teaching deeply conflictual couples “communication skills” is like trying to teach the whirlwind how to blow more gently. Even when partners see what they’re doing to each other, they’re too overwhelmed by primordial emotions of fear, anguish, and desperate need to stop engaging in mutually assured destruction. So, in addition to creating a theory of love built on the firm foundation of science, she’s developed EFCT, an approach that helps couples systematically move through a transformative experience of deep bonding.

In the interview below, Johnson offers a critique of couples approaches that overemphasize changing attitudes toward marriage as a social institution in today’s world and fail to acknowledge fully the profound human need for intimacy and commitment.

via The Science of a Happy Love Life: It’s A Lot Simpler Than We’re Led to Believe | Alternet.

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