Shannon Curry: Johnny Depp & Amber Heard Trial, Marriage, Dating & Love | Lex Fridman Podcast #366 - YouTube

Channel: Lex Fridman

so contempt is criticism on steroids
this is what John gottman calls sulfuric
acid for love nothing will erode a
relationship quicker than contempt
contempt is when you are looking at your
partner from a superior position so you
are eye rolling you are name calling
um there's a mockery mocking even
physical mockery imitating them
imitating their voice contempt is meant
to just take the legs out from your
partner make them feel pathetic
um and it can be abusive but
um most people have engaged in contempt
at some point in their relationship
lower level would be sort of the eye
rolling but that is the biggest
predictor of a split
the following is a conversation with
Shannon Curry a clinical and forensic
psychologist who conducts research
therapy and psychological evaluations
pertaining to trauma violence and
relationships she received worldwide
attention in April of last year by
giving a lengthy televised testimony on
her psychological evaluation of Amber
Heard during the Johnny Depp Amber Heard
trial I found her testimony to be an
eloquent description of complex
psychological Concepts and evaluations
procedures so I reached out for a chat
in person she was brilliant funny
thoughtful and truly kind I really
really enjoyed this conversation this is
the Lex Friedman podcast to support it
please check out our sponsors in the
description and now dear friends here's
Shannon Curry
Charles Bukowski said that love is a fog
that burns away with the first daylight
of reality I love that quote uh do you
think romantic love Fades away in this
way Makowski uh does it does it have to
fade the truth is that you have all of
these chemicals pumping through your
body you're essentially high on heroin
in the beginning of a romance and you're
going to have these rose-colored glasses
on everything your partner does is
magical and but really it's the novelty
it's just like going on a vacation
you're fully present you're just attuned
to the magic of another human being
moment to moment and then on top of that
you have you're just flooded with
dopamine so you're high on drugs and we
can't go on like that you will die if
you are using these kinds of chemicals
all the time all day long so eventually
our bodies are sort of made to dial it
down we've made it I mean we're
evolutionary beings we are doing the
same thing we did 200 000 years ago to
find a mate procreate spend enough time
with each other that we have sex with
whole bunch of times and make babies
now we've changed the rules of the game
we're living you know almost until we're
100 years old in some cases we're making
these marriage commitments that last
half a century and uh we're expecting it
to be all because of love and we're
signing these contracts based on how we
feel when we're high on these drugs so
the reality is we know based on the re
and and I'm also talking about certain
Western civilizations here because as
you know there are arranged marriages
and a lot of times those marriages if
we're looking at longevity are actually
way more satisfied than people who are
marrying for love which logically makes
sense if you're making a decision based
on a feeling that is basically based on
endorphins and dopamine and oxytocin
I wouldn't sign a contract just because
of a feeling necessary you know for 50
years whereas an arranged marriage if
you have your elders kind of deciding
for you that this partner has a bunch of
traits that you're going to appreciate
more and more over time
I think there's some wisdom there so you
don't think that feeling could be a
foundation for a 50-year relationship
well I don't think that specific feeling
you're having based on drugs is going to
be the same feeling you have 20 30 40
years down the line if you're going to
wake up and turn to your partner when
you're 70 and think oh my God I'm so
glad you're hot you are so hot yeah then
sure marry for hotness but if you've
been through life a little bit and I
think most people who are on a second
marriage know [ __ ] happens in life it is
hard you're gonna have you know maybe a
kid with special needs or your dad gets
Dementia or you get diagnosed with
cancer who are you going to want to come
home to who is going to hold you when
you are sobbing on the floor and tell
you we're going to get through it
together who's going to know the names
of your kids special ed teacher and the
process for getting a 504 plan or is it
going to be you on your own I think
those things matter but doesn't that
hotness don't those drugs kind of
solidify into a deeper appreciation of
the other person
into something you could call Beauty yes
uh they can but but isn't that the same
isn't that the same thing when you know
when you notice the beauty of another
human being aren't you aren't you high
on drugs still you're making it sound
like there's like a a brief rock star
period of going on heroin and then it's
over but like can't you be on heroin
your whole life I have some good news
that was something I think one of the
reasons I got into studying
relationships was because I wanted that
right so I'm a scientist but I also love
art and I love writing and I love
literature I wanted to know that true
love could be real but as a scientist I
am cynical I just need some data and
when so I practice the type of therapy
called the gottman method and I love
that because it tends to be well it is
one of the most evidence-based therapies
we have based on John and Julie gottman
two psychologists who have been
researching relationships for now about
50 years and this therapy happens to be
for couples they found that you
absolutely can make longevity work in a
relationship you can build you are not
just settling for companionship but you
can have passion and intimacy and
growing love and appreciation but there
is a blueprint a set of skills that we
were never given we're not taught in
school we changed the rules of the game
and we haven't learned the rules yet
and uh the government method for couples
therapy kind of gives you a few
guidelines the rules for longevity in a
relationship yeah they did a beautiful
job at taking these findings they had
through you know Decades of research
quantifying it and then codifying it
into a therapy method it's really skills
based I tell couples when they're
starting out with me that they're
essentially going to be starting a class
so what's the five to one Golden Rule
what I read is there's the kind of
balance you can achieve of
uh how many interactions you have in a
relationships that are positive versus
negative and I think that's what the
five to one means but basically there
should be a kind of an empirical
like if you just look back over over a
month how many of the interactions were
positive for the day or the day
right so the the idea of this ratio
um well it's not an idea it was a
finding it is uh research finding that
the gottman's got after looking at
thousands of couples
um and codifying these interactions that
they were observing couples that tend to
be satisfied in their relationships that
are happier they have better health Etc
they are having approximately five
positive interactions to each negative
and I want to be clear about what I'm
defining as positive and negative here
so this doesn't necessarily mean that
you're these don't need to be big
sweeping romantic gestures buying
flowers having sex these are things like
paying attention to what we call your
partner's bids we make these bids for
affection for connection all the time in
our relationships not just with our
partners but with our friends our
co-workers and we may not even know what
our style of bid is but if you see them
on a sheet you can pretty quickly
identify them bids could be wanting to
show your partner tell your partner
something and have them be proud of you
it could be wanting to go buy groceries
with your partner doing things together
hey you want to come with me it could be
telling a joke and hoping that your wife
looks up from her email on the computer
and acknowledges it if she laughs then
you've got a positive but if I don't
even look up that's a negative right so
it's not necessarily that I'm calling my
husband an [ __ ] it's just am I
connecting with him am I meeting those
bids for connection and vice versa but
do those also give you a guide of how
you should behave
well I think what's really important is
actually asking your partner or paying
attention to what your partner's bids
are because what matters to Ty my
husband may not matter to you for
instance I mean Ty's bar is so low with
me I thank God what defines the positive
interaction right like he just wants me
once become if if he wants a water when
I get up to get myself one just be a
basic decent considerate person is all
he asks of me whereas mine might be sort
of like stay up later with me watch a
um go to bed at the same time as me or
um know about the people in my life that
sort of a thing I should highlight this
and I hope hopefully it's okay that you
were running a little bit late and you
sent me this text which is which people
do really rarely and there's a subtle
act of kindness within that text so the
the you the text you sent was that
um I just decreased the amount of stress
in your life or something like this by
saying it's cool but that means that you
were you're you're signaling that you
were stressed
because you care enough to be there on
time and that was like that made me feel
really special I was like oh you know
people don't know people don't often
don't always do that because that puts
you also that makes you vulnerable
vulnerable and I actually thought that
after I sent it but I feel that most of
the day any interaction like oh God I
just expose myself but absolutely I was
excited to be here and I didn't want you
to think that I didn't care
I think being a therapist has shown me
that it really it's so lucky to be in
that position because you meet people
that you would have thought are cooler
than you or smarter than you or just
somehow impervious to life and you
realize that we are all in it together
we all want to be cared about and liked
we all would want to be liked as a
baseline I some people will say they
don't care but everybody does it's human
and I have gotten much better being a
therapist much more comfortable showing
caring showing love and genuineness and
vulnerability than I think I ever would
have been otherwise and that kind of
vulnerability is what's required to do a
positive interaction in a relationship I
think so and and people have different
levels of comfort right so
um but as long as it's working for both
partners and typically you have to
communicate to figure out what your
partner what makes your partner feel
cared about however you might be working
for instance with an older couple and I
have a couple that's perfectly happy and
they sort of have a system it works for
them if there's some sort of a rupture
if they get in some sort of a
disagreement they don't talk it out she
might go to the store run an errand
doing do a little shopping he'll work in
the wood shop and then they'll come back
and there is a repair attempt though but
it's maybe she'll say hey do you want to
have dinner or come you know I made your
favorite dinner and or he'll say hey I
recorded your favorite show you want to
watch it tonight so they don't need to
process it but there is an understanding
between them that we're still in this
together we care about each other and
there's a repair attempt
most people need to be able to process
it verbally and talk about what happened
not all so for most people if there's a
conflict you should talk about and
resolve it and repair it versus like
just put it behind you I I don't want to
say should I guess it depends on the
couple yeah everybody processes emotions
differently everybody handles emotional
expression differently I mean I have
couples where I have one person in the
partnership who has autism and the other
doesn't and so they're obviously going
to have different ways of communicating
or processing what happened we all have
different perspectives it really depends
on what makes a person feel like it's
been repaired what makes a person feel
understood does that need to be verbal
or in the case of that older couple I
have where they know they understand one
another because there's a gentleness
toward one another after
what are some common ways relationships
fail that you've observed and all the
therapy you've done well the governments
identified what they call the Four
Horsemen of the Apocalypse so okay
I mean I could just keep it simple and
go off their research so they're those
are four different behaviors that they
identify in couples or that you can
identify in couples that are really
highly predictive of a divorce some more
than others but I'll start with the
lower ones
so one thing that we by the way actually
we all do these things these would be in
that five to one ratio you'd want to
stay away from some of these these are
the ones so as they pile up now that
ratio is going to get imbalanced and
then you are headed for a split okay so
the first is criticism
so criticism is when we have a complaint
complaints are normal but instead of
owning our own problems our own feelings
we assume that our perspective is com
the only valid accurate perspective and
so we uh take it upon ourselves to tell
our partner what is wrong with them okay
so there there's essentially no real
belief that they might have a valid
perspective too so
this could look like you never helped me
out in that with the house or even
um you're so lazy like can't I just get
you for five seconds to help with the
kids or something like that
um and then what happens is Horsemen
number two defensiveness so uh not
everybody is defensive just because they
were criticized some people just are
more prone to defensiveness than others
none of us really like admitting our
faults so it's pretty natural
but defensiveness is essentially making
excuses or Worse turning it around on
your partner
not accepting any responsibility and
definitely not validating what they're
now if you get criticized enough or if
you get really flooded that flooding is
what happens when our heart rate goes up
kind of around 100 beats per minute our
frontal lobe shuts down that's our
thoughtful brain our logical brain and
our reptilian kind of hindbrain takes
over our thinking
and we just go into fight or flight in a
white week we just want to annihilate
our partner instead instead of say
anything that would be helpful to the
so if you're getting flooded you could
do a couple things you could get super
critical you could get contemptuous
which I'll talk about in a second it's
the last Horseman or you do the third
Horseman which is stonewalling and in
their research the gottman's found that
men are actually more likely to
Stonewall I also am someone who
stonewalls but it's where you just sort
of Disconnect from the conversation you
shut down you turn away you can
physically even turn away kind of arms
cross but you're just you're shut off
and stonewalling happens usually because
you get flooded you feel like you can't
win you don't know what to do to make
the situation better it feels pretty
hopeless and talking feels unproductive
so you can see how in a typical
heterosexual relationship the gender
Dynamic we know that women tend to use
criticism more often because they're the
ones that typically raise issues
verbally and then if men are feeling
more criticized that they tend to
Stonewall and it becomes this vicious
cycle of then more criticism but the
criticism is really just a plea to be
loved and get your partner to show you
they care and then the man tends to feel
like he can't do anything right this
isn't even productive if I say anything
I'm just going to make it worse and they
don't have any real you haven't given
them a specific need a solution
something they can do to shine for you
so they turn away and where's the uh
contempt all right so contempt is
criticism on steroids this is what John
gottman calls sulfuric acid for love
nothing will erode a relationship
quicker than contempt contempt is when
you are looking at your partner from a
superior position so you are eye rolling
you are name calling
um there's a mockery mocking even
physical mockery imitating them
imitating their voice contempt is meant
to just take the legs out from your
partner make them feel pathetic
um and it can be abusive but
um most people have engaged in contempt
at some point in their relationship
lower level would be sort of the eye
rolling but that is the biggest
predictor of a split if you allow
yourself to think yeah that mockery or
contempt just a little bit
it's like this weird slippery slope sure
is and the opposite is true
where I just look at a person think wow
isn't that the most like wonderful
creature I've ever seen in my life like
just think that and you notice the
little details about who they are and so
I just observe them the way you observe
like a weird like peacock at a zoo or
something like that attention is
powerful isn't it yeah and it changes it
change you start to notice beautiful
things and then let
uh the things that annoy you yes like
just you're exactly right you're
touching on some really important things
so in relationships we actually know
that wearing rose-colored glasses is
important it's healthy we need it and
it's a choice you're baking right so
there is a saying that uh getting
married is just choosing one person's
faults over another and the reality is
that we may become infatuated with
somebody else as human beings love is an
emotion attraction is emotion an emotion
and as you go through life even if
you're in a committed relationship you
might see Beauty in another and that
person who is novel might seem
attractive to you but if you can
remember that they too have a set of
problems that you would be marrying it
really helps you to
see the beauty in your partner again and
recognize all of their incredible
strengths and all the ways we meld with
the person and become our own family
almost become I mean our lives
intertwine and we grow those oak trees
so she by the way this is a line I read
somewhere that uh when you're wearing
rose-colored glasses all the Red Flags
looks just like Flags
I think it's a good it's a good line uh
so you so you think that humans are
fundamentally all of us have
fundamentally flawed or have flaws
they're unique flaws and they're
basically relationships is just the way
to um
they figure out how the two can fit
together right and we're different so no
matter what we're going to have
differences we are raised differently
than our partner we have different
stories different experiences that
shaped our value systems especially when
it comes to the big ones like parenting
love money
um these principles that are based in
our history
we're going to have differences so are
is this a set of differences you can
accept from somebody and work with do
the benefits and their strengths
um do they make it worth it or is it are
they deal breaker differences uh tricky
question but uh in the in the couples
you've worked with is there
like the feminine and the masculine is
there different dynamics that come into
play like dominant submissive is there
is it like a dance where it just changes
from minute to minute is there is there
dynamics that you observe that both
limit and enable
uh successful relationships yes so there
are if we're talking about masculine
then now also art we could get into are
we talking about actual gender
identified gender or are we just talking
about these traits because like I said
ice Stonewall which is typically in
couples something that is more
associated with straight men
but that's my style of coping when I get
overwhelmed uh that is not tied to any
sort of success or non-success of a
relationship but what we do know is that
gay couples so lesbians and gay men tend
to be gentler with one another when they
are having conflict discussions I so
that's actually been identified in the
research and it's something I've
witnessed and it's just fascinating so
with my Straight couples I'll be going
through one of these if we're processing
a conflict that occurred I'll be going
through the sheet and it's very very
structured because you don't want
couples doing more damage when they're
there with you you want them practicing
skills that protect them from criticism
that protect them from contempt
and when I'm working with a straight
couple I am like a referee or sometimes
I'll relate it to being like a ski coach
and keeping people on a bunny Hill and
you tell them you let them make like two
turns and then you stop them and you
meet up again because you don't want
them to Veer off with straight couples
you are doing very short turns before
you need to kind of intervene and
I had a lesbian couple recently and they
were so lovely with each other they
skipped like seven steps to the advanced
final portion where they were already
coming up with Solutions and suggesting
things that they might be able to do
differently next time to make it better
for their partner they were asking each
other questions about how their partner
felt with no agenda no attempt to sort
of be like well do you think you're
feeling that way because which straight
couples do all the time you just see
this humility and openness it's lovely
yeah it's lovely but I wonder if uh
maybe watching too many Hollywood films
is some of the drama some of the tension
is required for a passionate lifelong
romance no it's not and that's great
so we actually know yes that The Closer
You Feel to your partner so if I mean
you've talked a lot about beauty and
you can ignite that beauty that interest
right so when you're falling in love
it's usually that a person is sort of a
mystery to you and you're uncovering
these layers that you find really
there are continual layers that you can
uncover with your partner over time I
don't think we realize that I think we
get complacent and we think we've had
every conversation imaginable what what
else are they going to do to surprise me
but we don't know the questions to be
one of my favorite questions
I like turning these conversations kind
of into a quiz because I get bored
easily so you rather than just asking an
open-ended question
um there's a way you can do this with
your partner where it's sort of like the
dating game like what is my as of yet
fondest but unrealized life dream and
see if your partner knows you might not
even know they might know you better
than you know yourself that in and of
itself is a beautiful reminder
of the relationship and how special it
is but then also
when they say it or when you realize or
have to think critically like what is my
husband's as of yet unrealized but
fondest life dream and then you can talk
about it
you just I don't know you just kind of
transcend into this new area and you
feel tight again you feel like you feel
close well you really
talk to each other like I I've recorded
and without
intending to publish uh podcasts like
this with microphones with with friends
with people close to me because it's
literally that you get to ask questions
like as if it's an interview right and
we don't do that exactly it the way
you're talking with me yeah sit down
with your partner have that conversation
like years later right show interest
actually be curious see see what they
surprise you with and actually when you
learn is you don't know the answers to
most these questions 100
exactly like like what what's your
favorite movie from the 80s you might
not know the answer to that it's like
those first date questions or whatever
or what's your favorite movie this year
and why and why yeah it's fascinating it
is it's hard to do that because I think
that you'll probably be offended at
first how little the other person knows
so I think you have to work through that
you know I actually find that there's
this rekindling because partners are
shocked that their partner does know so
much about them especially if they've
been feeling dissatisfied or
disconnected it's a reminder of all the
good that's still there
what uh I know we said some of those
things but what's on the opposite side
what's the key to a successful
relationship what's like what are the
things you see
time and time again that do you
designate that they're in a good path
yeah there's a real Attunement honestly
just it's
um sort of an us against the world
feeling nobody neither partner is going
to talk [ __ ] on them the other uh
there's a loyalty they handle each other
in the relationship with care
you can tell that they've worked some
things I to me
it usually indicates that these are some
people who figured they've had to work
some things out they know that this is
delicate they know
um you know that you're on thin ice you
take a wrong step and you can be back in
a tough place in your relationship or
you treat it with care and it can be
so they're careful with one another they
give each other compliments they are
considerate so you'll see
um you know he'll bring the car around
for her because it's raining or
she'll bring him home some takeout you
know she'll order for him to at the
restaurant there's just they keep each
other in each other's minds but that us
against the world thing
that definitely is there like 100 you've
seen that right yeah you've seen it and
you've seen it like um I like it when
couples have been together for a long
time and when one is talking the other
one looks at them if you don't do that
that's not a bad sound but it's a good
sign when you do that yes because uh and
I think it's actually a really good
um exercise to do because I because I
enjoy when I see in others so it's it's
it's a way to show that you don't take
him for granted and then you still find
them like this mysterious wonderful
creature to observe like I think too
often we have that with our parents we
have that with um people close to us you
think yeah I've heard what they're about
to say I know I know you can complete
that sentence take them for granted and
then if you if you just look at them and
say wow this is the most brilliant
I've ever seen in my life most I can't
you know you just appreciate every war
that comes out of them and look at them
in that way you actually begin to
believe it yeah and you actually begin
to see the beauty of what they're saying
you are exactly right it's a
self-fulfilling prophecy and caring yeah
yeah it's very caring so that's I mean
that's I think the beauty of what the
gottman research showed us taught us
provided us is that we can do these
things that become cyclic and just keep
growing this relationship making it
stronger more powerful more loving you
would never want to cut it down well we
you were talking about the sheet for
conflict processing what are we talking
about so like a couple will come and say
like there was this conflict and you put
on the table and then what does it mean
to process it so in that gottman method
of therapy there are all these different
I mean hundreds of different
interventions and based on what the
issue is in that session you can decide
the most appropriate intervention and so
this is a specific intervention for if
it is a conflict that occurred and there
are different types of conflicts so this
would be more like an incident it's not
a Perpetual recurring problem
um which has actually a different
intervention where you kind of look at
the underlying belief systems values and
there's the goal is not to solve that
problem the goal in that situation is to
actually just get a better understanding
of each other and your positions and
just you stop seeing your partner as the
adverse area and you start seeing them
as a person who makes sense
but if there's been a specific event a
specific fight that's just sort of
but it's left Bad Blood things were said
or you didn't feel understood this
intervention I was talking about is one
that you would go through a series of
steps where first you identify the
emotions that you were feeling
then you describe play by play your
movie your perspective if your partner
we're looking through your eyes this is
what they heard saw thought then they
saw this then they heard this so you're
not saying yeah then you came in were
yelling and acting crazy you're saying
so then I saw you come in
I heard you say and I thought to myself
well great now everything's ruined right
so you're showing them your movie then
they have to summarize the movie for you
and then vice versa
and then there's this um Step where each
person validates some part that they can
understand like based on what you saw
heard I can't actually understand how
you felt one of those feelings that you
said then my favorite part is you rewind
sort of the movie
from that day back through into
childhood and you land on a time a
memory when you felt a similar set of
and this is like the most beautiful part
ever because let's say the feeling was I
felt misunderstood I felt
um misjudged uncared about unloved like
you didn't even like me and I'll say
when did you feel that way you know land
on a time and they're like my whole
childhood you know my parents were my
mom was always accusing me of doing
things I wasn't doing and it would set
me up and my dad would come home he'd
hear about it he would just believe her
and then you have like a partner
climbing up on the couch like give their
partner a hug while they're sharing the
story it's beautiful and it changes the
way you interact in future disagreements
so you have those moments yeah you can't
unlearn now you know this about your
partner you know what they're sensitive
yeah and again you kind of see the the
Beauty and the flaws then right
it all makes sense yeah it all kind of
makes sense yeah so you maybe were in
this dumpster dive in your head of how
your partner sucks and all the things
that are wrong with them and it's so
hopeless and then you get this light
shining through and you realize oh my
god of course they would be sensitive to
that and suddenly it's not about all the
ways your partner is wrong and proving
that they're wrong it's just how can I
in the future make sure they do not feel
this again I would never want this
person I love to misunderstand me and
feel so unloved what are you uh the
early days of that what do you think
about the whole dating
modern dating process how do you find a
that you can um
stay with for the rest of your life so
we are absolutely doing it wrong and um
but there is a way you can do it and I
am such a fan of the psychologist Thai
tashiro I adore him he is brilliant he's
lovely he's also very humble
just a wonderful salt of the earth guy
I'm gonna tell you a very true story
here okay let's go I was in a bad
relationship and I was
um at a psychology conference with my
partner at the time
um we were both at this conference and
we were sitting in a lecture hall uh
there for Tai tashiro to do his talk
that day on his phenomenal research on
relationship satisfaction and dating
um and I was sitting next to him and
we'd been you know it was just always
unpleasant on trips there were always
fights we're sitting there and Thai
tashiro starts talking about his
research and how he found that most
people are you know signing this
agreement getting married and doing it
based on the love endorphins and really
only about 35 percent of anybody who's
married is actually happy
um and he said so then
you know and exactly but here's what I
love about Tai tashiro is he didn't stop
there he wanted to know what those
people who were happy
um had in common
and then same thing with the people who
were unhappy he found a couple
fascinating patterns
so the couples who were happy
tended to rate their Partners higher in
three different traits and I love
talking about this because if you are
somebody who can follow instructions you
can find this I mean very easily those
three traits tend to be
okay and I love the word
conscientiousness because it's not just
kindness kindness is a good way to think
of it but
you can be kind and kind of be a
pushover and that's not attractive
conscientiousness is smart attentive
it's somebody who reads into a text
message and thinks wow she was making
herself very vulnerable there
that's conscientiousness I like how you
just do an accomplishment it's true it's
a certain intelligence awareness and
and then on top of that
conscientiousness is motivated so you
can't be on your ass all day and be
conscientious because then you can't
meet the needs that you anticipate about
the person so conscientious is that guy
who drives the car around in the
rainstorm so his wife's hair doesn't get
met it's my husband who checks my alarm
for me every morning because he knows
I'm terrible at time management and he
makes sure that I set it a reasonable
amount of time before my first meeting
and not let 20 minutes I think I need
and then he'll come wake me up with a
cup of coffee that is Ultimate
and it is true I mean I will tell you as
somebody who's with a conscientious
partner Your Love increases over time as
you continue to feel grateful and
admiring of that person
the second one
you want somebody who is low in a Big
Five personality trait called
um you want somebody emotionally stable
in a way now this doesn't mean you can't
have somebody who doesn't get the blues
or struggle with mental health issues
trust me Ty is with somebody who you
know I get I'm all over the place but
you want somebody who kind of owns their
[ __ ] and isn't going to just
be emotionally unstable all over you
know you want somebody who is generally
happy and has some life satisfaction
um having a partner who has serious not
mental health issues but unmitigated
emotional distress and instability is
really hard on the partner and it's
really hard on other family members
including children if you have children
so it's just a predictor of Happiness so
there's a certain threshold of chaos
that if you exceed it it's going to be
destructive to a long-term relationship
a perfect description chaos
not the mystery chaos you love as your
with your little Pro poet brain yeah I'm
talking more like just somebody who
there's just no peace there's no peace
there's a problem with everything
everything becomes more difficult going
to a party is a chore a you don't know
if they're gonna have a meltdown at the
party or how many complaints about your
friends or
um everything is a problem so you want
somebody who has just some resiliency I
think is a good term for it some
flexibility some spice is okay but not
too much like right flexibility
resiliency easy going yeah Okay the
third is
um really interesting I think so he
found that
having a partner with sort of moderate
adventurousness not high adventurousness
actually leads to greater greater
satisfaction and the reason for that is
high adventurousness equals novelty
seeking shiny new things and so if
you're in a monogamous relationship if
that is what's important to you it's
going to be very hard for a partner who
is novelty seeking to be faithful
um so that will cause a lot of pain but
um novelty seeking people tend to always
have new projects new interesting things
and so their attention is drawn away
from the relationship and so you can
just feel pretty neglected or
by a little bit but you want a little
bit of adventurousness so you want your
person to be uh sort of self-motivated
uh individuated have their own interests
not completely dependent on you but also
I mean low adventurousness is not a bad
thing ultimately what you're getting
with low to moderate adventurousness is
that rock that feeling of stability that
home and I made some references earlier
like when you're 70 and you turn to your
partner do you want them to be hot or
you know for instance my dad has
dementia right now and my husband turned
to me on the plane we were all coming
back from a trip and where we really saw
how severe it's getting
and he just turned to me he knew how
much pain I was in even though I might
wasn't showing it and he said I want you
to know that if it comes to a point
where we need to take care of your dad
he needs to live with us you don't even
need to ask it is I am 100 on board and
will help and uh those are the things
that matter that home feeling and
technically that's a trait that's
usually that's sort of a
my husband caring so much about family
and home and taking care of things that
matter those are things that tend to be
associated with that low to moderate
adventurousness somebody who really
cares about simple things and family I
wonder if those things those those three
things that something you can work on
you know Consciousness you can probably
you can
proactively observe yourself
and you know do it more regularly right
neuroticism might be the hardest one
probably I think so well I mean I
I was pretty neurotic in my early 20s
and when you wake up to it maybe you if
you're self-aware about it maybe you'll
be able to control it yeah I think
self-awareness is key I think I think
that's why I love therapy so much I
think life is about growth and our
potential for growth and to make our own
lives better to make the lives of others
better to serve others to heal all of us
through this Collective healing and I
think we're all capable of growth and
the same with adventurousness you can
I'm somebody that's pretty pretty low on
adventure but I keep throwing myself out
there just for the extra adventures and
you can grow in that way yes and I am
high in adventurousness and I was not
really ready to settle down I was
married earlier in my 20s but I would
say that I am much more prepared to be
in a committed long-term relationship
now in my 40s than I was when I was
younger but in that same way for me I
like to connect myself to high adventure
people so that it like brings me brings
me out it's like uh they're a horse and
I'm get to ride them and that's the
thing so high adventure people are
attractive they're interesting exciting
but it can be a world of heartbreak
because you know you're only under that
Spotlight for a few minutes and then
they're on to the next shiny thing yeah
but heartbreak is part of love
but that might be the drug thing that
you were talking about speaking of
adventurousness what about sex it's
important sex playing a successful
relationship well it okay so I'm saying
it's important but I want to qualify
that everybody has different levels of
sex that are satisfying to them sex can
definitely Bond you to your partner
orgasms are amazing they de-stress us
they're healthy they I mean you can have
an orgasm and have a lower level of
stress for 48 hours I think that's
pretty incredible
if you have I mean just that kind of
physical contact with your partner even
a 20 second hug with your partner has
similar benefits to an orgasm you're
going to have a lower stress level
you're going to feel immediately close
to your partner you're going to get a
rush of oxytocin which is going to make
you feel happier more grounded
throughout the day so that's a 20 second
hug you extrapolate that to sex and
things are going to be great
so it's just physiological but I wonder
there's probably metrics about how often
you have sex how that correlates to
successful relationships and so on well
there are but it really has more to do
it's sort of like remember I was talking
about processing conflict and what
matters is
do people feel like it's been resolved
do they feel like there's been a repair
not necessarily how they go about doing
it same with sex do does each partner
feel sexually satisfied
um so that could be once a month for one
couple it could be five times a week for
another couple it could be never for
other couples truly
um I mean so sex has a ton of benefits
but its absence isn't necessarily
detrimental I guess would be the
qualifier depending on who you are and I
know couples they use sex to as part of
the conflict resolution process it's
not just both all that's true
um what do you think about infidelity
um you know what's the cause of
infidelity why do men and women cheat
it's different for everybody but I I
mean even earlier I was saying with
adventurousness like if monogamy is
something you're doing
I I I've seen in my own practice I've
seen the entire range of couples who are
open about having sexual relationships
with other people
um and fine with it couples who want to
be fine with it but find out they're not
um uh couples who aren't just couples
couples with multiple people you know
multiple romantic relationships
um I've had couples where Affairs are
are tolerated and not talked about
um they're not enjoyed but they are not
the type of betrayal that will destroy
the relationship sort of a understanding
and keep it out of my face and then also
we won't talk about it so in the fair
that happened without getting permission
first and as long as you don't talk
about it it's not going to do a damage
to the relationship right but we can't
even talk about it like that right so
nobody's going to admit that the fair is
um there can't be any evidence of it
it's sort of a just look the other way
type of a situation but uh the partner
who is not having the affair right they
typically know
um they certainly know that their
partner is capable of that
um they just kind of know but they don't
want it in their face it would become a
problem if it was in their face
as long as certain needs are met and
everything else is okay at home it's
just one of those things where don't ask
don't tell but that that's an
interesting point because I've I had a
bunch of arguments with people I tend to
hang out with especially in the tech
sector uh people who really value like
honesty and radical honesty and I keep
arguing with people about this because
to me
it's not that simple okay that that's an
example right there uh that Honesty can
be really destructive like honesty is
also a really complicated thing to get
to the bottom of because what is really
honest yes and you know like how do I
look in this dress like
there's a million ways yeah a lot it can
be accessible in my mind if I'm in a bad
place or my partner and I am like if
Taya and I haven't been connected lately
my honesty of what I actually think
about him would be horrifically damaging
and completely unfounded also and but
and it can change on a dime but that's
also not actual honesty to the big
picture of how you feel about him I have
interacted with a few folks who talk
about their previous sexual partners for
example on the numbers of sexual
partners they've had and they feel like
that that kind of honesty is actually
empowering enriching to the relationship
because all they've experienced sexual
experiences you've had in the past make
you a better sexual partner better
partner in in the present and to me from
the culture I've come from that's like
anti-romantic yep yep like I you kind of
throw the past kind of away right you
don't really talk about it it's kind of
there in this amorphous shape but it's
almost as if you've met together for the
first time and this is a beautiful new
thing like your creatures that have
woken up from a long Slumber right
you're starting Anew it's starting in
new right so and then you want some
mystery there right I think the mystery
and like you have to figure that out
about each other so I'm not exactly sure
that honesty is always for everyone and
then also is honesty harmful or helpful
at certain points too yeah I.E so you're
talking about sort of like disclosing
prior sexual history I thought you were
going to go to so if you've had an
affair do you hold could you keep that
under your head oh yeah that's a really
tough question or are you obligated to
disclose it it's a really it is a very
tough question very tough well what do
you think is the I have my own personal
beliefs I also then like I have my
therapeutic beliefs I think frankly
and this is just me as a human being not
Shannon the psychologist
um I believe that if you have [ __ ] up
and and I again I'm coming from a
framework right now of monogamy
um if you are committed to somebody you
love and you have [ __ ] up you don't
get to shed your guilt onto them
you need to carry that burden it's not
necessarily I think it's simplistic and
unsophisticated to be like but then
you're being dishonest I think it's
actually selfish to unload it on
somebody else and give them the trauma
of imagining what we do know about
infidelity is that it can create
an actual post-traumatic stress like
experience for the Betrayed partner
where they are having intrusive thoughts
about it
um those are unwanted thoughts and it's
uncontrolled it comes in it multiple
times a day they'll have depressed mood
they'll have nightmares about it their
entire sense of security safety
self-esteem gets shattered because of
your actions
I think it's uh kind of yeah moralistic
and naive to think well they deserve to
know the truth if you actually know the
harm that that sort of betrayal does
especially if you truly mean to stop it
right so if it is if it was a one and
done or if it happened and you've
stopped it and you do not intend to do
it again frankly I think you live with
that burden you live with that
discomfort thank you for saying that
because I I totally agree but it's it's
like logically
it's doesn't quite make sense to give
that advice but psychologically makes
complete sense because you really are
destroying another person's mind uh
their faith in in love in relationships
their their their trust everything and
then you're imprisoning them to be stuck
with you for months or years if you're
trying to work through it through that
torture so you should be carrying that
burden and working through it I think
why why do you say that that's your
personal opinion University or
therapeutic like what well I think
everybody has different values right so
I think that's a value-based decision
because to me the hierarchy is kindness
and do no like do no further harm yeah
um over that's in that case over truth
um whereas other people you know my
husband for instance he is like truth
above all else you don't get to decide
what I know or you know you don't get to
decide whether or not I can handle that
knowledge so he would even see my
determination of you know that I should
carry the burden sort of arrogant like
well why don't you let your partner
decide whether or not they you know why
do you get to choose I don't know I I
think there's value to both arguments I
absolutely see this point is I
absolutely see his point and his I think
is like a very humble sort of option
you don't get to choose what's better
you you just need to give them the
information and they can choose but I
think I don't know I think it's kinder
to hold I think it's going to cause your
conscience more discomfort to hold it
and I think there's sort of a cleansing
we do when we share that information I
think in real life most people disclose
it because they can't stand the secret
anymore themselves that to me is a
selfish act I have a unemployment
applications and so on and just with
friends would ask people what do you
care more about truth or loyalty just to
get to see how they think about those
different questions
and uh yeah the
I was surprised how much variance there
is on that and also conceptually I bet
I conceptually I don't think we actually
know where we stand until we're faced
with a situation like that yeah I think
people a lot of people especially when
they're younger say especially if
they're kind of intellectual they'll say
truth Above All Else
a second all right you're exactly right
all right
until you get to hear a truth that truly
breaks you truly hurts you or causes
suffering to you and then you realize or
a truth you give to somebody else will
cause them suffering right and they get
to see that suffering destroy their life
and maybe your relationship and so on
and then you're like oh yeah like should
I sit my dad down right now and be like
Dad your dementia like you have dementia
again today I'm going to tell you Dad
you're not making sense no we're good
it's not going to be discussed we're
going to make them comfortable and I
mean yeah I think it truth can be a
little bit of a platitude Sometimes some
of those complexities are all the things
involved in in the challenges of what
makes a relationship work right uh what
do you think about open relationships in
my world view is such that I see the
beauty and value in monogamous
relationships just for me but I don't
I'm also open to
the possibility of what worked for other
people have you done any kind of work
with the people in open relationships as
clients or research as clients oh yeah
is there some interesting differences in
between uh open relationships and
monogamous relationships you know I
think that may have been actually what
was behind my question about
um the satisfaction with them being on
the extremes my hypothesis essentially
was is it because they if you are really
all and you've worked out some of the
Kinks I think I've seen
the couples who are trying it out like
for the first time it tends to get a
little Haywire there's some excitement
in the beginning everybody's really
excited about it
um I think the philosophy makes sense to
a lot of people uh the science of it
makes sense to a lot of people and but
we have been raised in a society that is
pretty monogamous so there isn't a lot
of scaffolding around it
um and and there's a lot of inner
conflict I think for people to go away
from the values that they've been taught
since they were kids
um and so jealousy arises a lot and uh
and also I it's very difficult to be I
think as truthful and direct as you need
to be which you're describing in these
polyamorous situations where everybody
is laid out on the table
um so I think that's something that may
be practiced in my own work with clients
I've just noticed that um the the
Partners who are
happier in these situations who I've
worked with they are more experienced at
yeah they seem to have it down
you testified in the Johnny Depp Amber
Heard trial uh based on your role as a
clinical and forensic psychologist it
was watched by I don't know how many
people maybe tens maybe hundreds of
millions of people what was that
experience like thank God I didn't know
that at the time
um were you scared
oh yeah given the size of the platform
how many people are watching and not
scared typically isn't the word when I
testify I'm always
excited and a little trepidatious before
I testify
um because the stakes are so high for
everybody's life in that room
um this was different I I anxiety isn't
usually my brand
um and I just skipped anxiety that
Maureen went straight to Terror and he
was mad I was mad at the legal it was
funny like I was having all these strong
emotions I couldn't find my bobby pins I
almost started crying because I couldn't
find them uh I was pretty unhinged that
morning and in a way that was really
unfamiliar to me
um and it was right when I cried because
I couldn't find my bobby pins that I
realized I needed to get a grip and that
I was a professional and that my hair
didn't matter even though it ended up
mattering people noticed that it was
um but I got a grip and I went in and I
just did my job
so the terror in the end helped you
focus and do your job well I think it
does and it's a little scary though
because I know what fear does
cognitively and there is a sweet spot
where you want some stress and then you
can be really acutely focused and
attuned but then if you go over this
threshold you get sort of that frontal
lobe shutdown where you're not thinking
clearly and everybody knows that
experience from taking a really
stressful test at some point like in
high school and then they're going over
the answers with the teacher in class
later and they're like how did I miss
that question I know that they you're
just in a different state that's when
you have too much stress I think this
day I actually was bordering on too much
stress if not clearly in that threshold
but um
once you're sitting there for a little
bit and you're asked the questions you
can kind of go into a routine of just
wanting to talk about your work
so what is the work the job of a
forensic psychologist in that context
in the depth herd trial I was
serving as an expert witness based on a
psychological evaluation of one of the
parties so forensic psychologists can
serve the court or in legal matters in a
number of ways they can act as a
confidential consultant for an attorney
on a case
or they can even assist with jury
selection they might testify without
doing an evaluation if they're just
coming to testify about sort of a
subject matter
and then they wouldn't be answering
specific questions to either the parties
but just talking more hypothetically
about an a field area in this case
because I was ordered to conduct an
I evaluated one of the parties and then
you provide a report to the court with
your findings and then you testify as to
what your findings were but from my
perspective just watching you seem to
have held it together really well so
what do you attribute that to so you
said like it calmed down after you were
able to ask the question so to me if I
were just to put myself in your place
it seems like the internet and the world
would be very nitpicky about individual
words you're speaking from a place
of um a scientific rigor so you have to
be very precise with the awarding
precise I would feel like so much
pressure about each single word I choose
did you feel that pressure that you had
to be extremely precise with the words
always the pressure is so high going in
to testifying I think that's where I
feel the most pressure is preparing and
literally the moment until I start
having to answer and then I don't even
have the luxury of thinking about myself
because it is so important that that
answer be
clarified and understandable to the
court that that becomes my focus and
that's the godsend is that I can stop
thinking about how scary it all is
because I need to pay attention to
explaining something
so I if it's okay I would love to talk
to you about the the personality
assessment test because I think it's
actually super fascinating uh but
personality assessment inventory or the
mmpi too you're probably referring to
the mmpi too which is one I talked a lot
about mmpi too yeah so maybe can you
explain the mmpi to seems fascinating it
is it has like its output the results
has some basic skills as code types and
just reading through the different
complex it's the thing of beauty because
the human mind is really complicated
even you know depression schizophrenia
uh bipolar disorder like all of these
things are really complicated there's
like we many of them we don't understand
well this seems to be a huge amount of
variance and yet you have to be able to
stitch together a bunch of
characteristics that give you intuition
the unique aspects of each person you
want to be able to have tests that get
you closer to identifying The Peculiar
flaws or uh beauties of a particular
mind so this seems to do a good job just
reading through the different
descriptions of the code testify that
was the best description I don't know
I'm being poetic I apologize beautiful
description you have to be in part
poetic about the human mind it's not
it's not math it's it's psychology okay
so what is the mmpi to like what what
what are we talking about here like uh
it's a questionnaire
yes that's a great start so it it is a
questionnaire uh yet 567 yes no
I'm going to tell you what's most
beautiful about this test so they used
an empirical keying method to develop it
what that means is that they didn't have
a bunch of psychologists get together
and say let's ask them
um let's make sure that we identify
people who have somatic complaints or
physical complaints by asking them
questions about like numbness in their
hands nothing like that what they did
instead was they threw you know like
take a thousand questions at a group of
people who they know at a certain mental
illness and a group of people who didn't
have that mental illness and then they
looked for patterns in what the people
with the mental illness
endorsed as yes and no of those random
questions so it would be for instance
there's a bronze light fixture right
there one of the questions out of the
Thousand might be I like light fixtures
that are bronze true or false and they
looked for correlations in the way
people would answer to these completely
innocuous just boring questions so there
was no real way that a test taker could
foresee the point of answering
and so because they can't foresee it's
very difficult to cheat to get to a
conclusion very difficult and not only
that but you can imagine using that
approach you can then look for patterns
for almost any type of
response style for any type of
Personality trait any type of mental
illness you just get a comparison group
and then a group who's using that
specific strategy or has that specific
mental illness or has that personality
um and you just look for patterns
and there's a scale output of different
so types yep so we've got you've got
validity scales and those are just
fascinating and often one of the most
useful parts of this test in forensic
contexts because they show you how a
person is approaching the test how
they're answering questions about
themselves so for instance you can see
if they are tired you can see if they're
kind of respect responding randomly you
can see if they are in an
unsophisticated manner trying to make
themselves look perfect but not very
nuanced you can see if they may be
deceiving themselves and truly believe
that they are perfect whereas others
don't see it that way you can see if
they're exaggerating you can see if
they're exaggerating because they're
um it's a cry for help they are in
extreme distress but they feel as though
they need to really punctuate it to get
people to notice or you can see if
they're exaggerating in a way that is
um you know driven for a specific
outcome or gain it's just fascinating
and it's the most well-developed
assessment we have for a person's
approach to
answering questions about themselves so
it gives you the context of how honest
they're being the state of the person is
their answer to them yeah yeah their
honesty their how forthcoming they're
being and how accurate they're being and
then the the result of the
classification based on the test is are
these code types right well so you have
these clinical skills as well you have
10 clinical skills that look for
um kind of primary Clinical Pathology
issues this test doesn't tell you
anything good about yourself at best it
just tells you that you're not
responding in a way that is uh dishonest
and that you are uh kind not hugely
problematic but there's you know it's
not looking for strength so you have
these 10 clinical scales that look for
variations above the mean of the
um in certain areas anywhere from you
know depressive symptoms manic symptoms
physical complaints anxiety nervousness
aggression social engagement whole scope
of human experience and then there are
much more nuanced scales from those so
little sub scales and then the real
power though of the mmpi2 is in as you
said these code types and these code
types are additional patterns that have
been detected that really can be more
defining of a personality so you look
for Peaks there can be either two
extreme Peaks or three typically that
make a code type and those Peaks are
higher scores on these personality
traits and specific code types can give
you a very nuanced picture of a person's
General approach to life and their
personal relationships just their
personality so you can build on top of
those code types and understanding yeah
how that person is going to deal with
different kinds of situations and then
there's by the way a lot of code types
there are a lot of questions pretty
interesting it is
I was I wanted to see which one I would
I have given it to some people in my
life it's just phenomenal how hard is it
on your side of the table to give the
test oh it's easy you just Proctor you
just make sure that somebody there's no
distraction that they're well rested
they are sitting there and they can just
take it in front of you so I guess the
question is because the questions are
well designed in that it's hard to mess
with them you just give the it's very
hard to beat it you just hand it to them
and it's yes and no it's yes and no
okay but I should also add to this that
this test as much as I love it and um it
is the most researched and widely used
personality assessment in the world
it is not in and of itself definitive so
you use it like you already have sort of
a hypothesis and you use this for
clarification okay
um and it has a ton of value for showing
somebody's response or their approach
um how forthcoming they're being but
other than that you really need to
consider it as a piece of the puzzle you
had said stitched together earlier and
that was just one of those points you
made that was perfect for describing
there's probably no one perfect test
right for personality no
I wonder especially with advancements of
um AI
there could be more
more and more sophisticated ways of
measuring of collecting data about your
behavior absolutely there could be and
being able to measure some kind of more
productive kind of
especially not in a forensic context but
more in uh trying to figure out like how
to improve your lifestyle improve your
relationships all that kind of stuff so
the the results of the test with um
would then be heard if you can speak to
the public stuff
he said that the results of misheard's
evaluation supported two diagnoses
borderline personality disorder and
hysterionic personality disorder
can you speak to each one of those what
are they what are the basic
characteristics of borderline
personality disorder sure well so right
now are the DSM-5 which is sort of the
Bible for mental disorders it's what we
go to our diagnostic manual it
classifies personality disorders
according to clusters
and cluster B is one that involves the
emotionally erratic interpersonally
erratic emotional disorders and those
include histrionic personality disorder
borderline personality disorder uh
narcissistic personality disorder and
anti-social personality disorder
eventually there's been some research on
this and a lot of support for us
eventually moving into a more Spectrum
type approach to considering personality
disorders where you'd essentially be
looking at dysfunction in different
domains of somebody's functioning that
has persisted over time and again the
really important part is this it seems
to be a stable trait part of their
personality that person you know it's in
their interpersonal relationships it's
in how they handle their own life their
own functioning their mood and it's not
just situation based it seems to be all
um I don't love
the title histrionic personality
disorder I think its history is um
it's pretty controversial and there's
some misogyny in it but that all being
said as a servant to the court and
somebody who is there to just provide
the science as it exists today
my job is to relay and in this specific
case I was ordered to provide my
diagnostic Impressions
um a diagnosis and I don't get to decide
which diagnosis uh whether I like a
certain diagnosis or not ultimately if
the criteria are met that diagnosis is
given so as we have it right now with
the current personality disorder
categories histrionic personality
disorder is probably the most
controversial some people believe that
it is narcissistic personality disorder
light so sort of a less obvious less
malicious version of narcissistic
personality disorder
and I think that will probably get
sussed out if we do move to a more
Spectrum based approach because then you
would be describing sort of a
personality disorder and then you would
add the traits to it so you know with
issues and interpersonal functioning and
and Etc so you could be a little bit
specific rather than have to just put
somebody in a category so that's where
things are moving you're saying that's
where things are moving from a cluster's
based view of NPD anti-social
personality disorder to more of a
spectrum with personality dysfunction
then you you list the traits that are
there and I think that'll be more
accurate um especially there's so much
overlap between these personality
disorders right now especially cluster B
it is not uncommon for people to have
two or three personality disorders to
meet criteria for two or three at the
same time so speaking about borderline
personality disorder and histrionic
personality disorder
borderline personality disorder can best
be thought of as a disorder of
instability and impulsiveness emotional
instability instability in a person's
self-identity sense of self instability
in a person's relationships and then
underlying all of this is an intense
fear of Abandonment histrionic
personality just order
is more of a disorder of emotionality
Dramatics and attention seeking
this you know histrionic disorder
typically is known for The Dramatics and
people who are observing or interacting
with somebody with this disorder may
even feel themselves almost kind of
wanting to turn away there's a sense of
play acting as the person is speaking or
engaging with you
something just feels a little bit
and a lot of attention seeking similar
to borderline personality disorder you
might see with histrionic personality
disorder attempts to manipulate however
the motivation with histrionic
personality disorder is that attention
whereas with borderline personality
disorder the underlying motivation for
almost everything is to avoid
abandonment so you'll see frantic
attempts to avoid abandonment frantic
attempts to keep people close and those
frantic attempts can be really harmful
to the person and to others
to the person themselves
so the fear of Abandonment can
result in the very thing you're afraid
of right
and and I there has been some research
also to suggest that there that
borderline personality disorder has
different types as well
and I think this is really important
because in my own work I have
encountered many people with borderline
personality disorder in my own life
and there are different types right I
I'm thinking specifically of a girl I
really love who I've worked with for
years who is so self-aware about this
and endearing and uh she she owns her
[ __ ] I can forgive almost anything if
somebody just owns their [ __ ]
um she is she might lose her temper she
might lash out she can be erratic but
she will come back and apologize own it
and accept full responsibility and not
only that but identify it and make
she doesn't want to be harmful I adore
that about her I think it's an admirable
quality more of us could have
um that's very different than
when you think about it there are nine
different symptoms and you only need
five to meet criteria so depending on
which symptoms you have you might be far
more calculated conniving manipulative
or you may just be more of the impulsive
kind of messy emotionally erratic type
and so there's some new research also
coming out that's even suggested that
among women
those that score higher in some of these
more calculated traits of the disorder
may actually be it may be a certain
presentation of female psychopathy
yeah are are some of these personality
disorders again probably impossible
question to answer but
how much of it is nature how much of it
is nurture or how much of it is in the
genetics and you just can't do much with
uh maybe another question a different
way to ask that is how much can you help
that how how much can you become better
that is a tough question so there's been
a ton of change in the way we've thought
about the etiology of these personality
disorders specific to borderline
personality disorder I think in general
the view is that most people believe
that it was associated with neglect or
trauma and childhood
while there is a correlation there
there's a correlation between that and
many mental health issues not just
borderline personality disorder we also
there is evidence to support a genetic
basis for this personality disorder and
there are people who have borderline
personality disorders that report no
childhood trauma or difficulty
um and I've and I have seen I you know
sometimes things just happen so
I think it's a mix I think we need to
think of it as biopsychosocial which is
generally the answer to most things when
you're talking about how a mental health
issue comes to be
um I certainly think that in most cases
and here's just me speaking personally
again I think in my own work in most
cases what I see is that somebody may
have some sort of predisposition then
they go through certain life events and
learn patterns of Behaving that may
serve them well as a child in a
dysfunctional situation but end up being
very problematic later on or they just
have enough hardship that that Gene
whatever it was lying dormant that
little borderline personality disorder
Gene expresses itself and you'll see
that with things like schizophrenia
depression anxiety disorders there tend
to be certain ages where you'll just see
that expression happen
all right for the record it got cold in
here so we upgraded with a blanket
you look cozy uh just as a question for
me just observing the trial it was
that first of all is a really
raw and honest exploration of
intimate relationship between two people
oh yeah it was interesting to watch I
suppose I haven't watched that kind of
it made me think about what makes for a
good relationship
all the all the many things we've
already talked about in this
it was useful for that but also there
was raw recordings of two humans
interaction what do you think about that
that there's recordings it's kind of
interesting the act of recording your
partner yeah and not not the ethics of
that or so on but the fact that you have
this data made me wonder like if I
recorded myself how would I sound like
when you record yourself no but here
with microphones but when you're in
private yeah you wonder
like I had a a bit of a fight with a
friend uh last week
and I wondered which one of us was the
[ __ ] I would love to hear the
recording because we were a little bit I
think we're a little bit rude to each
other and I wonder how it went wrong I
love that you asked yourself that
question that's so useful we made up the
next day and we I think both agreed to
not ever talk about it but I want this
to bury it deep yeah you know I record
my couple sessions and one of the
primary purposes of that is so that
after if they start to get nasty with
each other in the session I can stop it
and I can say what was that right and
most of the time that what you're
describing is so useful because we don't
see ourselves we have no idea that we
just came off as critical we think we're
being completely reasonable and
thoughtful you know whenever somebody's
sort of retelling an argument they got
and they said and then you know I was
just caring and just asked I mean why is
there a reason you did you know
something like that if they can actually
see themselves they realize no their jaw
was clenched their voice was raised they
actually called a name sometimes they're
uh so just a quick just to linger on it
the you labeled
Amber Heard as a three six code Type
going back to our discussion which can
mean that quote she's heavily concerned
with image prone to treating others with
cruelty unable to admit responsibility
for wrongdoing and prone to
externalizing blame and then I also went
into the the mmpi2 list three six
includes anxiety tension rigidity fear
of criticism
suppress hostility merging and passive
or episodic aggression
suspiciousness egocentricity what else
what can you say about that code that is
not captured in the different
personality disorders
um what are we supposed to do that from
a forensic psychology perspective and
what what what are we supposed to do
that in general forget the 3-6 in
general these kinds of code types in
that context in the context of a trial
if I'm understanding you correctly it's
sort of what's the point of these code
types yeah
um thank you for asking the question
better but
I don't know what I'm doing I just I
just actually honestly really find mmpi
too fast I love that you do yeah I love
that you get it because I just to me
it's such a uh it's almost unbelievable
that humans created it
um but I think that goes back to that
empirical key method of creating
something that enabled it to be as
robust as it is and something that is
very difficult to beat if not impossible
um but the code types really so it
depends on in any forensic case what
really matters is the legal psycho legal
questions so what is the legal question
and then what is the psychologist's
responsibility in assisting with
whatever question they're being asked
and there are some questions we can't
answer some that we can
um you don't always need to provide a
diagnosis when you're asked to provide a
report it depends on the jurisdiction it
depends on the statute some
jurisdictions actually require a
diagnosis in this case I was asked to
provide a diagnosis so when I'm
considering a diagnosis you're
integrating multiple different sources
of information you're integrating and
examining self-report you are adding
collateral data usually I wasn't able to
obtain collateral interviews in this
case and that was the decision of the
Court they said no collateral interviews
but typically that would be something
that you would add you're looking at
records ideally from birth up until the
day that the alleged injury occurred and
I'm speaking now specifically to a
personal injury evaluation or something
where somebody is claiming that they
were harmed psychologically
um but you want as many records as
possible to show how a person functioned
before that event occurred and how they
functioned after and you want it to show
Financial functioning physical
functioning academic functioning
basically where is there evidence that
something in their life changed
um where is there evidence that harm
occurred other than from what they're
telling you and uh in addition to all of
those records that you're reviewing in
addition to their self-report then
you're also going to give some of these
tests like the mmpi so the code types
are really that that strength of the
mmpi2 it gives you really nuanced
information about a person's personality
now again you're not going to use the
mmpi2 or any other test by itself to
diagnose someone or you know decide that
the person is telling the truth not
telling the truth it is just another
piece of data and when it's working the
way it's supposed to It lines up really
nicely with all of the other data you're
getting including what you've observed
from the person during your interview
with them the information they're giving
you or inconsistencies with information
they're giving you the consistency or
inconsistency of their self-report from
the records what the records themselves
say etc etc so it's adding it's helping
you clarify and clarify and clarify the
picture yeah just dialing it down more
and more you're just making sure that it
is as accurate as possible
okay so given how huge this trial was
given how eloquent you were you were I
know you don't think of it that way but
from a public perspective you were like
the star
because of how well you've been it's I
mean you know uh I'm pretty sure
Camille's the star Camille is also
incredible I've got a chance to interact
with her she's somebody that uh
really inspires me by how good she is at
her job how much she loves her job and
how much the fame the money whatever has
not affected the basic core Integrity of
who she is as a human being so she's
also uh she's also incredible okay uh
how what's the what's the takeaway for
you personally from The Trial uh how's
it made you a better person how is it
changing changed or solidified who you
are as a psychologist as a forensic
psychologist clinical psychologist and
so on
wow uh I mean a lot happened in my life
around that trial leading up to the
trial after the trial
so let's tackle forensic psychologists
first sure okay so in terms of forensic
um I am grateful to that trial for
really strengthening my abilities
um these Stakes were so high that I took
you know I was retained about two years
prior to the trial so I really delved
deep into the academic side of forensic
psychology and making sure that
um I was adhering as closely as possible
to standard practices best practice
recommendations for this specific type
of an examination it was intellectually
awesome and challenging I feel like my
brain was on fire for a full year
leading up to the trial and that can be
really really fun it was just
challenging but I am really proud of the
work I did I think the stakes were
really high it's serious work it's
important that it's done well and
accurately and
I felt really good about it so I have
some of those lessons carried through to
your practice now to both research and
uh some of the things you're doing in
terms of helping couples
uh no I mean I just
you know my practice hasn't changed that
much uh this was more uh just something
that was more it demanded so much more
of my time than my typical forensic work
does and personal injury cases are in
cases where there is an allegation of
trauma or psychological harm tend to be
super labor intensive this given um the
magnitude and how long it had been going
on in the back and forth required a ton
of work before the trial as well so it
pulled me away from the practice I think
it's been nice to go back a bit if okay
so now personally
um I've learned some things I've learned
that I need to slow down a little bit
so this took a lot from you it took a
lot but it was really the culmination I
feel like there are these hoops we jump
through again and again you know
academic challenges that we continue to
meet and then there's a next one and a
next one and a next one and in the
beginning like when you're getting into
college or applying to grad schools you
don't really realize this is going to be
a never-ending thing especially if I
continue with research or forensic work
I love it because it is so academic you
know you're writing these 75-page
reports and with citations and
um you have to be accurate it feels like
I'm doing giant board exams again and
again and again
um it never ends but that feeling I
think you and I were talking about how
it's fun to doubt yourself because it
pushes you to do better work
um but so if you keep having high stakes
you're going to work all the time work
yourself in the ground constantly be
thinking I'm about oh this question I'm
not sure if I fully know the answer and
all the research behind that so I should
go there
and again super fun
I don't just do forensic psychology all
day I also have own a clinic I provide
therapy I've been providing therapy for
15 years so what happens is you have
clients who maybe you've stopped seeing
but when they have a crisis in their
lives they reach out to you again even
if it's seven years later so you've
accumulated hundreds of clients who at
any given time are going to reach out
when they're in crisis whether or not
you're working on a federal case or in
Virginia for this and
that is never going to be something easy
to Grapple with because I feel that I am
letting somebody down I know I am
because these are people I genuinely
care about and they care about me and
they trust me
and I want to be able to be there for
them I know that it's disappointing if I
can't be and it's also very difficult
to separate out the Professional Therapy
relationship from loving someone who
you've seen through some of the most
difficult parts of their lives and I can
explain that to people all day long but
it doesn't necessarily mean that it's
going to be easy for someone to accept
when I can't talk to them
and they just found out you know their
husband was leading a double life or you
know their sister just died and I can't
even get on a call because I'm getting
maybe 15 messages like that a day
and have to testify and have to run my
um so I think that was why I need to
slow down this case I was doing all of
and then like the academic load or the
work involved was just tremendous
um and some stuff happened like my dad
he started having his cognitive decline
I got a medical diagnosis that is stress
um I really thought I was getting away
with it I I really believed that people
who talk like a lot about self-care were
kind of full of [ __ ] and just didn't
know how to push themselves I still
believe in pushing ourselves
but I think I
kind of traversed into an area and
without realizing it where I was no
longer pushing myself to challenge
myself or see what I was capable of I
was almost pushing myself like as a
necessity because I didn't know what
else to do anymore
just an obligation
um it wasn't even I wasn't pushing
myself to do
the debt herd case reminded me of that
feeling of pushing myself to do
something I wasn't sure I was capable of
and overcoming that challenge that was
rewarding but when you're piling that on
with like running a business and all
these other things and trying to be
perfect at all of them
um that just starts to become like a
feeling of necessity and it's not
that said you somehow managed to hold it
all together to put forward a mask for
performance and like you said still take
care of all these clients because you're
the most important person in their lives
for many of them
um is there is there a secret to that
was there any hacks
is there uh I don't get no and honestly
I it's not 100 it's not how I
it's a work in progress right I I don't
have an answer for
I wouldn't want my life to be any other
way I you know I wouldn't have had the
opportunity to work on this case if I
hadn't established my practice and had
Outreach and um
so I I can't figure out like which piece
you take it out without it all crumbling
yeah but I would love to have a little
more down time so it all kind of works
together and there's
passion is the fuel that
uh that's behind all of it probably
that's probably the reason you haven't
lost your mind quite yet maybe yeah
maybe unless I mean it depends who you
ask what about the stress of just being
in the public eye has that been
difficult for you
that's a lovely question thank you for
asking it because I'm
it is nice to talk to you about this
because I feel like you probably
understand it a little bit
um that was something I was absolutely
unprepared for uh like I said I had no
idea how many people were watching when
I testified I
I had no idea and I got off the stand I
kind of staggered to the back room and
truly thought about lying down on the
floor because I was so exhausted and uh
you know I'd been up studying on my
stuff terrified that I was gonna forget
some statistic about the mmpi too it's
gonna be so great it's great for me it's
gonna be great for people to hear this
that you're human you're too flaws
that you're that's extremely stressful
for many many hours I wondered how you
could sit there for so many hours and
stay so focused and listen so well it's
so difficult well I mean I could talk
about that too at the moment I came to
almost like came back to my body and
realized where I was and just wanted it
to stop and felt like I was burning
alive I just was thinking I don't want
to do this anymore I don't want to do
this anymore is this going to stop and
then another question came and I just
had to get back to it uh but uh so after
I testified the first time I went in
that back room I I might have laid down
on the ground it's kind of a blur I mean
I might have I do remember that Wayne
Dennison uh one of the senior managing
Partners at Brown redneck who is a
phenomenal guy and absolutely brilliant
I will be indebted in for life because
um I trusted him I trusted him and that
made all the difference in probably how
I testified but he came in the back and
he was looking at his phone and he said
you're on the cover of time something on
you know like Apple news
and I thought I mean I really I thought
he was messing with me
um I thought it was it was his joke way
of saying like I did great
you've worked with uh veterans
um what is PTSD in that context what
what's the landscape of psychological
sufferings that
veteran soldiers go through
well if we're talking about combat
you're seeing
things you're not meant to see you're
seeing the worst of humanity people
harming other people it's not natural
um others to intend to harm us it's not
natural for us to harm others and
this dehumanization can occur that's so
troubling and disturbing that people
have a hard time living with it later or
they just feel this ongoing anger
yeah it's it depends it depends on the
trauma they're exposed to it depends on
you know whether their Convoy was
ambushed by weapons that were purchased
from money that was given to this
Village from the US government
um it depends on whether
they did something that they have a hard
time reconciling outside of War now that
they're back home in Civilization
um depends on whether they lost a lot of
their comrades and feel that guilt of
being a Survivor and again not everybody
develops PTSD it really it's a mental
disorder it's serious we talk so much
about trauma and PTSD gets thrown around
lightly when actually it's very
difficult to meet the full criteria for
that diagnosis and many people
experience severe trauma in their lives
and only about 14 percent are likely to
actually develop PTSD it's an exception
not the norm
traumatic stress is absolutely normal
after something traumatic happens you'll
likely have nightmares you'll likely
have anxiety you'll feel depressed
because you're a human being and
something abnormal happened but PTSD is
a longer standing condition that is
significantly impairing in a person's
life and I think we've lost that in some
of the sort of narrative in society it
just everybody has PTSD but no you can
have traumatic stress you can be
distressed you can be affected by trauma
and not have that particular diagnosis
significantly impairs people's lives
how do veterans how do soldiers who
suffer from PTSD or close to that kind
of diagnosis begin to heal
what's the path for healing well I will
hand it to the military because I think
in terms of working with their active
duty service members they really invest
heavily in mental health the U.S
Department of Defense was one of the
first to bring animal assisted therapy
into any type of treatment in the early
1900s with uh bringing you know farming
into certain hospitals and letting
veterans help with the farms and brush
the horses and which is so Advanced
because now we have all this research on
animal assisted therapy and
um how beneficial it is and just looking
in the eyes of a dog can increase your
pain threshold and speed healing after a
cardiac arrest help people with dementia
and ambulate more freely it's incredible
stuff simple
uh and the military was ahead of the
game on that and I don't think that's
changed I did my training at a military
Hospital in Hawaii tripler Army Medical
Center it was phenomenal training and
you know our psych Department there was
so much interesting research going on we
had and it was so integrated so you
might not imagine that the military
would be doing this but we had an
acupuncture Department we had a
chiropractic Department we had a yoga
section we were doing yoga sessions
um I mean they anything that has
evidence to support its efficacy was
being utilized and I think that's pretty
cool about our government they have a
lot of funding so I'm glad they're using
it on that the real challenge I think
comes with the large-scale need of the
veteran population
um and they slipped through the cracks I
know that the dod had a campaign going
where they were doing outreached anybody
who served for instance in the Vietnam
War the problem is they were trying to
get all of these people assessed for
PTSD and it was great like they were
getting phone calls mail it was sort of
saying hey we know that you served come
on in or let's schedule you an exam with
a psychologist and just see if your owed
benefits the idea of it's great the
problem is that they Outsource to this
third party company they're paying
really low rates for a one hour meeting
with a vet and you don't need to be
specifically trained in assessing PTSD
and so you're getting these variations
and opinions that are coming through and
I've had clients who to me who I've
worked with for years who have clear
combat related PTSD according to Gold
Standard measures according to my
knowing them and observing their
symptoms and how impaired they are and
it is clearly associated with combat the
content of their intrusive thoughts
their nightmares Etc
and they are having a one-hour meeting
sometimes by phone with one of these
psychologists who's been contracted by
this third party organization that's not
even enough for me to get through the
first three few symptom questions on the
Caps five assessment for PTSD but in
that hour the psychology psychologist is
saying definitively no PTSD
and it's been a travesty for some people
especially for those who need an
advocate the most it tends to happen to
my veterans who are maybe a little bit
less sophisticated and presenting or
advocating for themselves more humble
um you know the guys who need deserve it
the most right they're just getting
passed over and um and it's a maze I'm
not quite sure what the solution is
though before I mean I've worked for
government agencies they're dealing it's
a massive population I love that the
Outreach is even happening and trying to
get these guys in for assessment I think
we can criticize any system
um I'm glad that system is even
happening but it still needs to be
better so I've I've got a chance to
interact with a lot of soldiers from uh
that served in Iraq and Afghanistan and
now a lot of soldiers from all different
kinds of nations in Ukraine went to the
there's a there's a bond between
soldiers unlike any other I don't know
if you can speak to why do you think
that is on the opposite side of PTSD
there's a there's a deep human
connection there's like a love for each
other what is that what what is that
about war and combat that creates that
kind of well you're seeing a
we talked earlier about that
vulnerability right so
I I believe that combat I believe that
most survival situations strip away all
ego and
real in I mean there are a couple
different layers to this but I have not
served in war so I um I want to be
cautious here but
from what I know uh just about
psychology and also from my own
experience of survival survival type
experiences when you're with a group of
people and uh
all the ego Stripped Away Nothing Else
Matters the focus is on the here and now
and a specific Mission
um or your day to day
you can get really close you're very
very vulnerable and
um and also
in my experience the guys I work with
who have served there aren't a lot of
people who understand what they've been
through not only some of the Unspeakable
things they've been through in combat
but some of the things that they feel
are unspeakable about returning
especially if they are experiencing
trauma a lot of them you know some of
the things that service members with
PTSD are the most reluctant to disclose
is the feeling like they may not know if
they love their children anymore or
their wife
that they don't even know if they can
love anymore that they feel emotionally
that they want to kill someone that they
have a whole lot of racist beliefs and
um there are a lot of things that can be
associated with PTSD that aren't as
clear or expected and these guys
don't have many people who understand it
or they don't think they would
but a lot of their fellow service
members do
and so I'm going back to Ukraine and um
boy nothing makes
nothing makes uh reveals a human
in a more pure form than War
especially the kind of War you get in
that in that part of the world
especially the war in Ukraine which is a
very 20th century kind of War
um brutal
well uh like I mentioned in a few
different ways you're exceptionally
Successful by I think the best
definition of success you you you're
doing what you love and you're one of
the uh best people in the world of doing
it and so whatever advice would you give
to young people that look up to you that
sorry for the TR in the trial which is
your most public-facing thing
um and are just looking young people
that are looking to find what they want
to do with their life career-wise or I
love that question what would you tell
them I'm gonna tell them something my
dad told me he said to me Shannon just
pick anything
pick anything
if you like it at all studying it just
pick it
he was like look
don't worry about the job you don't even
know all the jobs that exist
pick something you like you will make it
your own and that is exactly what
I like psychology I was reading somehow
self-help books it's not like I had this
calling where I you know looking back I
can actually create that story because I
think now it makes a lot of sense that I
do what I do but I was lost and scared I
started studying psychology I met a
professor who was really inspiring who
wasn't even a psychology professor at
you but he was public policy
I stayed in touch with that Professor he
is a dear friend still to this day that
was 20 years ago we do research together
in Mexico integrative research with uh
you know public policy officials and
environmental engineers and I get to be
the psychologist on the trip I never
ever dreamed that that sort of stuff
could happen I didn't know about
forensic psychology I also want to warn
anybody who's interested in forensic
psychology that's not like you're like
solving crimes all day and getting
called by the FBI you are going to be
sitting alone in your home office with
your husband bringing you like bowls of
cereal and reminding you to go to the
bathroom because you haven't gotten up
in like 24 hours from the computer and
uh you're gonna have papers all around
you and you're just gonna write 75 dense
pages with citations of like science
it's brutal it's academic
um but you're good but it's fulfilling
my friend my friend Franny posted a meme
of one of the girls from glears that
they crying and saying like I'm the
happiest I've ever been and she said It
reminds her when I try to convince her
to do forensic psych because I think her
mind is perfect for it you have to be
strategic and throw but it it's a slug
but it's wonderful it's wonderful the
image of your husband bringing you
cereal while you work on the 75 pages is
maybe the most romantic thing I've ever
heard so we started on love let me ask
one last question about the same topic
what's the role of love in this whole
in The Human Condition and this whole
experiment we've got going on on Earth
I think it's all there is like that
Jewel song
how does that go I don't don't sing it
don't sing it don't get it in my head
please don't so
uh there have been some profound moments
in my life where I feel like I uh am
closest to kind of the truth of life or
what it's all about and usually there's
this resonating sense of love and ease
and love for myself love for other
people sort of like it's all okay we're
all okay we're gonna get through this
I liked what you said about the harm
caused by
like the misinformation or negative
things being said about you
because you're right it it harms that
bigger picture I think it holds us back
takes us back from that truth that
there's a love that connects all of us
and that uh if you remember about that
love it's all going to be okay I really
hope it's going to be okay me too I
believe it would be thank you so much
for talking today Shannon you're an
incredible person thank you for
everything you do and for everything you
stand for and uh from everything from
your text message to just who you are
and for this amazing conversation thank
thanks for listening to this
conversation with Shannon Curry to
support this podcast please check out
our sponsors in the description and now
let me leave you some more words from
Charles Bukowski
sometimes you climb out of bed in the
morning and you think
I'm not going to make it
but you laugh inside remembering all the
times you felt that way
thank you for listening I hope to see
you next time