January 13, 2022
We were housed in a ‘quiet’ military base in the Arava desert area, by the Jordanian border, where Israeli male and female soldiers served alongside each other. It was 1970, I was a lieutenant and 2nd in command of the base and became good friends with Miri, (not her real name) an intelligent, gorgeous female soldier who was being consistently pursued by men of all ranks on the base. We developed a deep and fun relationship discussing how men were looking at her, making comments, inviting, suggesting, reaching out and touching her inappropriately.
As our friendship deepened, she shared with me the various ‘games’ she had been playing, in fact, toying with the male soldiers who pursued her. When they offered to take her for a spin in the desert in their Jeeps or other macho military vehicle, she would keep track of how far they each drove before they began to sexually pursue her until they finally, disappointedly, gave up, turned around, and drove back to the base. She described in rich detail how some started with sweet talking, while others reached straight for her breasts. Some pretended to be interested in her philosophy of life while others took a short cut straight to her crotch. We discussed the pursuers’ strategies and embellished it with fun mathematical (miles) precision.
We established a practice where she would record the vehicle odometer as soon as she entered the vehicle with any ‘hopeful pursuer,’ and then again when they returned to base. In our bemused conversations we ranked the soldiers and officers by their ‘hopeful miles’, i.e., how far they drove the vehicle before they gave up and turned back.
Obviously, we paid careful attention to her physical safety in these ‘adventures’, primarily by sorting out ahead of time who she agreed to run the ‘miles experiment’ on. She also had her own small military radio on her (in that pre-cellphone era) where she could, if necessary, directly connect with me and I could track her physical location.
She never had sex with any of the hopeful pursuers. It was a game that some may legitimately claim was unfair, unkind, manipulative or even cruel… It may come as no surprise to some that she and I never physically sexualized our friendship. Obviously, our measuring games, ranking the officers and soldiers by their hopeful miles and follow up conversations were rather sexy in and of themselves. In fact, one may say, it was as sexy as traditional sex… if not even more…
October 26, 2021
In my forensic/expert witness practice I have encountered the most fascinating, colorful and intriguing cases where BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder) clients have gotten their (otherwise solid, competent and ethical) therapists to behave in ways they regularly wouldn’t such as giving them money, regularly texting with them at 1 or 2 in the morning, doing drugs with them, moving in with them, wearing their clothes, even adopting them, and, of course, having sex with them.
This dynamic is often present in the BDP’s personal, intimate, familial and vocational life and can also occur with psychotherapists or counselors.
Without a doubt, it is a therapist’s responsibility to maintain clinically appropriate boundaries with all clients. However, that is not always easy when it comes to BPD clients, especially for therapists who are either new to the profession or not experienced with these clientele. Clients with BPD are extremely unstable and are so desperate for connection that their fierce need can draw a therapist in. At the same time, many BPD clients have learned not to trust those very attachments they demand and crave. Thus, therapists can find themselves caught in their BPD clients’ conflicting desires. Therapists and others the borderline is in contact with will often accommodate, give in, support, yield to no-end in order to avoid the “borderline” rage.
October 26, 2021
Whether in psychology, oceanography, chemistry, limnology, or on ‘hot’ topics such as gender, race, victims or war, I have devoted a big part of my life to exploring the ‘given’, the unexamined truths, and often, the politically incorrect beliefs. The Following are some samples of the faulty beliefs I have challenged (and links to my writings on each topic):
October 22, 2021
Infidelity, unlike what most people assume, is neither rare, an exclusively man’s doing, nor the likely end of the marriage. Almost a third of all marriages may need to confront and deal with the aftermath of extramarital affairs. Women, men, gay, straight, young and old, all seem to be somehow engaged in affairs. Online affairs have become extremely prevalent. Marriages can get stronger when couples deal constructively with the affair. See: Infidelity & Affairs: Myths, Facts & Ways to Respond
|1. Conflict Avoidance||7. Retribution|
|2. Intimacy Avoidance||8. Unsatisfactory Marriage|
|3. Individual Existential/Developmental crisis||9. Exit Affairs – Jumping off point|
|4. Sexual Addiction – Sexual Obsession||10. Long Term Parallel Lives|
|5. Accidental – Brief – One Time Affairs||11. Online (Most prevalent)|
|6. Philandering||12. Consensual|
Myth: An affair inevitably destroys the marriage.
Fact: Many marriages survive affairs and many emerge stronger from the infidelity crisis.
Myth: Infidelity is rare in the animal kingdom.
Fact: Only 3% of the world’s 4,000 species of mammals are pre-programmed for monogamy.
Myth: Infidelity is rare and abnormal in our, and most other, societies.
Fact: Men’s infidelity has been recorded in most societies.
Myth: Society, as a whole, supports monogamy and fidelity.
Fact: Society gives lip service to monogamy/fidelity, but actually supports affairs. (i.e. Ashley Madison)
Myth: Men initiate almost all affairs.
Fact: Infidelity has become an equal opportunity issue in the West.
Myth: An affair always means there are serious problems in the marriage.
Fact: Research has shown that some of those who engage in affairs reported high marital satisfaction.
Myth: Infidelity is a sign that sex is missing at home.
Fact: Some unfaithful spouses have reported increased marital sex during the period of their affair.
Myth: Infidelity always has to do with a bad marriage or a withholding partner.
Fact: There are many reasons that people may choose to have an affair.
Myth: Full disclosure of all the details of the affair to the betrayed spouse is prerequisite to healing.
Fact: Giving the uninvolved partner all the X-rated details of the affair can be traumatizing.
Myth: Extramarital affairs are never consensual.
Fact: Open marriages used to be popular in the 1970s and are still around.
October 22, 2021
The following are my thoughts on the different types of guilt and some of the ways in which I have experienced guilt. These are less obvious forms of guilt and go beyond lack of guilt (psychopathy) and excessive guilt (depression, anxiety, suicide, etc). As would be expected, by the age of 71, I have experienced most forms of guilt.
1. Appropriate Guilt: This type of guilt is an appropriate response to, or regret for, what we have come to understand, acknowledge or admit that we have done something wrong, unjust or immoral, or feel remorse for what we have not done. In my own life, I regret some of the ways I endangered others with the way I rode my motorcycle or shot the light bulb in the bunker, what I did or did not do in war, or was insensitive to friends’ needs.
2. Catholic Guilt – Religious Guilt: This kind of guilt is religion-induced that does not differentiate ones thoughts from their actions. Besides the Catholic church, other Christian denominations also believe people should confess to ‘sinful’ thoughts, yearnings or desires even when no actions were taken. Similarly, the ultra orthodox Jewish religion makes no distinction between ‘sinful thoughts’ and ‘sinful acts.’ I have experienced this kind of guilt as a young man when I felt guilty for internally reacting disproportionately with extreme anger.
3. Survival Guilt: This kind of guilt primarily manifests in people who have survived a life-threatening situation, such as battles during war or car accidents where others died or were severely injured. They often believe they could have done more to save the lives of others even if they could not. I have definitely felt this kind of guilt in relation to fellow soldiers who died or were heavily injured in military operations I was part of.
4. Neurotic – Toxic guilt – Persecutory guilt: This form of guilt is derived from a sense of not being a good–enough person, feeling like a failure who deserves to be punished. Persecutory guilt is a form of self-inflicted punishment
5. Existential guilt: This type of guilt can seem free-floating or unrelated to any particular situation. It is about one’s sense of accomplishment or success in addition to an awareness of the inequalities and injustices that exist in the world, such as a family member or community of people who are less capable or less fortunate than you are, or the fact that there may be people starving in Africa, or that the whales are dying off due to over hunting, pollution and other factors. When a person asks themselves “Am I doing enough to help others or help the world?” I have definitely experienced this kind of guilt combined with deep concerns for the underprivileged people worldwide, victims of unjust war, and disappearing species around the world.
The Coronavirus Pandemic exemplifies a variety of feelings of guilt that are the result of the fact that billions of people are unemployed, locked at home, or struggling with food needs, yet ‘you’ still have a job or can provide for your family. People may feel guilty because their children can’t see friends and grandparents or participate in normal activities. Perhaps someone they care for has been ill with COVID-19 or they feel guilty because a loved one has died all alone (‘coronavirus way’), and they couldn’t be there to say goodbye.
October 11, 2021
Spending time on the car-less island of Lamu, situated off the coast of Kenya in the Indian Ocean, was a remarkable experience. Built of coral and mangrove timber, the unique town of Lamu, is the oldest and best-preserved Swahili settlement in East Africa. I still vividly remember the simple and beautiful construction of the city with its hearty inner courtyards, pleasant looking verandas and elaborately carved wooden doors.
Staying consistent with how I have traveled in the past, I decided that I wanted to explore further than the already remote location of Lamu. My precious fellow traveler and I got a tiny 20 ft. sailing boat to spend the day on the next island, that not only did not have cars, but in fact, did not have houses, animals or people either. We could not even identify its name on the map.
October 11, 2021
I was around 27 years old traveling in East Africa, hiking, climbing mountains, scaling rocks, riding small motorcycles (pikipiki), studying fish-ponds, driving safaris, canoeing on the Indian Ocean and Lake Victoria and ‘socializing’ with crocodiles in Lake Turkana. I found out that, apparently, the anti-malarial Chloroquine pills that I had been taking were no defense to the disease carrying mosquitoes I encountered after crossing the border into Tanzania, as I ended up coming down with a serious case of malaria. It was fortunate as I got the illness while visiting a friend who happened to be researching malaria at none other than the East Africa Institute for Tropical Diseases. I was fantastically cared for medically and felt super safe as I was seen by several highly experienced doctors and researchers who were top experts in the treatment and study of malaria. There was a surreal atmosphere as they had seen thousands of cases like mine over the years and could predict to the second when the high fever (107°F) would turn to chilling cold and visa versa. After a couple of weeks of intense sickness, I recovered enough to where I could continue to travel throughout East Africa. It took me many months to gain my full vision and strength.
September 29, 2021
At age 15 ½ Eitan applied for a provisional drivers license in our state of California. This was the first step towards getting his license. His status was called “Provisional” which meant that he had to have an adult accompany him while he drove. Hearing about the endless arguments of friends with their children after they got the permit and constantly asked their parents to accompany them in driving around the clock, I decided to take a different tack. Eitan and I planned a trip from our home in Sonoma to Las Vegas to watch a fantastic circus show where he would drive the hundreds of miles, the WHOLE way to Las Vegas and back. The long trip was great driving experience for Eitan. A few days later, half way back home, Eitan, exhausted, stopped the car at the side of the road and announced that he had had enough driving. The plan worked out perfectly. For the next couple of years there were no arguments, begging or conflicts about driving. Eitan got it out of his system in the first week of his permit.
September 29, 2021
Ilan was 6 years old when he joined a local basketball league for young boys on a team that I led (kind of “coached”). The court was designed for young beginners and was only 42 ft. long. By comparison, standard college and NBA courts are 94 ft. long. One of the league’s rules was that teams were not allowed to defend the other team past half court. Young Ilan’s skills were unprecedented. He was able to shoot with high accuracy from the 21 ft. half court mark (a bit short of the modern 3-point line of 25 ft.). So, “according to plan” he shot the ball beyond the half court line where the opposing team was not allowed to defend or contest the shot, which led our team to endless victories and understandably infuriated both the parents of the opposing team and the league organizers 😋.
September 22, 2021
2020 and 2021 years were distinct as they were the beginning of a new ‘Post Zur Institute’ (ZI) era (sale went through in Ap./2020) and a divided world struggling to comprehend and attend to the coronavirus threat. Free of ZI, I turned my professional focus to teaching ethics and consulting & expert witness forensic work.
I quickly and gradually more joyously, adjusted to the new ‘coved-19 reality’ and have been intensely teaching remotely via zoom. Teaching from my study at home (with running shorts and flip flops) was odd and freeing at the same time. I recall the moment when I cracked a joke in a live zoom webinar but had NO idea if any of the 600+ attendees laughed or grimaced. My two main focuses of teaching ethics at these times have been a. Debunking myths and commonly held beliefs in psychotherapy and b. 20+ ways to avoid being sanctioned or disciplined by mental health licensing boards.
My consulting & expert witness work has also flourished in the post ZI era. I have asked to provide expert opinions on highly complex, interesting and intriguing psychotherapy licensing boards and civil lawsuits cases in several states across the US. A couple of ethicists and attorneys have referred to the cases they retained me as an expert as “Even Dr. Zur”😋 reflecting on the informed-importance I place on context in standard of care matters rather than on “risk-management.” In June 2021 I had the honor of receiving an authorization from the Minnesota Supreme Court to prepare an amicus brief regarding the standard of care for psychotherapy and counseling.