Interactive Lecture on Fear of Intimacy

19jul1:00 pm4:00 pmInteractive Lecture on Fear of Intimacy

Event Details

Summer 2015 ORI’s Open House and Interactive Lecture on Fear of Intimacy – will be held on Sunday, 7/19/15 (1-4 pm).

Location: 115 East 9th street, 12P, NYC, 10003 – Virtual participation is offered via gotomeeting platform

Everyone is welcome! Refreshments will be served. No fee, but RSVP is required!

We all have fears of intimacy, whatever their individual nature.  Why does intimacy scare people so much?  Don’t people want warmth, closeness and understanding?  So what so often gets in the way?

In working with people in psychotherapy, we see kinds of fears and sometimes, actual terrors, of intimacy.  There are both unconscious and conscious fears that people reveal.  People are afraid of needing another with whom they are intimate, and of losing their autonomy and their own separate voice in a relationship that approaches intimacy.  They are afraid of being possessed by a controlling girlfriend, boyfriend, or spouse, especially if their natural developing autonomy was opposed in their childhood.  Some people also fear exposure to another who they fear might use knowledge about their emotional needs and vulnerabilities to ridicule them in a contemptuous manner.  They don’t realize that anyone who would mock them for their vulnerabilities, and for their exposed failings, shame, and needs, in the intimate revelations of a relationship, are actually envious of them, or are repeating the ridicule that their partner had actually experienced themselves within their own childhood.

There are of course even deeper fears as well:  terrors of losing the one they have revealed themselves to during a period of intimacy.  They fear unrequited love, but more deeply fear abandonment and fear the suffering of a broken heart and of extreme loss.  At an even deeper level people can fear losing their own identify and their own separate subjective experience of themselves when they surrender to another knowing them.  Also, they can fear that the other will define them, as “the fat one,” “the sensitive one,” “the difficult one,” or “the selfish one” (if one expressed an opinion that was her own, different from one’s parents or her sibling).

Fear of intimacy can pronounce itself in a form of creative (writing) blocks, although – on the surface – they had nothing to do with intimacy, as one can block conscious process of thinking and feeling by repressing anger that stems from his/her fear of intimacy, fear of rejection and abandonment.

Sometimes, fear of intimacy shows up as a “judgmental” character – when one judges others before they can judge him/her. Such a person can set oneself up in a situation of “damn if one did or didn’t,” developing a need of a “judging another,” who would reject him/her. So, they push the other away before they can be pushed away first.

As we encounter fear of intimacy in the clinical situation, we understand that the current fears of intimacy (and the accompanying defenses against intimacy) go back to early situations.  Therefore, the resolution of intimacy problems involves conscious awareness of the unconscious situations of the past that create the fears, and of fears of the power of one’s own emotional needs and of one’s defensive aggression.  This awareness needs to come from a deep feeling level where one’s emotional fears and their conflicting needs are felt.  Also, mourning the grief of losses from the past allows for the lessening of fears of loss, rejection, and of being stuck with a controlling person who repeats the controlling behavior of others in one’s vulnerable child and early adult life.   If one can mourn losses, regrets, and disappointments one can face intimacy with others in the future more fully, rather than being unconsciously controlled by fears of losing others or of being possessed by others.

Following the lecture and discussion, a role-play demonstration will be offered.  Those attending can become active participants in the discussion of the immediate “in vivo” clinical experience.

All inquiries about institute classes, programs, and requirements will be encouraged following the role-play. 

Those who RSVP for the Open House will receive a copy of Dr. Kavaler-Adler’s paper on “Fear of Intimacy” (published as a book chapter in 2013 Karnac book Fear: A Dark Shadow Across Our Life Span, edited by Dr. Salman Akhtar).


Sunday, 7/19/15 (1-4 pm)