Archive for February, 2018

Transgenders: Touchy Topic. What Do You Know?

Wednesday, February 21st, 2018

Do you know what the term transgender means? According the Merriam-Webster dictionary  transgender “denotes or relates to a person whose sense of personal identity and gender does not correspond with their birth sex”.  According to Wikipedia, “transgender is an umbrella term: in addition to including people whose gender identity is opposite of their assigned sex (trans men and trans women), it may include people who are not exclusively masculine or feminine (people who are genderqueer, e.g. bigender, pangender, genderfluid, or agender).

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), “gender identity refers to a person’s internal sense of being male, female, or something else; gender expression refers to the way a person communicates gender identity to others through behavior, clothing, hairstyles, voice, or body characteristics.”

The APA adds, “sex is assigned at birth, it refers to one’s biological status as either male or female, and is associated primarily with physical attributes such as chromosomes, hormone prevalence, and external and internal anatomy. Gender refers to the socially constructed roles, behaviors, activities, and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for boys and men or girls and women. These influence the ways people act, interact, and feel about themselves. While aspects of biological sex are similar across different cultures, aspects of gender may differ. … Often transsexual individuals alter or wish to alter their bodies through hormones, surgery, and other means to make their bodies as congruent as possible with their gender identities.”

The number of transgender people in the United States is estimated to be 1.3 million, or 0.6 of the population according to the Williams Institute (a think tank of scholars at UCLA Law). There are probably more since many transgenders do not seek to be known as such.

Why are some people are transgender. According to the APA there is no definitive answer. “Many experts believe that biological factors such as genetic influences and prenatal hormone levels, early experiences and experiences later in adolescence or adulthood may all contribute to the development of transgender identities.”

Respected Reader, you may wonder why I share this information. There are a few reasons. One, I often get asked what I think about transgenders. Two, there is a lot of misinformation, biases, and distortion about transgenders. Transgenders are often discriminated against or ridiculed. Parents of children who are questioning their sexuality are confused as to what to think and do.

I counsel transgenders, those who think they may be, and parents who seek guidance as to how to love and support their children who are transgenders or are currently questioning their sexuality. It is a touchy and challenging topic currently in our society.

This is a relatively new phenomenon in our culture and it often triggers polemical debate, particularly within political, legal and religious forums. Hopefully this article will foster some understanding, dialogue, and acceptance of transgenders and restrain people who tend to judge or criticize because of their lack of knowledge. As the cliché’ says, “it is what it is” – and it is real.

“The unexamined life is not worth living”   Socrates

Dr. Stathas can be reached at 706-473-1780. Email: Web site: Blog:


Your Brain And “Love”: Choosing The Right Type To Marry, And Stay Together — Happily!

Monday, February 5th, 2018

Your Brain And “Love”: Choosing The Right Type To Marry And Stay Together – Happily!

John J. Stathas, Ph.D., LMFT

Most people do not understand what the nature of “love” is. They just know how they feel when they are “in love”. I would like to have you know more about the complexity of “love” from brain types and the chemicals associated with “falling in love” and staying “in love” over time. It is fascinating information and very relevant in a practical sense when choosing a mate and attempting to stay happily married to that person over time. I am indebted to Dr. Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist and professor at Rutgers University. She has presented this information in the Family Therapy Journal, Science of Love edition. Her article is entitled “The Brain, How We Fall in Love, and How We Stay Together”. She is a pioneer in doing brain imaging, and its chemical interactions, on this topic.  I will present some of her salient points and add a few of my own. Stay with me on this. I think you will find it fascinating and even relevant!

Dr. Fisher states that romantic love is one of three different brain systems that have evolved over time for mating and reproduction. One is the SEX DRIVE, the craving for sexual gratification, linked primarily with testosterone in both men and women. The second is ROMANTIC LOVE – elation, giddiness, euphoria, possessiveness, obsessive thinking, and high motivation. The third brain system is ATTACHMENT: that sense of calm and security that you can feel with a long term partner.

Dr. Fisher opines that there are two parts to your personality: your CHARACTER – everything you’ve been brought up to believe, do, say, and think – and your TEMPERAMENT – all those traits that come from your biology.

Further, she states that there are four brain systems that are linked with styles of thinking and behaving: dopamine, serotonin, estrogen, and testosterone. They are all linked together in one way or another in a constellation of personality traits. Thus, the more practical implications of this research as Dr. Fisher identifies four different temperament personality types and how they can mesh with each other in regard to love and long term satisfaction. See if you can identify with any one of these types – and the implications for your relationship with a potential or present mate.

THE EXPLORER: Linked with the dopamine system in the brain tend to be novelty seeking, curious, risk taking, creative, spontaneous, energetic, generous, mentally flexible, independent, autonomous, and tend to look outward, not inward.

THE BUILDER: Linked with the serotonin system. These people tend to be cautious, but not fearful, social, popular, want to belong. They tend to be traditional, conventional, orderly, meticulous, quite literal, more religious, and make good managers.

THE DIRECTOR: Linked with the testosterone system. They tend to be analytic, logical, direct, decisive, tough-minded, good at rule-based systems like math, engineering, mechanics, computers, etc… They are not very social.

THE NEGOTIATOR: Linked with estrogen and oxytocin systems. They see the big picture. Estrogen builds many more connections between the two hemispheres of the brain and between the front and back of the brain. They are imaginative, intuitive, have very good verbal skills, and excellent people skills. They tend to be idealistic and altruistic. They are very nurturing, trusting, and have diplomatic intelligence.

Dr. Fisher stresses we are all a combination of these four types but that a person tends to have one of the four more dominant in his or her personality. Have you found your most dominant type, Respected Reader?

So what types marry and combine the best? Dr. Fisher studied 40,000 people and came up with that Explorers tend to be drawn to other Explorers, Builders with other Builders, and that Directors and Negotiators are drawn to each other. Each of these connected types have their merits and there challenges.

In summary, I think Dr. Fisher’s insights into brain chemistry. and consequent personality types. are valuable contribution for those who want a “love” that satisfies short and long term. In my practice doing relationship counseling I use additional constructs such as emotionally expressive or retentive, controller or pleaser, as well as other factors involved in a couple’s life style. Finding the right person to “fall in love” with and maintain a loving relationship over time is complex. Unfortunately most people take shallow, immediately gratifying, PEA chemically based attraction to quickly rush into a committed relationship – which, unfortunately become de-committed in time for such reasons.

Hope you found some or all of this brainy love relationship stuff interesting and, perhaps, pragmatic for your life or someone you care for who may benefit from this information. Thanks for staying through with this!

“The unexamined life is not worth living”   Socrates