Category Archives: Psychology/روانناسى\روانشناسى

Azad Moradian: My Personal Statement

My Personal Statement

The following article is a part of Mr. Azad Moradin’s article ” My personal Statement’, which was published on a few websites such as Wikipedia,, academia, as well as on the old vokradio website in December 2005. azad_moradian_032307.jpg


December  10, 2005

by: Azad Moradian



It’s so fascinating to look back and realize how much of my present and future is shaped by my past experiences, and how much of my perception is either expanded or limited by those events. It’s quite interesting to realize how much of my understanding of myself and the world, how much of my goals and ambitions are formed through the bases of my existence; my mother’s womb, my unidentified homeland, my belittled ethnicity, all the places I was raised and taught, and the most gripping moments that have defined who I am today and who I wish to be tomorrow. It is my history and background, my triumphs and tragedies, my accomplishments and losses, and the endless checklist of hopes and dreams that never seem to seize, which has painted the vivid picture that I envision to be my future.

What I have chosen to study and educate myself in, what I have chosen to devote my life to is a direct result of the journey I have paved to be where I am today. Knowing myself as a Kurd, one out of the thirty-five million people who have no place to call home, no rights to speak by their sweet mother’s tongue, no chance to celebrate their rich culture and heritage, has indeed played a big part in how I have lived my life and how I want to continue to live. In many ways, too often I was not given a choice, for one never chooses to come to life and be bashed for being alive, one never chooses to be born and be sentenced to a life full of fear and prosecution. However, today I do have a choice, so I choose to dedicate my life to the development of understanding of the human existence.
Growing up in an extensive family system with multiple siblings and grandparents, speaking one language at home, and being forced to study in another at school, being raised in an era of struggle and war, put down by others for the mere fact that I am a Kurd, becoming intrigued by political movements and revolution, I came to see much of the complexity of the world. Not much fairness is practiced in the chaotic atmosphere of a third world country, especially in the case of people who have no right to be known. In an uneducated system, with little resources for advancement, I was among a growing population of enthusiastic youth, who were fighting for reform and change.

Throughout my childhood a distinct goal became rooted in me that has since only grown. That goal is to help my fellow people and have a positive impact in their lives; to somehow lessen the heavy burden that they must carry. From the early years of my youth I came to realize that there was much need for the care of the human mind, for I saw how fragile the human sanity could be. I witnessed how easily a strong grown man can be emotionally and mentally paralyzed by the loss of a child, and how dysfunctional a bombarded society can become. In a land where the fundamental needs of a human being is not met, where filling an empty stomach is a struggle, not much thought is given to the mental health. Although it was often apparent that the essence of the crippled community was in its inability to cope and overcome grief, not too many allowed to pinpoint the need for psychological assistance. Perhaps the awareness of such a need was one of the major reasons why I chose to study psychology. My own motivation to overcome the continuous traumas and losses of my early adulthood, gave me a better understanding of how I could make a difference in my people’s lives.
I joined the political movement at a very young age and this involvement in politics took me through a series of life altering events and painful experiences. The essence behind the political movement was to fight towards human rights and equality, which fed my desire to help others. The psychological damage that imprisonment, prosecution, torture and the domination of fear had on the development of my family and friends were undeniable. It never escaped me to notice the changes each individual went through within the process of injustice and how much help they needed to be able to stand on their feet once again.


Domestic Violence against Single and Married Women in Iranian Society

Domestic Violence against Single and Married Women in Iranian Society


Azad Moradian

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology

Los Angeles, California
August 2009
By : Azad Moradian
Editor: Cklara Moradian


The following paper, is an overview of the current statistical picture of domestic violence experienced by both single and married women within Iranian society. Although numerous independent studies on domestic violence against women and children have been conducted on small scales in Iran, they have never been widely published or utilized due to political issues.  The discussion in this paper are directly derived from the only widely accredited research carried out on a massive scale, supported and funded by the Iranian government in order to tackle the issue of domestic abuse.

Since the study is currently only available in Farsi, this paper is in part an attempt to domestic_violaence_iran01.jpgmake the information available to a wider audience. Furthermore, it attempts to look for underlying etiology to better understand the crisis women face within the complex geopolitical, economical, religious, ethnic, and social arena, which makes up modern day Iran.
As cited in the 2006 report of the U.N. Secretary General on UNIFEM’s site, “violence against women and girls is a problem of pandemic proportions. At least one out of every three women around the world has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime  with the abuser usually someone known to her.” Iranian society, held up by its women, is being crippled through their suffering.
Domestic Violence against Single and Married Women in Iranian Society,

An Overview of Current Iranian Research and Possible Underlying Etiology

Definition: The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence begins their fact sheets with the following words: “the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior perpetrated by an intimate partner against another. It is an epidemic affecting individuals in every community, regardless of age, economic status, race, religion, nationality or educational background.

Violence against women is often accompanied by emotionally abusive and controlling behavior, and thus is part of a systematic pattern of dominance and control. Domestic violence results in physical injury, psychological trauma, and sometimes death. The consequences of domestic violence can cross generations and truly last a lifetime.” Following this statement, the organization provides harrowing statistics about women who suffer from domestic violence nationally and the adverse effect of the children who witness this violence. For the most part, it is safe to argue, that culturally, it is not acceptable to engage in violence towards women openly. Physical assault is punishable by law and also has its social consequences of shaming; although, many liberal and democratic societies still struggle with the double standards and lack of gender equality. Those deeply rooted inequalities can account for the high numbers of domestic abuse within such societies as the United States and even European nations.


Background: In Iranian society domestic violence takes on an entirely different shape. Women are not only subject to harsh treatments by an authoritative state, which rules on every aspects of their public lives, but it also provides the arena and encourages the control of their private lives. The government does so by promoting fundamentalist ideas of women as properties of me. It does so by setting up an unequal legal system and not punishing assault even when it has resulted in severe injury or at times even death. The conversation of domestic violence then cannot be simply domestic but begins to take the shape of a systematic violence, fueled by tradition, ignited by religion, encouraged by the dominant authoritarian state, and empowered by poverty and illiteracy.

The Islamic Republic of Iran has always denied the existence of domestic abuse, violence towards women and children in the family as a sociological issue within Iranian society. Most of the violence in the family is deeply tied to the societal and governmental laws of inequality towards women. Most violence towards women even has governmental sanctions, such as flogging or imprisonment, and even in some cases death for adultery. If the regime accepted domestic abuse as a problem, it had to also address the way it enables, allows, encourages, and ignores, violence towards women.

Human rights organizations, political/humanitarian oppositional groups and advocacy groups for women were the only voices that acknowledged the existence of this widespread phenomenal in Iran and fought for changes in law and education within communities.

Due to the large percentage of women in higher education, and the Universities in Iran, in the past 15 years the numbers of Masters’ and PH.D thesis on women’s issues have been overwhelming. Universities are now even discouraging students from researching on the topic of women’s issues, due to the fact that the findings are not implemented into improvements or societal progress. The papers simply sit in libraries and collect dust, which can be very discouraging.

Up until recently, there was no official statistical data on how many women suffered from domestic violence in Iran and what shape or form it was in. The common law dictated that what happens in the house has to stay in the house. A man’s household affairs very much belongs to him and other’s can not meddle in his private issues, especially regarding how he treats his wife and children. The way to continue keeping his privacy is through the silencing of the voice of dissent: women. This policy very much resembles how the Islamic Republic deals with political unrest in Iran and International outrage. We often hear that the West should not interfere or have an opinion with the way Iran deals with its people.

The Census Bauru in Iran, which is an official government agency has never conducted a study on domestic violence and has not allowed international organizations to do so either; however, in 2004 The Women’s Center for Presidential Advisory, The Interior Ministry, and The Ministry of Higher Education decided to undertake a project in Iran’s 28 provinces, regarding domestic violence in Iran. A 32 volume study was concluded after several years. These volumes include findings regarding violence towards women and children, family issues, divorce, and marriages, remarriages, the statues and effect of education and work on violence in the capital cities of each province. Only the main cities were visited and the research was conducted based on questionnaires.

These 32 volume findings are not widely available for public viewing; however, it is available to scholars and researchers as a reference at the Center for Research in Tehran. The information has also been shared with government agencies and lawmakers in the hopes of changing family laws.

Much discussion and controversy has surrounded the study, including the bias of the researchers themselves in their findings. This massive study was led by Iran’s renowned sociologist Dr. Ghazi Tabatabaei, who is still a professor in Tehran universities. Many other well-known researchers/ scholars, sociologists, psychologists, and professionals in other areas participated and contributed in this study.

domestic_violaence_iran03.jpgA brief summery of some of the findings:

Due to the fact that Iran is a multi ethnic/ multi cultural country and is very diverse, the findings of the study show that the results from each province differ from each other very much. The study clearly shows a correlation between violence against women and living in provinces further away from the capital; which could be explained from many angles including economically, sub-cultures of the region, dominance of religion, and lack of higher education.

The research had 9 main categories and 45 subcategories.

The 9 categories include:

1.     Verbal Abuse

2.     Physical Abuse

3.     Emotional Abuse

4.     Economical Abuse (refusing her right to have a job, restricting her opportunities, taking her income, restricting allowance, etc.)

5.     Legal Abuse (a husband has a legal right in Iran to take his wife’s full rights away, by restricting her from traveling, going out of the house, etc.)

6.     Educational Abuse (restricting the right to go to school)

7.     Neglect (restricting food, not feeding/adequately providing for a family)

8.     Sexual abuse (unwanted sexual activity within a marital relationship, including rape, forced pregnancy, forced abortions, restricting wife’s access to healthcare and birth-control, extra-marital affairs)

9.     Honor killings and Murder

Based on the study 66% married women in Iran are subjected to some kind of domestic violence in the first year of their marriage, either by their husbands or by their in-laws.

All married women who were participants in this study in Iran have experienced 7.4% of the 9 categories of abuse.

5.23% of married women in the study reported having experienced near death violence or feared for their lives due to domestic violence.

8.37% of married women in the study reported having experienced severe physical abuse.

7.27% of married women in the study reported having experienced educational and career restrictions.

2.10% of married women in the study reported having experienced sexual abuse; however, this number could be severely under reported due to the taboo surrounding the topic.

From these 2.10% who reported sexual abuse, 5.2% reported having a miscarriage due to severe beatings by her husband.

52% of married women in the study reported having experienced emotional abuse.

9.63% of women in the study reported wishing their husbands would die, as a result of the abuse they have experienced.

The study shows a direct correlation between women who have a higher education and are career women and experiencing a lower level of domestic violence.

The study also shows that the higher the number of children in a family, the more likely domestic violence will occur towards the woman.

The chief of police in Iran stated that 40% of all murders in Iran happen due to domestic violence and that 50% of all women who are murdered are done so by someone in their immediate family and mostly in the very home of that woman.

More often than not, defenders of men who have killed their wives bring up that the husband was suspicious of adultery. The law is very lenient and is ready to forgive men while punishing women.

The discriminatory laws in Iran may yet claim another victim to be executed by stoning to death for the “crime” of adultery. There are 8 cases in Iran on the brink of death through stoning anytime soon and one such case is that of a woman named Kobra Najjar a victim of domestic violence, for 12 years was beaten repeatedly and forced into prostitution by her husband to support his heroin addiction.
Kobra Najjar found herself in prison when Habib, a “client” of Kobra seeing her sorry plight decided to murder her husband. Habib was sentenced to death by the Tabriz High Court for the murder together with Kobra Najjar as an accomplice.

What makes this case unusual and deranged is that it shows the disparity and unequal treatment of women under a penal system favoring men over women. Serving eight years for the murder and 100 lashes for fornication Habib was released upon paying compensation to the victims’ heirs. In contrast Kobra Najjar who has also served eight years remains in prison her fate uncertain as she faces the prospect of being stoned to death anytime for adultery. Now how sick is that, forced into prostitution but under Iranian’s Discriminatory laws against women she is guilty of adultery even though she was systematically subjected to violence to force her into submission for prostitution.

In Iran’s perverted justice system under Article 83 of the Iranian Penal Code, a married person is committing adultery when they have sexual intercourse with anyone other than their spouse. Adultery is the only crime where women is sentenced to stoning and all sexual intercourse outside of marriage is illegal that can result in flogging, or hanging for the forth offense. Now how perverted is that?

Kobra Najjar under constant beatings was forced into prostitution clearly did not have any choice or say on the matter was definitely a victim. She is seen under the cross eyed Iranian sadistic judge who obviously sees only the sexual intercourse but not the circumstance of one who was victimized. It does not matter whether she was forced through coercion and violence she is an adulterer therefore deserve to die the most painful savage medieval death by stoning.

In Iran a 13 year old girl is old enough to legally marry and considered as an adult at age 8 years and 9 months, old enough to be sentenced to stoning, flogging and hanging for adultery and fornication. Iranian gender biased law favors men where pedophiles are likely to prevail over the girls and women they victimized facing the risk of being convicted should they go to courts.

Women and girls face insurmountable obstacle in getting a divorce, forced to stay even if she was in an abusive marriage and most likely lose custody of her children above age 7 to her husband and the children’s paternal grandfather. In contrast men can marry up to 4 girls and woman and can divorce them at will. The rules of evidence make it extremely difficult for women to prove their case in court should the wife decides to file a case of domestic violence her testimony is only worth half of a man’s testimony. Rape is even more impossible if not incredulous under Iranian rules of evidence; her testimony as if half its worth of a man is not bad enough has to be corroborated by men in order to prove her claims. Under this scenario a rape victim is at the mercy of her rapist and most likely end up getting sentenced for adultery, now that is truly disgusting.

References in Farsi

جانشین معاونت ناجا:آمار قتل‌هاي خانوادگي در ايران روبه‌افزايش است -. (n.d.). In مجله زنان. Retrieved August 01, 2009, from

وضعيت خشونت در خانواده در ايران. (n.d.). In وضعيت خشونت در خانواده در ايران. Retrieved August 1, 2009, from

داوری, �., & سلیمی،, �. (1386). جامعه‌شناسی کجروی. تهران: انتشارات حوزه و دانشگاه.

خشونت مرگ‌بار خانوادگی |. (n.d.). In انجمن جامعه‌شناسی ایران. Retrieved August 01, 2009, from

References in English

Afifi, T. O., Enns, M. W., Cox, B. J., Stein, M. B., Jitender, S., & Asmundson, G. J. (2008). Population attributable fractions of psychiatric disorders and suicide ideation and attempts associated with adverse childhood experiences. Population attributable fractions of psychiatric disorders and suicide ideation and attempts associated with adverse childhood experiences., 98(5), 946-952. Retrieved May 11, 2008, from PsycINFO.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE FACTS. (2007, July). In National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Retrieved July 28, 2009, from

Facts & Figures on Violence Against Women – Say No to Violence against Women. (2007, November). In UNIFEM – United Nations Development Fund for Women. Retrieved July 28, 2009, from

Renner, L. M., & Markward, M. J. (2009). Factors Associated with Suicidal Ideation Among Women Abused in Intimate. Factors Associated with Suicidal Ideation Among Women Abused in Intimate, 79(2), 139-154. Retrieved April, 2009, from [EBSCOHost].

A Safe Place: domestic violence shelter, counseling, and help programs. (n.d.). Retrieved August 01, 2009, from

World: Violence Against Women — In Iran, Abuse Is Part Of The Culture. (n.d.). In Payvand, Iran News, Directory and Bazar. Retrieved August 01, 2009, from


This site and all content © and the respective authors. All Rights Reserved. In other words: articles are posted on VOKRADIO with the kind permission of the authors.

The authors retain all rights to their work and articles found on this site may not be posted elsewhere without the express permission of the author.



The follwing comments are brought to this page from the website. To see more comments and idea pleas visit:

Recently by Azad Comments Date
I would really like to know why my posts keep getting deleted
Nov 13, 2009


Sep 15, 2009
The complexities of human sexuality, and Islamic laws and regulations in Iran
Sep 12, 2009

Cost of progress

by javaneh29 on Sat Sep 12, 2009 10:11 AM PDT

No one here is defending Islam. How can we. The issue is about domestic violence , unless your reading something Im not and DV is universal. That is all we are saying. And I think we agree that Islam cultivates and even advocates violence to women.

However let me ask you this : imagine if you can, that you are an Iranian woman. Choose your age, where you live, but lets say you are married to a man who beats you. Lets agree that you have 1 or more children.  What would you do ? where would you go ? What protest would you make?  And ask yourself this …. what would be your expectation from having made that protest/ complaint and keep it real. Then tell me that it is still easy for a woman in Iran to stand up to DV.

And btw why is it only a very small number of men in Iran defend womens rights to a life without DV?  What do you do ?



Ladies You posted, but did not answer my question

by Cost-of-Progress on Fri Sep 11, 2009 11:07 AM PDT

True that violence against women is not unique to Islam or Islamic countries. That is not the point here. The point is:

Where else do we have institutionalized marriage for 9 year old females?

Where else do we punish the rape victim for the crime instead of the rapist?

Where else (other than Utah) is OK to have multiple wives?

You people need to stop defending Islam.

Is it the “72 virgins and the boys without hair” mentioned in koran that tempts you? But, you’re women for crying outloud. Then what is it?? WHAT?

We are the only nation on earth who embrace those who invaded and raped our people and culture. Sickening.

vaghan ke ajab mardomi hastim!!!

Iraneh Azad


by Iraneh Azad on Fri Sep 11, 2009 04:25 AM PDT

But not surprising considering who is ruling our country today . I’m sure that some people will try to justify this behavior by Iranian men and say that this is part of our “culture”.


Dear Azad,

by MiNeum71 on Fri Sep 11, 2009 03:57 AM PDT

This is a very sad truth. I’ve written many, many times in this place stating UN-data, that the Iranian society (in and out of Iran) doesn’t respect women’s rights. This shows how uncivilized the Iranian society is.


Pandemic !!!!

by capt_ayhab on Thu Sep 10, 2009 01:36 PM PDT

Violence and rape against women has nothing to do with religion nor nationality.…

According to National Organization for Women, 3 women are murdered every day in USA by  their intimate partners.

According to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, women experience about 4.8 million intimate partner-related physical
assaults and rapes every year.

According to the National Crime Victimization Survey, which includes crimes that were not reported to the police, 232,960 women in the U.S. were raped or sexually assaulted in 2006. That’s more than 600 women every day.

According to the same report younger women[age 20-24] and women from impoverished sectors of society are at greatest risk of violence and rape.

The blog is informative, however it fails to put into perspective the pandemic nature of violence against women in other countries and it lacks comparability.




Violence against women knows

by TheMrs on Thu Sep 10, 2009 01:20 PM PDT

Violence against women knows no boundary or religion. It is purely a matter of power. The more women are impoverished, the more they are powerless. This can happen, and does happen every where. Even the article mentions a positive correlation between higher education and lower instances of violence. And more violence as you move away from larger cities. The more socioeconomic progress women have, the more power they have. Hence, lower instances of abuse. You can bash any particular factor, such as ethnicity, religion or something else. But the fact remains the same. It is purely a question of power. Hala in our case, shansemoon be eslam khordeh. But you can’t take that and use it as a main factor here because without it, if women are powerless, you’d see the same thing.

Now we can take religious conservatism as an obstacle to women’s emancipation. That I can understand.


Cost of progress

by javaneh29 on Thu Sep 10, 2009 12:04 PM PDT

It matters not whether you agree or disagree … these are the result of psychological and socialogical studies.Im sure you’re clever enough to find those studies yourself if you dont want to take my word for it.

As for Islam being the reason for the violence in Iran, how would you explain violence in non islamic countries?

Violence to women is almost always done by men, like it or not. Islam provides the perfect breeding ground for violence in that it allows the legal means to carry it out with no disincentive or reprisal. However violence to women is universal.




by Cost-of-Progress on Thu Sep 10, 2009 11:51 AM PDT

“Women who sufer any form of violence on a regular basis inevitably suffer from  fear and low self esteem and are therefore unlikely to feel able to change their situation, including denouncing the religion of thier culture, kin and kith easily.”

I do not disagree with the premise of your post! —- B U T —-

the religion of their culture“? This is not their culture, it was forced by the sword. Just becasue it has been a long time does not make it right – or just. This religion is responsible for these atrocities and we MUST start somewhere, hence the denouncement. I have no illusions that, if at all possible, it will take generations (plural) to cleanse our country of this cancer. This is provided we even make the attempt.

Right now, most folks think of this regime as an anomaly in the wonderful world of Islam instead of the norm. No matter what comes out of the muslim world, they discount its validity buy saying that “this is not true islam” – But IT IS.

Let’s not kid oursleves ….anymore.


We know that even 1% is

by TheMrs on Thu Sep 10, 2009 11:45 AM PDT

We know that even 1% is unacceptable for these categories. But I wish the authour would put into perspective for us. For example, how do we compare to other countries in the region? Are our numbers better? If so, maybe we can figure out why and encourage those aspects that seem to be working for us. If not, then we should find out why. How do we compare with Western countries? I think the comparison would be helpful. Otherwise, 7.2% here and 3.2% they don’t do much other than document (which I understand is useful). Also, do we know if these numbers are increasing or decreasing? For raising the legal age for marriage for example. What is the legal age for marriage for countries in the region or other religious countries. Is it higher than Iran, how did they push the laws to increase the age?

Pretty depressing.


Have to add

by javaneh29 on Thu Sep 10, 2009 11:26 AM PDT

These are only the reported incidents. I have no doubt that the incidence of ‘violence’ in any of the above forms can be multiplied by at least 10, if not more.

Women who sufer any form of violence on a regular basis inevitably suffer from  fear and low self esteem and are therefore unlikely to feel able to change their situation, including denouncing the religion of thier culture, kin and kith easily.

None of this comes as a surprise. It also is no suprise that there is little in the way of support for these long suffering women.



Question for the female Islamist

by Cost-of-Progress on Thu Sep 10, 2009 11:41 AM PDT

“…Iranian gender biased law favors men
where pedophiles are likely to prevail over the girls and women they victimized facing the risk of being convicted should they go to courts.

Women and girls face insurmountable obstacle in getting a divorce, forced to stay even if she was in an abusive marriage and most likely lose custody of her children above age 7 to her husband and the children’s paternal grandfather. In contrast men can marry up to 4 girls and woman and can divorce them at will. ”

We have all have been aware of these sick, 7th century ass backward and respressive Islamic “laws”.


What on earth compels you to defend, to belong, to agree, to subscribe to such teachings and endorsments? This is one sick, perverted cult forced upon your ancestors. You do not have to abide by these barbaric “laws” – free yourself from this arabic hell……….denounce it..



by Shepesh on Wed Nov 25, 2009 01:15 AM PST



Thank you for this article

by Shepesh on Thu Sep 10, 2009 09:24 AM PDT

It is very informative.

Human Development and the concept of attachment

cklara_moradian_0801.jpg azad_moradian0807.jpg
Cklara Moradian Azad Moradian
The theme of attachment is inseparable from both psychological theory and practice and throughout my years of experience in the field of psychology, attachment and the array of emotions or processes that comes along with it has been intertwined with my work.
The word attachment itself can be looked at as a connection or a bond between two or more people who each contribute to the relationship and the strength of the attachment is dependent on the level of contribution. Without attachment, the meaning of such intense human experiences such as love, friendship, hate, grief, loss would all be lost. What physiological or neurological procedure takes place within an individual that compels him/her towards attachment to someone is still vague to us but what is clear is that even in the clinical field, pathology is at times the direct result of false or unhealthy attachments or even lack there of disorders such as ADHD, Autism, Eating Disorders, Addiction, sexual disorders and emotional irregularity, inability to cope with anger or hostility all seem to be somehow related to attachment to someone or something at a very sensitive developmental phase in our lives.
In Focus Family Therapy, which I am using as a tool to work with my client, the theory is focused on relationships within a family, which again would be meaningless without attachment. Attachment Narrative theory, as the name suggests, is predominantly focused on the role attachment plays within Marriage Family Therapy. The therapeutic relationship itself, the transference or counter transference between patient and therapist is again an agent of attachment. In most psychological theories within Marriage Family Therapy, an individual’s maturity level is often assessed based on how well he/she has been able to form a mutual bond with another person and respect reciprocity within a relationship.

The developmental phases in which early attachments with caregivers are formed, as well as the way those attachments are formed are often the framework for the mental health of an individual in adulthood. During those early infancy attachment leads the way for trust vs. mistrust, for the possibility of an adult who perceives the world as a place where needs are met and safety is ensured. The lack of adequate attachment on the other hand can be detrimental to the schema and cognition of an individual’s perceptions. The themes of abandonment, negligence, and a well-established self-esteem are all developed during those early years of attachment. John Bowlby was the pioneer of the attachment theory and began studying the role of attachment while working with animals, which led to the laboratory experiments by Mary Ainsworth to prove the theory through the Strange Situation scenario.

Mothers who have symptoms of Aspergers or either Autism, who themselves have attachment relevant issues, are also at risk of being unable to transfer an adequate sense of safety and security to infants and form clear attachments with them.
In my practice, working with couples or families, I have often seen that when a couple’s sense of attachment/bond is lost they often regress to childhood behaviors of tantrums or cries, in forms of becoming aggressive or demanding. How this regression is understood is that an adult that feels loss of love from a partner, or betrayal or loneliness, when an adult feels that they have been abandoned or their emotional/physical needs are not met. If attachment in early childhood was not adequately developed, they will often regress to a place of hostility and aggression due to the emotional immaturity
Mothers, who suffer from depression after pregnancy, or have a child due to unplanned pregnancy, are culturally pressured to have sons rather than daughters, often suffer from an inability to transfer an adequate sense of attachment to their infants, which could result in emotional irregularity in the child in the future.

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The complexities of human sexuality, and Islamic’ laws and regulations in Iran

The complexities of human sexuality, and Islamic’ laws and regulations in Iran, Los Angeles, CA, USA

By:Azad Moradian

April 20, 2009
Los Angeles,
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology

Abstract: In the following paper, the complexities of human sexuality are explored as it occurs within the present day Iran. Attention is given to the Islamic laws currently demanded and practiced in Iran, as well as issues such as the existence of Lesbian,Gay, Bisexual, and Transgenders (LGBT) and gender identity within the culture.
Histpolygamy_iran.jpgorical and cultural relevance is given to each issue examined while remaining sensitive to the present day laws and regulations in Iran

Interpersonal relationships in Iran

Currently under Iran’s theocratic Islamic Government, based on Islamic law (Shari’ah), all interpersonal relationships are clearly expressed.  As a rule the relationship between the sexes are narrowly restricted to lawful (Hallal) or illegal (Haram) categories. A relationship is considered to be legal only between a brother and sister, a parent and his or her children, and an uncle or aunt with his or her sibling’s children. Every other relationship, be they sexual on non sexual, outside of these narrow boundaries is forbidden and illegal.
A sexual relationship is only permitted within a heterosexual marriage. Homosexuality is completely forbidden (Duran, Khalid 1993), and the proximity of persons of opposite sex outside of marriage is authorized only within the limits set under Islamic law.
All sexual relations that occur outside of a traditional, heterosexual marriage (i.e. sodomy or adultery) are illegal and no legal distinction is made between consensual or non-consensual sexual activity.
iran_lesbian.jpgAs a result, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) rights described under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UN, 1948). “Sexual rights are universal human rights based on the inherent freedom, dignity, and equality of all human beings…Was states that sexual health is the result of an environment that recognizes, respects and exercises the rights of sexual freedom.” (Britton Patti PhD 2005).

In Iran since the Islamic Revolution of 1979 have come under overt governmental persecution. International human rights groups have reported public floggings and executions of lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals. (

In contrast, under the rule of the last monarch of the Pahlavi Dynasty, homosexuality was tolerated even to the point of allowing news coverage of a same-sex wedding.  However, homosexuality was still taboo in the society. A homosexual individual could not depend on the support and guidance of his or her family or friends and public agencies geared toward assisting youth or people who were confused or questioning their sexuality were non-existent.

Societal views toward homosexuality have not changed.  Many LGBT people are pressured by their family and society to conform to a heterosexual lifestyle, which in some cases even leads to forced marriage. Unmarried men and women who have reached a certain age are considered “suspect” and will often be asked to explain their situation (Safra Project-Iran 2004).
The official view of the Iranian Islamic government is that everyone should be heterexecution-4.jpgosexual and that homosexuality is, “a violation of the supreme will of God”(, and punishable by death even homosexual relations that occur between consenting adults in private do not escape punishment.Homosexual conduct is proven by the testimony of four male witnesses who is present during the events is not required by Islamic law.
The punishment for female homosexuality involving persons, who are mature, of sound mind, and consenting, is 100 lashes. If the act is repeated three times and punishment is enforced each time, the death sentence will apply on the fourth occasion. (Articles 127, 129, 130) The ways of proving lesbianism in court are the same as for male homosexuality. (Article 128)(Kar  Mehrangiz 2008)
According to Iranian Islamic president, Mr. Ahmadinejad : “In Iran we don’t have homosexuals like in your country.” “In Iran we do not have this phenomenon, I don’t know who has told you that we have it,” Aahmadinejad.jpghmadinejad said to the Columbia University audience. (NEW YORK -AFP2007 )
The restrictions imposed by the Islamic government are in opposition to the long history of Iran. The most stories and poetry of classical Persian literature are explicitly illustrates the existence of homosexuality among Iranians. The most classical Persian literature is replete with homoerotic allusions, as well as explicit references to beautiful young boys and to the practice of pederasty. (Babayan K, Afsaneh N 2008)
A significant amount of major traditional and well known Persian literature explicitly illustrates the existence of homosexuality among Iranians.
Some example: . In some poems, Sa’di’s beloved is a young man, not a beautiful woman. In this he followed the conventions of traditional Persian poetry. In the Gulistan Story 18, he states:
When I was young, my intimacy with a young man and my friendship for him were such that his beauty was the Qiblah of my eye and the chief joy of my life union with him’:
Perhaps an angel in heaven but no mortal
Can be on earth equal in beauty of form to him.
I swear by the amity, after which companionship is illicit
No human sperm will ever become a man like him. (Shaikh Saa’di 1258 ACE)

After the establishment of the Islamic regime, Ayatollah Khomeini gave a fatwa that allows sex change operations in Iran.  Therefore some homosexual men undergo sex change operations to avoid harsh penalties including imprisonment, execution or both.
Transsexualismis still a taboo topic within Iranian society and no laws exist to protect post-operative transsexuals from discrimination and transsexuals still report societal intolerance.
Sexual orientation and gender identity

iran_interpersonal_relation.jpgDue to the restrictions imposed by the current regime in Iran, social gatherings in which unrelated men and women are present are illegal especially if the women are not completely covered from head to toe.  In addition, dancing and music are strictly forbidden.

Even though heterosexuality is the only tolerated sexual orientation, having a heterosexual relationship other than a legal marriage is just as strictly forbidden as homosexual relationships.
Some Iranian women often runaways, have been cross-dressing as a man in order to avoid being the victim of sexual harassment, rape and to access economic opportunities, which are often only given to men. Women dressing as men or barbers cutting the hair of women short are both illegal.

Islamic tradition does not allow cross-dressing. A man should only dress in male clothes.  Men who cross-dress as women or are deemed to be too effeminate will also face harassment or criminal charges. The one exception is for transsexualism. There has been a rash of public executions in Iran that have involved youth or were related to sexuality and gender identity.

nhb0.jpgGay Iranian couples are often afraid to be seen together in public, and report that LGBT people were widely stereotyped as being sex-obsessed child molesters, rapists, and diseased ridden degenerates.
Under Iran’s current fundamentalist rule, a homosexual may be harassed, arrested and punished with the most extreme measures possible. (Paula E. Drew, 2004)

Girls, Virginity, Stoning:

The most traditional Iranian culture demands that a bride be a virgin for her first marriage. A girl who loses her virginity before official marriage are agreed upon is not considered as having behaved immorally, women can ruin the family honor by not maintaining their virginity prior to marriage, or by involving themselves in extramarital affairs.

Iranian women can be punished by stoning to death, if they have  extramarital intercourse or fornication (zena). Although the penalties for non-marital sex included in the current Islamic criminal code also apply to men (if the female partner is not married), they incur little or no social disgrace for illegitimate sex. If caught in such relationships, men can often escape punishment by producing evidence of temporary marriage to their partner.

Stoning is a pre-Islamic punishment. It was once practiced in many parts of the world, but in recent years has been almost entirely abandoned except in a few Islamic countries principally Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iran and Saudi Arabia
Stoning is a part of torturing before death, for the execution, the condemned person is wrapped head to foot in white shrouds and buried in a pit. A woman is buried up to her armpits, while a man is buried up to his waist. A truckload of rocks is brought to the site and court-appointed officials or in some cases ordinary citizens approved by the authorities carry out the stoning.

woman_stoned_to_death.jpgVictims are guaranteed a slow, torturous death because the stones are deliberately chosen to be large enough to cause pain, but not so large as to kill the victim immediately. If the condemned person somehow manages to survive the stoning, he or she will be imprisoned for as long as 16 years but will not be executed.

Honor-Killing, and human sexuality in Iran

Honor killing, means honor murders of persons, mostly women who are perceived as having brought dishonor to their family, and their society are often identified with Islam, although the other religion has a common believe in this regard. The most Islamic countries officially or unofficially are agreed with the concept of honor killing. In Iran , south of Iraq, and Afghanistan honor killing are legal or slightly punished. Sexual intercourse with person who is married to someone else can carry a harsh penalty according to the Islamic criminal code. (Kar  Mehrangiz 2008)

A woman can be targeted by (individuals within) her family for a variety of reasons, including: refusing to enter into an arranged marriage, being the victim of a sexual assault, seeking a divorce even from an abuse husband or (allegedly) committing adultery. The mere perception that a woman has behaved in a way that “dishonors” her family is sufficient to trigger an attack on her life
banaz_mahmo_honorkilling.jpgIn the Islamic Republic of Iran, according to addendum 2 to article 295 and article 226 of ‎the Islamic penal code, if someone murders another on the assumption that the victim ‎was “vajeb al-ghatl” [literally, “necessary to be killed” ], he will not be tried for first-‎degree murder.
Based on these laws, judges convict murderers who have committed ‎honor killings on the assumption that the murdered woman has committed adultery not to ‎death or life imprisonment, but rather to pay the “dia” [blood money]. As such, legal ‎incentives, protected by judges in the area of implementation, are given to men who are ‎accused of killing women. This must be noted as the most important factor behind the ‎rise in the number of honor killings in Iran. ‎((Kar  Mehrangiz 2008))

Polygamy and Temporary Marriage:

In Iran, a man can have more than one wife. Although the Shi-e marriage law, now dominant in Iran, allows a man to simultaneously have up to four wives.  polygamy.jpgA man (married or not), and an unmarried woman (virgin, divorced, or widowed) can enter a temporary marriage contract (sigheh) in which both parties agree on the period of the relationship and the amount of compensation to be paid to the woman. This arrangement requires no witnesses, and no registration is needed.

This form of temporary marriage, according to its proponents, is a measure for curbing free sex and controlling prostitution. A man can have as many sigheh wives as he can afford, but the woman can be involved in no more than one such temporary relationship at any given time and cannot enter another contract before a waiting period (edda) of three months or two menstrual cycles elapse.  Sigheh has been very unpopular, particularly among the educated middle-class families and among women who tend to associate it with legalized prostitution.

References :

1.    Babayan Kathryn, Afsaneh Najmabadi, and other, 2008 ,Islamicate Sexualities…, ,  Harvard CMES, page 200

2.    Britton Patti PhD, The Art of Sex Coaching: Expanding Your Practice, 2005, W.W. Norton& Company, New Yourk, Page 61
3.    Duran, Khalid. Homosexuality in Islam, Swidler, Anne (ed.) “Homosexuality and World Religions” (1993). Trinity Press International, Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.
4.    Kar Mehrangiz, Honor killing, 2004,
5.    Paula E. Drew, Ph.D ,Iran, Jomhoori-Islam-Iran,
6.    Safra Project, Resource Project for LBTQ Muslim women, Country Information Report, Iran, 2004, P.O. Box 35929, London, N17 OWB, England, UK,
7.    The universal Declaration of Human Rights, United Nation High Commissary for Human Rights, 1948,
8. ‘No homosexuals in Iran’: Ahmadinejad , September 24,2007- AFP
9. (Shaykh Moslahaldin Sa’di , The Gulistan , Chapter V , On Love and Youth, Written 1258 A.C.E.)
10 . Afary Janet,  Anderson Kevin B.,  Foucault and the Iranian Revolution: Gender and the Seductions of Islamism, University Of Chicago Press; annotated edition edition (June 20, 2005


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Psychology; Diagnostic and Treatment of a Couple Therapy, based on the movie: “The Story of Us”;

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology- Los Angeles, California

By : M. Azad Moradian

Editor: Cklara Moradian

The purpose of the following article is to help graduatethe-story-of-us-poster.jpge and undergraduate level students in the fields of psychology, social sciences, and/or film be able to have a model of how to look at a movie from the perspective of their fields of study and write a paper utilizing their knowledge.
In the following papers movies are analyzed, interpreted, discussed, and ultimately criticized a way that is very specifically related to academic understanding of psychological subjects, which is a different way of looking at film than the traditional way. We hope that you can find the following helpful and we will appreciate your comments as well as any submissions that you might have that could be published in this category

Diagnostic and Treatment of a Couple Therapy, based on the movie: “The Story of Us

azad_moradian_0907.jpg In our analysis of a married couple’s struggles and how the different approaches to couples therapy can help resolve conflicts and allow for healthy and enriching relationships, the married couple in the film “The Story of Us” will be examined from two different therapeutic models. The two chosen models for this paper are the Developmental Model Therapy approach and the Emotional Focused Therapy approach. These two models were chosen because they seemed to fit best with the issues that the couple in the film were facing, and allow the therapist for a clear understanding of the behaviors and patterns that the individuals are displaying, as well as a clear roadmap for .healing
Diagnostic and Treatment of a Couple Therapy, Based on the movie: “The Story of Us


The Story of Us (Can a marriage survive 15 years of marriage?)
Director: Rob Reiner
Writers (WGA): Alan Zweibel & Jessie Nelson
Main Actors: Bruce Willis and Michelle Pfeiffer
Release Date: 15 October 1999 (USA)
Genre: Drama
Universal Pictures (USA)&Castle Rock/Warner Bros. (non-USA)

Overview of the movie:

“The Story of Us” is perhaps one of the very few Hollywood movies that realistically depict the roller coaster of a marriage in a sincere, touching, and yet often humorous fashion. It reflects the trials that a couple often have to overcome in order to hold on to each other and to themselves. The majority of the film takes place during a summer, 15 years after Ben and Katie Jordan first get married, two children later, at a time when the qualities that first attracted them to each other have brought them to the breaking point. The movie also looks at Ben and Katie’s past through a series of flashbacks, and gives the audience a picture of the relationship dynamic that has led them to that summer when they feel they might no longer be able to continue the marriage. Ben and Katie’s marriage seemed to have been falling apart for many years prior to that summer, and the film showed their attempts at solving their issues such as sessions with several couple therapists, trip to Europe, and a trial separation. This movie ends on a good note, where both Katie and Ben feel that they have a history bides by love that they do not want to let go of, but that they certainly have many issues that must be dealt with in order to live relatively peacefully together. The “moral of the story” might also be a way for the movie to give the viewers ideas that they might be able to use in their own lives to better their own marriage and/or relationship. Ben learned to have more toleration in dealing with Katie, and Katie learned that she cannot force Ben into changing and molding him into who she wants him to be, and she ends up accepting him for who he is. She learns that life is not an ordinary institution and a simple puzzle. Ben learns to find more similarities with Katie, spend more time with her, and have more respect for her feelings. It seems that they are able to agree on disagreeing, and agree about their desire to stand out as unique individuals. They choose to spend more time talking about opposite sides of issues. The family has a method of communication, which can be a great model for other families. Every day the family sits down to talk about their “High” and “Low” for the day in which way they learn to listen actively to each other without judging one another.

If Ben and Katie were to be referred to a therapist who would to look at their relationship from a Developmental model approach he/she would look for the following background information:
Most of the couples’ communication would end by fighting and/or disrespecting each other. Katie explains this by saying that “fighting has become the condition rather than the exception of our lives (Reiner Rob, 2001)”
Their action and reaction to each other seem to have a pattern of behavior, which we could relate to the partner’s childhood development. Those childlike behaviors finally become a pattern as well as the meaning of their communication.
Could their childlike behaviors be showing a regression of a specific stage of their childhood development? Is their marriage influenced by their childhood experiences?
Developmental model of couple’s therapy is helpful to find out, current level of development and the experiences of each partner.
Based on most of the dialog during the movie, flashbacks to the past, and our understanding of the couples’ relationship, we are able to find the correlations and parallels between family-of-origin and current time interactions between partners.
Ben, a first and only child, has his assumptions about marriage and relationships. An attractive young and famous writer, it was not easy for just any woman to get him. When he first meets Katie, he feels that she “just got him through an instant connection”. He has his own ideas about life and marriage, an unrealistic image of marriage and relationships. Ben states that he has always imagined life to be like this “Two people meet, fall in love and then 50-60 years later one of them dies and then a few days after that the other dies because it just can’t live without each other (Reiner Rob, 2001)”. His love story looks like his writing; it always should have a happy ending.
He did not have any experience of early childhood frustrations or either he denied them in his private life before marriage. His understanding of his parents was; a couples that lived together for long time, and they have learned to cover their conflicts through humor, and who do not express their disagreements in public.
Ben’s experience of life was reflected in his marriage. He had his own values and morality based on his prospective of man and women intimacy. He believes in manpower and that a man should be the decision maker in his marriage.
Ben’s early childhood experiences with conflict resolution and passive-aggressive parents as a role models shows that he does not have enough skills for problem solving as an adult and for when he is faced with a family conflict in his relationship in his current life.
After years of conflict, huge disagreements, therapy sessions, and a few shocks such as a trial separation, living in a hotel for a few weeks, and seeing his wife with another man, it looked as though he was able to identify the differential world of man and women, and the reality of marriage relationships. There could not be a happy ending if you do not build it and constantly continue to work on it.
Katie, who is obsessed with role and order, likes having everything in its place. She met Ben, when she was working temporarily in a shared office, designing crossword puzzles. Katie likes a small page of puzzles, with simple words and questions, which she is able to take care of unlike the complicated world around her. She is not able to challenge herself with thousand of things in her personal life. She has no clue what the marriage relationship looks like. Life is beautiful if the puzzle is easy enough and it all fits.
However, having two kids, taking care of all their needs, taking care of a big house, a privet business, friendships, and the important parts of a marriage, satisfying her husband as well as the sexual intimacy of the relationship felt like too much to handle.
Katie feels that Ben and she have been apart for more than 10 years. Her husband does not listen to what she says, and her husband does not have respect for her ideas.
After so many years of arguing, disagreeing, and fighting, she feels hopeless, feels that she cannot change her husband, and wants to give up.
Their marriage relationship gradually becomes too stressful, meaningless, and too much hassle on her mind and feelings of insecurity, anxiety as well as her obsession compulsion worsens to the point that separation becomes the only easy answer to the crossword puzzle of her life.
Like Ben, Katie also does not have enough experience in her childhood background to solve life’s conflicts. Her role model, her mother, Dot, was always judgmental. She learned to solve the issues of life by criticizing others.
Based on the above facts, and the Developmental method therapy, our assumption will be that Ben and Katie are not in the same stage of childhood development stage, and they are not fixated in the same stage of the developmental method of relating.
The important part for us is to find out what combination of couple’s stage they fit into.

Climate of the relationship:
The majority of the exchanges between Ben and Katie and the communication within the dynamic of the relationship are hostile and resentful. Fighting is not an uncommon sight.
The one very clear difference between the couple is that although Ben has been criticized a great deal by Katie, and he is helplessly searching to find peace in their relationship, he still wants to be in on his marriage. He wants to forget the past and start a new chapter in his life, like one of his novels. Katie on the other hand feels that there is no way out. Katie complains that Ben is always “Harold” in their relationship, and she never gets to draw with the magic purple crayon.
Couple’s Body Language:
Our observation indicates that the couple is able to play games and make their relationship look good when they are among others, especially in front of their children. They always try faking a good relationship. Katie, who has obsessive-compulsive traits, does not like to accept shortcomings in her relationship. Failure of her marriage makes her more insecure. In reality, they have been apart for a long period. Katie does not remember when she and Ben made eye contact with each other last. It seems Katie’s early childhood experience with her mother is projected onto her marriage relationship.
During the few flashbacks of therapy sessions, it showed the couple sitting together side by side, with a positive interaction with the therapists.

Method of the diagnostic:

The film was able to give us some information about each individual’s history, which revealed each couples psychodynamic backgrounds, as well as the different experiments they have made in their experiences.
During the film, all of the dialogs and conversations between the couples are very helpful and revealing, which the therapist should use as a tool to intervene for the couple’s therapy.
One of the questions that were answered by Ben and Katie during the film was that they were going to therapy because “they could not find the qualities that lead them to marriage (Reiner Rob, 2001)”. Katie was confused about the marriage relationship. She felt that she has no hand in her personal life.
Ben believes that, his wife does not take his needs seriously, and he is always being criticized for what he is doing, essentially who he is. He feels that he never receives positive feedback. Ben feels that everything that he is doing is wrong and/or it is not enough in his wife’s opinion. It seems that most of the complaints are not focused on both of the partners. Ben and Katie have been living together for about 15 years, but Katie feels that they have been apart for more than 10 years. Although they have lived together, they have been emotionally apart.
Ben feels they should get back together, their marriage is not over, and they are able to start again. At some point during the separation trial he says to Katie “Isn’t this the moment when one of us is supposed to say ‘this is ridiculous, we love each other, all couples go through this, let’s give this another try (Reiner Rob, 2001).”
When Ben met Katie for the first time, he felt an instant connection, the simpatico, and that is why he felt that “she just got him”, and for Ben it was the greatest feeling in the world at that time. Ben found Katie attractive and sexy.
Katie was looking for a man to complete her uncompleted part of life. For Katie marriage was a question mark, which needed an answer. She also found an attractive man with patience and a sense of humor.
Similarity and Differences: Ben and Katie have the same circle of support, same close friends and relatives, who get together on different occasions. Both partners are very caring parents. They both manage helping their children enjoy their free time. Both take their children to school, sports, and spend quality time with them.
Katie’s obsession compulsion leads the most significant difference aspect of their lives. It seems that her attempt to change Ben’s patterns about his easygoing life style has failed. Ben feels that he is more comfortable doing activities away from Katie, because of her judgments and criticizing tendencies.
In an overview of Ben and Katie’s relationships, we recognize that she is perhaps displacing anger at her mother onto Ben.

Diagnosis of the Couple relationships:

The current developmental stage for Ben and Katie, before the last episode of the movie is Symbiotic-Differentiating, with hostile-dependent level for Katie’s Symbiotic stage of developmental couple relationship.
Beginning of their relationship, and “in an instant connection” they were delighted by their similarities and warmed by the sameness they shared. There were a great deal of passion and mutual giving and receiving during the beginning of their relationship. Honeymoon, Sexual attraction, childbirth, and all the enjoyments of attraction are the first stages of Symbiosis. Gradually, however, the request for change demanded by Katie, due to her obsessive-compulsive traits made it easier for Ben to move on to the next stage, Differentiation, but for Katie it was too difficult to move on from symbiotic stage to the next stage. Katie fixated on the hostile-dependent system, which is dominated by anger and conflict. The definition of this stage is almost a behavioral opposite feeling, terrifying to end the relationship, and not mature enough to end the battles. Ben was able to move on to the next stage, because of his easygoing personality. He is not too focused on details, and has a more positive approach on the marriage relationship.

Treatment and recommendation:
Therapist with the developmental model approach should focus on the couple relationship and build trust. In the beginning, we should say our intervention might reflect on the couple’s independent feelings. We have to make sure that they understand our method of intervention. The communication between therapist and partners make the session safer for therapeutic environment.
Katie will most likely demand change in the relationship system, and she will be requesting Ben to change his behaviors, his patterns and habits. Ben is more likely to accept the fact, due to the fact that he is willing to save his marriage. Therapist should help Katie support Ben’s change and let her know how childlike behaviors are reflected onto their current relationship.
Katie feels anxiety with a huge responsibility around the housework. She feels that she has not received any compliments from Ben for all she is doing for the family. She feels like she is invisible.
Indirectly Katie is stressed out that she needs to find out her self again, she lost herself years ago, and she needs to spend intimate time on herself. She shows her feelings towards Ben through temper tantrums, criticizing, and nagging. Therapists at this situation will focus on the external autonomous change. It is hard for Ben to understand Katie’s feelings as a distinct person.
The next step for therapist should be working on the Creating a Future Focus with both partners. Ben is ready to move on and start again, which is a big step for the couple. The partners have a good foundation, both financially and love, they are willing to move on and they have two loving kids, helping them to focus on the plan. Therapist should work with the partners on building their future. The couple should compromise on the amounts of time and effort they spend on their mutual relationship.
Katie might also want to be referred to psychiatric services, due to certain structural deficits seen in her case, which she might need to address through individual therapy and a psychiatric evaluation adjacently. This could also help Katie ease her discomfort with her obsession compulsion and her symptoms of depression.

If Ben and Katie were to be referred to a therapist who would to look at their relationship from the Emotional Focused Therapy model approach he/she would look for the following background information:

In a short overview of the couple’s relationship, we can see a number of reasons Ben and Katie need Emotional Focused Therapy. These include, but are not limited to, a lack of communication, disagreements over priorities, and disproportionate household responsibilities. These issues are mostly about the quality of the couple’s marriage. The partner’s feelings about their marriage are influenced by their daily relationship. They have simply pretended everything in their relationships is fine; therefore, they have not received any natural support from their friends and family. Katie is clearly frustrated with Ben’s behaviors, but she is not able to communicate in an appropriate way. Ben is not satisfied with Katie’s behaviors, her anger, temper tantrums, and their private intimate relationship, but he fears expressing his feelings in order to prevent Katie’s overreaction. The story of them should be rewritten with the help of a therapist. Based on the background of the family, rapid intervention should is necessary to change the negative dynamic of the couple. Emotional focused therapy is able to focus on a positive drive to change the couple’s relationship.
As the Dr. Susan Johnson says ” Emotion is the music of the attachment dance; changing the music rapidly reorganizes the partners’ interactional dance” (Johnson, 1998).
In addition, the high intensity, as well as the feelings of distances all needs an intervention therapy based on an existential approach in order to change the couple’s feelings about the relationship’s meaning.
Although Katie believes that the relationship has been meaningless for more than 10 years, the general understanding is that they have enough reasons to benefit from Emotional Focus Therapy. Ben and Katie care about their marriage, their children, and the foundation that they have built during the 15 years of marriage. A therapist is able to help them both feel better about themselves and each other as well as teach appropriate ways of expressing feelings.
Emotional Focus therapist is able to bring back the love to this couple’s life.

Process of the EFT Model:
The therapist will lead the sessions in following three stages and nine steps:
1.”Cycle de-escalation”: Through this stage and all 4 steps, therapist will assess the couple’s relationship in order to help Ben and Katie uncover all of their negative and harsh feelings, emotions, and anger towards each other. Identifying the negative actions and reactions when each partner is expressing those negative feelings. In this stage, the therapist is supposed to create a safe environment, where each partner is able to review his/her version of life story to the therapist. It is crucial that the couples begin to trust the therapist in this first step. Katie seems very upset with the way Ben is acting; therefore, she generalizes Ben’s responses to the marriage. In this stage therapists will help couples to uncover all their hard feelings, resentments, blaming and anger.
More than likely Katie will be expressing her feelings about Ben’s private relationship, which bothers her a great deal. Ben might talk about their intimacy and how Katie does not respond well to his request to make love all the time, because she needs to be emotionally satisfied prior to any sexual activity.

2. “Restructuring or changing interaction Positions”: This stage includes steps 5 through 7. The therapist focuses on one partner in steps 5 to find out any individual emotions, angers, feelings, which act or react within the couple relationships. Any individual patterns and habits, which may have a role on the couple dynamic. Therapists will focus on Katie’s criticizing, blaming, and nagging towards Ben and help her to soften her patterns to express her feelings towards her husband and marriage. The therapist is able to acknowledge that most of Katie’s feeling come from her obsession compulsion and her unrealistic feelings about the marriage. In step 6, the therapist will switch focus to the opposite partner and address his patterns based on the information that is found from each individual. Ben needs help gaining cognition about the ways he is failing to communicate with Katie or how he can be more constructive. Katie needs more compliments and positive responses to what she is doing for the family, and Ben has to understand Katie’s limitations on a daily basis about the household responsibilities. Step 7 will be a couple session, which the therapist will discuss the couple dynamic and how the individual’s needs are able to affect the couple’s relationship. In this step, each partner should be able to express their feelings toward each other without any harsh feelings, and anger, exactly the same way they did with the therapist.
3. “Stage of consolidation/ integration”: In step 8 and 9 the therapist will help the partners restructure their patterns in positive ways. Therapist will help them “paint a picture” of how they can be different as a couple but their emotions and feelings need to take care of it. The therapist will help them to find a positive solution to their old problems.
Alongside EFT, Katie might be referred to a psychiatrist to follow up with her symptoms of depression and obsessive-compulsive tendencies, if these do continue to hurt her development and personal relationship.

– Bader, E. Pearson, P. T. (1998). A developmental model of relating, In Quest of the mythical mate New York: Brunner/Mazel, pp.1-16
-Bader, E. & Pearson, P. T. (1998). Diagnosing the couple’s stages, In Quest of the mythical mate New York: Brunner/Mazel, pp. 17-42
-Bader, E. & Pearson, P. T. (1998). Treating Couples in a developmental model.. In Quest of the mythical mate New York: Brunner/Mazel, pp. 43-61
– Collins, R & Collins L, How Therapists Can Help During Divorce, The Therapist V 18,I 6, Nov-Dec 2006
– Gladding, Samuel T. (2007) Family Therapy: history, theory, and practice, Fourth Edition, Pearson Prentice Hall. Pp. 23,112-114,118-122,247
– Gottman’ J. M. (1999). The assessment of marriage, In the marriage clinic,New York: W.W. Norton& Co., Inc.
-Johnson, S. M. (2006, Sep/Oct,). Are you there for me? Psycho therapy Networker, pp. 41-45,52,53,& 70
– Johnson S. M. (2004). The field of couple therapy and EFT? In The practice of emotionally focused couple therapy (2nd ed), New York: Brunner-Routledge
– Johnson, S. M. (2004). The basics of EFT, In the practice of emotionally focused couple therapy (2nd ed), New York: Brunner-Routledge
– Reiner Rob (Director). (2001). The story of us, Movie . United States: Universal Pictures (USA)&Castle Rock/Warner Bros. (non-USA)


This site and all content © and the respective authors. All Rights Reserved. In other words: articles are posted on VOKRADIO with the kind permission of the authors.

The authors retain all rights to their work and articles found on this site may not be posted elsewhere without the express permission of the author.


Theories of Family Therapy, Based on the film: “Ordinary People”

Theories of Family Therapy, Based on the film: “Ordinary People”

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology- Los Angeles, California

By : M. Azad Moradian

Editor: Cklara Moradian

The purpose of the following article is to help graduate and undergraduate level students in the fields of ordinary_people.jpgpsychology, social sciences, and/or film be able to have a model of how to look at a movie from the perspective of their fields of study and write a paper utilizing their knowledge.
In the following papers movies are analyzed, interpreted, discussed, and ultimately criticized a way that is very specifically related to academic understanding of psychological subjects, which is a different way of looking at film than the traditional way. We hope that you can find the following helpful and we will appreciate your comments as well as any submissions that you might have that could be published in this category

The family chosen to be analyzed from two different family therapy theoretical perspectives, as well as from the perspective of a potential family who might reach out to bee seen by a therapist is the Jarrett’s family based on the film Ordinary People.
The two models chosen are Structural Family Therapy Theory and Emotional Focused Couple Therapy Theory. These theories were examined due to the family’s observed dynamic, interactions, communication methods, and need for intervention.
In this paper, each individual member of the family will be looked at from the theoretical perspective of each model and put into context of a family dynamic and how each of their relations affect one another.
Some ideas and intervention methods will be offered based on each theoretical model to move the family towards a healthier and more enriching relationship.
Ordinary People
Director: Robert Redford
Writers: Judith Guest (Novel)
Alvin Sargent (Screenplay)
Main Actors: Donald Sutherland, Judd Hirsch, And Timothy Hutton
Main Actress: Mary Tyler Moore And Elizabeth McGovern
Release Date: 2 March 1981 (Sweden)
Genre: Drama
Awards: Won 4 Oscars. Another 14 wins & 8 nominations
A Paramount Picture (USA)Overview of the movie:

Ordinary People is one of the very few Hollywood movies that at best realistically and at worst again realistically looks at a family struck by tragedy. It depicts what might happen to an upper middle-class family when tragedy strikes unexpectedly, and order is turned into chaos. Everyone must, however, continue to upkeep a mask of normalcy for society and for each other. The film sheds light into a family, due to a tragedy, has turned into separate individuals inhabiting the same house, who cannot communicate their grief effectively. It realistically, without over dramatization, look into misplaced guilt at every level. The family’s inability to work together as a system through the tragedies lead them down to a path where they each felt an individual breakdown and ultimately the family as a dynamic.
Beth, Calvin, and their son Conrad are living in the aftermath of the death of the oldest son Buck. Conrad is overcome by grief and misplaced guilt to the extent of an attempted suicide and some time of hospitalization. He seeks out therapy because he needs to feel more “in control”. Beth had always favored Buck and does not connect with Conrad. Calvin is trapped between the two trying to hold the family together but the pressure is building and he is coming to realizations of his own.

Looking at the Jarrett family from a Structural Family Therapy Theory

Conrad is the Identified Patient (IP) of the Jarrett family. He is the youngest son of the family. A High School student recently returned home from a four months hospital stay after a serious suicide attempt. He exhibits signs of depression and PTSD. He has trouble sleeping and/or has nightmares of trauma, which might have triggered his symptoms. He blames himself for a boating accident, which killed his brother. He does not have an appetite, has very little social contact with friends, cannot concentrate in class, is faltering in swimming team, and does not display a good relationship with his parents.

We are introduced to Calvin, Conrade’s father, as he is falling asleep in the theater next to his wife Beth who seems much more entertained by the play than he is. Calvin returns home, goes right away to Conrade’s room, and asks if he will see a therapist soon, showing much concern for his well being than Beth.
Clearly, from our first meeting with Calvin, we realize that there is a disconnect within the marriage, and a gender role in the Jarrett household that is not aligned with our idea of a traditional family view as the mother being more of the care giver than the father.

We are introduced to Beth, Conrad’s mother, who in the first interaction with her only son shoves his breakfast in the disposer without any hesitation when he says he is not hungry. Clearly, a communication barrier is present, as well as a very subtle passive-aggressive hostility from Beth towards both Conrad and Calvin.

Our introduction to our key characters shows right away that there is conflict within this family. That not only is this family in grief, but that each member is struggling to communicate effectively, and there is an unhealthy power dynamic within this structure.

The pattern that we see is a complimentary role of tough-mother/tender-father.
Within this family structure, the father plays more of the traditional gender roles assigned to an “expressive” role, expected of a caring mother, such as providing emotional support and tender care.

The mother in this family makes most of the decisions, such as trips for herself and her husband, checking bills after returning from a trip, buying the shirts her teenage son should wear, and even what shoes her husband should wear during their son’s funeral. Her need for so much power and control, for so much structure, leads to a great deal of tension within the family. She does not like change very much either.
There are several subsystems within the dynamic of this family:
-Beth and Buck the oldest son who had died had a very special type of relationship, and though Buck has died, their relationship continues to haunt the current family structure.

-Beth and her own mother and brother seem to have an extended subsystem. They are the people whom she turns to when she needs a refuge from her own home.
-Conrad and his father have a different communication than that of Conrad and his mother. They have a more tender relationship.
-Beth and Calvin, with Beth acting as the dominating force within the couple relationship. An example of how this particular subsystem between Beth and Calvin clearly tells us why the family is not able to adapt to change when mandated. Beth who likes to keep everything under her control is not tolerant when her husband wants to have a healthy relationship with their son Conrad.

Inflexibility boundaries created by Beth is blocking an easy way to communication and negotiation between family members whenever they need it.

They are confused about their relationships and none of them show a clear sense of belonging within that system of a family.

Based on the structural model the Jarrett family shows a disengagement system in the way they deal with Conrad’s mental and emotional issues.
As we indicated, Beth who is the decision maker in the family has more power in the family. Calvin, who carries out the decisions, does not have enough power to keep the family system intact. The emotional and psychological connections between the family comes from this unhealthy balance power operations.
Overall, this family structural system is dysfunctional and tears the family apart due to the lack of implementation of intervention, though Calvin and Conrad were both willing and seeking such intervention.
Beth, who has issues with power, does not tolerate any coalitions between his husband and son.

Therapeutics Goals for the Jarrett family and the process of the therapy based on the Structural Family Therapy Theory:
It is clear that the family structure, which includes patterns, rules, and regulations within the family, should be changed. The new structure should seek to rebuild a relationship between the family members in such a way where there are new boundaries and engagements.

A family therapist should begin by helping Calvin and Beth gain awareness that Conrad is the identified patient. By challenging them, from separate angles, to look beyond Conrad’s symptoms, and see the patterns and rules within the family structure that might have led to those symptoms. Family should have a chance to look at their behavioral patterns when faced with a problem. Although change within the system is difficult for Beth, keeping the family safe and happy needs a new structure and a new pattern. The transactional period for the family is an intensive work. The new structure will give Calvin more authority to help the family rejoin, taking care of Conrad’s psychological issues, and helping his wife to look at herself from clear glasses with the object of change for the better.

Knowing Beth’s character, based on our observations in this movie it is clear that she will feel blamed within a therapy model of Structural Family Therapy. Beth does not like to publicize the family problems and she feels the same regarding sharing with a family therapist. She does not believe in what a therapist could do for her family because she feels that only she can fix their problems. She repeatedly said that, “this is my family. I don’t want to change. This is me!”
A family therapist will assess the family with a joining family session and mapping the family relationship and interaction patterns as well.
Family will get privilege of a few family sessions during family gatherings; either during lunch or dinner time to find out the way they communicate with each other.
The therapist will work on the boundary making between Beth and her son, Conrad. The therapist will also work on the unbalancing issues among the family especially between the couple to restructure the family hierarchical relationship.

Looking at the Jarrett family from a Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy (EFCT) Theory:

Emotional Focused Couple Therapy Theory is a theory that can best describe the experiences that the Jarrett family is going through. These include, but are not limited to, lack of communication or affective communication, disagreements over what is a priority to each member for example whether to go on vacation or stay to take care of their son’s psychological needs.

In the film, a particular scene which clearly captures a family in conflict and seemingly in different worlds is a memorable scene where Calvin tells his wife Beth that he was very disturbed that she wanted him to change the shoes and shirt he wore to their son Buck’s funeral. To Beth appearances and people’s opinion is everything, even when her favorite son has died. To Calvin what he wore is arbitrary and irrelevant but he had complied at the time without questioning and was unable to contain his pain about that.

The family never sought natural support from their friends and family when they faced crises or tragedies. More often than not, this was due to Beth’s insecure feelings. Beth feels as though she must create an illusion of contentment to the outside world, even if it is at the risk of neglecting her family’s needs. A very interesting scene when this is evident is when Beth finds out from a friend that Conrad has quit the swim team. She becomes very angry and Conrad insists that she is only angry because she found out from someone else.

Conrad is clearly frustrated with his mother’s behaviors, but he is not able to communicate in an appropriate way so he either lashes out or isolates himself.
“Things are left unsaid and emotions become sour”. The family cannot differentiate between thought and feeling, between what they feel and what they think. “What is bothering you? “Everything!!” “Did we say that”…”we mean nothing at all” the response always ends with silence or misunderstanding of each others feelings.
Emotional Focused Couple Therapy Theory is able to focus on a positive drive to change the family’s relationship. Emotional Focused Couple Therapy theory is able to clarify how the way the family is responding to each other is not healthy. Family needs to restructure their patterns of communications. The emotional connection needs to change, although it will be hard for Beth, who is not tolerant to any kinds of change.
More than likely, Calvin will be expressing his feelings about Beth’s relationship with their deceased son and her lack of connection with Conrad.

In the movie, we find out the different individual emotions, angers, feelings, which act or react within the family relationships. Each individual has patterns and habits, which may have a role on the family dynamic. Beth needs help gaining cognition about the ways she is failing to communicate with her son or how she can be more constructive.
Beth needs more compliments and positive responses to what her son is doing from the outside.
Conrad should be able to in a safe environment and within appropriate boundaries express his anger and resentment towards his mother. He was able to do this with his psychiatrist.
It seems that the family needs to be restructure in a positive ways. They need a new experience of an emotionally meaningful level and to learn the way to get more attached to the concept of the family and to each other. A great deal of their struggles revolves around the tragedies they have faced and not coped with appropriately, and so family has many negative connotations. For Conrad the family means grief and isolation, for Beth it might mean chaos and being out of control, and for Calvin it might mean responsibility and failure. These meanings might have to be replaced by more positive feeling, such as; “home”, “comfort”, “support”, and “love.”
As the Dr. Susan Johnson says ” Emotion is the music of the attachment dance; changing the music rapidly reorganizes the partners’ interaction dance” (Johnson, 1998).

Compare and Contrast of Treatment Modalities:

The two theories that seems most appropriate for the family in “ordinary people” is Family Structural Family Therapy Theory (SFT) and Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy Theory (EFCT). Other approaches such as Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy could have also worked but might have underestimated the emotional need of the family to reconnect.

SFT emphasizes the structure of the family and places less focus on the individual. Since the system of the Jarrett family seems to be flawed and leading to pathology in each individual, it is best to focus on the restructuring of that flawed system. The members of the Jarrett family are disconnected and SFT focuses on the family as a whole, which could help them tremendously. SFT would work on the dysfunctional structures already at work in the Jarrett family.
EFCT could help greatly with the communication barriers and the emotional disconnects that were the aftermath of unresolved issues and tragedies.

If I were to work with the Jarrett family in “Ordinary People”, I would personally prefer to use the combination of the methods in EFCT, SFT and cognitive behavioral therapy model. I find that in family such as the Jarrett family, who are portrayed by the film as having a good financial and social foundation, who are educated people, that method of focusing on the positive, and on the emotions that live within them might be the best idea. I would certainly recommend that Conrad and Beth both receive intensive individual therapy.


– Gladding, Samuel T. (2007) Family Therapy: history, theory, and practice, Fourth Edition, Pearson Prentice Hall. Pp. 23,112-114,118-122,247
– Goldenberg’ H, And Goldenberg I. (2004). Family Therapy An overview, Seventh Edition, Belmont, CA, Thomson Brooks/cole, pp. 32,87,91,206,207,231,234,236,248,256,261,382,421, 423,429,430,431,434,437,440
– Johnson S. M. (2004). The field of couple therapy and EFT? In The practice of emotionally focused couple therapy (2nd ed), New York: Brunner-Routledge
– Johnson, S. M. (2004). The basics of EFT, in the practice of emotionally focused couple therapy (2nd ed), New York: Brunner-Routledge


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