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New Book by Pittsburgh Psychiatrist May Increase Understanding, Reduce Conflict in Couples

 

In romance, it’s been said that “opposites attract,” but, with respect to romantic couples, Lester J. Bolanovich, M.D., began to suspect that there was more to the adage than had previously been written about.

Dr. Bolanovich began to notice opposite characteristics among couples. For example, early risers usually marry late risers, and one who likes the room cool often marries one who likes the room warm.

“These are programmed characteristics, which are, more likely than not, present at birth,” Dr. Bolanovich said.

However, there are also less explained psychological characteristics that are also present at birth that can be more difficult to bring about compromise. For example, one spouse may have more empathy for other people and will marry a spouse with less empathy for other people. Dr. Bolanovich refers to the person with more empathy as the caretaker personality and invented the term “caretakee” personality to describe the spouse with less empathy.

The conflicts in the marriage that stem from these differences, not unusually, causes the caretaker to seek psychiatric help because he or she is overwhelmed and develops symptoms of anxiety or depression. The caretaker almost never wants to engage in psychiatric consultation.

“It’s difficult to always be the caretaker in the relationship,” he says. “I’ve seen this consistently in my patients.”

Because he has observed this phenomenon so frequently in his more than 60 years in practice, Dr. Bolanovich decided – with a great deal of encouragement and support from his patients – to put these concepts down on paper. The result is a book titled, Reflections on Life, Marriage, and Anger, which is available on Amazon. In his book, he relates his concepts about caretakers and caretakees in clear language that is accessible to the average person.

“This observation about caretakers and caretakees is not limited to married couples,” he says. “It can also exist in the relationships between co-workers, friends, siblings, or a parent and child.”

The book is divided into two main parts. Part one is where Dr. Bolanovich lays out his theories and reflections on the subject. Part two is actual case studies from Dr. Bolanovich’s practice that illustrate the theme of the book. To protect his patient’s privacy and confidentiality, Dr. Bolanovich has removed names and any details that might identify someone.

“I believe this book offers a pathway to dealing with anger and the interpersonal conflicts that can arise whenever two or more people come into contact,” he said. “If the book does anything, I hope it will help people understand how much we need each other and how difficult it can be to bond with each other.”

Dr. Lester J. Bolanovich, a 1951 graduate of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, has practiced psychiatry in Pittsburgh for more than 60 years. His book, Reflections on Life, Marriage, and Anger, can be ordered on Amazon



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