Everything was within reasonLow, “Spanish Translation”

Producing a book takes a village, and the writing part is just the beginning.

“Our agent asked us, 'Has this collaborative writing process been like working with siblings, like you guys are brothers?' I said, 'Nope—it's like being married.'”Mark

Our self-other help book — now available in print and e-book formats — is out and we’re excited that people are finding our work useful. We are getting great feedback from bloggers, readers, visitors to our website and professional colleagues. We hope this means the book will make a major difference in many lives.

The initial theme of our writing was to be a drilldown looking closely at compulsive caregiving. But as we explored the histories of clients and others who seemed to fall into that group, a recurrent theme emerged: the caretaking compulsion seemed to be consistently connected to individuals’ experiences in early childhood with primary caregivers who were emotionally distressed for prolonged periods. This, in turn, was so distressing to the child that she or he developed behaviors intended to make the caregiver feel better so that the child could feel safer. Ultimately, this gives rise to a dissociated state between the child and caregiver that we call irrelationship.

“What's your 'communication situation'?”Grant

When the three of us first collaborated on this project, we began to see that compulsive caregiving wasn’t just one-directional: both participants were invested in a routine that they developed jointly to defuse their own anxiety. As far as we could discover, such a mutually created defense system had not been described in the literature. However, when we discussed our work with colleagues and other associates, they almost invariably told us that they knew of people whose relationships sounded very much like what we were writing about. From an academic standpoint, then, though what we were describing wasn’t exactly new, it hadn’t been given a name or explored in depth.

Among the tasks we, as researchers and authors, had to take on was that of creating a coherent collaborative process by which we—three busy Manhattan professionals with issues of our own — could develop our work. Predictably, working this out has sometimes felt like going through the rough spots in a marriage.

To keep ourselves on track, we use the process we’ve developed and explained in the book, the self-other assessment (SOA). SOA is a technique for maintaining a safe space in which we become able to listen to one another even during highly volatile conflict. Use of the SOA creates (or restores) a manageable, if not always pleasant, harmonious, working environment, both face-to-face and in electronic media. A bonus is that the practice as well as the benefits of the SOA spill over into other parts of our lives as well.

“Collaboration can be rocky—even with people you really like.”Daniel

Of course we hope readers and participants find real benefit in our work, whether you encounter it for the first time in our book or you’ve been following us in our blog or website. Whatever the case, we invite you to connect with us via social media channels, our website, live over the internet, or in person.

Meanwhile, we welcome your feedback about our work, no matter how you encounter it or what you think of it.

Mark, Grant and Danny