Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Who’s on the Family Tree? It’s Complicated

This was written a few weeks ago but it is such an important topic that I choose to release it here also. This is just one example of my Daily Words of Wisdom from Dr. Beth.

If after reading this article you would like to see more Daily Words of Wisdom from Dr. Beth just go to the following link and you will see a link to sign up to experience for free these suggestion filled daily posts of advice to become a better more in control happier YOU.

Join today! It is free for 30 days and there is no obligation to continue but I believe when you have a chance to experience this daily missive you like all others will find it daily reading that you cannot imagine not having.


I am asking you to at least give it a try.

If after reading this if you beliieve as I do that this information should be must reading for every person thinking about or may try to use advanced reproductive methods invite them to go to my website http://www.drbetherickson.com/ and read this article and suggest to them that they should share this information with their friends and acquaintencnes,


With the advent of many advances in reproductive technology, such as sperm donors, surrogate mothers, same-sex parents, stepparents and stepsiblings, and infertility treatments, it is difficult to say unequivocally who is related to whom. Time was, there were only two ways to become related: through marriage or along bloodlines. But now, family ties are murkier, relationships are more complex, and family trees have many more branches.

How "family" is defined is a crucial question on many levels. Beyond the debate over same-sex marriage, it affects income tax filings, adoption and foster care practices, employee benefits, inheritance rights, hospital visitation, and countless other legal matters and just as importantly the future of your health and means for treatment.
In this post, I will discuss how family trees are beginning to look like tangled forests and the implications of this increasingly complex 21st century phenomenon. And in order to comprehend these families, you have to be able to think complexly.

Census Data

For the last six years, according to United States census data, there have been more unmarried households than married ones. And more same-sex couples are having children using surrogates or sperm donors or by adoption. The California Cryobank, one of the nation’s largest sperm banks, said that about one-third of its clients in 2009 were lesbian couples, compared with seven percent a decade earlier.

New questions are being phased in nationally on the standard birth certificate questionnaire about whether, and what type of reproductive technology was used, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Aspects of This Issue

Tracing a family tree is more than an intellectual exercise. There are medical, legal, bioethical, and emotional dimensions to this issue. As the composition of families changes, a new set of questions emerges as to who gets a branch on the family tree.


If a child becomes seriously ill who was born using artificial insemination, how will that child ever know his/her health legacy? If s/he needs a bone marrow donor, for example, and there is no known sibling or father who could be located to serve as a match, that child is out of luck if his/her mother is not a match.


Who is a legitimate legal heir to a deceased parent’s estate? Who inherits property? Unless the deceased person specifically has named a child in his/her will who is not related by blood, for instance a stepchild, that individual has no legitimate claim to the deceased parent’s estate.

In addition, there is no regulatory framework in place that would protect the children who are born using Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) from harm. In the United States, there is no consistent regulatory framework to protect the children born using ART from harm. And the regulations that do exist are generally less effective than they need to be.

Bioethical Issues

Currently, few regulatory mechanisms are in place at either the state or the federal or state level that would protect unborn children from their parent’s decision to reproduce by any means possible.

Many issues of reproductive technology have given rise to bioethical issues, since technology often alters the assumptions that lie behind existing systems of sexual and reproductive morality. People contemplating becoming parents by any means possible need to consider issues like:

Just because we can do something, should we do it?

How do adults and we as a society balance The Right to Reproduce vs. the Rights/Best Interests of Children?

Alas, too few physicians and would-be parents contemplate such important questions before they proceed with choosing their best option for bearing a child. Witness the “Octo Mom.”

Further, it is not known how many “leftover embryos” that could be babies are sitting in cryogenic storage in fertility centers. Some estimates are as high as 400, 000 in the U.S. alone. Although it is unclear how many of these embryos will be discarded in the next few years, their presence has fueled the debate over human embryonic stem cell research.


Some children who have to comprehend and explain to others who their relatives are and how they are related may develop a sense of alienation from their peers who grow up in more conventional homes. Then, they also can experience a sense of isolation and a feeling of being odd and weird. Although, of course, it clearly is not their parent’s intention, the unconventional circumstances of their birth can cause these children emotional pain that can last a lifetime.

What of Other Children Fathered by the Sperm Donor?

Technically, they could be the child’s half-siblings. But especially if there is no chance of knowing who they are, they might better be called “donor siblings.”

It is even possible that half-siblings conceived with the help of a sperm donor might be attracted to and want to marry his/her half-sibling. This would be a case of accidental incest, and who knows what the legal ramifications of that might be!

Case Example

Many years ago, I treated a woman whose father was a sperm donor. Since Assisted Reproductive Technology has only been around for about 25 years, her mother must have been a pioneer in using artificial insemination to bear her daughter.

Her mother’s choice had profound implications for the daughter. Apparently, she thought nothing of them when she made the decision to exercise her personal right to bear a child by any means possible. My client spoke of a profound sense of loneliness and emptiness when she was unable to answer the question of who her father was. And she got little comfort from her detached mother who, in truth, only knew of the sperm donor’s approximate age, eye color, ethnic background, and that he was a medical student. She had no information whatsoever about her half-siblings who theoretically could number in the dozens.

All I could give the woman was a kind listening ear as she cried and railed at her unfortunate circumstance, which was precious little comfort, I’m afraid. But clearly, it was more than she felt she could get from her mother.

What This Means for You

• If you have already had a child using ART, be aware of the voids in that child’s psyche and soul.

• To never know both birth parents is a profound loss for these children.

• Parents need to help them grieve.

• This is true of other circumstances as well, such as a child whose parent is killed in a war before s/he is born.

• Being fathered by a sperm donor is the smallest scintilla of fatherhood there is.

• Who is in a child’s family is becoming increasingly more complicated for all concerned, and I suspect its complications will continue to grow exponentially

© Dr. Beth Erickson 2011

Are You Involved With a Serial Cheater

Hi Dr. Beth,

Your interview with Sterling Anderson "the recovering cheater" was fascinating..

I came across a cheater when I was in college when I met one of my classmates, Charles. He lived with a girlfriend and yet wanted to have a "platonic" relationship with me. It's interesting that Sterling talked about the "affairs of the heart" that begin with fantasy, but in the end is still a form of c...heating. It surprised me that Charles needed a 'platonic friend" even though he had a girlfriend. In the end, I walked away when I realized he was using me as I'm sure I was one of many female "friends" he engulfed with his "tentacles" to gratify his need for attention. Young women should learn early to recognize these parasites before they waste their time. I made a mistake by not walking away sooner.

You did a wonderful job at tackling the subject! Your "Daily Words of Wisdom from Dr. Beth" on this topic is a must read for everyone in or looking to be in a "relationship."

Go to www.webtalkradio.net find Relationships 101 and hear this great conversation.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Daily Words of Wisdom from Dr. Beth is a HIT!!

In the last couple of weeks I have written in Daily Words of Wisdom from Dr. Beth on the following topics: Seven Deadly Sins Against Relationships; Why Women Love Bad Boys and Jerks; What Makes for Marital Satisfaction?; Could Your Marriage Survive an Affair?; and here is some of the feedback I have received from my subscribers.

Just loving these, and wanted you to know... Heather, October 9, 2011

Dr. Beth! I've been thoroughly enjoying your daily emails, glad I signed up.
Marissa, October 5, 2011

Hi Dr. Beth, Thank you! Such a good article again! Julie, October 6, 2011

Really good -- pulling it together for them! Yes, the one today was really good!!!
Karen, October 3, 2011

Here is a direct link to get to the sign up form. http://tinyurl.com/43q2jt4 just copy and paste this into your browser.

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Saturday, September 24, 2011

You must protect yourself with reasonable Boundries

Many people today are either; slightly frazzled, mildly frayed, or full-on exhausted and experience great frustration because of it. But your body, your family, and especially your career require you to set limits so you don’t burn out. Constantly pushing the envelope of what is humanly possible for one person to manage will catch up with you sooner or later, one way or another.

Would you like to learn how Setting Boundaries Can Help You to Protect Your Sanity and Your Relationships and how to create reasonable and proper boundaries? Send me an email with "Setting Boundaries" in the subject line to my email address drbetherickson@aol.com and I will send it to you right away. This expert guide will help you eliminate some of the frustration in your life.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Does Your Relationship Need a Tune Up?

Deciding whether to go or to stay in a relationship can be challenging indeed. I frequently am asked to help people assess the health and viability of a relationship and to help them decide to invest farther or to cut their losses. I call this “riding shotgun.”

I am somewhat hesitant to reduce this major life dilemma down to checklists. But I acknowledge that people have different learning styles. Also, because making this decision can be so fraught with bewildering emotions, I have chosen to simplify the process as much as I can. What follows is a series of checklists that delineate at least some of the questions to ask yourself as you struggle to answer the question “Should I go or stay in this relationship?”

Would you like to have the “Blueprint to Assess the Viability of Your Intimate Relationship”. Send me an email with that topic in the subject line to my email drbetherickson@aol.com and I will send them to you.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

How to Spot a Narcissist

On my radio show that airs on Monday, August 29th, I introduced the first in a three-part series on narcissists: who they are, how to spot them, why they are so seductive, how to leave them, and how their insatiable desire for adoration makes them so seductive to codependent people.

Narcissists are decidedly a mixed bag. They are very appealing at first. They have a keen interest in charming the opposite sex. They are entertaining and exciting, but they are also aggressive and manipulative. They have a powerful need for attention. There is a strong link between narcissism and physical attractiveness, which is part of their initial charm. There is also a strong connection between narcissism and leadership. Because they are so desirous of admiration and even adoration, they tend to sweep into a leaderless group and take charge.

The more emotionally attached you get, the easier it will be for a narcissist to manipulate you. Often, however, being dazzled by first impressions turns sour because of their manipulativeness, lack of empathy, and demand for adoration.

The following nine characteristics distinguish someone who has Narcissistic Personality Disorder, according to the DSM-IV which is a clinician’s “Bible” for diagnosing disorders. NPD is a pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning in early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts.

1. Has a grandiose sense of self-importance
2. Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power and love
3. Believes s/he is special and unique
4. Requires extensive admiration
5. Has a sense of entitlement
6. Is interpersonally exploitative
7. Lacks empathy
8. Is envious of others or believes that others are envious or him/her
9. Shows arrogant or haughty behaviors

Six elements should be noted. 1) There is a fine line between being an extravert and a narcissist. 2) There is such a thing as healthy narcissism which forms a constant, realistic self-interest, mature goals and principles, and an ability to form deep relationships. 3) Healthy narcissism is the antithesis of the insecurity or inadequacy that plague a person with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. 4) A certain amount of narcissism is a required element within normal development. 5) We all are narcissistic to one degree or another. 6) Although there are female narcissists, the majority are males.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Daily Words of Wisdom from Dr. Beth

For more than four and a half years I have been interviewing experts, thought leaders and everyday people on Relationship issues on my internet radio shows. Week after week since 2009, the listeners to my weekly Relationships101 show on WebTalkRadio, have numbered in the 10’s of thousands. That led me to conclude the information I present to my radio audience is considered by my listeners to be valuable enough to devote their precious time. I have come to realize, and many others have told me, that my three and one half decades of learning, teaching and counseling have provided me with a treasure trove of information should be shared with the world.

Receive my Daily Words of Wisdom FREE for 30 days go to http://tinyurl.com/3sqallo

Sharing my insights into what is going on in the world around us is now a reality and my vehicle to share this with you is a subscription-only Daily Words of Wisdom from Dr. Beth. I have been working diligently, writing my fingers to the bone to prepare these special offerings for you. It is now ready to launch and to introduce you to the Daily Words of Wisdom of Dr. Beth I am going to give you a 30 DAYS OF THIS VALUABLE INFORMATION FREE!!!

After the first 30 days, the cost is only $1.49 a week and your credit card will be billed $6.46 on the 30th day and for each succeeding 30 days after that. You can start receiving them for yourself now by clicking here. So what are you going to get for this investment of 21 cents a day. Seven days a week in your inbox will be my new post of my Daily Words of Wisdom and they will be an a wide range of topics; Each one will be mind candy for you to chew on as you go about your day.

In those first 30 days I believe you will come to recognize the value of the insights I’m sharing from my 35+ years of learning, teaching, and helping couples, families, and individuals overcome impediments to their happiness and success. I personally believe you will find great value in this product. I invite you to dialogue with me, and even suggest potential topics you’d like me to write about. You may do this either by going to www.AskDrBethErickson.com or by sending me an e-mail at drbetherickson@aol.com.

Because we all march to a different drummer, as they say, you may find that some of my Daily Words of Wisdom messages are more applicable to you than others. That is only natural. I have deliberately varied the topics I write about, so just wait a day or two, and I’ll bet another one will tickle your fancy.

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Friday, July 29, 2011

You Can Never Have Too Much Information

It is a truism that you can never have too much information. Given that fact I have after substantial thought and conversations with several people have determined to create a daily letter to those people interested in learning a psychologists take on issues of the day and other valuable insights. I have been working diligently, writing my fingers to the bone to prepare these Daily Words of Wisdom from Dr. Beth.

To demonstrate the value of this information I am initially giving it away for free. For the first 30 days after you sign up each morning you will have an article delivered to your inbox.


• After you sign up, you will receive in your e-mail inbox daily (that means all 7 days a week!) Daily Words of Wisdom from Dr. Beth posts written by yours truly on a range of topics of interest.
• They are mind candy for you to chew on as you go about your days.
• For the first 30 days after you sign up, the Daily Words of Wisdom from Dr. Beth will be free. In that time, I believe you will come to recognize the value of the insights I’m sharing from my 35+ years of learning, teaching, and helping couples, families, and individuals overcome impediments to their happiness and success.
• After the first 30 days, the cost is only $1.49 a week.
• Your credit card will be billed $6.46 for each succeeding 30-day period.
• You can sign up by going to my web site (http://www.drbetherickson.com/). On the bottom left of Dr. Beth’s home page you will find a link to take you directly to the sign up page.
• If you unsubscribe, you will receive no
more Daily Words of Wisdom from Dr. Beth during the free period and if it is during a paid period the daily posts will stop after the final day of the paid period. No refunds will be provided for cancelled subscriptions.
• Of course, I believe you will find great value and will continue. I invite you to dialogue with me, and even suggest potential topics you’d like me to write about. You may do this either by going to www.AskDrBethErickson.com or by sending me an e-mail at drbetherickson@aol.com.
• You may find that some Daily Words of Wisdom from Dr. Beth posts are more interesting to you than others. That is only natural. I have deliberately varied the topics I write about, so just wait a day or two, and I’ll bet another one will strike your fancy.


• These Daily Words of Wisdom from Dr. Beth posts provide food for thought on a wide range of topics as you go about your daily activities, such as commuting, doing chores, or planning your company’s next initiatives.
• With them, you will be able to capitalize on my over three and a half decades as a practicing psychotherapist on news of the day, such as the self-destruction of the political careers of Anthony Wiener, John Edwards, John Ensign, and Mark Sanford, or the aftermath of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear plant meltdown in Japan.
• You will also get a psychologist’s perspective on important topics such as the impact on children of their parents’ descent into poverty and homelessness, or on children of incarcerated parents, or the impact of technology on kids’ brain development.
• Likewise, some Daily Words of Wisdom from Dr. Beth posts will be on important relationship enhancing skills and how to build them, such as appropriate ways to share feelings, top five secrets for staying in love, the uses and abuses of anger, and talking to children about death.
• Bottom line, you’ll be smarter and better informed on a wide range of topics when you subscribe.
• So let me do your homework for you.

Check out this 30 DAYS ARE FREE exciting offer!!! It’s a subscription-only Daily Words of Wisdom from Dr. Beth SIGN UP TODAY AT (http://tinyurl.com/3rafcld)

Dedicated to your health and happiness,
Dr. Beth

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Better Marriages Fiesta in Albuquerque New Mexico

On Saturday, July 9, at 8:30 am I will be at the Better Marriages Fiesta in Albuquerque New Mexico presenting my Relationship Boot Camp. I will teach you the seven basic skills couples need to learn and practice in order to have a healthy, happy marriage. This workshop will discuss and demonstrate these skills, and allow participants to practice them. To register and learn more about this event go to http://www.bettermarriages.org/

Monday, March 28, 2011

What Is Posttraumatic Stress Disorder?

On my radio show that airs today, I interview a man who has struggled with Posttraumatic Stress Order (PTSD) since 1979 when the airplane he was flying crashed. I listed a few of the prominent diagnostic indicators of this condition on air and promised that I would post the rest on my web site. Here they are, excerpted from the Diagnostic Criteria from DSM-IV. The DSM is the clinician’s Bible for diagnosing mental illnesses.

A. The person has been exposed to a traumatic event in which both of the following
were present:

(1)The person experienced, witnessed, or was confronted with an event or events that involved actual or threatened death or serious injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of self or others.

(2)The person’s response involved intense fear, helplessness, or horror.

B. The traumatic event is persistently reexperienced in one (or more) of the following ways:

(1)recurrent and intrusive distressing recollections of the event, including images, thoughts, or perceptions;

(2)recurrent distressing dreams of the event;

(3)acting or feeling as if the traumatic event were recurring (includes a sense of reliving the experience, illusions, hallucinations, and dissociative flashback episodes, including those that occur on awakening or when intoxicated);

(4)intense psychological distress at exposure to internal or external cues that symbolize or resemble an aspect of the traumatic event;

(5)physiological reactivity on exposure to internal or external cues that symbolize or resemble an aspect of the traumatic event.

C. Persistent avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma and numbing of general responsiveness (not present before the trauma) as indicated by three (or more) of the following:

(1)efforts to avoid thoughts, feelings, or conversation associated with the trauma;

(2)efforts to avoid activities, places, or people that arouse recollections of the trauma;

(3)inability to recall an important aspect of the trauma;

(4)markedly diminished interest or participation in significant activities;

(5)feelings of detachment or estrangement from others;

(6)restricted range of affect ( e.g., unable to have loving feelings)

(7)sense of a foreshortened future (e.g., does not expect to have a career, marriage, children, or a normal life span).

D. Persistent symptoms of increased arousal (not present before the trauma), as indicated by two (or more) of the following:

(1)difficulty falling asleep;

(2)irritability or outbursts of anger;

(3)difficulty concentrating;


(5)exaggerated startle response;

E.Duration of the disturbance (symptoms in Criteria B, C, and D) is more than one month.

F.Disturbance causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

Acute: if duration of symptoms is less than three months

Chronic: if duration of symptoms is three months or more

With delayed onset: if onset of symptoms is at least six months after the stressor.

As you look over this list of symptoms of PTSD, imagine the stress that this condition places on the individual who has this illness, as well as on his/her intimate relationship.