Bessel van der Kolk, MD

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Posted Tuesday June, 2nd 2020

THE POWER OF DISCORD: Why the ups and downs of relationships are the secret to building intimacy, resilience, and trust. [A must read]


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You might think that perfect harmony is the defining characteristic of healthy relationships, but the truth is that human interactions are complicated and confusing. According to psychologist Ed Tronick and pediatrician Claudia Gold, messiness is not only OK, it is crucial to our social and emotional development. In The Power of Discord, Tronick and Gold show how the everyday dance of crossed signals and missed intentions—followed by coming back together—is the secret path to better relationships.

Dr. Tronick’s classic “still-face experiment” was a stunning demonstration of how babies are profoundly affected by their parents’ emotions and behavior. This seminal work, which has influenced relationship researchers like John Gottman and Sue Johnson, reveals that while our highly evolved sense of self makes us separate, our survival depends on connection. And so we approximate, iteratively learning about one another’s thoughts and motives, gaining confidence in the process as we repair mistakes and misunderstandings that arise.

Drawing on Dr. Tronick’s research and Dr. Gold’s clinical experience, along with plenty of real-life examples, you’ll learn the secrets to forming deep, lasting, trusting relationships, developing resilience in times of stress and trauma, and nourishing a solid sense

of yourself in the world. This is the key to unlocking better connections with romantic partners, family, friends, and colleagues alike. The Power of Discord is a refreshing and original exploration of our ability to relate to others and to ourselves.

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“In this lively and riveting book, Claudia Gold and Ed Tronick show us how the successful repair of missteps and failures form the foundation of a graceful and coordinated dance between ourselves and those around us. Even if the roots of our troubles are deep in our early relationships, human connections can heal by engaging us in a new set of moment to moment mismatches throughout life and present us with opportunities for connection as long as we, and those around us, are open to repair and re-connect.”

—Bessel A. van der Kolk, MD, author of The Body Keeps the Score

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In this fabulous book, which everyone must own, Ed Tronick and Claudia Gold give all of us a scientifically-based compass for negotiating the messiness of social interaction. Rather than searching for perfection, in this book they teach us that it is the messiness and the mistakes we inevitably make as parents, friends, and lovers, and the repair of our mistakes that really matters. For in repair we “co-create a new meaning,” and relationships thrive and proceed, full of life and good enough. Get this book!

—John Gottman. Author of Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work

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“This profoundly wise book sets out how the dance of connection and disconnection with attachment figures molds our nervous system, our emotional lives, our sense of self, and our ability to dance in tune with others. When we miss each other is when we truly learn to turn, reach, and connect. There are no slick tips for perfect relationships with your kids or lovers here. Just a deep understanding of how the imperfections of life and love can make us strong.”

—Sue Johnson, author of Hold Me Tight

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“Our relationships with attachment figures are often innately “messy” and filled with discord as mismatches rupture the attuned, resonant alignments that are possible in our relational world. The reconnection established in the mismatch-repair process illuminated in this important work enables us to develop resilience in the face of the inevitable disconnections in these important self-defining close connections in our lives. This wise book will help many to reframe such ruptures as opportunities rather than troublesome burdens, painful yet important challenges that can actually afford us the interactive reconnection experiences that serve as the foundation for flourishing in life.”

Daniel J. Siegel, M.D., author of Mindsight and Clinical Professor, UCLA School of Medicine

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A brilliant overview of our contemporary relational landscape that argues that what people—both children and adults—need most is the messiness of real relationships, with their conflicts, partial resolutions, and imperfect efforts at repair. In trying to make these things work, we practice attention, connection, and listening. We practice our humanity. We learn to put technology in its place. A book for thinking and for practical action. A must-read.”

—Sherry Turkle, author of Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology

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