Episode 48 – Family Estrangement

Feb 28, 2019


Estrangement from members of one’s family and others take place far more often than seems commonly acknowledged. Estrangement involves psychologically cutting-off, repressing, and defending against connection with another who has come to be experienced as “all bad.” People may move away geographically, refuse to talk to a certain person, or simply give someone the “cold shoulder.” Joseph, Lisa, and Deb discuss the importance of setting appropriate boundaries with others and understanding that estrangement is also an internal phenomenon.

Here’s the dream we discuss:

“I see a middle-aged man fixing a fence.  The dogs that are in the yard with him are behaved – they are not trying to go through the big opening in the fence.  Then the man is inside a house fixing the trim on a wooden doorway. I “know” him — and I ask, “Will you treat me?” There is a deep feeling of acceptance and he says, “We will start tomorrow.” I go off to get ready for tomorrow.”

Check out this episode!


  1. Kim Tomlinson


  2. Nicole

    I found this episode extremely powerful and I am deeply grateful for the work you are doing. This really landed in my body and allowed me to feel the impact of estrangement and grief in my life. Deep bow.

  3. Kristen

    I listened with trepidation, having been estranged for 4 years, I knew exactly what was coming on internalized, externalized, etc. But I tried to stay open and teachable.

    And I’ve gotten from the podcast … there is no permanent answer, and things change. Not enough really said about how a person becomes one’s own abuser by continuing contact with an abuser, even if the abuse was years ago. And if the analysts believed contact should start up again if the immediate threat has stopped. I don’t think so. I will try to maintain flexibility: Thus my willingness to listen to the podcast. But I have to listen to my gut and protect myself. Lots to think about.

    • Abby

      Kristen – i understand what you’re trying to say here, i think. Trauma bonds take time to unpack and understand – often (i feel), distance has been crucial to holding onto that which is vital. If you’re constantly surrounded by a person (or people) wrapped up in an eternal saga or drama, it becomes necessary to step away.


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