Stepfamilies:Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Following is the first post for a new subject on this blog.  It relates to stepfamilies as this issue is dealt with in the book Stepfamilies:Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership  by: Mala S. Burt, M.S.W. and Roger B, Burt, Ph.D.

Stepfamilies: This type of family represents an ongoing challenge too often overlooked until the remarried couple and their children find they must face it.  But how they can respond represents a whole series of challenges.

Forty seven years ago my wife, Mala, and I were married.  Innocently we rejoiced in our love and brought together our four children in a second marriage for both of us.  While most marriages are innocent in many ways, the stepfamily brings a monumental challenge as the members of this new family must face such things as dealing with the death of a spouse, the death of a parent or the departure of a parent through divorce.  It is difficult to actually list the form of the number of challenges.  And the couple coming together is typically ill-prepared for what is to lie before them. Of course the chidren are monumentally challenged as well.  Left to innocence the challenges are magnified.

My wife and I were right there among the innocent.  We each brought two children from former marriages and custody of all four in various forms.  I was a clinical psychologist and began the marriage with an assumption of knowledge embedded in naivete.  With what we saw at once, we assumed we were to face challenge but were terribly unprepared.

By great good fortune we became acquainted with Emily and John Visher who were experienced national experts.  Generously they brought us in to be experts with them and we embarked on a national education campaign.  The  Vishers were impressive experts and gave us profound help. I  was especially grateful because as a doctoral level psychologist I had thought I was better prepared to work with stepfamilies than I was.  The Vishers brought us along and I will be eternally grateful.

The fact of the matter is that the clinical field of stepfamilies is complex and challenging and will remain so.  My concern is that it has fallen out of the justified concern and a focus arena because the complexity and difficulties remain widespread and great challenges may too often go unrecognized.

Beginning now I am going to include ongoing items on this blog  My wife wrote a comprehensive and detailed book called Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership – A Normalizing Model by Mala S, Burt, M.S.W. and Roger B. Burt, Ph. D. with a foreword by Emily S. Visher, Ph.D. and John S. Visher, M.D. was included.

You can expect to see frequent posts regarding stepfamilies on the Cuspof


I Want A Son

Our Earth Mother Gaia selected women to preserve and enhance our future.  Those living in the sea are called Mermaids.  The guardian body on land is called the Andromeda. (Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy – Available for purchase on Amazon)


As a clinical psychologist I have found myself engaged by a wide range of issues.  I did not confine myself to individual therapy but saw couples in therapy as well.  In such therapy it was generally viewed as involving issues related to their relationship.  But it also involved other things they needed to know the full import of but they might not be aware of.

Earlier in my life I thought that if people wanted children in their marriage, they wanted who came to live at their house, whomever that came to be.  In her book Woman Be Wild by Indigo I could see so many underlying features in people’s lives.  Most of us assume that if a married couple wanted children, they simply wanted who came to their house be it a boy or a girl.

In couples therapy I found people often did not just want who came to live with them.  Some couples were open but often I found a boy was wanted and I found too many couples whose relationships crumbled when a girl arrived.  Because of the reaction, the injury to the girl in turn might be significant and enduring.

I do not know how many times I heard “I want a son”.  When the son arrived some of the marriages crumbled anyway.  I have to say there were too many indications that boys would be more highly valued.  Even where a boy arrived I saw instances where a man might push his wife away because it was only the son he wanted.

And then there were the marriages that crumbled when girls were born and I saw an instance where a woman went in search of a man with a son.  Unfortunately it didn’t work out.

What I was seeing was the lack of awareness of the cultural bias against women and in favor of men. At times there was merely marginal awareness of the biases.

Much of this reflected the cultural biases against women as outlined in Woman Be Wild by Indigo.  We have a great deal of work to do regarding the biases against women.  It is not just a matter of their talents.  The biases could push certain manifestations on developing girls and the injuries often endured with them as adults. It is time for us to be clear about the nature of our lives and especially the prejudices that are damaging our women and girls and, yes, marriages.

In my blog posts I am noting truly major issues about the often dreadful effects of the male ego that we created as they were growing.  Girls also are subjected to major destructive issues as well and they will pay the price.  It is time for us to face these issues and to adjust our culture and future.

Regarding the Cusp of Reality

Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy – Available for Purchase on Amazon – A unique fantasy trilogy blending mythology with women taking their rightful place in the world.

Regarding the Cusp of Reality

What do you explore in your life?

Humankind does not simply exist on Earth.  We may in time cease to exist as a species or we may continue to evolve as we have in the past.  Our time on Earth is a voyage of exploration and it seems valid to believe that we may face not just future crises but also substantive remarkable changes.

This blog is a thought document dedicated to guide our exploration of where we individually and collectively may be going.  It comes in the form of a “what if” and the name of the blog indicates that the truth is often ephemeral and social just like the fact that our currency may in the end be backed up by nothing other than trust.  Thought informs us and so do stories such as in myth or romance.

Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy is one of the vehicles for this exploration.  The books compose more than a story but also contain a philosophy and hope for true partnership.  The themes chosen grew from my experiences over the decades.  Their exploration may help inform our perceptions of future efforts.

The most important themes in the Trilogy relate to the empowerment of women and the probability that we are on the verge of unprecedented change.

The Promise of Humankind

This is a deeply troubling time.  Not long ago we were heartened by events in the world.  They included the Arab Spring, emerging nations, rapprochement with Russia, the rise of Africa, China opening to the world, among others.  But it is as if the edifice we were building has crumbled.  Much of the promise internationally has proven to be ephemeral.  And domestically we are mired in seemingly insurmountable political confrontation built on obstruction with no goal holding clear promise.

In the coming posts I will continue to explore components of confrontation and failures along with the elements of future possibilities.   There are a number of ways to do it and I chose two paths.  One is information that is definitional in part and includes thought documents born of my belief in asking “what if?”  So it will be approached from the real world but I also believe in exploration through mythology such as in my Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy books where there is often illumination and fundamental truth.

Also statements will be included regarding what I call the wave format in  human development and history. Human development has hardly been glacial and slow and steady movement into the future.  Rather, it is fitful and I view it as coming in waves which may be destructive but also can move us forward easily or dramatically.  And just as we see at the seashore there are moments of peace and consolidation.

Interregnum or Denouement

Thus, we embark on an experience in the real world and the world of myth.  I hope you will find it interesting and it includes the gift of hope and promise.  You will now see definition and related thoughts regarding our present circumstances.  I believe the next wave on the horizon and a key part of its promise is that it bears the fruits of the empowerment of women.

It appears valid to call this time an interregnum and in the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy I term it a denouement.  The two pillars are demonstrable as we inspect real world events and inspiration using a mythological cloak where woman are central.

Do you believe we are on the verge of substantive change?

The Likely Disturbing Death of Network Television

An alternative to network television: Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy (Available on Amazon)- It is a unique fantasy trilogy blending mythology with women taking their rightful place in the world and moving to seize a glorious future for all of us.

                                The Likely Death of Network Television

Shortly after the end of World War II my father came home one day and asked us to help him get a box out of his car.  We managed to get it into the living room where he opened it.  What joy we felt!  There was a 13″ black and white television!   Since we lived in the New York area we had the choice of five TV stations.

Over the years there were programs I thoroughly enjoyed watching and, over time, the TV stations proliferated no matter where I lived.  Cable stations came into being and increased our choices but it also became necessary to pay for what we chose.  Recently another change became apparent. In some areas and under some conditions it was essential to watch only the original network stations.

Then most recently I began experiencing something disturbing.  Often I knew I wanted something different to watch and there were times when I was cruising through the choices. And I noted there were times when it was impossible to see what was available  because the commercials were unevenly spaced across the channels.  I cruised but often could find no  evenly spaced broadcasts.  I had to spend seemingly endless amounts of time looking for what was on each station.  I began to time the commercials and found, for example, that in the afternoon the half hour programs might be half commercials and the most desirable choices had similar problems.

My original joy of television has been replaced in many cases with distaste and I began to make more and more choices about what to do other than watch television.

But there may be a possible future.  The original television stations and much of cable has become filled with undesirable choices or we find ourselves lost.  From time to time there may be a new set of options and it is not seeming that the channel networks are aware of an unstable or possibly unlikely future for themselves.  For most of us, we may find our options will simply become more costly or we will be confined to seemingly endless commercials.  Of course we may seek new and enriching alternatives and that is the challenge.

Inspiration and the Author

Inspiration has meaning for this post but it has monumental meaning for the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy where inspiration is required as it is made clear that the empowerment of women is essential for our future.

Inspiration and the Author

As soon as I input the word inspiration, something inside of me asks “what?”   At once I understand. Inspiration as defined by Google as “the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative”.  Does that help?  Not for me.  Like so many things, it raises more questions than answers and the stimulation is not just mental.

A familiar image is of the author sitting before a typewriter (now a computer) waiting for something to stir him or her or give them direction.  First off we have to wonder why the author came to sit there if there was no clear inclination of direction or clarity of substance.

Inspiration does seem to have an independent life of its own.  Partly because books of fiction have roots inside ourselves and so we must birth them.  Nonfiction may be simply our need to give clarity to a real world subject.  But fiction is another matter.

A Process Without Clear Delineation

At the same time it just may be that we are wasting our time trying to define inspiration because we are led into a cave with myriad turning points and possibilities.  Sometimes it just may be that we have to accept that we are being stirred by something we cannot immediately define.  It may be where we begin may be nowhere near where we end up.

As such it may be best to see what we can do to focus an idea no matter how vague and see if an outline of some sort may emerge.  As a psychologist I often come back to the idea that things are often not what they seem.  What we call reality has anything but a hard edge and certainly inspiration may be fuzzy.  We may have to simply take inspiration off its leash or find a way to do that.

A Road or An Adventure.

In fiction we are certainly looking for a way down a road, an adventure of some sort.  The beginning is to simply start down the road.  And the road we choose may be very different depending on the stage of our life.  We may be searching a purpose for ourselves, looking to reveal something to others or even doing an assessment of where we have been and its meaning.

A Road or An Adventure

In fiction we are certainly looking for a way down a road, an adventure of some sort.  The beginning is to simply start down the road.  And the road we choose may be very different depending on the stage of our life.  We may be searching a purpose for ourselves, looking to reveal something to others or even doing an assessment of where we have been and its meaning.

Finding a Beginning Point

Looking back I have to wonder where the beginning of the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy really was.  There were just two general thoughts.  One was that in my life I search for possibilities and that I am entranced by the potential of women even while they are disempowered.  At the same time I have always found mermaids fascinating – fact or fiction.  In their own way they are so prominent.  As the story began to develop it became clear that women were central and that another root was clearly empowerment.

From there I found an outline becoming insistent and steadily clarified as it grew and grew.  Since I am hardly at the beginning of my life I had to realize I was doing an assessment and was turning pages to think further about what may lie in our collective future.  Together we can see where it leads and searching out the substance of meanings.

In the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy books we see the potential for the culture and wisdom of women to lead us into a  transformation such as is needed and described in the post below.

Transformation – Reaching Out

Will An Issue Arrive To Drive Us Forward?

Not long ago when I finished the third book of my Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy I could see that no matter how much I tried to outline and structure the book, it kept taking on a life of its own.  Of course, as a psychologist, I know what was happening.  The primary component of my personality is intuition which means I focus on what might be.  The next level in my personality is thinking which is my salvation because it will step in and help me organize and attend to detail.

As  I wrote the third book I found myself often having the characters looking for the focus and direction of their mission.  In the end what happened was described by the word “transformation” which is in this title.

The Possibility

What keeps coming up for us in our own reality is the fact that we may not easily construct the way out of a morass in  which we find ourselves.  In the book The Seven Ages of Paris by Alistair Horne he details how frequently Europe tumbled into terrible wars.  There seemed to be no insight but just repeated loss of control as the people at the top sought wealth and personal grandiosity above all else.  Recently we have seen continual dysfunction leading to two world wars and the great depression.

Then We Are Left To Pick Up The Pieces

I will never forget what I saw in Europe in 1950. We all had a mission to help Europe recover.  In many ways we are again seeing Europe possibly descending into devastation because of the conflict in the Ukraine and a process very similar to that of the past.  This is a time when transformation is needed.  We can descend into even more devastating crises or we can seize other developing possibilities to focus us and give us a productive vision to pursue.

Yes! Transformation

When I look at the world just now I see two very different ways forward shaping up.  We can descend once again into devastating crises or we can seize other developing possibilities to focus us and give us a productive vision to pursue.  Our failing often is to seize a sudden reaction rather than exploring productive alternatives.  Or we can sit back and watch the the effect of the ego of a leader such as Vladimir Putin rule the day.

What Do You Think?

Probably, if we study European history and share our thoughts about what would inspire us we might be able to make a collective commitment.  When it is really, really bad we can’t look away, but it is possible that right now we might seize on  something that would be uplifting. But disaster remains a clear alternative.

Our cultures are moving quickly but with history deeply involved in our futures.  Just out there is considerable promise and my hope is that the transformation will be chosen because of communal commitment led by the recognition of history.  Cultural and technological changes might well give us a vision to embrace.  But a transformational choice remains at the head of the list.



A Woman’s Right To An Abortion

Over thousands of years it has been apparent that men hold not just the majority of power but that women lie in the backwater.  I don’t like that statement but so many men refuse to even begin to yield to equality so they may maintain a firm grip on power.

Of course  I would object to the firm grip on power by men. My objection is rooted in the obvious need for equality and its benefits on many fronts.  In fact, the reality of inequality extends to race as well. Getting a debate is difficult because laying all the cards on the table is hard to achieve and threatens those who currently hold the power.

Granted, a long time ago men held power and women were subjects of that power and that, in all probability is the simple truth. But rather than wend our way through the labyrinths of history, probably we can have a discussion to begin to accept a few basic points. Way back in history men dominated for purposes of tribal defense among other things. It was difficult for a pregnant woman to assume full partnership with men in tribal warfare.  It was a difficult time.  The fact is the struggle for power may now have a somewhat different form but continues to be an ongoing struggle.

In history women cared for the young and tended the living space.  The circumstances put men in power.  Certainly there were many complex factors over thousands of years. Let’s leave it there because the issues today are complex but probably have many other bases.

For me the single most important issue today is about why men continue to hold so much power and domination.  But a truly important issue for this post relates to women holding power over their own lives and especially over their fertility.  What stands out most prominently is a woman’s right to an abortion. 

The regards of women’s rights is complex but the issue of abortion has a highlight of its own. Let’s turn to the most stunning of all in my estimation which is the right to an abortion because of rape. And for me the roots begin earlier. The fact in history is that women are generally less powerful. But when it comes to abortion we have to turn to something more basic which seems simple but is not.

In my years as a psychologist working with couples I saw an all too common issue of who wanted a child of a particular sex. People often had preferences as to the sex of a child. Time and again I saw serious problems when the child of a specific desired sex did not arrive. Often I heard from one or the other couple that each might want a son or a daughter.  All too often it was admitted that a given parent wanted a son or a daughter. Often it was a son who was  wanted. The truths might not be admitted but often came out in couples therapy. The revelations could be difficult for the couple and the unwanted child might suffer behavioral problems and depression.

But now let’s turn back to a woman’s right to an abortion.  The whole issue of abortion is difficult enough but is especially difficult when we turn to pregnancy from rape. As a man I’m appalled by the restriction of rights of women who have been raped and became pregnant.  How dare men deny her the right to an abortion.  It  is bad enough to deny a woman’s right to abortion under any circumstance but under conditions of rape this is a terrible abuse of  women’s rights.  Granted, I can understand a discussion about sustaining existing life but,with rape, the consequences for the child and the woman can be terrible, deep and eternal.

In my practice, time and time again I saw so many tragic stories when the unwanted sex of a child produced conflict and depression. But the entire issue takes on the worst possible consequences if a woman is forced to bear and raise a rapist’s child.  I understand conflict and discussion but we reach a point where it seems too often it is unacceptable male dominance with consequences they don’t bear but are responsible for.

Perhaps this issue alone  highlights the most severe consequences from male dominance.

What Has America Become?

In sharp contrast to the examples of men’s unstable egos dominating our world, as covered below, the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy (available for purchase from illustrates how empowered women can serve and create a brilliant future.

What Has America Become?

    For decades I’ve been fascinated by American politics.  Not because as a youth I was well versed in political conflict, but because it was interesting to see and to question the meaning of the conflicts.  Aside from our Civil War we were largely peaceful internally at least at a large scale.  Certainly there were small eruptions but we did not go to war with Canada and outer excursions occurred in such places as Korea and Vietnam.  Near to home, peace was more our way.

More recently there has been cause for alarm.  There were few of us expecting to see an attack on our nation’s capital by internal forces.  But there they were, scaling the front of the capital building, smashing windows and threatening our elected representatives.  And there was a former president (who could believe it?) supporting the insurrection.  I had to wonder why the national guard or some of our other military forces were not called out to defend our country.  This was not a gentle problem deserving of study and a possible eventual day in court.  It appears to have come to that now.  But to my mind it deserved an earlier and more definitive set of responses.  It seems we suffered disbelief and denial.

Of course, one of the key people to support this movement was Donald Trump.  I was pleased to see his niece (also a clinical psychologist like myself) publish a book in which she diagnosed her uncle as an unstable narcissistic sociopath.  Spot on from the viewpoint of this clinical psychologist!

In fact, though, I am not amused.  Trump has broken the law as he tried to manipulate secret and top secret documents to serve his own purposes.  He has gone against the law and we can only hope he will be forced to face the consequences.  Yes, he is unstable.  Yes, he believes he gets whatever he wants and he has no moral grounding.  And we had elected him president!  He may believe he is above the law but he is not.  Now, for his own purposes, he wants to suspend the constitution.  That would probably take him off the hook but our country would be left with terrible consequences. We would cease to be a functional country.  It might serve a Get Smart comedy sketch as Nicolai Khokhlov portrayed them to us.  Except it is not funny and we can only hope over time the true tragic nature of Trump and his colleagues will be fully recognized and acted upon for Justice.

And just before our eyes in Europe is a tragic war and series of events devastating the people of the Ukraine by Vladimir Putin and his comrades.  The men who are supporting this tragedy bear a lot in common with Trump and his colleagues except Trump has not gotten that far.  Both share the sociopathy and when I think of the book The Seven Ages of Paris by Alistair Horne it brings to mind the same type of male ego going out of control which sustained tragedy in Europe for hundreds of years.  We can only hope and work for an affirmation of values and distinct commitment to our fine country.  And that men will learn to get themselves under control.

Questioning Truth and Reality

While we tend to enjoy fiction, we often fail to focus on the truth or facts behind it.  The true fact is that fiction and reality may hold the same truths.  Each deserve questioning and exploration. We may see these matters in the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy (available on and in  our day to day lives.


Questioning Truth and Reality

I’ve posted previously about my friend from graduate school Nikolai Khokhlov. Let me now enhance what I learned.

Let me review. One day at Duke University I was introduced to a new graduate student by the name of Nicolai.  His heavy Russian accent was intriguing.  Later it came  out that he had been the head of the Russian KGB for Eastern Europe.  Finally, after much searching, he defected. His story is dramatic and sad as our intelligence service  was to rescue his family and take them out of the country when he went on Radio Free Europe to announce his defection. Our people failed him and he lost his family forever.  Later when he was in Germany, Russian Intelligence poisoned him with a radioactive substance.  He survived.

The Truth Is Spoken

Then there is another part.  One evennig Nicolai talked at length about his experiences. He spoke his conclusions about propaganda and political intelligence.  He said,  “You think it is like, James Bond.  It is, in fact like Get Smart.”

(For the younger generation, Get Smart was a television show that satirized intelligence services.)

Nicolai’s words continue to resonate with me. Especially in our current political environment.  What we are seeing often displayed is incompetence, disregard for country and corruption among many  other things.  The display to the world is embarrassing.

How are We To Assess What Nicolai Shared?

NiKolai’s story resonates in this campaign. We may dismiss the process as a form of comic opera or are we seeing life as it is?  Many of us are shocked at what we are seeing, but is the truth that this was there all along and we have not seen or experienced it this openly?

Get smart was meant to be funny but what we are seeing now is often stunning but hardly funny.  Or is it that we should be honest with ourselves and that we are seeing fundamental truths bout humanity?  It is sobering to realize that these kind of political beings were there all along and we need to attend to the fact of their existence and assess it more deeply.  The recognitions should be uplifting and useful.

Remember, Nikolai’s job was to safeguard the underbelly of the Soviet Union in Europe. He was to gather intelligence, kill people if necessary and build an underlying defense force for his country.  In the end he felti t was all a lie and his job violated his sense of humanity.  And so he followed the guidance of his conscience. Wouldn’t it be nice if we had more politicians with  his integrity?

Another Form of a Reality Show

The lesson for us is that this is not comic opera.  It is reality and is often dysfunctional and displays the faults and frailties of humanity in their worst forms.  We may laugh or accept it but often should cry  at what is  revealed. We will see ourselves for who we are including our vulnerability and what is lurking under the surface?  That in itself, is valuable.

Get Smart was for fun but as is often the case with comedy, it displays lessons to which we need to attend,  Again, we come back to our view of reality.  We have to decide how we interpret the events of this season and what we do with it is another matter.  And to me Nicolai is a role model. Is it up to us collectively to bring this under control?



Women and Reproductive Rights

Women of Our Earth.  Earth Mother Gaia selected women to preserve our future.  Those living in the sea are called Mermaids.  The guardian body on land is called the Andromeda.  (Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy – Available on Amazon)

The decisions about women’s reproductive rights has been receiving a lot of attention and, while I find it engaging, I am also finding it infuriating.  What I read seems like a debate among men and that immediately brings up the issue of how often women’s opinions and rights are excluded from the debate.

As I’ve said previously, this intuitive clinical psychologist feels strongly in regard to women’s rights.  And there are some things I wish to add here,  When it comes to reproduction, it is women who end up being most important.

Let me just focus one area – rape.  Some of the debate focuses on her rights to terminaye  a pregnancy even when rape is involved.  But she has a particular position,

Previously I noted the turmoil is often focused on “who comes to live at my house”.  That issue often focuses on whether it is a boy or girl and who each parent wants.Ive seen countless marriages torn apart over who is waned and who actually comes. I have seen great difficulty on the part of just onr parent.  I have always found such devision hard to accept.

Now let us turn to pregnancy from rape.Are we even going to make a woman bear that child of the rapist?  I understand the sanctity of life, but under such circumstances are we to take away a woman’d rights altogether?

Here is realty.  Over the years I have seen parents get a boy or a girl they don’t want.  Okay, they cllose to have that child or it is part of their marriage,  But too often I have seen great difficukty  tearing up the marriage and yielding enduring damage to the child emotionally. Under those circumstances the parents must work in behalf of the child and themselves.

But in regard to raising the rapist’s child the problems are mulyiplied and demands of the mother bearing that child is a terribly hard choice.  It must be her choice, possibly in conjuncion with her husband.  These are exceedingly and even cruel circumstances and I find outsiders deciding the outcome highly unfortunate.