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The Power of Discord: Why the Ups and Downs of Relationships Are the Secret to Building Intimacy, Resilience, and Trust

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An original look at how to foster connections, attachment, and resiliency, showing that working through discord is the key to better relationships. You might think that perfect harmony is the defining characteristic of healthy relationships, but the truth is that human interactions are messy, complicated, and confusing. And according to renowned psychologist Ed Tronick and An original look at how to foster connections, attachment, and resiliency, showing that working through discord is the key to better relationships. You might think that perfect harmony is the defining characteristic of healthy relationships, but the truth is that human interactions are messy, complicated, and confusing. And according to renowned psychologist Ed Tronick and pediatrician Claudia Gold, that is not only OK, it is actually crucial to our social and emotional development. In The Power of Discord they show how working through the inevitable dissonance of human connection is the path to better relationships with romantic partners, family, friends, and colleagues. Dr. Tronick was one of the first researchers to show that babies are profoundly affected by their parents' emotions and behavior via "The Still-Face Experiment." His work, which brought about a foundational shift in our understanding of human development, shows that our highly evolved sense of self makes us separate, yet our survival depends on connection. And so we approximate, iteratively learning about one another's desires and intentions, and gaining confidence in the process as we correct the mistakes and misunderstandings that arise. Working through the volley of mismatch and repair in everyday life helps us form deep, lasting, trusting relationships, resilience in times of stress and trauma, and a solid sense of self in the world. Drawing on Dr. Tronick's research and Dr. Gold's clinical experience, The Power of Discord is a refreshing and original look at our ability to relate to others and to ourselves.


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An original look at how to foster connections, attachment, and resiliency, showing that working through discord is the key to better relationships. You might think that perfect harmony is the defining characteristic of healthy relationships, but the truth is that human interactions are messy, complicated, and confusing. And according to renowned psychologist Ed Tronick and An original look at how to foster connections, attachment, and resiliency, showing that working through discord is the key to better relationships. You might think that perfect harmony is the defining characteristic of healthy relationships, but the truth is that human interactions are messy, complicated, and confusing. And according to renowned psychologist Ed Tronick and pediatrician Claudia Gold, that is not only OK, it is actually crucial to our social and emotional development. In The Power of Discord they show how working through the inevitable dissonance of human connection is the path to better relationships with romantic partners, family, friends, and colleagues. Dr. Tronick was one of the first researchers to show that babies are profoundly affected by their parents' emotions and behavior via "The Still-Face Experiment." His work, which brought about a foundational shift in our understanding of human development, shows that our highly evolved sense of self makes us separate, yet our survival depends on connection. And so we approximate, iteratively learning about one another's desires and intentions, and gaining confidence in the process as we correct the mistakes and misunderstandings that arise. Working through the volley of mismatch and repair in everyday life helps us form deep, lasting, trusting relationships, resilience in times of stress and trauma, and a solid sense of self in the world. Drawing on Dr. Tronick's research and Dr. Gold's clinical experience, The Power of Discord is a refreshing and original look at our ability to relate to others and to ourselves.

59 review for The Power of Discord: Why the Ups and Downs of Relationships Are the Secret to Building Intimacy, Resilience, and Trust

  1. 5 out of 5

    Heidi The Reader

    The Power of Discord is a study of human connection and disconnection. The authors, Ed Tronick and Claudia Gold, demonstrate through scientific and therapeutic studies that by working through conflict and the messiness of every day life, our relationships can be stronger than ever before. Our earliest relationships have a profound affect on the way we interact with others as adults. It is almost scary how fast infants develop the responses that they carry with them into adulthood. In Tronick's gr The Power of Discord is a study of human connection and disconnection. The authors, Ed Tronick and Claudia Gold, demonstrate through scientific and therapeutic studies that by working through conflict and the messiness of every day life, our relationships can be stronger than ever before. Our earliest relationships have a profound affect on the way we interact with others as adults. It is almost scary how fast infants develop the responses that they carry with them into adulthood. In Tronick's groundbreaking study called the "still-face" experiment, his findings helped researchers discover how infants communicate with their mothers. In the experiment, a mother and child are interacting, playing as usual. Then, the mother turns away a moment and when she turns back, her face is still and empty of emotion. The curious thing about the infants' reaction to their caregiver presenting them with a face devoid of emotion is that researchers could already see how the relationship between the two was developing. Infants in a healthy relationship kept trying to get a reaction out of the other person until their caregiver "went back to normal." Infants in a "dysfunctional" relationship, or who were for whatever reason were less connected with their parent, shut down and practiced coping or self soothing mechanisms rather than trying to draw the caregiver out. Prior to this experiment, it was assumed that infants had little to no communication ability whatsoever. "When confronted with a stressful situation, (infants) could apply a style of interaction drawn from the everyday exchanges with their caregivers. While they did not yet have the capacity for language or conscious thought, they were able to draw on their countless moment-to-moment interactions to cope with the stress of caregivers' unfamiliar behavior." I worried, as I read the study, that the children would somehow be scarred by it. Some of the reactions the researchers described were very intense and painful for everyone involved. But the authors assured readers the level of stress in the experiment wasn't something beyond what the children would encounter in their daily lives. Still, it seemed rather unfair to them. It wasn't like researchers could explain what was going on. Beyond the initial interactions that form the manner in which people craft their relationship styles, Tronick and Gold delve into further issues that may affect how you connect with others like: the pernicious effects of perfectionism and addiction to technology, feeling safe around others, taking responsibility for your connection style, and, the part I liked the most, the surprising way discord makes relationships stronger. "... it is not simply what happened when we were young that screws us up now. Along the way to growing up and into our adult lives, we continue to create new ways of being screwed up. Only when we have accumulated a whole new set of interactions, when we work through the inevitable moments of disconnection to again find connection, will we grow and change." Though we learn how to form connections before we even have language, researchers have found that connection styles can be relearned, relationships can be repaired and are repaired, every day, little by little. In countless "mismatch and repair" moments, we teach ourselves that there is nothing broken that can't be restored. It builds confidence in the relationship and trust in ourselves and each other - the building blocks of intimacy. Highly recommended for readers looking to engage in some introspection about their own attachment style or for those who are curious about how relationships are formed and maintained. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for a free advance reader copy of this book.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Maria

    This is a great book, both for professionals and for anyone who wants to better understand the importance of early experiences and what good can come out of mismatches and how to repair them. I feel it was written in a palatable way for anyone to read. Love that several of the relationships in this book were queer instead of the usual heteronormative stuff. I will say sometimes it was a bit repetitive but that helps you absorb what the purposes of the book are.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Scribe Publications

    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 In 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 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 The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work Lively and riveting — Human connections have the power to heal by engaging us in a new set of moment-to-moment mismatches ... as long as we are open to repair and reconnect. Dr Bessel van der Kolk, author of The Body Keeps the Score 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 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. Dr Daniel J. Siegel, author of Mindset, and Clinical Professor at UCLA School of Medicine

  4. 4 out of 5

    Andrea

    The premise of The Power of Discord centers around the presence of tension or disagreement, and its resolution, are critical in human development and how our relationships deepen. This is a great read to reinforce how important open discussion and connection are in our lives, and very timely with the polarization in our world today. This is great for background, especially for people who work in child development or education, and for those who are seeking to be parents or caretakers. I would lik The premise of The Power of Discord centers around the presence of tension or disagreement, and its resolution, are critical in human development and how our relationships deepen. This is a great read to reinforce how important open discussion and connection are in our lives, and very timely with the polarization in our world today. This is great for background, especially for people who work in child development or education, and for those who are seeking to be parents or caretakers. I would like to see more on how to adapt later in life if early childhood or life changes create more challenges to overcome in a future book. Thank you to NetGalley and Little, Brown, and Company for the ARC. All opinions are my own.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    People are fascinating and sometimes hard to understand. This book helps with that. It is the book to read about being and growing in relationships. Weaving together infant - parent observational research, child development and psychoanalytic thinking in providing a framework for understanding and improving parenting, adult relationships and deepening capacity for connection and intimacy in all areas. I like that it is highly readable and accessible but doesn't oversimplify. It makes minimal use People are fascinating and sometimes hard to understand. This book helps with that. It is the book to read about being and growing in relationships. Weaving together infant - parent observational research, child development and psychoanalytic thinking in providing a framework for understanding and improving parenting, adult relationships and deepening capacity for connection and intimacy in all areas. I like that it is highly readable and accessible but doesn't oversimplify. It makes minimal use of psychobabble and lingo, and remains true to the heft of its knowledge-base without losing the lay reader. Also very well written. Excellent read!!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Elle Jay

    I really enjoyed the ideas in here and it was clear and easy to read; I found the observations around being ok with being alone/alone together and empathy particularly interesting. I did find it a bit repetitive and it stopped just as I got *really* interested - in how it all plays out in the huge 'discord' evident in current politics, media and personal relationships. But it was enjoyable, and definitely worth reading. I really enjoyed the ideas in here and it was clear and easy to read; I found the observations around being ok with being alone/alone together and empathy particularly interesting. I did find it a bit repetitive and it stopped just as I got *really* interested - in how it all plays out in the huge 'discord' evident in current politics, media and personal relationships. But it was enjoyable, and definitely worth reading.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Nancy Garon

    Wonderful book - many important findings from developmental psychology are woven into the fabric of clinical psychology. At the heart of the book, the famous still-face experiment is used to explain the complexity of human relationships. A must read for clinicians, parents, and really anyone who wants to learn about relationships.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Cristie Underwood

    Society focuses on perfect relationships where there is little to no strain or stress. The author of this book lays out the case for how imperfect relationships actually give us skills that we need to learn and grow. I found this to be a really interesting approach and a great read!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Caleb

    A great read with tons of terms, references, and research. Highly recommend for clients and therapists alike.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Karah Carpenter

    The basic principle of this book is powerful. Relationships thrive by overcoming tension, not by avoiding it. If cemented into your mind, this concept will change your life. Healthy relationships are the basis of a healthy existence. The authors do a great job of driving the point home from all angles. I will note, there’s a lot of Freud usage as well as a the Big Bang theory, and sprinkled with some Darwin. This is not off putting to me, but it may be to some.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Levi Campbell

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

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    Emma Forsyth

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ira Hillman

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kristal DeSantis

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Hayes

  17. 5 out of 5

    Katie Macey

  18. 4 out of 5

    Chris Nowacki

  19. 4 out of 5

    Unlikely

  20. 4 out of 5

    Marce

  21. 5 out of 5

    Shana Ghekiere

  22. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ashlyn Bellamy

  24. 5 out of 5

    Heather Volkman

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    Anthony

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    Erin

  27. 5 out of 5

    Emily Hubbell

  28. 4 out of 5

    Byr0n

  29. 4 out of 5

    Joy Cannon

  30. 4 out of 5

    Mardi Stacy

  31. 4 out of 5

    Mauricio Vargas

  32. 5 out of 5

    Marietta1964

  33. 4 out of 5

    Reed Lindberg

  34. 5 out of 5

    Yara Saltzberrry

  35. 4 out of 5

    Julia

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    Kristen

  37. 5 out of 5

    Ruth Jones

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    Paul Q HUll

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    Will Schievelbein

  40. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

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    Janna

  42. 5 out of 5

    Andrea Narvaez

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  44. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie Lang

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    r c

  46. 4 out of 5

    COURTNEY BOUCHER

  47. 5 out of 5

    Catherine Mendoza

  48. 4 out of 5

    Burton

  49. 4 out of 5

    Diana

  50. 4 out of 5

    Bern

  51. 5 out of 5

    varda van der wieken

  52. 5 out of 5

    Joanne Hee Jie Yih

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    Nick

  54. 5 out of 5

    Liliya

  55. 4 out of 5

    Donka Poparova

  56. 4 out of 5

    Katarina

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    Katherine

  58. 4 out of 5

    Dariusz Marszałek

  59. 4 out of 5

    Esther

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