#61: Dr. Valerie Rein – Patriarchal Stress Disorder

My guest for this episode is Dr. Valerie Rein. She is an author, psychologist, and in addition, founded Her Genius, Inc.

Through her work, she has coined the term Patriarchal Stress Disorder to capture and reflect upon the historical dynamic of predominantly patriarchal power structures throughout time. And more specifically, how patriarchy has negatively affected women throughout the years, all the way up to the present. This has led to a suppression of femininity, of being expressive and celebratory about womanhood while in an open space and without fear.

And because of recent understandings of genetics and inherited aspects of our recent ancestral roots, we can very well inherit traumas from certain groups. And yes, that supposes and is backed by evidence that women inherit patriarchal stress from ancestors who were suppressed and oppressed in previous generations. Both men and women can inherit certain traumas, but in this highly interesting episode, Valerie walks us through patriarchal stress in particular. You’ll really get a lot out of this one.

A Missing Link to Better Sex
After working as a therapist for many years, Valerie started noticing that there were underlying traumas that could be addressed in her patients which would lead to better sex in their sex lives, depending on the various levels of resolution or therapy work. But Valerie also started noticing that women who didn’t have any particular traumas to work on were still responding as positively to the therapy as those who did. She eventually realized that there was a correlation or causative link between these invisible traumas and the fact that society has been predominantly patriarchal. This coupled with genetic transmission led to the massive breakthrough.

More Than Just Better Sex!
But better sex wasn’t the only benefit to come out of these type of trauma therapy. Really, it changed everything in her patients in a good way: from money flow, to professional success, to relationship wellbeing, to other various aspects, all rooted in this trauma that had been inherited from previous ancestral oppression according to exactive patriarchal structures. She goes further into detail during the episode to explain the dynamic even more!

Valerie was Suffering as Well
As Valerie states, a very ironic part of this whole story and discovery was that Valerie believed herself to be untouched by the same trauma that was affecting her clients. And as she puts it, it led to a very acute suffering in her life, until she realized that yes, she was affected by the same Patriarchal Stress Disorder as the others.

It took a lot of marriage counseling and the eventual end of a marriage to a very nice guy that she realized just how deeply she had been afraid to expect pleasure in a virtually sex-less marriage. She eloquently describes the situation and ties it to the disorder during the episode. Do check it out.

How to Alleviate P.S.D. Through the Jailbreak System
In the episode, Valerie talks about her 5-step process for breaking out of the jail that modern society has placed women in. To start, just waking up and seeing the walls that enclose you, is the important first step. And within that first step, recognizing that it’s not personal. You have inherited this world, the traits and reality from your ancestors. There’s just a traumatic setup that you have inherited from your pedigree.

The next step is to resolve the feelings of constantly having to self-improve. Until women step out of the revolving door of second-guessing and feelings of inferiority that have been inherited, what Valerie calls the ‘prison security system’ will keep firing. This leads to hormone imbalances and a gamut of other disorders in women.

The third step is that women often bribe the prison guards. Instead of overriding the prison defense system, women often feel it necessary to work with them. And for the rest of these steps, listen along to the episode. The imagery is very interesting and useful for understanding the concept.

Survival of the Anxious
Using an example of Holocaust survivors and their raised cortisol levels, so too their ancestors were passed the tangible genetic traits associated with the type of hyper-vigilance that is common in someone with a heightened fight-or-flight system. And in different ways, we can be passed the same sort of genetic traits and dispositions because of oppression and situations of extreme stress, especially in women.

What About the Men?
Dr. Valerie doesn’t ignore the fact that men have also been traumatized and suffer from similar symptoms as women. In fact, the patriarchal system doesn’t really work in general. So women are affected the most, but it is still a largely flawed system that does considerable harm for men as well. For much more that wasn’t laid out here in the show notes, the episode is chock-full of more important concepts and details.

Key Links for Valerie:
Valerie’s Website: http://www.patriarchystressdisorder.com/


More info:

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Better Sex with Jessa Zimmerman
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The founder of A Psychobiological Approach to Couple Therapy® (PACT) lays the groundwork for a secure-functioning relationship between couples.

Jessa Zimmerman

Jessa Zimmerman is a couples’ counselor and nationally certified sex therapist. On Better Sex, she and her expert guests share their insights, strategies, and ways of thinking about sex that will help you improve your intimate relationship.