Intimate relationships key for healthy mind

Intimate relationships key for healthy mind, says therapist

Trish Murphy describes free mental health talk as virtual medicine for the mind

Irish Times 3rd October 2014


Virtual medicine for the mind is one phrase psychologist and Irish Times columnist Trish Murphy uses to describe her forthcoming free talk on mental health next Wednesday. The talk is part of the Irish Times Pfizer Healthy Town initiative in Portlaoise.

Murphy will look at a range of issues, including relationships. “The most enduring relationship you have is with yourself,” she says. “And we can be very nasty to ourselves a lot of the time.”

Murphy will show you ways of dealing with this issue as well as stressing the importance of intimate relationships in our lives which she says are very important for a healthy mind. Research has found that there are four factors that can lead to the breakdown of a relationship.

These include contempt, (such as rolling your eyes when the other person is talking), defensiveness (Murphy says that defensiveness is very destructive to a relationship), criticism (which she points out can be implied or silent rather than spoken, and stonewalling).

Murphy explains that stonewalling is an emotionally blocking of things. “You can be physically present but emotionally unavailable because you cannot take any more. It’s a tactic which men use a lot.”

She says this can signify the end of a relationship because “you can’t have a relationship when one person isn’t there.”

Happily, it is possible to reverse these situations. She says there is a mathematical formula for it, “which is very interesting” . Murphy says in such situations you need five times more affection, humour and personal liking of yourself.”We all need to lighten up, she says, “ we need some humour.”

To find out the exact ingredients, you will have to go along to her talk which is on in the Heritage Hotel, Portlaoise next Wednesday, October 8th at 7 pm. Admission is free and you can register in advance by contacting Rachel Ahearne at WHPR, on 01-6690030. Or you can email:

Murphy will also touch on a range of other issues including how important it is to mind yourself if someone you know is having difficulties. “It is very easy if someone close to you is having problems, you can get sucked into it very easily and start demonstrating the same symptoms yourself.

She will talk about how to do the best for them, but discuss how important it is to mind yourself first.

Dr Trish Murphy is a psychotherapist with a private practice in Rathmines, Dublin. She also works in Trinity College two days a week and is a regular columnist in The Irish Times, dealing with emotional and other issues confronting readers.