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The Peter Attia Drive

Aug 16, 2021

Esther Perel is a psychotherapist and New York Times bestselling author who is an expert on modern relationships. In this episode, Esther describes how being a child of parents who narrowly survived the Holocaust shaped and influenced her perspectives and ultimately led to her to a career in therapy. She discusses how the generational differences in parenting, among other things, led to the rise of individualism with a focus on happiness and self-esteem to the detriment of our relationships and sense of community. Ultimately, the conversation focuses on the value of our relationships with others for one’s sense of wellbeing, ability to deal with past trauma, resilience, and even our lifespan. She uses real world case studies to emphasize the therapeutic value of creating healthy relationships with others and oneself, explaining how our relationships with others can be a mirror into our own maladaptive behaviors. Esther explains how our self-narratives, which are often shaped by past trauma, may negatively impact our relationships with others and our emotional health, and emphasizes the value in trying to change them when warranted.


We discuss:

  • Esther’s background, adventures in hitchhiking, and how she ended up in the US [2:30];
  • The lasting effects of the Holocaust on Esther’s parents [8:45];
  • Grappling with a dark past and feeling alive again after trauma [16:45];
  • How Esther came to understand her parents in a new light [23:15];
  • Why Esther chose therapy as her career [30:00];
  • Using the concept of sexuality to understand society, culture, and people [40:00];
  • The significance of sexual revolutions, and the similarities of medical advancements and advancements in psychotherapy [50:15];
  • The impact of the rise of individualism and the focus on happiness and self-esteem [56:00];
  • Generational differences in parenting and changing role of fathers [1:09:15];
  • How our narratives affect our sense of wellbeing and relationships with others, and the challenge of changing them [1:17:15];
  • Generational effects of past trauma, and how relationship to others can be a mirror into your maladaptive behavior [1:30:30];
  • The role of willpower in one’s ability change their behavior and improve their relationships [1:40:00];
  • How your relationships impact longevity and the importance of being capable of sitting in uncomfortable emotions [1:43:45];
  • Esther’s definition of resilience and the dangers of believing everything you think or feel [1:50:00];
  • Questions about the human condition that Esther wants to explore [1:57:30]; and
  • More.

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