Givers and Takers:

Clinical Biopsychological Perspectives on Relationship Behavior Patterns

Robert A. Moss

Bon Secours St. Francis Hospital

Givers and Takers: Clinical Biopsychological Perspectives on Relationship Behavior Patterns from The Neuropsychotherapist on Vimeo.


Moss, R. A. (2013). Givers and takers: Clinical biopsychological perspectives on relationship behavior patterns. International Journal of Neuropsychotherapy, 1(2), 31-46. doi: 10.12744/ijnpt.2013.0031-0046


To date, limited progress has been made in advancing a comprehensive biopsychological model to explain behavior patterns in human relationships. This paper describes such a model. A simplified description of a theory of cortical functioning is presented, followed by a discussion of two patterns of human relationship behaviors that are explained within the context of the model. A comparison of the current model and the dominant Big Five model of personality traits is then briefly discussed. Conclusions focus on the need for future research to determine the effectiveness of a clinical biopsychology approach, including the accuracy of the relationship patterns.

            Keywords:       Type-G, Type-T, giver, taker, clinical biopsychological model, relationships, neuropsychotherapy, social neuroscience, dimensional systems model

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Robert A. Moss, Bon Secours St. Francis Hospital, 1 St. Francis Drive, Greenville, SC 29601. E-mail: [email protected]

Psychotherapists are well aware that many, if not most, individuals seen for therapy have current and past relationship issues. While the importance of social factors in psychological disorders such as depression is recognized by all psychotherapy approaches, this perspective forms the specific basis of interpersonal therapy (Klerman, Weissman, Rounsaville, & Chevron, 1984). Understanding what motivates others, the reasons for other people’s actions, and how to deal most effectively with others in relationships is important to clients. A brain theory that could explain the rules defining the relationship behaviors of significant others would thus be of considerable value in neuropsychotherapy—not only because it would allow for the presentation of accurate schemas, but also because it would enable suggestions to be made on the most adaptive ways to deal with others.

Social neuroscience was first described by Cacioppo and Berntson in 1992, since when it has become a rapidly developing field, aided by the widespread use of imaging techniques. Adolphs (2010a) provided a thoughtful review on the conceptual challenges and directions of this new area. He noted the difficulty in determining the neurophysiological basis of the “social brain” since no brain structure or subpopulation of neurons operates in isolation. Hence, there is a need to account for the manner in which distributed neuronal representations produce explicit and relevant social information to guide behavior. However, despite the dominant discourse in cognitive and affective neuroscience, that it is known how psychology and biology causation works—this is not the case, as Miller (2010: 734) critically observed, when he stated that the “contact point(s) between the psychological mechanisms and the biological mechanisms need to be identified and explicated.” Clearly, this requires a theory that describes the exact manner in which subcortical and cortical central processes interact with autonomic and hormonal systems, to produce social behavior.

Personality psychology has attempted to provide taxonomies of traits as a means to better understand individual differences in motivation, behavior, and cognitions tied to relationships. In this context, a complete overview of the emerging subspecialty of personality neuroscience has been recently presented by DeYoung and Gray (2009), in which they discussed the Big Five model of Costa & McRae (1992). This is the most widely used and dominant taxonomy and one, they believe, which serves as a useful categorization scheme for personality neuroscience. The five factors of this model are: extraversion, neuroticism, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and openness/intellect. Based on their review of the literature, DeYoung and Gray (2009) suggested that brain structures and neurotransmitter systems are differentially involved in these five factors and they posited that regularities in the functioning of the relevant brain systems account for personality traits.

Some support for these predictions is found in a structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) study by DeYoung et al. (2010). However, there are some criticisms that can be made with regard to this approach in personality neuroscience: first, the five factor model is not derived from a neuroscientific theory; and, second, neither volumetric nor functional neuroimaging of brain areas can explain the manner in which those areas operate to produce any given behavior—thus a correlation between a factor and a brain area provides no insight as to the cognitive, affective, motivational, or social aspects involved, with the result that no meaningful information is derived for the purposes of psychotherapy. For example, the finding that someone ranks high on extraversion, which is associated with increased size in the medial orbitofrontal cortex, provides little help in explaining to a client how to deal with such a person.

A theory of how learning and memory occur within the cortex, and how this interacts with subcortical areas, has recently been described (see, e.g., Moss, 2006, 2013a; Moss, Hunter, Shah, & Havens, 2012). This theory—called the dimensional systems model (DSM)—purports that the cortical column (i.e., the macrocolumn) is the binary unit (bit) involved in processing and storing all higher cortical information. The theory has also been applied to psychotherapy (Moss, 2001, 2007, 2010, 2013b), where it is termed the clinical biopsychological model (CBM). Based on this model, clinically relevant patterns of relationship behaviors have been identified and described. Notably, in the context of this author’s practice, the model has proved very useful to clients both in understanding individuals with whom they have relationships, as well as determining the most effective manner of dealing with those individuals. The aim of this paper is to describe these relationship patterns.

Clinical Biopsychological Model

A brief overview of the CBM should assist the reader in understanding the more detailed discussion that follows. The model views all human behavior as motivated by a prime directive to maximize positive and minimize negative emotional experiences. This has obvious survival benefit in that conditions leading to positive emotional states are those in which biological needs are met. In contrast, negative states occur when an individual is not having needs met, or is in danger. Of particular importance is to understand that in the DSM, subcortical structures are seen as being responsible for the perceived valence and physiological components of emotions. Subcortical to cortical projections (including dopaminergic, serotonergic, noradrenergic and cholinergic systems), and hormonal/neuropeptide release, strongly influence cortical activities including memory formation. Nevertheless, the DSM suggests that the location of all complex sensory and motor relationship memories is at the cortical level: This means that all learned components of relationship behaviors across a lifespan are a direct function of cortical memory storage.

For example, the role of the amygdala in psychological phenomena such as fear conditioning has clear support (LeDoux & Phelps, 2010). The role of the amygdala has also been suggested in social cognition (Adolphs, 2010b), including reward learning due to connections with the prefrontal cortex and ventral striatum. As LeDoux and Phelps (2010) note, both the fast route from the sensory thalamus and the slower route from the sensory cortex converge at the same locations in the lateral amygdala. The involvement of the sensory cortex as both the location of emotional memory storage, and the source by which activation of the lateral amygdala occurs upon activation of that memory, is consistent with the theoretical model discussed here—specifically, that the right parietal area has been implicated in processing emotional and social sensory input (Adolphs, 2001; Shutz, 2005). Based on the DSM, the receptive columns of the right parietal area, in connection with the temporal and occipital lobes, are those involved in the rapid processing of ongoing non-verbal social stimuli that allow efficient fluid social interactions. For this reason, lesions of the right parietal cortex and the right amygdala can lead to similar deficits. Damage to the right parietal cortex can lead to a failure to activate the amygdala due to the loss of the columns which, via learning, allowed non-verbal emotional processing to occur. Furthermore, damage to the right amygdala would have a similar overall behavioral effect since no emotional response could occur in response to cortical column activation; in this case, there is no output from the amygdala to activate the lateral hypothalamus associated with autonomic responses or the paraventricular hypothalamus associated with hormonal (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis) responses (LeDoux & Phelps, 2010).

The DSM indicates that cortical arousal is necessary for strengthening synapses among the columns tied to new memories. It is also consistent with the view that the hippocampus is the “pacemaker” in a hippocampus-thalamus-cerebral cortex-hippocampus circuit (Moss et al., 2012). Maintenance of activity in the circuit allows for increases in ionic concentration levels and increased neurotransmitter storage at the synaptic level among the involved columns—a necessary component is thalamus-cortical arousal via input from the reticular activating system via the thalamic reticular nuclei (Moss, 2006). Arousal can be enhanced both during positive and negative emotional arousal; for example, amygdala input to the hippocampus can serve as a means to increase hippocampal activity and enhance memory storage at the cortical level.

The two heritable components involved in social cognition are genes and culture (Adolphs, 2001). There are innate, biological factors whose trajectories are strongly influenced by an individual’s cultural and social context—temperament, for example, has been defined as a pattern of responses across many occasions in a given type of incentive condition (Bates, Goodnight, & Fite, 2010). These authors also noted some clear indications of temperament and environmental interactions that determine expression. An example of such an interaction is in relation to novelty distress, where gentle maternal control appears to promote the development of pro-social behaviors. By comparison, harshness does not seem to promote the development of pro-social behavior in low novelty distress children. In this context, the DSM suggests that the cultural and social learned components are a function of cortical processing and memory storage.

The cortical dimensions of the DSM that primarily impact on social functioning involve internal–external, action–reception, and global–analytic processing. Internal and self-referential processing involves the medial areas of the cortices while external or environmental processing involves the lateral cortices. The medial cortical areas receive input from and provide input to subcortical structures. Panksepp (2010) described the affective foundations of “core consciousness” and “core self.” The medial cortical internal/self-referential columns that interconnect with the affective systems he highlighted are consistent with such a conceptualization. On the other hand, external stimulus information, including information involving social interactions, is processed and coded in the lateral cortex. The DSM suggests that transitional regions between the medial and lateral cortex (e.g., the insula) are the locations for coding association memories in a combination of “self as related to other” processing and memory.

Receptive sensory columns in the temporal, parietal and occipital lobes act in a bottom-up (starting from the thalamus) feed-forward manner (Moss, 2013). This means information from the senses activates stored memories automatically, and these posterior cortical memories can then activate subcortical systems such as the amygdala and the mesolimbic dopamine system; which subcortical area is activated will depend on whether the activated memories are positive or negative. The frontal columns are involved with any action that occurs, often in response to environmental stimulation. Medial frontal columns activate internal motivation/drive action and provide active feedback to subcortical structures, including the ventral striatum. Lateral frontal columns are involved in the analysis, planning, and motor expression of responses in the external environment.

The two cortices are viewed as semi-independent functioning minds. Within the suggested parallel processing design, whichever side can best respond to an ongoing situation is the side that assumes control of the ensuing response. Both hemispheres receive similar sensory input. The left cortex processes sensory information in a detailed manner, with the result that it is slower than the right cortex, which processes the information much faster, but in a global, less detailed manner. Exchange of information occurs between the sides. From a developmental perspective, there is initially only very limited information exchange between lobes within each side, and between the hemispheres. This allows each cortical area to fully develop its memories and associated processing prior to any influence from more distal areas. Additionally, left hemisphere functions (receptive and expressive speech, for example), will develop more slowly than those of the right hemisphere (non-verbal emotional analyses and responses, for example), since there are a greater number of cortical columns and interconnections associated with left hemisphere functions. It should also be noted that the right hemisphere’s global processing allows for faster responses if confronted by outside danger; therefore, that this side is best equipped to respond early, and will assume behavioral control while in a negative emotional state. This point is important in reference to relationship behaviors since the right cortical interpersonal relationship patterns discussed in this paper would be most pronounced when an individual is stressed, pressured, fatigued, and/or distressed.

The left cortex is the primary handler of verbal language functions, which are highly detailed. The left posterior areas are involved in memory storage and understanding both spoken and written language, while the left frontal lobe controls spoken language, including the motor memories of language. Thinking verbally and forming interpretive schemas are left cortical processes sometimes referred to as the verbal interpreter. In contrast, the right cortex is involved in many less detailed, global functions, including non-verbal emotional analyses and responses. The right posterior areas are involved in memory storage and understanding emotional behaviors shown by others, as well as the storage of external sensory memories (sight, sound) and internal sensory memories (visceral responses) tied to emotions. The right frontal lobe is involved in emotional expressions, including the motor memories of such expressions.

If it is accurate, the DSM can explain how it is possible both to think verbally in a particular way about a situation and yet feel differently about the same situation. Since the sensory aspects of non-detailed emotional processing occur in the right posterior hemisphere, the verbal interpreter in the left frontal lobe would have no means (i.e., via interconnecting neural tracts) to directly control emotional reactions. In other words, it is not possible to verbally and logically control emotional perceptions and reactions.

The model indicates that interactions with one’s environment are guided by the desire to activate positive and deactivate negative emotional states, which are largely defined by the emotional memories stored in the right posterior cortex. An individual may attempt to exert control over some aspect of his/her world via behavioral responses controlled by the left frontal lobe (i.e., by verbal expression), or the right frontal lobe (i.e., by emotional expression). Thus, right frontal non-verbal emotional responses can best be described as involving behaviors of fight, freeze or flight; for example, attack, where the source of a problem is resolved or removed, otherwise escape, or avoid the source. The greater the incongruence between one’s emotional and cognitive state (i.e., think/feel conflict), the more tightly one will attempt to control the environment, including relationship interactions, with the result that one’s behavioral responses to environmental situations will be less coordinated and regulated. There will a tendency to show either an over-regulated, logical, verbal response (unemotional) or an under-regulated, emotional response (over-emotional), with the side controlling the current behavior of the individual inhibiting the expression from the opposing hemisphere. The greater the congruence (i.e., thinking and feeling being aligned), the more likely there will be a coordinated response in which emotional and verbal expression are consistent and appropriate.

Type-G (Giver) and Type-T (Taker) Relationship Patterns

Moss (2001) suggests there are two distinct but basic patterns by which individuals have learned to activate positive feelings and deactivate negative ones within relationships. These two patterns involve either the giving (Type-G) or taking (Type-T) of power, control, attention and/or things. At the simplest level, this is consistent with the basic motivational rule, and refers to both sensory emotional memories and actions, that is, how one feels and how one behaves in relationship interactions. Although hereditary/genetic factors such as temperament play a role in the development of one pattern over another, a major influence involves each person’s own learning history. This learning history involves what was most effective in achieving positive consequences and avoiding negative consequences with all influential people in an individual’s early social system. Because these early emotional memories define which of these patterns results in positive or negative internal states, once developed, an individual continues to relate to the current social system in the same basic manner of giving or taking as he or she learned in childhood.

Type-T individuals experience positive feelings in relationships by taking power, control, attention and/or things, and they experience negative emotions when having to give at their own expense. Therefore, they give only if something more desirable can be obtained or maintained. For a Type-T desiring attention more than anything else, this same person may be willing to give up direct power and control. In such a case, this person may be very dependent and whiny, often being in the position of engaging in behaviors that would logically appear very maladaptive. The opposite case is one who desires power and control more than attention and therefore may be willing to let others receive the attention publicly as long as he or she can “pull the strings.”

In contrast, Type-G individuals activate positive feelings in relationships by giving power, control, attention and/or things, and experience negative feelings if they have to take things at someone else’s expense. They can behaviorally “take” in certain situations, but have to develop specific rules to do so; these rules allow them to define for themselves when it is acceptable to take from others. However, the major positive experience for this type occurs when he or she spontaneously decides to give in a way to someone they feel has done a good job, and the person on the receiving end demonstrates a genuine appreciation for what has been done. The most negative experience for this type is a situation where the giver has to accept from someone for something he or she has typically done, has no means to repay what was done, and is made to feel guilty due to statements from others.

Given a parallel processing model of the brain in which non-detailed emotional memories are stored in the right cortex, and the prime directive of the system is to maximize the positive and minimize the negative emotions being experienced, the development of these patterns, which reflect the motivation for the behaviors seen in each type, is considered logical. The factors responsible for the ways in which a person is able to have positive and negative emotions stimulated are the sensory emotional memories, and these frontal action memories are in turn responsible for the motivation to maintain the behavior patterns.

Emotional memories are stored very early in development and are independent of the verbal-thinking process. As a result, these emotional memories serve to guide the future memories that develop since an attempt will be made to maximize the positive and minimize the negative emotions. Obviously, the best way to maximize positive feelings is to stimulate the stored positive memories and not stimulate the stored negative memories. Once an individual stores memories that are associated with either a pattern of giving or taking to activate positive emotions, it is logical that this pattern will continue and intensify.

Inside the brain, the columns tied to emotional memories form circuits. Based on these emotional memories, the right and left frontal regions will develop their own circuits of columns, which guide a person’s actions and which can, for example, activate or deactivate the non-detailed emotional memories based on environmental sensory inputs to the right posterior hemisphere. Once established, it is likely that the frontal columns controlling behavior tied to old emotional memories will be the first employed in responding to new environmental stimuli, leading to either positive or negative feelings. Thus, it is likely that patterns tied to what triggers desirable and undesirable emotions—as well as how these are behaviorally controlled—will be maintained.

Perhaps the best way to explain this is to take the left hemisphere’s development of language abilities. If the human infant has an intact brain, auditory information arrives in its raw form as input to the primary auditory area in the left temporal lobe. Over the first year of life, the infant is exposed to what will become his native spoken language. Based on the current model, the cortical columnar arrangements associated with the sounds of the language (i.e., the phonemes, or basic sound units of speech) constitute the first step in language development. Over time, the phonemes are connected neurally in the posterior cortex with word columnar arrays that later become associated with multi-sensory concepts; that is, learning takes place based on numerous “phoneme columns” activating one or more higher-order columns. The ability to produce sounds and sound sequences (e.g., “ma-ma”) occurs when the “phoneme columns” in the posterior cortex connect to the premotor columns in the frontal lobe. During the first years of life, this develops into the ability to understand and speak one’s native language. If one learns a second language as an adolescent or adult this process occurs in reverse order; that is, one first learns the words and their associated meanings, not the individual phonemes. Except in the case of brain damage to the left cortical areas of the brain responsible for speech, one’s native—or first—language is never lost, and one is never truly bilingual in relation to the sound system of a second language.

The right hemisphere’s development of non-detailed emotional analysis and expression follows a similar pattern, although it occurs more quickly than language development. Receptive emotional analysis (i.e., posterior cortex) precedes expression (i.e., frontal lobe). Initially, voice and physical contact/facial expressions of caretakers are encoded in columnar arrays in the right posterior cortex. Based on associations with positive consequences (such as being fed, having a diaper changed, or being cuddled in a secure manner), or negative consequences (such as being shaken, yelled at, or ignored), when these receptive memories are later activated by similar behaviors shown by the same or other individuals, the child “feels” either positive or negative emotions. Similarly, the right premotor cortex develops learned behavioral expressions (i.e., columnar arrays) which tend to maximize positive and minimize negative emotions based on one’s environment. Barring damage to the involved right cortical areas, one’s “native emotional language” remains, and is never forgotten.

Behavior patterns develop in childhood. Thus, in our childhood years it is expected that we will develop patterns that result in the most effective means of increasing positive and decreasing negative emotions in any particular situation. Our parents and siblings have done likewise. As we look at our own family system, therefore, it should be no surprise that each person develops idiosyncratic behavior patterns even when we share the same basic background. For example, your older brother may have learned that the most effective way to increase positive emotions and to decrease negative emotions in your family was to be dependent and whiny. But in this case it would be difficult for both you and your brother to maximally capitalize on all the available control, attention and material things within that same system by displaying similar behaviors. It is likely, therefore, that you would develop a dissimilar pattern—perhaps by being domineering and independent. Regardless of the exact pattern you or I develop, it is important to bear in mind that the behavior patterns we develop are always directed towards maximizing the positive and minimizing the negative. Our family system and, later, the greater social system, constrain what will work and what will not work for an individual in order to receive positive and avoid negative consequences; nevertheless, early memories of what has worked will remain throughout one’s lifetime. Given this fact, it seems reasonable to conclude that we would maintain our early patterns of behavior.

Taking this point a step further, it is hardly surprising that in most circumstances, one’s native language is used in any social interaction. This would apply in new and old relationships—in relationships with friends, with one’s spouse, and with individuals at school or work. Consequently, when emotional communications in relationships are considered, should it not also be expected that one would continue to employ that pattern which was learned over the course of one’s developmental years?

The most adaptive pattern is one in which an individual is able to give and take equally well, in which case there would also have to be the equal possibility of frontal control, leading to giving or taking, depending upon its appropriateness in any particular situation. This also requires inter-hemispheric congruence—but in fact neither of these conditions are possible for us as we live out our early years, because congruence would require being reared in an environment by people able to communicate consistently congruent verbal and emotional information. This is the only method by which our brains could develop and maintain inter-hemispheric congruence. Thus, we are presented with an impossible situation—in other words, if we are ever to have perfect inter-hemispheric congruence, first there must be people with perfect inter-hemispheric congruence. Going one step further, if perfect congruence did exist, an individual with perfect congruence would have to be able to filter the incongruence communicated from others. For example, an interaction with someone who verbally communicates one thing while emotionally expressing conflicting information necessarily would result in that “perfect” person experiencing incongruence.

Logically, therefore, since perfect inter-hemispheric congruence is humanly impossible, it is not a reasonable goal in psychological treatment. This does not mean that congruence—which is a reasonable goal in treatment—cannot be improved. Theoretically speaking, with improved congruence an individual should be better able to give and take equally well. The end result is that the behavior pattern of giving and taking should become less pronounced since the person is being more realistic in attempts to control the world. Nevertheless, the basic pattern remains: the greater the degree of incongruence, the less well the individual can engage in the behaviors characteristic of the opposite type.

Based on the foregoing discussion, it may be concluded that the patterns tied to either type are maladaptive. This is an important point because clients will ask if it is possible for one type to change to the other. The answer to this is definitely “no”. Moreover, even if it were possible, it would not be a reasonable treatment goal because both patterns are maladaptive. The actual goal for everyone should rather be movement towards adaptive functioning, which involves being able to give and take equally well.

The following are two examples of how each type can be maladaptive. In the first, the client is a Type-G who has developed a severe, chronic pain problem. In his past, he was the person in the family who provided the income and was very industrious around the house. However, he has lost his ability to continue doing the manual labor he did at his job and at home. He experiences extreme guilt when asking his wife or anyone else to assist him financially or with chores. As a result, he delays in seeking disability benefits, and when turned down, feels uncomfortable in appealing this decision since he feels he has been told he should still be able to work. He goes without many things because he feels uncomfortable approaching any agencies, family, or friends for assistance. In this situation, this person’s inability to take comfortably actually restricts adaptive behavior.

The second example is a Type-T person married to a submissive spouse who is unwilling to set limits. In this situation, he has become more and more abusive towards his wife over the years. She left him twice, but both times she left him he talked her into returning, each time showing only brief improvements in his behavior. Since he has taken all available power and control emotionally possible, and has escalated his physical abuse of her as well, there are very few limits left to push to allow him to feel he is taking more power and control. He finally kills his wife in a moment of extreme rage. Once again, we see maladaptive behavior.

As the clinician first looks at these patterns, there will be a tendency to see the “trees” and not the “forest”. In other words, it will initially be difficult to reconcile the fact that extremely different behaviors can reflect the same basic type. In like manner, it will be difficult to accept the fact that two individuals demonstrating some similar behaviors can reflect different basic types.

For example, one can see a Type-T individual who is socially adept, highly successful, and publicly regarded as a philanthropist. In contrast, another individual may be obnoxious, complaining, and extremely dependent, with multiple psychiatric hospitalizations. In reference to Type-G individuals, one may be strong-willed, opinionated and demanding, while another may be submissive, compliant and barely noticeable.

There are two dimensions along which each basic type can vary. These dimensions can assist in recognizing the basic patterns. It is very important to keep in mind that the basic patterns are the focus of attention, not the subdivisions of the basic types. The distinction of Type-G versus Type-T is best viewed as a dichotomy, since the basic patterns are so pronounced. The greater the hemispheric incongruence, the more pronounced the patterns become. The dimensions discussed within each of these basic groupings vary along continuums and, as such, are not independent and mutually exclusive.

The two behavioral dimensions for each basic type are (a) socialized–under-socialized and (b) domineering–submissive. The socialization dimension simply refers to the extent to which an individual has learned socially acceptable ways to activate positive feelings and deactivate negative ones in relationships. The dimension of dominance refers to the extent each type maintains control in relationships.

With these aspects in mind, prototypes of individuals falling at the extreme end of each continuum can be formulated. For example, domineering/socialized Type-G individuals would be strong-willed and ethical, with clearly defined rules. They would tend to be competent and conscientious workers and, as supervisors, would be fair and loyal towards both the company they work for, and their subordinates. They would be the type of people willing to work with others, not expecting anyone to do what they would be unwilling to do themselves. Although dominant/socialized Type-G individuals would be quite self-sufficient, assuming much responsibility in the home and community, in religious organizations or at the office, they would not be overly attention seeking, and would feel uncomfortable being too much in the limelight. Thus, when recognized for their achievements and contributions, they would be prone to giving credit to others for their own accomplishments. They would feel more comfortable having people say nice things about them rather than to them, to avoid feelings of conceit for accepting a compliment.

Dominant/undersocialized Type-Gs would be relatively rare. They would be identical in many ways to the socialized dominant type; however, their rules would be illegal or inappropriate, from a cultural point of view. Perhaps the best example would be a stereotypical Mafia godfather who is rule-governed and fiercely loyal, and yet engages in illegal activities.

Submissive/socialized Type-G individuals would be those people who try constantly to please everyone and avoid conflict—they would be perceived by others as generally nice people. Although they would not necessarily volunteer to do much, this type would have be unable to say “no” to the requests of others, no matter how inconvenient. They would do a competent job when agreeing to do something, but would avoid too much responsibility due to fear of conflict or feeling that someone else could do a better job. As spouses they would be frustrating, due to their desire to avoid any conflict, often “pulling into a shell”. They would be the type of people to walk away from any situation they viewed as involving conflict.

Submissive/undersocialized Type-G’s would often be escapists, engaging in socially unacceptable behavior that they see as not harming others. These types would tend to be invisible in society—an example might be a person who quietly abuses alcohol or marijuana. These individuals would tend to be “homebodies” and hermits or, if homeless, isolated and aloof. These people would probably only marginally function in society and would seldom seek help or attention.

Dominant/socialized Type-T individuals would have the strong need to control others directly, but do this in generally socially acceptable ways. These people would have the ability to be extremely outgoing and socially adept, particularly when first met. Their charisma is obvious if there is something to be gained in the situation. These individuals often do a great deal for public recognition and glory in praise from others. However, those close to them are aware of how different their behavior is behind closed doors. These people are often temperamental and demanding, often being cold or verbally abusive when not immediately getting their way.

A dominant/undersocialized Type-T is by far the most dangerous type. These individuals desire as close to total control in relationships as possible and are willing to go to extreme levels to obtain this control. They might well lose jobs due to an inability to take directions from others, and they may engage in blatantly illegal activities. Such individuals are those who abuse family members verbally, physically, and sexually. After blowing up, this person may actually be apologetic or otherwise nice for a brief time, but the pattern will soon repeat. If intoxicated, these types are the “mean drunks” and often get into fights. Such individuals have no real loyalties to anyone, being willing to use “friend” and stranger alike. In relationships where these people have mutually perceived power, they are the ones who will escalate physical, emotional and sexual abuse over time. In a situation where the partner is seen as the one with ultimate power and control, these individuals escalate their own aggressive behavior until it reaches a point when the partner will either walk away or attack.

A submissive/socialized Type-T individual is one that is primarily looking for attention. This type may be confused for a giver since they often are involved in many community activities. However, such individuals will always make their presence known to others and are often considered the “life of the party.” With those close to them, however, they often induce much guilt since they play the role of the martyr. Although these people may do a great deal for others publicly, those close to them actually handle the mundane day-to-day matters of the household and family.

The submissive/undersocialized Type-T’s are those that receive attention in socially inappropriate ways. For example, these individuals are often the ones threatening suicide or self-mutilating, and have a high likelihood of being placed on a number of medications when treated psychiatrically. Some of these people often claim to have a number of psychiatric diagnoses and physical complaints—not only do they claim to be the victim and martyr but they go to great lengths to play out that role.

Only a brief description of each type has been presented here; however, it is hoped that the information is sufficient to see how these types can theoretically exist. If these descriptions are valid, the ramifications could be widespread in the areas of social and clinical psychology. Whilst staying consistent with cognitive behavioral approaches, these descriptions are new schemas to explain the actions of others with whom there have been problems. These new schemas have been proposed to assist in decreasing the perceptions of personal responsibility/inadequacy and externalizing the difficulties tied to past memories. A very important aspect is that they serve to assist in deciding the most effective ways of dealing with individuals in current relationships. This information is included as Appendix A and is taken directly from the treatment manual by Moss (2001).

The Big Five and CBM Relationship Behavior Patterns

In relation to the Big Five, there is no component that corresponds to the Giver/Taker concept. It is this concept that both explains the motivation (to activate positive and deactivate negative emotions) and demonstrates that sensory emotional memories in the right cortex are those primarily involved in defining what is perceived as positive and negative; specifically, it is the right frontal action columns that determine the affective and behavioral responses of Type-G and Type-T patterns. However, the behavioral dimensions of socialized–undersocialized and domineering–submissive are closer to the Big Five personality traits.

John and Srivastava (1999) provided the distinctions of the five factors as follows: extraversion is associated with being talkative, assertive, and energetic; agreeableness is associated with being good-natured, cooperative, and trustful; conscientiousness is associated with being orderly, responsible, and dependable; neuroticism is associated with being neurotic and easily upset without calmness; and intellect/openness is associated with being intellectual, imaginative, and independent-minded.

A brief analysis of how the five factors relate to the dimensions and prototypes previously discussed should assist in seeing the similarities and differences in the information conveyed by the Big Five model and the CBM.

As a group, Type-T individuals are expected to be high in extraversion and low in conscientiousness. This is based on the fact that “taking” in relationships typically requires an active behavior pattern and rules tend to prevent one’s ability to maximize gains. The dominant/socialized and submissive/socialized individuals would tend to be higher in intellect/openness, particularly in relation to being imaginative and independent-minded. Those who are in the submissive/socialized category are expected to be higher in agreeableness. Dominant/undersocialized and submissive/undersocialized individuals are expected to be higher in neuroticism and lower in agreeableness. This is based on an assumption that individuals in both categories tend to get distressed and easily upset, while failing to be cooperative and trustful.

As a group, Type-G individuals are expected to be high in conscientiousness and agreeableness. As indicated, these individuals desire to be seen as good and not bad, meaning that they desire rules, as well as wanting to please others. Submissive Type-G individuals are expected to be low in extraversion and higher in neuroticism. This is based on the expectation that they avoid conflict and are uncomfortable being the center of attention, while being sensitive to criticism and easily hurt. Domineering Type-G individuals are expected to be higher in intellect/openness, particularly in relation to being intellectual and independent-minded.

DeYoung and Gray (2009) noted that the Big Five were originally conceived as independent traits at the highest level. However, research has since shown that the traits themselves possess a higher-order factor structure. One of these meta-traits is labeled α, or stability, consisting of agreeableness, conscientiousness, and reversed neuroticism. The other is labeled β, or plasticity, and is formed by extraversion and openness/intellect. It is noted that behavior genetic analysis supports a genetic origin to these meta-traits (Jang et al., 2006). DeYoung and Gray (2009) further indicated there is accumulating evidence that stability is related to serotonin while plasticity is related to dopamine. Within the CBM formulation, a more reasonable explanation for these two meta-traits is the Type-G and Type-T distinction. If the CBM formulation is accurate, this suggests that Type-G individuals would have relatively higher serotoninergic activity while Type-T individuals would have relatively higher dopaminergic activity. If this correlation were proved to be accurate, it is still unclear as to whether the neurotransmitter differences would be the result of the cortical processing, and associated behavior patterns of each type, versus contributing to the formation of each type, or both.


This paper has attempted to set out an argument that brain-model based interpersonal behavior patterns are theoretically possible. Although terms like “giver” and “taker” have a pop psychology feel, their descriptions are based on an explicit model of cortical functioning whereby all humans attempt to activate positive emotions and deactivate negative ones in relationships. These descriptions have proved useful in a clinical context as schemas for clients trying to deal with detrimental memories of past relationships, as well as for developing strategies to make current relationships healthier. Hopefully, the model outlined in this paper will serve to stimulate interest and research on the CBM approach, including the accuracy of the behavior patterns described.



Adolphs, R. (2001). The neurobiology of social cognition. Cognitive Neuroscience, 11, 231-239.

Adolphs, R. (2010a). Conceptual challenges and directions for social neuroscience. Neuron, 65, 752-767. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2010.03.006

Adolphs, R. (2010b). What does the amygdala contribute to social cognition? Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1191, 42-61. doi: 10.111/j.1749-6632.2010.05445.x.

Bates, J. E., Goodnight, J. A., & Fite, J. E. (2010). Temperament and emotion. In M. Lewis, J. M. Haviland-Jones, and L. F. Barrett (Eds.), Handbook of emotions (pp. 485–496). New York: Guilford Press.

Cacioppo, J. T., & Berntson, G. G. (1992). Social psychological contributions to the decade of the brain: Doctrine of multilevel analysis. American Psychologist, 47, 1019-1028.

Costa, P. T., & McCrae, R. R. (1992). NEO PI-R professional manual. Odessa, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources.

DeYoung, C. G., & Gray, J. R. (2009). Personality neuroscience: Explaining individual differences in affect, behavior, and cognition. In P. J. Corr, & G. Matthews (Eds.) The Cambridge handbook of personality psychology (pp. 323-346). New York: Cambridge University Press.

DeYoung, C. G., Hirsh, J. B., Shane, M. S., Papademetris, X., Rajeevan, N., & Gray, J. R. (2010). Testing predictions from personality neuroscience: Brain structure and the Big Five. Psychological Science, 21, 820-828. doi: 10.1177/0956797610370159

Jang, K. L., Livesley, W. J., Ando, J., Yamagata, S., Suzuki, A., Angleitner, A., … Spinath, F. (2006). Behavioral genetics of the higher-order factors of the Big Five. Personality and Individual Differences, 41, 261-272.

John, O. P., & Srivastava, S. (1999). The Big Five trait taxonomy: History, measurement, and theoretical perspectives. In L. Pervin, & O. P. John (Eds.) Handbook of personality: Theory and research, 2nd Edition (pp. 102-138). New York: Guilford.

Klerman, G. L., Weissman, M. M., Rounsaville, B. J., & Chevron, E. (1984). Interpersonal Psychotherapy of Depression. New York: Basic Books.

LeDoux, J. E., & Phelps, E. A. (2010). Emotional networks in the brain. In M. Lewis, J. M. Haviland-Jones, & L. F. Barrett (Eds.), Handbook of emotions (pp. 159-179). New York: Guilford Press.

Miller, G. A. (2010). Mistreating psychology in the decades of the brain. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 716-743. doi: 10.1177/1745691610388774

Moss, R. A. (2001). Clinical biopsychology in theory and practice. Greenville, SC: Center for Emotional Restructuring.

Moss, R. A. (2006). Of bits and logic: Cortical columns in learning and memory. Journal of Mind and Behavior, 27, 215-246.

Moss, R. A. (2007). Negative emotional memories in clinical treatment: Theoretical considerations. Journal of Psychotherapy Integration, 17, 209-224. doi:10.1037/1053-0479.17.2.209

Moss, R. A. (2010). Clinical Biopsychology: Could A Grand Theory Actually Exist To Allow True Psychotherapy Integration? Independent Practitioner, 30, 67-71.

Moss, R. A., Hunter, B. P., Shah, D., & Havens, T. L. (2012). A theory of hemispheric specialization based on cortical columns. Journal of Mind and Behavior, 33, 141-172.

Moss, R. A., (2013a). A roadmap to the cerebral cortices. The Neuropsychotherapist, 2, 114-117. doi: 10.12744/tnpt(2)114-117

Moss, R. A. (2013b). Psychotherapy and the brain: The dimensional systems model and clinical biopsychology. Journal of Mind and Behavior, 34, 63-89.

Panksepp, J. (2010). The affective brain and core consciousness: How does neural activity generate emotional feelings? In M. Lewis, J. M. Haviland-Jones, and L. F. Barrett (Eds.), Handbook of emotions (pp. 47-67). New York: Guilford Press.

Shutz, L. E. (2005). Broad-perspective perceptual disorder of the right hemisphere. Neuropsychology Review, 15, 11-27. doi: 10.1007/s11065-005-3585-5


Appendix A

Dealing With Each Type in Adaptive Ways

If the patterns of givers and takers are based in reality, a logical deduction is that the most adaptive manner of dealing would be quite different for each type. In each case, clients who follow the rules of adaptive interaction, presented below, will attempt to maximize the overall positive and minimize the overall negative consequences of dealing with particular people with whom they have relationships. In the first part of this discussion, the rules of interaction for relationships that exist at an equal, or peer, level are presented, followed by a discussion about how to deal in relationships where the other party has actual control (e.g., work supervisor).

Dealing With Type-G’s in Equal Relationships

The first step in dealing with a giver type is to objectively define the rules that determine the individual’s self-evaluation as a good or bad person. To define these rules, one must consider the relationships of the giver in question. For example, a particular giver may have clearly defined rules that allow firm limits to be drawn in work relationships, yet have few clearly defined rules when dealing with a parent, child, or spouse. In this case, the giver may try to please everyone within the family, while being quite different in dealing with co-workers and subordinates.

In relationships where the giver has no clear rules that allow limits or boundaries to be set, there is a high risk of avoidance. In such cases, the giver tries to please everyone, and conflicts of interest will undoubtedly emerge. This giver will attempt to be the peacemaker, and to please all concerned, but will experience negative emotions in the process. The more pressure that this person perceives from one or more parties in the relationship, the more likely it will be that attempts to escape or avoid those possible conflict situations will be made in the future. In such a situation, therefore, a client’s putting more pressure on the giver may result in short term success, but long term avoidance. A more adaptive approach would be to teach the giver to develop rules that allow limit setting with others. Any means that best accomplishes this would thus allow the giver to feel like a good person when engaging in the desired behaviors with a client.

For example, let us imagine that this client is married to a giver who cannot set limits with his taker mother. An obvious problem in such a situation is that the giver will frequently attempt to please his mother who, in turn, will predictably attempt to have the most power, control and attention with that client’s giver spouse, resulting in ongoing strain in that client’s marital relationship. Although the ideal manner of resolving the conflict is to have the client’s giver spouse participate in therapy to reduce the emotional control exerted by his taker mother, many such individuals may choose not to do so. Instead, however, it is possible to teach the client ways to increase the likelihood of her giver spouse actually setting limits with his mother.

The following suggestions are based on logical conclusions and have been found to have clinical benefit. It is likely that additional methods of dealing with givers will emerge as more therapists employ these approaches. The identified methods are: (a) using empathic statements that identify the giver’s think/feel conflict; (b) explaining how the giver’s behavior creates emotional hurt; (c) asking the giver to develop specific ways to help reduce the client’s hurt; (d) giving additional gentle reminders and empathic statements when the giver fails to follow through with agreed upon behavior change; and (e) offering praise for compliance. Each of these methods will now be discussed individually, although it is important to understand that they represent a package that works best when all parts are included.

Empathic statements. Givers strongly desire for others to perceive their hurt in various situations, but are generally unaware of the degree that this is important. As already mentioned, givers become angry if they are made to feel that they are bad in some way. For example, in arguments, they will explain in detail the logic of their decisions, as well as the many things they have done or overlooked previously. It is often possible to reduce or eliminate this argument pattern with empathic statements made to the giver, for example, “I am sure it hurts when you have tried so hard to please me and others and I tell you I would like you to do things differently.” In this case, the giver’s unidentified emotion of hurt has been accurately labeled, thereby effectively reducing the need to give numerous examples of attempts to please. It also sets the scene where the giver can see, since the giver’s motives are clearly understood, that in making any requested changes there is a high likelihood of a positive outcome with that client.

In labeling negative emotions with givers, the word “hurt” seems to be the most effective. Using words such as “angry” or “frustrated” seem to cause the giver to remain defensive since this causes feelings of inadequacy—because the giver feels that expressing anger makes him or her a bad person—whereas the word “hurt” carries no implied meaning of damage being caused to anyone else in the situation. As the client continues to employ such empathic statements over time, an interesting benefit for the giver is that this person will be able to more accurately label negative emotions, hence reducing the inter-hemispheric incongruence to some degree, and make similar empathic statements to that client.

If used judiciously, “It Hurts When You ….” can be an extremely effective method of altering a giver’s behavior; however, too frequent or inconsistent use of this statement can be perceived by a giver as creating an unreasonable or unsolvable situation. For example, if a client tells her giver spouse it hurts when he does something in one situation, but in a later situation alters what she wants, the giver is likely to perceive inconsistency and thus decide that changing his behavior is fruitless. Similarly, for the client to tell her giver spouse several times a week that he is causing hurt will likely result in more avoidance behavior since the giver will feel he cannot have contact without causing hurt on a frequent basis.

Givers typically have no rules allowing them to hurt people with whom they have a close relationship. As such, when faced with certain behaviors that cause hurt for someone close, a giver is likely to avoid those behaviors in the future. To engage in clearly labeled hurtful behavior would be an admission to the giver and the other person that there is a desire to create hurt.

Requests for alternative behaviors. Once it has been established that hurt occurs under certain conditions, givers usually want to find a way to re-establish their “good person” status. In most cases, the giver should preferably be allowed to decide on the behaviors to adopt in future situations. So, although they may simply ask to be told what to do, givers will more likely follow through with new behaviors if the solution is their own. This outcome may be achieved by telling the person, “I know you don’t want to hurt me anymore, but I want to be fair to both of us. Perhaps we should think about how we can best do that and then talk about this again in a couple of hours.” By allowing the giver time to think about solutions, it should be possible to avoid impulsive—and often ineffective—behavior change requests. Givers are usually fair problem solvers and, given time, are likely to suggest fair ways of dealing with the problems. Moreover, the giver will feel less coerced if given time to derive solutions.

Continuous empathic feedback for failure. As always, the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. When agreed upon behavior change fails to occur, it is important to bring this to the attention of the giver. Statements like, “I know it hurts for me to remind you, but you did not do what you agreed. Will you please continue to try?” can have a very beneficial effect with givers. Although curt or pointed reminders may be effective in getting the desired change, using the softer empathic approach will do the same without the same degree of negative emotions.

Praise for success. Givers desire to feel appreciated, hence acknowledging appreciation provides them with an opportunity to maximize positive feelings. An interesting point is that givers sometimes feel uncomfortable with a lot of direct praise. This obstacle can be overcome by saying nice things about them to other people, in the giver’s presence, or even just telling the giver that you told someone how much you appreciate what the giver has done. Such methods of indirect praise result in the giver’s feeling more comfortable with accepting the praise.

Dealing With Givers’ Well-Defined Rules.

Although the foregoing comments can apply to getting behavior change from a giver, even when the giver has clearly defined rules, there are nevertheless exceptions to this. Specifically, a giver may have certain rules that that person is unwilling to compromise—hence, constantly telling a giver you want that person to change in this instance will necessarily result in angry outbursts, or escape. In this situation, the giver’s rules determine that being a good person requires behaviors that are incompatible with what is being requested. Consequently, a client will have to decide whether the desired behavior change is critical for the survival of the relationship. If not, this is one of those situations in which they simply agree to disagree.

Dealing With Givers in Superior Relationships.

            Superior relationships refer to those in which the other person has some mutually perceived power or control over a client—for example, one’s boss, doctor, teacher or minister. Again, these givers will vary on the clarity of the rules they follow. Regardless, these individuals still desire to feel like the good person; as such, these people tend to be fair. By following the approaches already discussed, it is likely that a client can have a great deal of success in dealing with givers in superior positions. However, there are exceptions. For example, a giver boss who tries to please everyone may fail to take a stand for one individual if other co-workers who are more powerful and demanding are involved in the dispute. Similarly, a giver’s rules may not allow him or her to give in to a client’s requests. In this case, the giver will often explain these rules so that the rules themselves—and not the giver—become the object of an individual’s ill feelings. The important point in deciding whether a person in a superior position is a giver has to do with approachability and fairness. If the person is a giver, it is reasonable to pursue open and frank discussions.

Dealing With Type-T’s in Equal Relationships.

It is important to note that the techniques used with giver types will be very ineffective in dealing with taker types; it will also be quickly apparent if an error has been made in mistaking a taker for a giver as the techniques are applied. For example, a taker with whom a client has had a long-term relationship will usually respond negatively when told he has created hurt. Such negative reactions involve verbal attacks or obvious ignoring, stemming from the taker’s desire to take power, control and attention, with no concern about being perceived as a bad person.

Setting limits. Since takers play by the rule, “I win, I get my way,” attempts to reason logically with them will prove fruitless. Therefore, the key is to draw firm limits. The most adaptive manner is to control a taker’s access to a client or those things truly within a client’s control. An example would be to have a client leave the room when the taker spouse is being verbally abusive or cold. If the taker pursues the client while continuing to rant and rave, it will then be necessary for the client to temporarily leave the house. Such behavior tells the taker spouse that the only means of getting access to the client is by being nice. It is also advisable that the individual does not give in to the taker’s demands when being treated in an aggressive or cold manner: Giving in to a taker’s demands should be done only if the demands are judged as reasonable and fair, and the request is made in a nice fashion.

Unilateral fairness. Since a taker cannot negotiate fairly, a client has no choice but to decide on what is fair—and in fact insist on compliance by the taker. This is again consistent with drawing limits. At face value, this may not seem particularly fair to the taker; however, it is important to recall that a taker is unable to arrive independently at fair solutions. It is also important to recall that a taker is willing to give only when forced to do so because this is the only means to gain access to the individual.

A concern of many clients may be whether or not their taker spouse will leave the relationship under such conditions. That is always a possibility, although taking such action is simply accelerating what would most likely have occurred anyway. In explanation, a client is not of sufficient value to the taker if the taker is willing to leave when fair demands are being given and enforced. In this case, a taker usually has one or more other relationships that are of more value and can justify the loss accordingly. (This scenario is discussed more fully in a later section.)

The reality is that a taker will be less likely to leave if he or she has to be nice to get access to a client, since potentially the person now has less power and control. Thus, although it is initially frustrating from the point of view of the taker, the client actually acquires more value when the ability to control—by blowing up or being cold—is reduced or lost. At such times, the taker is more willing to put a “best foot forward” in the same manner as when the relationship began.

Becoming predictable. Once clear limits are established, it is equally important to expect a taker periodically to push those limits. The more this is expected, the more likely a client will consistently respond in the most adaptive manner. Conversely, the more predictable a client’s behavior becomes to the taker, the less likely it will be that those limits will be pushed in the future.

Focus on what is said to you, not about you. When dealing with a taker, it is critical for a client to accept that the taker’s behavior can only be influenced in the client’s presence—therefore, it is possible to have them treat your client nicely if limits are maintained, as discussed previously. However, the client needs to keep in mind that that taker is likely to make many disparaging remarks when talking with others, particularly in the absence of the client. Although this happens whether a client sets limits or not, it will probably occur less often when firm limits are in place, since the client has increased value to the taker.

Temporary exit. In situations where the taker’s patterns in the relationship are extremely well entrenched, a temporary separation may be required to establish more reasonable behavior. In this case, simply leaving the room or the house for brief periods may not be effective, whereas by separating it is much easier to control the taker’s access to a client. Access is granted only under favorable conditions. Since the taker is aware that the client can go elsewhere, and not return, it is more likely that the taker’s behavior will be nicer. When that client returns, it is imperative to make clear that another separation will occur unless the taker respects the client’s right to terminate access briefly.

Dealing With Takers in Superior Relationships

This is by far the most difficult area in which to advise a client. Since the taker has mutually perceived power and control over the client, it is very difficult to establish and maintain clear limits. The degree to which this is possible varies greatly from situation to situation. In cases where the client actually has superior talents or abilities, and these are of value to the taker in control, it is possible to establish some limits. If the client has no exceptional value, however, limits are much harder to maintain. If a client is unwilling to accept the ultimate possibility of terminating the relationship (e.g., quitting a job), then that client will be reduced to engaging in a number of behaviors described below that may decrease the negative interactions.

Some clients may decide it is unreasonable to remain in any situation where a taker has mutually perceived control. This is certainly an understandable decision, although there is always a high likelihood of having to deal with another taker supervisor in a new position.

If the decision is to remain in a situation where the client is trying to reduce negative interactions, several behaviors may prove helpful. These are: (a) feeding information; (b) avoiding negative comments and making positive comments about the taker (particularly to his superior, if possible); and (c) letting the taker make suggestions tied to the client’s work.

Since takers in positions of power attempt to control information flow and exchange, they are often quite nosy and insist that they need to know everything. Frequently, a subordinate will perceive this invasive control and consequently attempt to become more secretive. Unfortunately, the taker perceives this and then exerts even more tight control. On the other hand, if the subordinate begins a daily routine by simply conversing with the controlling taker and feeding him information, the taker feels less threatened and is less likely to be as nosy.

Making negative comments to co-workers about a taker boss is common, but can actually lead to problems for that client since taker bosses do listen carefully to any office gossip. Furthermore, as a client may have taker co-workers, there is a high likelihood that such comments will be repeated to the boss. In the circumstances, it will be best for that client to only make negative comments to trusted individuals who are not connected to the work situation.

Since takers always want positive attention and praise from anyone, making positive comments can be beneficial in interactions with a taker boss. These will be especially helpful if they are made to the taker’s boss and that person is likely to pass on the comment and the client’s name to the taker. The client may feel that this is merely helping to consolidate the taker’s own position of control; however, this concern is probably not well-founded since the taker is already saying all the “right things” to his boss to maintain his position. Moreover, a taker usually has the skill to impress those in higher positions.

A final strategy in dealing with a taker boss relates to the taker making suggestions tied to the client’s work. Thus, if a taker boss feels involved, that individual has a vested interest in keeping the work moving as efficiently as possible. If a client works for someone who rarely makes useful suggestions, the client can approach the boss with a solution already in mind. In this case, the client already knows what he or she wishes the taker boss to say, and then can selectively ignore any other suggestions made by the boss. Even if the taker has to be guided with a few hints, the client can immediately respond in a positive way to the suggestion when it is finally made, and then praise the taker for the input.

It should be obvious from the foregoing discussion that these suggestions amount to playing games, and the likelihood that a client will continue to experience frustration and resentment remains high. It should be understood, however, that these “games” would only be used by the client if he or she has decided to stay in that situation.

Realistic Expectations of Divorce

If a marital or serious relationship ends, Type-T and Type-G individuals demonstrate distinct behavior patterns as well. During a divorce, different responses will also occur, depending whether your client is the one seeking the divorce or the one who has been left.

Takers being left. Logically speaking, these are by far the most problematic divorces. In such cases, you have people who, by their nature, always feel cheated and never wish to lose anything they desire. Since the only rule they follow is “I win, I get my way”, there are no holds barred. These individuals are willing to lie, manipulate, and threaten every step of the way. They are willing to use anybody, including extended family, in-laws, friends, and even their own children, to coerce their spouse into changing his or her mind. They will ignore the advice of others—including their own attorney—which does not fit with their own short-term goals. They will even lie on the witness stand and in many cases ignore court orders, unless they have no choice.

These individuals elicit the most sympathy from others since they are very effective at playing the martyr/victim role. In these circumstances, it takes a very determined individual to follow through with the divorce since it seems so much less stressful to simply give up and return to the marriage. For those who do stay the course, it is common for the spouse who left to avoid conflict by giving up most material possessions in court proceedings and even to avoid contact with the children if they are living with the jilted spouse. The latter occurs because the taker spouse will take every opportunity to get back at the spouse who left, including making verbal attacks on the spouse when picking up the children for visitation, and constantly altering the times visitation can occur. Unless the spouse who left has clear priorities that include time with the children, it is much easier for him or her simply to avoid contact with the abusive spouse by avoiding visitations.

If a client is preparing to leave a taker spouse—expect these events to occur. The best way to deal with such an individual is to have clearly stated visitation times and to be willing to enforce them through the court system if necessary. It seems advisable to avoid conversations with this spouse since predictably they will deteriorate quickly. Instead, the client can let the spouse know that only written responses will be given. This strategy limits many “off the cuff” requests and attacks since the taker spouse will be reluctant to put much of this in writing. Despite the fact that many people who leave such a spouse believe it is best to give that spouse everything, this does not make it better for either person. The jilted taker will tell anyone who will listen how he or she got nothing, even if that is a lie. In fact, if your client is leaving such a spouse and agrees to take on an excessive financial responsibility—including child support and alimony—it is to be expected that the taker spouse will not spend much of that money on the children and even insist that your client pay more, otherwise the children will have to do without. Even if this person has an excess of resources, there will be continued comments to others that the client has everything and he or she has nothing.

In this situation, it is best for a client simply to accept the fact that this spouse is incapable of a different set of behaviors, and there is absolutely nothing that can be done to stop the hurtful comments and behaviors. In fact, the more the client responds, whether directly to the ex-spouse or indirectly by talking to others, the more the ex-spouse will continue the hurtful comments and behaviors, since he or she is well aware of their effect.

Givers being left. In only a few instances does a giver who is left cause any long-term difficulties for a spouse who leaves. In many cases, a giver spouse who does not want a relationship to end may allow the ex-spouse to return, sometimes even years later. Since these people want to be seen as “the good guy”, they tend to be the kind of person who may later be described as a friend by the ex-spouse. Givers are usually fair in settlement issues and demonstrate an ability to let the ex-spouse maintain a comfortable relationship with the children. They try to play fair, and usually comply with reasonable requests. In general it is unnecessary to have strict rules established through the court because these individuals normally develop their own fair rules.

The two instances in which givers who are left can create problems are (a) when they are left for someone else, and (b) when they have genuine concerns about the children’s welfare. In the first instance, these people may be less agreeable in all matters as a result of their hurt combined with their rules that define the partner that left as being the bad person. Since the partner that left is considered the guilty party, the jilted giver can justify negative comments and actions that would normally be avoided.

In the second case, where there are concerns over children, the giver can justify negative actions and comments towards the ex-spouse by interpreting his or her own actions as being for the children’s sake. Furthermore, despite the fact that a giver’s own hurt and anger contribute to negative acts, this is not recognized or accepted by most givers because this behavior would be seen as being inconsistent with being the good guy.

Takers who leave. Takers who decide to leave do not create the same problems as takers who are left. Takers leave because they have found someone they consider better, usually someone who can give them more than the current spouse. The decision to leave happens because the taker cannot have both the current spouse and the other person. Otherwise, takers by their nature try to keep everything—including multiple relationships if that is possible.

Since a taker leaves because of having more that can be obtained elsewhere, the ex-spouse is usually ignored. Children are also forgotten if they are not compatible with the new life the taker has found. They are the kind of people who will let the other spouse have custody, unless they stand to gain substantial child support, and rarely visit the children once the divorce is final. Although they may voice a desire to see the children, they may not even show up for visits that they themselves have scheduled.

Takers who leave are usually unwilling to forego the material things. In fact, they will still keep everything they possibly can, including the home and all other possessions. Given the fact that they are willing to push all limits, it is not surprising to see that a taker who leaves may actually end up with more than the spouse they left.

In rare instances, the taker may decide he or she had it better in the former relationship and attempt to return. Takers can be very charming at that time, with a great deal of feigned remorse. If they are not allowed to return, they may develop the more characteristic patterns of the jilted partner described previously. In this case, they will attempt to return to the relationship using whatever means necessary.

Givers who leave. Givers generally leave for one of three reasons: (a) they find someone else: (b) they feel the relationship is going nowhere; or (c) they find the relationship causes too much hurt. In the case where they find someone else, the new person makes the giver feel appreciated and desired. As a result, givers may actually enter into new relationships that result in their having less material things than the former relationship. In such cases, the giver is usually willing to give up many things from their former relationship, including the house, shared friends, and organizations such as their church. This is due to the giver feeling that he or she has been the “bad person” for leaving under such circumstances, and desires to be less of a bad person by letting the ex-spouse have everything.

In cases where a giver feels the relationship is going nowhere and leaves because “we have grown apart”, you will always find that the spouse being left is also a giver. Otherwise, the taker spouse who was left would create much guilt for the giver, resulting in the giver staying or finally leaving because of the hurt. Amicable divorces with fair settlements are possible only when two givers are involved.

If givers leave because of too many negative emotions tied to the relationship, they are once again willing to give up a great deal in the settlement. The one exception to this would be if the hurt was caused by the jilted spouse’s having an affair. In that case, the giver who leaves may feel justified in bargaining very little, since the jilted spouse is seen as the bad person.

Givers who leave often maintain a healthy relationship with their children. If they plan to do something with the children, they are quite conscientious in keeping plans. There appear to be two factors that can prevent a giver from maintaining a relationship with children living with a former spouse. One reason is dealing with an ex-spouse who is a taker being left, and the other may involve a new taker spouse.

It has already been indicated that a jilted taker spouse will make life miserable for the spouse who leaves—givers cannot bear to feel like a bad person, and the ex-spouse would be expected to make him or her feel that way. In the absence of a strong priority involving children, the giver spouse would thus avoid contact with the children in order to avoid being made to feel like a bad person by the ex-spouse.

The other scenario involves a giver spouse who leaves and becomes involved with a taker. In this case, the new taker would experience jealousy of any attention shown to the children. This would become particularly noticeable after a marriage to a new taker spouse, when his or her “true colors” become obvious. The giver may find any number of “socially acceptable” reasons for decreasing contact with the children, although the true driving force would be the guilt and complaining generated by the new spouse.

Giver spouses who leave will try to be as nice as possible to the jilted spouse. They may even continue to do things to help the jilted spouse if they feel appreciated for doing so. However, failure to express appreciation to an ex-spouse who is a giver will result in the cessation of helpful actions.

For Robert Moss resources, go to

Need Help?
Support Ticket
Skip to toolbar