The “Amped-Up” Liar’s Law of Attraction — An Aggressive Variation Reply

By Chris Simmons

Yesterday we covered the simple beauty of the Liar’s Law of Attraction. As readers are aware, the biggest limitation of this Law is that it simply identifies that a lie of omission has occurred. In contrast, if one is willing to tell a lie to catch a liar, you can get to the truth by capitalizing on the liar’s existing paranoia and irrationality.

For example, let’s assume I’m interrogating a suspected terrorist. I begin our interaction by recounting many – if not all – of the facts we both secretly know to be true. I then add a false fact to use as a red herring. In contrast to the original’s law’s focus on the familiar, in this variation the liar immediately focuses on the unfamiliar as a potential way out of his current dilemma.

I truthfully accuse him of two bombings in Baghdad in April, May bombings in Basra and Kirkuk, and a July assassination in Ramadi. I then lie and accuse him of an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) attack on a convoy out of the northern city of Mosul just two weeks ago.

My version of the events has caught him by surprise and provided him with an alibi. He immediately responds by claiming we’ve captured the wrong man. He was nowhere near Mosul two weeks ago and insists that he has friends and family that can verify he has been in Kirkuk for the last two months.

An honest person would have focused on the broader strategic implications of my accusations. i.e., you are a terrorist with a long history of violence against people and property. You will be tried for war crimes.

Instead, fear and paranoia manifest in the classic “freeze, fight or flight” defense. My lie appears to have offered the terrorist a way out (i.e., the ability to flee) and he fixates on the opportunity to escape. What he doesn’t realize is that by focusing on an event that never occurred, he has inadvertently admitted to the other attacks.

The Liar’s Law of Attraction 2

By Chris Simmons

Individuals sometimes withhold information for any number of reasons. That said, there is an easy way to discover when you are confronted with a lie of omission. When discussing events or people with a counterpart, your colleague will generally pay equal attention to all the “unknowns.” However, if the other party shows a heightened interest in any area(s), it is probably because they are already familiar with the person/event.

For example, an office manager gives a supervisor five resumes and asks her to run the hiring action. As she flips through the resumes, she lingers on one of the candidates. Noticing her action, the manager asks; “You don’t know any of the applicants, do you?” “No,” she answers, “I was just trying to get a feel for how long I should set aside for this.” Satisfied with her answer, the manager walks away. However, her behavioral “tell” indicates there is a strong likelihood she did recognize a name from the resumes, although it is not known whether the individual is a friend or an enemy.

Familiarity will always capture a larger share of our attention, regardless of whether the item of interest is a person, place, thing, or event. Use the “Liar’s Law of Attraction” to identify a lie of omission and pair it with an appropriate line of questioning to discover the whole truth.


The Family That Fights Together Reply

New Thinking for Parents Since the Days of ‘Not in Front of the Children’

By Andrea Petersen, Wall Street Journal

It is a quandary every couple with children eventually faces: Should we fight in front of the kids?

The answer is complicated. Child psychologists who study the issue tend to say yes—if parents can manage to argue in a healthy way. That means disagreeing respectfully and avoiding name-calling, insults, dredging up past infractions or storming off in anger, for starters.

“Kids are going to have disagreements with their friends, their peers, co-workers,” says Patrick Davies, a professor of psychology at the University of Rochester. “If they don’t witness disagreements and how they are handled in constructive ways, they are not well-equipped to go out into the world and address inevitable conflict.”

Dr. Davies and fellow researchers found that “constructive” marital conflict was associated with an increase in children’s emotional security, in their study of 235 families with children ages 5 to 7 published in 2009 in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. Other studies have linked constructive marital conflict with the healthy development of children’s problem-solving and coping skills and even happiness.

A growing awareness of how and where to fight with a spouse when kids are involved is being spurred in part by a proliferation of research linking children’s exposure to a lot of unhealthy marital conflict—characterized by hostility, threats and insults—with a greater risk of anxiety disorders, depression and behavior problems. Also, a generation of young parents who grew up as kids of divorce in the 1970s and 1980s are now scrutinizing how their parents fought. Some vow to do things differently with their own progeny.

Even infants can be affected by angry disagreements—even when they’re asleep. A study published in May in the journal Psychological Science took 24 babies from 6- to 12-months-old and exposed them to various tones of voice (very angry, mildly angry, happy and neutral) while they were lying asleep in an fMRI scanner. Those infants in families with higher levels of conflict between spouses had elevated responses in parts of the brain associated with reactions to stress and emotion regulation when exposed to the very angry voices during the study. Babies “are still sensitive to things even when they’re asleep,” says Alice Graham, a doctoral candidate in psychology at the University of Oregon and lead author of the study. “The idea of it being a time to let loose when infants are asleep is probably not accurate.”

Still, beyond universal agreement against physical confrontation, opinions vary on the right approach. Some experts say parents should keep arguments away from children because it’s just too hard to fight well. “If [parents] are going to have disagreements, they should do that in private as much as possible,” says Thomas McInerny, president of the AmericanAcademy of Pediatrics. “It is the rare instance when [couples] can keep it rational and keep it calm.”

How to keep things from getting too heated for little eyes and ears? Child psychologist Kirsten Cullen Sharma suggests that parents agree in advance on an anger cutoff point for arguments. On an anger scale of one to 10, she asks individuals to define the number when they feel they start to yell, curse or generally lose control. (For one person, it could be a five. For another, it could be a seven.) During a disagreement, when Mom or Dad hits the cutoff number, the couple tables the argument to a time when the kids are asleep or aren’t around. Either party can say when the other person has reached that limit.

“One of the great skills parents can offer their children is conflict resolution. That helps [kids] in their future relationships,” says Dr. Cullen Sharma, co-director of the early childhood clinical service at the Child Study Center at NYU Langone Medical Center.

Caroline Rheinfrank and Chopper Bernet have an unofficial five-minute time limit for disagreements in front of their three children, ages 15, 14 and 11. “Now that they are older, they comprehend more,” says Ms. Rheinfrank, a stay-at-home mother in Los Angeles. Or as Mr. Bernet, an actor, explains, “Parents need timeouts, too.” The couple also tries to prevent potential blowups by cutting each other extra slack during times with high bicker potential, including while in the car and just before dinner.

Parents should use their kids’ reaction during a fight as a guide, experts say. A crying child is an obvious sign to end an argument. But there are more subtle cues that a kid is distressed, Dr. Davies says. “When they start freezing, they are stuck still for a few seconds, that is a really negative sign that they feel like they are in extreme danger,” he says. Other kids tend to “slump over, lethargic, and look like they are sort of depressed.”

Some kids misbehave to try to distract parents from the conflict. Other children attempt to insert themselves and try to mediate or take sides. All of these are signs that an argument needs to be put on hold, Dr. Davies says.

It is not OK to drag kids into a parental fight or encourage them to take sides, Dr. Cullen Sharma says. And don’t be fooled if a teen appears nonchalant about his parents’ below-the-belt fighting: “They roll their eyes, but that does not make it less painful,” says Alan E. Kazdin, director of the YaleParentingCenter and a professor of psychology and child psychiatry at Yale University.

Making sure kids see some kind of resolution to the argument is crucial, Dr. Kazdin says. “Is there a nice makeup period and mundane chatter? Routine kind of banter will greatly alleviate the child’s anxiety,” he says. This doesn’t mean that the conflict has to be solved. You may just decide to settle it later or agree to disagree. And even more critical, Dr. Kazdin says, is what goes on in the marital relationship during non-conflict times. “The proportion of fighting to affectionate talk is the issue,” he says.

Georgi and Rick Silverman have decided not to hide arguments—often about the division of household labor or Mr. Silverman’s weekend sports viewing—from their kids, ages 9 and 3. But they also make sure the children see them make up. “We’ll hold hands and he’ll hug me and we’ll say we love each other,” says Ms. Silverman, a stay-at-home mother in Houston. “Even if I’m a little upset, I want the kids to know, ‘I still love your Mom and I’m not going anywhere,’ ” says Mr. Silverman, the chief financial officer of a facilities-maintenance business, whose parents divorced when he was 13.

Bottling up anger and giving a spouse the cold shoulder when the kids are around can end up making things worse. The silent treatment is actually more distressing for kids than a healthy argument, Dr. Davies says. “Kids pick up on that. But they don’t know what is going on,” he says, adding that children may think the fight—and its potential consequences—are much worse than they actually are.

And some topics should be totally off-limits in front of the kids, experts say. Intimate, high-stakes relationship discussions should wait until the kids are out of earshot. So should disagreements about parenting practices like discipline or bedtimes. “Parents should come up with a unified decision and present a united front to the child,” Dr. McInerny says.

Write to Andrea Petersen at

What Acceptance Really Means to Me Reply

After a rather difficult past few days, I’m beginning to rebound to some degree. Mentally and emotionally I’m slowly bouncing back. Three of my four children are in college. My oldest son was out the door and on the road at 7:30 a.m. this morning to the university that he attends. It’s about 3 1/2 – 4 hours away. We had planned on following him and seeing him off, but he kept insisting that would be 8 hours of driving for us to have to just turn right around and come home because he had to unpack and have a physical and concussion test shortly after arriving. He’s a pitcher for the baseball team. We took him last year when he was just a freshman. It’s nice to make sure they arrive safely, help them unload the car and put things away, make sure they have everything they need. At least we have seen the place where our son will be living until next spring. It’s always bittersweet. Can’t wait for them to go, but I start missing them the minute they’re gone. My youngest daughter will be off to school sometime today. She won’t be so far away. She’ll be close enough that she can come home on weekends, doesn’t mean she will. My oldest daughter is attending the junior college, right here in town, and started back last week. My youngest son is a senior in high school. Wow! Time certainly does fly by so fast. Next year I’ll have all four of my kids in college at the same time. Some may say that wasn’t the greatest planning on our part. I would have to say I agree.

This time of year is always difficult for me. The stress of all the extra expenses and everyone going their own ways. Since I’ve become disabled we’ve been struggling financially. The anxiety drives me mad. Worrying about money and, of course, worrying about my kids being out on their own, not knowing if they made it home the night before or if they have everything they need. Yes, I know they are adults now, but as a mother, I don’t think I’ll ever quit worrying about my kids, especially sense I suffer from anxiety.

My youngest son, a senior in high school, has already missed seven out of the first ten days of school. He became rather ill with C Diff Colitis, just another thing for me to worry about. This is a serious disease and must be treated promptly. He has been on antibiotics and will be going back to school tomorrow. Many people who contract this disease will relapse at least once within a very short time. Others will relapse several times, over several months and others won’t relapse at all. Praying for the later. It’s a very contagious disease because the spores can live on surfaces for months and according to the doctor, there are very few products to kill these spores. Another issue for me to worry about, as if I don’t already have enough, is that my eleven month old grandson lives with us. This would not be good for him to get sick with this and being a baby he puts his hands in his mouth all the time because that’s what babies do.

Friday I was a hot mess. All the negative thoughts racing and racing. It only lasted the one day because by Saturday I had decided I wasn’t going to stay stuck in this state of mind. I’ve been working way too hard at being in the wise mind and trying, difficult as it may be, to stay there most of the time. I’m just a beginner when it comes to all this mindfulness business, but as of late, I’ve decided that I do not want to live the rest of my days out of control with a negative attitude and all the emotional baggage that goes along with that.

One day, not long ago, I decided to face this monster head on.

Story continues here:

Armless Body Builder Inspires Fitness World With Her Ability 1

By Susan Donaldson James, Good Morning America

Barbie Thomas

Barbie Thomas lost both her arms at the age of 2. She was playing outside her Texas apartment complex and climbed onto a transformer, grabbling on to the wires. The electric current traveled through her little body, from her hands out her feet, burning her arms to the bone.

“They were like charcoal,” she writes in her biography on her website, Fitness Unarmed “They were completely dead and had to be amputated at the shoulders.”

No one expected Thomas to live. But today, at 37, she has accomplished what was once regarded as the impossible: Thomas is a competitive body builder and model.

“I thank God I am alive,” said Thomas, who now lives in Phoenix with her two sons, aged 13 and 17. She uses her shoulders as arms, which her children call her “nubs.”

Thomas said her positive attitude is rooted in her upbringing.

“I was not allowed to be negative and say I can’t do something,” she told, holding the phone between her ear and her right-hand shoulder, which is more substantial than her left side.

“I was always taught to focus on what I can do, not what I can’t do,” she said. “It probably has a lot to do with my personality — I can’t imagine being a negative Nancy all the time.”

Fitness competitors, in addition to having beautifully sculpted bodies, must do a two-minute performance routine incorporating dance, cheerleading or gymnastic flexibility.

“They are in the same realm as body builders, but instead of seeing the deep-cut muscles, they want to see a nice feminine shape,” Thomas said. Experts say something in between a body builder and a bikini girl.

Her dance routines include splits and high kicks and even the ninja kip-up. Thomas placed sixth in June at Jr. Nationals and fifth in August at the North American Championships.

The National Physique Committee (NPC), which is the amateur division of the International Federation of Body Builders, was so impressed with her performance in their fitness division last year, they gave Thomas their first-ever Inspiration Award.

“She chose the most difficult division of all,” said Miles Nuessle, Arizona chairman of the NPC.

“We were thinking, ‘How can she do that routine?’ but she blew our minds,” he said. “She was absolutely beautiful. She was on the floor jumping up and doing splits. I don’t know what half the moves were called. She was rolling all over the place and shaking it — sexy, athletic, fun and emotional. The crowd went nuts.

“You can’t use the word handicapped with her or she may punch you in the face,” he said. “Barbie is not handicapped.”

After the childhood accident, doctors said Thomas might live like a vegetable for the rest of her life. But her mother prayed that if that were the case, “God would just take me,” Thomas writes. “She also made a promise to God that day — if he let me live, she would make sure that I became ‘somebody.'”

“The doctors were boggled by my recovery,” she said. “They decided I must have survived because of the rubber soles on my tennis shoes. True, they may have played their part, but I believe I survived because God saw the bigger picture and had plans for me.”

Thomas went through extensive physical and occupational therapy. Adapting to a world without arms was a challenge and even years later, when she was independent, she’d have to improvise to do ordinary tasks.

“Every now and then, we would have to put our thinking caps on or call a therapist,” she said. “I learned to be creative and think out of the box.”

She makes full use of her feet in both dance competitions and at home, using them to open doors, plug in her music and grab her bags. She uses her mouth to fasten the Velcro snaps on her dance shoes.

“Reaching for high stuff in the grocery store is hard, especially if it’s breakable,” said Thomas, who uses her shoulder. “If it’s a cardboard box, I can usually reach — I am tall enough — and knock it into the grocery cart. Sometimes I have to go get help. When I had long hair, I couldn’t put it up in a ponytail.”

Thomas raised her first son with the help of a husband, though she is now divorced.

“I did have to pick my therapist’s brain to help with a few things with the newborn baby,” she said. “But the second one was a piece of cake. I had to kind of prop them up on a pillow and lay next to them as a holder when I nursed them. I could hold them the right way in my lap by using my leg when they were a little older.”

Thomas said fitness had been part of her life “forever.” Growing up, she played soccer, danced and did aerobic running. When her first child was born she got into aerobic lifting with weights and later became an instructor.

“I’d go to the gym doing aerobic lifting with weights after the oldest son was born,” she said. “I read about [fitness competition] in athletes’ magazines and thought it was cool. Finally, I was encouraged by a friend and decided to go for it.”

She began competing in 2003, and she faced some odd stares.

“In the first few competitions I felt that when they were calling me to go up, in their hands and their manners, they looked at me like, ‘What the heck is she doing here?'” she said. “I put their doubts to rest when they saw my fitness routine.

“There are certain routines that you use your hands for that I can do — I can kip-up,” she said. “When you are laying on the ground it looks like you are falling backward and then you come up. Most people use their hands to push themselves up.”

Thomas admits she is anxious about doing a back flip, which requires arms to get height and momentum, even though she is capable.

“I have to compensate and use my upper body more and my leg a lot,” she said. “My core is pretty strong.

“The reason I keep going is to prove to myself that I will get on stage and do my damn flip,” Thomas said. “I know I can and I will.”

Nuessle, who runs NPC Miles Productions, said he once made a comment to Thomas that she said gave her the “fuel” to keep competing.

“At one of the shows I said without pulling any punches, ‘It’s hard to win when you don’t have upper extremities.’ The judges look at symmetry,” he said. “She got a fire in the belly and said, ‘Don’t tell me I can’t win. I’ll use that to motivate me.’ … She did make me eat my words.”

The sport is grueling, demanding weight training five days a week, and cardio work every day. Athletes like Thomas must pay attention to the nutrition in their diet and stay focused.

But Thomas thrives on the challenge, especially because it sends a strong message to others.

“I realize it inspires many people, and not just those with physical challenges,” she said. “Follow your dreams and keep pushing and where there is a will, there is a way. We all have our own stuff to deal with and our own limitations and handicaps. Mine are just more visible. There’s always someone else out there who has it worse.”

How and Why Unrestrained Self-Interest Cripples Organizations…And Why The Bosses Let It Happen 4

By Chris Simmons

At one time, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) reorganized, combining the Counterintelligence and Counterterrorism entities into a single unit called the Force Protection Division. Concurrent with this merger was the Agency-wide appointment of a “Collection Manager” within every division. The latter initiative was intended to improve the quality and quantity of DIA’s global intelligence collection. The goal was to have a highly-trained specialist in every division to help teach, mentor, and guide analysts. This would allow analysts to write highly-focused “information needs” so the field collectors could get the best possible answers.

I was assigned this duty and my boss gave me the support and free rein to get results. Analysts and collectors are two very different breeds and often have little understanding of the other’s wants and needs. Amazingly, despite this lack of understanding, the success of both groups is absolutely interdependent.

Analysts are ravenous consumers of raw intelligence and they often have insatiable appetites. Unfortunately, they can be lazy — content to write their analytic prose with snippets of juicy intelligence pulled from the torrent of information flowing from their computers. Too make matters worse; all too often they are graded on the volume of their products rather than their quality.

In contrast, collectors often feel like well-fertilized mushrooms because they are ignored and otherwise kept in the dark by analysts. Trained at great expense, these collectors can invest great resources (sometimes at considerable risk) to get the information their portfolio insists the analysts need, only to hear nothing back from headquarters. Imagine how a collector feels when after months of reporting on all manner of topics, they finally receive a message back from Washington. It reads, “I’m giving your last report a grade of C+. Now go get more.”

Collectors are graded on both the quantity and quality of their reporting. The latter comes from the grades they receive from analysts. A good analyst provides a collector with detailed feedback on their report. He/she is told what can be confirmed or refuted, as well as what information is so unique that it’s not known whether its true or not. If reporting on one topic has reached the saturation point, they are told that and redirected towards other pressing needs. A great relationship between an analyst and a collector(s) in the field can lead to some amazing results.

It can also lead to a phenomenon called “capturing the collector.” This occurs when an analyst aggressively feeds a collector with everything needed to generate more focused field reports. It’s not even important that the collector always get good grades, simply that they know somebody values what they do and that they will receive consistent feedback. Understandably, over time, collectors will curtail reporting of areas where they receive no feedback and increase coverage of topics where their hard work is appreciated.

We were blessed in that the Force Protection Division featured a large pool of gifted analysts passionate about the Counterintelligence and Counterterrorism fields. As a result, we – collectively – were able to capture collectors on a scale never previously imagined. We didn’t just bring individual collectors into our fold; we were able to “recruit” entire teams of field reporters.

One year after Collection Managers where established in every analytic division, our office produced 25% of all collection requirements levied by the Agency. Our efforts legitimately redirected a large segment of the Agency’s collectors to work extensively – or exclusively – on our topics. To put this imbalance into perspective, our division constituted just one-quarter of one percent of the entire Agency.

Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA)

Furthermore, in one instance, we teamed up with a reportedly underperforming collection base working in what we believed to be a target-rich reporting environment. We promised them we would provide written evaluations on 100% of their reporting on our subjects. We were true to our word and over the next 12 months, this base published over 250 reports on our equities. They were subsequently recognized as “Collector of the Year” which only amplified our global influence.

I always assumed at some point, someone in the hierarchy would tell us to “throttle back.” We were fundamentally shifting the focus of not just our collectors, but other Defense Department collectors too. Those instructions never came. Quite the contrary – DIA’s Collection wing loved that we were taking care of their people. We received similar praise and support from the military services and other national agencies as well.

National Security Agency (NSA)

In a sense, we were totally out of control and the Agency leadership and others could not have been happier. Even the other analytic divisions, whom we assumed would complain because we were reducing their percentage of collection efforts, were happy. After all, they weren’t being constantly badgered to increase the evaluation of field reporting.

Despite my pleasure in our unprecedented successes, a part of me always hoped that an Agency chieftain would one day cite us as the model for all others to emulate and in doing so, increase the depth and breadth of collection across the board. It bothered me that we had co-opted the entire system to do our bidding. It wasn’t rationale, it wasn’t logical, and perhaps, wasn’t in our national interests.

But it was in my self-interest, as well as that of my fellow Counterintelligence and Counterterrorism analysts, our bosses, collectors everywhere and their bosses, and so on and so forth. We justified it by arguing that if other analytic entities were doing their job, we would not have captured so many collectors. To our mind, their lack of effort should not count against us or the noble work of the collectors in the field.

Our de facto control over DIA and large swath’s of the Defense Department’s collection program remained unchecked until the Agency eventually ended the practice of division-level Collection Managers. In the associated reorganization, the Agency also broke apart the Force Protection Division. The Spy-Catchers and “Terrorist Hunters” – two sides of the same coin – became bitter rivals. The outcome was less than optimal….

The Delicate Protocol of Hugging 1

For fans of personal space, these are difficult times: America has become a nation of huggers

By Peggy Drexler, Wall Street Journal

I’m not a hugger. When I see a registered personal-space invader coming my way at a party, the music from “Jaws” plays in my head. And there are lots of people like me—reasonably comfortable in social situations, no particular phobias, just a bit reserved in expressions of physical intimacy.

For us fans of personal space, these are difficult times. America has become a hugging culture. What’s an Academy Award without a gauntlet of hugs from seat to stage? Any sports win will ignite an orgy of whooping, full-body man hugs. Political empathy in tragedy is measured in hugs.

We remain a “medium touch” culture—more physically demonstrative than Japan, where a bow is the all-purpose hello and goodbye, but less demonstrative than Latin or Eastern European cultures, where hugs are robust and can include a kiss on both cheeks. But we do seem to be hugging more.

For men, this is newly slippery terrain. Handshakes are scripted and reliable—a firm grip, a couple of brisk pumps, and done. There is evidence of hand-shaking as far back as the fifth century B.C. It may have started as a gesture of peace by proving that the hand held no weapon.

With hugging now in play, men must do rapid social calculations: body language, length and nature of the relationship, setting, alcohol effect and the other’s intentions. Decisions must be made in split seconds.

Male friends tell me that they adhere to the one-second rule (one-Mississippi and…break). They also favor the A-frame hug—shoulders touching, handshake high, a couple of quick taps on the back. There is no such middle ground for women. It’s either shake or hug.

Bill Clinton has perfected the hug that is not a hug: a handshake complemented by also holding the other’s upper arm. Advantage—more intense than a handshake but short of an embrace, and it can be maintained indefinitely. It can also easily progress to a full hug as the conversation dictates.

When we expand our exploration to the man-woman hug, things get dicey. Especially at work.

Science says that hugs are healthy: They release endorphins, strengthen the immune system, boost self-esteem and promote bonding. But they can also put a warning in your personnel file.

There are many valid reasons to hug in an office setting—anything from a big team win to goodbyes after downsizing. But one senior executive I know shared some universal career advice: “Don’t yell, don’t cry, don’t hug.” His advice is backed by surveys that say that most people don’t want intimacy with other workers.

As the question of whether or not to hug becomes more situational, the potential rises for awkward encounters. The biggest risk: going in for a hug only to realize too late that the other person had not planned the same. Expert consensus says that if you’re going for the hug and it’s too late to turn back, don’t stop. Press on, but make it quick.

For nonhuggers, there are some defensive maneuvers. Deflect: Keep something (a desk, a table, a co-worker) between you and the serial hugger until the moment passes. Deny: “Sorry, I’m not much of a hugger.” Resist: Take physical control with a stiff handshake and firm elbow that keeps personal space intact. Escape: Find something that requires your immediate attention. If nothing comes to mind, drop your cell phone. Lie: “I really don’t want you to catch this cold I have.” Or when diversion isn’t feasible and escape is impossible, accept the hug with an icy response and hope that the hugger remembers.

Workplace hugging is particularly problematic when your workplace happens to be a school. Teachers have been told never to hug any child for any reason—even though a hug is precisely what a child might need.

Many schools have also added a written policy against hugging between students, with suspensions finding their way into national news. Students and some parents are irate at bans on a simple act of affection. But feel for the school administrator, responsible for determining when a simple act of affection becomes a more complex situation.

There is always the question: Are we overthinking this? Maybe we’ve complicated a simple act to the point that risk has overtaken reward, and it’s just not worth the effort. Some would say it’s a lamentable loss of human connection. As someone who believes that we call it personal space for a reason, I’m OK with that.

—Dr. Drexler is an assistant professor of psychology in psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College and the author, most recently, of “Our Fathers, Ourselves: Daughters, Fathers and the Changing American Family.”

Leslie Morgan Steiner: Why Domestic Violence Victims Don’t Leave 4

Leslie Morgan Steiner was in “crazy love” — that is, madly in love with a man who routinely abused her and threatened her life. Steiner tells the dark story of her relationship, correcting misconceptions many people hold about victims of domestic violence, and explaining how we can all help break the silence.