Informative and educational videos on this important and rarely discussed topic.
You can find all of my videos on YouTube
Here, you’ll find videos ranging from topics associated to family dynamics such as the Golden Child/Black Sheep, rumination, birth order, gender differences, and more!
Below are each of my individual videos
Video # 41: Self-Esteem and Sibling Estrangement – Part 2
DESCRIPTION: In this insightful episode, we continue to explore the third and fourth major tenets of Nathaniel Branden’s work in his book “The Six Pillars to Self-Esteem:” Practicing self-responsibility and practicing self-assertiveness. It’s important to recognize that our personal happiness need not depend on someone else, but rather on ourselves. It can be frightening to take this on, but also liberating when we realize the power we gain. We highlight just how this type of power can be used in interactions with a difficult sibling, and how, in time, this can build our own strength. We also explore self-assertiveness, and when it is necessary to speak openly about who we are or when it is best to hold our silence. To build self esteem, it’s important to be aware of negative thinking, and live life according to what matters to us as opposed to being in constant reaction to others. As self-esteem improves, we will protect ourselves and develop greater self-agency, especially in our sibling relationships.
Video # 40: The Book on Sibling Estrangement: 1 Year Later!
DESCRIPTION: In this special video, we discuss Fern Schumer Chapman’s book, Brothers, Sisters, Strangers: Sibling Estrangement and the Road to Reconciliation, one year after its publication. Here, Fern shares her own heartbreak and devastation during the decades-long estrangement with her only brother. She talks about why she decided to write the book, and the challenges of finding resources for the under-investigated topic of sibling estrangement. The book was released during COVID, and that created unique marketing challenges. Still, her book has found a large audience, and the readership is expanding in print, ebooks, and audio. Similar to the “Me Too” movement, Fern says, now that she has shared her story, many others have come forward and admitted that they, too, are struggling with embarrassing and humiliating cutoffs from a sibling. She discloses how her brother and mother have reacted to the book and how its publication has changed their relationships. As a result of the book’s publication, psychologytoday.com invited Fern to explore the topic in blog posts. Here is a link to her work at psychologytoday.com: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/contributors/fern-schumer-chapman .The book, Brothers, Sisters, Strangers, weaves Fern’s personal story, the voices and insights of hundreds of people suffering from sibling alienation, and the latest social science. One reviewer called the book “a terrific, compassionate, much-needed book about broken family relationships and the path to healing.”
Video # 39: Self-Esteem and Sibling Estrangement – Part 1
DESCRIPTION: In this multi-part series video, through the lens of sibling estrangement, we explore the first two of six tenets on self-esteem from psychologist Nathanial Branden’s seminal book, “The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem.” We define what the first tenet — living consciously — looks and feels like. Towards this goal, we must be aware of our actions, values, goals and purposes, taking in information from our inner experience and the outside world.
We must be cognizant of powerful, overriding emotions, like anger, that can derail opportunities to build closeness with others. Furthermore, if we let others define us and if we accept their disparaging comments, we may become strangers unto ourselves. The danger in this practice is that we make decisions that don’t serve our best interests. The second tenet — self-acceptance — is the precondition of change and growth. It requires us to look at ourselves compassionately, and to see that we are not solely responsible for our poor sibling relationship.
Video # 38: Enabling and Sibling Estrangement
DESCRIPTION: In this informative video, we discuss how enabling can serve as the lifeblood to toxic relationships, encouraging, perpetuating, and facilitating a sibling’s hurtful and devastating behaviour. We explore how our early life responses — fight, flight, freeze, or fawn — may become relationship patterns that have adverse consequences later in life. Some of these negative patterns may sow doubt and ambiguity in who we are, creating low self-esteem, and limiting an individual’s sense of identity. In extreme cases, enabling a toxic sibling can lead to more narcissistic abuse; with parents, enabling can create a reversal of the parent-child relationship. We encourage viewers to become aware of their own relationship patterns, and we offer strategies on how to stop enabling toxic relationships to regain a sense of well-being.
Video # 37: Narcissistic Parents and Sibling Estrangement
DESCRIPTION: In the latest episode of Brothers, Sisters, Strangers podcast, we explore how narcissistic parents damage their children, and how the narcissist’s toxic behaviors are dangerously normalized in families. These parents, who have arrested emotional maturity, will seek to validate their needs first at the expense of the child. Typically, children in these families cannot develop healthy emotional functioning, and they suffer with adverse effects in adulthood. We explore how growing up with a narcissistic parent taints our view of life and our relationships with others. Children in these homes often develop unhealthy coping mechanisms — such as people-pleasing and enabling — to adapt to the narcissist. We conclude by discussing how to break the cycle, empower ourselves, elevate our sense of self-worth, and achieve a more satisfying life.
Video # 36: Poetry Readings on Sibling Estrangement
DESCRIPTION: I participated in a poetry workshop about a month ago, and came up with powerful, poignant poems with regards to sibling estrangement. I thought I would share some of them with you here. Let me know what you think!
Video # 35: Guilt and Sibling Estrangement
In this informative video, we explore guilt — what it is, how it defines us, and what role it plays in a family’s expectations. We discuss how guilt plays upon the psyche of the family fixer. When interacting with a difficult sibling, guilt often drives enabling behavior — which inevitably leads to an unhealthy, imbalanced relationship. We recommend practical, empowering techniques to help viewers mitigate their own feelings of guilt. Finally, Fern and I engage in a powerful experiential exercise that viewers can do at home when plagued by guilt.
Video # 34: Introduction à l’Éloignement de la Fratrie (FRENCH)
DESCRIPTION: Introduction à un sujet qui est rarement discuté mais tout autant nécessaire à aborder concernant l’éloignement de la fratrie au sein des familles.
Video # 33: Dealing with the Holidays and Sibling Estrangement
DESCRIPTION: Those cutoff from siblings feel their losses acutely from October to December, when their hurts reach an emotional crescendo. Some may even re-evaluate their choice to maintain distance from toxic relatives. In this “holiday” video, we explore how joyful and cheery holiday messages can be hurtful and how painful it is to think about the family reuniting without you. How do those estranged from siblings navigate these feelings, tolerate awkward get-togethers, or manage the long days alone? Here, we propose pro-active and empowering strategies to cope with this difficult time of year.
Video # 32: Narcissistic Dialogue and Sibling Estrangement
* Note to viewers: Some strategies discussed here may not be for everybody. If you feel the need to maintain boundaries and distance for your own sanity, please do so. Also, if you feel you are unable to put these into practice alone with your sibling, it’s ok to seek professional help in this matter with a qualified therapist.
DESCRIPTION: In this episode, we outline strategies associated with more effective communication through the lense of assertiveness and empathy with the narcissist. To do so implies working with the neuroscience in understanding just how a narcissistic brain works. While we fully respect hard-earned boundaries, the empathic approach isn’t about enabling the narcissist, nor feeling sorry for them. Rather, it’s a way to create an opportunity for them to reconnect with their suppressed empathic side through an emotion-focused dialogue. We give examples of how such a dialogue would look with typical things a narcissist would say. We end with inquisitive questions to ask yourself to see if this approach is right for you or not.
Video # 31: How to Deal with a Disagreeable Sibling – Disagreeableness, Agreeableness and Sibling Estrangement
In our latest video, we explore the interactions of agreeable and disagreeable siblings. Often, empathetic people discover the risks and traps of being congenial and amenable when involved with competitive, distrustful siblings. The compassionate may find that their natural inclination to allay a tense situation with their savvy communication skills may only heighten hostilities with a disagreeable sibling. These ruptures may undermine confidence and self-esteem for the agreeable sibling, creating a terrible sense of imbalance. We discuss how to negotiate a relationship with a disagreeable sibling and, at the same time, how to avoid becoming disagreeable ourselves.
Video # 30: Knowing your Narcissistic Sibling
DESCRIPTION: Narcissism comes in all shapes and sizes. Here, we explore the different types of narcissists and unpack how a narcissist’s behavior plays out in interactions with our siblings. Often, we feel unfulfilled in a sibling relationship when conversations are one-sided, demeaning, deceitful, and even threatening, and these interactions can cause acute stress and even post-traumatic symptoms. Our goal is not to diagnose, but to map out the territory so that siblings can identify some of the characteristics of a narcissistic sibling. Ranging in severity — from superficial to harmful — relationships with a narcissist typically are plagued with an underlying sense of insecurity. In this episode, we examine how narcissism can make sibling relationships especially challenging.
Video # 29: Narcissism and Sibling Estrangement – Part 1
DESCRIPTION: In the first episode of this new series on how narcissism can drive sibling estrangement, we explore what this personality style is and how it defines relationships. This informative episode will help viewers identify narcissistic traits such as lack of empathy, contingent self-esteem, exploitativeness, self-enhancement, hiding the self, grandiose fantasizing, devaluing, and entitlement rage that can contribute to sibling estrangement. In addition, we offer suggestions on how to manage these difficult relationships. Towards the goal of empowering viewers about sibling estrangement, this series will offer insights about narcissism and provide understanding and realistic expectations so viewers can choose an appropriate level of involvement with a narcissistic sibling.
Video #28: Big 5 Personality Traits, Part 1: Introverts, Extroverts, and Sibling Estrangement
DESCRIPTION: In this insightful video, we explore how important personality traits can play out in sibling relationships. Based upon Jung’s description, we explore how introverts and extroverts express themselves. Fern describes how she and her brother have different personality traits and styles of communication that may have contributed to their estrangement. She describes how the two were able to find a shared communication style as they reconciled. Furthermore, we discuss healthy and unhealthy expressions of introversion and extroversion, and how to adapt communication strategies to various interactions. We conclude by discussing the greatest risk factors for extroverts and introverts.
Video #27: How to Deal with Shame-Shifting and Sibling Estrangement
This video, the second in a two-part discussion on shame-shifting, offers viewers practical suggestions on how to cope with a sibling’s shame-shifting, blaming and baiting. Often, when a sibling is exposed to these confusing, hurtful tactics, he or she may regress into childhood roles and an immature pattern of relating. Our discussion explores specific ways to guard against this tendency. In addition, we shed light on the importance of self-agency — a unique characteristic of adulthood that can protect against a toxic sibling’s manipulations.
Video #26: Shame-Shifting and Sibling Estrangement
DESCRIPTION: In this informative video, we discuss how narcissistic and toxic siblings often employ the manipulative strategy of shame-shifting. Those unfamiliar with this tactic may find themselves repeatedly injured by it. Fern introduces listeners to the concept through a personal story, and then, we zero-in on how siblings use shame-shifting. We also identify seven rules of shame-based families based upon John Bradshaw’s powerful book, Healing the Shame that Binds You. Typically, siblings use shame-shifting to vie for power; often, the result is that the weaker sibling denies his or her own needs and feelings to maintain the relationship. It’s important to become aware of shame-shifting to manage and contain this behavior that can create serious problems in a sibling relationship.
Video #25: Shunning and Sibling Estrangement
DESCRIPTION: In this next episode on estrangement and shunning, Fern shares how her father’s silent treatment and a longstanding cutoff with her brother affected and defined her. This leads into a discussion on making the important distinction between shunning and a positive cutoff. We then explore what research has discovered about the effects of shunning on the brain, specifically how similarly the brain processes physical and psychological pain. In addition, we identify how shunning can stamp an individual’s emotional state, his or her daily interactions with others, and in turn, define an individual’s self-image, social relationships, and a sense of belonging. Ali-John concludes the discussion by offering his thoughts on how individuals can get stuck in these perceptions, and he offers advice on how to get unstuck.
Video #24: Gaslighting and Sibling Estrangement
DESCRIPTION: In this enlightening episode, we explore what it feels like to experience gaslighting. We identify the phenomenon’s origin and how this manipulative practice applies to relationships in our lives — including siblings. This deceptive tactic sows self-doubt as a means to exploit and gain power over another. To help empower those who are targeted, we identify catch-phrases typically used by gaslighters. We conclude by discussing how to navigate relationships with gaslighters so that those who endure this treatment can reclaim their identity and sense of self.
Video #23: The Book on Sibling Estrangement!
DESCRIPTION: In this unique video, Ali-John conducts the first extensive interview with author Fern Schumer Chapman about her new book, Brothers, Sisters, Strangers: Sibling Estrangement and the Road the Reconciliation. Ali-John offers a brief introduction to Fern’s background as an author, speaker, and educator. Then, the two discuss the book, which probes a forty-year estrangement between Fern and her only brother and examines how the two found a tentative path to reconciliation. Fern’s book, which is part memoir and part social science research, also captures the voices of others who suffer from the shrouded, stigmatized experience of sibling alienation. This book, a much-needed resource (along with Ali-John’s online support groups), offers estranged siblings help in mending familial fences and navigating this hidden epidemic.
Video #22: Brothers Sisters Strangers Video Podcast (Episode 18)
DESCRIPTION: Hi everyone! In this timely video, we discuss Prince William and Prince Harry’s risk factors for sibling estrangement. Estrangement cuts across all social classes, and even plagues members of the Monarchy. Here, we explore some of the risk factors for estrangement, including family trauma, parental favoritism, poor communication skills, and a sibling’s choice to break away from family values. We conclude our discussion by exploring what necessary steps William and Harry must take to reconcile.
Video #21: Brothers Sisters Strangers Video Podcast (Episode 17)
DESCRIPTION: In this episode, we discuss how exposure through social media affects the estranged. This unique form of connection can raise challenging questions: Will exposure to estranged siblings through social media disrupt the grieving process and freeze us in ambiguous loss? Will we become addicted to creeping or lurking on the social media pages of our estranged siblings? Is it best to set a strong boundary and restrict or block estranged siblings from our accounts and our lives? Finally, we discuss how to use social media productively. For example, we can have an awareness of how our posts affect those who read our feed. We can control our social media footprint by “consciously posting,” and thereby contribute to a kinder world.
Video #20: Brothers Sisters Strangers Video Podcast (Episode 16)
DESCRIPTION: In this informative new video, we offer ten tactics to help estranged siblings navigate the grief and bereavement resulting from the loss of a relationship with a brother or sister. Specifically, we discuss where people often get stuck and ways to get beyond that point. We talk about the risks of forfeiting our authenticity and our power for a single outcome and the danger of becoming overly focused on ourselves. We explore ways to limit the drama, center ourselves, and lift ourselves out of the pain to promote health and well-being.
Video #19: Brothers Sisters Strangers Video Podcast (Episode 15)
How can a brother or sister accept sibling estrangement and grieve the loss of that defining relationship? In this important episode, Ali-John adapts Worden’s Tasks of Mourning — an action-oriented approach that doesn’t emphasize stages and phases — to sibling estrangement. To mourn, a sibling must:
* accept the reality of the loss by working through denial.
* process the pain by experiencing unwanted and unpleasant feelings.
* adjust to the world without a sibling.
* reassess the role of a sibling and embark on a new life by cultivating purpose and meaning in other relationships.
Fern and Ali-John also offer a few exercises to help manage difficult feelings of loss.
Video #18: Brothers Sisters Strangers Video Podcast (Episode 14)
DESCRIPTION: Fern and Ali-John delve deep into indispensable insights they would have liked to have learned at a younger age about sibling relationships. They offer a range of advice about maintaining relations with a difficult brother or sister, including zeroing in on what really matters, using available resources, dispelling false expectations, living authentically, and being flexible and adaptable. This video also serves as a reminder that it’s never too late to put these tips into practice.
Video #17: Brothers Sisters Strangers Video Podcast (Episode 13)
DESCRIPTION: In this informative video, Fern and I discuss the Family Myth, and how personal identity and behaviors can clash with a family’s value system. Some people challenge the family myth — through sexual orientation, interracial marriage, religious conversion, political philosophies and lifestyle choices — and they may be cast out for straying from the predefined narrative. The Family Myth can drive tribalistic and xenophobic thinking. However, family members who live inauthentically create dysfunctions that have long-lasting, damaging consequences. In the second part of the video, we discuss how those who are cast out can navigate the upcoming holidays. We encourage the estranged to keep busy, to cultivate new rituals, and to avoid magical thinking about the family. We conclude by discussing strategies for those who will be attending holiday celebrations and seeing difficult family members.
Video #16: Brothers Sisters Strangers Video Podcast (episode 12)
DESCRIPTION: In this important episode, we discuss attachment issues that can contribute to sibling estrangement. A child’s interactions with his/her caregiver will determine social and relationship interactions in the future, according to studies. We explore various insecure attachment styles (anxious, avoidant, disorganized) and how they serve as a blueprint for an individual’s future relationships. Over the course of a life, an individual can change his/her attachment style. We explore the importance of emotionally corrective experiences — positive, warm, healthy relationships within or outside the family — that alter an individual’s attachment style and, ultimately, all of his/her relationships.
Video #15: Brothers Sisters Strangers Video Podcast (episode 11)
DESCRIPTION: In this 11th episode, we continue to discuss birth order, and the common characteristics of the youngest child. Depending on a child’s sensibilities and upbringing, these traits can develop in healthy and unhealthy ways. We also discuss how family members often contribute to estrangement through acts of exclusion or by tolerating bullying behavior. Ali-John shares a personal incident that contributed to his adult estrangement from his only sister. Fern talks about how an estranged sibling relationship becomes more problematic as parents approach the end of life. At that time, adult children who may not have spoken for years must suddenly work together to provide caregiving for an ailing parent, plan a parent’s funeral, and settle his/her estate. Opening channels of communication between siblings may reduce stress and avoid some conflict at this difficult time. If siblings establish a connection, they might find themselves leaning on each other and building their relationship during this sad passage.
Video #14: Brothers Sisters Strangers Video Podcast (episode 10)
DESCRIPTION: In this 10th episode, we discuss how birth order influences sibling estrangement. We return briefly to our last video podcast to make some clarifications for viewers: First, we recognize that gender is not binary; It is a spectrum of biological, mental and emotional traits that exist along a continuum. Second, we emphasize that our last discussion explored cultural roles and how they may play into estrangement. Fern opens our new topic by describing her lived experience with birth order. We then discuss how birth order contributes to the development of a child’s personality, exploring Adler’s Birth Order Theory which identifies specific characteristics and experiences of the first child, second child, and middle child. We briefly address how each position in the family can have its own heightened risk of sibling estrangement later in adult life. We look forward to continuing our exploration of birth order in our next video as we feature the youngest child’s experience.
Video #13: Brothers Sisters Strangers Video Podcast (episode 9)
DESCRIPTION: In this informative video, we explore the differences in how men and women process emotions, determining which gender ruminates more. In addition, we discuss how men and women handle conflict differently — through either “fight or flight” or “tend and befriend.” We identify societal expectations and the influence of the Patriarchy which defines gender-based responsibilities that damage sibling relationships. We touch upon another insidious factor in sibling estrangement — partners who alienate one side of the family. Topics in upcoming episodes will include the differences between sister-to-sister and brother-to-sister estrangements and the effect of birth order on sibling relationships. We conclude by discussing possible exchanges with a sibling (if applicable) that can reduce conflict.
Video #12: Brothers Sisters Strangers Video Podcast (episode 8)
DESCRIPTION: Fern and I are back with a third video on rumination. In the third episode on rumination, Ali-John shares the tragic loss of a colleague, which leads to a discussion on the importance of mourning rituals for both the dead and the living to process loss. Ali-John identifies a self-appeasing, therapeutic tool to counter rumination. In addition, the two hosts explore the value of reframing experience to combat low self-esteem that may come from estrangement loss, and the necessity of strong boundaries when attempting to improve or reconcile a relationship with a difficult or estranged sibling.
Video #11: Brothers Sisters Strangers Video Podcast (episode 7)
DESCRIPTION: In this exciting new video, the second of three parts, Fern and I continue our discussion on rumination. Here, we touch upon how society’s perception of the ideal family — often portrayed on social media — can exacerbate self-questioning and rumination. We delve deeper into strategies to counter rumination, such as the Third Eye/Documentary mode, specific innovative techniques and body-based strategies, and some helpful apps that curb intrusive thoughts and feelings — all important tools for emotional regulation. What’s more, we explore a broader definition of “family” where we might find a stronger sense of belonging. We hope you’ll join us for this important talk!
Video #10: Brothers Sisters Strangers Video Podcast (episode 6)
DESCRIPTION: Fern and I are back with an exciting, much-needed video on rumination and sibling estrangement! Many viewers have asked us to address this issue; they feel they are held hostage to these repeating thoughts. In this video, we examine the workings of the brain that ruminates, and we explore mind and body strategies to break the cycle of these nagging, negative thoughts. What’s more, we discuss the importance of developing a plan for self-care to reduce rumination and move forward! We hope you’ll join us for our first discussion of this important, timely topic that plagues not only those who suffer with sibling estrangement, but many others who have anxiety or depression. We will continue our discussion of rumination in the next few video casts.
Video #9: Brothers Sisters Strangers Video Podcast (episode 5)
Description: In this next exciting video, we discuss the devastating effects of sibling estrangement on the body and the psyche. What’s more, we share personal stories about cutoffs with our own siblings. We further discuss the effects of deprivation of nurturance and lack of empathy in childhood and how those forces play out in relationships later in life. We conclude our talk by offering suggestions to the estranged about how to foster a sense of belonging to offset loneliness and alienation. We hope you’ll forgive us for postponing our discussion on reconciliation and rebuilding an identity until a later time.
Video #8: Brothers Sisters Strangers Video Podcast (episode 4)
DESCRIPTION: In this exciting new video, Fern and I talk about how self-esteem is affected and Sibling Estrangement is enabled by growing up in a family of origin where a lack of proper communication tools can spark the feeling of being “not good enough”. Furthermore, we explore how emotional deprivation can contribute to post-traumatic stress symptoms, and may necessitate psychotherapeutic treatment. The dangers of cycling through isolation and rumination are also explored, and the metaphor of the fish is shared with regards to having false beliefs about ourselves. We end with artificial nostalgia with regards to family relations amidst the Covid-19 Pandemic.
Video #7: Brothers Sisters Strangers Video Podcast (episode 3)
DESCRIPTION: In this third video on Sibling Estrangement, Fern and I discuss aspects related to Estrangement and concepts connected to dehumanisation and communication breakdowns. We talk about the inability to resolve conflicts as a risk factor that can start within families, and pour into our societal interactions with others, and ultimately spark movements such as Black Lives Matter. We briefly explore the Four Horsemen Model, as well as the Dignity Model in response to this, all while sharing personal experiences associated to Estrangement.
Video #6: Brothers Sisters Strangers Video podcast (episode 2)
DESCRIPTION: Fern and I discuss aspects related to Estrangement amidst the Coronavirus pandemic and elaborate further on aspected relating to Superficial/Limited conversations one can have, mourning the living, the benefit of rituals, and a personal experience I share with what helped me to move forward in my own situation.
Video #5: Sibling Estrangement: An In-Depth Dialogue (episode 1)
DESCRIPTION: Join us as I have an in-depth conversation with award-winning Chicagoland area Author Fern Schumer Chapman!! In this first of a series of talks on Sibling Estrangement, we get into the topics of emotional avoidance, ghosting, shared living experiences, the need for a beginning, middle and an end in the narration we give to our sibling relationship, and the effects of alcoholism on a relationship. Sibling Estrangement is a subject that both of us hold dear to our hearts, and we hope that you can enjoy this video just as much as we did in making it!
Video #4: Sibling Estrangement: Solutions and strategies
DESCRIPTION: In this video, I will be highlighting much-needed solutions and strategies on what to do to protect yourself from Sibling Estrangement, all while creating healthy boundaries that are comfortable and empowering to you.
Video #3: The look and feel of sibling estrangement
DESCRIPTION: Here, we explore what sibling estrangement looks like in adult life, and how it makes people feel.
Video #2: The origin of sibling estrangement
DESCRIPTION: I outline how sibling estrangement can start to manifest within families.
Video #1 : Introduction to Sibling Estrangement
DESCRIPTION: Introduction to a rarely talked about subject regarding families that needs to have more discussion.