Lloyd, sixty-one, complains that his friend Eric called him “intense.” I began to think about Lloyd and his focus. When he thinks about something, he is focused on that subject for what feels to me to be longer than most people would focus on the topic. Sometimes he tries to “analyze” his friends, so he thinks deeply about them. I suspect that this is what is meant by the word “intense.” Whereas other people might dwell on a particular interaction for a few minutes, Lloyd will think about all the angles of the conversation: the tone, the style, the choice of words, the inflection, the rate of the delivery. Some people might really appreciate this quality in Lloyd in that he is very thoughtful. Others, might be scared by it, since nothing “rolls off his back.” Lloyd is not aware of his intensity, because this is a constant in his life; like a fish does not know it is wet. I can help Lloyd understand how other people might perceive his intense focus on his interpersonal relationships. Focus, like all human qualities, is on a continuum. It is one more personality variable which determines how we cope with our world. As with the other personality variables (like patience, friendliness, persistence), intense focus can be positive in certain environments and negative in others. Intense focus helps therapists work with their patients. On the other hand, it can be a liability in friendships. Lloyd needs to understand how to channel his focus into an arena where this quality is really appreciated. The word “intense” gets us started. Thanks Eric.