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The Brain Science Behind Divorce with Dr. David Rock

We know that the strong negative emotions associated with divorce make it difficult to think rationally. But have you ever wondered what happens in your brain when emotion takes over? How does a threat response impact your aptitude for conscious thought? And how might an understanding of the brain science shift your response and facilitate good, deliberative thinking?

Dr. David Rock is the Director of the NeuroLeadership Institute, a global initiative designed to unite neuroscientists and leadership experts in the innovation of a new science for leadership development. Dr. Rock is also the co-editor of the NeuroLeadership Journal and the author of business bestseller Your Brain at Work. His work regularly appears in the Harvard Business Review, Fortune Magazine and Psychology Today, among many other publications, and Dr. Rock has served as a guest lecturer at a number of institutions, including Oxford University’s Said Business School.

Today, Dr. Rock sits down with Katherine to discuss the brain science behind divorce. He explains why strong emotions make logical decision-making impossible and how the overload from a threat response impacts our thinking. He discusses the importance of articulating common goals to help divorcing couples think rationally, describing how viewing your former partner as an opponent impacts brain processing. Listen in for insight around the five things your brain is tracking at any given time and learn how to live longer by wasting less energy on misread threats!


The value of understanding how emotions drive behavior

Why strong emotions make logical decision-making impossible

How perceived threats pull resources away from the prefrontal cortex

The triggers that shut down our ability to think in new ways

How the overload from a threat response impacts our thinking

  • Cognitive errors
  • Mistake neutral for negative

How to plan ahead and avoid situations that provoke strong emotions

The reappraisal technique that can alter your interpretation of events

Why trying to suppress emotions after they’ve surfaced doesn’t work

Why it’s best to initiate difficult conversations when you’re well-resourced

How articulating common goals can help divorcing couples think rationally

How viewing someone as an opponent impacts brain processing

The significance of the way you hold someone in your mind

The five things that the brain is tracking at any given time

  1. Status
  2. Certainty
  3. Autonomy
  4. Relatedness
  5. Fairness

The amount of time and energy people waste on misread threats


Dr. Rock’s Website

The NeuroLeadership Institute


Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long by David Rock

Quiet Leadership: Six Steps to Transforming Performance at Work by David Rock


The Center for Understanding Conflict

Miller Law Group

Katherine on LinkedIn

The New Yorker’s Guide to Collaborative Divorce by Katherine Miller

Email katherine@westchesterfamilylaw.com

Call (914) 738-7765