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Finding Alignment with Darlene Lancer

As someone who had an inkling of what her purpose was from a very young age, Darlene Lancer is fascinating to speak to. And though she took a roundabout way to find her life’s greatest work, in this conversation she helps other people find their most aligned state, understand what can happen to their own boundaries when engaged with a narcissist, and understand how to follow your own path. Can you tell me about your childhood and why you think you were drawn to this field?

I grew up in Los Angeles, in the Los Feliz area. My older brother was studying to be a doctor and one of his textbooks was Freud’s The Interpretations of Dreams. I was fascinated by it and was already fascinated by my dreams, to begin with—so much so that I would try to plan my dreams when I went to sleep. I was also fascinated by subjects like multiple personality disorders, and past lives and my family would humor me by letting me test out my ESP skills on them. By the time I was twelve and I had decided I wanted to be a psychologist and wanted to understand dreams more. Is that what you ultimately went to study in college?

I was an undergraduate in Psychology at UCLA. Their program was very much research-oriented, like doing rat experiments for example, and that was boring to me. I had another interest in international relations and wanted to be a foreign diplomat at one point, so I decided to focus on that. I went on to Law School at UCLA. I ended up practicing law for about eighteen years. Somewhere along the way, I was unhappy with my profession, and I had forgotten about my first career love. I decided to go back to school and get a master’s degree in Psychology. That was so joyous to me. I did that in my midlife years. I loved every moment of that, and I was back on my soul path. Once I made that decision, I never regretted that. I had been an entertainment lawyer for about sixteen years. I first went into criminal law probably because a lot of it was about the mind. I was writing a lot as a lawyer too. Then when I changed careers, I started writing more for magazines, both as a lawyer and a therapist. How did you know you weren’t on your soul path?

I would have successful negotiations as a lawyer and then go in the bathroom and cry. The role that I was playing in my profession was not aligned with who I was. It wasn’t fulfilling, I really didn’t like all the conflict. Why were you so drawn to being a therapist?

I wanted to understand the mind more. It’s interesting, all my siblings, we’ve all written books so that’s in our genes. My mom wanted to be a journalist and she never was. My older brother was a neurologist, and he wrote about the mind, my other brother was a sociologist and he wanted to understand people from a macro-social point of view. Then, here I was wanting to

explore writing a book on the psyche level. My sister is an ecologist, and also an author, but she wanted to understand how we relate to the earth. We’re all trying to understand man’s relationship to himself and each other and the planet. I want to talk about your writing life. Tell me about your first book, Codependency for Dummies?

I wrote this in 2012, and I had to compete against other authors to get this job. What was that process like for you?

It was daunting. The subject matter is complicated. Wiley. the publisher, wanted me to write about two hundred pages. At first, I thought I could say it all in ten pages so I didn’t know how I would expand on it. But, it turns out it’s such a complex topic. I broke it down to start doing one subtopic at a time. Doing it like this, I ended up writing over the amount of material I was required to at first. I took it one day, one paragraph at a time.