Living on Automatic
How Emotional Conditioning Shapes Our Lives and Relationships
by Homer B. Martin, MD, and Christine B. L. Adams, MD
August 2018, 187pp, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-6518-3
$45, £35, 40€, A62
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-6519-0
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Ever wonder why you keep repeating the same patterns in your relationships?

Two veteran psychiatrists unravel the mystery of how thought and emotional patterns are passed from parents to children, generation after generation, 'conditioning' each of us in ways that endure throughout our lives and affect all of our relationships.

Living on Automatic not only introduces the concept of emotional conditioning, including how it occurs and becomes entrenched in our minds, but also explains how individuals can “decondition” themselves to become more adept at choosing and negotiating more rewarding relationships.

Authored by two psychiatrists, the text draws from more than 80 years of their combined psychotherapy work with thousands of people. The authors focus on helping readers to understand their roles in relationships and to develop more rewarding relationships. Case studies and questions are provided to illustrate emotional conditioning and the personality roles that emerge from it. Readers will learn why people choose the mates that they do; why the ways we learn to relate as children often do not change later in life; and how to observe and engage in introspection to begin to decondition themselves from auto-pilot, knee-jerk emotional responses, allowing for the formation of better relationships with their spouse or partner, children, and other family members.


  • Explores a groundbreaking concept developed by two psychiatrists with 80 years of combined experience in dynamic psychotherapy with almost 2,000 patients
  • Offers strategies to help readers liberate themselves from limiting ways of relating to others, avoid automatic emotional responses, live life with intention, and create happier relationships
  • Brings to life the principles presented through vignettes from dynamic psychotherapy treatment
  • Inclusive of the LGBT experience
The late Homer B. Martin, MD, practiced general adult psychiatry for 40 years in Louisville, KY. He trained at the Sheppard and Enoch Pratt Hospital in Towson, MD and practiced forensic psychiatry in Baltimore, MD. He was assistant clinical professor of psychiatry and behavioral Sciences at the University of Louisville School of Medicine, and a member of the American Psychiatric Association and the Southern Medical Association. Before becoming a psychiatrist, he was a general practitioner.

Christine B. L. Adams, MD, has been in the private practice of child, adolescent, and adult psychiatry for 40 years. During her career, she has been a forensic child psychiatrist and worked in academic and community mental health settings, for the Social Security Administration and for the Department of Defense. She has been an examiner for the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology in both Child and Adult Psychiatry and received the National Psychiatric Endowment Fund Award. She is a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Life Member of the American Psychiatric Association. Her website is


2018 Finalist in the "New Non-Fiction" Category—Best Book Awards, American Book Fest, November 15, 2018

2018 INDIES Finalist in the "Family & Relationships (Adult Nonfiction)" Category—Foreword Reviews, March 11, 2019

2019 IPPY Award Gold Medal in Psychology/Mental Health Category—Independent Publisher, April 10, 2019


"The combined authorship and structure of this book attest to the professional respect and mutual support which each of these individuals brought to the endeavor. . . . I discovered new insights in reading this book."—Louisville Medicine, January 4, 2019

"The book is extraordinarily well written. It offers valuable case vignettes, tables, and self-inquiry questions to assist in understanding the characteristics associated with each emotionally conditioned role."—Clinical Psychiatry News, January 2, 2020

“The beauty of this book is that it goes far deeper than self-help. Martin and Adams show us how to discover who we are, what people we become attracted to, and why. They also give us hope by offering solutions for relationship difficulties.”—Mary E. Schwab, MD, MA Religion, Associate Professor, Yale Child Study Center, Child Psychiatry (Retired), Yale Medical School

“A must-read for anyone seeking new ideas and findings about their relationships. The scope and depth of Drs. Martin and Adams’ clinical experience to discover how we manage our relationships with one another is nothing short of mind-boggling. Their work is comprehensive, spanning infancy through old age.”—James L. Fisher, PhD, Psychologist, author or editor of eleven books and President Emeritus of Towson University and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE)

Living on Automatic is a life changer if you want to possess authenticity through self-discovery and look deeply into your relationships. If you wonder why you repeatedly marry similar spouses, why you have problems with your children or parents, and why you are unhappy in your closest relationships, you will find answers.”—Judith R. Milner, MD, M.Ed, Spec. Ed., Private Practice Child & Adult Psychiatry, and coauthor with Paul L. Adams, MD, of Fatherless Children

“With 80 years of solid clinical experience behind it, this groundbreaking book illustrates a revolutionary approach to manage your life, your relationships, and gain self-understanding. Martin and Adams’ new discoveries will make a difference in the lives of people who are dealing with substance use disorders."—Richard L. “Rich” Jones, MA, MBA, LCAS, CCS, CCDP, CAI Executive Director, FAVOR Greenville, Greenville, SC

“Ever wish you could solve or avoid problematic relationships? If you are willing to do the tough work of self-examination, Living on Automatic will improve your relationships and your life. This book invites you to think deeply about who you are and to discover how to lessen your automatic emotional and behavioral responses to others that create difficulties for you.”—Carol Clifton, PhD, Licensed Psychologist, Author of Escape the Control Trap: The Secret of Serenity in Relationships

“Martin and Adams present a straightforward and refreshing analysis of your interpersonal behavior and how common difficulties in relationships can be explained and understood. Many case examples enliven the text and include people of all ages, gender/sex pairings, cultures, religions and economic strata. You will gain self-understanding, discover why you respond the way you do in your closest relationships, and what you can do to make changes in yourself.”—Moshe Landsman, PhD, Professor of Psychology at the University of Prishtina in Kosova

“For most of us, it is far too easy to be unaware of how unaware we are. Dr. Homer Martin did not hesitate to cut across traditional boundaries in order to help people get off automatic pilot and bring a larger degree of intentionality into their relationships. I am grateful that his unique methods in psychotherapy and his innovative approach have made their way into this book coauthored by Dr. Christine B.L. Adams. The reader is assured of many 'Aha!' moments in terms of self-understanding and the emotional conditioning that shape our interactions. The book concludes with 'Steps You Can Take to Diminish Living on Automatic.' Homer never failed to tell me, 'There is something we can do.'"—Ron Higdon, BA, BD, DMin., Certified Church Consultant and Interim Ministry Specialist

“With laser focus, Living on Automatic cuts to the crux of the human condition—self-understanding and how we relate to others. Drs. Martin and Adams provide us with a lens and method to begin changing our lives. Want to positively impact your world? Read this book.” —Kevin Fall, PhD, Founding Psychologist at LIFE DOCTOR, private practice, and coauthor with Austin T. Fall of How To Get Your Son Back—7 Steps to Reconnect and Repair Your Relationship

“Drs. Martin and Adams not only craft a new approach for grasping personality development but they also explain why we act and react in relationships the ways we do. Living on Automatic provides practical strategies for making positive and healthy changes in our most vital relationships with our families, friends, lovers, children, bosses, and coworkers.”—Jennifer Bell, MSW, LCSW, Behavioral Health Utilization Review Specialist

“A timely new concept simply and eloquently expressed. Drs. Martin and Adams provide a surefire method to help you uncover why you think and act the way you do in life. This is a must-read for those seeking a new avenue for raising children, negotiating relationships and getting out of or avoiding messy relationships that do not work. You will discover how to re-evaluate your emotionally triggered roles and habits and make relationship changes for the better.”—Homayoun Sadeghi, MD, Author of The Art of Healthy Living: A Mind-Body Approach to Inner Balance and Natural Vitality

"Living on Automatic is a welcome guide for the curious, the confused, and the conscientious seeking to understand themselves and the people around them. Breaking new ground in understanding the patterns of the mind shaped in childhood, this book offers direction and hope in our troubled world."—Jim Wayne, MSW, BCD, President of Wayne Institute for Advanced Psychotherapy, Bellarmine University, Louisville, KY
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