Thursday, December 16, 2010

Sadness over education.

Today, managing to get through the nonsense of Christmas Sales, the bad economy, and the late night news, I felt sadder than I have felt about the state of the world and America. I watched young parents and students on the news cry. They cried about their little elementary school having to close because there was not enough money to keep it open. How is possible that this seems to be happening more often these days? With millions going to Wall Street, car companies, banks, and various corporations, why is education falling through the cracks more and more these days. I remember hearing so many stories about teachers not be paid enough- not enough for Saltines. And then, we have so many raping this country blind. Why do we pay sports figures hundreds of millions and pay a teacher under $35,000? I am starting to realize that this is the direct effect of so many ignorant folk these days. When persons can run for Congress or the Senate and cannot tell you about what is in the Constitution, then we have an answer. I thought that lotteries were supposed to supply school in each state with millions of dollars in revenue. Have we been asleep to long? I am sad.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


Bullying in America: Time to Confront National Crisis Experts Say

Caroline Cassels

October 27, 2010 — The shocking rash of 4 recent suicides involving young, allegedly gay, males where bullying was cited as a major factor in their deaths has refocused attention on what experts say is a national public health crisis that must be confronted.

The New York Times reports 15-year-old Billy Lucas hanged himself September 9 after reportedly being told by students at his high school to commit suicide. Asher Brown and Seth Welsh, both 13 years old, also took their lives in September after being bullied for being gay.
Vigil for Tyler Clementi. Reena Rose Sibayan/AP

In the same month Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi jumped from the George Washington Bridge after 2 of his fellow students allegedly videotaped a sexual encounter of Clementi and another man then posted it online.

A recent national survey, also released in September, and conducted by the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), shows 90% of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth experience harassment at school.

"It is so clear that anti-LGBT actions and behaviors and language are really the weapon of choice in a lot of American schools," Joseph Kosciw, PhD, GLSEN senior director of research and strategic initiatives, told Medscape Medical News.

Jack Drescher, MD, a distinguished fellow of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and a past chair of the APA's committee on GLB issues, says based on his clinical experience working with LGBT patients, he is not surprised by the GLSEN findings.

One perennial idea that needs to be challenged is that being bullied toughens kids we have seen in the reports of recent months, in some cases children do not toughen up but break down.

"I have treated many gay patients who, as adults, tell of stories of being publicly bullied and harassed, not only by other kids but by family members. The kids who are most at risk are those who are unable to hide gender atypical behavior — they are considered either too effeminate as boys or too masculine as girls," Dr. Drescher told Medscape Medical News.

"Not only do they experience verbal harassment, threats of violence, and actual violence, the way these kids are treated serves as a warning to other kids who may be LGBT but not so easily spotted," Dr. Drescher added.

Dr. Drescher went on to note that while much has been done in recent years to get schools and parents to take greater control of environments that permit bullying, more needs to be done.

"One perennial idea that needs to be challenged, for example, is that being bullied toughens kids up. However, this often serves as a pretext or rationalization for not exerting adult control over the antisocial behavior of some children. And as we have seen in the reports of recent months, in some cases children do not toughen up but break down," he said.

The Problem Persists

It is so clear that anti-LGBT actions and behaviors and language are really the weapon of choice in a lot of American schools.

Dr. Kosciw noted that although there is a growing awareness of the damaging effects of LGBT bullying, and bullying in general, the problem persists.

"We have been monitoring the experience of school students — LGBT as well as students in the general population — for the past 10 years, and sadly we haven't seen enormous changes in school climates for LGBT students.

"There has been some reduction in homophobic remarks and some changes since 2007 in victimization, but when you look at the whole picture there haven't been too many increases in school safety, particularly for this population, and there's much more work to be done," he said.

The survey also revealed that 61.1% of LGBT students felt unsafe in school because of their sexual orientation and 39.9% felt unsafe because of their gender expression.

National statistics show that in the United States approximately 30% of youth engage in bullying either as victims or perpetrators or both.

At the University of Houston, researcher Allison Dempsey, PhD, assistant professor, educational psychology, agreed and said that although subgroups such as LGBT youth have higher victimization rates, in the general population estimates of bullying among middle and high school students are also unacceptably high and run at about 30%.

"National statistics show in the United States approximately 30% of youth engage in bullying either as victims or perpetrators or both," she told Medscape Medical News. In fact, she added, the United States has a higher rate of youth bullying than many countries.

International rates of student victimization range from a low of 4.1% in Sweden to a staggering 41% in Lithuania, said Dr. Dempsey.


What constitutes bullying? "There is overt bullying which includes physical assaults, such as kicking and punching, as well as verbal assaults, such as name-calling.

"Then there is relational bullying, which can involve excluding people, spreading rumors about them, so essentially attacking their social status, and more recently we've seen the emergence of cyberbullying, where children are harassed via the Internet," said Dr. Dempsey.

Although cyberbullying accounts for about 10% of youth victimization, Dr. Dempsey added, it has the potential to be even more pernicious than "traditional" bullying settings.

"The most disturbing aspect of cyberbullying is that kids can't get away from it by leaving the school grounds or leaving the social situation. Nowadays kids have their phones with them almost all the time and have their computers in their bedrooms, so no matter where they are the bullies can get to them," she said.

"Cyberbullying is also a less noticeable form of bullying, so there is even less opportunity for bystanders to intervene. We know that only 1 in 10 kids that are bullied online actually tell somebody about it," she added.

Weighing in on this issue, APA President Carol Bernstein, MD, agreed there is an "ease" to cyberbullying that is unsettling. "The anonymity of it and the fact that you can taunt someone without having to face them is disturbing. It makes bullying easier," she said.

On the other hand, said Dr. Dempsey, it is worth noting that youth who use the Internet to victimize others are often unaware that they are leaving an "electronic trail" that can be used by the victim to prove bullying occurred and in potential legal proceedings.

"We are hearing a lot about cyberbullying, and while it is important, it only accounts for about 10% of [bullying] incidents. We definitely need to pay attention to it, but we should not neglect the issue of bullying in traditional settings because these account for the majority [of incidents]," she added.

The Damage

There's no doubt, say the experts, that bullying can have serious negative consequences — in the short term and over time.

Bullying has been associated with increased school dropout rates, as well as higher rates of depression, social anxiety, suicidal ideation, aggression, and academic problems.

However, Dr. Dempsey noted, that longitudinal research also suggests that beyond an association, there is a causal effect, and victims can experience serious, long-term negative outcomes.

A study...showed young children who are severely or continually bullied have a 4-fold increased risk of developing psychotic symptoms in early adolescence.

A study published in May 2009 in Archives of General Psychiatry and reported by Medscape Medical News at that time showed young children who are severely or continually bullied have a 4-fold increased risk of developing psychotic symptoms in early adolescence.

Dr. Dempsey noted that recent work by her group, which is currently under review, shows a positive correlation between bullying and suicidal ideation and suicide attempts over time.

In addition to LGBT youth, there are other subgroups of young people who experience higher than average rates of victimization, including those with psychiatric and chronic medical conditions.

According to Dr. Dempsey, up to one-third of children with diabetes experience "disease-related" bullying, which can have a negative impact on their physical, as well as psychological, health.

"If kids are called 'junkies' for taking insulin shots, they may reduce the amount of insulin they inject. We also know that kids with asthma experience increased rates of victimization," she said.

In May, research published in the journal Pediatrics and also reported by Medscape Medical News showed obese and overweight children had up to a 2-fold increased risk of being bullied than their peers who were not obese.

"Kids who are overweight and obese are more often bullied, causing increased stress, which then leads to binge eating and ultimately increases their weight," said Dr. Dempsey.

Antibullying Legislation

So how can youth bullying be curbed if not eliminated? GLSEN's research shows schools with so-called Gay-Straight Alliances, clubs that offer an opportunity to address issues relevant to LGBT students, result in a more positive school experience.

Dr. Kosciw added that the presence of supportive staff and firm antibullying policies in schools contribute to more positive outcomes for all kids. This is a key priority for GLSEN, which, among other initiatives, recently relaunched its Safe Space Kit designed to help educators create a safe space for LGBT youth in schools.

If passed, federal antibullying legislation would require schools and districts that receive federal funding to adopt anti-bullying policies and codes of conduct.

GLSEN research also shows students who live in states with enumerated antibullying legislation —that is, laws that specifically list factors such as sexual orientation, gender identity, race, and religion — report more positive school climates and experiences compared with their counterparts who live in states without such laws.

At the national level, Dr. Kosciw notes that, GLSEN is a staunch supporter of the Safe Schools Improvement Act, which was introduced in the US Senate earlier this year.

If passed, this federal antibullying legislation would require schools and districts that receive federal funding to adopt antibullying policies and codes of conduct that prohibit bullying or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability, sexual orientation, and perceived or gender identity.

Warning Signs

At the individual level, Dr. Dempsey said, it is important that educators, parents, and clinicians screen for bullying and directly ask children and youth about the issue.

It is also important that family physicians, pediatricians, and psychiatrists, who may have patients with chronic physical or mental illnesses, be aware that these patients are at increased risk for victimization and screen for it.

She noted that children who are bullied often experience changes in behavior, such as aggression, loss of appetite, insomnia, or a reluctance to go to school, among others, and that these should be treated as warning signs that bullying may be occurring.

"We need to educate people to look for this and understand all the different behaviors that are parts of bullying. It is not just hitting or punching, but it is also spreading rumors about somebody or trying to cause embarrassment to that person, and so people need to recognize and take it very seriously when they see it happening," said Dr. Dempsey.

"I personally wonder that if there's something about the culture [in the United States] that makes bullying more acceptable than in other countries. There are a lot of people out there that have the attitude that bullying is a part of growing up, and until we shift those attitudes we're not going to see change," she added.

Alice Demo Dancing Under the Gallows H264 No TCB

Thursday, October 21, 2010


The Ultimate Irony
By Jim Kirwan

What would you do if you knew there was an unrecognized addictive disease, global in nature that was infecting almost every prominent 'leader' in this nation and probably the world?

We do not allow known Drug Addicts or Alcoholics to hold political office, just as we do not allow rapists or murders into positions of power or control: Which is why we outlawed these behaviors-but we not only allow the Mentally-Addicted to Money & Power into higher office; it's practically a basic qualification.

The mentally-addicted are definitely in the majority among the insiders in all circles of real power; locally, nationally and globally. Yet this disease can and does routinely infect anyone of either gender, or of any race or religion: These are those that are mentally-addicted to the acquisition of money & power, to the exclusion of all else (in the same way Drug Addicts are addicted to their drugs ­ they're just mental-druggies of a slightly different type) and yet it has never been recognized as the mental-disease that has ruined so much of society, and is currently destroying the stability of the entire planet!

Why has psychiatry not bothered to examine, much less identify, this mental-disease in the same way as they have gone to so much trouble to identify all sorts of other prosecutable physical and mental diseases, many of which they cannot even medically prove? Could it be that this is a mental-disease, a phobia really, which this nation wants to foster and protect; almost like a sacrament, or some kind of sacred and very desirable passion?

After all as many believe: "The Business of America is Business" ­ right? And if it's true that money and power are both the root and the goal of most businesses; then does it not stand to reason that the devaluation of money and power to the status of an Addiction should not only be possible, but should have standing as a violation of civil and criminal codes. And would this not begin to give us a way to remove these creatures that have lost all humanity in their quest for their drug-of-choice ­ which can only be obtained through their mental-addiction to money & power?

Perhaps this doesn't matter in the grand scheme of political control; considering that nearly everyone today "who counts" is already a mental-addict to money & power (which is probably why this global-pandemic was never identified by those that want to criminalize all of our other addictions)-for their personal and private profit of course. What do you think and how would this affect the current-prison population in the USA today?

Ironic isn't it!

Monday, October 18, 2010



Wednesday, Sep. 22, 2010
How the First Nine Months Shape the Rest of Your Life
By Annie Murphy Paul

What makes us the way we are? Why are some people predisposed to be anxious, overweight or asthmatic? How is it that some of us are prone to heart attacks, diabetes or high blood pressure?

There's a list of conventional answers to these questions. We are the way we are because it's in our genes: the DNA we inherited at conception. We turn out the way we do because of our childhood experiences: how we were treated and what we took in, especially during those crucial first three years. Or our health and well-being stem from the lifestyle choices we make as adults: what kind of diet we consume, how much exercise we get.(See 5 pregnancy myths debunked.)

But there's another powerful source of influence you may not have considered: your life as a fetus. The kind and quantity of nutrition you received in the womb; the pollutants, drugs and infections you were exposed to during gestation; your mother's health, stress level and state of mind while she was pregnant with you — all these factors shaped you as a baby and a child and continue to affect you to this day.

This is the provocative contention of a field known as fetal origins, whose pioneers assert that the nine months of gestation constitute the most consequential period of our lives, permanently influencing the wiring of the brain and the functioning of organs such as the heart, liver and pancreas. The conditions we encounter in utero, they claim, shape our susceptibility to disease, our appetite and metabolism, our intelligence and temperament. In the literature on the subject, which has exploded over the past 10 years, you can find references to the fetal origins of cancer, cardiovascular disease, allergies, asthma, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, mental illness — even of conditions associated with old age like arthritis, osteoporosis and cognitive decline.

The notion of prenatal influence may conjure up frivolous attempts to enrich the fetus: playing Mozart to a pregnant belly and the like. In reality, the shaping and molding that goes on in utero is far more visceral and consequential than that. Much of what a pregnant woman encounters in her daily life — the air she breathes, the food and drink she consumes, the chemicals she's exposed to, even the emotions she feels — is shared in some fashion with her fetus. The fetus incorporates these offerings into its own body, makes them part of its flesh and blood.

Often it does something more: it treats these maternal contributions as information, biological postcards from the world outside. What a fetus is absorbing in utero is not Mozart's Magic Flute but the answers to questions much more critical to its survival: Will it be born into a world of abundance or scarcity? Will it be safe and protected, or will it face constant dangers and threats? Will it live a long, fruitful life or a short, harried one?

Research on fetal origins — also called the developmental origins of health and disease — is prompting a revolutionary shift in thinking about where human qualities come from and when they begin to develop. It's turning pregnancy into a scientific frontier: the National Institutes of Health embarked last year on a multidecade study that will examine its subjects before they're born. It's also altering the perspective of thinkers outside of biology. The Nobel Prize — winning economist Amartya Sen, for example, co-authored a paper about the importance of fetal origins to a population's health and productivity: poor prenatal experience, he writes, "sows the seeds of ailments that afflict adults." And it makes the womb a promising target for prevention, raising hopes of conquering public-health scourges like obesity and heart disease through interventions before birth. (See why drinking during pregnancy is now o.k.)

The Origins of Fetal Origins

Two decades ago, a British physician named David Barker noticed an odd correlation on a map: the poorest regions of England and Wales were the ones with the highest rates of heart disease. Why would this be, he wondered, when heart disease was supposed to be a condition of affluence — of sedentary lifestyles and rich food? He decided to investigate, and after comparing the adult health of some 15,000 individuals with their birth weight, he discovered an unexpected link between small birth size — often an indication of poor prenatal nutrition — and heart disease in middle age. Faced with an inadequate food supply, Barker conjectured, the fetus diverts nutrients to its most important organ, the brain, while skimping on other parts of its body — a debt that comes due decades later in the form of a weakened heart.

When he presented his findings to colleagues, he was greeted with hoots and jeers. "Heart disease was supposed to be all about genetics or adult lifestyle factors," says Barker, now 72 and a professor at the University of Southampton in England and at Oregon Health and Science University. "People scoffed at the idea that it could have anything to do with intrauterine experience." Barker persisted, however, amassing evidence of the connection between birth weight and heart disease in many thousands of individuals. For years the idea was known as the Barker hypothesis.

See how to prevent illness at any age.

In time his idea began to win converts. Janet Rich-Edwards, an epidemiologist at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, deliberately set out to disprove the Barker hypothesis. "I was convinced that your current risk factors determine your odds of developing disease," says Rich-Edwards, "not something that happened when you were a fetus." But, she adds, "there's nothing like your own data to change your mind." Rich-Edwards analyzed findings from the Nurses' Health Study, a long-running investigation of more than 120,000 RNs. Even when she took account of the nurses' adult lifestyles and socioeconomic status, the relationship between low birth weight and cardiovascular-disease risk remained robust. "Similar studies have been conducted at least two dozen times since then," she notes. "It's one of the most solidly replicated findings in the field of public health."

As a journalist who covers science, I was intrigued when I first heard about fetal origins. But two years ago, when I began to delve more deeply into the field, I had a more personal motivation: I was newly pregnant. If it was true that my actions over the next nine months would affect my offspring for the rest of his life, I needed to know more. (See why smoking during pregnancy may lead to uncoordinated kids.)

Of course, no woman who is pregnant today can escape hearing the message that what she does affects her fetus. She hears it at doctor's appointments, sees it in the morning newspaper and in the pregnancy guidebooks: Do eat this, don't drink that, always be vigilant — but never stressed. Expectant mothers could be forgiven for feeling that pregnancy is nothing but a nine-month slog, full of guilt and devoid of pleasure, and this research threatened to add to the burden.

But as I began applying what I learned to my own pregnancy, I developed a very different perspective on fetal origins. The scientists I met weren't full of dire warnings but of the excitement of discovery — and the hope that their discoveries would make a positive difference. We're used to hearing about all the things that can go wrong during pregnancy, but as these researchers are finding out, it's frequently the intrauterine environment that makes things go right in later life.

The Power to Change Behavior

Take, for example, the prospect of maintaining a healthy weight. Americans are heavier than ever, and their weight gain begins ever earlier in life. Could it be that a tendency for obesity is being programmed in the womb? A pair of studies conducted by researchers at Harvard Medical School suggest that may be the case: the greater a woman's weight gain during pregnancy, one study found, the higher the risk that her child would be overweight by age 3. The second study indicated that this relationship persists into the offspring's adolescence. Compared with the teenagers of women who had moderate weight gain during pregnancy, those of women who had excessive weight gain were more likely to be obese.

Of course, children could share eating habits or a genetic predisposition to obesity with their mothers; how can we know the prenatal environment is to blame? Researchers have compared children born to obese mothers with their siblings born after the mothers have had successful antiobesity surgery. The later-born children inherited similar genes as their older siblings, and (research shows) practice similar eating habits, but they experienced different intrauterine environments. In a 2006 study published in the journal Pediatrics, researchers found that the children gestated by women postsurgery were 52% less likely to be obese than siblings born to the same mother when she was still heavy. A second study by the same group, published in 2009, found that children born after their mothers lost weight had lower birth weights and were three times less likely to become severely obese than their older brothers and sisters. (See if your pregnancy will predict postpartum depression.)

"The bodies of the children who were conceived after their mothers had weight-loss surgery process fats and carbohydrates in a healthier way than do the bodies of their brothers and sisters who were conceived at a time when their mothers were still overweight," says John Kral, a professor of surgery and medicine at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in New York and a co-author of both papers. Their metabolisms were, in effect, made normal by their prenatal experience — perhaps through a process known as epigenetic modification, in which environmental influences affect the behavior of genes without altering DNA. It may be that the intrauterine environment is even more important than genes or shared eating habits in passing on a propensity for obesity, Kral says. If that's so, helping women maintain a healthy weight before and during pregnancy may be the best hope for stopping obesity before it starts.

The science of fetal origins also offers hope to people who believe that heredity has doomed their families to disease — people like the Pima Indians of the Gila River Reservation in Arizona, who have the highest rate of Type 2 diabetes in the world. There is little doubt that the high incidence of diabetes among the Pimas, and among Native Americans in general, has a significant genetic component. But new research from a study that has followed a large group of Pima Indians since 1965 points to an additional influence: prenatal experience. During pregnancy, a diabetic woman's high blood sugar appears to disrupt the developing metabolism of the fetus, predisposing it to diabetes and obesity.

See the top 10 medical breakthroughs of 2009.

Exposure to maternal diabetes in utero accounts for most of the increase in Type 2 diabetes among Pima children over the past 30 years, says Dana Dabelea, associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Colorado at Denver and an investigator on the study, and it may well be a factor in the alarming rise of the disease nationally. But it also opens a door to intervention. "If we could intensively control diabetic women's blood sugar during pregnancy," Dabelea says, "we could really bring down the number of children who go on to develop diabetes."

What's more, an understanding of the role of gestational factors in disease can change individual behavior, notes Daniel Benyshek, a medical anthropologist at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, who has interviewed members of Arizona's Native American tribes. He finds that those who believe diabetes is their genetic destiny tend to hold fatalistic attitudes about the illness. When Benyshek shared findings about the fetal origins of diabetes with tribe members, however, he noticed a different reaction. "The idea that some simple changes made during pregnancy could reduce the offspring's risk for diabetes fosters a much more hopeful and engaged response," he says. "Young women in particular are enthusiastic about the idea of intervening in pregnancy to break the cycle of diabetes. They say, 'I tried dieting, I tried exercising, and I couldn't keep it up. But I could do it for nine months if it meant that my baby would have a better chance at a healthy life.'" (See when it's o.k. to get pregnant after a miscarriage.)

The Impact of Air
The chance of a healthier life is what Frederica Perera is trying to give children in some of New York City's struggling neighborhoods. Perera, the director of the Center for Children's Environmental Health at Columbia University, became interested in the effects of pollution on fetuses more than 30 years ago, when she was conducting research on environmental exposures and cancer in adults. "I was looking for control subjects to compare to the adults in my study, individuals who would be completely untouched by pollution," she says. She hit on the idea of using babies just out of the womb as her controls, but when she received the results from samples of umbilical-cord blood and placental tissue she'd sent to a laboratory to be analyzed, she was sure there had been a mistake. "I was shocked," she says. "These samples I thought would be pristine already had evidence of contamination."

Since then, research by Perera and others has tied exposure to traffic-related air pollution during pregnancy to a host of adverse birth outcomes, including premature delivery, low birth weight and heart malformations. One of Perera's most striking studies got under way in 1998, when more than 500 pregnant women fanned out across upper Manhattan and the South Bronx wearing identical black backpacks, which they wore every waking moment for two days. Inside each backpack was an air monitor continuously measuring levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs, a type of pollutant that comes from vehicle exhaust and is also present in the fumes released by cigarettes and factory smokestacks.

The monitors revealed that 100% of the women were exposed to PAHs during their pregnancies. After their babies were born, analyses of cord blood from the infants showed that 40% had subtle DNA damage from PAHs — damage that has been linked to increased cancer risk. Further analysis found that those exposed prenatally to high levels of PAHs were more than twice as likely to be cognitively delayed at age 3, scoring lower on an assessment that predicts performance in school; at age 5, these children scored lower on IQ tests than children who received less exposure to PAHs in the womb.

Investigations like these have prompted scientists to expand their list of populations that are especially vulnerable to pollution. "We used to worry about elderly people and asthma patients," Perera says. "Now we worry about fetuses." And efforts to reduce environmental toxins can make a measurable difference, she says. "Over the years that we've been tracking exposures, New York City buses have switched to cleaner technology, and restrictions have been placed on the idling of diesel buses and trucks," Perera notes. "As a result, we've seen the levels of pollutants in pregnant women's blood coming down, which means their fetuses are encountering fewer of these substances too."

The Sources of Stress

At the farthest edge of fetal-origins research, scientists are exploring the possibility that intrauterine conditions influence not only our physical health but also our intelligence, temperament, even our sanity. Evidence indicates, for example, that pregnant women subjected to starvation or extreme stress give birth to children with a higher risk of schizophrenia. (See pictures of maternal mortality.)

Schizophrenia is a complex disorder with many potential causes. But a study based on 30 years of case records from Anhui province in China strongly suggests that prenatal factors can play a role. In the mid-20th century, residents of that region experienced severe malnutrition during the famine that accompanied the Great Leap Forward, Mao Zedong's disastrous modernization campaign. Individuals born to women suffering from the famine were twice as likely to develop schizophrenia as those gestated at other times. Likewise, a study of the health records of more than 88,000 people born in Jerusalem between 1964 and 1976 found that the offspring of women who were in their second month of pregnancy in June 1967 — the time of the Arab-Israeli Six-Day War — were significantly more likely to develop schizophrenia as young adults.

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Catherine Monk, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Columbia University, has advanced an even more startling proposal: that a pregnant woman's mental state can shape her offspring's psyche. "Research indicates that even before birth, mothers' moods may affect child development," Monk says. "Can maternal mood be transmitted to the fetus? If so, what is the mode of transmission? And how do such moods affect fetal development? These are new questions to be asking," she says. "We're still figuring out how to get fetuses to answer."

In fact, Monk and her colleagues have gone some way toward putting the fetus on the couch. At her lab, pregnant women who are depressed or anxious and pregnant women with normal moods are hooked up to devices that measure their respiration, heart rate, blood pressure and nervous-system arousal, as well as the movements and heart rate of their fetuses, and then subjected to challenging mental exercises. All of the women show physiological signs of stress in response to the tests, but only the fetuses of depressed or anxious women display disturbances of their own. (See why antidepressants and miscarriages are linked.)

"This difference suggests that these fetuses are already more sensitive to stress," Monk says. "Perhaps that's because of a genetic predisposition inherited from the parents. Or it could be because the fetuses' nervous systems are already being shaped by their mothers' emotional states." Women's heart rate and blood pressure, or their levels of stress hormones, could affect the intrauterine milieu over the nine months of gestation, Monk explains, influencing an individual's first environment and thereby shaping its development.

The differences Monk has found among fetuses appear to persist after birth. And because basic physiological patterns like heart rate are associated with more general differences in temperament, Monk says, "it may be that the roots of temperamental variation go back to the womb."

It could even be the case that a pregnant woman's emotional state influences her offspring's later susceptibility to mental illness. "We know that some people have genetic predispositions to conditions like depression and anxiety," Monk says. "And we know that being raised by a parent with mental illness can increase the risk of mental illness in the offspring. It may be that the intrauterine environment is a third pathway by which mental illness is passed down in families." This kind of research, says Monk, "is pushing back the starting line for when we become who we are."

Back to the Future
Ten years ago, when Matthew Gillman, a professor of population medicine at Harvard University, launched Project Viva — a study tracking more than 2,000 Boston-area children since they were fetuses — he knew he wanted to explore the effects of childhood experiences on later health. "But David Barker's research had started me wondering: When do these experiences really begin?" says Gillman. "I came to think they begin before birth, and so my study would have to start there too." Already the project has begun to illuminate the fetal origins of asthma, allergies, obesity and heart disease, as well as the role of gestational factors in brain development.

There are more revelations on the way. This year, the first of 100,000 pregnant women began enrolling in the National Children's Study, a massive, federally funded effort to uncover the developmental roots of health and disease. Researchers are conducting interviews with the women about their behaviors during pregnancy; sampling their hair, blood, saliva and urine; and testing the water and dust in their homes. The women and their children will be followed until the offspring turn 21, and the first results from the study, concerning the causes of premature births and birth defects, are expected in 2012.

Another line of research is developing interventions aimed at preventing disease. David Williams, a principal investigator at the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, is testing the notion that certain substances consumed during pregnancy can provide offspring with lifelong chemoprotection from illness. In Williams' studies, the offspring of mice that ingested a phytochemical derived from cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cabbage during pregnancy were much less likely to get cancer, even when exposed to a known carcinogen. After they were weaned, the offspring in Williams' experiments never encountered these protective chemicals again, yet their exposure shielded them from cancer well into maturity. He predicts that one day, pregnant women will be prescribed a dietary supplement that will protect their future children from cancer. "It's not science fiction," he says. "I think that's where we're headed."

Knowledge gleaned from fetal-origins research may even benefit those of us whose births are in the past. "I always ask my adult patients what their birth weight was," says Mary-Elizabeth Patti, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School and a physician-scientist at the university-affiliated Joslin Diabetes Center. "Patients are often surprised at the question — they expect me to ask about their current lifestyle. But we know that low-birth-weight babies become adults with a higher risk of diabetes, so having that information gives me a more complete picture of their case." Patti is researching how data about patients' birth weight could translate into tailored courses of treatment. (Can postpartum depression strike fathers?)

These possibilities may seem strange and surprising, but then the notion that we owe anything about our mature selves to our experiences during childhood was once considered preposterous too — before Sigmund Freud first pointed our attention to those formative years. With time and evidence, the idea that our health and well-being are shaped during gestation could also come to seem commonsensical. Perhaps our children, whose first snapshots were taken not in a hospital bassinet but inside a uterus, won't find the idea of fetal origins odd at all.

As for me, the baby in my belly for those nine months is now a sandy-haired toddler named Gus. Where did his particular qualities come from? Will he be strong or sickly, excitable or calm? What will his future hold? These are the questions parents have long pondered about their children. More and more, it looks as if many of the answers will be found in the womb.

Adapted from Origins: How the Nine Months Before Birth Shape the Rest of Our Lives, by Annie Murphy Paul, published in September by Free Press

Friday, October 1, 2010


There are two days in every week about which we should not worry.

Two days which should be kept free from fear and apprehension.

One of these days is yesterday with its mistakes and cares,

Its faults and blunders, Its aches and pains.

Yesterday has passed forever beyond our control.

All the money in the world cannot bring back yesterday.

We cannot undo a single act we performed.

We cannot erase a single word we said. Yesterday is gone.

The other day we should not worry about is tomorrow.

With its possible adversities, Its burdens,

Its large promise and poor performance.

Tomorrow is also beyond our immediate control.

Tomorrow's Sun will rise, either in splendor or behind a mask of clouds,

but it will rise.

Until it does, we have no stake in tomorrow, for it is yet unborn.

This just leaves only one day . . . Today.

Any person can fight the battles of just one day.

It is only when you and I add the burdens of those two awful eternity's -

yesterday and tomorrow that we break down.

It is not the experience of today that drives people mad.

It is the remorse or bitterness for something which happened yesterday

and the dread of what tomorrow may bring.
Let us therefore live but one day at a time.

Friday, September 17, 2010


By Michael T. Smith

Ginny and I sat on the deck, like we do a lot, and watched the world flow by. A robin flew into the tree in the yard. It had a twig its mouth.

"Looks like they're building a nest." Ginny said.

"I think you're right." I watched the robin select a perfect spot and thread the branch into position. A second robin with a twig joined the first.

Throughout the next few days, we watched the mates work together to construct a resting place for their soon-to- be-laid eggs. The nest was completed. A few days later, momma bird settled into her new home. They two parents took turns warming the eggs, always aware of the needs of the other and their precious charge. Each knew the other needed nourishment and the eggs needed warmth. It was a perfect partnership.

Every hour or less, the two robins traded places keeping the eggs safe, while the other flew off in search of warmth. The rains fell. At night, the temperatures dropped below freezing, but the two robins, who chose a safe position for their nest, stuck by their eggs. They knew their duties. The wind blew; the tree rocked; and the robins held tight. The eggs would not fall on their watch.

A week or two later, Ginny and I watched as they carried worms to the newly hatched babies. Again, they took turns, sacrificing their own needs for the babies God blessed them with. We watched three little beaks rise above the rim of the nest, and reach for Mom or Dad, as they delivered their meals.

One morning I sat, drank my tea and read a book. The morning sun warmed me. The day was peaceful. No one stirred. I heard a bird chirp in front of me. I looked up. No bird was in sight. It chirped again.

"OK! I hear you, but where are you?"

I stood. The yard was empty. The chirping stopped. I gave the yard one more look, scratched my head, and sat to read. Out of the corner of my eye, I detected movement. One of the young robins hoped over my foot, chirped, and looked up at me. Little white baby feathers stuck out from the side of its face and head. It looked like a bad feather day for this one.

"Hey, little fella. Did you make the big leap?"


"Really?" I asked. "Is that all you have to say?"


I moved. Little robin hopped to the safety of a small bush by the fence.

"So that's where you've been hiding!"

He peeked out at me from behind the thorny branches.


I left him or her alone and went inside. Later, I went outside and there were two of the babies on the patio. Only one remained in the nest. It sat on the edge of the nest, chirped for his siblings, but they were gone. Mom and Dad followed their two coup-flying offspring around the yard. They no longer pushed worms between the baby's beaks. They put the worms beside them. The hungry young needed to learn how to satisfy their hunger, pick up the worms and feed themselves. In the nest, the last of the family sat and continued to chirp for its dinner. I watched it for another day. Momma and Daddy flew to a branch close to the nest with a tasty worm dangling from their beaks. The last baby chirped and watched its parent fly off with dinner.

"Chirp! My dinner?"

It sat at the edge of the nest and cried out for food, but Mom and Dad refused. It hopped around the edge of the nest, leaned forward, flapped its wings, chirped hesitated, and settled back in the nest. It cried for food, but none came. Momma and Poppa had worms. They dangled them in front of their baby. Momma flew off. Hunger took over. Baby jumped to the edge of the nest. Its fear was a smaller power than its hunger. It balanced, looked at the ground, spread its young wings and leaped toward momma on the ground. Nature taught it to flap and fly. Its heart raced as the ground gently came up to greet it. Momma rewarded its effort with the food it so badly wanted.

Robins, who mate for life, have many lessons to teach: a life devoted to their mate, commitment to family, and the ability to look at their children and say,

"Life has many worms. If you want yours, you need to fly.

You need to know when it is time to fly from the nest."

Friday, August 27, 2010


So many of us are addicted that I want to write a bit more on it. First of all, we are addicted to need; the lack of fulfillment of need. The depth of the neglect of the need determines how seriously addicted one is. We choose our addiction due to many reasons. But basically, how early the trauma or lack of love there is may be one factor. Then the compounding of the very early neglect, say, the lack of touch dating back to right after birth and on into infancy, is another component. So the continual lack of fulfillment exacerbates the pain. Never been touched, held or soothed makes matters worse. It all wraps around need. If there were a grandma who caressed the child a bit then the need is less severe.

Those needs start in the womb, which is a massive kick-start to addiction. If the mother drank to ease her pain then perhaps the offspring will sense physiologically that alcohol can soothe pain; the beginnings of addiction. If the pain goes on due to constant neglect by the parents, becoming severely debilitating, a devastating addiction is on its way. If the mother takes drugs during pregnancy then a pill taker is coming soon. And usually, the pills will be the opposite of what mother took. If she was on cokes, cocaine, speed, coffee, hyping up the baby in her womb, then we may have an adult who is addicted to tranquilizers and painkillers in order to calm his hyped-up system. The needs are at first life-saving so that lack of fulfillment generates great pain. As we mature the needs are important but not as life-saving. Needs before birth are much stronger than later on. They deal with survival. Once we survive well physiologically we can move on to social needs: to be listened to be looked at, understood, helped, guided, etc.

I cannot emphasize this enough: We are addicted to need. The earlier the need the more powerful its neglect. That is why Hollywood doesn’t destroy people; they are already destroyed by events that may antedate birth. The neglect may drive one to Hollywood because it is basically the land of the seriously damaged. It is the goal for those who are underappreciated and never paid attention to. The size of the pain leads to neurotic solutions commensurate with that force; now we need the whole world’s approval. How better than in the cinema.?

We don’t want to ignore genetics but in my opinion genetics is minimal; but life in the womb is critical. And so what is the addict doing? Fulfilling the need from that time; that is, trying to equalize or normalize the chemistry that was warped from very early on. He takes more serotonin (Prozac) to calm him. He would have had enough all through his life if his levels were not dislocated by trauma in the womb or at birth. He is trying to get himself back; get the parts that were missing from the start. That is why drugs make us feel like “ourselves” again. They make up for the deficit.

The choice of drug may be any number of things; food for Jewish families who put such importance on it. Wine for the French; you get the idea. But the force and strength of the addiction is not cultural. It is biologic, much the same the world over. If we just think, the need for (drugs, food alcohol) is first of all and most importantly, the need”. Period. If we make the mistake of treating the “need for” as the problem instead of the need itself we will never cure anyone of anything. That is, if we neglect history and address only the apparent problems we are bound to fail. Those few words, “Need for,” and “need,” must be clearly differentiated. One is the need direct; (pain/history/primal therapy) the other is “need for” (calming agent/kill pain/cognitive therapy).

The latter is what the cerebral therapies address, believing that is the problem. No. the problem is real need which drives the “need for” How deprived the real need is how overpowering the addiction. So many parents wonder what they did wrong because their child was and is addicted. Maybe they did nothing wrong because the root of heavy addiction goes back to long before they had a chance to mistreat the child. Never forget life in the womb. My book on this will be out in five months.

The reason that both addiction and psychosis have been so hard to treat in conventional therapy is that the origins lay back before we set foot on earth. Damage during this period is most often the origin of later addiction/psychosis; but there is no therapy extant, other than primal that can go so deep.

Sunday, August 8, 2010


How do you feel about anger, in yourself and in others? How do you deal with it?

Anger is powerful energy. If we are afraid of this energy, we may attempt to deny or hide it. And when we lack control of the energy of anger, we impose it on other people or things. The ways we react to anger usually reflect how we experienced anger as children and how our own anger when we were young was handled by the adults at the time. In reality, anger, like any emotion, brings us information. It tells us how we feel about what is being experienced.

If we receive anger’s message and learn more about ourselves, the energy will pass.

"Too often we underestimate how quickly our feelings are going to change because we underestimate our ability to change them." -- David Gilbert

Friday, July 30, 2010


(CNN) -- Seismic cultural shifts about 10,000 years ago rendered the true story of human sexuality so subversive and threatening that for centuries, it has been silenced by religious authorities, pathologized by physicians, studiously ignored by scientists and covered up by moralizing therapists.

In recent decades, the debate over human sexual evolution has entertained only two options: Humans evolved to be either monogamists or polygamists. This tired debate generally devolves into an antagonistic stalemate where women are said to have evolved to seek male-provisioned domesticity while every man secretly yearns for his own harem. The battle between the sexes, we're told, is bred into our blood and bones.

Couples who turn to a therapist for guidance through the inevitable minefields of marriage are likely to receive the confusing message that long-term pair bonding comes naturally to our species, but marriage is still a lot of work.

Few mainstream therapists would contemplate trying to persuade a gay man or lesbian to "grow up, get real, and stop being gay." But most insist that long-term sexual monogamy is "normal," while the curiosity and novelty-seeking inherent in human sexuality are signs of pathology. Thus, couples are led to believe that waning sexual passion in enduring marriages or sexual interest in anyone but their partner portend a failed relationship, when in reality these things often signify nothing more than that we are Homo sapiens.

This is a problem because there is no reason to believe monogamy comes naturally to human beings. In fact, for millions of years, evolutionary forces have cultivated human libido to the point where ours is arguably the most sexual species on Earth.

Our ancestors evolved in small-scale, highly egalitarian foraging groups that shared almost everything. Anthropologists have demonstrated time and again that immediate-return hunter-gatherer societies are nearly universal in their so-called "fierce egalitarianism." Sharing is not just encouraged; it's mandatory.
Ours is arguably the most sexual species on Earth.
--Christopher Ryan

Most foragers divide and distribute meat equitably, breast-feed one another's babies, have little or no privacy from one another, and depend upon each other every day for survival. Although our social world revolves around private property and individual responsibility, theirs spins toward interrelation and mutual dependence. This might sound like New Age idealism, but it's no more noble a system than any other insurance pool. Compulsory sharing is simply the best way to distribute risk to everyone's benefit in a foraging context. Pragmatic? Yes. Noble? Hardly.

For nomadic foragers who might walk hundreds of kilometers each month, personal property -- anything needed to be carried -- is kept to a minimum. Little thought is given to who owns the land, or the fish in the river, the clouds in the sky, or the kids underfoot. An individual male's "parental investment," in other words, tends to be diffuse in societies like those in which we evolved, not directed toward one particular woman -- or harem of women -- and her children, as conventional views of our sexual evolution insist.

But when people began living in settled agricultural communities, social reality shifted deeply and irrevocably. It became crucially important to know where your property ended and your neighbor's began. Remember the 10th Commandment: "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that [is] thy neighbor's." With agriculture, the human female went from occupying a central, respected role to being just another possession for men to accumulate and defend, along with his house, slaves and asses.

The standard narrative posits that paternity certainty has always been of utmost importance to our species, whether expressed as monogamy or harem-based polygyny. Students are taught that our "selfish genes" lead us to organize our sexual lives around assuring paternity, but it wasn't until the shift to agriculture that land, livestock and other forms of wealth could be kept in the family. For the first time in the history of our species, biological paternity became a concern.
Our ancestors evolved in highly egalitarian foraging groups that shared almost everything.
--Christopher Ryan

* Sexuality
* Social and Behavioral Sciences
* Anthropology
* Relationships

Our bodies, minds and sexual habits all reflect a highly sexual primate. Research from primatology, anthropology, anatomy and psychology points to the same conclusion: A nonpossessive, gregarious sexuality was the human norm until the rise of agriculture and private property just 10,000 years ago, about 5 percent of anatomically modern humans' existence on Earth.

The two primate species closest to us lend strong -- if blush-inducing -- support to this vision. Ovulating female chimps have intercourse dozens of times per day, with most or all of the willing males, and bonobos famously enjoy frequent group sex that leaves everyone relaxed and conflict-free.

The human body tells the same story. Men's testicles are far larger than those of any monogamous or polygynous primate, hanging vulnerably outside the body where cooler temperatures help preserve standby sperm cells for multiple ejaculations. Men sport the longest, thickest primate penis, as well as an embarrassing tendency to reach orgasm when the woman is just getting warmed up. These are all strong indications of so-called sperm competition in our species' past.

Women's pendulous breasts, impossible-to-ignore cries of sexual delight, or "female copulatory vocalization" to the clipboard-carrying crowd, and capacity for multiple orgasms also validate this story of prehistoric promiscuity.

"But we're not apes!" some might insist. But we are, in fact. Homo sapiens is one of four African great apes, along with chimps, bonobos and gorillas.

"OK, but we have the power to choose how to live," comes the reply. This is true. Just as we can choose to be vegans, we can decide to lead sexually monogamous lives. But newlyweds would be wise to remember that just because you've chosen to be vegan, it's utterly natural to yearn for an occasional bacon cheeseburger.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Christopher Ryan.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Think back to yesterday. Imagine that your memory is a videocassette that you can rewind to any time you choose. Right now, take it back just twenty-four hours. What were some of the things you did during the day? Did anything frighten you or make you angry? Focus on a moment of anger, becoming aware of the sensations in your body as well as the emotions in your mind.

Next, rewind the videotape back exactly one year. Do you recall being angry or worried about something? Try to feel the emotions of that time in your mind and in your body. Are the feelings the same as the feelings you remember feeling yesterday?

Rewind the tape even father back to when you were a teenager. Repeat the process. Then try to remember an incident from childhood. Notice how the anger that you experienced yesterday has been built on emotions from so long ago. Notice how the fear and anger have accumulated over the years.

Although you cannot remember it, there was a time in your life before you ever felt anger or fear, a time of total peace and tranquility. Try to imagine what that experience of utter bliss might have been like. Focus on a time before fear or anger.

Rewind that imaginary tape of your life until the screen goes back, and feel the boundaries evaporate between yourself and your surroundings. For the next minute, feel the total loss of all your accumulated anger, fear, and ego.

With that feeling of total bliss still in your awareness, begin to move that imagery videotape forward again. Visit the same points in your life that you stopped at earlier. As you envision these scenes again, introduce the experience of bliss back into the setting.

Instead of allowing one moment of anger to build upon another, begin to erase these moments one by one, from earliest childhood to just yesterday. Spend a minute or so feeling the anger and fear being erased by this memory of bliss. And as those feelings are erased, allow the toxic buildup of years of anger and fear to be erased from your spirit.

Adapted from The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire, by Deepak Chopra

Friday, July 16, 2010

Gibson's Gospel

Let us enter, you and I, into the moral universe of the modern narcissist.

The narcissistic person is marked by a grandiose self-image, a constant need for admiration, and a general lack of empathy for others. He is the keeper of a sacred flame, which is the flame he holds to celebrate himself.

There used to be theories that deep down narcissists feel unworthy, but recent research doesn’t support this. Instead, it seems, the narcissist’s self-directed passion is deep and sincere.

His self-love is his most precious possession. It is the holy center of all that is sacred and right. He is hypersensitive about anybody who might splatter or disregard his greatness. If someone treats him slightingly, he perceives that as a deliberate and heinous attack. If someone threatens his reputation, he regards this as an act of blasphemy. He feels justified in punishing the attacker for this moral outrage.

And because he plays by different rules, and because so much is at stake, he can be uninhibited in response. Everyone gets angry when they feel their self-worth is threatened, but for the narcissist, revenge is a holy cause and a moral obligation, demanding overwhelming force.

Mel Gibson seems to fit the narcissist model to an eerie degree. The recordings that purport to show him unloading on his ex-lover, Oksana Grigorieva, make for painful listening, and are only worthy of attention because these days it pays to be a student of excessive self-esteem, if only to understand the world around.

The story line seems to be pretty simple. Gibson was the great Hollywood celebrity who left his wife to link with the beautiful young acolyte. Her beauty would not only reflect well on his virility, but he would also work to mold her, Pygmalion-like, into a pop star.

After a time, she apparently grew tired of being a supporting actor in the drama of his self-magnification and tried to go her own way. This act of separation was perceived as an assault on his status and thus a venal betrayal of the true faith.

It is fruitless to analyze her end of the phone conversations because she knows she is taping them. But the voice on the other end is primal and searing.

That man is like a boxer unleashing one verbal barrage after another. His breathing is heavy. His vocal muscles are clenched. His guttural sounds burst out like hammer blows.

He pummels her honor, her intelligence, her womanhood, her maternal skills and everything else. Imagine every crude and derogatory word you’ve ever heard. They come out in waves. He’s not really arguing with her, just trying to pulverize her into nothingness, like some corruption that has intertwined itself into his being and now must be expunged.

It is striking how morally righteous he is, without ever bothering to explain what exactly she has done wrong. It is striking how quickly he reverts to the vocabulary of purity and disgust. It is striking how much he believes he deserves. It is striking how much he seems to derive satisfaction from his own righteous indignation.

Rage was the original subject of Western literature. It was the opening theme of Homer’s “Iliad.” Back then, anger was perceived as a source of pleasure. “Sweeter wrath is by far than the honeycomb dripping with sweetener,” Homer declared. And the man on the other end of Grigorieva’s phone seems to derive some vengeful satisfaction from asserting his power and from purging his frustration — from the sheer act of domination.

And the sad fact is that Gibson is not alone. There can’t be many people at once who live in a celebrity environment so perfectly designed to inflate self-love. Even so, a surprising number of people share the trait. A study conducted at the National Institutes of Health suggested that 6.2 percent of Americans had suffered from Narcissistic Personality Disorder, along with 9.4 percent of people in their 20s.

In their book, “The Narcissism Epidemic,” Jean M. Twenge and W. Keith Campbell cite data to suggest that at least since the 1970s, we have suffered from national self-esteem inflation. They cite my favorite piece of sociological data: In 1950, thousands of teenagers were asked if they considered themselves an “important person.” Twelve percent said yes. In the late 1980s, another few thousand were asked. This time, 80 percent of girls and 77 percent of boys said yes.

That doesn’t make them narcissists in the Gibson mold, but it does suggest that we’ve entered an era where self-branding is on the ascent and the culture of self-effacement is on the decline.

Every week brings a new assignment in our study of self-love. And at the top of the heap, the Valentino of all self-lovers, there is the former Braveheart. If he really were that great, he’d have figured out that the lady probably owns a tape recorder.
J Brooks


William Lambert

So you have been living for 40 or 50 or 60 years. What do you have to show for it? What comes to your mind first? Your children? Your house? your car? Were your children an accomplishment or an accident? Should a spouse who loves you be listed in your inventory?

I did this inventory 10 years after I have been teaching school. I personally felt my inventory was not what it should be. I had a car and an apartment. I wanted a family and a house. I changed my behavior in an attempt to get those things.

Ten years later I felt that this was not enough. A wife and kids for me was not enough for my inventory. A new direction had to be derived. I spent much time in determining what truly makes me happy. I discovered that what really made me happy was helping other people.

My inventory includes letters from three people whose life I saved using my CPR skills. A distinguished teacher award. College Degrees, Letters from students that say without my influence they would never have attended college.

Action Step. Do your life's Inventory. Try to add things that cannot be taken away from you. Certificates, Degrees, and Marketable Skills that you enjoy. Do not focus on material things.

Action Step. Discover the joy of helping others. Share your skills, your knowledge, your understandings with others. Do this without seeking credit or anything in return.

Action Step. Look at your resume. Rewrite it as if you have accomplished more. Then work on making it happen. Never think the thought that "I am too old." There exist a list of people that were over 60 before they achieved their major accomplishments. The greatest joy in my life is when I received an E Mail stating that I helped someone change their behavior.

Action Step. Please note that you don't necessarily help someone if you give them material things. You really help when you teach them how to get their own and/or when you cause them to change behavior.

Friday, July 2, 2010


By Joseph Russo

My grandfather lived to 102. I believe his longevity was in large part due to his special attitude.

At his 100th birthday party we sat for four hours talking. During our talk he proclaimed that Life is a wonderful and beautiful adventure to be appreciated and enjoyed. I reminded him that Life could not have been so when he was fighting in World War I in the trenches in France.

He said that sometimes things and situations do get in the way of seeing Life's wonder and beauty but that Life's wonder and beauty are always there, whether we see them or not.

Then he told me this story to explain further: during WWI in France, when he was lying in the cold trenches watching the death and destruction all around him he thought that Life was hell and a very ugly journey. Then he looked up at a nearby tree and saw and heard two birds singing to one another. That, he said, is when he realized that Life is always beautiful and wonderful, but not always easy to see that way.

He told me that on my darkest and stormy day to do my best to remember that above the dark and stormy clouds the sun is always shining...keep looking up, you will see the sun and/or the birds eventually. Have faith...Life's beauty and wonder are always there waiting to be seen and appreciated

Friday, June 25, 2010


You have heard of the cup that overflowed. This is a story of a bucket that is like the cup, only larger, it is an invisible bucket. Everyone has one. It determines how we feel about ourselves, about others, and how we get along with people. Have you ever experienced a series of very favorable things which made you want to be good to people for a week? At that time, your bucket was full.

A bucket can be filled by a lot of things that happen. When a person speaks to you, recognizing you as a human being, your bucket is filled a little. Even more if he calls you by name, especially if it is the name you like to be called. If he compliments you on your dress or on a job well done, the level in your bucket goes up still higher. There must be a million ways to raise the level in another's bucket. Writing a friendly letter, remembering something that is special to him, knowing the names of his children, expressing sympathy for his loss, giving him a hand when his work is heavy, taking time for conversation, or, perhaps more important, listing to him.

When one's bucket is full of this emotional support, one can express warmth and friendliness to people. But, remember, this is a theory about a bucket and a dipper. Other people have dippers and they can get their dippers in your bucket. This, too, can be done in a million ways.

Lets say I am at a dinner and inadvertently upset a glass of thick, sticky chocolate milk that spills over the table cloth, on a lady's skirt, down onto the carpet. I am embarrassed. "Bright Eyes" across the table says, "You upset that glass of chocolate milk." I made a mistake, I know I did, and then he told me about it! He got his dipper in my bucket! Think of the times a person makes a mistake, feels terrible about it, only to have someone tell him about the known mistake ("Red pencil" mentality!)

Buckets are filled and buckets are emptied ? emptied many times because people don't really think about what are doing. When a person's bucket is emptied, he is very different than when it is full. You say to a person whose bucket is empty, "That is a pretty tie you have," and he may reply in a very irritated, defensive manner.

Although there is a limit to such an analogy, there are people who seem to have holes in their buckets. When a person has a hole in his bucket, he irritates lots of people by trying to get his dipper in their buckets. This is when he really needs somebody to pour it in his bucket because he keeps losing.

The story of our lives is the interplay of the bucket and the dipper. Everyone has both. The unyielding secret of the bucket and the dipper is that when you fill another's bucket it does not take anything out of your own bucket. The level in our own bucket gets higher when we fill another's, and, on the other hand, when we dip into another's bucket we do not fill our own ... we lose a little.

For a variety of reasons, people hesitate filling the bucket of another and consequently do not experience the fun, joy, happiness, fulfillment, and satisfaction connected with making another person happy. Some reasons for this hesitancy are that people think it sounds "fakey," or the other person will be suspicious of the motive, or it is "brown-nosing."

Therefore, let us put aside our dipper and resolve to touch someone's life in order to fill their bucket.

Friday, June 18, 2010


I am going to talk about myself, not as a measure of self indulgence, but in order to impart some of what I have learned about myself over the years.

I was an anxiety case most of my life. I could not concentrate, sit still or be tenacious, and I suffered nightmares. I think a lot of it was due to my life in the womb and at birth. Add to that my pain filled childhood and it can be understood. But why did I not know about this pain that was driving my life? If much of this took place before I was even on this planet how could I be objective about it? It was just me. And how could I feel unloved in my childhood? I was just me. It was not until I got a little love in my life that I began to understand what I did not get. Many of us do not reach that understanding because our personalities are so deviated from the start that it all seems normal not to get love. For example, my parents never talked to me or said my name. I never realized this until one day age thirteen I was at my friend's house and their mother came down into the kitchen and leaned against the sink and stayed talking to them. I ran home with this epiphany and told my dad that Mrs. Winters was talking to her kids, and not just for giving orders. I simply never knew that parents should talk to their kids. Nor did I know that parents should say their kid's name when addressing them. It was usually "hey you.' When I went down to join the Navy the gray haired lady asked my name. I told her and she said it back to me in an unhurried warm way. I felt something changed inside. I felt all warm and fuzzy inside and did not understand why but it marked me.

It marked me because it revealed a need I knew nothing about. It is why when my patients cry out their needs they are in great pain.

The reason we don't know it is because before we have words, painful feelings are engraved into our system. and they create physiologic reactions that simply feel normal to us. And if we never find love we never know about our unfulfilled needs. Sometimes we have so much pain early in life it crashes our defense system completely and we recognize that we are in pain. That is not the case with most of us. I always thought that nightmares were in all of us. Whenever I told someone I had a dream i always meant a bad dream. I grew up thinking everyone had only bad dreams. And since there was no one to talk to I just went on thinking like that.

It is the rare person who feels unloved during their childhood. We are just programmed by our imprint before birth and birth/infancy lives and we carry out the silent program. We either "dance" fast or slow by our imprint and we never even know that it is an imprint. This is why when we someone hugs us later in life it can hurt. It brings up the need and its lack of fulfillment. Some of us, therefore, avoid hugs. We become a cold personality because it protects us permanently against pain. The pain is lack of fulfillment of need; each time there is a slight fulfillment there is pain. You feel what you didn't get.

And the minute someone says or shows that they want us we become suckers because we never felt wanted. So we learn about that need when it is filled. I treated promiscuous girls who thought they were bad because they gave sex the minute someone showed an interest in them. Suddenly someone feels wanted. We are so unconscious that we are not even aware that we have an unconscious or that it continually drives us.

When you grow up not being able to concentrate it seems normal and you think that it is just the way things are. You never believe it could be any different. And you don't think about"different" because that is the way things are. I did not think that I could not concentrate because I never knew what it was not what it looked like. We keep making the same mistake in life because what we come to believe is normal warps us. We keep marrying the wrong person because the same need and its deviation continually drives us. We want a dominant man like our father so we can struggle to make him soft and tender; and it never happens. We marry "the struggle." We marry someone hyper critical so that symbolically we can have someone who approves of us. We are redoing and reliving our imprint all of the time.


Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has
been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was, since his
birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape. He will be remembered
as having cultivated such valuable lessons as:

- Knowing when to come in out of the rain;
- Why the early bird gets the worm;
- Life isn't always fair;
- and Maybe it was my fault.

Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don't spend more than
you can earn) and reliable strategies (adults, not children, are in charge).

His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of a 6-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using
mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student,
only worsened his condition.

Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job that
they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children.

It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer sun lotion or an aspirin to a student; but could not inform parents when
a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.

Common Sense lost the will to live as the churches became businesses; and criminals received better treatment than their victims.

Common Sense took a beating when you couldn't defend yourself from a burglar in your own home and the burglar could sue you for assault.

Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.

Common Sense was preceded in death, by his parents, Truth and Trust, by his wife, Discretion, by his daughter, Responsibility, and by his son, Reason.

He is survived by his 4 stepbrothers;
I Know My Rights
I Want It Now
Someone Else Is To Blame
I'm A Victim

Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone. If you still remember him, pass this on. If not, join the majority and do nothing.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


Did you know that anger brings you gifts you can’t get from any other place? This may sound hard to believe, but all of your emotions bring you specific, irreplaceable gifts; anger is no exception. In fact, because anger helps you set boundaries and take your place in the world, it is one of the most vital emotions you have.

Here’s the problem: We don’t have any permission to listen to or work with our anger! We’ve all been taught to repress, suppress, ignore, violently express, snarkily express, or ridicule anger … and very few of us have been able to break through that conditioning to learn what anger is actually for.

We’ve heard rumors and old wives’ tales about anger, but the emotional truth is this: We feel anger because it has something important to teach us. Each of our emotions has a specific purpose and a specific message, and all of them are absolutely necessary.

We’ve all seem the problems people create with their anger, and after reading the comments from last week’s post, I think we should explore the gifts anger brings you.

The Gifts of Anger

Anger brings you the gifts of healthy self-esteem, well-considered conviction, healthy detachment, the ability to deal with conflict honorably, and the ability to set clear boundaries. Anger is vital, and if you can make good use of it, anger will help you protect yourself and others in healthy ways.

Here’s what anger can teach you: Anger is a sign that your (or someone else’s) boundaries or self-image are being threatened (this is different from fear, which you feel when your physical safety is threatened). If you don’t know why you’re feeling anger, you may repress it and throw its awareness away (this can lead to a loss of your self-image or a stewing resentment that gets in your way), or you may express it rudely or violently and hurt other people. Both choices — the repression and the expression — are injurious, and both stop you from figuring out what the heck happened to you and what you should do about it!

Because our emotional training is so poor, I created specific questions to ask when the anger (or any emotion) comes up (you can find these in my new book, The Language of Emotions: What Your Feelings Are Trying to Tell You). Asking these questions does three things:

1. It helps you identify your emotions, which is a first step toward emotional maturity
2. It helps you understand what each emotion is for and why it arises
3. It recruits the verbal and rational part of your brain, which supports your emotions and helps you take constructive, emotionally appropriate action

Each of these steps helps calm you down so that you can focus your full intelligence on your emotions. For instance, in the case of anger, you ask yourself: What must be protected? and What must be restored? These questions can help you understand what to do with anger.

If you don’t know what anger is for, you’ll either repress it (which won’t rebuild your boundaries or your self-image), or you’ll express it (in aggression that may hurt other people, but will still not rebuild your boundaries!). And sadly, the next time you feel anger, you still won’t know what it’s for! That’s why I created a third, mindful option, which I call channeling the emotion (which means listening to it and learning what it’s for).

For instance: Let’s take anger. Imagine that you insult me openly: “Karla, you’re acting like an idiot.” There’s no subtlety there; you’re threatening my self image, you’re breaking my boundaries, and I’m going to feel angry about it. What I do with my anger depends on my level of emotional awareness, and on the quality of our relationship.

Repression: I may flush all over and stop what I’m doing, but not say anything to you. Usually, I’ll spend the rest of the day thinking about what I should have said. But I won’t learn anything or rebuild my wounded self image. The anger will be wasted, and our relationship will suffer because you won’t have learned how to relate to me in conflict. When people use their anger properly, they can deal with conflict in honorable ways!

Expression: I may tell you to shove off, and you might increase the intensity of your attack: “No, you shove off, you dimwit!” And so forth. We’ll be expressing all over each other and raising our blood pressure and our cortisol, but we won’t be protecting or restoring anything. We’ll just do more damage to each other and our relationship, and again, the anger will be wasted.

Channeling: I will feel the anger and know that my self-image and boundaries are being threatened. Anger will give me the strength I need to let you know you’ve hurt me, but also to listen to what you’re saying, “Ow! That hurts! You know how much I value my intelligence! Are you saying I’m being stupid right now?” When I can access the strength that anger brings me, I can deal with the conflict and be honest about how much you’ve hurt me. And now you’ll know more about me, about yourself, about your approach to conflict, and so forth. My anger, properly channeled, will protect both of us.

You may continue onward with your attack, but I’ll continue to protect and restore not just myself, but you and our relationship. Anger is a wonderfully honorable and social emotion when we can channel it properly.

When you know what each emotion is for, you can act intelligently and express — not the emotion, but the truth of the situation. So go ahead and get angry … just do it right!

Thursday, June 10, 2010


From Deepak Chopra:

It's not just giving, it's the spirit.

I'd like to talk about the hidden side of giving. People have a vague feeling that God favors those who give. Since Jesus said that it is more blessed to give than to receive, tithing became an established practice in Christian life. In India the focus is on karma -- in order to offset their bad deeds, people want some good karma, and giving to the poor is a way to do that. Still, as religious practice fades in every society, giving has become more secular. Few people feel secure in their conviction that giving has spiritual meaning.

I think that East and West are offering the same piece of wisdom: it's not what you give but the spirit in which you give that counts. At the level of the soul there are really three levels of giving:

1. Quid pro quo: you give in order to get something back. Whether you want a bit of good karma or a smile from God, the spirit here is selfish. Tit for tat is the rule. The giver expects to be appreciated. Big donors, whether to a political candidate or a prominent charity, expect to be noticed and praised. In small ways we all harbor a selfish part of ourselves. Imagine how you'd feel if you gave a lavish Christmas present to someone and received nothing back, not even a word of thanks? Suddenly, the act of giving would turn sour. When you give in order to add to your self-image, the act may be generous, but the spirit isn't. It's even common for this kind of giving to involve a good measure of guilt.
2. Charity from the heart. This is giving out of love. The word "charity" comes from the Latin "caritas," or love. In early Christianity caritas became one of the three great virtues, along with hope and faith. By the time of St. Paul it already meant charity in the modern sense, but the spirit of love was always understood. One gives as a child of God to another child of God. In this spirit there is no expectation of return. One may give anonymously or to strangers. Charity is selfless. It leaves the ego aside, if only briefly, with one intent in mind: to add to the sum total of love in the world. The spiritual significance is to expand the heart.
3. Giving everything that you are. This is true generosity of spirit. There is no separation between giver and receiver. You offer up your whole life, and in return life makes you more whole. This isn't just a mystical wish. Once you realize that everything comes from the universe and goes back to the universe, there is no need to make giving be about "me." Possessing nothing, you can give everything. You know that the universe has infinite resources; therefore, life itself can be based upon giving.

Looking around, one realizes that giving everything is the most natural way. You and I are here because Nature stinted in nothing. The air, the sky, the plant and animal kingdoms enrich the earth freely. The creative source that gave rise to life allowed single-celled algae and bacteria to evolve into the human brain, the most complex structure in the known universe. When the spirit of life really sinks in, and we realize the incredible gift we've received, the only possible act of appreciation is to give back with equal generosity.

In other words, giving should be twenty-four hours a day. At the level of spirit you can give of yourself completely. That's the goal we are all evolving toward. At certain moments we sense this, all of us. A mother's attitude toward her infant child is one of complete giving, out of wonder that new life has become hers to nurture and protect. In expanded form, this attitude becomes Ahimsa, a Sanskrit word often translated as "reverence for life." As a doctor I also like the definition for "harmlessness," because a physician's first duty is to do no harm. When you revere life, violence disappears, and it is only natural to do no harm. You are linked to all life, and by magic, every gift you give becomes a gift to yourself.

Friday, June 4, 2010


At the end of a recent post sardonically asking readers if they preferred oil or manure in the water, I mentioned that eating less—and preferably no—meat, eggs, and dairy products can help reduce both manure and oil spills, as it takes 10 times more fossil fuels to produce meat than to produce vegan foods. Since that post, the International Panel for Sustainable Resource Management, a United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) resource panel, has released a report stating that a global shift towards a vegan diet is vital if we are to halt climate change and other environmental problems. The U.N. report also suggests curbing fossil fuel use, which can also be achieved by going vegan.

Experts predict that there will be at least 9 billion people in the world by 2050, and global meat consumption is projected to double by that time. Meat consumption has been steadily increasing in China and other countries that once followed a more sustainable diet rich in vegetables and whole soy foods. According to Scientific American, the UN report points out that more than half of the world's crops are currently used to feed animals, and that conserving fuel and reducing pollution and greenhouse gasses will "only be possible with a substantial worldwide diet change, away from animal products."

As things stand now, more than one-third of the fossil fuels produced in America are used to raise animals for food. Massive amounts of grains and soybeans are grown for animal feed (it takes about 700 calories worth of feed to produce just one 100-calorie piece of beef) and are transported to processors in gas-guzzling, pollution-spewing 18-wheelers. More energy is used up operating feed mills and factory farms, trucking animals to slaughter, operating slaughterhouses, and then trucking the meat to processing plants, and so on. (Some of these stages are needed to produce and store vegan foods too, of course, but if everyone goes vegan, there will be no need for feed mills, factory farms, and slaughterhouses—and the multiple tractor-trailer trips between them.)

Much like BP, I don't know how to stop the ever-spreading oil spill in the gulf (although Matter of Trust's "hairmat" program seems worth pursuing), but following the basic "use less, spill less" concept can help prevent future spills.

And since eating a vegan diet can help mitigate climate change, stop forest destruction, and reduce pollution—as well as animal suffering and many human health problems—I hope everyone will finally heed the U.N.'s call to go vegan. As the UNEP's Janet Salem pointed out, many environmental problems can be traced to our choice of food. If you haven't already done so, why not take the 30-day veg pledge and find out how easy it is to be green?


Monday, May 17, 2010

Janov's reflections on the Human Condition

The most important psychiatrist alive today continues to lead the way into deeper understanding and ultimately peace within ourselves.

Janov's reflections on the Human Condition

About the Act Out

Posted: 17 May 2010 01:06 AM PDT

We keep busy and doing things to keep from feeling there is nothing I can do.

We keep having new projects to give us hope to keep from feeling there is no hope.

We keep controlling things to keep from feeling I am helpless.

We keep making phone calls to keep from feeling I am all alone.

Now why would we do that? Because the feeling I am all alone isn’t just something from yesterday or today; it is the primal aloneness in the first minutes or weeks of life when mother, who was sick at childbirth, abandoned her baby. It became a life and death matter. It is a devastating aloneness that can be triggered off in the present whenever we are left alone for a time.

We are acting-out against the pain, so that the act-out is unconscious; we do not know what drives us and we usually don’t even know that we are driven. It is all automatic. We keep from sitting still by much travel all to keep from feeling confined at birth, stuck in the canal, then later stuck in a tense and depressed household which was again “suffocating.” So we drag along our past but never know it is there weighing us down. One reason we know the pain is there is by the act-out, obsessive, continuous behavior that seems irrational. We are acting-out the feeling/pain, trying to get over the feeling but never knowing what it is or how to get rid of it.

Check your act-out and you will get a good idea of what your pain is. Now the tough part: feeling it.

If the lack of act-out makes you anxious, you cannot sit home today, then you know you are usually dealing with a very early first-line feeling. That is, if for any reason you cannot act-out, say you’re are sick and cannot keep busy, the anxiety will be your companion. The act-out has a purpose, a relief valve from importuning feelings. It lowers tension levels and allows us to function better.

The most universal act-out seems to be keeping busy, never a minute to think or feeling, just keep going, usually to feel there is no where to go and nothing to do. When we cannot act out we most often act-in. We suffer from cramps or high blood pressure or worse, epileptic attacks. I treated a woman who needed constant sex, to keep from feeling having never been touched by her parents early on. When she could not act out her blood pressure rose dramatically. The pain has to go somewhere, so let us not moralize about it. No one is obsessively sexual without that pain; not even Tiger Woods.

So what is it we must do! No we now what our deprivation was early on. If you need the windows wide open or else you get anxious you know you lacked oxygen. If you cannot be enclosed, say in a locked car for any time, you may well have been an incubator baby. So the act-out is usually what we call neurosis. It is not the behavior that is neurotic; it is logic in the extreme. It is our feelings that have been deviated and not normal. When we feel our pain we then normalize along most parameters from blood flow to sperm count, to the speed at which sperm move, to how fast our heart beats. So we see why it is so useless to do Behavior Therapy, treating the logical extension of pain instead of the pain itself underlying the behavior. If someone is awkward and often pushes us and we fall we know to avoid that person. But if we do not know what is pushing us we may tend to focus on the fall instead of the push, missing the point entirely. Behavior therapy is extremely superficial and deals only with what anyone can see instead of focusing on what is not obvious and cannot be seen. It doesn’t take a shrink to figure out Behavior Therapy; it takes a real shrink to go deeper. And that will only happen when someone has reached into her feelings and has complete access to herself. Then she won’t misfocus; then she will understand what drives her and therefore what drives others. She understands the “push” of feelings. No more mystery.


Freedom Through Forgiveness

-Devlyn Steele

Who has not been hurt, disappointed or really let down by someone in their lives? Maybe even worse, heart broken, lied to, cheated by or on by someone? The things we can do to each other from small to unspeakable are not the nice part of the human experience. Even still, they are part of our journey. Big or small, we will all suffer emotional pain caused by the behavior of others.

The tragedy of these negative events live on way beyond the moment. In fact, these painful episodes can live with us forever if we let them. They persist in our minds and have power over us. They effect our happiness, our ability to trust, to love and be loved. Negative experiences by the hand of another have a powerful imprint on our minds and our lives. We are able to feel the intensity of the pain way beyond the moment that the pain is inflicted. In fact, the intensity of the pain can get more severe as we focus on it and relive it in our minds years and years later.

The ability to experience pain beyond the moment can have us trapped, suffering by the actions of others as long as we continue to focus on it. Our bodies are much nicer to us in letting go of the experience of physical pain than we are to ourselves holding on to emotional pain. We have all stubbed our toe at some point or another...geez can that hurt. If you are like me you have done more than once ... ouch. I even broke my toe once ... ouch ouch. Okay, now I want you to concentrate on the experience, remember stubbing your toe, focus on it. Focus really hard.

No matter how hard you focus on it and remember the experience you cannot relive the pain. You cannot feel the pain you had then now. If you could, we would walk around in pain all the time or could hurt ourselves to the same level of the actual physical experience over and over again by just thinking about it. No, our bodies are smart, once the pain we experienced in the moment is over we can never feel the pain again from that moment. We do not have the same luxury with our emotional pain as we can re-experience pain when we focus on it over and over again.

Often what keeps us held a prisoner to thinking about the pain is our anger towards the person or event that was the cause of our pain. That anger keeps us thinking about what happened. The angrier we are the more we focus on it. As we focus on it, we relive the experience and feel the pain over and over again. What you need to realize is that the event, the moment that caused the emotional pain is over. The only thing that keeps that moment alive is the fact that you are thinking about it. The moment you do not think about it, it no longer is happening. It is not happening because it really is not happening, it already happened. What is happening right now is what is happening right now.

The irony is that the person who was the cause of this pain, that person is not thinking about it. The person involved has moved on and is living his or her life while you are stuck living the event of what they did. The road to you be free of holding on to that anger and living that moment endlessly is forgiving that person and you yourself moving on. The same is true of an event, meaning a hurricane might have blown your house down ... forgive and move on, don't stay in anger destroying the quality of your peace of mind.

When I tell people how forgiveness is the way to achieve freedom and peace in your life, I am often met with resistance. Forgiveness is a hard pill for someone who has suffered at the hand of another to swallow. The feelings are often that certain things are unforgivable. Further, forgiveness feels as though you are condoning the act, that you are saying what the person did is okay. To this, there is a great misunderstanding of what forgiveness in these situations mean.

When people hear that someone who has been wronged is able to forgive the perpetrator of the act, they think the person forgiving is an amazingly kind person who is selfless. That in order to forgive, maybe you don't really care what that person did, or that you are trying to be holy. What might surprise you is that forgiveness has nothing to do with any of that, not caring, being kind, holy or selfless. In fact, forgiveness is a very selfish act.

In order to understand what forgiveness is really about you need to let go of your anger. The anger is controlling you and clouding your vision. What you are really saying when you forgive someone is that they no longer have a hold on you. That you will not live tormented by what they did. That you are releasing them from your mind. You are forgiving that person not for them, but for yourself.

I wish you the ability to forgive the causes of the pains you have suffered and let them go. In that you will be free to live without the past dictating your experiences today. Forgive and become free, free to not let the past control how you experience your life today.