Greetings to each and every person who has visited this blog during the seven weeks of absence from writing here.  I am home now after more than 10,000 miles of traveling during the past seven weeks as I visited family and friends whom I love and who love me.

The time I spent in Alaska, the home of my heart, was everything I needed it to be in order for me to move forward with the writing of my book.

I will at this point be dividing my writing clearly between my book (which will not be appearing on this blog) and other assorted writing specifically for the blog.  As my precious Alaskan baby brother (now 44) told me, if it is my desire and my intention to write a book, then I need to do it.  He explained it to me this way:

A person might pick up tools and a block of wood intending to carve an image.  Perhaps they are not quite sure what image lies within the wood so they begin carving in process until that image becomes clear and the carving can then give it form.  If, however, that point never occurs where the image within the wood is found, shaped and born, all that will result from the effort of carving is a pile of wood shavings and dust.

I heard and understand the wisdom contained in my brother’s words, and I recognize that continuing to pour words out into my blog will not accomplish the creation of my book.  I will now separate the words that belong in my book from those that do not.


As I continue through the process of getting my ‘home legs’ under me, I will at least post a few interesting links here for reader consideration!  Please follow some or all of these links – THEY ARE IMPORTANT!  Please also join me in my gratitude to every single person who is involved with this quality of work to further our understanding about the impact of severe child abuse on human development – and the work of everyone committed to ending child maltreatment around the globe.

Please also remember the abuse being done to the fragile web of life on our glorious planet and the suffering of so many species being caused by the thoughtless harm of all kinds caused by humans.

And, for a load of Alaskan MOOSE FUN….


Back to School Tips: Parents Should Get Ready, Too!

Posted: 27 Aug 2009 08:21 AM PDT

Tips for parents on helping their kids succeed in school, adapter from information provided by our friends at Prevent Child Abuse New Jersey.

Amid the shopping trips for sharpened #2 pencils, crisp notebooks and new shoes, parents should start thinking about what they can do to become the best possible support system for their child this school year. The beginning of the new academic season is often the most important, as it sets the tone for a meaningful and successful year.  Research shows that students are more equipped to thrive academically and socially when parents are actively involved in their child’s education.


Emotional Abuse Recovery NOW


Going Big: Harlem Children’s Zone on This American Life

Posted: 18 Aug 2009 02:17 AM PDT

Hats off to This American Life for shining a spotlight on the solutions to the many problems that plague our nation’s impoverished families. Going Big, this week’s episode, profiles Geoffrey Canada, a pioneer in the fields of child and family support and poverty prevention. His organization, Harlem Children’s Zone, boasts tremendous outcomes for the families and community it serves, including:

  • l00% of students in the Harlem Gems pre-K program were found to be school-ready for the sixth year in a row.
  • 81% of Baby College parents improved the frequency of reading to their children.
  • $4.8 million returned to 2,935 Harlem residents as a result of HCZ’s free tax-preparation service
  • 10,883 number of youth served by HCZ in 2008.

Listen to the This American Life podcast.

Below is a five-minute video of moms talking about the challenges of raising children in Harlem and the difference HCZ is making in their lives.

This posting includes an audio/video/photo media file: Download Now


Brain Development Altered by Violence

By Dale Russakoff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, May 15, 1999; Page A3

LITTLETON, Colo.—More than a week had passed since Krystie DeHoff felt bullets and bombs explode all around her, since she ran in horror past young, dead bodies to safety. Now she was inching toward normality, shopping at King Soopers grocery, when the most innocent sound–a baby crying in his mother’s arms–set the Columbine High School massacre in motion again, this time in her mind. Her heart raced, her muscles coiled. She heard not a baby, but her classmates, shrieking. “All I could think was: MAKE HIM STOP!” she said.



Using Mental Strategies Can Alter

The Brain’s Reward Circuitry

ScienceDaily (June 30, 2008) — The cognitive strategies humans use to regulate emotions can determine both neurological and physiological responses to potential rewards, a team of New York University and Rutgers University neuroscientists has discovered. The findings, reported in the most recent issue of the journal Nature Neuroscience, shed light on how the regulation of emotions may influence decision making.



The Neural Self: The Neurobiology of Attachment

By Phil Rich, Ed.D., LICSW

It is its basis in biology that makes attachment theory unique among theories of psychology and child development. From the biological perspective, attachment is simply an evolutionarily-evolved process to ensure species survival, and is thus as much a part our biology as that of any animal.

From this perspective, cognitive schema and the resulting mental map is not merely a psychological phenomenon, but a physical entity, hard-wired into neural circuits and reflected in neurochemical and electrical activity within the central nervous system.

The mental map into which our experiences and memories are imprinted is thus a neurobiological structure, the result of synaptic processes, out of which human cognition and behavior emerges, resulting in LeDoux’s (2002) description of our “synaptic” self.

Siegel (2001) describes the pattern and clusters of synaptic firing as “somehow creat(ing) the experience of mind” (p. 69). He writes that “integration” reflects the manner in which functionally separate neural structures and processes cluster together and interact to form a functional whole – in this case, our selves.



Child abuse marks genes, affects ability to cope: Study

By Margaret Munro , Canwest News Service



Your Three Brains

The neurologist Paul MacLean has proposed that our skull holds not one brain, but three, each representing a distinct evolutionary stratum that has formed upon the older layer before it, like an archaeological site – he calls it the “triune brain.” MacLean, now the director of the Laboratory of Brain Evolution and Behaviour in Poolesville, Maryland, says that three brains operate like “three interconnected biological computers, each with its own special intelligence, its own subjectivity, its own sense of time and space and its own memory”.





National Child Abuse Prevention Conference: Call for Workshop Proposals

Posted: 17 Aug 2009 07:24 AM PDT

Proposals are now being accepted to present workshops for Changing the Way We Think About Prevention: Making Children Our Priority, Prevent Child Abuse America’s National Conference, to be held May 17-19, 2010, in Jacksonville, Florida.

The deadline for submissions is September 15, 2009.

Conference Audience: Estimated 1,000 professionals and volunteers engaged in the prevention of child abuse and neglect, the promotion of healthy child development, and in support of strong communities in a variety of ways.


Counting What Counts

Posted: 29 Jul 2009 10:19 AM PDT

The 20th annual KIDS COUNT Data Book provides a national and state-by-state look at the status of children in the United States. This year’s companion essay (pdf) outlines a series of action steps to improve the nation’s use of data in creating policies that improve outcomes for children and families.



I like this article (below) because it ties into how our social (right limbic) brain is SUPPOSED to operate!  If we do not get the mimicking from our early caregivers we need as infants while our social brain is developing (and we get a different brain as a result of this lack), the kinds and quality of social interactions the article (below) is talking about do not work right for us as adults.  This leads to all kinds of problems for us — including increased social interaction stress (and resulting risk for belly fat!).

Lack of adequate infant social interaction influences everything about how we later function in the world as members of a social species, including our ability to experience empathy and to communicate with others!

Monkey see, monkey do: Why we flatter via imitation



It turns out that the kind of belly fat I developed post-chemotherapy and cancer (steroid) treatment IS directly related to stress.  Reseachers are finding that post-menopausal women tend to gain that awful belly fat mostly because by that time of life our levels of responsibility and stress are often nearly ‘through the roof’.

Stress belly fat (causing the apple rather than the pear look) on both men and women is a DIFFERENT KIND OF FAT.  It turns out that those fat cells are hormone factories themselves, and have four times the number of cortisol (stress hormone) receptors.  These particular belly fat cells wrap themselves around internal organs and are directly responsible for signaling stress-related responses to our organs!  These are NOT the same kind of fat cells we carry on hips, thighs, arms, etc.!

Go figure!

This also relates to anxiety disorders such as depression and PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder)!  I am beginning to understand that when I encounter ‘belly fat’ people in public those people’s bodies are responding to those people’s life stress!  Talk about the usefulness of INFORMED COMPASSION for ourselves and for others!

(Read what fat-bellied monkeys tell us about our own social stress.)


Tomorrow I leave North Dakota for Alaska.  Will be checking in here from THERE!

(Did you happen to read “My Stroke of Insight” yet I mentioned in my earlier post?)

ALSO – Look for the current TIME magazine special ($11.95) issue on the BRAIN on the newstand or in your local grocery store or book store!!




I am still in the middle of traveling (went 4-wheeling and horse back riding today), and leave northern Minnesota tomorrow morning for a night’s stay at my son’s in Grand Forks, ND and then back down to my daughter’s in Fargo for another ten days before heading ‘home’ to Alaska to see my brothers and the land.

I could write volumes about my experiences thus far, but there’s only one thing I really want to mention right now.  My youngest sister generously sent me a copy of a book she was reading on her Kindle when I visited her in Seattle recently, My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey by Ph.D., Jill Bolte Taylor.  I want to mention it here so that any of you who might find her book of value will have time to get a copy to read before I finally get a chance (after my travels) to write here about my own perception of the value of this book.

Although I highly recommend Jill’s book, because of the specific issues I present on this blog regarding the life long consequences of early severe child abuse as it affects — and alters — the development of the young brain, I suggest that readers might wish to actually begin their reading of “My Stroke of Insight” with Chapter 15 that begins on page 138.  Of course it would be preferrable to begin at the beginning, but the information that the author presents beginning on the page I mention here is most specifically related to “our” topic.

I have never read in any single book so many clear and helpfully identified suggestions about how to manage one’s BRAIN and therefore one’s quality of life!  Jill’s descriptions about how the two hemispheres of the brain operate cannot be matched!  As you read this book you will come to understand how hard-won her suggestions about how to live a ‘better’ life are.  Yet while it is not my intention to in any way demean, belittle or criticize Jill’s perspectives, I do wish to urge this blog’s readers to practice what I call the ‘cautionary’ approach to her statements about her experience with healing her own brain post-stroke. 

Reading the latter chapters in Jill’s book provide an excellent experience in finding the middle road between what people might be able to know and understand about their brains when those brains were formed under benovolent conditions (as Jill’s seems to have been pre-stroke damage), and what those of us whose brains formed under malevolent severe child abuse and neglect conditions need to learn and understand about our altered brain and how to heal it.

Interestingly, Jill’s professional life as a neuroanatomist is intimately connected to Harvard, the same educational and research ‘facility’ that birthed the concept that those of us who were severely abused as children have a changed (‘evolutionarily altered’) brain as a result of our development under extremely adverse conditions.  While there is much in Jill’s writing that I can see as being of value to me (on the middle road) I do not get the sense that she knows about the ‘Martin Teicher’s Group’s’ research about child abuse and how it changes brain development.  Jill’s book does, however, give an impressive jump-start opportunity to learn valuable information about healing a wounded brain – and a wounded self – and that certainly includes me/us.

I won’t go into any more detail at the moment, but I wanted to get this information onto the blog about this book with the hopes that readers will take a little time to pop on over to amazon.com (at least) and explore the value of this book for themselves.  It is a very reasonably priced book and is worth much more for the dime than any book I could possibly recommend!!


I am far from feeling comfortable using other people’s computers, so will wait for a better  and more appropriate time  to activate those parts of my own brain and being that wait for a future date — when my current play-visit-self-expansion-challenge time has drawn to a close.  I wish you all the very best — and suggest that you read My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey by Ph.D., Jill Bolte Taylor as soon as you can get your hands on a copy!!  I promise — you will be glad that you did!  Rarely, in my opinion, does a book appear that more than carries its own weight in VALUE such as this one does!! 

Be sure to post your comments here about what you think of Jill’s book once you read it!!


 Who’s Mother of the Year? 



Step-up to Prevent Child Abuse!Promising Practices for Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect