Kindred Media http://www.kindredmedia.org Sharing the New Story of Childhood, Parenthood, and the Human Family Sun, 29 Mar 2015 21:17:22 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Touch As Nutrition http://www.kindredmedia.org/2015/03/touch-as-nutrition/ http://www.kindredmedia.org/2015/03/touch-as-nutrition/#comments Sun, 29 Mar 2015 20:17:56 +0000 http://www.kindredmedia.org/?p=16184 Touch could properly be regarded as a form of nutrition. We mistakenly think that touch occurs on the periphery of our self, a skin thing. But truthfully each surface stimulus travels far into the most hidden interior landscapes of our self, traversing long nerve cells right through the buried spinal core to enter and gather […]

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Touch could properly be regarded as a form of nutrition.

We mistakenly think that touch occurs on the periphery of our self, a skin thing. But truthfully each surface stimulus travels far into the most hidden interior landscapes of our self, traversing long nerve cells right through the buried spinal core to enter and gather in the deep folds of our brain. It’s not by accident that our skin and brain each are generated from a single ectodermic substance, cascading outwards and inwards as we grow in the womb, because right at the very root and origin of us, we are built to connect the inner and outer worlds.

TouchingThe necessity of nurturing touch is very clear when we are at our youngest. Without it, young children have the potential to wither and even die, though they are provided with food and medicine.

Slightly older children typically find ways to build a huge, varied diet of touch into their lives. From, at the rough end of the spectrum, tumbling unexpectedly onto their parents’ shoulders, rolling on the floor with siblings, wrestling with friends, to cuddling, sitting on knees, being carried, stroked and gently soothed at the other. Children actively shape their sense of self, not just mentally, but with their hands, elbows and knees, their bellies and mouths, inside the frequency, textures and intensities of this constant, rich field of contact.

(This is why non-nurturing, violent or invasive touch can be so devastating for a child, because it does harm right in the deep heartland of a child’s emerging identity.)

As we grow up we exchange this banquet of physical contact, all that rough and tumbling rolling around for…. well, often for very little.

For most of us, growing up coincides with a reduction in the range and quality of our tactile life. Our diet of nurturing physical contact thins out and narrows down. Ask yourself how your tactile day went today?

In fact, if we do assign a nutritional value to touch, it is clear that many, perhaps most adults, regardless of whether they are alone or in partnership, suffer from significant degrees of starvation in this arena. While some adults participate in contact sports or practices, seek out massage or physical therapies, most do not. While some adults have relationships that offer them a range of healthy touch, including but not confined to sexual, most relationships do not. Instead, we have a state of widespread tactile famine, a malnourishment that is so entrenched as normal we cannot even see that it exists.

Full Body PresenceWe participate in this under-nourishing of the body in many ways. The abundance of touching we once offered to others, for example, soon becomes rationed out, reserved for appropriate moments with appropriate people. Unlike the sometimes chaotic, improvised and spontaneous interactions of children at play, almost all of these moments, a handshake, a friendly hug, a pat on a colleague’s back, are highly stereotyped too, habitual and fairly unconscious exchanges of brief physical contact. Most of these moments also require a highly muted intensity. Sex therefore, for many adults, whether regular or infrequent, loving or casual, ends up carrying the entire burden of our need for intense nurturing touch. It’s a heavy task it often fails at.

Equally, our ascension into adulthood is often accompanied by the acquisition of goods and services that reduce the tactile shock of the world on our system. Comfortable furniture, convenient transport over smooth highways, and clothes and shoes that protect us from bumps or holes in the land or temperature: all conspire to soothe and dull the senses, especially touch. We are not numb, but we have arranged the world to induce a kind of torpor compared to what we could experience.

Touch cannot be talked about in polite society. No index of well-being seems to have measured it. But sometimes the absence of touch is acknowledged by proxy. Loneliness is one of its stand ins. Loneliness has many dimensions, but the absence of being held, stroked and touched is surely one of its most painful characteristics. The U.K. has a particular crisis here, coming 26th out of 28 European countries in a survey of who has neighbors or friends to turn to. According to the Campaign to End Loneliness, lacking social connections has the equivalent on health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

The loneliness which blights the last years of so many elderly people in our culture is based just as much on a physical deprivation as an emotional one. Two fifths of elderly people report that the television is their main company. And we know that loneliness can kill just as assuredly at this end of life as physical isolation killed at the beginning end. Solitary elderly people are almost 50 percent more likely to die early than those who have family, friends or community.

We could talk about poverty of touch just as validly as poverty of wealth, and although this is not confined to this area, frequently the two go together. Walk around a poor estate, and along with cramped and frayed housing, you will see many people, perhaps adults more than children, for whom reliable and consistent nurturing touch is but a memory, a yearning, perhaps an inflamed wounding, rather than a daily sustaining occurrence.

I am sure that for some people turning to aggression and physical violence is an ill judged act of substitution, motivated by a desperate need for the deep, meaningful contact that is missing. The shoving, grappling and hitting provide a perverse reminder, a tragic hint of the intense physical significance we all depend on for our sense of mattering in the world.

Individually and collectively, we need to recover a world that will nurture us, build a society that will sustain rather than erode us. Social and economic policies that prioritize real human need are priorities. But part of this task will also be to regenerate the possibilities of healthy nurturing touch in our lives and in our culture.

There are many reasons to think this is possible, because a good half of the work here is to simply pay attention to our already existing tactile experience, and to edge it forward just a little. As we pick up the mug of tea, we notice the weight and shape, the particular balance between strength and delicacy the porcelain has achieved, the contrast between the experience of the fingers and the experience of the lips. We can ignore the signs, step off the path and walk on the bumpy grass, among the trees, trail a hand across its trunk. We can once more hold our partner’s hand with some portion of the attention we brought to the miraculous first time we felt those fingers wrap around ours.

Key in the front door at the end of a stressful day, we can appreciate the ability of children to restore us. Because they plunge us back into a universe of sensation and tactile experience. They climb on us, tumble over our head or shoulder, jump on our backs, elbow us and knee us and rough us gloriously up. They break through the crust we have carefully built around our nervous system. They speak to us at a level we have forgotten about, but thirst for: the elemental dimension of physical contact.

 

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Shame Resilience And Authentic Being In A Shame-Based Culture http://www.kindredmedia.org/2015/03/shame-resilience-and-authentic-being-in-a-shame-based-culture/ http://www.kindredmedia.org/2015/03/shame-resilience-and-authentic-being-in-a-shame-based-culture/#comments Fri, 27 Mar 2015 19:59:53 +0000 http://www.kindredmedia.org/?p=16254 Shame Resilience 101 from soundarya on Vimeo. Shame Resilience Theory Explained: The grounded theory of Shame Resilience by Brene Brown, Ph.D., LMSW consists of four elements. As Dr. Brown discusses, these elements are not necessarily linear but for the sake of format and easy discussion they will be presented in a linear way. Recognizing Shame […]

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Shame Resilience 101 from soundarya on Vimeo.

Shame Resilience Theory Explained:

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The grounded theory of Shame Resilience by Brene Brown, Ph.D., LMSW consists of four elements. As Dr. Brown discusses, these elements are not necessarily linear but for the sake of format and easy discussion they will be presented in a linear way.

  1. Recognizing Shame & Triggers
  2. Practicing Critical Awareness
  3. Reaching Out
  4. Speaking Shame

Each part of the process is indispensable but does not necessarily happen in this order. Each step in the shame resilience model is placed on a continuum with dualities represented on each end of the continuum.

About The Project

The “It’s Okay To Not Be Okay” website is intended to create awareness about the theory of Shame Resilience. Everyone feels shame about something at some point in their lives. Acknowledging that shame without jeopardizing one’s authenticity is key to a well-rounded personality. Building this resilient spirit toward shame and not allowing it to take over your life is Shame Resilience.

About The Project Creator

soundarya1Soundarya Varma is a graduate student of Journalism at the Michigan State University. She is also a Communication graduate assistant for The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program at MSU. When not writing or reading, she enjoys spending time with friends and family. A former State News reporter, she is a curious person by nature and loves to learn something new every single day. Her interests lie in writing, storytelling and communications. Find her personal blog and website here.

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The Well-Rested Parent: Surrendering To The Call, Chucking Perfect And Awakening Your Vital Force http://www.kindredmedia.org/2015/03/the-well-rested-parent-surrendering-to-the-call-chucking-perfect-and-awakening-your-vital-force/ http://www.kindredmedia.org/2015/03/the-well-rested-parent-surrendering-to-the-call-chucking-perfect-and-awakening-your-vital-force/#comments Fri, 27 Mar 2015 17:13:00 +0000 http://www.kindredmedia.org/?p=16246 I want you to answer this question by raising your hand: are you exhausted? If you raised your hand, keep reading. If you didn’t raise your hand, keep reading, you may be in for a surprise. Parenting today is exhausting. Our child needs us, their school emails us all the time, then there’s work, keeping […]

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I want you to answer this question by raising your hand: are you exhausted? If you raised your hand, keep reading. If you didn’t raise your hand, keep reading, you may be in for a surprise.

Parenting today is exhausting. Our child needs us, their school emails us all the time, then there’s work, keeping up on social media or going on the learning curve to understand keeping our kids safe on social media. Life is full and often there’s a high level of this feeling of overwhelm in the modern parent.

PAHJ Karen Brody QuoteIronically we spend so much time tending to our child’s needs, and making sure they get enough rest and as they get older helping them find their calling, that suddenly we can’t find ours or we know it but we’re too exhausted to follow it. The call keeps knocking on our door – whether it’s a book we know we must write or a friendship we need to end –  but we resist the call. We say “yes” and “no” so many times without taking a breath that we’ve lost that connection to our deep knowing.

Parenting today is so exhausting we often are left thinking: I want my brain back. But in reality, to truly surrender to one’s calling we need our heart back. We need to take back feeling.

And that’s where yoga nidra meditation can help.  If you’re exhausted and feel unable to take that first step towards the life you desire, yoga nidra is your “home girl.”

Yoga nidra is a sleep-based meditation technique where all you have to do is lie down, do nothing, and be guided. It’s easy to do and activates the relaxation response in your body allowing your nervous system to balance. It turns your life force back on using a combination of breathwork, body sensation,  affirmations, and pairing opposites.

Yoga nidra takes you from the crazy-busy time bound state of consciousness that we live in every day to a delicious timeless state of being. It’s catnip for the busy modern parent. Why? Because when have you last been given permission to lie down and  do nothing – consciously? When have you been given a moment of stillness, for your body to deeply restore and a moment to tap into your heart’s deepest desires? Who doesn’t want more of that?

Have you ever noticed in films, and life of course, that hero’s always deny their calling at least once? Very rarely will we wake up in the morning and follow our calling. And this applies even more when you’re exhausted.  Fear multiplies when we run from it.  Absolutely, we’ve got obstacles in our way. Parents can spend years writing lists of all the obstacles, but have you ever noticed that some parents are on their Hero’s journey despite the obstacles? The reason for this is quite clear: they have surrendered.

Yoga nidra meditation is actually not a solution to your problem. It will not make gold happen in your life. Only you can. Instead, yoga nidra helps lead you to the gold. It helps you surrender to your Hero’s journey by awakening your vital force.

 

Awakening Your Vital Force

PAHJ Will You Answer The Call with site addressYour vital force is never asleep within you, but exhaustion can make it feel like it’s gone forever.  In yoga nidra we begin to clear the layers of karma holding you back from that part of you that’s not allow your vibrant, healthy multi-dimensional self to shine through.

When you surrender to your vital force you open space for the power to let go of what doesn’t serve you, so that your True Self has space to grow. Using yoga nidra meditation – a form of conscious sleep where you’re taken into deep brainwave states even below delta brainwaves to a place yogis call turiya – you will be able to relinquish old habits, patterns and beliefs making room for creativity, change, and abundance. This will affect all aspects of your life and help you strengthen loving relationships within your family, discover your purpose, know your self-worth, heal old habits, and find an unshakeable peace within you.

But you must surrender. That’s why often we need a push, which is the beauty of yoga nidra. It’s the mentor with few words, taking you to a wordless place of unity inside of you, a deep harmony that modern day living in waking state consciousness cannot provide.

Yoga nidra massages your divine feminine wisdom, that place where fear and faith reside together. Yoga nidra shows you that you don’t have to choose fear or faith. Life is always a dance of holding everything just as it is. In order to cross over to the other side and begin your Hero’s journey towards your power you have to surrender to fear and faith – attaching to neither – and in that surrender where you’ll find the courage to take a leap.

 Chuck Perfect

There’s one more opportunity to surrender that yoga nidra will give you: the opportunity to chuck perfect. Oh, how perfect parenting or any level of striving for perfection holds us back. Yoga nidra invites you to welcome your fear – and other emotions and beliefs – and it’s in this welcoming where we release our tight hold on perfection. It’s only then that you can give birth to optimal mind, body, and spirit wellbeing.

This is why rest is crucial.  When we’re tired we beat ourselves up with “shoulds” and “I’m not enough” and “shame” that holds us back from seeing our truest self. When we rest we give our body deep restoration and when we consciously rest, which is yoga nidra, we allow ourselves to be seen – the beauty and the flaws – and this ends the loop of perfection and opens the doorway to begin your journey home,  re-energizing your entire being. This is good medicine not only for us, but also for our children.

Studies today clearly show that when parents are stressed this can alter not only our DNA but our children’s DNA too. So while I’d like to tell you to go on this journey for yourself, if thinking of the impact your stress has on your children is what motivates you then let this be the juice to get you to the other side of the Hero’s Journey, on the path to discover your gold.

Rest is used to heal in virtually all modalities. When we’re sick, we are told to rest (and we tell our children to rest, right?). When we’re depressed we’re advised to get some rest. Why they don’t we give ourselves this permission to rest?

It’s time to start paying attention to the message you’re given when you get on an airplane: put your oxygen mask on first and then secure your child’s. Imagine if we followed this simple advice? Be good to yourself, so you can be good to others. This is the ultimate surrender because when we nurture ourselves that’s when our vital force awakens and we are ready to find our gold and use it to change our life for the better.

Yoga nidra ultimately awakens what’s asleep inside of you. It gives you the deep restoration and focus you need to surrender and it’s in the surrender that you discover all the answers you need to change your life are within you; you just didn’t recognize them yet.

The Way Home to Your Calling

In yoga nidra an important facet that we uncover is your sankulpa – the deep heartfelt commitment you want to make to yourself. I like to call this your big dream. It’s a vision you have for how you want to be living your life. In yoga nidra your sankulpa is repeated when you are in the turiya state – a brainwave state that is below delta brainwaves where you are virtually thoughtless.  It is here where you are open to rewiring and repatterning emotions, thoughts, and situations that are self-defeating.

If you have a child who is spirited you may feel anger toward them. In the state of turiya this is your opportunity to shift out of that place, not to perfection – there is no perfect relationship and remember we’re chucking perfect – but to a place that accepts everything just as it is. This is when you are truly free. You aren’t denying your anger or trying to make the situation perfect, you are creating harmony and balance within yourself.

Setting an intention in yoga nidra – sankulpa is the Sanskrit word for this –  means surrender and sets you up for stepping into your Hero’s Journey from a deeply authentic, conscious place.

The important point of all of this is that most of us as parents feel we don’t have time to get the rest we need and we’re running around hiding behind ‘busy’ like a shield of armor to protect us from feeling. As a result we’re tired, we judge our parenting, we feel others are judging us and we stop creating our best life. Yoga nidra invites you to leave your fickle, judging self behind and let your intuitive power take over, to not let your life revolve around what your mind or other people’s minds think of you, and to experience your deeper, truer self. When you do you’ll find you can finally break out of a way of life that’s not serving you and unleash a more conscious parenting and lifestyle.

And here’s where I really shake my yoga nidra pom poms: as you surrender to the Hero’s journey using yoga nidra you’ll begin to feel your power return. You’ve always had this power;  you just forgot how to use it. So ultimately yoga nidra just reminders you of what you already know. How sweet is that?

Your inner goddess will thank you for yoga nidra and so will your children. Heal thyself, heal others.

Featured Photo Shutterstock/Holly Clark

 

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The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible – Charles Eisenstein http://www.kindredmedia.org/2015/03/the-more-beautiful-world-our-hearts-know-is-possible-charles-eisenstein/ http://www.kindredmedia.org/2015/03/the-more-beautiful-world-our-hearts-know-is-possible-charles-eisenstein/#comments Wed, 25 Mar 2015 02:50:04 +0000 http://www.kindredmedia.org/?p=16232  Quote from the video “I think what is happening is that underneath the surface our ideological core of our civilization is hollowing out.  The elites no longer believe their own ideology. They are just going through the motions. Everyone participates, but nobody believes.  In order to find your way, you must get lost. There’s a […]

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 Quote from the video

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“I think what is happening is that underneath the surface our ideological core of our civilization is hollowing out.  The elites no longer believe their own ideology. They are just going through the motions. Everyone participates, but nobody believes.  In order to find your way, you must get lost.

There’s a vast territory between what we’re trying to leave behind, and where we want to go.  And we don’t have any maps for that territory.  People are always talking about how do we turn an organization into a movement.  A movement is not something we do or create.  A movement creates us.”  — Charles Eisenstein

 

About the video

This video was produced as a gift to humanity by Sustainable Human (sustainablehuman.me). Visit us to find out how you can support and create videos like The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible in collaboration with a global team of volunteers. Together, we can change the story of the world.

Visit the official landing page for more information on this incredible story: http://sustainablehuman.me/the-more-b…

“There is a vast territory between what we’re trying to leave behind, and where we want to go – and we don’t have any maps for that territory.” – Charles Eisenstein

Filmed in the fading light on the shores of Northern Scotland, this short film captures Charles Eisenstein in a moment of grief and reflection. The familiar story of the past is crumbling, while the new story has yet to arrive. In a time of social and ecological crisis, what can we as individuals do in this space between?

An African proverb states “sometimes you must get lost in order to find your way.” Eisenstein invites us to embrace a radically different understanding of cause and effect, sounding a clarion call to surrender our old worldview of separation, so that we can finally create the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible.

Learn more about the book and Charles further work at http://charleseisenstein.net/project/…

Credits:

Director/Editor: Ian MacKenzie
(http://ianmack.com)

Producer: Chris Agnos
(bit.ly/1bmB8KK)

Sound Design – Jeremy Therrien
http://www.jeremytherrien.com

Transcription – Matthew Watrous
http://www.gifttranscripts.com/

Music Credits:

Linger
Let Me Go, Set Me Free – Oniero https://soundcloud.com/oneiro-music

Other sources:

Into the Streets (People’s Climate March + Flood Wall Street) https://vimeo.com/107789364

Vancouver People’s Climate March https://vimeo.com/106974162

Dolphin’s Die in Record Numbers https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RKZ9D…

Marine’s Capture Taliban Fighters After Firefight https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rQxuO…

Paris Attacks – 3 Days of Terror https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AnyZ_…

FAIR USE NOTICE: This video may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes only. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 106A-117 of the US Copyright Law.

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Attention Is Telepathic http://www.kindredmedia.org/2015/03/attention-is-telepathic/ http://www.kindredmedia.org/2015/03/attention-is-telepathic/#comments Sun, 22 Mar 2015 21:43:52 +0000 http://www.kindredmedia.org/?p=16180 It must have been in the mid 1970’s, sitting at the counter of the local health food store a drop dead gorgeous young woman pulled up. I commented on how beautiful she is. This turned the conversation. ‘Life is all about attention,’ she said. Now, that’s a Wow insight! In 2004 biologist Rupert Sheldrake published […]

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It must have been in the mid 1970’s, sitting at the counter of the local health food store a drop dead gorgeous young woman pulled up. I commented on how beautiful she is. This turned the conversation. ‘Life is all about attention,’ she said. Now, that’s a Wow insight! In 2004 biologist Rupert Sheldrake published stunning research on the feeling of being watched. You know, turning your head at the red light and the person in the next car is looking right at you – attention. I was about fifteen feet away. A mother was looking after her two-year-old on the grass, a puppy resting near. I made no physical gesture. The moment my attention landed on the puppy, the tail began wagging, head up, ready to play. Fifteen feet is a long way. It was attention.

Magical Parent Magical Child CoverThe book Physic Discoveries behind the Iron Curtain described a mother rabbit wired in a lab registering as her babies were killed one after the other in a submarine somewhere under the Black Sea. That’s a lot more than fifteen feet. For more than twenty-five years pre and perinatal psychologists have documented shared perceptions between the unborn child and its mother. Attunement, attachment or bonding, call it what you like, is all about attention, like falling in love. Attention is telepathic.

OK, let’s say something is transmitted and received, shared. So what? The first time I met Joseph Chilton Pearce I described how attunement or bonding comes in through the senses and telepathically from the inside out. The attuned child is like a television set and the adult is the broadcast and vice versa, this stream flows in both directions. The program, using a television metaphor, is the moment by moment emotional meaning of the adult’s experience as they move through their day. Is this encounter safe or scary? Do I touch it, eat it, play with it or run away? Every moment this program is broadcast and is being watched and felt by the child, not just the tone of voice, or facial expression, through the senses, telepathically too, shared directly from the inside out.

Like the puppy or Rupert’s being watched experiments something happens when we and another share attention. We sync up. Shared meaning becomes more intense, validated, renewed moment by moment. Imagine what this knowing does to a seven and a half month-young child, Carly Elizabeth, for example. Her trust and confidence in herself expands. She is more at ease, calmer, less anxious. This frees her energy and attention to explore, engage, test and laugh. The more she engages the more she discovers and this excitement loops back inviting more and more.

Realizing the importance of attuned telepathic attention, I find myself staying close. I rest my head on the floor as Carly places one knee in front of the other for the first time. After two or more weeks of steady play, what we call practice, trial and error, Carly Elizabeth did it. She got that tush up, knees under, one arm forward and then the other and Bam, she is crawling! This is an enormous rite of passage, life changing.

If we are quiet and listening, not to words but for that quiet knowing, this attention we share informs us just as much as it provides context, meaning and direction for our children. Attention opens our hearts to empathic resonance. Like radar we track the physical and emotional states that make up our children’s changing experience moment by moment. And just like being watched we and our children know when this resonate connection is there or not. We feel safer, seen for who and what we really are, understood and appreciated when the light of shared attention is shining. We don’t feel as good when it is not.

I can’t help it. I feel sad and sometimes even mad when I see a baby or those big oversized kids slouched in fancy strollers, eyes glazed, staring, mom or dad lost in their hi-tech virtual reality, texting, surfing the net, or babbling away like the Mad Hatter. The moment by moment meaning of shared attention isn’t there and neither the adult nor child know what they are missing. Deep down they do. This absence of this complete attunement is fertile soil for those hungry ghost addictions Gabor Mate writes about. You’ll see.

There goes Carly Elizabeth up on all fours, eyes bright, reaching. I sound like a slobbery drunk but I am so amazed by her attention, not missing a thing, how her experience is so immediate, who and what she so clear. She is reminding me of how important vision, persistence and practice are, except, she isn’t doing any of these. She is just exploring, discovering, growing every moment. We call this play. Yesterday she couldn’t roll off her belly. Today she flips like an Olympic gymnast pushing with her arms straightening until she is sitting fully upright. The local yoga master would be envious. I am! You have to be quiet to notice all this. That is the first step. What to do next is pretty obvious.

The Challenge and Responsibility We Call Parenting

The miracle we are is a constantly changing interplay, a constellation or radiant galaxy of trillions of independent but interdependent cells relating, communicating and cooperating. No thing is ever the same, not for a blink. As we now know there is no such ‘thing,’ as an atom, only movement. We are that, only movement.

Expanding Human Potential by Supporting Those Who Care For Children
Expanding Human Potential by Supporting Those Who Care For Children

We honor that impermanence, that we are a river moving or we misconceive. We create an abstract, somehow fixed notion that we are static, a me, mostly as a defensive strategy to avoid anticipated and self-projected fear.

Love, complete safety and play are twins. In that state of complete attention the fear that created the phantom image ‘me’ is absent and the false-fixed projection disappears. Like a light switch, up is love with its embodied safety and playfulness. Down is self-centered defensive fear personified. There is no midpoint. We are either love or fear with its images.

Fear grabs the newest causal-centers of the brain with its celestial capacity to change the nature of reality and enslaves it to the projected image, the most primitive flight-flight reflexes now imagined and reified as a Baptist, Hindu, Republican or a Michael. As long as there is fear, this devolutionary movement of the highest capacities being hijacked by the most primitive takes place. When the imagined fears are not, the primitive, less complex brain centers are quite and the casual-creative capacity flows to enhance, expand and uplift everything, playfully. Like Midis, love sees only love.

Jerry Mander author, The Four Arguments For the Elimination of Television, the best about TV and media in general noted way back in 1970 that media has a very difficult time representing the sacred or love. When pressed through the technology sieve the sacred ends up looking kinda hokey. BUT, media has an easy time representing fear and violence. That, it not only does well but with compound interest. In this way commercial media-advertising-technology is essentially Machiavellian, using clever lies and tricks in order to get or achieve something: clever and dishonest by design. Those who control media-technology know this which was the overarching theme of Jerry’s book. And these toxic-commercial image making photons are shot directly into the brains of billions unsuspecting human beings, who predictably react as Pavlov dogs when the bell rings. Because of this, media based technology is the handmaid of the lowest fight-flight brain. Fox-Not-News is the most blatant example. Where that is the other, love and compassion is not! It is that simple.

A brain completely enchanted with fear as image is incapable of perceiving anything else. Even when projecting safety it is in response to fear and therefore is fear in disguise. Our only hope, and this is a big stretch, is to allow our young and precious developing hearts and minds to experience safety, play and therefore love deeply enough, long enough so that, when fear does pop out of the box, it is seen for what it is, a hoax and is transformed by the light of insight.

Developing this sensitivity, awareness and transformative insight is the challenge and responsibility we call parenting. But, first things first. We must be the change we hope for our children. We must see the hoax and transform our fear into love, and become what Joseph Chilton Pearce calls the model imperative. Nothing less will meet the challenge. With this imperative in mind it is important to distinguish between a ‘real’ experience and a concept or idea. Unless our ideas, study and insights are translated into ‘actual behavior’ they remain thin and superficial, almost nonexistent. And this includes the thousands of hours we spend relating to computers, tablets, phones, in school and on the internet. It is not the thought that counts. It is how we treat each other; love or fear.

Photo: Shutterstock/Christin Lola

 

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Measles On ’60s Sitcoms And Cartoons – In The Days Before The Marketing Of The Vaccine http://www.kindredmedia.org/2015/03/measles-on-60s-sitcoms-and-cartoons-in-the-days-before-the-marketing-of-the-vaccine/ http://www.kindredmedia.org/2015/03/measles-on-60s-sitcoms-and-cartoons-in-the-days-before-the-marketing-of-the-vaccine/#comments Sat, 21 Mar 2015 04:06:16 +0000 http://www.kindredmedia.org/?p=16204 Are Donna Reed, The Flintstones and The Bradies going to turn over their human rights and medical freedom to their bodies because of a little measles? Watch the pre-vaccine and pharmaceutical marketing vintage clips above as Donna Reed, standing in a doctor’s office, smiles sweetly and pronounces that a measles diagnosis is “not serious.” Fred […]

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Are Donna Reed, The Flintstones and The Bradies going to turn over their human rights and medical freedom to their bodies because of a little measles?

Watch the pre-vaccine and pharmaceutical marketing vintage clips above as Donna Reed, standing in a doctor’s office, smiles sweetly and pronounces that a measles diagnosis is “not serious.” Fred Flinstone and Barney Rubble are mad about losing money for a vacation they have to cancel, but not about Wilma and Betty coming down with the measles.  And all of the Brady Bunch children play Monopoly and “joke” over the school days they get to miss while Mrs. Brady happily checks off the family disease tracking chart for who’s had what and declares, “Well the measles are over in the Brady family.”

Read more about the recent media flurry over a measles outbreak that resulted in a hysterical and scientifically indefensible nationwide grab for medical freedom and informed choice through 16 states attempting to repeal vaccine exemption laws here, and then check your own state’s vaccine laws here.

Check out Kindred’s bookstore for more information on vaccinations here.

Kindred is a proud defender of all parents’ human rights to make medical choices for their children and themselves.  We believe vaccine safety is only possible through freedom of conscience.  Don’t bother lumping us in with anti-vaxxers, we’re all for your right to load up on everything you want to put in your body if that is your choice, but you may want to calculate the ingredients in that vaccine and read the science first.  Whatever your choice, we hope it’s an informed one and you will support others in making their informed choices as well.

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What’s Your ACE – Adverse Childhood Experience – Score? Take The Quiz http://www.kindredmedia.org/2015/03/whats-your-ace-adverse-childhood-experience-score-take-the-quiz/ http://www.kindredmedia.org/2015/03/whats-your-ace-adverse-childhood-experience-score-take-the-quiz/#comments Fri, 20 Mar 2015 22:20:29 +0000 http://www.kindredmedia.org/?p=16241 Editor’s Note:  Because this test and insights are a developing project at ACEs Too High, please visit their site for the extensive research as well as the What’s Your Resilience Score Quiz at the bottom of this page.  Photo Shutterstock/AAR Studios. There are 10 types of childhood trauma measured in the ACE Study. Five are […]

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Editor’s Note:  Because this test and insights are a developing project at ACEs Too High, please visit their site for the extensive research as well as the What’s Your Resilience Score Quiz at the bottom of this page.  Photo Shutterstock/AAR Studios.

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There are 10 types of childhood trauma measured in the ACE Study. Five are personal — physical abuse, verbal abuse, sexual abuse, physical neglect, and emotional neglect. Five are related to other family members: a parent who’s an alcoholic, a mother who’s a victim of domestic violence, a family member in jail, a family member diagnosed with a mental illness, and the disappearance of a parent through divorce, death or abandonment. Each type of trauma counts as one. So a person who’s been physically abused, with one alcoholic parent, and a mother who was beaten up has an ACE score of three.

There are, of course, many other types of childhood trauma — watching a sibling being abused, losing a caregiver (grandmother, mother, grandfather, etc.), homelessness, surviving and recovering from a severe accident, witnessing a father being abused by a mother, witnessing a grandmother abusing a father, etc. The ACE Study included only those 10 childhood traumas because those were mentioned as most common by a group of about 300 Kaiser members; those traumas were also well studied individually in the research literature.

The most important thing to remember is that the ACE score is meant as a guideline: If you experienced other types of toxic stress over months or years, then those would likely increase your risk of health consequences.

Prior to your 18th birthday:

  1. Did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often… Swear at you, insult you, put you down, or humiliate you? or Act in a way that made you afraid that you might be physically hurt?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __
  2. Did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often… Push, grab, slap, or throw something at you? or Ever hit you so hard that you had marks or were injured?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __
  3. Did an adult or person at least 5 years older than you ever… Touch or fondle you or have you touch their body in a sexual way? or Attempt or actually have oral, anal, or vaginal intercourse with you?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __
  4. PAHJ Karen Brody QuoteDid you often or very often feel that … No one in your family loved you or thought you were important or special? or Your family didn’t look out for each other, feel close to each other, or support each other?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __
  5. Did you often or very often feel that … You didn’t have enough to eat, had to wear dirty clothes, and had no one to protect you? or Your parents were too drunk or high to take care of you or take you to the doctor if you needed it?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __
  6. Was a biological parent ever lost to you through divorce, abandonment, or other reason ?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __
  7. Was your mother or stepmother:
    Often or very often pushed, grabbed, slapped, or had something thrown at her? or Sometimes, often, or very often kicked, bitten, hit with a fist, or hit with something hard? or Ever repeatedly hit over at least a few minutes or threatened with a gun or knife?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __
  8. Did you live with anyone who was a problem drinker or alcoholic, or who used street drugs?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __
  9. Was a household member depressed or mentally ill, or did a household member attempt suicide?                        No___If Yes, enter 1 __
  10. Did a household member go to prison?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __

Now add up your “Yes” answers: _ This is your ACE Score

__________________________

Now that you’ve got your ACE score, what does it mean?

First….a tiny bit of background to help you figure this out…..(if you want the back story about the fascinating origins of the ACE Study, read The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study — the largest, most important public health study you never heard of — began in an obesity clinic.)

The CDC’s Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACE Studyuncovered a stunning link between childhood trauma and the chronic diseases people develop as adults, as well as social and emotional problems. This includes heart disease, lung cancer, diabetes and many autoimmune diseases, as well as depression, violence, being a victim of violence, and suicide.

The first research results were published in 1998, followed by 57 other publications through 2011. They showed that:

  • childhood trauma was very common, even in employed white middle-class, college-educated people with great health insurance;
  • there was a direct link between childhood trauma and adult onset of chronic disease, as well as depression, suicide, being violent and a victim of violence;
  • more types of trauma increased the risk of health, social and emotional problems.
  • people usually experience more than one type of trauma – rarely is it only sex abuse or only verbal abuse.

A whopping two thirds of the 17,000 people in the ACE Study had an ACE score of at least one – 87 percent of those had more than one. Eighteen states have done their own ACE surveys; their results are similar to the CDC’s ACE Study.

acescores

The study’s researchers came up with an ACE score to explain a person’s risk for chronic disease. Think of it as a cholesterol score for childhood toxic stress. You get one point for each type of trauma. The higher your ACE score, the higher your risk of health and social problems. (Of course, other types of trauma exist that could contribute to an ACE score, so it is conceivable that people could have ACE scores higher than 10; however, the ACE Study measured only 10 types.)

As your ACE score increases, so does the risk of disease, social and emotional problems. With an ACE score of 4 or more, things start getting serious. The likelihood of chronic pulmonary lung disease increases 390 percent; hepatitis, 240 percent; depression 460 percent; suicide, 1,220 percent.

(By the way, lest you think that the ACE Study was yet another involving inner-city poor people of color, take note: The study’s participants were 17,000 mostly white, middle and upper-middle class college-educated San Diegans with good jobs and great health care – they all belonged to the Kaiser Permanente health maintenance organization.)

Here are some specific graphic examples of how increasing ACE scores increase the risk of some diseases, social and emotional problems. All of these graphs come from “The relationship of adverse childhood experiences to adult health, well being, social function and health care”, a book chapter by Drs. Vincent Felitti and Robert Anda, co-founders of the ACE Study, in “The Hidden Epidemic: The Impact of Early Life Trauma on Health and Disease.”

Read the full article here.

 

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How The Oxfordshire Serious Case Review Helps Us Understand Professionals’ Repression Of Feelings http://www.kindredmedia.org/2015/03/how-the-oxfordshire-serious-case-review-helps-us-understand-professionals-repression-of-feelings/ http://www.kindredmedia.org/2015/03/how-the-oxfordshire-serious-case-review-helps-us-understand-professionals-repression-of-feelings/#comments Sat, 14 Mar 2015 02:11:24 +0000 http://www.kindredmedia.org/?p=16036 Earlier this week, I wrote a piece on professionals’ repression. Not repression of facts, but repression of feelings. I was exploring how well-meaning professionals can make decisions that other people find exasperating, inconceivable, inhumane. I received a flood of responses to that piece. I was told repeatedly that I had made people cry. Good. That […]

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Earlier this week, I wrote a piece on professionals’ repression. Not repression of facts, but repression of feelings. I was exploring how well-meaning professionals can make decisions that other people find exasperating, inconceivable, inhumane.

I received a flood of responses to that piece. I was told repeatedly that I had made people cry. Good. That means that telling stories about real lives offers us a path back to our humanity.

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We need that humanity. It helps us find a way through horrendous situations. A good example is the Oxfordshire Serious Case Review, which has received so much attention in the UK media this week. This is a case of seven men grooming nearly 400 girls over 16 years for sexual exploitation and brutalisation. This is also a case of professional repression.

Here’s part of one story, as told by the mother of one of those brutalized girls, interviewed on on BBC Woman’s Hour this week:

“When things started to go badly wrong, after I had adopted her and she’d been with me about a year, aged 12, I went to social services, and said I’m really concerned…my daughter clearly needs help and support. I was totally amazed. They flatly refused to even talk to me, saying that it was nothing to do with them, because she was adopted from another area…

 In the end, they said, with ill-grace, that the only thing we can do is send her to the other end of the country for an assessment. In my desperation, I agreed. Over a period of 8 months, she went to three different children’s homes…She kept going missing…At one point I was combing the streets of London looking for her.

 Things had really started going wrong when my daughter started to be excluded from school at a moment’s notice, during that year when she was 12. Before I could get to school to pick her up, she was already on the streets of Oxford, cadging cigarettes from all sorts of undesirables. By the end of Year 8, she was permanently excluded from school and had almost no education at all for the next three years.

My feelings about the police are different than for social services. Almost all of the police we dealt with when I reported her missing, sometimes 3-4 times a week, responded to us as human beings. They were concerned, empathetic. They were completely out of their depth in being able to realise what was going on, but they did try. And once the Review process was underway, the police did apologise.

[But it was different from Social Services.] Neither Social Services nor Education apologised. My daughter had a very arrogant and dismissive letter from the Director of Children’s Services after the trial. It wasn’t an apology, though….

Just before the Review Report came out, two days ago, we did receive a letter from an Assistant Director in Social Services, apologizing for their failures. That might have given us some comfort or satisfaction, if it wasn’t for the fact it was so close to the Review coming out. And the letter was a photocopy. Even the signature was a photocopy. They couldn’t even spare the time to personally sign their letters of apology.”

 Refusal to take responsibility for a child in your service area? Police who could manage empathy, but social services who couldn’t? Three children’s homes in eight months for a vulnerable child? Exclusion from school at a moment’s notice? Photocopied letters? Toleration of the knowledge that pre-teens were having sex with adults? Describing children who have been raped as ‘difficult’? I know all those actions sound cold, callous, inexcusable. That’s my point. That’s repression. Harsh indifference is exactly what repression looks like.

Robetsons-mFifty years ago, James and Joyce Robertson, leading attachment theorists of their day, explained professionals’ emotional distance as repression. The Robertsons began the work by focusing on nurses in children’s wards, but they extended their analysis to all staff who work with children. How could nurses think it would help children to keep parents away for days or weeks at a time? How could residential staff leave babies languishing in their cots for hours a day? To our eyes today, such actions look callous.

The talent of the Robertsons was that they made such inhumanity comprehensible.   It was, they said, a result of asking staff to deal constantly with distress – distress that they had no real way of resolving. They didn’t have enough time to hang out with each of the lonely children. They didn’t have enough arms to hug all the sad children. They didn’t have the power to stop the crying of the children. A ward full of lonely, sad, crying children is chaotic and depressing. So it was better to nip the crying in the bud from the outset, if you could.

Constant distress drains you. It corrupts your ability to feel. You get skilled at defending yourself against overwhelm. The danger is that once you are defended, you unwittingly start inflicting damage on others. Here’s how the Robertsons described the process, in their 1970 lecture:

“In the everyday handling of children…the rank and file [practitioners] develop defensive attitudes to distress and deterioration, similar to those in the higher levels of the professions, pressed upon them by work situations that deny them adequate involvement with the children.”

What if we saw social work scandals like the one in Oxfordshire as arising not from poor staff, but from poor jobs? 21ST century society asks social workers to deal with the mess that we are making of relationships. And there really is a mess. Look at the deep aversion that is being expressed about the ‘horrific events’ in Oxfordshire. When Jane Garvey, of Woman’s Hour, introduced the radio interview I’ve quoted above, she prefaced it with this statement: “I should warn listeners that what this young woman has to say is disturbing.”

Listeners are about to be distressed by hearing a story? But the young women and their families lived that distressing story! We asked social workers and police to step into that story and live it too! Someone said to me afterward about that interview: “It’s just too awful to imagine, isn’t it?” Precisely. A horror too awful to imagine. So we repress the image.

I know that the professional response in Oxfordshire was abysmal, that the care provided was derisive. Terrible damage has been done to those children and their families. The damage will be more than lifelong. It has every chance of becoming inter-generational and affecting relationships with those children’s children.

It is precisely because of such terrible damage that I want to add: social workers and police officers are human beings too. They do not have the luxury of turning off their imaginations, as we listeners do. Their job is to deal directly with the horror. They have to go back to the office. They have to get back in the patrol car. They have to return to visit upset families once again. It is repression that enables professionals to be able to keep doing these things.

Without the luxury of repression, staff would get totally overwhelmed by the horror, the distress, the pain of messy lives. They would stay home and pull the covers over their head. They would go off sick with stress. In fact, they are staying home and going off sick – in record numbers. In some areas of the country, the rate of sick leave for social workers is 3.5 times the national average for all industries.  This has led some commentators to declare there is an ‘epidemic of stress’ underway within social work. Anxiety, depression, and overwork are the major drivers.

If social workers do their job badly, it is because our society unintentionally but callously asks too much of them.

boy-teddy-mIn 1969, James and Joyce Robertson released the latest in their film series about separation and the young child. Entitled John, the film showed the emotional deterioration of a little boy aged 17 months, who had been placed in a residential nursery for a mere nine days, when he had to be separated from his parents. For him though, it wasn’t a ‘mere’ nine days. It was such a traumatic nine days for him that viewers had trouble watching the film. Here’s one of the incidents that the Robertsons recall of the film’s 1969 reception, in their book Separation and the Very Young:

A university tutor wrote that she would not use the film series again for teaching, because it had been too upsetting for her social work students. [We] replied that if she could not help her students to learn from this piece of reality in the classroom, how would they fare when they entered the field and were exposed to situations which could set up defences?” (p. 92)

The university tutor’s comments are based on the same emotional state as was Jane Garvey’s preface on Woman’s Hour, when she warned listeners that they were about to hear content so disturbing they might want to turn way.

It is ironic: our solution to children’s distress is rather like that of knowing the football scores before you’ve seen the match. “If you don’t want to know, look away now.”   (Yes, that’s a moment of dark humour on my part. Equating children’s brutalisation with a football game. Dark humour saves us from despair.)

So what do we do? Here are Dr. Suzanne Zeedyk’s Top Tips for Dealing with Horror.

  1. d-cLet’s stop looking for someone to blame. David Cameron has decided, as a result of the Oxfordshire Case Review, that if we threaten more people with punishment, if we put more public servants in jail, that will solve the problem. He’s wrong. It won’t. He’s misleading us by making us hope that punishment might just be enough to stop horror.

(As an aside, if we wanted to exercise more dark humour, or perhaps more curiosity, we could ask how David Cameron’s childhood experience of being sent away to boarding school at the age of 7 years might be shaping the way he is dealing with the Oxfordshire Case Review. George Monbiot is currently describing such childhoods as ‘privileged abandonment’. Bravely, outrageously, he describes boarding school as the ordinary abuse unwittingly inflicted on upper class kids by their parents. George Monbiot speaks from personal experience. His childhood was spent in boarding school.

  1. Let’s stop DOing and start LISTENing. Let’s listen to stories. I know they are stories of pain and distress, but let’s listen anyway. The Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh argues that the point of listening isn’t to burst into action, but to reduce suffering.

When we sit beside someone in the midst of their pain, it nurtures trust. Trust is not just a state of mind, but is also a state of the body. Trust creates a physiological transformation, boosting hormones like oxytocin. Yes, the ‘Cuddle Chemical’ oxytocin helps us cope with horror! In fact, we begin to realise that often the thing that most needs to be DONE is to offer more cuddles.

  1. Let’s stop treating social workers like robots and start treating them like human beings. Here’s one more story. It was shared by a participant at the Kinship Carer Event hosted by Children 1st in , at which I spoke in February.

It comes from a retired social worker. He recalled that when he was a social worker in the 1970s, if you’d been out dealing with a terrible situation for a family, you could come back to your desk. The desk was a safe haven, covered in photographs of your own family and stacks of paperwork that, because they were ordered, gave a sense of order to your workload. You could sit with your head in your hands while colleagues on your team offered to make a cup of coffee. Together, you could sit down and talk about what might be done for that family.

Unfortunately, he said, that’s not the working situation for social workers today. Many teams ‘hot desk’, meaning you have no photos and no ordered piles of paper and nowhere safe to come back to after you’ve been out dealing with horror. And in an office where there is hot-desking, there may well be no colleagues and no cuppas, because the point of hot-desking is that teams don’t have a permanent base to work from.

How very ironic. We will threaten to give social workers a prison cell but we won’t give them their own desk.

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Wounded Places: Confronting Childhood PTSD in America’s Shell-Shocked Cities http://www.kindredmedia.org/2015/03/wounded-places-confronting-childhood-ptsd-in-americas-shell-shocked-cities/ http://www.kindredmedia.org/2015/03/wounded-places-confronting-childhood-ptsd-in-americas-shell-shocked-cities/#comments Fri, 13 Mar 2015 21:14:12 +0000 http://www.kindredmedia.org/?p=16154 Wounded Places – TRAILER from California Newsreel on Vimeo.  Watch the full 32 minute episode here. About The Raising Of America Project The Raising of America grew directly out of California Newsreel’s four-hour PBS series, UNNATURAL CAUSES: Is Inequality Making Us Sick which explores the root causes of our alarming class and racial inequities in […]

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Wounded Places – TRAILER from California Newsreel on Vimeo.  Watch the full 32 minute episode here.

About The Raising Of America Project

Raising of AmericaThe Raising of America grew directly out of California Newsreel’s four-hour PBS series, UNNATURAL CAUSES: Is Inequality Making Us Sick which explores the root causes of our alarming class and racial inequities in health. The series won Best Science Film/Radio/TV program of 2009 by the National Academies, a duPont–Columbia Award (considered the Pulitzers of broadcast journalism), among other prestigious honors.

Find screenings, host a screening and find other ways to get involved here.

About Wounded Places

Wounded Places travels to Philadelphia and Oakland where a long history of disinvestment and racial exclusion have ravaged entire neighborhoods and exposed children to multiple adverse childhood experiences (or ACEs). We meet families and some remarkable young people who have been traumatized not just by shootings, but fear, uncertainty and a sense of futurelessness.

As Stanford physician Victor Carrion explains, “If we are crossing the street and we see that a truck is coming at us, we can manage that situation, get scared, jump, and move quickly. Unfortunately, many children in our society feel like a truck is coming at them all day long, for more days than not, and this really takes a toll.”

We watch as Caheri Gutiérrez, Antonio Carter, Javier Arango and other young people wrestle with their hyper-vigilance, sudden rages, nightmares, inability to trust and difficulty concentrating in school. Now they themselves are counseling others, helping them to “own” their trauma. Yet police, teachers, the media, and even social service workers too often make things worse, pegging traumatized children not as injured and in need of healing but as “bad” or “impaired.”

For instance, in 2012 in Connecticut alone, 2,000 children aged six years and under—overwhelmingly black and Latino—were suspended from kindergarten and preschool, dramatically increasing their risk of eventually dropping out of school and being sent to prison.

We also meet doctors, community organizers and peer counselors blazing a new model of trauma-informed care, including MacArthur Fellow John Rich, MD, Ted Corbin, MD, the director of Healing Hurt People, Dr. Sandra Bloom, the founder of the Sanctuary Model, and Youth UpRising! director Olis Simmons.

Rather than ask, “What’s wrong with you?” they ask, “What happened to you?” and “How can traumatized individuals and neighborhoods heal?” The implications of this simple shift can be transformative—for those suffering from trauma, for neighborhoods and even for the providers themselves.

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ADHD-Linked Artificial Colors Fading Out Of Site http://www.kindredmedia.org/2015/03/adhd-linked-artificial-colors-fading-out-of-site/ http://www.kindredmedia.org/2015/03/adhd-linked-artificial-colors-fading-out-of-site/#comments Tue, 10 Mar 2015 19:49:16 +0000 http://www.kindredmedia.org/?p=16136 The good news about artificial colors, tenth on our list of food additives to be avoided, is that they’re now showing signs of fading from the food scene. That became evident just last month when the country’ two best known makers of chocolate candy announced they were phasing such synthetic dyes out of their products. […]

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The good news about artificial colors, tenth on our list of food additives to be avoided, is that they’re now showing signs of fading from the food scene. That became evident just last month when the country’ two best known makers of chocolate candy announced they were phasing such synthetic dyes out of their products.

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First Nestlé USA announced its commitment to removing FDA-certified colors, like Red 40 and Yellow 5, as well as artificial flavors, from all of its confections. By the end of 2015, more than 250 products and 10 brands including such standard candy bar brands as Butterfinger, Crunch, Chunky, Raisinets, Goobers, Oh Henry and Baby Ruth candy bars. The products will begin appearing on store shelves by mid-2015. “We’re excited to be the first major U.S. candy manufacturer to make this commitment,” noted division president Dorren Ida.

Not to be outdone, Hershey’s came out a few days later with its own ‘clean-label initiative” that not only included a pledge to “transition existing products” to exclude not only artificial colors and flavors, but high fructose corn syrup (our number one additive to be avoided) as well.

Such movies have not only come in response to consumer pressure, but from an acknowledgment by the Food and Drug Administration that at least 96 percent of children aged 2-5 years are being exposed to at least four artificial colors in food products – FD&C Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6 and Blue 1. And that came six years after a petition was submitted to the FDA by the Center for Science in the Public Interest asking that nine such food colorings be banned — and that an interim warning label be posted on foods containing them that they “cause hyperactivity and behavioral problems in some children.” (The agency’s initial response to that and nearly 8,000 comments on the topic  was to convene  a Food Advisory Committee in 2011, which concluded there was not enough evidence to take regulatory action.)

But, as we reported here last September, research has increasingly demonstrated a connection between the consumption of synthetic food dyes and behavioral problems in kids. A few years ago, for example, studies were performed at Yale University’s Department of Pediatric Neurology to determine the effects of five common synthetic food dyes on baby rats. Only unlike experiments that have used excessive amounts of substances in question, these used the equivalent of the “real world” exposures our kids have to these dyes. And the results were alarming – the rats became hyperactive and showed diminished learning ability.

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Nor is this an effect that has been confined to lab rats. A couple years ago, a British study, published in The Lancet, which found that artificial food dyes increased hyperactivity in children, prompted the American Academy of Pediatricians to acknowledge a link between their consumption and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and to recommend parents try removing them from the diet of a child who suffers from the condition.

Or as we observed, the road to Ritalin could well be paved with all those FD&C’s you see listed among the ingredients of today’s processed food products. In fact, the link between food dyes (and certain other ingredients, as well as foods themselves) and behavioral problems in kids has been known for quite a while. It goes back to the 1970s when the late Dr. Benjamin Feingold, a California pediatrician and pioneer in the field of allergy and immunology, discovered the connection between what we eat and how it affects the way we feel and act. Since then, the Feingold Center he founded has helped scores of kids with hyperactivity and attention deficit disorder by eliminating certain additives from their diets – all without resorting to drugs such as Ritalin.

Of course, as in the case of other ingredients, European regulators have already beat us to the punch. Since 2010, they’ve required food products containing these unnatural hues to carry a warning label stating that consumption “may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.”

But wait – there’s more!

And hyperactivity isn’t the only health problem that might be caused by these fake hues. Red dye No. 40, a petroleum derivative and the most commonly used artificial color, has been known to cause allergic reactions such as hives and swelling around the mouth, and is a suspected carcinogen. Yellow No. 5 (tartrazine) has been linked to chromosomal damage and may cause allergic reactions and migraines. Yellow No. 6 (sunset yellow), currently banned in Norway and Sweden, can cause gastrointestinal distress, swelling of the skin, nettle rash and migraines, and may also be carcinogenic.  And Blue No. 1, or “brilliant blue,” which has been banned in France and Finland, may trigger asthma, low blood pressure, hives and other allergic reactions. (It also caused serious complications and death in hospital patients when used in feeding tube solutions several years ago.)

But then, as we also previously noted, the entire history of artificial colors has been colored by controversy. While they may make products appear more attractive, they represent just the kind of chemical additives we should delete from our diets – something that’s especially true for kids. But then, the fact that so many supposedly “harmless” coloring agents have been found to be otherwise is hardly surprising when you consider their origins and backgrounds. Many of the older dyes were made from coal tar – a thick, black liquid derived from, well, coal. (Now, does that sound like anything you’d like to ingest?) Some are still in use today, while many newer ones are petroleum extracts.  They may also contain measurable amounts of toxic contaminants, such as lead, mercury and arsenic.

Stay tuned for more updates on our top ten ingredients to be avoided (along with an extra one) in advance of our third annual Read Your Labels Day April 11.

 

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