By Julia McKinnell - Tuesday, May 14, 2013 - 0 Comments
Sisters squabbling is one thing, but real cruelty from a sibling can be scarring
For years, Nancy Kilgore shared a bedroom with an older sister who terrorized her when her parents weren’t watching. The older sister, often put in charge to babysit, insulted her, threw objects at Nancy and physically pinned her down. One time, her sister stuffed marbles up her nostrils. Then she pinched her nostrils, forced her head backward and poured water into her mouth. Another time, when Nancy was 10 and her sister was 12, the sister held a pillow over Nancy’s face to the point of near-suffocation.
Kilgore was so scarred by her years of mistreatment that she eventually sought help for post-traumatic stress disorder. Now in her 60s, Kilgore opens up about the experience in her memoir called Girl in the Water: A True Story of Sibling Abuse. “This is a taboo topic, absolutely taboo,” she said on the phone from her home in Sacramento, Calif. But Kilgore insists it’s a problem that affects millions of North Americans. Her Twitter account buzzes with comments from other victims, though convincing these people to talk publicly is difficult. Kilgore has also heard countless accounts at siblingbullies.com, the website she founded to connect victims, and where she offers advice to parents on how to prevent abuse.
Brenda Volling, a professor of psychology at the University of Michigan who studies jealousy between siblings, deﬁnes sibling abuse as one child repeatedly exerting power over the other with the intent to cause harm. The abuse can be physical, emotional, or even sexual. “Emotional and psychological abuse, this is the abuse most parents don’t recognize or see as occurring, and are most likely to confuse with normal sibling rivalry,” she says. “It includes such acts of cruelty as belittling and ridiculing, showing some kind of contempt or trying to degrade the other person.” Kilgore notes that sibling abuse typically involves an older sibling, often male, picking on a younger one, and is most common in homes where one parent is not present due to divorce or mentally absent for a variety of reasons, and extra responsibility is given to the oldest child. “The researchers say that the majority of children who abuse their siblings are not psychotic; they’re not maladapted mentally,” she says. “Basically, they’ve been overloaded with responsibility. It’s accepted in many cultures that the oldest child gets the biggest responsibility, but it’s important to look at what this does to a child.”
By Anne Kingston - Saturday, May 4, 2013 at 6:00 AM - 0 Comments
Thousands of Finns and Angelina Jolie can’t be wrong about what Latin can do for you
Earlier last month the New York Times ran a feature on Finnish state radio’s weekly Nuntii Latini, or “Latin News,” an international news summary broadcast in the ancient, classical language. Tens of thousands were tuning in, many on iPads, the paper reported. As it turns out, Nuntii Latini has been on air for 24 years; its existence is not exactly breaking news. Still, the story couldn’t be more timely. Everywhere, Latin is rising from the grave: the Circulus Latinus Lutetiensis, or “Paris Latin Circle,” is one of a growing number of groups—real and online—gathering to chat in Latin at cafés and bars; Twitterati joust over usage on @latinlanguage; Ovid has his own Facebook page; and the recent season finale of HBO phenom Girls had a character announcing his plan to complete his Ph.D. in Latin studies to impress his girlfriend and show her he has a “bright future.”
It took Latin’s virtual disappearance for us to realize its relevance. Canadian high schools stopped making Latin study mandatory in the ’60s; classical education was deemed irrelevant and, worse, “Eurocentric.” Even the Catholic Church dropped Latin from official mass. Time only seemed to reinforce its irrelevance: who needs grammar, verb declension or vocabulary skills to text “r u ok?” Even august Harvard professor and psycholinguist Stephen Pinker trashed Latin in his 2007 book The Language Instinct: “Latin declensional paradigms are not the best way to convey the inherent beauty of grammar,” he wrote. He prefers computer programming and universal grammar on the grounds they are “about living minds and not dead tongues.”
But Latin’s unfamiliarity also made it exotically erudite, as displayed on celebrity tattoos: Angelina Jolie’s Quod me nutrit me distrust (“What nourishes me also destroys me”) on her stomach, Ut amem et foveam (“So that I love and cherish”) on David Beckham’s arm. Knowing Latin even conferred celebrity status: Italian reporter Giovanna Chirri became an instant star with her scoop that Pope Benedict XVI planned to retire.
By Julia McKinnell - Tuesday, April 23, 2013 at 10:49 AM - 0 Comments
How to comfort the afflicted — the right way
It may not have been the book that readers of Ms. magazine expected Letty Cottin Pogrebin to write. A founding editor of Ms., Pogrebin is better known for exploring gender issues in books like How to Make It In a Man’s World. But her experience of having breast cancer at age 70 showed her how unsure people are of how to behave when confronted with illness or loss. In How to Be a Friend to a Friend Who Is Sick, Pogrebin gives practical advice drawn from that experience as well as from sick people she’s interviewed.
On the list of what not to say is what one friend said to Marian Fontana, who was diagnosed with breast cancer eight years after her firefighter husband was killed at the World Trade Center. The friend exclaimed, “Wow, you must have really bad karma!”
But according to Pogrebin, one of the most basic conversational openers, “How are you?” can just as easily upset sick people. Some feel as though they can’t be normal until their friends stop pelting them with portentous “how are yous.” One woman with cancer said that the three-word question struck her as an invitation to confide the worst. “Rather than see me as me, the asker viewed me as a cancer victim!” A better option is, “It’s good to see you today,” suggests Pogrebin. Or, if you do ask, “How are you?” follow it with, “I know that’s not a great question but I really do want to know.” Then be prepared to listen attentively and know that some sick people may describe their condition graphically. “Let them talk about whatever they want. It’s not going to kill you to hear about their bowel movements. Bear in mind that what strikes you as oversharing may constitute the entirety of your sick friend’s reality.”
By Anne Kingston - Sunday, April 21, 2013 at 6:00 AM - 0 Comments
How the Buddhist tradition has been marshalled to grow profits and productivity
When Janice Marturano conducted the “mindful leadership experience” workshop last January at the World Economic Summit in Davos, Switzerland, she was hoping for an audience of 20—at most. “I was prepared for one or two,” the founder and executive director of the Washington-based Institute for Mindful Leadership admits. She needn’t have worried. There was a lineup; people were even turned away. More than 70 of the world’s most influential people crammed into the room, many standing for 90 minutes to learn “techniques for developing focus, clarity and compassion.” The next morning, Marturano led a meditation—a Davos first—that drew 40 people, two-thirds of whom had never meditated before.
The spectre of masters of the universe chanting Om at Davos serves as only one measure of how “mindfulness” has become the new Western mantra. The technique, linked to Buddhist practice, teaches being present in the moment, always attentive to, and accepting one’s thoughts and responses, without judgment. In a 1977 study, mindfulness pioneer Jack Kornfeld presented the approach as a remedy to Western excesses, or “the egoistic, hedonic treadmill of continually avoiding discomfort and seeking pleasure from outside sources that are ultimately unsatisfying and short-lived.”
Mindfulness entered the medical mainstream in the 1980s as a clinically proven method for alleviating chronic pain and stress. Since then, it has metastasized into an omnibus panacea—to help children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder concentrate, soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorder recover and, now, Fortune 500 executives compete. In Paul Harrison’s upcoming documentary, The Mindfulness Movie, psychologist Guy Claxton frames the benefits in mercantile terms: “At the most basic level, mindfulness enables you to get value for money out of life,” he says.
By Julia McKinnell - Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 12:30 PM - 0 Comments
The mysterious process by which we ignore betrayal
One night, Julie Stone (a pseudonym) arranged for a babysitter and surprised her husband by waiting for him at his favourite bar. “As my husband came inside, a woman jumped up and went over to him and they kissed. When they stopped kissing, he looked up, and our eyes met. I’m kind of watching this and he walked over and said, ‘I don’t know who that woman was.’ I believed him. I thought, ‘That was weird’ . . . and whoosh! That was it. I spent the rest of the evening with him dancing. I never questioned him again about that woman.”
“Whoosh?” ask Jennifer Freyd, a research psychologist at the University of Oregon, and Pamela Birrell, a clinical psychologist, who cite Stone’s case in a new book. “What exactly is this mental process? You could say we study ‘whoosh.’ We have come to call this ‘whooshing’ away of important details ‘blindness betrayal.’ It means you do not, or cannot, see what is there in front of you.”
Stone’s case is one of many Freyd and Birrrell looked at when studying what they call “betrayal blindness”: the mind denying the overwhelming and obvious evidence that one is being betrayed. The phenomenon isn’t limited to the issue of fidelity. A child can be blind to a parent’s betrayal or an employee can turn a blind eye to mistreatment at work. How and why it occurs is the topic of their book, Blind to Betrayal: Why We Fool Ourselves We Aren’t Being Fooled.
By Julia McKinnell - Tuesday, March 26, 2013 at 4:39 PM - 0 Comments
Punishment isn’t the way for the misbehaving feline
What should you do if your cute little kitten grows into a stalking beast that sinks its fangs into your flesh or leaps up to the counter to pee into a teacup? Some cat owners shout at their misbehaving felines or swat them on the nose, but punishment can teach a cat to view its owner with fear, and do nothing to remedy the biting, scratching and peeing outside the box. To stop bad cat behaviour, you could medicate the animal or, worst-case scenario, euthanize it. Or you could do what many vets are doing with their own badly behaved cats: you could heed the advice of an Oregon woman, Mieshelle Nagelschneider, a.k.a. the Cat Whisperer.
Nagelschneider is a former veterinary technician whose uncanny ability to communicate with cats is known to cure the toughest cases—cats that claw the living room drapes, pee in their owner’s shoes or defecate on pillow cases. In her new book, The Cat Whisperer: Why Cats Do What They Do—And How to Get Them to Do What You Want, Nagelschneider promises a cure for nearly every behavioural cat problem; medication is rarely needed, and change takes place in about 30 days. “Cats who have never groomed another cat will lick away at their buddies—and grow all the closer. Cats who have slept apart will curl up next to one another. When I do a follow-up visit,” she writes, “in place of a battlefield I walk into a feline Eden . . . There’s no hissing, fighting or attacking.”
Nagelschneider, a farm girl whose parents raised goats and cows, discovered her talent for taming brutish animals at the age of 4 when she cut out a pair of bunny ears, disguised herself as a rabbit and hopped into a corral where a lone, ornery bull was penned. Her parents had warned her: the bull charged anyone who came near it. Somehow Nagelscheinder knew not to look the bull in the eyes, she explains in the book. She averted her gaze as she reached up to pet the fur on the bull’s head. When her parents found her, the bull was lying beside her, allowing her to caress its neck and head.
By Katie Engelhart - Tuesday, February 19, 2013 at 7:00 PM - 0 Comments
And An Economist’s Other Surprising Theories About Quirks Of The Heart
“Have you ever wondered if national well-being is higher in countries in which men have larger penises that in those in which men are less well-endowed?” That question opens economist Marina Adshade’s upcoming book, Dollars and Sex: How Economics Influences Sex and Love. (The answer: As average penis size increases, national income increases—but only for a while, at which point the reverse holds true. Adshade dubs this relationship the “boner curve.”) Comparing the “global penile length distribution map” to GDP is a bit of a gimmick, but Adshade’s broader point is “that almost every aspect of sex and love is better understood by thinking within an economic framework.”
Take this tidbit: shorter men have younger wives. Why? Adshade explains that women tend to value height in a potential mate—even when controlling for income. As a result, short men in their 30s are “significantly less likely to be either married or in a serious relationship.” Short men, then, are more likely to be single when they are older, by which point: a) they have proven their abilities as financial earners and b) their more alpine colleagues are already hitched. At that golden moment, they can take advantage of “a later-in-life marriage market that is populated with younger women who are less concerned with their husband’s physical appearance and more interested in his ability to provide a stable income.”
Here’s another: lesbians earn six to 13 per cent more than heterosexual women. Adshade says that’s because gender wage gaps don’t exist in homosexual unions, as they tend to in heterosexual unions. Lesbians might not expect to marry a higher-earner in the way that heterosexual women might. One study she cites shows that this encourages lesbians to invest more in skills that will give them a labour-market advantage. In the long run, this early investment pays off. The same effect is observed among obese women, who “recognize that they are less likely to marry, and if they do, they are likely to be married to men who have lower incomes.” They invest more in their “human capital,” one economist argues, than thinner women do.
By Julia De Laurentiis Johnson - Saturday, February 9, 2013 at 7:00 AM - 0 Comments
Juice-only detoxes are a growing trend — much to the alarm of health practitioners
On day two of her three-day juice cleanse, Lindsay Grange cracked open a kale, celery and cucumber cocktail that smelled like a salad and looked like a swamp. With a sigh, she chugged it back. “I went through a period of too much prepackaged food and not enough sleep. I wanted to kick-start healthy habits and lose some weight,” says the 32-year-old, on what attracted her to a juice-only detox. She’s not alone: the start of the year finds bloggers and reporters turning their detox diaries into articles, and juice cleanses are this year’s choice. Celebrities like Blake Lively and Gwyneth Paltrow have been photographed with designer bag in one hand and juice-cleanse bottle in the other. Salma Hayek’s company, Cooler Cleanse, delivers juice regimes across America.
Companies offering juice-only diets have been popping up across Canada, too. For about $50 a day, for three to seven days, businesses like Bava Juice in Calgary and the Juice Cleanse in Vancouver drop off bottles containing fruit, nut and vegetable juices on your doorstep, with promises to rest and detoxify the digestive system. Some, like Raw Raw in Burlington, Ont., and Total Cleanse in Toronto, claim they’ve had a 20 to 40 per cent jump in clients within the past 12 months. Continue…
By Julia McKinnell - Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 11:55 AM - 0 Comments
At 92, A.E. Hotchner has his reasons why seniors should avoid Jeopardy and the evening news
Ernest Hemingway’s dear friend, the quick-witted A.E. Hotchner, has had more than one retirement in his 92 years. Born in 1920, Hotchner practised law for two years before turning to writing plays and biographies—he was a biographer of Hemingway, Sophia Loren and Doris Day. His other pursuits include co-founding the salad-dressing company, Newman’s Own, with his good pal, Paul Newman.
His newest incarnation is as a self-help guru of sorts. His latest book, out Feb. 13, is aimed at all those 70- and 80-year-old whippersnappers who are after him for his secret to longevity. “Orange juice in the morning, gin and tonic at night,” is his answer every time, abbreviated for the book’s title, as well: O.J. in the Morning, G&T at Night. Each chapter is an essay on growing old, peppered with Hotchner’s unexpected, at times mischievous advice. “Don’t watch Jeopardy,” he writes. “It makes your brain feel bad.” And when trying to nap, suspend the mind rather than revisit sexual highlights of the past. Continue…
By Fatima Arkin - Sunday, January 27, 2013 at 11:14 AM - 0 Comments
Don’t worry! There are etiquette classes you can buy for that.
Lorelei Rollings says that her family rarely has time for a relaxed dinner. If she doesn’t have to drop off her son, Bennett, 11, at acting, computer programming or French lessons, her nine-year-old daughter Georgia has piano and voice lessons to attend. Her husband, Richard, does media relations for a government agency so he’s on call 24/7. And while Lorelei describes her workday as “more contained” (she works for the Federal government in London, Ont.), she feels “a draw to be well-rounded.” That means extra curricular activities, like book club and yoga, eat up a lot of her free time.
With all the comings and goings, family dinners are often rushed.
“We’re always so busy,” says Lorelei. “I’m worried because as parents we weren’t really teaching [our kids] about dinner etiquette and we probably didn’t have enough confidence in our own skills about the more formal protocols.”
So when Lorelei came across an online ad for children’s etiquette classes, she enrolled both of her kids. And she isn’t the only one. In the past year and a half, etiquette experts say they’ve noticed more and more parents signing up their kids for classes to learn proper table manners.
By Colin Horgan - Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 10:18 AM - 0 Comments
Colin Horgan responds to Margaret Wente
It’s been an interesting week for single people all over the place. Not only did the Atlantic offer a rather lengthy dissection of how costly it is for single women to live in America compared to their married peers, but the Globe and Mail ran a series on the Single Situation in Canada, asking such questions as whether living with someone could make you healthier.
This is the kind of stuff you read when you’re single and either briefly take it all to heart and have a small anxiety attack, or, alternatively, dismiss it all as another facet of the conspiracy you rail against every day, perpetrated by friends and family alike — that one that supposes you should be married just because.
By Julia McKinnell - Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 4:30 AM - 0 Comments
Don’t let your age stop you from getting back in the workplace.
Who wants to play 30 years of golf anyway?
For people who have retired or been laid off, their later years can be some of the most fulfilling, especially since it’s a time when the urge to make a contribution to the world is strong, and research shows older is better in many ways.
“We become more empathetic, we get better at synthesizing ideas, making connections, solving complex problems,” writes Marci Alboher, author of The Encore Career Handbook: How to Make a Living and a Difference in the Second Half of Life. In other words, older people can be less angry and better able to deal with disappointment than their younger peers.
Alboher, 46, who was a lawyer before she switched to writing, believes that retirees are capable of making their mark well past their physical prime. As one expert in later-life achievement told her: “You may forget where you put the keys, but you may be able to settle a major labour dispute.” Continue…
By Julia McKinnell - Friday, January 11, 2013 at 12:30 PM - 0 Comments
Step one: Start by looking for one new thing
Cognitive psychologist Alexandra Horowitz credits her dog for making her aware of all the sights and smells she was missing outdoors. Horowitz teaches canine behaviour at Columbia University in New York. On walks with her dog, she often found herself being led astray. The dog would stop to sniff lampposts or zigzag through the park.
“I began trying to see what my dog was seeing and smelling that was taking us far afield,” she explains in her new book, On Looking: Eleven Walks With Expert Eyes. “I was paying so little attention to most of what was right before us that I had become a sleepwalker on the sidewalk.”
Horowitz teamed up with a geologist, an artist and a physician, among others, to learn extraordinary things about seemingly ordinary cities and their inhabitants. Continue…
By Rebecca Eckler - Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at 9:41 AM - 0 Comments
Westerners seek out alternative therapy
Holly Fennell sees about 50 tongues a week. The first thing the naturopath looks at is the colour. A “nice pinky-red” is normal, but many of her patients have a dark purple hue, which is her first clue that there is something off with their energy, or ch’i. A yellowish coating may indicate the flu or a cold. If the outside edge is bumpy, it could be a sign of anxiety. And Fennell, who has been practising Chinese medicine in Toronto’s tony Summerhill neighbourhood for 10 years, has a very deep line down the middle of hers, which she says points to her asthma. Patients think she is psychic, the way she reads their tongues.
Jen Miller, who lives in Toronto, has seen two traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) doctors. The first time, she was feeling sluggish, headachey and queasy, “not really a surprise because I’d recently had a bad breakup.”
The TCM doctor examined her mouth with a depressor and a little light, then asked her to move her tongue up and down. “She said, ‘Oh, not sleeping enough . . . you’re so sad . . . more water will make those headaches stop.’ ” Miller saw a second TCM doctor a year later for stubborn acne. “He started all our visits by looking in my mouth. The first time he looked in and said, ‘Uh! So much candy! All that sugar!’ ” The night before, admits Miller, she had eaten a box of chocolates. “Again, it was fascinating but creepy.” Continue…
By Julia McKinnell - Wednesday, December 12, 2012 at 1:00 PM - 0 Comments
More money means more chance for dysfunction, says author Deborah Price
When couples fight about money, it isn’t always because they don’t have enough. In many cases, the more they have, the more dysfunction there is, says Deborah Price, a well-respected money coach and author of a new book for couples called The Heart of Money: A Couple’s Guide to Creating True Financial Intimacy.
“This book was written for anybody who’s interested in exploring and understanding their more emotional and behavioural issues toward money,” said Price, the California-based founder and CEO of the Money Coaching Institute. “Many of our clients are people who are very affluent. In fact, many are from multi-generational families of wealth.”
Price’s coaching work goes beyond financial advice to help people talk about what’s really going on. “For example, I have a client who is very talented and makes a good living, but who worries incessantly about money. He thinks he has money issues, but the truth is, he has enough money and makes a good living. His real problems are: one, he hates what he does for a living and feels trapped; two, he lacks the confidence and faith that he can choose to do something else; and three, he doesn’t believe that he deserves to have what he wants, which is the heart of his problem,” writes Price. Continue…
By Julia McKinnell - Wednesday, December 5, 2012 at 10:31 AM - 0 Comments
Driven mad by a controlling coworker? Try the ‘hit-and-run’ approach.
The next time someone criticizes you for missing a blade of grass while mowing the back lawn, remember that the critic in your life may be a controlling perfectionist who suffers from obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, a condition that affects about two per cent of the population. There is no point trying to change perfectionists. They perceive their inadequacies as strengths. They are well-organized, punctual, tidy, moral and meticulously groomed, all qualities rewarded by society, except for their habit of incessant criticism, which can shatter the self-esteem of those around them.
There is also no point trying to convince perfectionists they have a problem, explain psychology professors Neil Lavender and Alan Cavaiola, the authors of a new book called Impossible to Please: How to Deal With Perfectionist Coworkers, Controlling Spouses, and Other Incredibly Critical People. As Lavender and Cavaiola point out, if you tell perfectionists they’re too fussy, they’ll tell you you’re too lax. If you tell them they’re too critical, they’ll tell you they’re doing you a favour. The best way to maintain your self-esteem is to recognize that it’s the perfectionist who has the problem. “Take note of a truth about constant criticism. Logically, it can’t all be valid,” write the authors.
Researchers believe that perfectionism and criticism are actually psychological defence mechanisms for keeping others at a distance. “It’s difficult to get close to someone who is criticizing you,” the authors note, advising us to remember that perfectionists aren’t actually perfect. Continue…
By Rosemary Counter - Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 11:43 AM - 0 Comments
Now that anyone can have a baby without sex, stigmas are fading. But some sperm and egg questions are still uncouth.
As Lauren MacMillan’s due date approaches, she’s attracting attention from well-meaning strangers. “At work, I get lots of ‘Ooh, your husband must be so excited!’ ” she says.
That’s when MacMillan, a 32-year-old account manager from Winnipeg, explains she has a wife, whom she’s been with for eight years and married to for a year and a half. There’s an awkward moment, followed by an even more awkward moment. “The look says, ‘Uh, how did this happen?’ ”
If you must know, MacMillan and her partner used a donor. They went through a U.S. sperm bank and chose a handsome fellow with similar interests in sports and travel. She got pregnant on their second try. No, she doesn’t know the donor, not even his name, but yes, she paid more for someone who was willing to be contacted when the child turns 18.
“I’m always open about my lifestyle,” says MacMillan. But if you happen to bump into her in the supermarket, a big smile and a “congratulations” will do just fine. “Don’t make assumptions,” she advises. “Times have changed.” Continue…
By Julia McKinnell - Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 3:40 PM - 0 Comments
William Moyers was plucked from the point of no return because his family never gave up
Journalist and former White House press secretary Bill Moyers recalls being “devoured by ignorance” when faced with the reality of his son’s crack and alcohol addiction.
It was 1994, and Bill’s son William, also a journalist, had gone off the rails. His terrified family stormed an Atlanta crack house, not knowing if he were dead or alive, only to find the 35-year-old, wasted, in a closet. “I hate you,” Bill Moyers told his son.
When William finally got clean and sober, he wrote a bestselling memoir, Broken. The media exposure generated endless letters from desperate addicts and family members pleading for advice on where and how to get the kind of help that saved him.
Now What: An Insider’s Guide to Addiction and Recovery is William Moyers’s latest book. “I’ll be candid with you,” he said in an interview last week from St. Paul, Minn., where he lives with his three children. “This is not a profound book in the same way that Broken was, but it’s a practical book, and it should get people to a solution. Not the solution, but a solution.”
William, 53, works for Hazelden, a rehab centre, where he always tells alcoholics it’s okay to ask for help the same way it’s okay to ask for help with a broken leg, because he believes it is a disease. To anyone who doubts that, William always responds: “Don’t take it from me. The American Medical Association defined it as a disease in the 1950s. Take it from the AMA.”
It’s an illness of isolation, and the antidote is to reach out and say, “I need help. Help me.” In the book, he recounts a conversation with a colleague at CNN. “I told him everything about myself, even the two or three secrets I’d sworn I’d never tell anyone. When I did, he leaned back in his chair and said, ‘You too, huh?’ And in that instant, I realized I wasn’t alone in the shame and regret that is so much a force of my illness.”
The Internet makes it easy for people to find support. “There are even impromptu [Alcoholics Anonymous] meetings in airports and on cruise ships,” he writes, “usually heralded over the loudspeaker or by handwritten signs using the code phrase ‘Friend of Bill W.,’ ” a reference to AA’s founding father.
William says interventions should not be harsh, histrionic dramas as seen on TV. “Many people, me included, have been plucked from the point of no return because our families didn’t give up on us and hired a trained, experienced interventionist to get involved.”
Remember that the mind of an addict “hardens into an impregnable defiance,” so an intervention might not work, but that doesn’t mean you should close the door. “Stay in touch and stay connected,” he urges. “You will need to set some terms around illegal or disruptive behaviour, but invite him to dinner, include her in family celebrations, meet him for coffee. At the end of every communication, be sure to ask, ‘Do you want help?’ Regardless of his response, always sign off with, ‘I’m here and I want to help you.’ ”
Don’t wait for the addict to hit rock bottom; start calling professionals and support groups and treatment centres, William advises. “It’s a popular misconception that a sick addict can only quit using and start to get help when he hits rock bottom. The ultimate bottom with addiction is death.”
Then it’s time for family members to take care of themselves. “I always remind families that, when their addict stops using and starts to get well, the family deserves and needs to recover.”
William’s mother, Judith, joined Al-Anon, a support group for the families of addicts, which she continues to attend. “I don’t think it does help me,” William said on the phone, “but it helps her.”
Last week, William visited his father in New York. “You know, I’m proud of you, son,” said the man who once spit out the venomous “hate” word. In the book’s foreword, Bill writes: “Our son says he dedicated his first book, Broken, to his parents because we were with him ‘every step of the way.’ Ha! He was too drunk and drugged to see how many times his father stumbled. It seemed to me that every time I put my foot down, I stumbled.”
By Julia McKinnell - Monday, November 12, 2012 at 2:12 PM - 0 Comments
Palm-to-palm contact is crucial if you want to make a good impression
Patti Wood sees a disturbing new trend: the decline of the handshake. Germophobes are shunning palm-to-palm contact and it’s hurting their careers, says the author of Snap: Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language and Charisma.
According to Wood, it takes an average of three hours of continuous face-to-face interaction to develop the same level of rapport you get instantly with a handshake. “Yes, it’s amazing that you can shake hands with someone and, in a moment, make him feel as safe and comfortable with you as if you’d been talking for hours.”
The handshake is so vital that Wood speaks up if someone refuses hers. “I say, ‘Put out your hand!’” the author said on the phone from Decatur, Georgia. “Even if you don’t get a good handshake, you can say, ‘Let’s try that again,’ and go in for a better grip.”
As she explains, first impressions are made in a split second. “We can form an accurate first impression in 100 milliseconds – less than the time it takes to snap our fingers.” Continue…
By macleans.ca - Thursday, November 1, 2012 at 5:10 AM - 0 Comments
How to make a clean break when your ex is a jerk who won’t take no for an answer
At some point, the majority of women will date the type of guy Kristin Carmichael calls a jerk. He’s charming at first, abusive later, then won’t take “no” when told the relationship is over.
Carmichael is a social worker in Santa Fe, N.M. Her college boyfriend turned out to be a stalker. Through her work at a hospital and a women’s shelter, she’s counselled thousands of women who were trying to leave or stay away from a bad relationship.
“Staying gone is not a sprint, it is a marathon,” she observes in her new book, X That Ex: Making a Clean Break When the Relationship Is Over. “If you resist going back to your partner a thousand times, and on the 1,001st time, you relent, all your hard work can be unravelled.”
Bad exes will say anything to get you back, everything from, “I love you; I’ll change,” to, “We’ve got to make it work for the kids.”
By Fatima Arkin - Friday, October 26, 2012 at 11:55 AM - 0 Comments
New websites and apps allow users to anonymously crowd source feedback on breakups
A 19-year-old student wanted some feedback on her relationship after constantly feeling hurt and offended by her boyfriend of two months. So the young woman, known only as Skemily, logged onto the relationship advice section of the social news site, Reddit, and anonymously asked strangers: “Is he aggressive or am I too sensitive?”
Within the month, she received 40 comments. Most advised her to leave her boyfriend, calling him “irrational” and “aggressive.” Only the odd person called her “too sensitive.”
This is not Ann Landers. Traditional advice columns are facing small, but growing competition from a number of websites and free apps that allow users to anonymously crowd source feedback on their romantic pursuits.
By Julia McKinnell - Tuesday, October 23, 2012 at 10:05 AM - 0 Comments
Couples should fight more and not compromise
Dana Adam Shapiro would like to meet his true love, his muse, his collaborator. Shapiro is the Oscar-nominated director of the documentary Murderball and author of the acclaimed novel The Every Boy. He’s 39, handsome, single, and has never been married, though he’s been in love with plenty of women and had five three-year relationships.
He wonders if there is something wrong with him. Is he too cynical about marriage to make a long-term commitment? A buddy once told him that “getting married is like breaking into prison to serve a life sentence.”
For answers, Shapiro began interviewing divorced men and women until he’d spoken to 300 people. “I set out to vicariously live through the tragedies of others, hoping to glean some wisdom from the wreckage and to ultimately become so fluent in such failure that I would be able to avoid it in my own love life,” he explains in his new book, You Can Be Right or You Can Be Married.
The more unconventional the lessons he heard, the more impressed he was. “Somebody said to me, ‘Don’t paint the red flags white,’ and that’s something I’ll keep in mind a lot now,” he said on the phone from Berkeley, Calif. Shapiro believes most couples tend to avoid conflict. “But I think the idea of positive conflict, and how to fight fairly, is the key to a good relationship. Don’t surrender. Don’t pick fights but don’t avoid them. Admit if something bothers you.”
He cites the case of a 40-year-old divorced woman who regrets bottling up her jealousy. Her post-divorce behaviour is akin to having “truth Tourette’s,” she told Shapiro. “Now, when I feel jealous, I just say it right away. I’ll just announce it to the person I’m with. I’m through with being a ‘cool’ girl. I’m going to show it all, and I want to be with someone who’s going to be that real with me.”
“Accelerating the inevitable” is Shapiro’s term for it. “So much of the dating process is, let’s face it, faking it, because you really are putting your best foot forward. You want so badly to be liked. You might feign interest in something you’re not interested in. Why don’t we be ourselves as quickly as possible and then we can really see if we have the stuff to make a life together?”
One divorced 30-year-old whose ex-husband was violent suggests that couples seek out “uncomfortable experiences” before their wedding day. She told Shapiro, “Go camping. It might rain and you might get grumpy. Or, you’re on a plane and there’s a baby next to you screaming the entire time. How’s that guy going to handle it? Is he going to be like, ‘Shut that f–king baby up?’ If so, there you go. That’s not the guy you want to marry.”
Stating your needs at the beginning of the next relationship is another good idea, says Shapiro. “I think that people feel that having a need is synonymous with being needy, so they really hold that back.”
In the book, a 42-year-old divorced mom tells Shapiro about arguing with friends over the difference between a need and a want. “My closest girlfriend was there and she’s the strongest woman I’ve ever known, and she said, ‘I’m not ashamed to say that I need my husband. And I will call him and say, ‘I need you now.’ And I know that he’s gonna come and sit there like a nodding dog and listen to me.’ And all the men around the table went pale at the word ‘need.’ We said, ‘What’s wrong with need?’ And they said, ‘We don’t like the word need.’ We like the word want.’ ”
Shapiro says he plans to inform his next girlfriend that he needs to travel a lot and needs to talk about work at home.
He also believes too much compromise is dangerous. “A lot of people said they’d compromised themselves into oblivion. They became a shadow of who they really were. This isn’t the most traditional advice,” he laughs. “ ‘You should fight more, don’t compromise.’ But those are some of the take-aways for me.”
If he does get married, he won’t pledge his love forever. “It’s a silly promise to say, ‘I will love you forever.’ No one can say that. It’s just not true. I don’t care. No one can say it and no one should be loved unconditionally.”
By Julia McKinnell - Thursday, October 18, 2012 at 8:30 AM - 0 Comments
When spouses become caregivers, it’s not always easy to stay positive
After her father died of brain cancer and her mother remarried only to nurse another sick husband, Jane Heller vowed to marry for health. The last thing she wanted was a man with a medical problem. She joked that she’d rather marry a crocodile than become a caregiver. Her plan didn’t work out.
Heller, a Santa Barbara-based novelist, fell in love with Michael Forester, a photographer who was diagnosed as a child with Crohn’s, a chronic inflammatory bowel disease that can feel like a knife to the gut during flare-ups, and can result in emergency surgery.
Heller writes in vivid detail about their lives in a new support book, due out Nov. 1, called You’d Better Not Die or I’ll Kill You: A Caregiver’s Survival Guide to Keeping You in Good Health and Good Spirits.
“I’d drive him to various ERs while he barfed into garbage bags,” she writes. When one of Forester’s incisions sprung a leak at home, Heller discovered something disgusting oozing from the stitches. Her husband had turned a shade between white and green, and it was back to the ER for another operation.
His illness and her resentment at not having a normal life was making Heller sick. “To the outside world, I was a saint,” she writes. Privately, she wondered, “Who is this person? One minute he was the handsome, gentle man I’d married; the next he was pumped up with steroids, bloated and moon-faced, screaming obscenities, and punching walls. One minute I was praying he wouldn’t die; the next minute I was hoping he would die.”
Thinking such dark fantasies is perfectly normal, she reassures caregivers. “But here’s the thing . . . resign yourself to getting fed up with the whole mess on occasion, and confide in people who won’t look at you as if you’re Casey Anthony.” Once you articulate the dark thoughts to a friend or therapist, “you’ll feel better,” she promises.
The temptation to have an affair is also normal, an idea that consumed Heller when an ex-boyfriend sent an email after a decade of silence. “The email was merely a ‘Hello, how are you?’ but it nearly made me pass out with excitement,” writes Heller. At the time, Forester was in hospital for the fourth time in four months.
On the phone from L.A., Heller said the email made her feel like she was 14 again. She went straight to her makeup case and put on lipstick even though she was alone in the house and it was 10 p.m. After several emails back and forth, she didn’t follow through—it was too complicated, she said—but many caregivers do, often hooking up with fellow caregivers.
In the book, psychotherapist Tina Tessina adds, “If it’s not hurting anyone, and you’re not being obvious about it, it might even make it possible to be more tender and loving to your partner.”
All caregivers need escapes and “brain breaks,” writes Heller, but they’re also twice as prone to depression. Heller interviewed one psychologist, Michael Seabaugh, who worries about the number of strung-out caregivers. “I’m talking about the widespread abuse of the medicine cabinet of their elder loved one,” he says in the book. “That aged person is getting dosed with some kind of happy pill or sedation and we’re seeing more and more caregivers help themselves to what’s there.”
Years ago, when Heller was having trouble sleeping, she became a “Xanax aficionado.” The day she appeared on the Today Show to promote her novel, she took two because she was so freaked out. “When the segment began, Katie Couric said, ‘So, Jane, how does it feel going from being a promoter of authors to being one yourself?’” Heller said, “I don’t know. I’m heavily sedated.” Couric laughed, but Heller cringes still. These days she stays away from prescription drugs and sticks to one glass of wine a night, tops.
“Caregivers have to look after themselves,” she says. “That’s why my book includes healthy recipes and tips on meditation.” On the bright side, she writes,“I now leap into action when a friend is going through a medical crisis—even if it’s just to say, ‘I’m thinking of you.’”
By Julia McKinnell - Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 3:17 PM - 0 Comments
A criminal profiler advises keeping a tight rein on girls
Pat Brown knows every grisly crime imaginable. She’s television’s go-to criminal profiler and the CEO of the Sexual Homicide Exchange, a group that helps police zero in on suspects in unsolved sex crimes. Talk to her on the phone for 10 minutes and she’s referencing the Florida man, shot dead by police, who chewed the face off a homeless man.
Raising her daughter, Brown did everything in her power to keep the girl safe from the perverts and psychopaths, and the drugs and depression that can ruin a girl’s life. She home-schooled all three of her kids and didn’t let her daughter date unchaperoned until she was 18.
As she proudly points out in her new book, How To Save Your Daughter’s Life: Straight Talk for Parents from America’s Top Criminal Profiler, her children turned out fine—her daughter is now a child-abuse detective—and “none of them ever cursed at me or told me they hated me.”
By Julia McKinnell - Monday, October 1, 2012 at 3:00 PM - 0 Comments
No guts, no glory for working girls
Legendary Cosmopolitan editor-in-chief Helen Gurley Brown used to go home after a long, challenging day and, after she changed, would take a whiff of her underpants. This is how she savoured success, according to Kate White, who worked for Gurley Brown before taking over the top job in 1998. It took guts for Gurley Brown to admit to the sniffing, and gutsiness is what White believes is the key to propelling women to the top of their field.
“It means that she loved kicking off her stilettos at night and relishing the day she’d just spent at her demanding, yet fantastic job,” White, 61, writes in her new book I Shouldn’t Be Telling You This: Success Secrets Every Gutsy Girl Should Know.
On Sept. 4, White stepped down from the magazine to concentrate on writing books and public speaking; she looks forward to a little more personal time. Her nuts-and-bolts advice in I Shouldn’t Be Telling You This covers all the practicalities, from how to get your foot in the corporate door to how to behave as you ascend the ladder.