Polyamory in the Media: Can You Help?

As many Poly folks, or even Poly-aware folks know, Polyamory is subject to some pretty harsh criticism and judgements by people who don’t understand it, and by the media at large. As a therapist working with Poly folks, I’ve heard many stories of unkind and ignorant assumptions and judgements coming from non-Poly-aware people, and I find myself continually frustrated by the misunderstandings non-Poly folks have about the lifestyle. I’ve done what I can, through training and educational opportunites, to teach people about what Polyamory really means, and what it looks like, but the audience I can reach on my own is still somewhat limited.

In the past year, I was contacted by a staff writer for a large national publication who is interested in writing an article about what Polyamory is, specifically profiling a Poly family. At first, I wasn’t sure what I thought about this possibility, how would this writer depict Poly? And how did I know he would sensationalize the lifestyle? Eventually, I decided that the opportunity to help raise awareness and shed light on a topic that lots of people either have never heard about or have very strong negative reactions toward was important enough to move forward.

The reason I am posting this is that this author needs a Poly family to write about specifically in the context of this article. I’m putting this out there because I’m hoping to find Poly folks who would be willing to–very publicly–put themselves in the limelight for an article. Could this be you?

I can’t guarantee that you will be featured in this article just because you volunteer, the writer has a pretty specific idea of the type of family in mind that he would like to profile. Please email or call me with any questions about this article, I look forward to hearing from you!

As Victims, Men Struggle for Rape Awareness from NYTimes.com

This is a heartbreaking article about the prevalence of rape and sexual assault against men.

Men Struggle for Rape Awareness

Michael Nagle for The New York Times

ASSAULTED Keith Smith of East Windsor, N.J., was raped when he was a 14-year-old hitchhiker.

Keith Smith was 14 when he was raped by a driver who picked him up after a hockey team meeting. He had hitchhiked home, which is why, for decades, he continued to blame himself for the assault.
Michael Nagle for The New York Times

NIGHTMARES Keith Smith “was waking up screaming” for years after his rape, he said.

When the driver barreled past Hartley’s Pork Pies on the outskirts of Providence, R.I., where Mr. Smith had asked to be dropped off, and then past a firehouse, he knew something was wrong.

“I tried to open the car door, but he had rigged the lock,” said Mr. Smith, of East Windsor, N.J., now 52. Still, he said, “I had no idea it was going to be a sexual assault.”

Even today, years after the disclosure of the still-unfolding child abuse scandal in the Catholic Church and the arrest of a former Pennsylvania State University assistant football coach accused of sexually abusing boys, rape is widely thought of as a crime against women.

Until just a few weeks ago, when the federal government expanded its definition of rape to include a wider range of sexual assaults, national crime statistics on rape included only assaults against women and girls committed by men under a narrow set of circumstances. Now they will also include male victims.

While most experts agree women are raped far more often than men, 1.4 percent of men in a recent national survey said they had been raped at some point. The study, by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, found that when rape was defined as oral or anal penetration, one in 71 men said they had been raped or had been the target of attempted rape, usually by a man they knew. (The study did not include men in prison.)

And one in 21 said they had been forced to penetrate an acquaintance or a partner, usually a woman; had been the victim of an attempt to force penetration; or had been made to receive oral sex.

Other estimates have run even higher. A Department of Justice report found that 3 percent of men, or one in 33, had been raped. Some experts believe that one in six men have experienced unwanted sexual contact of some kind as minors.

But for many men, the subject is so discomfiting that it is rarely discussed — virtually taboo, experts say, because of societal notions about masculinity and the idea that men are invulnerable and can take care of themselves.

“We have a cultural blind spot about this,” said David Lisak, a clinical psychologist who has done research on interpersonal violence and sexual abuse and is a founding board member of 1in6, an organization that offers information and services to men who had unwanted or abusive sexual experiences as children.

“We recognize that male children are being abused,” Dr. Lisak said, “but then when boys cross some kind of threshold somewhere in adolescence and become what we perceive to be men, we no longer want to think about it in this way.”

Even when high-profile cases dominate the news, said Mai Fernandez, executive director of the National Center for Victims of Crime advocacy organization in Washington, “attention goes to the things we feel more comfortable talking about — such as whether Penn State had done enough, and what will happen to their football program — and not to the question, ‘What do we do to prevent boys from being sexually assaulted?’ ”

In an interview with The Washington Post this month, Joe Paterno, the Penn State football coach who was fired after the abuse scandal erupted and who died of lung cancer on Sunday, said that when an assistant had told him about witnessing an inappropriate encounter between a young boy and Jerry Sandusky, the former assistant coach who is facing charges of sexual abuse, he had been confused and unsure how to proceed. Mr. Paterno said the assistant “didn’t want to get specific. And to be frank with you, I don’t know that it would have done any good, because I never heard of, of rape and a man.”

Much of the research on the sexual assault of men has focused on prisons. But men are also raped outside of prison, usually by people they know, including acquaintances and intimate partners, but occasionally by complete strangers. They are raped as part of violent, drunken or drug-induced assaults; war crimes; interrogations; antigay bias crimes; and hazing rites for male clubs and organizations, like fraternities, and in the military.

In one study of 3,337 military veterans applying for disability benefits for post-traumatic stress disorder, 6.5 percent of male combat veterans and 16.5 percent of noncombat veterans reported either in-service or post-service sexual assault. (The rates were far higher for female veterans, 69.0 percent and 86.6 percent respectively.)

A Pentagon report released on Thursday found a 64 percent increase in sexual crimes in the Army since 2006, with rape, sexual assault and forcible sodomy the most frequent violent sex crimes committed last year; 95 percent of all victims were women.

Some studies have reported that the risk of rape is greatest for men who are young, are living in poverty or homeless, or are disabled or mentally ill. The C.D.C. study found that one-quarter of men who had been raped were assaulted before they were 10 , usually by someone they knew.

And young men raised by poor single mothers are especially vulnerable to male predators, said Dr. Zane Gates, an internist who cares for low-income patients on Medicaid at a community health center in Altoona, Pa.

“You’re looking for a male figure in your life desperately, and you’ll give anything for that,” he said.

Eugene Porter, a therapist in Oakland, Calif., and the author of the book “Treating the Young Male Victim of Sexual Assault,” said that while some assailants seek power and dominance, others “find that aggression enhances their sexual experience.”

“There is no arena in which rape takes place between men and women that it does not take place between men and men,” he said.

Like women, men who are raped feel violated and ashamed and may become severely depressed or suicidal. They are at increased risk for substance abuse, problems with interpersonal relationships, physical impairments, chronic pain, insomnia and other health problems.

But men also face a challenge to their sense of masculinity. Many feel they should have done more to fight off their attackers. Since they may believe that men are never raped, they may feel isolated and reluctant to confide in anyone. Male rape victims may become confused about their sexual orientation or, if gay and raped by a man, blame their sexual orientation for the rape.

“If you’re sexually assaulted, there’s this idea that you’re no longer a man,” said Neil Irvin, executive director of the organization Men Can Stop Rape. “The violence is ignored, and your sexual orientation and gender are confronted.”

Many rape crisis centers — which often also provide services for victims of domestic violence — do not have the resources to counsel male victims. Remarkably few male victims seek professional help for injuries, screening for sexually transmitted diseases or counseling after an attack, often waiting years or decades.

One study of 705 men in Virginia found that 91, or 13 percent, had been sexually assaulted, a vast majority of them before they turned 18. Fewer than one-fifth of victims had ever received professional services related to the assault.

“Men are affected — they have high rates of P.T.S.D. and depression — but the majority don’t get help,” said Dr. Saba W. Masho, the lead author of the Virginia study and an associate professor of epidemiology and community health at Virginia Commonwealth University. “It’s easy for you and I to talk about it, but when you put yourself in that victim’s shoes, they’re asking, ‘Do I want people to know? How do I seek help? Do I want my doctor to know? Where do I go?’ ”

Mr. Smith told his older brother and father about what had happened as soon as he got home, and the three went to the police to file a report. Mr. Smith had memorized the license plate number of the car, and the owner, who was known to the police because of a conviction for distributing pornography, was arrested. He was killed on the streets of Providence before he could stand trial.

Today, Mr. Smith is a member of the speakers bureau for Rainn, the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, which provides online counseling for victims. For years, he said, he suffered from nightmares in which he was fleeing his assailant’s car, scared that the man, who had handed him $10 and dropped him off almost three hours after picking him up, was coming back.

“I was waking up screaming,” he said.

Why is the ‘Seattle Freeze’ so hard to melt? From kpluwonders.com

 Many of you know that I teach classes on flirting, and we talk about the ‘Seattle Freeze’ often in class. Try taking the advice at the bottom: going to a coffee shop without your laptop or cellphone. Strike up a conversation with a stranger and see how it makes you feel!

Why is the ‘Seattle Freeze’ so hard to melt?

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By Jennifer Wing

Is Seattle a great but lonely place to live?

The city often ranks pretty high on those lists of the best places to move to – There’s the food, the water, the mountains, the music. But once people get here, they find it’s pretty tough to make friends. There’s even a name for it: The Seattle Freeze.

We wondered: When did the freeze set in? And, how can a newcomer ever break through it?


The freeze defined

The Seattle Freeze can play out in many different ways.

You say hello to someone walking past on the sidewalk, and they look straight ahead as if you’re invisible. Or, you’re at the grocery store in the checkout line, and the person waiting behind you keeps a distance of at least 10 feet and never makes eye contact.

The Urban Dictionary defines The Urban Dictionary defines ‘Seattle Freeze’ this way:

“A phrase that describes a local public consensus that states the city of Seattle and/ or its outlying suburbs are generally not friendly, asexual, introverted, socially aloof, clickish or strictly divided through its social classes, thus making the city/ area difficult to make social connections on all levels.”


Would you lean out and say hello?

At a speed dating event in downtown Seattle, Laura and Kelly said they were having a hard time cracking the ‘reserve’ of the city.

“I think Seattle people are polite, but they don’t make an effort to get to know you. You won’t get invited over for dinner,” Kelly said.

Sandra Wolf, who hosts these speed dating events as a side job, knows there is something off about this place when she compares it to where she went to college in Louisiana.

“In the South, people want to talk to you in the grocery store,” she said. “People will lean out their car windows to talk to you. In Seattle that will never happen. ‘I’ve got my space you’ve got yours.’ I’m not sure why that is, but I definitely notice a difference.”


Is it the weather or heritage?

Courtesy of MOHAICourtesy of MOHAI

Well, the weather might have something to do with it. Rain and gray skies make people want to hunker down.

Then, there is the Scandinavian factor.

At one time, around the year 1910, most of Seattle’s immigrants were from places like Finland, Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Not only did they bring yummy pancakes, they also helped shape the city’s reserved personality.

Stina Cowan works at the Nordic Heritage Museum in Ballard and says where she comes from, friendships don’t happen overnight.

“It takes longer to open up and friendship has to grow slowly. That can be interpreted as invasion of privacy almost. Too much too soon,” she said.

Cowan suspects this is because in Nordic countries, people live in the same place for a long time and often go to school with the same group from Kindergarten through high school. And when you do see a very outgoing person, they are to be avoided.

“It’s usually alcohol involved.”

Here’s Mr. Rodgers singing his famous song, as a hint for those needing encouragement
and direction for thawing the freeze:



Is it technology?

Aside from the weather and the Scandinavian aloofness, there is the tech factor.

People who are attracted to jobs at places like Microsoft, Amazon and Google already have a reputation for keeping to themselves, which makes the freeze that much colder.

Corey, 37, works in the tech industry and said he and his few friends are too focused on work to make enough time for socializing.

Kevin_H. / FlickrKevin_H. / Flickr

“A lot of tech people who are focused in accumulating possessions, cars and things – I’m in IT and I know – they are good looking guys. They just don’t dress so well. I don’t get out that much. I work from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., six days a week.”

A 2008 Wall Street Journal article clearly shows that while people here are “open” to new ideas, we’re just near the bottom of the states for being extroverted. Sociologist Jodi O’Brien at Seattle University added that this group relies heavily on digital devices to communicate which means they are losing the ability to simply hang out and talk.

“If you email something I don’t like, I can scream at the computer, but I don’t have to interact with you.  The more we can do that, the less inclined we are to engage in the messy social world.”

Meanwhile, back at the speed dating event Nick, who grew up here and admits to propagating the Seattle Freeze, was working on loosening up a bit. He said he is trying to be more outgoing.

“I have the perfect pick up line. ‘Hi, how are you? Hi, how are you doing?’”

While Nick was working to thaw out a bit, Kelly, who has been in Seattle for five years, was a little worried she’s becoming like one of the locals.

“I’m changing a bit. I’m becoming exclusive,” she said. “I don’t want people to look at me or talk to me. I’m part of the problem now!”


So is it inevitable?

Try this: Next time you go to a coffee shop, leave your computer at home. Put your phone away. Test out one of Nick’s pick up lines. Who knows? The Seattle freeze may just start to melt away.


Definition of Mindfulness, from Wikipedia

Heard of mindfulness, but not sure what it means? This Wikipedia article does a great job of explaining the concept!

Mindfulness (psychology)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Modern clinical psychology and psychiatry since the 1970s have developed a number of therapeutic applications based on the concept of mindfulness (Pali sati or Sanskrit smṛti / स्मृति) in Buddhist meditation.



[edit] Definitions

Several definitions of mindfulness have been used in modern psychology. According to various prominent psychological definitions, Mindfulness refers to a psychological quality that involves

bringing one’s complete attention to the present experience on a moment-to-moment basis,[1]

or involves

paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally,[1]

or involves

a kind of nonelaborative, nonjudgmental, present-centered awareness in which each thought, feeling, or sensation that arises in the attentional field is acknowledged and accepted as it is[2]

Bishop, Lau, and colleagues (2004)[3] offered a two component model of mindfulness:

The first component [of mindfulness] involves the self-regulation of attention so that it is maintained on immediate experience, thereby allowing for increased recognition of mental events in the present moment. The second component involves adopting a particular orientation toward one’s experiences in the present moment, an orientation that is characterized by curiosity, openness, and acceptance.[3]:232

In this two-component model, self-regulated attention (the first component) involves conscious awareness of one’s current thoughts, feelings, and surroundings, which can result[citation needed] in metacognitive skills for controlling concentration. Orientation to experience (the second component) involves accepting one’s mindstream, maintaining open and curious attitudes, and thinking in alternative categories (developing upon Ellen Langer‘s research on decision-making). Training in mindfulness and mindfulness-based practices, oftentimes as part of a quiet meditation session, results[citation needed] in the development of a Beginner’s mind, or, looking at experiences as if for the first time.

[edit] Historical development

In 1979 Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn founded the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program at the University of Massachusetts to treat the chronically ill,[4] which sparked a growing interest and application of mindfulness ideas and practices in the medical world[5]:230-1 for the treatment of a variety of conditions in people both healthy and unhealthy. Many of the variety of mindfulness-based clinical treatments we have today are mentioned on this webpage below.

Much of this was inspired by teachings from the East, and particularly from the Buddhist traditions, where mindfulness is the 7th step of the Noble Eightfold Path taught by Siddhartha Gautama, The Buddha, who founded Buddhism almost 2,500 years ago. Although originally articulated as a part of what we know in the West as Buddhism, there is nothing inherently religious about mindfulness, and it is often taught independent of religious or cultural connotation.[6][7]

Clinical research shows Buddhist mindfulness techniques can help alleviate anxiety[8], stress[8], and depression[8]

Teachers such as Thich Nhat Hanh[9] have brought mindfulness to the attention of Westerners. Mindfulness and other Buddhist meditation techniques receive support in the West from figures such as the scientist Jon Kabat-Zinn, the teacher Jack Kornfield, the teacher Joseph Goldstein, the psychologist Tara Brach, the writer Alan Clements, and the teacher Sharon Salzberg, who have been widely[who?] attributed with playing a significant role in integrating the healing aspects of Buddhist meditation practices with the concept of psychological awareness and healing. Psychotherapists have adapted and developed mindfulness techniques into a promising cognitive behavioral therapies vis. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT, pronounced act) [10][11] ACT was recently reviewed by SAMHSA’s National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices [12]

[edit] Scientific research

Over the past 30 years there has been an increase in the number of published studies on mindfulness.[13] The current body of scientific literature on the effects of mindfulness practices is promising despite the presence of methodological weaknesses.[8][14] The current research does suggest that mindfulness practices are useful in the treatment of pain,[8] stress,[8] anxiety,[8] depressive relapse,[8] disordered eating,[8] and addiction,[15][16] among others. Mindfulness has been investigated for its potential benefit for individuals who do not experience these disorders, as well, with positive results. Mindfulness practice improves the immune system[17] and alters activation symmetries in the prefrontal cortex, a change previously associated with an increase in positive affect and a faster recovery from a negative experience.[17]

Mindfulness is often used[by whom?] synonymously with the traditional Buddhist processes of cultivating awareness as described above, but more recently[when?] has been studied as a psychological tool capable of stress reduction and the elevation of several positive emotions or traits. In this relatively new field of western psychological mindfulness, researchers attempt to define and measure the results of mindfulness primarily through controlled, randomised studies of mindfulness intervention on various dependent variables. The participants in mindfulness interventions measure many of the outcomes of such interventions subjectively. For this reason, several mindfulness inventories or scales (a set of questions posed to a subject whose answers output the subject’s aggregate answers in the form of a rating or category) have arisen. The most prominent include:

  • the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS)
  • the Freiburg Mindfulness Inventory
  • the Kentucky Inventory of Mindfulness Skills
  • the Cognitive and Affective Mindfulness Scale.[18]

Through the use of these scales – which can illuminate self-reported changes in levels of mindfulness, the measurement of other correlated inventories in fields such as subjective well-being, and the measurement of other correlated variables such as health and performance – researchers have produced studies that investigate the nature and effects of mindfulness. The research on the outcomes of mindfulness falls into two main categories: stress reduction and positive-state elevation.

[edit] Stress reduction

Human response to stressors in the environment produces emotional and physiological changes in individual human bodies in order to cope with that stress.[19] This process most likely evolved to help us attend to immediate concerns in our environment to better our chances of survival, but in modern society, much of the stress felt is not beneficial in this way. Stress has been shown to have several negative effects[citation needed] on health, happiness, and overall wellbeing (see stress (biology)). One field of psychological inquiry into mindfulness is Mindfulness-based stress reduction or MBSR. Several studies have produced relevant findings:

  • Jain and Shapiro (2007)[20] conducted a study to show that mindfulness meditation may be specific in its ability to “reduce distractive and ruminative thoughts and behaviours”, which may provide a “unique mechanism by which mindfulness meditation reduces distress”.
  • Arch (2006)[21] found emotional regulation following focused breathing. A breathing group provided moderately positive responses to emotionally neutral visual slides, while “unfocused attention and worry” groups both responded significantly more negatively to neutral slides.
  • Brown (2003)[22] found declines in mood disturbance and stress following mindfulness interventions.
  • Jha (2010)[23] found that a sufficient meditation training practice may protect against functional impairments associated with high-stress contexts.
  • Garland (2009)[24] found declines in stress after mindfulness interventions, which are potentially due to the positive re-appraisals of what were at first appraised as stressors.

[edit] Elevation of positive emotions and outcomes

While much research centered on mindfulness seeks to reduce stress, another large body of research has examined mindfulness as a tool to elevate and sustain “positive” emotional states as well and their related outcomes:

  • Fredrickson (2008)[25] studied the building of personal resources through increased daily experiences of positive emotions due to meditation. She found that meditation practice showed increases over time in purpose in life, social support, and decreased illness symptoms.
  • Davidson (2003)[26] found that mindfulness meditation increased brain and immune function in positive ways, but highlighted the need for additional research.
  • Brown (2009)[27] investigated subjective well-being and financial desire. He found that a large discrepancy between financial desires and financial reality correlated with low subjective well-being but that the accumulation of wealth did not tend to close the gap. Mindfulness however was associated with a lower financial-desire discrepancy and thus a higher subjective well-being, so mindfulness may promote the perception of “having enough”.
  • Shao (2009)[28] used a randomised controlled study to illuminate the correlation between MBA candidates subjected to a mindfulness intervention and increased academic performance. He found mindfulness was positively related to performance for women.
  • Davidson et al.[29] showed that mindfulness practice improves the immune system and alters activation symmetries in the prefrontal cortex, a change previously associated with an increase in positive affect and a faster recovery time from exposure to a negative experience. These changes in subjects persisted even after periods they were done meditating.

[edit] Future directions

The research leaves many questions still unanswered. Much of the terminology used in such research has no cohesive definition. For example, there is a lack of differentiation between “attention” and “awareness” and an interchangeable use of the two in modern descriptions. Buddhist contemplative psychology however, differentiates more clearly, as “attention” in that context signifies an ever-changing factor of consciousness, while “awareness” refers to a stable and specific state of consciousness.[18]

[edit] Reception and criticism

Various scholars have criticized how mindfulness has been defined or represented in recent western psychology publications. B. Alan Wallace has stated that an influential definition of mindfulness in the psychology literature (by Bishop et al.[3]) differs in significant ways from how mindfulness was defined by the Buddha himself, and by much of Buddhist tradition.[30] For example, Wallace writes that

According to one psychological paper on the topic, mindfulness is “a kind of nonelaborative, nonjudgmental present-centered awareness in which each thought, feeling, or sensation that arises in the attentional field is acknowledged and accepted as it is.[31] …. The modern psychological account of mindfulness, which is explicitly based on the descriptions of mindfulness presented in the modern Vipassana (contemplative insight) tradition of Theravada Buddhism…. is oddly at variance with the Buddha’s own description of mindfulness, or sati: “And what monks, is the faculty of sati? Here, monks, the noble disciple has sati, he is endowed with perfect sati and intellect, he is one who remembers, who recollects what was done and said long before.”[32] …. So, rather than refraining from labeling or categorizing experiences in a nonjudgmental fashion, in the earliest, most authorititative accounts, sati is said to distinguish between wholesome and unwholesome, beneficial and unbeneficial tendencies. The contrast between the ancient and modern accounts is striking.[30]:61

Wallace concludes that “The modern description and practice of mindfulness are certainly valuable, as thousands of people have discovered for themselves through their own practice. But this doesn’t take away from the fact that the modern understanding departs significantly from the Buddha’s own account of sati, and from those of the most authoritative commentators in the Theravada and Indian Mahayana traditions.”[30]:62

Eleanor Rosch has stated that contemporary “therapeutic systems that include mindfulness”[33] “could as much be called wisdom-based as mindfulness-based.”[34]:262 In these therapeutic approaches

Mindfulness would seem to play two roles: as a part of the therapy itself and as an umbrella justification (“empirical”) for the inclusion of other aspects of wisdom that may be beyond our present cultural assumptions. Where in this is mindfulness in its original sense of the mind adhering to an object of consciousness with a clear mental focus?[34]:262

William Mikulas, in the Journal of Consciousness Studies, stated that “In Western psychology, mindfulness and concentration are often confused and confounded because, although in the last few years there has been a moderate interest in mindfulness, there has not been a corresponding interest in concentration. Hence, many mindfulness-based programs are actually cultivating both concentration and mindfulness, but all results are attributed to mindfulness.”[35]:20

[edit] Specific mindfulness-based therapy programs

Since 2006 research supports promising mindfulness-based therapies for a number of medical and psychiatric conditions, notably chronic pain (McCracken et al. 2007), stress (Grossman et al. 2004), anxiety and depression (Hofmann et al. 2010), substance abuse (Melemis 2008:141-157), and recurrent suicidal behavior (Williams et al. 2006). Bell (2009) gives a brief overview of mindful approaches to therapy, particularly family therapy, starting with a discussion of mysticism and emphasizing the value of a mindful therapist.


[edit] Morita therapy

Main article: Morita therapy

The Japanese psychiatrist Shoma Morita, who trained in Zen meditation, developed Morita therapy upon principles of mindfulness and non-attachment.

[edit] Gestalt therapy

Main article: Gestalt therapy

Since the beginnings of Gestalt therapy in the early 1940s, mindfulness, referred to as “awareness“, has been an essential part[citation needed] of its theory and practice.

[edit] Adaptation Practice

The British psychiatrist, Clive Sherlock , who trained in the traditional Rinzai School of Zen, developed Adaptation Practice (AP) in 1978 based on the profound mindfulness/awareness training of Zen daily-life practice and meditation. Adaptation Practice is used[by whom?] for long-term relief of depression, anxiety, anger, stress and other emotional problems.[36][37]

[edit] Mindfulness-based stress reduction

Jon Kabat-Zinn developed the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) over a ten-year period at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He (1990:11) defines the essence of MBSR: “This “work” involves above all the regular, disciplined practice of moment-to-moment awareness or mindfulness, the complete “owning” of each moment of your experience, good, bad, or ugly.” Kabat-Zinn explains the non-Buddhist universality of MBSR:

Although at this time mindfulness meditation is most commonly taught and practiced within the context of Buddhism, its essence is universal. … Yet it is no accident that mindfulness comes out of Buddhism, which has as its overriding concerns the relief of suffering and the dispelling of illusions. (2005:12-13)

MBSR has clinically proven beneficial for people with depression and anxiety disorders.[citation needed] This mindfulness-based psychotherapy is practiced as a form of complementary medicine in over 200[citation needed] hospitals, and is currently the focus of numerous research studies funded by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

[edit] Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy

Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) psychotherapy combines cognitive therapy with mindfulness techniques as a treatment for major depressive disorder.

[edit] Acceptance and commitment therapy

Steven C. Hayes and others have developed acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), originally called “comprehensive distancing”, which uses strategies of mindfulness, acceptance, and behavior change.

[edit] Dialectical behavior therapy

Mindfulness is a “core” exercise used in Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), a psychosocial treatment Marsha M. Linehan developed for treating people with borderline personality disorder. DBT is dialectic, explains Linehan (1993:19), in the sense of “the reconciliation of opposites in a continual process of synthesis.” As a practitioner of Buddhist meditation techniques, Linehan says:

This emphasis in DBT on a balance of acceptance and change owes much to my experiences in studying meditation and Eastern spirituality. The DBT tenets of observing, mindfulness, and avoidance of judgment are all derived from the study and practice of Zen meditations. (1993:20-21)

[edit] Hakomi

Main article: Hakomi

Hakomi therapy, under development by Ron Kurtz and others, is a somatic psychology based upon Asian philosophical precepts of mindfulness and nonviolence.

[edit] Internal Family Systems Therapy

Internal Family Systems Therapy (IFS), developed by Richard C. Schwartz, emphasizes the importance of both therapist and client engaging in therapy from the Self, which is the IFS term for one’s “spiritual center”. The Self is curious about whatever arises in one’s present experience and open and accepting toward all manifestations.

[edit] Mindfulness meditation in organizations

In the U.S., certain businesses, universities, government agencies, counseling centers, schools, hospitals, religious groups, law firms, prisons, the army, and other organizations offer training in mindfulness meditation.

In the U.S. business world, interest in mindfulness is rising dramatically. This shows in the popular business press, including books such as Awake at Work (Carroll, 2004) and Resonant Leadership: Renewing Yourself and Connecting with Others Through Mindfulness, Hope, and Compassion.[38]

The website of the University of Massachusetts Medical School Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society and Carroll’s (2007) book, The Mindful Leader, mention many companies that have provided training programs in mindfulness. These include Fortune 500 companies (such as Raytheon, Procter & Gamble, Monsanto, General Mills, and Comcast) and others (such as BASF Bioresearch, Bose, New Balance, Unilever, and Nortel Networks). Executives who “meditate and consider such a practice beneficial to running a corporation”[39] have included the chairman of the Ford Motor Company, Bill Ford, Jr.[page needed]; a managing partner of McKinsey & Co., Michael Rennie; and Aetna International’s former chairman, Michael Stephen. A professional-development program — “Mindfulness at Monsanto” — was started at Monsanto corporation by its CEO, Robert Shapiro.

Sounds True, an audio recordings company,[40] has mindfulness as a core value.

At Sounds True, we strive to practice mindfulness in every aspect of our work. Recognizing the importance of silence, inward attention, active listening and being centered, Sounds True begins its all-company meetings with a minute of silence and maintains a meditation room on-site for employees to utilize throughout the day.[41]

In some newspapers, magazines, and scholarly journals in fields other than management, one can find indicators of interest in mindfulness in organizations outside of business. This includes legal and law enforcement organizations.[42]

  • Harvard Law School’s Program on Negotiation hosted a workshop on “Mindfulness in the Law & Alternative Dispute Resolution.”[43]
  • Police officers in Los Angeles and in Madison, Wisconsin, have received mindfulness training.[citation needed] Many law firms offer mindfulness classes.[39]
  • Mindfulness has been taught by The Art of Living Foundation, in prisons, reducing hostility and mood disturbance among inmates, and improving their self esteem.[44]
  • There are over 240 mindfulness programs in hospitals and clinics throughout the U.S.[citation needed] Many government organizations offer mindfulness training.[45] Coping Strategies is an example of a program utilized by United States Armed Forces personnel.

Research on mindfulness in the workplace has been conducted by McCormick and Hunter.[46] Hunter has taught a course on mindfulness to graduate students in business at Claremont Graduate University, and McCormick has taught mindfulness in the business school of California State University Northridge. In 2000, The Inner Kids Program, a mindfulness-based program developed for children, was introduced into public and private school curricula in the greater Los Angeles area.[47]

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ a b “Mindfulness is a way of paying attention that originated in Eastern meditation practices. It has been described as “bringing one’s complete attention to the present experience on a moment-to-moment basis” (Marlatt & Kristeller, 1999, p. 68) and as “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally” (Kabat-Zinn, 1994, p. 4)” – Mindfulness Training as a Clinical Intervention: A Conceptual and Empirical Review, by Ruth A. Baer, available at http://www.wisebrain.org/papers/MindfulnessPsyTx.pdf
  2. ^ “a kind of nonelaborative, nonjudgmental, present-centered awareness in which each thought, feeling, or sensation that arises in the attentional field is acknowledged and accepted as it is” – Bishop et al. (2004:232)
  3. ^ a b c Scott R. Bishop, Mark Lau, Shauna Shapiro, Linda Carlson, Nicole D. Anderson, James Carmody, Zindel V. Segal, Susan Abbey, Michael Speca, Drew Velting & Gerald Devins (2004). “Mindfulness: A proposed operational definition”. Clinical Psychology: Science & Practice 11 (3): 230–241. doi:10.1093/clipsy.bph077. ISSN 0969-5893. (see also this page’s bibliography)
  4. ^ “The Stress Reduction Program, founded by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn in 1979…” – http://www.umassmed.edu/cfm/stress/index.aspx
  5. ^ “Much of the interest in the clinical applications of mindfulness has been sparked by the introduction of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), a manualized treatment program originally developed for the management of chronic pain (Kabat-Zinn, 1982; Kabat-Zinn, Lipworth, & Burney, 1985; Kabat-Zinn, Lipworth, Burney, & Sellers, 1987).” – Bishop et al, 2004, “Mindfulness: A Proposed Operational Definition”
  6. ^Kabat-Zinn (2000) suggests that mindfulness practice may be beneficial to many people in Western society who might be unwilling to adopt Buddhist traditions or vocabulary. Thus, Western researchers and clinicians who have introduced mindfulness practice into mental health treatment programs usually teach these skills independently of the religious and cultural traditions of their origins (Kabat-Zinn, 1982;Linehan, 1993b).” – Mindfulness Training as a Clinical Intervention: A Conceptual and Empirical Review by Ruth A. Baer
  7. ^ “Historically a Buddhist practice, mindfulness can be considered a universal human capacity proposed to foster clear thinking and open-heartedness. As such, this form of meditation requires no particular religious or cultural belief system.” – Mindfulness in Medicine by Ludwig and Kabat-Zinn, available at http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/short/300/11/1350
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i “The empirical literature on the effects of mindfulness training contains many methodological weaknesses, but it suggests that mindfulness interventions may lead to reductions in a variety of problematic conditions, including pain, stress, anxiety, depressive relapse, and disordered eating (e.g., Kabat-Zinn, 1982;Kabat-Zinn et al., 1992; Kristeller & Hallett, 1999; Shapiro, Schwartz, & Bonner, 1998;Teasdale et al., 2000).” – Mindfulness Training as a Clinical Intervention: A Conceptual and Empirical Review by Ruth A. Baer
  9. ^ Thich Nhat Hanh, The Miracle of Mindfulness (1975), Beacon Books, ISBN 0-8070-1239-4
  10. ^ Steven C. Hayes, Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life (2004) New Harbinger Press
  11. ^ Russ Harris, The Happiness Trap (2008)Trumpeter Books
  12. ^ available at http://nrepp.samhsa.gov/ViewIntervention.aspx?id=191 on 3/9/2011 (July 2010)
  13. ^ “In the past 30 years, interest in the therapeutic uses of mindfulness has increased, with more than 70 scientific articles on the topic published in 2007.” – Mindfulness in Medicine by Ludwig and Kabat-Zinn, available at http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/short/300/11/1350
  14. ^ “Secondly, most studies reviewed suffered from methodological deficiencies beyond merely the type of design as randomized, quasiexperimental or observational…” – Mindfulness-based stress reduction and health benefits: A meta-analysis by Grossman et. al, available at http://www.uniklinik-freiburg.net/iuk/live/forschung/publikationen/MBSR_MA_JPR_2004.pdf
  15. ^ “The potential benefits from treating addictive behaviors [with the non-rejecting and aware principles of mindfulness] has been recognized (Marlatt & Kristeller 1999), and DBT [Dialectical Behavior Therapy] has recently been evaluated for treating substance abusers (Linehan et ala, 1999).” – An Information-Processing Analysis of Mindfulness:Implications for Relapse Prevention in the Treatment of Substance Abuse, by Breslin, Zack, and McClain, available at http://home.earthlink.net/~wendylliles/articles/breslin.pdf
  16. ^ from the abstract, “Preliminary data in support of mindfulness-meditation as a treatment for addictive behavior are provided and directions for future research are discussed.” – Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention for Alcohol and Substance Use Disorders by Witkiewitz et. al, available at http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/springer/jcogp/2005/00000019/00000003/art00003
  17. ^ a b the Conclusion of “Alterations in Brain and Immune Function Produced by Mindfulness Meditation” by Davidson et al., available at http://www.psychosomaticmedicine.org/cgi/content/full/65/4/564?ijkey=ad6454f747329753c6e432b298e4953c38cc6857
  18. ^ a b Rapgay, L, & Bystrisky, A. (2009). Classical mindfulness: an introduction to its theory and practice for clinical application. Proceedings of the Conference on longevity, regeneration and optimal health: integrating eastern and western perspectives Phoenicia, NY
  19. ^ http://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstream/2027.42/49484/2/cortisolpulseLightman.pdf
  20. ^ Jain S et al. (2007). “A randomised controlled trial of mindfulness meditation versus relaxation training: Effects on distress, positive states of mind, rumination, and distraction”. Annals of Behavioral Medicine 33 (1): 11–21. doi:10.1207/s15324796abm3301_2. PMID 17291166.
  21. ^ Arch JJ, Craske MG (2006). “Mechanisms of mindfulness: Emotion regulation following a focused breathing induction”. Behaviour Research and Therapy 44 (12): 1849–58. doi:10.1016/j.brat.2005.12.007. PMID 16460668.
  22. ^ Brown KW, Ryan RM (2003). “The benefits of being present: Mindfulness and its role in psychological well-being”. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 84 (4): 822–48. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.84.4.822. PMID 12703651.
  23. ^ Jha Ap et al. (2010). “Examining the protective effects of mindfulness training on working memory capacity and affective experience”. Emotion 10 (1): 54–64. doi:10.1037/a0018438. PMID 20141302.
  24. ^ Garland E et al. (2009). “The role of mindfulness in positive reappraisal”. Explore-The Journal of Science and Healing 5 (1): 37–44. doi:10.1016/j.explore.2008.10.001. PMC 2719560. PMID 19114262.
  25. ^ Fredrickson BL et al. (2008). “Open hearts build lives: positive emotions, induced through loving-kindness meditation, build consequential personal resources”. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 95 (5): 1045–62. doi:10.1037/a0013262. PMID 18954193.
  26. ^ Davidson RJ et al. (2003). “Alterations in brain and immune function produced by mindfulness meditation”. Psychosomatic Medicine 65 (3): 564–70. doi:10.1097/01.PSY.0000077505.67574.E3. PMID 12883106.
  27. ^ Brown KW et al. (2009). “When what one has is enough: Mindfulness, financial desire discrepancy, and subjective well being”. Journal of Research in Personality 43 (5): 727–736. doi:10.1016/j.jrp.2009.07.002.
  28. ^ Shao RP, Skarlicki DP (2009). “The role of mindfulness in predicting individual performance”. Canadian Journal of Behavioral Science 41 (4): 195–201. doi:10.1037/a0015166.
  29. ^ Davidson RJ, Kabat-Zinn J, Schumacher J, et al. (2003). “Alterations in brain and immune function produced by mindfulness meditation”. Psychosom Med 65 (4): 564–70. doi:10.1097/01.PSY.0000077505.67574.E3. PMID 12883106.
  30. ^ a b c Wallace, B. Alan (2006). The attention revolution: Unlocking the power of the focused mind. Boston: Wisdom Publications. ISBN 0861712765.
  31. ^ Wallace cites his quotation to the paper by Bishop, Lau, et al., 2004
  32. ^ Wallace footnotes this quotation to Samyutta Nikaya V, 197-198.
  33. ^ Rosch (2007) is discussing “the four therapeutic systems that include mindfulness training as a component. These systems are Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR; Kabat-Zinn, 1990), Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT; Segal, Williams, & Teasdale, 2002; Teasdale &Barnard, 1993), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT; Linehan, 1993a,b), and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT; Hays, Strosahl, & Wilson, 1999). (See also Baer, 2006; and Hayes, Jacobson, Follette, & Dougher, 1994.) Patients are never just given minimalist mindfulness instructions (such as “Pay bare attention to what comes into your mind”) and then left to themselves—for good reason. I know of no cases where anyone has developed a meditation, or even relaxation, practice without considerable input.” (p. 261)
  34. ^ a b Eleanor Rosch (2007). “More than mindfulness: When you have a tiger by the tail, let it eat you”. Psychological Inquiry 18 (4): 258–264. doi:10.1080/10478400701598371. ISSN 1047-840X.
  35. ^ William L. Mikulas (2007). “Buddhism & western psychology: fundamentals of integration”. Journal of Consciousness Studies 14 (4): 4–49. ISSN 1355-8250.
  36. ^ http://www.adaptationpractice.org/the-times.php
  37. ^ Garvey, Anne (May 4, 2004). “Depressed? Go and clean the kitchen”. The Guardian (London).
  38. ^ Boyatzis, R. E., & McKee, A. (2005). Resonant Leadership: Renewing yourself and connecting with others through mindfulness, hope, and compassion. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.
  39. ^ a b Carroll, M. (2007). The mindful leader: Ten principles for bringing out the best in ourselves and others (1st ed.). Boston: Trumpeter.
  40. ^ Caudron, S. (2001). Meditation and mindfulness at Sounds True, Workforce V. 80 No. 6 (June 2001) P. 40-6 (Vol. 80, pp. 40-46).
  41. ^ Anonymous (2003). Sounds True Case Study: The Willis Harmon Spirit at Work Award Retrieved January 15, 2008, from http://spiritat.netatlantic.com/index.php/isaw_casestudies
  42. ^ Meditation classes raise attorneys mindfulness (2009). New Orleans CityBusiness.
  43. ^ Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School (2008). Program on Negotiation Webcasts.
  44. ^ Samuelson, M. (2007). Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction in Massachusetts Correctional Facilities. In C. James, K.-Z. Jon, A. B. Michael, C. James, K.-Z. Jon & A. B. Michael (Eds.), Prison Journal (Vol. 87, pp. 254-268).
  45. ^ Rochman, B. (2009, September 6, 2009). Samurai Mind Training for Modern American Warriors. Time.
  46. ^ McCormick, Donald W. & Hunter, Jeremy. (2008) Mindfulness in the Workplace: An Exploratory Study. Presentation at the 2008 Academy of Management Annual Meeting, Anaheim, CA. A copy can be obtained by contacting Don McCormick, in the Department of Management in the College of Business and Economics at California State University Northridge.
  47. ^ http://www.susankaisergreenland.com/inner-kids.html

[edit] Bibliography

  • Bell L. G. (2009). “Mindful Psychotherapy”. J. of Spirituality in Mental Health 11: 126–144. doi:10.1080/19349630902864275.
  • Bishop, S.R., Lau, M., Shapiro, S., Carlson, L., et al. (2004). “Mindfulness: A Proposed Operational Definition”, Clin Psychol Sci Prac 11:230–241. (also available here)
  • Brantley, Jeffrey (2007). Calming Your Anxious Mind: How Mindfulness & Compassion Can Free You from Anxiety, Fear, & Panic. 2nd ed. New Harbinger. ISBN 978-1-57224-487-0.
  • Bernhard J., Kristeller J., Kabat-Zinn J. (1988). “Effectiveness of relaxation and visualization techniques as an adjunct to phototherapy and photochemotherapy of psoriasis”. J. Am. Acad. Dermatol 19 (3): 572–73. doi:10.1016/S0190-9622(88)80329-3.
  • Germer, Christopher K., Ronald Siegel, Paul R. Fulton (2005), Mindfulness and Psychotherapy, The Guilford Press, ISBN 1-59385-139-1 ( The use of mindfulness in psychology, and the history of mindfulness )
  • Grossman P., Niemann L., Schmidt S., Walach H. (2004). “Mindfulness-based stress reduction and health benefits: A meta-analysis”. Journal of Psychosomatic Research 57 (1): 35–43. doi:10.1016/S0022-3999(03)00573-7. PMID 15256293.
  • Hofmann S.G., Sawyer A.T., Witt A.A., Oh D. (2010). “The effect of mindfulness-based therapy on anxiety and depression: A meta-analytic review”. J Consult Clin Psychol 78 (2): 169–83. doi:10.1037/a0018555. PMC 2848393. PMID 20350028.
  • Kabat-Zinn J (1982). “An out-patient program in Behavioral Medicine for chronic pain patients based on the practice of mindfulness meditation: Theoretical considerations and preliminary results”. Gen. Hosp. Psychiatry 4 (1): 33–47. doi:10.1016/0163-8343(82)90026-3. PMID 7042457.
  • Kabat-Zinn, Jon (1990). Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness. Dell.
  • Kabat-Zinn, Jon (2005). Coming to Our Senses: Healing Ourselves and the World Through Mindfulness. Hyperion.
  • Kabat-Zinn J., Chapman-Waldrop A. (1988). “Compliance with an outpatient stress reduction program: rates and predictors of completion”. J.Behav. Med. 11 (4): 333–352. doi:10.1007/BF00844934. PMID 3070046.
  • Kabat-Zinn J. Chapman, Salmon P. (1997). “The relationship of cognitive and somatic components of anxiety to patient preference for alternative relaxation techniques”. Mind/ Body Medicine 2: 101–109.
  • Kabat-Zinn J., Lipworth L., Burney R. (1985). “The clinical use of mindfulness meditation for the self-regulation of chronic pain”. J. Behav. Med. 8 (2): 163–190. doi:10.1007/BF00845519. PMID 3897551.
  • Kabat-Zinn J., Lipworth L., Burney R., Sellers W. (1986). “Four year follow-up of a meditation-based program for the self-regulation of chronic pain: Treatment outcomes and compliance”. Clin. J.Pain 2 (3): 159–173. doi:10.1097/00002508-198602030-00004.
  • Kabat-Zinn J., Massion A.O., Kristeller J., Peterson L.G., Fletcher K., Pbert L., Linderking W., Santorelli S.F. (1992). “Effectiveness of a meditation-based stress reduction program in the treatment of anxiety disorders”. Am. J Psychiatry 149 (7): 936–943. PMID 1609875.
  • Kabat-Zinn J., Wheeler E., Light T., Skillings A., Scharf M.S., Cropley T. G., Hosmer D., Bernhard J. (1998). “Influence of a mindfulness-based stress reduction intervention on rates of skin clearing in patients with moderate to severe psoriasis undergoing phototherapy (UVB) and photochemotherapy (PUVA)”. Psychosomat Med 60: 625–632.
  • Kapleau, Phillip (1989). The Three Pillars of Zen: Teaching, Practice and Enlightenment. Anchor Books.
  • Langer, Ellen J. (1989). Mindfulness. Merloyd Lawrence.
  • Linehan, Marsha (1993). Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder. Guilford Press.
  • Massion A.O., Teas J., Hebert J.R., Wertheimer M.D., Kabat-Zinn J. (1995). “Meditation, melatonin, and breast/prostate cancer: Hypothesis and preliminary data”. Medical Hypotheses 44 (1): 39–46. doi:10.1016/0306-9877(95)90299-6. PMID 7776900.
  • McCracken L., Gauntlett-Gilbert J., Vowles K.E. (2007). “The role of mindfulness in a contextual cognitive-behavioral analysis of chronic pain-related suffering and disability”. Pain 131 (1): 63–69. doi:10.1016/j.pain.2006.12.013. PMID 17257755.
  • Melemis, Steven M. (2008). Make Room for Happiness: 12 Ways to Improve Your Life by Letting Go of Tension. Better Health, Self-Esteem and Relationships. Modern Therapies. ISBN 978-1-897572-17-7
  • Miller J., Fletcher K., Kabat-Zinn J. (1995). “Three-year follow-up and clinical implications of a mindfulness-based stress reduction intervention in the treatment of anxiety disorders”. Gen. Hosp. Psychiatry 17 (3): 192–200. doi:10.1016/0163-8343(95)00025-M. PMID 7649463.
  • Nemcova, M. and Hajek, K. (2009). Introduction to Satitherapy – Mindfulness and Abhidhamma Principles in Person-Centered Integrative Psychotherapy. Morrisville, Lulu.com. ISBN 978-1-4092-5900-8
  • Ockene J.K., Ockene I.S., Kabat-Zinn J., Greene H.L., Frid D. (1990). “Teaching risk-factor counseling skills to medical students, house staff, and fellows”. Am. J. Prevent. Med. 6 (2): 35–42.
  • Ockene J., Sorensen G., Kabat-Zinn J., Ockene I.S., Donnelly G. (1988). “Benefits and costs of lifestyle change to reduce risk of chronic disease”. Preventive Medicine 17 (2): 224–234. doi:10.1016/0091-7435(88)90065-5. PMID 3047727.
  • Saxe G., Hebert J., Carmody J., Kabat-Zinn J., Rosenzweig P., Jarzobski D., Reed G., Blute R. (2001). “Can Diet, in conjunction with Stress Reduction, Affect the Rate of Increase in Prostate-specific Antigen after Biochemical Recurrence of Prostate Cancer?”. J. Of Urology 166 (6): 2202–2207. doi:10.1016/S0022-5347(05)65535-8.
  • Siegel, Daniel J. (2007). The Mindful Brain: Reflection and Attunement in the Cultivation of Well-Being. Norton. ISBN 978-0-393-70470-9.
  • Williams J.M.G., Duggan D.S., Crane C., Fennell M.J.V. (2006). “Mindfulness-Based cognitive therapy for prevention of recurrence of suicidal behavior”. J Clin Psychol 62 (2): 201–210. doi:10.1002/jclp.20223. PMID 16342287.
  • Williams, Mark, John Teasdale, Zindel Segal, and Jon Kabat-Zinn (2007). The Mindful Way through Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness. Guilford Press. ISBN 978-1-59385-128-6.

[edit] External links

Can Psychology and Parapsychology Help Each Other? From PsychologyToday.com by Anneli Rufus

Can Psychology and Parapsychology Help Each Other?

Sometimes psychology and parapsychology lead seekers to similar epiphanies.
Published on October 4, 2011 by Anneli Rufus in Stuck

Are psychology and parapsychology all that different, and can pursuing one overflow into the territory of the other?

A friend of mine had never been interested in the paranormal and had never been in therapy before her parents died. These deaths devastated my friend, who sought no counseling — but became fascinated with TV psychics. Soon she began visiting psychics herself. This new passion led her to devour workshops and books on New Age topics. Whenever she told me what she had gleaned from a session, workshop or book, I found myself realizing that I’d had similar revelations myself — in psychotherapy.

I spent years in therapy. As it happens, I’m also a lifelong believer in the paranormal. I’ve always kept the two separate. Psychology is about fixing my head. Parapsychology is about the fascinating possibility that people can communicate without words and without necessarily being alive. For me, parapsychology has always been a field of interest not unlike Chinese history or seashells. It was not about me.

But for my friend, it was about her. The aura readers and clairvoyants she consulted said things that spurred my friend to re-examine her childhood, her relationships, motivations, life-course — which led her to say the exact same things I’d said in therapy: Why was I assigned certain roles in my family of origin? Why do I let everyone steamroll me? Does my careerhave meaning?

For different reasons, we asked ourselves the exact same questions, which prompted the same healing epiphanies for both of us.

I recently received a review copy of Contact Your Spirit Guides, a handbook whose author works as a professional chennel under the name Asandra. This seemed like a good opportunity to interview someone in the field of parapsychology about how her pursuits intersect, if at all, with psychology.

Q. Has anyone ever accused you of just hearing “voices in your head” rather than actual spirit guides?

A. Never, in the nearly 28 years that I have been working professionally as a channel, has anyone accused me of this. The level of wisdom and guidance that these entities disseminate, and the degree of articulacy employed is of such an extraordinary nature, that it is clear to the recipient of the guidance that it could not possibly be “voices” in my “head.”

Furthermore, the Spirit Guides address the individual’s issues with great eloquence and often touch the heart so deeply that the otherworldly nature of its origin is evident. … My clients call me by telephone from all over the world. I know nothing about them, including even what they look like, and yet the Guides that disseminate through me have the capacity to speak to that individual’s path in a manner that suggests an intimate awareness of who they are at the deep soul level.

If someone did suggest [that I was “hearing voices”], I wouldn’t even feel the necessity to defend myself. The clarity and quality of the information relayed through me speaks for itself. … I am acutely aware that the benevolent beings speaking through me have unconditional love, compassion, and support for the individuals whom are open to receive their guidance and wisdom. Furthermore, I have many clients whom are credentialed therapists that have never voiced concern.

Q. Critics would argue that purely anecdotal experiences — which cannot be scientifically proven — are nonsense. How did you come me to believe that what you were experiencing was real and neither your imagination nor wishful thinking nor sheer coincidence?

A. My experience in working with Spirit began when several entities visited me, moving through me in specific ways that were unfamiliar to me. These experiences were entirely, initially, nonverbal. For example … there was one early experience of a martial arts expert who came into my body, stood up, and demonstrated some very specific martial art postures along with the corresponding animal sounds, with such authority that it with clear to me that this was an individual entity and not my imagination. I did not at that time, nor do I now, have any personal experience of the martial arts.

Q. Do you think your work provides any kind of psychological benefit for your clients?

A. Yes, in fact … I often say that having a session with ones’ Guides is like meeting with a combination therapist and guru. They almost invariably address the core psychological/emotional issues that might be preventing the individual from experiencing fulfillment. Spirit often explains to the individual who is having the session the necessity of addressing their core emotional issues in order to reveal, unblock, and release what might be causing any deep, unconscious patterns. These hidden patterns may be sabotaging that individual’s ability to experience wholeness. This is one of the things that make a session particularly potent.

Oftentimes, the individual may not be aware of the pattern and the Guide(s) can shed light on what is unseen. They also provide tools for acknowledging and clearing the subconscious content. Spirit will reflect back to that individual their true nature as a healed, whole being. The unconditionally loving beings that are guiding us have a vast overview of our journey on the soul path. They see us in nonlinear time. This means that they see us beyond exterior, sensory-level identifiers, and hold the energetic space of us as complete and whole.

For example, an individual may be carrying a subconscious memory that is affecting their ability to break through or function in some capacity in their life. Spirit often explains that we come into this life with the necessity to address those issues which appear in our life, interwoven in the circumstances that we are born into. In other words, the circumstances and experiences that one encounters will be the catalyst to awaken these dormant issues. This enables the individual to first come upon challenges or obstacles, and then address, and heal them. …

That being said, if an individual has severe psychological issues or mental illness, it is NOT appropriate for me to channel for them. In this case, a licensed therapist is of absolute necessity, and would be advised. I would never take on a client whose emotional needs strictly require a trained counselor, and would stop working with them if this becomes apparent. Channeling does not replace psychotherapy or any of the counseling arts. It can often be a complement.

Q. How has your work expanded your world psychologically?

A. I have become profoundly aware of the vast wisdom that exists in our universe, if we are open and receptive to it. Every challenge we are faced with is an opportunity for profound growth and awakening. Our Spirit Guides do not tell us what to do, rather they guide and advise. As free-will individuals, we can choose to access and work with this guidance. …

When issues do arise, I have learned to address these concerns in a non-reactive mode utilizing the methods of interior inquiry that I have been shown from my Spirit Guides. I have learned to take full responsibility for my actions, thoughts, and deeds, and to live life in the consciousness of an aware, fully present being.


Sometimes, It’s Not You by Sara Eckel from the New York Times

ON my first date with Mark, he asked how long it had been since my last relationship.

I looked at the table, cupping my hand around my beer. I had always hated this question. It seemed so brazenly evaluative — an employment counselor inquiring about a gap in your résumé, a dental hygienist asking how often you flossed.

I knew he wasn’t appraising me. We had worked together for two months, and in this crowded bar we spoke with the easiness and candor of good friends — he told me about the pain of his divorce, the financial strain, the loneliness. He had been hanging around my office, sending flirty e-mails and — most adorable to me and mortifying to him — blushing whenever I spoke to him. He was kind of in the bag.

But still I didn’t answer. I didn’t want him to know the truth: that I was 39 and hadn’t had a serious boyfriend in eight years. I had seen men balk at this information before — even when the numbers were lower. They would look at me in a cool and curious way, as if I were a restaurant with too few customers, a house that had been listed for too long. One man actually said it: “What’s wrong with you?”

“I don’t know,” I had answered.

“But you’re attractive?” he said, as if he wasn’t sure anymore.

“I don’t know what to tell you,” I said. “I don’t know why.”

Now, faced with Mark’s innocent question, I hedged. “A long time,” I said quickly.

Mark didn’t seem to notice the evasion. He sipped his beer, and we moved on to other topics — our co-workers, Douglas Coupland novels, Seattle — and then, on a street corner outside the bar, to our first kiss. I knew I would eventually have to tell him. But not yet.

When my long-ago date asked that question — “What’s wrong with you?” — I was, of course, outraged. I finished my drink, said I had to get up early. But honestly, his question was no worse than the one I asked myself nearly every day. It wasn’t full-blown self-loathing, more a hollowness that hit me in the chest at certain times — a long subway ride home from a mediocre date, a phone conversation with a married friend who suddenly said she has to go, her husband just took the roast out of the oven.

My solace came from the place where single women usually find it: my other single friends. We would gather on weekend nights, swapping funny and tragic stories of our dismal dating lives, reassuring one another of our collective beauty, intelligence and kindness, marveling at the idiocy of men who failed to see this in our friends.

Mostly, we would try to make sense of it all. Were our married friends really so much more desirable than we were? Once in a while someone would declare that married women were actually miserable, that it was they who envied us. But this theory never got too far — we knew our married friends wouldn’t switch places with us, no matter how much they complained about their husbands.

Of course, there are many popular books and television shows that detail the lives of such women, but in those stories adorable men constantly approach the heroines in parks and bus stops and ask them to dinner. The sitcom single woman is never alone for long. She skips from one man to the next, changing boyfriends as frequently as she does purses. My friends and I had various dates and mini-relationships, but mostly we were alone.

While many of us watched and enjoyed these shows — and didn’t entirely mind when people remarked that our lives were “just like” the protagonists’ — the stereotype they created of the over-30, man-hunting singleton cast a shadow over us. Being an unattached woman who would rather not be somehow meant you were a nitwit, a bubblehead who had few concerns beyond shopping, pedicures and “Will he call?” My friends and I had no interest in shopping or pedicures, but that didn’t stop us from feeling wildly embarrassed that we longed for love.

Admitting that you wanted a husband — much less that you were distraught you didn’t have one — seemed like a betrayal of feminism. We were supposed to be better than this. (Not that any actual feminists said it was so awful to want a relationship. The e-mails we received from NOW and Planned Parenthood focused on reproductive rights and equal pay, not dating and marriage.)

Professing a need for love could also be taken as evidence that you weren’t ready for it. One December night when I was having drinks with a married male friend, he grew exasperated with my (admittedly annoying) complaints about having to spend yet another holiday season without a partner. “Sara, in almost every way you have it together,” he said, “but on this one topic you turn into this ridiculous girl!”

Like single women everywhere, I had bought into the idea that the problem must be me, that there was some essential flaw — arrogance, low self-esteem, fear of commitment — that needed to be fixed. I needed to be fixed.

As a freelance writer, I couldn’t afford a good therapist, but my job did give me access to some of the country’s best mental-health professionals. As I wrote articles on first dates and break-ups, I interviewed psychology professors and therapists, shamelessly peppering the conversation with anecdotes from my own life. I was trying to get at the root of the problem — for the benefit of womankind, and for myself.

I also talked to a lot of self-help authors. There was the Tough-Love Married Lady who declared the key to finding a soul mate was to grow up, quit whining and do something about your hair. There was the Magical Soul-Mate Finder who prescribed keeping a journal, long hikes, candle-lighted bubble baths and other hocus-pocus. And there was The Man — i.e., a moderately cute guy who wrote a book — who gave insider tips on how to hook up with him, which involved not being critical and having long hair.

So I grew my hair out. I took bubble baths. And, of course, I started examining my issues. Was my failure a result of my latent commitment-phobia (cleverly masked as really wanting commitment), as one helmet-haired expert implied? Did I feel inherently unworthy and broadcast that low self-assessment to every man I met? (Another gentle suggestion.) Did my failure to “love myself” mean I was unable to love another?

Or was I not positive enough? The experts agreed that a positive attitude was very important for attracting men. I could see it — sure. But this is not my strength. I believeglobal warming is real and heaven is a fantasy. I believe people who think “everything happens for a reason” must have never opened a newspaper. Some may call it negative. I call it realistic.

A lot of good things happened during my period of constructing Sara 2.0. I went to artists’ colonies, taught storytelling to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, adopted a rescue dog, learned to do a handstand — all under the banner of “Learning to Love My Single Life.” And I made sure everyone knew my life was super-duper awesome with or without a man — my adorable apartment! my fulfilling career! my amazing friends! But I also knew I couldn’t play that card too often, lest the Greek chorus conclude that my well-oiled life left no room for love. As a male friend once told me, “Sometimes you see a woman who has her act together so well that you think, What does she need me for?”

My efforts yielded many friends and filled my calendar with fulfilling activities. I went on Internet dates, speed dates and blind dates. I had great hair and a confident smile. But I was still alone. And in the dark of Saturday night, I still asked myself, “What’s wrong with me?”

Mark and I dated for a month before I revealed my shoddy relationship résumé. When I did, he shrugged. “Lucky for me,” he said, “all those other guys were idiots.”

And that was it. To Mark, I was not a problem to solve, a puzzle that needed working out. I was the girl he was falling in love with, just as I was falling in love with him.

Six years later, this past June, he and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary. My close friends — the ones with whom I had shared many impromptu therapy sessions — had come to the wedding in a small Brooklyn park. And so had their husbands.

Did we find love because we grew up, got real and worked through our issues? No. We just found the right guys. We found men who love us even though we’re still cranky and neurotic, haven’t got our careers together, and sometimes talk too loudly, drink too much and swear at the television news. We have gray hairs and unfashionable clothes and bad attitudes. They love us, anyway.

What’s wrong with me? Plenty. But that was never the point.

Women found to be the tougher sex by Josie Ensor from The Telegraph

8:00AM BST 28 Sep 2011

According to a study, the fairer sex is genetically programmed to better resist infections and cancer, and also have a back-up system for fighting disease.

The discovery sheds light on why members of the so-called stronger sex succumb to “man-flu”.

Their immune systems are no match for those of wives and girlfriends because of the female X-chromosome, scientists believe.

The reason why women are more robust appears to be microRNAs – short strands of RNA encoded on the chromosome.

RNA is a genetic cousin of DNA and can have important biological effects.

The microRNAs have the effect of “silencing” immunity genes on a man’s X-chromosome, according to the new research.

This leaves men at a disadvantage since they only have one X chromosome. Women have two, so that even when immunity genes are silenced on one the other can compensate, according to research published today in the journal BioEssays.

Study leader Dr Claude Libert, from Ghent University in Belgium, said: “Statistics show that in humans, as with other mammals, females live longer than males and are more able to fight off shock episodes from sepsis, infection or trauma. We believe this is due to the X chromosome which in humans contains 10 per cent of all microRNAs detected so far in the genome (genetic code).”

Several X-chromosome located microRNAs were thought to have “important functions in immunity and cancer”, said Dr Libert.

From a biolgoical point of view, the difference has probably evolved because women are more likely to ensure the survival of the species. They need to be able to resist infection when pregnant and when nuturing a child.

The Fine Line Between Marriage and Divorce by Iris Krasnow from Huffington Post


The Fine Line Between Marriage and Divorce

Posted: 9/24/11 02:00 PM ET
I’m just coming off 200 interviews and two years of listening to mature wives reflect on — or moan about — how they are managing to stick it out in long marriages. Scenes from their relationships that range from 15 to 70 years are woven together in my new book, The Secret Lives of Wives: Women Share What It Really Takes To Stay Married coming out in early October.

I’ve been married for 23 years during which my husband and I have raised four sons, and have had plenty of rocking and rolling in our relationship. From my own experiences, and from the dozens of sagas unloaded into my tape recorder, I am constantly reminded of the eggshell-thin line that separates loving from loathing. I know that staying married can mean plates flying across kitchens, tears soaking pillows and emailing old boyfriends at 3 a.m.

I thought nothing could shock me about what really goes on behind closed doors between two people working hard to make it “til death do us part” — without killing someone first. After all, I have heard every brand of twisted love story — swinging, adultery, spouses coming out as gay after 30 years together, threesomes, fist fights in restaurants, even the tale of a husband discovered to be having sex with a sheep, documented in a photograph discovered by his wife in his nightstand drawer.

But in piecing together this latest book I have been surprised at some of the revelations. I’m not as ruffled by the tawdry tales of farm animals or one I heard from a 55-year-old wife about screwing a perfectly sculpted landscaper while her doctor husband was lecturing on vein surgery in another country. My biggest shock is how many outwardly cheerful women who have been married forever think about divorce if not weekly, at least once a month.

How’s this for a statistic? Of the 200 plus women interviewed and woven into The Secret Lives of Wives, I can count on one hand those who have never considered splitting up. It was no surprise that Beth often considered leaving her husband. He routinely told her she was fat and ugly, and when they fought in the car he would pull over and shove her out the door. Who could blame Shauna for her many consults with a divorce lawyer? She’s the wife of the traveling doctor, a man who hasn’t initiated sex since their honeymoon 30 years ago. Her secret is that she has it both ways: an intact family and a ten-year affair with a hard-bodied lover, who does her landscaping for free.

The biggest shocker is the number of wives in stable unions who frequently contemplate fleeing their marriages. These are not abused wives; they are women with nice husbands who give them orgasms and jewelry and stability. Yet many of these settled midlife women admitted they were slightly jealous of Tipper Gore who gets to have a fresh start after 40 years of matrimony with the same guy. While many speculated about whether one of the Gores fell in love with someone else, my instincts without talking to either of them is that perhaps they are a lot like other couples portrayed in the book. Maybe they were simply sick of being around each other. And maybe one or both of them finally couldn’t take it any more.

Who stays married and who doesn’t is a question not always about commitment or deep abiding love — it’s about endurance.

I have found in my collection of wives who remain in long running marriages that the majority of them share these common traits: They have the guts and determination to stick it out, no matter what. And their laments about their marriages aren’t because of anything serious. It’s the subtle nuances of living with one person in one house for a very long time that grates at the soul, that causes a simmering malaise. It’s the grind of the ordinary that drives people into thinking, “Is this all there is? I want more. I want adventure. I want change.”

Who wouldn’t want changes with the current statistics on lifespan? Women in their 80s and 90s are the fastest growing segment of the aging population which means that many of us wives could easily hit our 50th wedding anniversaries and beyond. That’s a hell of a long time to sustain one love affair, particularly when empty nest hits and it’s only you and the husband with no cushion of kids as a buffer.

There are three strategies that have worked the best with the women I interviewed. The happiest wives have a sense of purpose and passion in work and causes outside of the home. Wives who counted on a spouse for fulfillment and sustenance were often angry and lonely. And the happiest wives don’t spend a whole lot of time with their husbands. My chapter called Separate Summers is filled with women who take their own vacations, take their own summers, take charge of their own lives. Couples who allow each other to grow separately are the ones with the best chance of growing together and staying together.

Finally, the wives with the highest marital satisfaction have a tight circle of wild women friends with whom to drink, travel and vent about their husbands.

Yes, my work on this book has been quite surprising and enlightening. I now know that acceptance of mediocrity in a marriage relationship is more prevalent than you would imagine. I know that sometimes the only reason women stay with a spouse is because they have divorced friends who may have more sex than they do with new husbands but they also have cranky step-kids who hate them. Other women stay in lackluster marriages because they don’t want to give up their swanky lifestyles, and divorce is expensive, really expensive. We know from our friends who are pushed to the edge and do call it quits that the grass isn’t always greener, there are parched patches on both sides of the fence.

But most women told me they stay married simply because they like their marriages more than they dislike them, even if much of the time it’s 51 percent “like” to 49 percent “dislike.”

Iris Krasnow is a bestselling author and an assistant professor in the School of Communication at American University. Connect with her on: www.iriskrasnow.com

Our Social Disease from the SeattleTimes.com

Beyond the smiles, the Seattle Freeze is on

Peter Dunne, 42, searches Yahoo Personals for a potential boyfriend using the free Wi-Fi at University Zoka coffee shop.
Peter Dunne, 42, searches Yahoo Personals for a potential boyfriend using the free Wi-Fi at University Zoka coffee shop. After living in San Francisco and Los Angeles, Dunne finds Seattle a social wasteland. “There’s no sexual energy here at all,” he says. Seattle is “a city of the mind . . . a city of geeks. People here . . . they totally blow you off. And these are good friends, right? They just don’t call you. It’s unbelievable.”

Our Social Disease

SOON AFTER SETTLING in Seattle, nearly everyone acquires a version of thepeople-here-are-sooo-nicestory. There’s the comic after-you-no-please-after-you traffic merge. And the fellow who held the elevator door when you were still 20 feet away. Then that time some lady offered you change for the meter. And, of course, the classic jaywalker’s tale:

You’re perched on the edge of the sidewalk, gazing across the street, when suddenly a car stops in the middle of the road. The man behind the steering wheel smiles and gestures for you to cross in front of him.


At her first Space City Mixer event, Lisa Garcia, 36, of Bellevue admits she's nervous.
At her first Space City Mixer event, Lisa Garcia, 36, of Bellevue admits she’s nervous: “I’m a little overwhelmed by all the people here.” Her friend Paul Spitalny, 46, has already been to three mixers. The social club has 8,000 members, mostly transplants who are looking to forge friendships — or get a date.


Is this a trick? Like when your older brother would act like he was slowing down to let you in the car and then just as you reached for the handle, he’d lurch forward and send you sprawling?

No, the nice man in the sedan seems sincere and shows no sign of lurching. Four other cars are now stopped behind him, all waiting for you to cross. And not a one honks.

Those who move to Seattle also have another kind of story. But you don’t broadcast this one. You keep it to yourself or whisper it to other transplants. It goes something like this:

You’re talking to a co-worker/someone at a party/fill in the blank. In any other town, this person looks like someone with whom you might be friends. Potential friend asks, “So what are you up to this weekend?”

“Oh, I don’t have any plans yet. I just moved to Seattle and don’t really know anybody . . .”

You try not to look desperate.

Friend-to-be smiles and, for a brief, shining moment you think to yourself: Finally, someone is going to ask me to do something. Invite me to a party. Happy hour. Brunch with the girls. It’ll be just like “Sex and the City.” She’ll be Charlotte; you’ll be Carrie!

You feel a chill coming on. Still smiling, Friend-Not-On-Your-Life politely excuses herself, “Well, have a nice weekend then.”


You’ve just experienced the infamous Seattle Freeze. It’s the flip side of Seattle Nice. Welcome to Seattle . . . Now please go away.

Seattle’s long been described in contradictory terms. The weather: Is it mild or dreary or mildly dreary? The politics: Progressive yet torpid. Progressing toward torpor? The attitude: Tolerant — of all like-minded people.


But the dichotomy most fundamental to our collective civic character is this: Polite but distant. Have a nice day. Somewhere else.

We’re the ideal seatmate on an airplane. We slide in, exchange a smile and a succinct pleasantry, then leave you be for the rest of the flight. Alaska Airlines should capitalize on this with ads that promise: “Uninterrupted service from Seattle — and we mean it.”

Seattle is like that popular girl in high school. The one who gets your vote for homecoming queen because she always smiles and says hello. But she doesn’t know your name and doesn’t care to. She doesn’t want to be your friend. She’s just being nice.

Eli Katz, a native of Cherry Hill, N.J., met that girl when she moved to Seattle almost three years ago. At first, she thought, that Seattle, she’s sooo nice. She smiles nicely at me on the street. She’s always telling me to have a nice day.

Katz, 27, is an aspiring actress who’s never had trouble making friends in the other cities where she’s lived — not in London, New York or Philadelphia. She has a boisterous, throaty laugh that sounds like an invitation. On a sit-com, she’d play the wacky gal pal.

But in Seattle, it was cold shoulder after cold shoulder. She was working as a waitress with dozens of people her age, but it took six months before one of them invited her along when they went out after work.

Jodi O'Brien, chairwoman of the sociology department at Seattle University
Jodi O’Brien, chairwoman of the sociology department at Seattle University, applies sociological jargon to the interactions she sees every day. Seattle’s “social script,” she says, can ultimately lead to “alienation” and “isolation.” “Politeness is a poor substitute for intimacy and genuine friendship.”


“It seems nobody really wants to let you in,” she says. “They’ll say, ‘Oh yeah, yeah, I’ll get your number’ — but you know that’s going nowhere.”

Now, after penetrating a circle of friends made up mostly of fellow transplants, Katz observes that Seattle’s rules of engagement are opposite those of her suburban Jersey hometown. In fact, they’re opposite those of any place she’s ever heard of, where the freeze generally applies in passing situations, like on buses or elevators, but familiarity breeds intimacy.

“Here, it’s so weird, people are so nice in these passing situations, but beyond that there’s a wall,” she says.

Sociology professor Jodi O’Brien has a name for it: “the phenomenon of the plastic smile.”

Raised in Salt Lake City and Zurich, O’Brien came to Seattle 20 years ago for graduate school and is now chairwoman of the sociology department at Seattle University.

“At the university, where people are hired from all over, this is a pretty standard conversation,” O’Brien says. “Seattleites are often seen as having this veneer of pleasantness but being hard to come to know.”

It can even be a faculty-retention problem, she says. When new faculty arrive — especially if they’re young and single — they imagine they’ll soon be part of some urban tribe. They’ve been duped by the movie “Singles.” Instead, the Seattle Freeze sends them packing.

SO WHY DOES Seattle seem to have what self-help books would call a fear of intimacy?

Or, as O’Brien more kindly puts it, a tendency to “cocoon.”

One theory points to the cloistering effect of cloudy skies. Another has it that the Seattle Nice/Ice phenomenon is rooted in a historic intersection of Nordic-Asian reserve. It may be the influence of weekend mountain men or the influx of socially disinclined tech workers. It could be a trapping of mid-sized citydom — small enough to manage on your own but too big to care about your neighbors.

Or perhaps it’s all of the above: some confluence of factors that has created a perfect storm of antisociality.

Some element of our antisocial streak, at least, seems to go back to the frontier days, when the prevailing ethic was: We’re in this together, but I wish you’d go away.

“There’s always been this sense that every person you add diminishes the wonderfulness of this place by something,” intones Bainbridge Island author Fred Moody, who explores our cultural history in his most recent book, “Seattle and the Demons of Ambition.” “As soon as you get here, there’s a tendency to want to pull up the drawbridges.”

That instinct had its most famous voice in the late Seattle newspaper columnist Emmett Watson and his spoof society called “Lesser Seattle.” For those who aren’t familiar, in the 1980s and ’90s, Watson responded to the flood of newcomers, especially Californians, whom he accused of bidding up housing prices and yuppifying his precious town, with cranky columns that exaggerated Seattle’s shortcomings in an effort to “Keep the Bastards Out!”


Stacia Cammarano, 11, left, and Francesca Reeves, 9, both of Seattle, listen as Dawn DeGroot of Mrs. DeGroot's Wallingford Charm School demonstrates proper tea-party etiquette.
Stacia Cammarano, 11, left, and Francesca Reeves, 9, both of Seattle, listen as Dawn DeGroot of Mrs. DeGroot’s Wallingford Charm School demonstrates proper tea-party etiquette. She instructs that it’s impolite to discuss religion, politics or the war in general social settings. Good manners, she says, she can teach. But getting beyond mere social graces is harder here.


The word Seattle, according to Watson, was Indian for “stay away from here.” If you were to have told him that Seattleites are a bunch of cold fish, he would have urged: Spread the word!

When you ask longtime Seattleites about the Freeze, you may get blank stares (the wall of ice goes up when faced with any perceived slight on their fair city) or a little passive-aggressiveness: “Well, the people who think that must not be from Seattle.” (“Not from Seattle” is the “Your mama” of Northwestern insults.) But most are, as you’d expect, quite nice about it.

Especially Wallingford’s only known etiquette consultant. “No, I wouldn’t say we’re friendly, not exactly,” admits Dawn DeGroot, who was born in Tacoma but has lived in Seattle for 17 years.

At Mrs. DeGroot’s Wallingford Charm School, children learn which forks to use when, and that one must always pass the salt and pepper together. Polite she can teach: “Being polite is a social grace that doesn’t need to go any farther,” she says.

As for friendly, that’s tougher: “Being friendly is that next step, offering an invitation, and we do fall short on that,” she says. “I think not wanting to show your cards is a bit of a Northwest thing. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t good people . . . Just the other day I was loading my car at Costco and a nice man said to me, ‘May I take your cart back for you?’ ”

That’s just the kind of reason Seattle was named third-most-polite city in the country by Marjabelle Young Stewart, author of more than a dozen etiquette books with titles such as “White Gloves and Party Manners.”

Stewart — Mrs. Stewart, if you please — puts together her list of polite cities each year based on letters and calls she gets from tourists and business travelers, who are apparently tickled to find we don’t scream or honk at them. They especially appreciate our smiley wait staff and cheerful salespeople. We’re not the home of Nordstrom for nothing.

“Take a bow, Seattle, you really have something to be proud of,” says Mrs. Stewart.

And when the Seattle Freeze is explained, her esteem for our city, if anything, seems to rise.

“I think it’s good to be polite but reserved in your emotions,” she says. “It’s quite lovely to say no thank you, very kindly, and be on your way. I’d like to encourage a little more of that kind of calmness.”

WHILE RESERVE may come in handy when you’ve got on white gloves, it can make for a rather stultifying social scene, as Gabriel Tevrizian found when he moved here 15 years ago from Buenos Aires.

Now 40, Tevrizian recalls that for the first time in his life, he knew what it meant to be lonely.


After 15 years in Seattle, Gabriel Tevrizian of Buenos Aires has, for the most part, adapted to the local social climate.
After 15 years in Seattle, Gabriel Tevrizian of Buenos Aires has, for the most part, adapted to the local social climate. He’s learned to smile politely rather than reach for a hug and toned his dressing way down; he no longer wears red pants to work. “You don’t want to be perceived as flamboyant here,” he says.


“There’s no such thing as that in Argentina,” he says. “There are people around you constantly. They come over and hang out and then they hang out some more.

“People here don’t ever just hang out — there’s no time for that — but those are the times you really get to know people.”

Any attempt to socialize begins to feel like too much effort, he says. “You have to try to get together 10 times before someone doesn’t cancel.”

Trying to develop a friendship in Seattle, you can feel a bit like Bill Murray in “Groundhog Day.” Like with each encounter you have to start from scratch, back to the surface niceties.

Take the dog park. Pam Tate and her Pomeranian-Schipperke mix Jett see the same people each week at the Magnuson Park off-leash area. As the dogs sniff each other, their owners chitchat and trade compliments on each other’s sniff-worthy dogs. But each time, at the end of the conversation, “I know the dog’s name, but not the owners’. How sad is that?”

And as Tate, 36, quickly learned, when you actually make an effort, you risk coming off as pushy. When she arrived from Orange County, potential-friend types would say, “Hey, let’s do something sometime.” And she thought they meant it. She’d try to actually set something up. “People would seem shocked; I was seen as aggressive for asking people to do a specific thing at a specific time.”

After a series of squirmy rebuffs, she realized that when Seattleites say, “Let’s do something sometime,” what they really mean is: “Let’s never do anything ever.”

Finally, she has “cultivated” — she uses that word to underscore that this wasn’t, after all, some natural process — a circle of friends, including some she met on Craig’s List, an online bulletin board. On Craig’s List, it’s apparent not everyone in Seattle is alone because they want to be. Dozens of electronic pleas for friends and “activity partners” are posted each day.

“Will & Grace chemistry sought,” one recent posting reads. “I realize it is just a TV show; however, it would be fun to have someone to hang out and do something with.”

“IT LOOKS LIKE a library in here,” O’Brien says, scanning her neighborhood coffee shop, where at least half the customers stare into laptop screens. Others read newspapers or shuffle through paperwork. The only people talking seem to be in some sort of business meeting.


From left, University of Washington student Nick Hara plugs into his iPod, Perla Josué downloads music on her PowerBook and Fahm Saechao plays
Huh? What did you say? At University Zoka coffee shop near the U. Village, socializing means sharing a table with friends but drowning them out with your own personal soundtrack. From left, University of Washington student Nick Hara plugs into his iPod, Perla Josué downloads music on her PowerBook and Fahm Saechao plays “R&B slow jams” on a portable CD player.


Cozy chairs are arranged for conversation, but people sit turned away from each other, likely chatting with other strangers online.

Even if that one lady who’s looking around tried to strike up a conversation with the guy next to her, she’d have a hard time getting his attention. He’s corked off the rest of the world with his iPod. Those telltale white earbuds announce: I’ve got 10,000 songs to render you mute.

“A lot of what people call socializing is really just public isolation,” O’Brien says.

Here in Seattle we do a lot of things alone. We live alone: Two out of five households have a single occupant — one of the highest rates in the nation. More than three-quarters of people participate in an individual sport but only 13 percent play on a team. We ride bikes alone; go on walks alone; troll bookstores alone, then go home and read alone.

“People find their set of activities to do and they are fairly content,” O’Brien says.

In fact, Seattle’s seeming split personality might come from this very complacency. We don’t have anything against you, but simply don’t feel the need to take the risk of inviting you into the fold.

And that, Seattle, is the problem, according to O’Brien, who happens to be a member of the Society for the Study of Social Problems.

On the one hand, it’s nice to bop in and out of situations knowing people will smile and treat you well. Nice is like bubble gum — it’s sugary and pleasant.” But if all you ever get is nice, never flirty or risky, she says, that gum loses its flavor pretty quick, and the human experience becomes ultimately less rewarding. Even depressing.

She cites a famous sociological study of flight attendants, which found being nice all the time is an especially draining kind of work. It can cause the emotional equivalent of repetitive stress injury. At the end of the day, some flight attendants would have trouble turning the nice off. And stuck in nice gear, they became disassociated from their true emotions and had trouble expressing them.

Come to think of it, that sounds a lot like Seattle’s singles scene, says Kirkland native Julie Thompson. Seattle’s dating doldrums are Thompson’s business. She has run a speed-dating outfit and a match-making service, and just launched a social club called Magnetic.

“People here have a real hard time telling if someone likes them,” says Thompson. “When a guy asks a girl out, she can’t tell, is this a date or a non-date date? And when a girl is nice back, guys say, does she like me or is she just being nice?”

THE MOST BAFFLING thing about the Seattle Freeze is that since the ’90s, this city has been majority-owned by outsiders. Sixty percent of us here today are from out of state.


Pam Tate, left, lets her dog, Jett, greet Prin the poodle at Magnuson Park.

She says 'hi' to Prin's owner, Jan Poore, who smiles but says only, 'Come on, Prin.' Tate visits the off-leash area each week and knows many of the dogs by name, but none of the owners.
Pam Tate, left, lets her dog, Jett, greet Prin the poodle at Magnuson Park. She says “hi” to Prin’s owner, Jan Poore, who smiles but says only, “Come on, Prin.” Tate visits the off-leash area each week and knows many of the dogs by name, but none of the owners.


According to the natives, we’ve trampled everything wonderful about their treasured city, so why haven’t we cracked the icy crust?

First, it’s an enabling cultural climate for socially inept people. So if you come here and you have any germ of antisociality, it will, like moss, take hold and flourish.

And if you arrive here open and ebullient, you’re bound to lose your confidence and spark after enough cold shoulders. After all, why even bother going to that party when you know it will just be more nonchalant chitchat that will never go anywhere?

“If a dog gets smacked every time he sticks his nose out of the cage, guess what happens?” Pam Tate says. “After a while of putting yourself out there and being rebuffed, you just say forget it.”

Newcomers seem to acclimate to the social habits along with the weather. We soon learn to lay off our horns and grow less effusive with invitations.

Even Gabriel Tevrizian is more or less a Seattleite now. Since arriving from Argentina, he’s turned down the volume on his laugh, no longer reaches out to hug friends and has even stopped wearing his favorite loud red pants. Those first lonely years in the Northwest even gave him a bit of a taste for solitude. Last time he went back to Buenos Aires, he found himself overwhelmed by his own exuberant culture. “I didn’t connect that well anymore. I couldn’t get any time alone. People were in my face all day long,” he says.

So, is assimilation inevitable?

Meet Andrea Martin. She’s the leader of the resistance.

After moving here from Los Angeles, Martin’s self-esteem took a nose dive. “I always thought I had a good personality, but the reception here had me questioning how I said good morning, how I smiled at people — everything.”

After discovering she wasn’t alone in her aloneness, she decided Seattle needed a social director. “After all, if you aren’t part of the solution . . .”

What started out as occasional cocktail parties three years ago turned into a social club called Space City Mixer. It now has 8,000 members, most of whom are transplants.

Martin hosts several events each month, things like ladies’ brunches, pub mixers and rotating dinner parties. Her goal: To chip away the Seattle Freeze one friendship at a time.

“People don’t come because of the actual events,” she says. “They come because I’m giving them a way to meet people who want to meet people.”

And at these social events, there’s always a familiar-sounding conversation going on. It seems to break the ice. It bonds these strangers in a strange land. It starts like this:

So, have you been finding it’s hard to get to know people in Seattle?


Julia Sommerfeld is a Seattle Times staff writer. Statistics contributed by Times researcher Gene Balk. Ken Lambert is a Times staff photographer.