The Path to Parenthood

This article was originally published by Scottish magazine and website, Scotland 4 Kids

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Dr Jane Goldberg waited until her late forties before she experienced motherhood.
Here she shares a very honest account of why her difficult journey there was worth the wait…

Like most of the events in my life, waiting until I was 47 to become a mother was neither a deliberate, nor particularly well-crafted decision. Rather, it evolved from a series of circumstances combined with choices I made without being able to predict the consequences. Continued

Dying Should Be a Selfish Endeavor

This article originally appeared on HuffingtonPost.com

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My patient Rona is dying. She has been my psychoanalytic patient for 30 years and has struggled against her cancer for 15 years. She has had Stage 4 cancer for seven years. She fought the good fight, a valiant fight, and truly, for many years, it had seemed as though she were indefatigable. She has been telling me that she is dying for a few months now, and in spite of her being bone-thin, I still saw and heard life energy in her. Her voice and spirit were strong in spite of her frail body. Although she needed help to make it up the two flights of stairs to my office, still she plowed through it, and never missed a session. Continued

From Symbiosis to Separation: Seeing and Touching Pt 2

Originally published by HuffingtonPost.com

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I have heard from mothers, both biological and adoptive, about the feeling of deep connection with their infant children through eye contact. The profundity of the eye contact between mother and infant is one reason why adoption agencies prefer that birth mothers not see their child. They know that when the child gazes up into his mother’s eyes, the mother will recognize their bond, and it will be more difficult for her to let go of her child.

Continued

More Than A Scent: Essential Oils Aid The Immune System

Originally published by HuffingtonPost.com

If you do some research into the Royal English Archives, you’ll come across an interesting little tidbit. It’s a recipe for “thieves’ oils.” So the story goes: In the 17th century, when all of Europe was in the thrust of the Black Plague, a small band of marauding thieves seemed immune to the disease. They would enter the homes of Black Plague victims and have no fear of touching the bodies as they searched for jewelry and money. The King demanded to know their secret. Continued

The Innate Genius of Baby Brains

brainercize-tabOriginally published by HuffingtonPost.com

The idea that your baby is a genius is a neurological phenomenon. Renowned child educator Maria Montessori has speculated that if our adult ability is compared with the child’s, we would need 60 years of hard work to accomplish what he achieves in just three. When a child masters turning on and off a light switch, his brain has expended more energy than the most complicated computer that we have on earth. When a child says her first word at the age of nine months, he has mastered a developmental advance that represents millions of evolutionary years in the making. Practically everything your child does in his first two years — every sound, every movement, every mental connection that he makes — places his brain capacity at genius operating level. Continued

Brain Cells: How to Preserve Them

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Originally published by HuffingtonPost.com

The brain is not too different from the rest of your body. It needs to be well-nourished. All animals except humans know this instinctively; because the head is elevated whenever an animal moves, sleep is the best time to feed an animal’s brain the blood they need for brain nourishment. An animal is always in a prone position during sleep, and its head falls lower than the rest of its body. Continued

Why I Decided to Enter a Beauty Pageant at the Age of 68

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Article originally appeared on HuffingtonPost.com.

In early 2014, I made a most bizarre decision for myself. I committed to participating as a contestant in a pageant: the Miss Senior New Jersey Pageant.

Miss Senior New Jersey is unlike its mother pageant, Miss America, in that there is no financial reward for winning. It does not promise, and then not distribute, most of the money that is claimed to be available (as was revealed by John Oliver’s recent, funny and sad, exposé of the Miss America contest). And unlike its forerunner, Miss Senior New Jersey pageant is not formally conceptualized as a “beauty” contest (though the pageant winners do seem to always look quite wonderful). The post-60-years-of-age contestants are not necessarily outwardly beautiful in the traditional sense of the concept of beauty. As it says in the program, the qualities the judges are looking for in the senior pageants are “dignity, maturity,” and, of course, the always elusively defined “inner beauty.”

This description boded well for me, as my outer beauty has never been much of a concern for me. Of course, I like to look good. But, there are the indisputable facts that I rarely brush my hair during the course of the day (once in the morning seems sufficient for me); I haven’t worn lipstick or make-up for the last 40 years; I haven’t worn earrings in two decades (quit them when my daughter was an infant and kept tugging on them); I have worn a dress only a handful of times in the last 20 years (prefer leggings, with sandals in the summer/boots in the winter). Yet, something about this endeavor called out to me. Probably it was a desire to share an experience with my now 21-year-old daughter who, unlike me, never leaves the house without make-up. She has a sense of fashion that I couldn’t replicate with all the money in the world, is able to wear shoes that defy gravity, and who I knew would come down from Vermont, where she is in college, to see me do this. This was going to be fun.

We are so very different from one another, this daughter and I. She is so very and naturally beautiful, has great concern for how she looks, and makes effort for it; although I look relatively good for my age, 68, I have little concern for it, and put minimal effort into it. We are so different, and yet, so close. I wanted to do this thing with her, for her, and because of her.

I committed fully to the process. There was great preparation for the event. I had to find a dress; I had to do something with my unruly, largely uncombed hair; and most challenging, I had to find a talent.

I was sent paperwork that defined how I needed to prepare. There are four criteria for the judges: personal interview (30 percent of the score); evening gown (20 percent); inner beauty, also called “Philosophy of Life” (20 percent); talent (30 percent).

I thought selecting a formal gown would be the easiest task to accomplish, so I started with that. There is no swim suit competition, but the elimination of this part of the usual beauty pageants was probably more to my disadvantage, as I might have aced that part of the contest: I have spent my last 10 years, since I developed my tummy, searching for perfect bathing suits, the ones that successfully hide all my aging bodily imperfections. I now have a large collection of these “special-effects-swim-suits.”

I have kept all my mother’s exquisite gowns from weddings and bar mitzvahs, sitting in a trunk since her death 30 years ago. One by one, I pulled them out of their dusty storage, tried them on, took selfies to send to my daughter via email for a yay or nay. None of those worked well enough for my daughter to give a thumbs up. For some of them, she actually stuck her finger down her throat (Skype) — I was a little hurt for my mother’s sake, but then again, the gowns were decades old.

We decided I needed a new gown. I ordered five gowns online. One by one, they arrived, and my daughter and I repeated the selfies process. I found an elegant sequined gown (again, hiding my tummy, that I called my “special-effects-evening gown”) that we both liked. That was the one I kept.

In preparation for the talent part of the competition, I did some homework: I looked at videos of past pageants. It was a difficult decision to make for what talent to present, as I am essentially talentless. I am not without accomplishments, being a well-known psychoanalyst and author (uses of my mind), and a long-distance swimmer and advanced yoga practitioner (uses of my body). But talent, as in singing and dancing, or performing? I haven’t done that kind of thing since I was a strawberry in a dance recital at age six. Watching the videos of past pageants was daunting: some of the women were good, singers and dancers who had real performance charisma. I considered pulling my application.

Yet, soldier on I did. For my “talent,” I tacked together a multimedia performance. It was, in essence, a homage to my mother. She became the organizing principle of my various “talents,” because it was she who encouraged my artistic endeavors (which I showed in a slide show: paintings, drawings and photographs I had made over the years); it was she who listened to my practicing the piano for hours each day (I played a piece I had learned as a teenager); and it was she who proudly announced to anyone listening, even taxi drivers and strangers on the street, when I had authored my first book (I did a short reading from my most recent book).

The day of: Harrah’s in Atlantic City. Our first event was the private interview with the judges. Although this counted heavily in the scoring, there was no way to prepare for this event, as we did not know what questions the judges would ask us.

Five esteemed individuals had volunteered to be the judges. I gussied up for the interview: fussed with my hair, checked my makeup, wore a new dress that made me look sleek and lithe, and actually wore heels for the occasion — the first time I had had heels on in 45 years.

I entered the room without tripping, sat down, got myself poised with legs appropriately crossed in lady-like fashion, and prepared to answer their questions. The first question I was asked, by one of the male judges, was about my writing for The Huffington Post, an activity I had mentioned on my application. As I began my answer, something odd happened: the judge who had asked the question looked down at the floor. As I continued to respond to that question, and the others posed to me, I made sure that I made frequent eye contact with each of the judges. Yet, this one judge never looked up, never took his eyes off the floor, refusing to make eye contact with me for the rest of my interview. His behavior was unwelcoming, disconcerting, even rude.

I walked out of the interview thinking that no matter how good my talent presentation was going to be, no matter how exquisite I looked in my sequined gown, no matter how flawless and poignant my “Philosophy of Life” presentation was — that I was far down on the list of candidates for winning. I walked out of the interview, and texted the 12 friends and family who had come down to see me: “Dead in the water.”

Next: learning and rehearsing our ensemble dance, and the movements on stage. We practiced strutting, learned a pageant walk with arms swinging straight out and hands at 90 degree angle from arms; we belted out our hellos again and again, proudly announcing which municipality we came from: I, from “small but beautiful Bloomingdale.” We learned our dance steps, where to enter and exit the stage. And, finally, we got one practice run-through of our talent presentations.

By the time the pageant actually started, we were all rather frazzled and tired from the efforts of memorization. My main concern was what I would remember, or the alternative: forget. Surely memorization was a skill most of us had not exercised for many decades, and the one I was most worried about. I wondered: was my forever-dreaded anticipatory Alzheimer’s going to finally make its appearance at just the moment of my stepping up to the microphone?

As I stood at the podium, reciting my “Philosophy of Life” statement, I felt proud and happy to be there. I was satisfied with the thought that had gone into my composing words that reflected the very personal meaning of my being there, participating in a contest that was so foreign to my usual self-identity.

These are the words I chose: “I recently saw a documentary of Afghani Women meeting in secret. What were they doing? Painting their fingernails. Covered with burkas from head to foot, this was not about beauty. It was about the bond of womanhood and the experience of femininity. Within their repressive culture, these women carved out a small slice of freedom. I believe in freedom. I believe in the freedoms our country were founded on. And I believe in the freedoms to think and feel and want. These freedoms, no one can take away.”

By the end of the pageant, we contestants had spent many hours together, had gotten to know one another, and, in a sense, even come to “love” each other.Screen Shot 2015-09-03 at 6.06.06 PMI made two BFFs for the day (never to be seen again, in all likelihood). Geraldine is a 78-year-old woman, who like myself, is a pianist and psychologist. We had an immediate attraction to one another because we were the only pianists in the bunch, and shared a profession. Geraldine decided to do this as an activity that would give her something interesting and new to do, since her husband had died.

My other best friend for the day was my next door neighbor in the dressing room, Teri, who took me aside mid-day, and confided that I was not the only Jew there. (Except for Bess Myerson, the 1945 Miss America winner, pageants are not typically a Jewish-thing to do.) Teri’s motivation for entering was about her commitment to a social cause. Her husband had had a severe heart attack while they were on vacation some years earlier; he had immediate heart surgery, and then a transplant that saved his life. They are both advocates for organ donors, and Teri entered the pageant out of hopes of giving herself a public voice for transplant advocacy.

Beverly had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. She had taken the trouble to call me a few weeks before the pageant, on my birthday, to wish me a good day. In spite of her illness, she wanted to be there, and put on an amazing but ridiculous costume, and then moved slightly on the floor for her “talent” performance.

Mary’s knee kept locking up. It was difficult for Mary to move, and the group dance was challenging for her. Yet, she persisted, and we collectively made adjustments for her.

Patricia had had a stroke, and couldn’t see for three years. She explained that her recovery was due to “divine intervention.” She said she was in church and, all of a sudden, could see again. She was a thoughtful, serious woman, yet a brilliant comedienne.

Diane, Patty, and a few others had competed several times. It was a process they enjoyed, looked forward to each year. Of course they wanted to win. But, win or lose, they wanted to participate.

Many of the women had real talent. Mary let loose the first two notes of “At Last,” and the audience went wild. They were on their feet cheering her on. Those two notes were powerful and rich, surprisingly commanding. Geri was a flutist, and her playing was sweetly evocative. My BFF, Geraldine, played the piano with enthusiasm and skill.

I didn’t win. I didn’t even place. I found myself feeling oddly disappointed. I hadn’t really expected to win. I’m not sure I even wanted to win. I wanted the tiara; I wanted the sash; I wanted to walk out on the streets with my tiara and sash. But I did not want to carve out time from my busy schedule to make expected appearances at small town festivities, parades, and launching of ships-kind-of-things.

But I did think I deserved a place. Out of 14 contestants, there were four runners-up (altogether, five winners). As I stood on the stage, listening to the winners being announced, I hoped that I would receive some recognition, that I would be rewarded for what I thought had been a good show on my part. I not only look good for my age, I feel fantastic. I have defied my genetic destiny; my mother and sister were both dead of cancer long before they reached the age I am now. I have achieved this feat through diligence, discipline, study, applying principles of health to my life-style. I think I exuded my feel-good/grab-life-by-the-horns attitude on the stage.

Yet, I came to understand that none of these qualities that I feel I embody — my “off-stage” abilities, assets, attributes, intelligence, virtues, accomplishments, even talent — that comprise the full person I am — indeed, the person I have made myself into being — these qualities that I think of as going into the “mark” of a woman — none of them mattered to the judges. These more ephemeral qualities are the ones that had been reflected in my written application, which each of the judges had reviewed. The judges are meant to understand that there are lives lived beyond the performance on the stage. They are meant to take these qualities into consideration in their judging criteria; and I had gone into the pageant believing that the life I have chosen to live would be recognized as worthy of acknowledgement.

Yet, it appears that to be a winner, in New Jersey, only one attribute matters: the ability to sing. People look at me oddly when I sing. In fact, in my talent presentation, I made fun of my inability to sing or dance. But, in the history of this pageant, as far as I can tell, no contestant has ever won who does not sing.

I thought deeply before I decided to send an email to the administrator of the contest, Johanne. I suggested that having five winners in a field of 14 leads to disappointment, if not outright humiliation, to not get any recognition at all. I thought that in the future, they might want to narrow the field of runners-up to make losing less embarrassing. Or, alternatively, give awards for other accomplishments, as in an award for Miss Congeniality (I would have been happy with “Most Well-Read”). Johanne thanked me graciously for my suggestion, and told me that they had concluded that this didn’t work. She said that it was called “tokenism” for non-winners, and was viewed as an insult. I, however, would have experienced it as acknowledgement.

I cc’d both my email and Johanne’s response to all the contestants. My letter created a subsequent firestorm of complaints amongst those who did not place. We, the “losers” in the group, began talking forthrightly about our experiences. We called ourselves the Malcontents, and in our emails to each other, we decided that we were engaging in a form of group therapy. I was the designated official Malcontents Psychologist.

One of the complaints was that the pageant itself was three hours. Yet, we contestants each had approximately 225 seconds in front of the audience to present ourselves as distinct from the pack (3 minutes 45 seconds for the talent; 45 seconds for the Philosophy of Life, 5 seconds for announcing our town). Most of the pageant time was taken up by former winners, the Queens of past years: they were continuously talking, singing and dancing on stage. They were ubiquitous.

Communicating amongst ourselves helped us to put our most private feelings into words. We felt less alone. One of the contestants wrote: “I was beating myself up thinking that I was alone in my disappointment and maybe it was just ME!!!!” Another wrote: “There is no Botox on my face, I don’t need it. I work very very hard to keep healthy, trim; I have an “invisible” illness, fibromyalgia, and I was in a lot of pain throughout the entire event with a smile on my face. And don’t even mention what I have to do to be such a good musician. I practice like an athlete.” A third: “I was told after the pageant that if I had sung instead of lip sync…I would have had a good chance! I do not sing….I dance and have danced and performed my whole life. If I had a heads-up that anyone who does not sing doesn’t have a shot in hell…. I would not have even entertained the idea of this competition. It was a HUGE expense, financially as well as time.”

Ultimately, the lesson I took away from being in the pageant was the same sentiment I expressed in my “Philosophy of Life” statement. For me, the meaning of the experience was about spending hours and hours with my fellow contestants, learning a dance, supporting each other when any of us forgot which way to turn and messed up the whole routine. And the time in the dressing room, side by side: sharing lipsticks; doing each other’s hair; deciding for a neighbor one dangling rhinestone earring over another less dangling. Primping and prepping, and doing it together as a group, non-competitively, just lovingly and supportively — as I said in my “Philosophy of Life”: the “bond of womanhood.” Not with women who are naturally attractive simply because of their youth, nor who still have great thick hair and smooth clear skin, but, rather, with women who are fighting every day in every way against their aging bodies — both in terms of beauty and also just getting around with weak knees and decades long backaches, and even the specter of encroaching death. That’s what moved me the most.

I’m glad I entered the competition. My daughter and I shared a wonderful, exhilarating experience. She got to see, for the first time, how her aging mom looks in an evening gown, makeup, with hair extensions and false eyelashes. I got to see the pride reflected back to me from her eyes, not because she has a mom who looks good for her age, but because she has a mom who had the courage to participate in such an endeavor, and the joie de vivre to actually enjoy it. One of my friends who had come to see the event sent me a tiara, and told me I was her queen. I trounced around the house for a week, wearing the crown every time there was no one around to witness my foolishness.

I had a great time. I will never do it again.

How Increasing Your Brain’s ‘Digit Span’ Can Improve Overall Function

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Article originally published by HuffingtonPost.com

Even though there is a mountain of research on sequential processing, and its usefulness as a measure of intelligence, for decades no one had thought to bring the research to the next logical level — to actually change peoples’ digit-span level. Finally, researcher and clinician Bob Doman decided to train people to increase their ability to do digit span. Continued

Dr. Jane on Huffington Post

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Fertilisation of Orchids, written by Charles Darwin (pictured) and published on 15 May 1862, explores the evolutionary interactions between insects and the orchids they pollinat Fertilisation of Orchids, written by Charles Continued

How Much Information Can The Brain Hold? Test Your Memory

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Originally published by HuffingtonPost.com

The concept of the magic number seven, plus or minus two, has a long, revered place in the history of psychological research. It has been well known since the 19th century when a little observational experiment was done by Scottish philosopher, William Hamilton. Hamilton noted that whenever a handful of marbles were thrown onto the floor, the placement of only about seven of the marbles could be remembered without confusion. G.A. Miller, a Princeton University psychologist, wrote his famous paper, “The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two,” in 1956. For many years, this was the most cited non-statistical paper in psychology. Miller’s contention was precisely the same as Hamilton’s: most of us can hold in short-term memory approximately seven units of information. Continued

Brain Health: Is the Virtual World Creating a Virtual Brain?

Originally published by HuffingtonPost.com

The other day the television stopped working suddenly. I spent almost an hour trying to figure out how to fix it. Then my 17-year-old daughter walked in, took the remote from my hand, and had the thing working again in about a New York nanosecond. I have known, for years now, because of similar experiences with computers, cell phones and cameras, that my daughter’s brain operates in a wholly different way than my own. When any of these electronic devices stop doing what they’re supposed to be doing, I can spend hours trying to figure out how to reprogram them (if that is even the right word) — all to no avail. It won’t matter how much time I take to attend to the task. I won’t figure it out. And my daughter will. Continued

Brain Development From Birth to Old Age: An Overview

Article originally appeared on HuffingtonPost.com

Comedian Lewis Black does a brilliant riff on the aging brain. The conversation he demonstrates between two adults trying to converse about a film looks something like, at best, a game of charades, or worse, infants trying to communicate wordlessly with each other — (the very etymology of the word “in fans” is “without speech”). One guy makes reference to the movie, trying to remember the name: “You know — the movie with the guy in it — the guy — you know the guy — the guy who knows the other guy, or looks like the other guy — the two guys — you know who I mean — that movie with the guy.” That’s not an exact quote, but close enough for anyone suffering from the affliction of getting older with a modicum of memory loss to get the point. (They tell us it’s part of the normal aging process. But who believes them?) Continued

Benefits of Love and Microbes (and How They’re Related)

I have talked about the importance of  microbes in a past Musings. The importance of microbes in every day life cannot be over-stated. Microbes live in every part of our bodies, in every crevice, and on every surface. There are more bacterial cells on our bodily surfaces — collectively amounting to 100 trillion cells — than there are human cells in the entire body.

We are born 90% human, 10% microbes. As we develop and grow, our microbes develop and grow with us. They grow much faster than we grow.  By the time most of us die, we will have reversed the proportion of human to microbes, and we will have become 90% microbial. At the time of our death, then, it could be said that we are, indeed, more microbial than human.

In 2008, a branch of the National Institutes of Health, launched a five-year, $153 million, federally funded research project called the “Microbiome Project.” It is looking at all the microbes; most are bacteria, but there are also viruses, parasites, protozoa (one-cell organisms with animal-like behavior),  bacteriophages (a virus that replicates within bacteria), and yeast — and what scientists are finding is changing the face of medicine. Take a closer look at these developments:

* Babies get a substance from breast milk that they cannot digest. This substance is oligosaccharides and babies do not have the required enzymes to digest this substance.  The purpose of  oligosaccharides is to deliver materials to the microbes that reside in the baby’s gut!  It is our infants’ first prebiotic!

* Couples who live together share more microbes with each other if they have a dog, compared with couples that do not have a dog. The largest bacteria group that dogs and humans share is Betaproteobacteria.

* Animals who are fed antibiotics gain more weight than those not fed antibiotics.  The research shows that antibiotics alter the bacteria that play an important role in regulating weight.

*Stress during childhood could have long-term effects on the gut microbiome.  When rats and monkeys are separated from their mothers, a type of stress is created that alters the microbiota of the gut.

* Kissing involves exchanging human microbiota. Variety is key to health, and the exchange of each others’ microbes has the advantage of boosting immunity. In addition, there are a wealth of other benefits to kissing. It relieves stress and releases epinephrine into the blood,  resulting in increased pumping of blood, which can reduce LDL cholesterol. Kissing stimulates the production of saliva in the mouth, which helps to fight cavities. And it also stimulates a cascade of “happy” hormones, such as serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin. These “happy” hormones aren’t only important for good feelings; they also help to strengthen relationships. It has been found that those who cannot commit to a love relationship are low in oxytocin.

Just Words

Article originally appeared on HuffingtonPost.com

One of the criticisms of Barack Obama has been that his presidency consists of “just words.” Ted Sorenson, whose death we have mourned, expressed astonishment at the sentiment. “‘Just words’ is how a president manages to operate. ‘Just words’ is how he engages the country,” Sorensen said in a moment of peevedness. Continued

Benefits of Love and Microbes (and How They’re Related)

I have talked about the importance of  microbes in a past Musings. The importance of microbes in every day life cannot be over-stated. Microbes live in every part of our bodies, in every crevice, and on every surface. There are more bacterial cells on our bodily surfaces — collectively amounting to 100 trillion cells — than there are human cells in the entire body.

We are born 90% human, 10% microbes. As we develop and grow, our microbes develop and grow with us. They grow much faster than we grow.  By the time most of us die, we will have reversed the proportion of human to microbes, and we will have become 90% microbial. At the time of our death, then, it could be said that we are, indeed, more microbial than human.

In 2008, a branch of the National Institutes of Health, launched a five-year, $153 million, federally funded research project called the “Microbiome Project.” It is looking at all the microbes; most are bacteria, but there are also viruses, parasites, protozoa (one-cell organisms with animal-like behavior),  bacteriophages (a virus that replicates within bacteria), and yeast — and what scientists are finding is changing the face of medicine. Take a closer look at these developments:

* Babies get a substance from breast milk that they cannot digest. This substance is oligosaccharides and babies do not have the required enzymes to digest this substance.  The purpose of  oligosaccharides is to deliver materials to the microbes that reside in the baby’s gut!  It is our infants’ first prebiotic!

* Couples who live together share more microbes with each other if they have a dog, compared with couples that do not have a dog. The largest bacteria group that dogs and humans share is Betaproteobacteria.

* Animals who are fed antibiotics gain more weight than those not fed antibiotics.  The research shows that antibiotics alter the bacteria that play an important role in regulating weight.

*Stress during childhood could have long-term effects on the gut microbiome.  When rats and monkeys are separated from their mothers, a type of stress is created that alters the microbiota of the gut.

* Kissing involves exchanging human microbiota. Variety is key to health, and the exchange of each others’ microbes has the advantage of boosting immunity. In addition, there are a wealth of other benefits to kissing. It relieves stress and releases epinephrine into the blood,  resulting in increased pumping of blood, which can reduce LDL cholesterol. Kissing stimulates the production of saliva in the mouth, which helps to fight cavities. And it also stimulates a cascade of “happy” hormones, such as serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin. These “happy” hormones aren’t only important for good feelings; they also help to strengthen relationships. It has been found that those who cannot commit to a love relationship are low in oxytocin.

The Joy (and Benefits) of Skipping

Article originally appeared on HuffingtonPost.com

Doubtless, you remember skipping as a child. Some of the moments of happiness you had as a child were surely when you were skipping. I don’t mean happiness as in content, or satisfied or feeling good or nice. I mean happy as in joyful. If you look around any playground, you will notice that any child who is skipping is also laughing — or at least smiling a big, broad grin. Skipping induces happiness; it did when you were seven, and it will have the same effect on you now that you are an adult. Continued

In Defense of Slow and Tedious: Quick-Fix Therapy or the Kind that Takes “Forever”?

Article originally appeared on HuffingtonPost.com

Since the New York Times published an article by psychotherapist Jonathan Alpert, “In Therapy Forever? Enough Already” (April 21, 2012), there has been lively debate within the psychotherapeutic community about the benefits of short-term, goal-oriented, advice-driven therapy vs. the longer, open-ended, free-associative linguistic wandering brand espoused and practiced by psychoanalysts. The lengthiness of treatment is a question that Freud, the originator of the notion “interminable” analysis, himself asked. He experimented for a time with what we might call today, “speed therapy” (comparable to “speed dating” — first impressions count for all). Ultimately, he wasn’t particularly impressed with the results. But Freud’s goal (in this seemingly “goalless” endeavor) was radically different from the goal of today’s popular short-term — often with adjunctive psychotropic drugs — therapies. Perhaps the best way of describing the difference is that the goal of short-term therapy is to feel “better,” which can translate into feeling “less.” On the other hand, the goal of psychoanalysis is to feel both “deeper” and more “outward” which, at least in the beginning of the process, might translate into feeling “more” and “worse.” Continued

My Rape; My Illegal Abortion; My Almost Dying: Reflections From 1968

Article originally appeared on HuffingtonPost.com

I was set to graduate from college in a few months. March 1968. I awoke to a voice telling me: “Don’t make a sound or I will kill you.” My screaming was instinctive, and I suppose I paid for that. I screamed and screamed, and the more I screamed, the more he hit me. Although there were four people in the apartment at the time, apparently no one heard me. When I tasted blood in my mouth from his brutal fists, the realization dawned on me that this man didn’t care how much he hurt me, and was willing, indeed, to kill me. I felt the saddest I had ever felt in my short life: not that I was going to die, but that I was going to die without being with any of the people who loved me. I acquiesced to the rape, and tolerated the soft words of his affection for my “titties,” as he called them. I had become so passive, he could have performed a lobotomy on me and I wouldn’t have let out a peep. Continued

Why I Decided to Enter a Senior Beauty Pageant at the Age of 68

Article originally appeared on HuffingtonPost.com.

In early 2014, I made a most bizarre decision for myself. I committed to participating as a contestant in a pageant: the Miss Senior New Jersey Pageant.

Miss Senior New Jersey is unlike its mother pageant, Miss America, in that there is no financial reward for winning. It does not promise, and then not distribute, most of the money that is claimed to be available (as was revealed by John Oliver’s recent, funny and sad, exposé of the Miss America contest). And unlike its forerunner, Miss Senior New Jersey pageant is not formally conceptualized as a “beauty” contest (though the pageant winners do seem to always look quite wonderful). The post-60-years-of-age contestants are not necessarily outwardly beautiful in the traditional sense of the concept of beauty. As it says in the program, the qualities the judges are looking for in the senior pageants are “dignity, maturity,” and, of course, the always elusively defined “inner beauty.” Continued

Since My Brother’s Murder

Originally published on HuffingtonPost.com

My brother was murdered — bludgeoned to death as he lay sleeping in his bed — three years ago this summer. The murder (like most murders) was not a random event. My brother knew his killer. The perpetrator was a young man, Max, who had been kicked out of his family home, and to whom my brother had given shelter.

Max was a Russian adoptee, who, post-adoption — from the age of five — was raised with every advantage that should have (could have) helped him to develop into a stalwart member of society. Yet, this did not happen. Continued

Love Your Dogs and Cats

I almost lost my beloved Lilly (a 6 lb. poodle) several years back. After throwing up one day, she stopped eating and drinking. I was four vets later, $3000 into vet bills before I found out what I needed to do to save her life. Part of it was my discovery of the healing effect of low-level radiation, and irradiating her water (which was the only water she was willing to drink; this discovery and its importance for human healing is detailed in my book: Because People Are Dying). But just as significantly was my conversion of her to a completely raw food diet. Continued

Benefits of Love and Microbes (and How They’re Related)

I have talked about the importance of  microbes in a past Musings. The importance of microbes in every day life cannot be over-stated. Microbes live in every part of our bodies, in every crevice, and on every surface. There are more bacterial cells on our bodily surfaces — collectively amounting to 100 trillion cells — than there are human cells in the entire body. Continued

How to Have Better Hair and a Healthier Body With a Little-Known Source of Silica

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Recently someone in my community asked how to get rid of pesky critters. A neighbor who own a garden center said that they use Diatomaceous Earth. Well, that seemed to me to be a golden opportunity to reveal my little secret to the world: that I have been eating Diatomaceous Earth for about a year now. Continued

The Cheapest, Fastest, Easiest Way to Detoxify the Whole Body, Look Younger, Be Healthier

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Some years back I heard Bernard Jensen, one of our country’s great nutritionists and author of over 50 books, tell the story of Samson, “the Saxon Giant.” Samson was a weight lifter and wrestler who was brought to the United States by Florenz Zeigfield in the 1920’s as one of the featured acts in the Zeigfield Follies. Besides his strength, Samson was also known for his baby-soft skin, a feature that Samson attributed to his daily regimen of dry skin-brushing, and a fact that greatly intrigued Jensen. Continued

Keeping Your Colon Clean

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It is unfortunate that American doctors have contended for decades that the number of bowel movements an individual has is unrelated to health. They have convinced most of us that they are correct. Most people think that they are not constipated if they are having one bowel movement a day. Yet, we eat three meals a day. Where are the other two meals going if they’re not being eliminated through the colon? The answer actually is somewhat frightening. The rest of the food that is not absorbed by the body as nutrients stays around the body in unlikely places–against the colon walls, in tissues and organs, in arteries–any place at all in the body can serve as a receptacle for uneliminated waste. Continued

The Dose is the Poison

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The principle of hormesis has been understood for centuries: large and small doses evoke opposite effects. As far back as the 1400s, physician Paracelsus understood that dose is the difference between cure and danger: “The dose makes the poison.” In the 1880s Rudolf Arndt and Hugo Schultz demonstrated that substances vary in action depending on whether the concentration is high, medium, or low; high concentrations kill, medium concentrations suppress or inhibit, and low or minute concentrations stimulate. The hormesis principle operates on both the level of the body, the mind, indeed, within the whole universe. Continued

Stress: Good or Bad? In Your Control or Out of Your Control?

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As a psychoanalyst who has specialized in working with cancer patients, I hear the word “stress” frequently. When a new cancer patient comes into my office, I will generally ask the person why they think they have cancer. Some patients are puzzled by the question, and say that they don’t know. But a fair number of them will speculate, and many of them will use the word “stress” to describe emotional situations that they had felt themselves to be in some time before the cancer diagnosis. Continued

Mature Brain or Alzheimer’s Brain – Which Do You Have?

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If you’re over 50, chances are you’ve begun to notice some memory loss. Even in perfectly healthy adults with exceedingly active brains, the hippocampus–a part of the brain important to the formation of memories–begins to atrophy around the age of 55. As this happens, no doubt you begin to wonder, with anxiety and fear, whether the memory loss is part of the natural aging process, or whether you are proceeding inexorably toward getting the dreaded disease of Alzheimer’s. Continued

Gut Reaction: Do You Have One?

My daughter’s recent bout with Mono has been an education for me. We treated it holistically, and probably halved the amount of time she was feeling ill (based on the usual course of the disease). Thankfully, she is totally fine now, and back at school. But, of course, I was interested in what may have caused her to get sick. Continued

Beauty, Brains and Brawn (The Fastest Way to Get Them All and Live Longer Too)

How far you can reach beyond your toes from a sitting position, back against the wall, legs straight out in front of you? It may sound like an unimportant question, but it may actually be an important predictor of your longevity.

There are several accurate predictors of longevity that I have written about in prior Musings, including the length of our telomeres and our lung capacity. But another one that I have not yet written about is our flexibility. The health Continued

The Making of a Murderer Pt. 10: Meeting Louise

I never know what is going to happen when I go to sleep. Since David’s death, my dream life has become as vivid as my waking life. They are bizarre, imaginative dreams. Some redeeming; some disturbing. The last dream I had was about Max. Doctors had discovered that there was something wrong with him and that an operation would correct the problem. After the surgery, presumably, he wouldn’t continue to be violent. Continued

The Making of a Murderer Pt 9: David’s Tombstone Unveiling at Family Plot

tombstone

One space left in family plot, on left of David’s (not visible in pic). My parents had bought the family plot when all were alive, and the fourth plot was for Lenny, David’s long-term partner, whom my parents accepted as part of our family. David and Lenny separated, and I suppose the 4th plot is now mine, awaiting my final visitation.

The Making of a Murderer Pt. 8: Bad News

Yesterday, moments after the deal seemed to be effected, it was already off the table. After turning down an already accepted plea bargain of 30 years, the judge decided that even the newly agreed upon 40 years was not sufficient for the crimes committed by Maxim Hoppens. She, thusly, attached another five years per additional crimes related to the murder: two counts of forgery and one for the use of a stolen credit card (called “access device fraud”). She is imposing the sentence for these crimes as consecutive, adding an additional fifteen years to the prison term: 55 years in total. Continued

The Making of a Murderer Pt 5: Photographs

janes-motherJane’s and David’s beautiful mother in Cuba.

meyer-goldbergMeyer Goldberg, Jane’s and David’s father, on his Harley. He rode from Georgia to Louisiana circa 1935.

GoldbergsDavid Goldberg, Lee Goldberg, Mommie, and Jane with her cousin in her papa’s arms.

david-childDavid, around 13 years of age.

david-high-schoolDavid in high school.

david-king-of-mardi-grasDavid as the King of the Mardi Gras Ball, circa 1970.

david2David Goldberg in his 40s.

The Making of a Murderer Pt 4: David and Max

Therapist to patient: “What stage of grief are you in?”

Patient: “Writing. Is that a stage?”

Said by Sally Wade upon the publication of her memoir about her long-term love relationship with George Carlin.

DavidGoldbergLast picture taken of David M. Goldberg, at Niagara Falls – a vacation trip where he met for the first time Yang, a Chinese man he had been communicating with every day for five years via the internet. (See previous post The Letters, to read Yang’s response to the news of David’s death.)

Continued

The Making of a Murderer Pt. 3: The Letters

These are the letters that came to me after David’s death:

Jane,

This news of course came as a great shock !!! We are so very sorry and what a terrible ending to his life. He loved his family and was always devoted to all of us, especially you. He never missed an event that included his family. I am really saddened because he was a part of us and sadly he will not be there any longer. I’m also so sad to learn of all of your mishaps. This has definitely been a trying time for you. I’m so happy that Barbara Pailet has been helping you. You have always been a great daughter and sister no matter how difficult the circumstances. Please keep us posted, and again our sympathies. He will be missed. Continued

The Making of a Murderer Pt 2: Finding Out

I always thought I would be a catatonic. I was sure that if a major trauma came my way, and I ended up having a nervous break-down, it would be the silent treatment that I would revert back to. Essentially I had to learn to talk as an adult. Growing up, I had lots of thoughts, lots of ideas – lots going on in my brain – that I never shared. Sharing my thoughts and feelings seemed a bit superfluous. So – catatonia was my mental illness of choice. Continued

The Making of a Murderer Pt 1: About Max

How is it that I, a 66-year-old successful professional woman living in New York City, have come to have acquaintance with a young man who has lived his 18 years in New Orleans, daring to be difficult, provoking those in authority positions to institutionalize him for his misdeeds, thievery and disturbed behaviors, and living out his plan, as he himself said of “ruining (his) life”? It is only through unforeseen circumstances of the most morbid kind that this young man, Max Hoppens, has arrived in my life, destined to stay for a good long time. Continued

Raw or Rocket Fuel? Take Your Pick…

Now that winter is here, I am making more than ever my batches of dehydrated crackers. My favorite recipe is for my Rosemary Crackers (which are universally loved), for which I use sprouted flax seeds and sprouted almonds. It’s important to sprout raw nuts and seeds by soaking them first. Nature’s defense mechanism includes nutritional inhibitors and toxic substances — enzyme inhibitors, phytates (phytic acid), polyphenols (also known as tannins), and goitrogens. All these are removed automatically by nature: when it rains, the nut or seed gets wet and can then germinate to produce a plant. When we soak our nuts and seeds, we are mimicking nature. Continued

Brain Development From Birth to Old Age: An Overview

(Please click HERE for original blog.)

Comedian Lewis Black does a brilliant riff on the aging brain. The conversation he demonstrates between two adults trying to converse about a film looks something like, at best, a game of charades, or worse, infants trying to communicate wordlessly with each other — (the very etymology of the word “in fans” is “without speech”). One guy makes reference to the movie, trying to remember the name: “You know — the movie with the guy in it — the guy — you know the guy — the guy who knows the other guy, or looks like the other guy — the two guys — you know who I mean — that movie with the guy.” That’s not an exact quote, but close enough for anyone suffering from the affliction of getting older with a modicum of memory loss to get the point. (They tell us it’s part of the normal aging process. But who believes them?) Continued

Brain Health: Is the Virtual World Creating a Virtual Brain?

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The other day, the television stopped working suddenly. I spent almost an hour trying to figure out how to fix it. Then my 17-year-old daughter walked in, took the remote from my hand, and had the thing working again in about a New York nanosecond. I have known, for years now, because of similar experiences with computers, cell phones and cameras, that my daughter’s brain operates in a wholly different way than my own. When any of these electronic devices stop doing what they’re supposed to be doing, I can spend hours trying to figure out how to reprogram them (if that is even the right word) — all to no avail. It won’t matter how much time I take to attend to the task. I won’t figure it out. And my daughter will. Continued

How Much Information Can The Brain Hold? Test YOUR Memory

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The concept of the magic number seven, plus or minus two, has a long, revered place in the history of psychological research. It has been well known since the 19th century when a little observational experiment was done by Scottish philosopher, William Hamilton. Hamilton noted that whenever a handful of marbles were thrown onto the floor, the placement of only about seven of the marbles could be remembered without confusion. G.A. Miller, a Princeton University psychologist, wrote his famous paper, “The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two,” in 1956. For many years, this was the most cited non-statistical paper in psychology. Miller’s contention was precisely the same as Hamilton’s: most of us can hold in short-term memory approximately seven units of information. Continued

How Increasing Your Brain’s ‘Digit Span’ Can Improve Overall Function

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Even though there is a mountain of research on sequential processing, and its usefulness as a measure of intelligence, for decades no one had thought to bring the research to the next logical level — to actually change peoples’ digit-span level. Finally, researcher and clinician Bob Doman decided to train people to increase their ability to do digit span. Continued

Brain Cells: How to Preserve Them

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The brain is not too different from the rest of your body. It needs to be well-nourished. All animals except humans know this instinctively; because the head is elevated whenever an animal moves, sleep is the best time to feed an animal’s brain the blood they need for brain nourishment. An animal is always in a prone position during sleep, and its head falls lower than the rest of its body. Continued

The Innate Genius of Baby Brains

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The idea that your baby is a genius is a neurological phenomenon. Renowned child educator Maria Montessori has speculated that if our adult ability is compared with the child’s, we would need 60 years of hard work to accomplish what he achieves in just three. When a child masters turning on and off a light switch, his brain has expended more energy than the most complicated computer that we have on earth. When a child says her first word at the age of nine months, he has mastered a developmental advance that represents millions of evolutionary years in the making. Practically everything your child does in his first two years — every sound, every movement, every mental connection that he makes — places his brain capacity at genius operating level. Continued

More Than a Scent: Essential Oils Aid the Immune System

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If you do some research into the Royal English Archives, you’ll come across an interesting little tidbit. It’s a recipe for “thieves’ oils.” So the story goes: In the 17th century, when all of Europe was in the thrust of the Black Plague, a small band of marauding thieves seemed immune to the disease. They would enter the homes of Black Plague victims and have no fear of touching the bodies as they searched for jewelry and money. The King demanded to know their secret. Continued

The First Sounds of Separation, Pt. 1

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For a few decades now, as both a mother and a psychoanalyst, I have puzzled over what I consider to be an essential question that all mothers must ask themselves: as mothers, how do we embrace the togetherness, the fusion of selves between mother and child that characterizes his or her first relationship? Continued

From Symbiosis to Separation: Seeing and Touching, Pt. 2

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I have heard from mothers, both biological and adoptive, about the feeling of deep connection with their infant children through eye contact. The profundity of the eye contact between mother and infant is one reason why adoption agencies prefer that birth mothers not see their child. They know that when the child gazes up into his mother’s eyes, the mother will recognize their bond, and it will be more difficult for her to let go of her child. During the time of my search for my own daughter (who I adopted when she was one week old), I met a woman who had traveled to Romania to find “her” child. She had seen him on a “60 Minutes” television segment about the plight of orphaned children in Romania. She felt this one specific child calling out to her. It took her nine months of living in a foreign land, traveling all over the country from orphanage to orphanage, learning the language, to find this one child whom she had seen for only an instant on her television set. I asked her what about him had inspired her to undertake such a monumental task. She said, without a moment’s hesitation, “It was his eyes.” Continued

Psychoanalysis: A Treatment for the Soul

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Throughout my 40 years as a psychoanalyst, many of my patients have expressed interest in wanting to enter the territory of spirituality and authentic soul searching. They are surprised when I present the possibility of using their psychoanalytic therapy as a portal with which to explore this interest. When we understand the roots of what has come to be called “the talking cure,” we can see how deeply spiritual the psychoanalytic process is meant to be. Continued

The Joy (and Benefits) of Skipping

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Doubtless, you remember skipping as a child. Some of the moments of happiness you had as a child were surely when you were skipping. I don’t mean happiness as in content, or satisfied or feeling good or nice. I mean happy as in joyful. If you look around any playground, you will notice that any child who is skipping is also laughing — or at least smiling a big, broad grin. Skipping induces happiness; it did when you were seven, and it will have the same effect on you now that you are an adult. Continued

In Defense of Slow and Tedious: Quick-Fix Therapy or the Kind that Takes ‘Forever’?

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Since the New York Times published an article by psychotherapist Jonathan Alpert, “In Therapy Forever? Enough Already” (April 21, 2012), there has been lively debate within the psychotherapeutic community about the benefits of short-term, goal-oriented, advice-driven therapy vs. the longer, open-ended, free-associative linguistic wandering brand espoused and practiced by psychoanalysts. The lengthiness of treatment is a question that Freud, the originator of the notion “interminable” analysis, himself asked. He experimented for a time with what we might call today, “speed therapy” (comparable to “speed dating” — first impressions count for all). Ultimately, he wasn’t particularly impressed with the results. But Freud’s goal (in this seemingly “goalless” endeavor) was radically different from the goal of today’s popular short-term — often with adjunctive psychotropic drugs — therapies. Perhaps the best way of describing the difference is that the goal of short-term therapy is to feel “better,” which can translate into feeling “less.” On the other hand, the goal of psychoanalysis is to feel both “deeper” and more “outward” which, at least in the beginning of the process, might translate into feeling “more” and “worse.” Continued

My Rape; My Illegal Abortion; My Almost Dying; Reflections From 1968

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I was set to graduate from college in a few months. March 1968. I awoke to a voice telling me: “Don’t make a sound or I will kill you.” My screaming was instinctive, and I suppose I paid for that. I screamed and screamed, and the more I screamed, the more he hit me. Although there were four people in the apartment at the time, apparently no one heard me. When I tasted blood in my mouth from his brutal fists, the realization dawned on me that this man didn’t care how much he hurt me, and was willing, indeed, to kill me. I felt the saddest I had ever felt in my short life: not that I was going to die, but that I was going to die without being with any of the people who loved me. I acquiesced to the rape, and tolerated the soft words of his affection for my “titties,” as he called them. I had become so passive, he could have performed a lobotomy on me and I wouldn’t have let out a peep. Continued

What Everyone Should Know About the Flu

LESSONS

Lesson 1: We constantly have Streptococcus in our throats, yet we rarely experience Strep Throat. The same is true of cancer; Lewis Thomas, past President of Sloan-Kettering, proposed the prevailing theory of cancer – that we have cancer cells in our bodies all the time, but only when our immunity doesn’t recognize the cancer cells as pathogenic entities, are they allowed the replicate and cause health issues. The same is true of Swine Flu and other viral strains. Thus: good immunity; no flu. Continued

Important Documentaries

I have recently seen two documentaries that are important.

The first was begun by Ruth Sackman, who served as my first mentor in holistic health shortly after I moved to New York. In 1971, Ruth founded The Foundation for Advancement of Cancer Therapies, the first non-profit organization whose sole purpose was to dissiminate information about non-toxic, biological therapies for cancer (and all other abnormal bodily conditions). Ruth’s guidance saved my mother’s life as she struggled with the metastatic cancer (from breast to bone) that had afflicted her – and she was, thus, able to move from a wheel-chair to playing tennis again. Ruth died two years ago, at the age of 93, while the film was still in process. Continued

Radiation Hormesis

As the co-author (with Jay Gutierrez) of a recent book, Because People Are Dying, on the healing technology of radiation hormesis – the use of low-level radiation to strength the immune system and heal diseases — I felt I should give out as much credible information as I can about the disaster that is unfolding in Japan, and what that may mean to both the Japanese and to those of us who are safely tucked away in or own homes, watching with sympathy and tears of grief for all those who are suffering. Continued

Tesla Technology and Living Longer

For almost a year now I have been participating in an experiment which has the possibility of extending my life. The process is a bit bizarre. I lie on a mat which is energized by a contraption that makes a fair amount of noise, but most bizarrely, it makes my battery operated alarm clock go off every few minutes. Also, light bulbs held in my hand start glowing, even though they are not plugged into an outlet. Sounds kind of sci-fi – and I guess in a sense, it is. Continued

Who Decides What Treatment a Child Gets for Cancer?

I am happy to announce that I WILL NOT be arrested. I was running scared there for a while. As a member of the Nemenhah Native American Tribe, I was somewhat involved in the Danny Hauser case. If you haven’t been reading the papers in the last week, he is a 13-year-old boy, diagnosed with cancer, who told his mother after one chemotherapy session that he would not have another. There was a court hearing to decide if he could be forced into chemotherapy, and Danny told the judge that if they insisted on giving him more chemo, he would kick and bite anyone who tried to force him to have it. Continued

Victor Vega

The guy:

I have just returned from visiting my farm (formerly home to La Casa Resort Spa) in the rain forest of Puerto Rico. I took time out to meet a man I have been wanting to meet for quite a while. He is a physician, and an oncologist who did his internship and residency in radiation oncology at Johns Hopkins, and taught as an instructor in radiation oncology at my alma mater, Washington University (School of Medicine) as well as at the University of Miami School of Medicine. You can see from his credentials that for many years Victor treated cancer patients with standard medical protocols including chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Fifteen years ago, however, he threw in the towel of orthodox medicine and became a medical renegade, practicing only holistic medicine. Continued

Beautiful Better Best Breasts

The world is abuzz about Angelina’s recent decision to have both breasts removed — a double mastectomy. Angelina does not have cancer. She has the genetic marker(BRCA1 or BRCA2) for a specific form of breast cancer, thus, presumably, increasing her genetic predisposition for getting breast cancer at some point in her life. Angelina stated that she hopes “that other women will benefit” from her experience. Continued

The Two Best Brains You Have (After The One in Your Head)

The Two Best Brains You Have (after the one in your head)

The nutritionist who saved my mother’s life from terminal cancer – Bernard Jensen – was fairly obsessed with bowels. He wrote a book called Tissue Cleansing through Bowel Management, which was a seminal book on understanding the relationship between the bowel/the gut and health. He also developed the colema board, a kind of home colonic unit that Ruth Sackman, founder of the Foundation of the Advancement of Cancer Therapies, had all her cancer patients using. My mother was one of Ruth’s patients, and she used it diligently as one of the methods of detoxifying her body. We attributed my mother’s cure from terminal cancer, in part, to her consistent cleansing of her bowel. (The other changes were committing to a nutritional program that emphasized live foods, and finding emotional balance through the process of psychoanalysis.) Continued