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Results of Lack of Nurture

what is nurture?
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Bonding and Attachment
More About Empathy
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Results of Lack of Nurture
Nurturing Your Children
Turning Nurture Inward
Nurturing Mother Earth
Re-parenting / Self Parenting & Nurturing Adult Children
Nurturing Spirituality
Nurture in Business

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How a Mother Gets Depleted
© Rick Hanson, Ph.D. and Jan Hanson, L.Ac. 2001, 2002
Before having kids, I had a lot of energy and felt very healthy. But now, with a 4 year old and a baby, I'm run down, I get colds frequently, and my menstrual cycle has gotten more intense. My doctor's sympathetic but says I'm fine. What do you think?

We've heard statements like this one from nearly every mother we've ever met. Many of them think in the back of their minds that they must be doing something wrong.

But in fact, you feel the way you do for very concrete, physical reasons, and understanding those reasons gives you clarity, eliminates self-blame and guilt, and points you toward solutions.

Think about it: motherhood is profoundly fulfilling . . . but it is also the most physically demanding and stressful activity most people - whether women or men - will ever do, and it gets done day after day for twenty or more years. The job is harder the more kids you have, or if any of your children have special needs like a challenging temperament, disability, or health problem.

Some dads are great: skillful with the kids and committed to parenthood, they do their fair share around the house and are sympathetic and supportive. But let's face it: many are not. The average mom works about twenty hours more per week, altogether, than does her partner, regardless of whether she's drawing a paycheck. And if you're rearing your children essentially alone, as do one in five mothers, you're getting little to no help from a partner at all.

Plus most mothers are raising a family today in an environment that is vastly different from - and at odds with - the one in which human beings are adapted to and are meant to have kids. The frantic pace, lack of supportive community, scary culture, need to juggle work and home, toxic pollutants that even appear in breast milk, mediocre nutrition, etc., etc. all wear on a mother's mind and body.

As a result of all these factors, research has shown that raising a family is associated with generally poorer health in a woman, especially as the number of her pregnancies increases. In particular, studies have found that motherhood raises a woman's risk for:

  • fatigue
  • cardiovascular disease
  • nutritional deficits
  • hormonal problems
  • diabetes
  • kidney disease
  • gallbladder disease
  • some kinds of cancer
  • depression
  • a higher overall mortality rate

Even when a mother seems to have a purely mental concern - such as irritability, poor memory, or a blue mood - there is often, in fact, something awry with her body. It all adds up over time. You're pouring out more and handling more stresses, but taking less in.

It's no wonder if you feel used up, emptied out - in a word, DEPLETED. Besides being a psychological experience, your body could be getting depleted as well, which means both that its vital nutrients are becoming drained and its key systems are getting unregulated.

Motherhood is not a medical issue, but depletion is. Every year, it impacts millions of American women and their family members, and it probably leads to billions of dollars in health care expenses and lost productivity.

So we don't think you're "fine." Sure, you're not ready for the hospital - but you shouldn't have to be in the Emergency Room to get the care that will help you feel really good, rather than merely not-sick!

In future columns, you can learn about proven methods for getting the stress relief, nutrition, health care, teamwork, and intimacy you need. They will prevent depletion and build up your well-being, so that this wonderful time in your life is as good as it can possibly be.

And meanwhile, you can start feeling better about things just knowing that you are not alone, that objective factors have brought you to this point (not a personal failing!), and that there are plenty of good ways to improve your health and your mood.

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    10 Reasons to Take Good Care of a Mother
     © Rick Hanson, Ph.D., and Jan Hanson, L.Ac., 2005

    It's funny: during my pregnancy, I took really good care of myself plus got a lot of attention and support from my doctor, husband, and relatives. Even strangers would stop me in the market and remind me to get lots of rest. But now, a year after Allie was born, I feel like I've fallen off of everybody's radar. It's like you're expected to do life - go to the job, do housework, drive around, shop, pay bills, get gas, etc. - just like before, as if the infant you're still super responsible for is not a factor at all.

    But she's a HUGE factor, of course! I think about her all the time, I'm the person who mainly takes care of her when I'm not at work, I still get up at night and don't sleep that well, and I feel, honestly, more and more run down. And she's just a year old! Where is this going, and why doesn't anybody seem to notice?!

    Wow, you definitely said it there. You're totally right: having a child is absolutely a big deal, and there's no longer the strong network of social support for it - from relatives, friends, and neighbors - that there was in generations past, let alone in the hunter-gatherer groups in which humans evolved.

    And many fathers have not stepped up to fill the vacuum: the average mother is working away about 20 hours a week more than her partner is, whether or not she's drawing a paycheck. As result, the day-to-day -- minute-to-minute -- activities of caring for a young child usually fall mainly to the mother.

    Precious Work
    It's precious work, certainly. But like everything in life, it has effects. Over time, everything you pour out, everything you do, adds up. Most mothers report feeling pretty worn out and often frazzled by the end of their baby's first year, and our experience is that actually the deepest slump typically occurs a few years after the baby is born, especially if there's been a second child or another significant stressor (like a move, mom goes back to paid work, or the child has a real challenging temperament).

    Inevitable Effects
    As a result, studies have shown that having one or more children - especially when there's not much support for her role - increases the chance that a woman will experience physical or mental health problems, including:

    • fatigue
    • depressed mood
    • anxiety
    • feeling overwhelmed
    • Type 2 diabetes
    • nutritional deficits
    • autoimmune illnesses

    Lack of support also wears on a relationship, breeding resentments, the sense of being let down, no interest in sex, and lots of quarrels. The bottom-line: many mothers get physically and psychologically depleted during the early years of parenthood, some to the extent that we have proposed that there can be an actual Depleted Mother Syndrome (DMS).

    Impacts on the Family
    one of this is good for the mother, to be sure. And it cannot help but spill over onto the children, both in terms of less patience and energy for them as well as the impact on them of problems in their parents' relationship. Plus it naturally affects fathers, too.

    Researchers have found that fathers who are more involved in the daily life of the family and strong teammates with the mother have better mood, more sense of pride in their competence as a parent, and a closer and more satisfying relationship with their partner. Not bad!

    A Crying Shame
    Even though the effects of maternal stress and depletion are plainly visible in well-documented research - an affect society as a whole through increased health care expenses, lost workforce productivity, and the social costs of divorce - there's been shockingly little attention to the needs of mothers.

    You're right: as a mother, you disappeared off the radar of the health care system after your final postpartum appointment and whether you had a child became medically irrelevant.

    At the National Institute of Health or the Centers for Disease Control, there's zero attention to the long-term health and well-being of mothers. Few psychology graduate schools teach anything about how to help women with the unique and chronic stresses of raising a family, or how to help couples with kids be strong teammates while preserving an intimate friendship.

    In the culture as a whole, a positive sign is a growing willingness to help with postpartum depression and with the longer-term challenges of learning and rearing children. Nonetheless, mothers still get routinely told that their weariness, blue mood, and out-of-whack bodies are "just in your head, get over it."

    There's guilt and shame about not being able to live up to models in the media of the woman who can work full-time, have cute and well-mannered kids, stay trim and fit, and have a shiny clean kitchen sink. With the common lack of support for childrearing at many levels - from fathers, from extended family, and from government policies - many mothers feel torn between giving their children the very best and giving their occupation/career the very best . . . . and few are entirely happy with whatever compromise they end up making.

    Adding insult to injury, a lot of this gets internalized within mothers, making them feel weak or guilty about doing "selfish" things for themselves, asking for help, or insisting that others pull their fair share of the weight.

    It All Starts with Motivation
    It will probably be a long time before much changes at the level of government policies or culture. And in our experience, to be blunt, many fathers do not just wake up one day and see the light on their own.

    Consequently, it is usually up to the mother to take a big breath, stand up, and assert why it's right and proper for her to get appropriate attention, support, and care. Those good reasons are motivating for her and for others -- and that's where everything starts in life: with our intentions.

    So please take a look at the box for our list of ten good reasons to support mothers. They're all based on solid experience, research, and ethical reasoning. There's no special treatment here: if men were the ones having babies, the same list would apply to them. And feel free to add reasons of your own!

    In Conclusion
    Mothers get stressed and depleted over time through the accumulation of a thousand little things. Therefore, it is through doing little things each day that are good for you that you accumulate a growing pile of positive resources for your health, well-being, strong teamwork, and lasting love.

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    Humanizing Prisons with Animals: A Closer Look at "Cell Dogs" and Horse Programs in Correctional Institutions

    by Deaton, Christiane


    If correctional education aims to transform individuals and bring about change, we need to consider the whole person who comes with human needs, emotions and attitudes. In order to expand our approach, alternative programs should be explored.

    A somewhat unusual but very promising approach to address offenders' human needs is the use of animals in institutions. The majority of these programs have a vocational skills component: Inmates train dogs to become service dogs for the disabled, or they work with horses, either wild mustangs or retired race horses in need of rehabilitation. Although vocational training is certainly a major consideration, these programs are also highly therapeutic and rehabilitative.

    Suggested outcomes can benefit many:

    • the inmate
    • the institution
    • other agencies
    • the community

    The purpose of this article is to raise awareness of selected animal-assisted programs in correctional institutions and their reported benefits.



    Traditionally, educational programs in correctional institutions which intend to rehabilitate (or habilitate) adult and juvenile offenders stay within proven, safe parameters considered appropriate for this setting. Most address specific "deficits" of the offender, such as lack of vocational skills, basic education needs/GED, drug and alcohol abuse, etc..

    The delivery of these programs is based on the underlying rational assumption:

    "This is what you need to succeed in society. You don't have it. Here's the solution if you want to turn your life around."

    While this approach is helpful in increasing the offender's knowledge or skills and might work for some, it is limited. If correctional education aims to transform individuals and bring about change, it is necessary to consider the whole person inside the uniform, who always comes with human needs, emotions and attitudes.

    Depending on one's perspective, correctional education can be defined in different ways: Program-based (where correctional education is an institutional program), situational (education taking place inside correctional institutions) or inherent (emphasizing the correctional dimension and the teaching of confined offenders who have human needs) (Gehring, 2004).

    While the inherent definition is the most comprehensive, it is also the most challenging:

    It is conceivable to provide educational programs in prison, or to deliver education in a correctional setting, but how do we address human needs of incarcerated individuals?

    Taking this concept one step further, Zollman (1993) stated:

    "Education that remains merely on the surface of human life, that fails to go to the heart of being, will inevitably fail in being correctional or, in other words, formative, reformative, and transformative" (p. 93).

    How, then, can correctional educators address human needs, emotions or attitudes? After all, incarceration is not a therapeutic endeavor - we are not supposed to make prisoners "feel good" in correctional institutions which are punitive by nature.

    Based on what could be called a "dilemma" at best and "mission impossible" at worst, it is helpful to look outside the proverbial box toward alternative approaches. One such approach that provides opportunities to meet basic human needs such as love, acceptance, respect, trust, self-worth and usefulness involves incarcerated individuals caring for other living things, especially animals.

    Utilizing animals in institutional programs opens important dimensions; where human caregivers and teachers step on treacherous ground, we are likely to encounter less opposition to the idea of using animals to promote healing and change.

    Animal-assisted programs in correctional institutions have gained increased media attention, especially after the cable channel Animal Planet aired several episodes of its "Cell Dogs" documentary. It features a number of programs in correctional facilities across the country where inmates train dogs either for service to the disabled, or to be adoptable by the public.

    Other institutions offer programs where inmates train and work with horses, either by rehabilitating retired racehorses or gentling wild mustangs. At first, it appears that the majority of these programs provide vocational skills, work experience, or a service to the community. Upon taking a closer look, it becomes evident they are also highly therapeutic. Working with animals provides meaningful experiences for incarcerated individuals during which many important life lessons are learned.

    The purpose of this article is to raise awareness of selected animal-assisted programs and their reported benefits in correctional institutions. Although much of what we know is based on observation, anecdotal evidence and self-report, these programs are certainly more than "the latest fad" or "media darlings." As with any developing field, there is more literature available on practice than on research.

    This article is therefore intended to introduce a larger number of correctional education professionals to animal-assisted activities and encourage them to explore this promising approach.


    Theoretical Framework

    The idea of using animals in institutions is certainly not new, nor is it based on a whim by animal lovers. Its origin can be traced to the concept of the human animal bond (HAB), a term first conveyed by pioneers such as Konrad Lorenz and Boris Levinson whose work greatly influenced the scientific community in the 1970s and 1980s, predominantly in the field of veterinary medicine (Mines, 2003).

    Hines pointed out that while this emerging field attempted to be interdisciplinary early on, it gained credibility and recognition through presentations at national and international interdisciplinary conferences and their subsequent proceedings.

    In 1985, Karen Miller Alien published the first annotated bibliography on the human-animal bond. Today, HAB is widely recognized and accepted, largely as a result of the media coverage on community programs which utilized pets as therapeutic agents.

    The Delta Society, an international organization established in 1977 in Portland, Oregon, has become a leading resource for the human-animal bond and the important role of animals for people's health and well-being. Professionals such as Phil Arkow of the Humane Society and Leo Bustad, a founder of the Delta Society, were among the first to take animals into nursing homes in the late 70s and 80s.

    Since then, these early activities have evolved. After being originally referred to as pet therapy or pet-facilitated therapy (PFT), they were defined by the Delta Society as "animal-assisted activities" (AAA) and "animal-assisted therapy" (AAT) (Hines, 2003).

    According to the Delta Society's definitions, animal-assisted activities (AAA) are "goal-directed activities that improve a client's quality of life through the use of the human-animal bond" (Granger and Kogan, 2000, p. 214), whereas animal-assisted therapy (AAT) is a "goal-directed intervention that utilizes the human-animal bond as an integral part of the treatment process" (p. 213).

    As with many other disciplines that are still in the early phases of professional development, there is no general agreement on how AAA or AAT is to be conducted. We find many variations, depending on setting and target population. A variety of animals are used, ranging from small animals such as birds, fish, rabbits, dogs and cats to larger animals such as horses and farm animals, even dolphins. Activities take place in a number of settings, including long-term care facilities, nursing homes, hospitals, schools, as well as institutional settings.

    Cusack (1988) suggested in the early stages of the development of this field that "animals can be vitally important for the fringe groups of society; prisoners, the physically challenged, and the mentally ill" (p. 33). He further stressed that "perhaps most important, pets seem to bring out the best in us.

    If there is a capacity for affection, compassion, for empathy or tenderness overlooked by our human fellows, a pet has an uncanny ability to ferret it out" (p.33). Similarly, Beck and Katcher (1983) concluded that "when people face real adversity...affection from a pet takes on new meaning.

    Then the pet's continuing affection is a sign that the essence of the person has not been damaged" (p. 31). These conclusions support the idea that animal-assisted activities in prison can allow incarcerated individuals to feel human again - a first step towards healing and change.


    Historical Background & Early Programs

    The first recorded use of AFT took place in 1792 at the York Retreat in England, an asylum run by a Quaker group, where common farm animals were used as part of the treatment and as an alternative to restraints and drugs (Beck, 2000). In 1867, Bethel was founded in Bielefeld, Germany, as a home for epileptics where animals were an integral part of treatment; today, Bethel has grown into a center of healing for the disadvantaged with more than 5,000 patients (Catanzaro, 2003).

    In the United States, the first well-documented use of animals for rehabilitative purposes took place in 1944 at the Army Air Force Convalescent Center in Pawling, New York, where dogs, horses and farm animals were used as a diversion from the intense therapeutic programs for airmen (Beck, 2000). In 1947, Green Chimneys, a 75-acre farm near Brewster, New York, was founded as a home for emotionally and mentally disabled children and adolescents by the Ross family.

    Still in operation today, Green Chimneys has expanded to over 160 acres and has become a social service agency which now serves children and adults from New York and surrounding regions. It is considered the strongest and most diverse of its kind involving farm, animal, plant and wildlife assisted activities where human-animal interactions have been an active component for over 50 years, despite many organizational changes (Mallon and Ross, 2000).

    In 1975, David Lee pioneered the first successful animal therapy program in a U.S. prison at the Oakwood Forensic Center (formerly the Lima State Hospital for the Criminally Insane) in Lima, Ohio. Lee (1987) noticed an improvement in some men after they found an injured bird and smuggled it into the institution where they fed and cared for it in an attempt to save its life.

    Lee consequently initiated a 90-day experiment which exceeded all expectations. A study conducted at Lima in 1981 compared patients on a ward with pets to patients on a ward without pets. Lee reported that "the patients with pets needed half as much medication, had drastically reduced incidents of violence and had no suicide attempts during the year-long comparison" (p. 232).

    The "ward without pets had eight documented suicide attempts during the same year" (p. 232). At Lima, long-term patients keep their pets such as birds, hamsters, fish or other small animals living in their cells. Patients who stay for short terms before being returned to prison visit and work with farm animals such as deer, goats, ducks, geese and rabbits.

    Eight years after its inception, the program was using more than 170 pets and was considered highly successful. Lee concluded that an institution can receive the following benefits from a therapeutic pet program:

    • "1. A comfortable atmosphere.
    • 2. An improved sense of patient self-worth.
    • 3. A necessary diversion.
    • 4. Providing companionship" (p. 235).

    The underlying philosophy is to help patients help themselves. Lima began to train dogs for the Pilot Dog program (which provides free guide dogs for the blind) in 1996.


    What began as a dream for Kathy Quinn, now known as Sister Pauline, laid the foundation for starting over 17 dog training programs in different correctional facilities. Quinn got together with Dr. Leo Bustad, another pioneer in the field of AAT, and they began a dog training program at the Washington Correction Center for Women in Gig Harbor.

    The reported benefits of this program are numerous:

    The incarcerated women developed a marketable skill, experienced an increase in self-esteem, and earned college credit. In addition, dogs from the humane society that would otherwise have been killed were trained to become service dogs for people with special needs (Strimple, 2003).

    Another pioneer in the field of AAT is Dr. Ron Zaidlicz who began a horse training program at the state penitentiary in Canon City, Colorado, in the late 1970s. The penitentiary had bought three wild mustangs from the Bureau of Land Management but was unable to train them. Zaidlicz's program, even though it had not been intended to teach vocational skills, allowed inmates to learn equine husbandry, from gentling wild horses to treating injuries and illnesses, with some men becoming ferriers. Inmates also learned how to care and trust. As an added benefit, the Department of Corrections made money to support the prison (Strimple, 2003).

    A similar initiative, the Wild Mustang Program, operated at the Southern New Mexico Correctional Facility from 1988 to 1992. It began in response to a need to tame and train wild horses in danger of starvation. After the Bureau of Land Management began to remove wild horses from overcrowded public land, it created a partnership with the New Mexico Department of Corrections.

    Inmates would halter break the mustangs and prepare them to be sold to the general public. Granger and Kogan (2000) concluded that "this program was a win-win situation. The horses were handled humanely, the NMBLM was able to improve its public image, and the correctional facility was able to offer work to its inmates that did not threaten any private industry" (p. 224).

    In 1992, Gushing and Williams (1995) prepared a comprehensive research study of the Wild Mustang Program which included qualitative and quantitative evidence. The results of this study can be summarized as follows:

    Subjective assessments revealed that inmates assumed a nurturing role by caring for the mustangs.

    As a staff member commented:

    This program gave them the opportunity to know themselves. They didn't know that they could give affection, and be gentle. They had to be able to give peace to the horse. They had a responsibility to the horse and had to pull these attitudes out of themselves in order to do the job. (p. 101)

    In addition, inmates experienced a sense of autonomy by being in charge of their project and accomplishing a common goal. While the corrals were built just outside the facility, not one inmate tried to escape.

    Another perceived benefit was that inmates worked through and overcame the danger of being near these wild horses:

    "The inmates would be 'taking the fear out' of themselves at the same time they were 'taking the fear out' of the mustang" (p.102).

    The local administration stated that inmates developed increased self-esteem and self-confidence. This sense of accomplishment was shared by corrections staff who viewed the program as providing meaningful and productive work.


    Overall, the qualitative evidence suggested the Wild Mustang Program contributed to better emotional and psychological states of the inmates and staff. Furthermore, the study's data analysis revealed that of the 56 men who had participated in the WMP and been released, only 14 had been reincarcerated in New Mexico for an estimated recidivism rate of 25% percent.

    This figure was considerably lower than the average recidivism rate for New Mexico (38.12%) although the authors warned that evidence regarding recidivism is inconclusive. Their data did support, on the other hand, that "participation in the WMP is clearly associated with a reduction in the overall number of disciplinary reports and the severity of reports swung away from major to minor" (p. 106).

    Interestingly, the study revealed that if WMP participants also received substance abuse counseling, disciplinary reports decreased by 55%. The authors concluded their study by stating that their efforts "reveal strong subjective assessments of positive benefits of the seems advisable to continue the Wild Mustang effort with more attention to the evaluation research needed..." (p.110).


    Examples of Recent Programs

    Animal training programs in correctional facilities have increased since their first appearance in a few facilities. The following is a brief description of recent programs that focus on training dogs or horses. By including a training component, these programs offer measurable benefits, such as vocational skills, and provide a service to the community by training animals which otherwise would be of little use.

    Programs that go beyond strictly therapeutic goals prevail, perhaps because they are less likely to encounter resistance by the correctional system or the general public. The lack of journal articles on the subject led to a preliminary search of general news media. It returned 16 newspaper articles published during the past five years that feature dog and horse programs in correctional facilities.

    While these articles cannot provide any research-based evidence of the effectiveness of the programs, they inform the reader of current practices and reported benefits which might stimulate further interest. The programs are grouped by type of animal used and listed in chronological order of the article's publication date (please note that, with the exception of the Walkill and Hickey program, no attempt was made to verify that the programs are still operating).

    Dog Training Programs

    At the Washington State Correctional Center for Women, a maximum security facility, inmates are training dogs to be service animals for the disabled. They must first pass a 12-week training course which teaches them the basics of dog care, grooming and training.

    Part of their day is spent at the prison kennel where dozens of dogs and a few cats are boarded by private owners. Fees for these services, together with donations and grants, fund the non-profit program. As a result of limited funding, only about 10 women can take part in the program at a time. Since it started, over 75 women had participated. This program is considered a situation:

    It's good for the dogs, often adopted from shelters where they'd otherwise be killed. It's good for the disabled, who experience a new world of freedom with the dogs at their side. And it can forever change the lives of the inmates. ("Inmates Learning," 2000, p. A2)

    The article cites the following inmate testimony:

    "I've learned responsibility. I know now it depends on me to change my life...Doing this has given me some self-esteem. This is something I can do" (p. A2).

    According to this source, the program participants' recidivism rate over three years was zero (although no reference was made how the data was obtained).


    A similar dog training program was launched at the Downeast Correctional Facility, a medium-security prison in Maine, in 1999. Puppies donated by breeders spend about a year in training performed by male inmates. After graduation, they are placed with a disabled person in the community by the National Education for Assistance Dogs Services.

    The program is run by Clara Grover, a full-time guard with a background in training show dogs, who takes the dogs, accompanied by their inmate trainers, into town daily to become accustomed to crowds and noises in the real world.

    This socialization effect benefits not only the dogs but also the inmates. Cold (2000) suggested that "a year into the program at the Maine prison, there have been two clear results:

    a decrease in prison tension that surprised even corrections officials and some extraordinary well-trained dogs" (p. B12).

    She cited the commissioner of the Maine Department of Corrections, Martin Magnusson, to support her findings:

    "The bonding that the prisoners have with these dogs by caring for them is visible throughout the prison environment. For some inmates, this is their first encounter as a positive role model for the community" (p. B12).

    The impact of this program on participants appears considerable:

    "I think totally differently. I have a more positive outlook, and I daily learn to be more patient" (p. B12).

    In 2000, the program also planned to add dog training and grooming to the vocational classes offered by the institution.

    The Prison Pup Program at Bland Correctional Center in Virginia, a medium-security facility, also trains puppies to be used as service dogs. After a year of training, they are turned over to the St. Francis of Assisi Service Dog Foundation in Roanoke for placement.

    After Hough, the training director at Francis who supervises the program, gave the inmates dog training manuals, she was impressed that all of the inmates had read them cover to cover, twice (Hammack, 2002, p.B16). She pointed out that "puppies raised by inmates seem to learn faster. Not only do the inmates have lots of spare time, but they also crave the companionship a dog can provide behind bars" (p. B16).

    The article also quotes Marie Suthers-McCabe, a veterinary professor specializing in human-animal interaction who studied the program:

    "It's a really good character-building exercise because it's an opportunity to give back to society" (p. B16).

    One of the inmates agreed with her:

    "It's not about me,'s about the dogs and the program and the handicapped people....You feel like you're doing something productive instead of just wasting away."

    Another inmate stated that "it puts you back in touch with what it means to be a human being" (p. B16).


    The Pen Pals program at the James River Correctional Center in Virginia began in 2001 and is designed to save unwanted dogs at public shelters from euthanasia by turning them into adoptable pets. Its training program is funded and operated by Save Our Shelters, an animal protection group.

    The cable channel "Animal Planet" aired a one-hour episode of its "Cell Dogs" program earlier this year which documented this program's success. Out of 60 dogs trained, all but one completed the program (Baskervill, 2003).

    However, the dogs are certainly not the only ones who benefit. The article quotes Warden Sam Pruett as he expressed the program's influence on prison life:

    "As an animal lover myself, I think having animals in the institution...contributes to the overall morale of inmates and staff" (Baskervill, p. C3).

    In 2003, the Second Chance Prison Canine Program, founded by Gayle Woods, started a prison program to train service dogs at the medium-security Florence Correctional Center in Arizona, a private prison operated by Corrections Corporation of America.

    Woods, who is a retired nurse and has multiple sclerosis, concluded that "not only do these men transform the lives of these dogs, they transform their own lives" (Matas, 2003, p. B1). Even though Florence Correctional Center already offered vocational and life skills classes, they decided to add dog training after they learned about the successful program at another Corrections Corporation facility, Kit Carson Correctional Center in Burlington, Colorado.

    Its warden, Hoyt Brill, stated that during the 18 months the dog program was running, the prison atmosphere changed:

    "It brings a quietness, a gentleness....It gives our inmates a chance to give back to the community. Most of them have never been involved in something where they had to give. They're takers" (Matas, p. B1).

    A 29-year old inmate who is serving time for murder concluded:

    "I spent a lot of time being cold-hearted, or trying to be anyway, and coming back to your true self is love and being loved, and these dogs need love" (p. B1).

    Additional information about the second Chance Prison Canine Program and excellent links to other sources can be found at their website:

    Another dog training program featured in an episode of "Cell Dogs" is located at the Branchville Correctional Center in Indiana. After completing 12-15 months of training, the dogs become service dogs to children and teens with physical, mental or emotional disabilities.

    This program is also supported through donations of food, equipment and medical care; volunteers take the dogs on trips outside the prison to get them used to different environments (Hayden, 2004).

    Branchville's superintendent had heard about another successful program in Indiana, and after further investigation decided to start a program himself, despite the prison staff's reservations about bringing pets into prison as sort of a privilege. This concern was soon eliminated when everyone realized the rigorous training schedule and hard work required by the trainers.


    While the programs previously described all are implemented at adult facilities, Project Pooch matches unwanted dogs with incarcerated youths who provide obedience training to prepare them for adoption as family pets. Founded in 1993, Project Pooch was implemented at the Oregon Youth Authority's McLaren Juvenile Correctional Facility. It is one of the few programs where results were documented in a three-year study by Sandra Merriam-Arduini, Ph. D., Pepperdine University, California.

    Her research results include considerable behavior improvement by students in the areas of respect for authority, social interaction and leadership. Students who completed the program reported improvement in the areas of honesty, empathy, nurturing, social growth, self-confidence and pride of accomplishment. A zero recidivism rate was also reported (Strimple, 2003).

    Horse Programs

    Using horses in animal programs at correctional institutions is obviously only feasible where appropriate facilities can be set up nearby. In addition, safety is a legitimate concern when handling these large animals.

    Yet, working with horses can provide a powerful, unique experience. Currently, horses are used in correctional facilities for two basic purposes: To gentle and train wild mustangs for sale to the public, or to rehabilitate retired racehorses. Both approaches show very encouraging results.

    At Colorado's largest prison complex in Canon City, inmates train wild mustangs in a program administered by the Bureau of Land Management that began in 1987. The horses are gathered from rangelands to balance wild horse population. After training, they are sold at prison auctions.

    Lloyd (1997) suggested "this unusual program is a significant footnote to an era when society is meting out stiffer sentences, prison populations are soaring, and rehabilitation is often discouraged" (pg. 1). She addressed potential skepticism as follows:

    Still, the idea of melding prisoners with mustangs - which to many epitomize freedom - is an odd antithesis. Yet, for the 30 or so inmates ...the decade-old program isn't just about tasting freedom from the back of a magnificent animal. It is an arduous exercise in discipline, patience, and courage. Prisoners often find their limits tested, (p.1)

    The article also cites inmates' responses to the program: "It teaches that you have to use something other than violence to deal with [the challenge] have to learn to finesse your way through it" (p. 1).

    Another inmate pointed out:

    "You gain life skills from this....They are all different, so you have to be flexible...You have to be patient. You have to get over a lot of humps as far as fear is concerned" (p. 1).

    Prison officials also believe that giving inmates an opportunity to bond with the horses helps them prepare for life outside prison. They report that the participants' recidivism rate is much lower than the national average - 45% vs. 75%.

    In addition to their hands-on training, inmates participate in 160 hours of classroom education, including basic horse care and veterinary medicine, and learn business-management skills which may lead to a job after their release. The program generates a considerable profit from the sale of the horses - $50,000 in 1996 - since horses are sold typically between $700 and $800 (less the $150 adoption fee which goes back to the BLM) (Lloyd, 1997).


    A similar operation began in 1987 at the California Correctional Center in Susanville, a minimum security facility. While this facility offers many vocational training options, the certified 90-day horse gentling program is one of the most popular (Snyder, 1998).

    The corrals are located on Corrections property but outside the barbed wire of the prison. By using the resistance-free method, inmates and horses learn how to trust and respect each other. One inmate cited in the article summarized the program's multiple benefits:

    This is probably the best program the CDC puts out....You get out from behind the wall, work with horses and learn a lot, about horses and life. The horses come in wild and go out to the public gentle. And it's the same for the inmates. Out here we are all equal....We don't play the race card, and you learn you can go as far as you really want to. (p. Z1)

    For many inmates participating in this program, the most rewarding part comes when they show "their" horses to the public for adoption, as expressed in the words of this inmate:

    I know everyone considers us vermin and convicts, and sure, we screwed up....But the last time they held an adoption, the outside people gave us all a round of applause, and for the first time in a long time, we felt like real human beings, (p. Z1)

    The Wyoming Honor Farm in Riverton began its wild horse training program in 1989 at this minimum security State prison. They offer partially trained horses to the public in a cooperative effort with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Ron Hall, BLM wild horse and burro manager in Rock Springs, considers it "...the most successful cooperative arrangement in the country....It helps the horse, the BLM, the inmate and the adopter" (Svan, 2000, p. A36).

    Svan suggested that the program is a success story because it turns out two products that are a benefit to society - trained horses and inmates who are better prepared for life outside confinement, having learned such life skills as respect, facing their fears and admitting their shortcomings.

    Several other horse programs at correctional facilities began with a quite different purpose: To rehabilitate retired race horses. When the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation was looking for properties to house their horses, they discovered an opportunity to utilize a 110-acre parcel of abandoned dairy acreage at the Walkill Correctional Facility in New York (Crist, 1989).

    An agreement with the New York State Department of Correctional Services was reached, and they began a program where low-risk prisoners would learn how to take care of retired racehorses. From its beginning in 1984, it has been evident that this program is rehabilitating humans as well as horses.

    It is considered an "extraordinary vocational-training program...that is providing renewed hope and a second chance for...inmates and ...retired race horses" (Crist, p. 7). Many of the race horses had been discarded or neglected, heading for the meat auction after they no longer had economic value at the end of their racing careers.

    After they arrive at the facility, inmates care for the horses and nurse them back to physical and emotional health; this healing process affects not only the horses, but the inmates as well.


    In what can be considered a mutually benefiting relationship, horses and inmates help each other. Jim Tremper, head of the vocational training program, said he had seen the horses change the prisoners' lives as much as they changed the horses'. "Especially the more violent guys....a lot of them have intimidated people with their size in their lives, and they seem to respect the power and strength of the animal. It humbles many of them" (Wise, 2003, p. 1). At the same time, the program offers much more than rehabilitative therapy.

    While half of the students' time is spent working with horses, the other half takes place in the classroom where inmates complete a one-year course based on a State accredited curriculum developed by the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation (Crist, p. 7). The program also attempts to place graduates in racetrack or farm jobs after they are released.

    The Department of Correctional Services has been working with officials to license these men on a case-by-case basis. Crist concluded that "the Walkill program will provide a supply of unusually skilled and motivated candidates for those [race-track or farm] jobs, if the state will license them and the trainers will give them a chance" (p. 7).

    Another program of this kind operates at the Charles Mickey School in Baltimore, Maryland, a juvenile detention center. Andre Wheeler, who manages the farm on behalf of the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, expresses how the emotional connections juveniles make by caring for the horses help to turn their lives around.

    "What they [the horses] are giving back to these kids is an unconditional love that they don't have" (Pedulla, 2001, p. C3).

    The program's effect on the lives of incarcerated juveniles, while difficult to measure and largely based on personal experience, is profound. "I needed a change in my life, and without something dramatic happening, I don't think I would have changed" (p. C3).

    These words came from a 17-year old who looked forward to graduating and continuing his education in college; he said the horse program and farm experience at Mickey "helped him cope with the feeling of losing his freedom for the first time" (p. 3C).

    Betty Jo Bock, a vocational trainer in the Florida Department of Corrections cited in this article, attributes the dramatic results of the combination of inmates and horses to the following: "Many inmates lack social upbringing and rely on power and control. To work with a horse, you have to have effective communication" (p. C3). Pedulla concluded that "in working to create that safe and comfortable environment for the horses, many inmates must depart from the conduct that cost them their freedom" (p. C3).

    Other programs operated by the Thoroughbred Retirement foundations are located at the Blackburn correctional facility in Kentucky, the James Crabtree Correctional Facility in Oklahoma, and the Marion Correctional Institute in Ocala, Florida. Since 1999, the Blackburn farm has been operating next to the prison on 100 acres donated by the State of Kentucky.

    Even though the pastures extend to the interstate freeway and it would be easy to escape, no one has attempted it; inmates say that "they count themselves lucky to be doing something worthwhile" (Simon, 2001, p. A5).

    This arrangement seems to work for all parties involved:

    "The prison gets a job-training program. The foundation gets free labor. The horses get devoted care. And the men get a chance to feel good about themselves" (p. A5).

    At Crabtree, inmates take care of burros, mustangs, riding horses, quarter horses and thoroughbreds at its Vo-Tech Equine Center. This five-acre facility also contracts with the Bureau of Land Management to train mustangs in Oklahoma's only open bay correctional facility. Of the men that graduated from the horse program, 70% have found work with race horses or the agricultural industry (Ferguson, 2003).

    Apparently, not only the retired race horses get a second chance through this program of the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation (TRF) (which is funded entirely by donations). The TRF has spent about 20 years trying to save these horses; in 2001, it was sheltering 335 horses, including 134 on prison facilities that were taken care of by about five dozen inmates (Simon, 2001). More information can be obtained at their website:



    Despite lack of research on the overall effectiveness of these programs, there is reasonable evidence that they can be highly successful. In all of the programs discussed in this article, adult or juvenile offenders learn new skills while being engaged physically, mentally and most often emotionally.

    The animals can facilitate a change within the individual which cannot easily be matched by traditional methods. Others, such as the institution, its staff, and the community benefit as well. Animals that might otherwise be destroyed or of little value are also being helped. When properly implemented, these programs can provide a "win-win" approach.

    Skeptics might argue that giving prisoners puppies or working with horses under blue sky sounds more like a vacation than punishment. Alternative approaches such as animal-assisted programs will certainly not appeal to institutions where the "get tough" approach replaces rehabilitative efforts. But for those of us in correctional education who want to transform individuals and prepare them for a successful life in the community after their release, animal assisted activities are a promising approach that can aid our efforts.

    As in any developing field, there is a need for research studies that can support claims made by individuals in support of these programs. Research-based evidence of their effectiveness would certainly add validity to this field. It is difficult to increase general support and expand innovative ideas without evaluation of measurable data.

    Careful consideration should be given to designing these studies. Any single program cannot be a "cure-all"; in most cases, a comprehensive approach is necessary to bring about true change. Establishing animal-assisted programs might initially require considerable persuasion.

    However, while the risks involved might have been considerable for the institutions that pioneered the programs, it should be easier today to become involved since the reported results are so positive. These programs certainly deserve a closer look.

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    Out of a Deeper Hunger

    In this article I talk about the insatiable quality of unmet needs which are the deeper hunger that is the essence of Borderline Personality Disorder.

    By A.J. Mahari © 2005-2007

    Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) develops out of a deeper hunger. This deeper hunger is brought about by a proliferation of insatiability which has many causes. Borderlines have an initial deeper hunger because their needs in the developmental stages of life go unmet. This leads to what Rado (1956) termed as "affect hunger".

    Affect is defined in the "Synopsis of Psychiatry" (sixth edition) as:

    "the expression of emotion as observed by others. Affect has outward manifestations that can be observed. Affect can vary over time, in response to changing emotional states."

    1. Appropriate affect: the normal condition in which emotional tone is in harmony with the accompanying idea, thought, or speech; also further described as broad or full affect, in which a full range of emotions is appropriately expressed.

    2. Inappropriate affect: disharmony between the emotional feeling tone and the idea, thought, or speech accompanying it.

    Borderlines, not able to develop fully emotionally, often display an inappropriate affect. I know in my case, (in hindsight) when I was a young child it was only an inappropriate affect that I had mirrored and modeled to me by my mother.

    So, in my case, I developed this inappropriate affect, the deeper hunger, and the insatiability of this borderline "affect-hunger" as the result of not only having been sexually abused, but also as a result of not having my most basic nurture, and emotional needs met.

    The ambiguity that one experiences when one's primary care-givers fail to assist in one's "average" "healthy" emotional and psycho-social development are devastatingly long-lasting.

    Through my own experience with BPD I have come to the conclusion that it is these long-lasting effects that make up the definition of Borderline Personality Disorder.

    Having said that, however, there comes a point where no matter what the cause of one developing BPD, it is the responsibility of each adult individual to heal and to take care of themselves. I no longer blame anyone for what happened to me. What happened to me happened. Victory and recovery lie in the letting go of blame, guilt and the like.

    For the borderline affect is generally inappropriate and fleeting. It is reliant upon cognitive distortions, misperceptions, misinterpretations that all come about as the result of not knowing self well enough to know other. What we don't know about the world we often either devalue or objectify.

    Borderline affect is generated from the narcissistic need to satisfy unmet needs that feel as though they can not ever be satisfied. The borderline, often unbeknownst to his/herself is trying to navigate through adulthood with a child's notion of the world. Children as they develop, for a time, hold the view and belief that they are the center of the universe and that everything that happens in life has all to do with them.

    This is expected and even cute in a child, but it comes across to the non-borderline as neediness, helplessness, and a self-absorbed and demanding attitude when an "adult" relates from the distorted belief that they are the center of the universe.

    Clearly borderlines develop a heightened sensitivity to perceived and interpreted "reality" as the result of this lack of nurture. "Borderline reality" is highly subjective. (I am not going to get into the nurture versus nature debate as there is not definitive answer. I do, however, believe more in the nurture aspects as the origin of BPD because, having healed them, I obviously did not change my biological make-up)

    Many borderlines have parents who would fit the criteria for being diagnosed borderline themselves. Many also have parents or primary care-givers, who in the initial stages of one's life manifest and mirror an inappropriate affect.

    The proliferation of insatiability begins early and remains prevalent through the developmental stages of one's emotional maturity. Borderlines are emotional children inside of adult bodies who experience very crucial needs that go unmet in infancy, childhood and or adolescence.

    This is why a borderline reaches adulthood unable to be emotionally satisfied. There is often such a denial of the resultant psychic pain and or a dissociation from it that leaves most borderlines (until they seek help) suffering this angst-filled, screamingly-searing agony of insatiability. This is the deeper hunger. This deeper hunger of a life-time of unmet needs is the catalyst for the behavior of the borderline.

    It is these unmet needs that are the seat of the rage, the anger, the push-pull, self-abuse/injury, and the black and white distorted thinking patterns. Over-ridden with psychic pain the roots of which are very real the borderline continues to desperately try any quick-fix. All efforts are designed to dull the ache of that deeper hunger.

    For me, my deeper hunger largely had to do with not having been held; not being soothed; and being told over and over again that I did not feel what I absolutely DID feel. This denial of my feelings throughout my development was one of the main causes of my not being able to emotionally mature.

    It skewed my reality. I sought solace in the reality of my parents or other relatives. It did not fit for me. Their collective reality was warped. They were very illogical thinkers. Therefore I always felt there was something wrong with me, with how I felt, what I thought, what I wanted, what I believed and needed. As it turns out, years later, I've come to realize that all I wanted and needed and sought and acted in and out about for so long had all to do with the legitimate (and healthy) need I had to have my needs met - PERIOD!

    The borderline dilemma of being chronologically an adult while simultaneously being an emotional child sets one up to appear, to act, and to be, insatiable. The tragedy is that even with the role of this lack of nurture, and whatever other environmental factors one had to endure in the developmental stages of life, the borderline (once chronologically an adult and living on his/her own) then begins the entire of cycle of chronic deprivation (mainly emotional) using maladaptive patterns of behaving and relating (which are attempts to feed the affect-hunger) that see the borderline continue to choose to not take personal responsibility for meeting his/her unmet needs.

    I believe, in hindsight, the reason for this comes from a very deep sense of not being worthy enough to be held, to be soothed, to be loved, to be cared for and about, to be spoken to tenderly, to know a kind of emotionally-congruent consistency that one does not have any idea even exists as one grows up in the type of dysfunctional circumstance that breeds BPD.

    Borderlines experience such a deep and profound affect-hunger. This affect-hunger leaves them insatiable. The dichotomy between what the borderline needs and what the borderline cannot tolerate deepens the borderline's already strong sense of ambivalence and leads to the push-pull behavior of "I hate you don't leave me".

    When I was borderline I wanted to be heard. When I was borderline I was too angry, hateful, and unwilling to extend enough trust to talk honestly about how I felt to anyone. When I was borderline I wanted to be understood. When I was borderline I didn't know who I was, so consequently I did not know how I felt and I was not able to understand myself.

    When I was borderline I wanted to be held, loved and soothed. When I was borderline I could not let anyone touch me. I was too angry, too hurt and I could not cope with the vulnerability of being touched, hugged or held.

    When I was borderline no one could soothe me because I would not get close enough. No one could soothe me because all I put out there for them to "know" was false-self after false-self. When I was borderline I wanted someone to care. When I was borderline I was so incredibly ANGRY that I would abuse others (re-abuse myself through others) and myself to ensure the repeat of my past, where my needs would go unmet and I would not allow anyone to care about or for me.

    I felt to damaged, too unworthy. If things weren't familiar I would feel out of control. I was dissociated from my feelings in a major way. I thought I was protecting myself and fooling others but out of my deeper hunger I had really walled myself in further. I had trapped myself in my own borderline angst and that *WAS* hell!

    After all my faulty borderline black and white thinking made it clear to me that if my needs were reasonable or "normal" than my parents would have met them if they "really" loved me. And like a child, I believed for some time that because my parents didn't love me (in healthy ways that would have enabled me to thrive and grow) this meant that I was "unlovable".

    Having been borderline I can now conclude that it was out of a deeper hunger that I was forced to try to protect myself (my ego from total annihilation) using the very same maladaptive coping skills and maladaptive (unhealthy) interpersonal style of communicating and relating (enmeshed and without boundaries) that I had been raised in and with.

    As I look back over my experience in the throes of BPD and beyond I have concluded that Borderline Personality Disorder exists as a result of a child not being given the emotional tools to thrive relationally. The deeper hunger, the affect-hunger, the insatiable hunger.... is a harbinger of one's desire or capability of relating in a healthy, mature, adult manner that would make it possible to answer the cry of those unmet needs.

    If you are borderline the way out of the pain is through the pain. The way out of that deeper hunger and insatiability, as simple as it sounds, is through learning to successfully re-parent yourself.

    It is up to you, with the help of some form of therapy, to meet your own unmet needs. No amount of acting out, or projective identification in the world will see you to the other side. The task of the borderline who wants to heal is a formidable one. It requires that you feel the pain that you have shoved away. It requires that you undertake the journey to find out who you really are.

    When you do, I know that you will find, as I have, that you are worthy, that you are loveable and that what you want and need is tolerable. It is tolerable when you develop the capacity to mature emotionally and re-do the stages of "healthy" development, that you have up until now, been unable to as the result of having learned maladaptive ways of acting, thinking, being and relating.

    Out of a deeper hunger can come a sunrise smorgasbord of self-awareness and insight. It is this self-awareness and insight applied to your authenticity, coupled with an honest desire to change, to grow, and to learn how to relate to self and other, that will slowly fill what has been a bottomless pit of need.

    Be a new babe, yet again. Reach back to go forward. Healing the deeper hunger of Borderline Personality Disorder is a long and slow process of peeling back the layers of your wounded and damaged brokenness. You must break to be re-born.

    The deeper affect-hunger of Borderline Personality Disorder is satiable. It can be satisfied. You can feast from the ashes of your unmet needs if you can let go of the desire to control and protect long enough to realize the lessons that are the retrievable blessings from having to go through the devastating desolation of having Borderline Personality Disorder.

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    Empathy for a Father

    Before we had kids, I felt like my husband and I really understood each other, but now it's almost like we live on separate continents . . . ?

    With good reason, many mothers say they wish their partner sympathized more with their situation. But the other side of the coin is also often true: that a father wishes his partner understood HIM more. Since one of the best ways to receive more understanding and consideration is to give it - and since most of our columns focus on addressing the needs of mothers - let's take a moment to explore empathy for a father.

    For simplicity, we'll write as if we were addressing a mother, but a dad can certainly read this piece and see what parts fit for him. We'll draw on Rick's experience as a dad and our conversations with fathers to suggest how it may be for your partner to be a parent; this is a composite, a generalization, of a father that will not fit the partner of any woman in every way.

    • Now I'm a dad -- As profoundly as you, he loves the child you have made together. He has many of the same feelings you do, like happiness when the baby first curls her tiny fingers around one of his own. Yet since he probably spends less time with children than you, it is quite possible that he feels less sure of his skills. Feeling awkward or inept is uncomfortable for many men and makes it hard to ask for help. Maybe he's asked you what he could do and been told he should already know. Maybe he's tried to dive in and help and then been told it's all wrong. He picks up your underlying attitude about his parenting skills, and the way many mothers talk to each other about their partners is quite disdainful. He may experience you squeezing him out of the parent role while complaining that he's not involved enough.

    • Tugged in different directions -- He shows his love for his children and you in part by stepping up his efforts as a provider. Yet that tends to draw him into working longer hours when you wish he'd put more energy into your children and home. Unfortunately, his workplace almost certainly couldn't care less about the needs of his family, so he's stuck between a rock and a hard place.

      He's probably more engaged in child rearing and housework than his own father was. Nonetheless, if you are like most mothers, you'd still like more involvement and help, so he feels uneasy and resentful that he is not coming up to the standard of what you want in a partner.

    • Married to a mother -- He is awed at your ability to make a baby and deeply grateful that you have enabled him to have a child. He probably appreciates your sacrifices more than he has been able to say.

      He's also worried by any fatigue, depression, or other health problems that have developed since you became a mother. But when he offers well-meaning suggestions, like you getting more exercise or using more child care, there's a fair chance you get irritated, because you want empathy rather than problem solving, think his idea is impractical, or feel he's trying to make you give less to your kids. After a few rounds of this, maybe he stops trying to help you.

    • Where did my wife go? -- He loves his child incredibly, but his relationship with you is still a priority in itself, not merely as a framework for raising children.

      He feels keenly the loss of the attention, energy, affection, and love you have shifted from him to your child. It can easily seem to him that you regard him as little more than a means to your ends. One father said: I go out in the world like a caveman who brings home the meat. I drop it at her feet, she says "thanks" and goes back to our daughter. It's like I'm not in the room. And this shift in a mother's attention away from her partner is made painfully concrete by the disinterest many have in sex.

    • Does my wife understand me? -- You cannot make your husband understand you, but you can try to understand him: that much is in your power. You could ask him about the description of a father just above. Or you could simply observe him for a while without any assumptions, wondering how it feels to be him deep down inside.

    Since you give understanding to your children all day long, you might have "empathy fatigue." So it may take a conscious decision to bring understanding to your husband. But if you do, he will notice your interest and appreciate it and be more empathic with you as well. And when the two of you have a better idea of the feelings and wants of each other, you will be more able to solve problems together.

    This column is offered freely to parent-related organizations. If you know of another newsletter that might like to carry it besides the one in which you are reading it now, please encourage that organization to contact Rick Hanson at the email address below. Or just email Rick with the contact info and he will approach the organization.

    (Rick Hanson is a clinical psychologist, Jan Hanson is an acupuncturist/nutritionist, and they are raising a daughter and son, ages 12 and 14. With Ricki Pollycove, M.D., they are the authors of Mother Nurture: A Mother's Guide to Health in Body, Mind, and Intimate Relationships, published by Penguin. You can see their website at or email them with questions or comments at; unfortunately, a personal reply may not always be possible.)

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    Depression, Suicide: Cognitive-Emotional Self-Help

    by Stephen L. Bernhardt

    Volume IV


    I have mentioned undue and unresolved stress before. I use the term undue stress to refer to any situation in life where the stress is so extreme that we are forced to somehow find a solution in order to maintain control of our emotions. It is undue stress because for the most part it results from situations in life over which we have little or no control. Many times undue stress is caused by the loss of someone or something dear to us and that loss forces us to redefine our concept of self.

    If we lose a loved one, it is no longer ‘we’, it is now only ‘I’. I used to be a carpenter, now I am ‘retired’ or ‘unemployed’. I was most of my life intelligent and healthy, and now I am senile and sick. We used to be married, and now I am divorced. I used to be a happy child, and now I am a very stressed teenager. What is lost is our concept of self and this can range anywhere from loss of innocence due to sexual abuse, to the loss of self esteem and self worth due to lowering of our relative position in the social order.


    Undue stress may also be the result of circumstances which we do not control while forming our concept of self as children.

    1. Lack of Nurturing: If we are not nurtured as an infant we do not form appropriate constructs of the universal mother, father or prospective mate. Causes an inability to bond with others and form lasting relationships both socially and sexually. If we are not nurtured during the formative years after infancy until the age of 14 we are left to learn about life from TV, a mostly impersonal environment and our peers. May cause a lack of direction or purpose and an inability to find satisfaction or happiness.

    2. Learned: Mostly those things we learn by example when growing up with a depressed or dysfunctional parent. We emulate their behaviors, coping methods and emotional responses. We learn the mechanisms of depression. There may also be a genetic component present, inherent with either the parent or child, or both.

    3. Reactional: Behavior and emotional responses which are mostly a protective measure when we are abused or treated inconsistently. (Personality disorders and disassociation) Many times seen when a child grows up with an abusive, neurotic, drug addicted or alcoholic parent.

    4. Inconsistency: Treatment of a child which is inconsistent with what logic and reason dictates. Many times seen when a parent interacts with a child in regards to how the parent is feeling or reacting at any given time, without regard to what the child needs or deserves at that point in time.

    This problem is grossly underrated as being a major contributor to stress throughout a persons life as it causes an inability to discern an appropriate response given an emotional feeling. This is prevalent in abusive and addicted homes, but may also be the cause of emotional problems in what would otherwise seem to be a very normal environment. I also feel that inconsistency is a contributing factor in causing schizophrenia.

    5. Cognitive Self Talk: Strongly influenced by learned and reactional responses, self talk may become dysfunctional when we form patterns of thinking which cause us to view the world in ways which are unrealistic. We may take on personal responsibility for the bad or evil that we see in the world around us, or become guilt consumed over what we have done. We may even feel guilt about events over which we have no control.

    6. Imprinted Response: Events which were so traumatic that they were imprinted directly to the unconscious mind and they elicit reaction to triggers directly from the unconscious without conscious input or reaction. May include sexual abuse, rape and violent physical abuse. (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and some forms of Anxiety) Our conscious mind may not remember or be aware of what causes these automatic responses of the unconscious mind.

    7. Loss: The loss of any significant other during the early formative years may cause us to adapt to the pain with ‘solutions’ which cause us problems in later years.

    8. Overprotection: Some of us have been coddled and protected during childhood to an extent that we are unable to cope with normal stress in later years. It may be that for some of us the first real test of our ability to cope with stress is during the hormonal changes of the teen years or when we first leave the overly protective environment after schooling. May cause suicidal ideation which cannot be understood by society because ‘they have it all, what reason do they have to become depressed and suicidal?’

    9. The Genetic Component: I consider the depressive response as a genetic trait common to all human beings. It is a method of control by the unconscious, so much as is possible, given the complexity of our human society. There is also some evidence that bipolar disorder (manic depression) has a genetic component.

    Nature Vs nurture, it is an age old argument. While there is no doubt that genetics plays a role, I think that much of what is attributed to genetics is actually behavior and the likelihood of certain patterns of thought passed generation to generation due to learned and reactional responses to our environment.

    10. Organic causes. It is possible that certain abnormal hormonal secretions by the pituitary gland and some diseases such as a thyroid malfunction and certain cancers, cause increased levels of serotonin and corticosterone (a stress hormone), which are the chemical evidence that we are depressed. We are all at risk of becoming depressed during teen hormonal changes or at the change of life.


    The previously listed experiences and circumstances do not necessarily cause depression, although they all contribute to putting us at risk that depression is possible, even likely. What they do cause is a level of stress which must be resolved. That is the function of the intellect of the conscious mind.

    The role of the conscious mind is to provide solutions to excess stress (keep stress within the bounds of our genetic tolerance for stress), and to provide feedback to the unconscious mind in regards to environmental interaction (facilitated by our emotional responses).

    When we are subjected to stress during our life, the conscious mind finds methods to cope with that stress, and the unconscious mind remembers those behaviors and thought processes which are successful in relieving excess stress. The unconscious forms habits of response (conditioned responses) in order to insure that we continue behavior which has proven successful.

    This process works extremely well, given our life experiences are within the ‘norm’. But when we are subjected to excess stress such as those listed above, the process begins to break down. The ‘solutions’ provided by the conscious mind relieve stress for the short term, but they may well cause us further stress over time.

    Also the habits formed by the unconscious mind, in light of continued stress, become addictions and compulsions which hasten the break down. If and when this happens the ‘solutions’ then become the problem. It is this added stress of maladaptive and dysfunctional behaviors and thought processes which I term unresolved stress.

    We may find comfort, protection, release and solace in our ‘solutions’ for a time, but they cause us to think and act in ways which are possibly self destructive and many times in ways which are deemed by society as being abnormal. Society will brand us as having emotional problems or that we are mentally ill.

    The truth is, we are acting in a rational and normal way, given the irrational and abnormal stress we are subjected to. We must remember that the conscious ‘solutions’ were the product of the immature mind of a child. We cope with stress as best we can, using the resources available to us. Even as adults our conscious mind does not posses an innate knowledge of the workings of the unconscious mind.

    If, at any point during our life we can not find solutions and relieve undue stress, or if the unresolved stress caused by our ‘solutions’ is not somehow kept within the bounds of our tolerance for stress, the unconscious mind will trigger the depressive response. This is an attempt to prevent the chemistry of our emotions from causing psychosomatic illness or even psychosis.

    But, depression is not a solution, it is an interim state of protection awaiting the resolution of undue or unresolved stress by the conscious mind. If the conscious mind can not provide solutions, the depression will be prolonged or even worsened.

    It is essential that we not fixate on what has caused us to become depressed. What is important, is what we do and think now, in order to make tomorrow a little better. To blame genetics, our parents, luck or whatever, serves no purpose other than to reinforce our depression.

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    Five Things Every Child Needs From Their Mom
    New Life Ministries Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend say there are five essential things every child needs from their mom.

    1. Safety - As little people, we experience the world as dangerous. We feel alone. We don't have love inside - we have overwhelming needs and feelings. This is painful. You can see this pain on the face of any infant who needs to be picked up or of the child who is terrified of something in her imagination. The child does not have safety inside but danger. Safety can only be found in the mother -- or in whoever is providing the mothering.

    Safety comes in the form of a person who is predictable, stable, and danger-free. This kind of mother creates a foundation for all the other tasks of mothering. Without this person, the child remains in a state of panic or anxiety, unable to love or learn. The mother's consistent, caring, and soft and understanding attention gives the child a safe place to turn; she transforms the dangerous world into a place of safety.

    2. Nurture - Webster says that to nurture is to "feed or nourish." A mother's nurture is fuel for the soul. Good mothers pour care into the souls of their children much like sunlight and water pour nutrients into a plant. Our souls flourish when we are being nurtured and cared for. We grow, develop, and change according to the way we were designed.

    Without nurture we wither. The "failure to thrive" syndrome and many other childhood problems are directly related to a lack of nurture. In some cases, institutionalized babies have even died from maternal deprivation and a lack of nurture. We were created with needs that go deeper even than our physical need for food. We need the immaterial and spiritual requirements of relationship in order to live.

    3. Basic Trust - Basic trust is the ability to invest oneself in a relationship. We must first experience many instances of trustworthiness before we can truly trust others. We aren't born trusting; trust is learned. Trust enables us to reach out, to depend, to need, and to see others as the source of good things. We can depend on our caretaker - when we reach out, she will be there and she will respond to our needs.

    When we trust someone, we invest something of ourselves and hope for a good return. If we invest our money, we want safety and dividends. With a good mother, we invest our hearts and our being and find a good return, which leads us to invest again and again in relationships.

    Trust nurtures our ability to need and to depend, which allows us to grow and develop relationally. We need to need, and we need to feel comfortable with dependency. A trustworthy mother develops those abilities in us. Healthy people let themselves need and depend on others without fear.

    4. Belonging and Invitation - We all have a need to belong to someone and to something bigger than ourselves. Belonging and love are at the root of our humanness. The foundation of our existence is relationship, and we cannot provide that for ourselves.

    The Bible tells us to be "rooted and established in love." If we are rooted and grounded with God and others, we belong; we feel nurtured, secure, and free from the universal experience of isolation. And it is our mother's responsibility to rescue us from alienation and isolation and to usher us into the world of relationship.

    Mothers, through their love and care, make us feel wanted, which transfers into later feelings of worth and confidence in relationships. We have worked with countless people who feel "unlovable" or "unwanted," when in reality lots of people love and adore them. It's obvious that they have failed to receive good mothering.

    The sense of feeling wanted and loved is not an intellectual exercise that we can do for ourselves. It comes through the experience of being invited into relationship with another person. You may know intellectually that you are loved, but if you never felt loved by your Phantom Mom, your feelings won't match up with what you know intellectually. When we experience being consistently wanted early in life, we move easily into other relational settings later, never wondering if we belong or not.

    5. Someone to Love - Emotional development comes not only from the mother's investment in the child but also from the child's investment in the mother. A mother provides someone for the child to love - she is a good "object of love."

    In order to develop emotionally, physically, intellectually, and socially, we need not only be loved but to love. Love fills us up, and colors our outlook on others and the world in which we live, so that we view life with hope and optimism. We have a basic need to love people, and that requires someone to love. If mother is safe, we love her. If she is not, we either are overwhelmed by isolation or we are filled with hatred.

    These needs are universal and documented by research, clinical experience, people's experiences, and the Bible. If mother or the surrogate mother provides safety, nurture, trustworthiness, belonging, and lovability, then the child is on his way to healthy development.

    Excerpted from the book The Mom Factor by Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend. Used by permission of New Life Ministries. New Life Ministries has a variety of resources on men, women and relationships. Call 1-800-NEW-LIFE or visit
    source site: click here

    Facts of Life: Issue Briefings for Health Reporters

    Vol. 4, No. 4 May 1999
    Mother's Nurturing: Medicine for Life


    The Issue:

    Relationships in early childhood play a huge role in later development and health. Lack of nurturing during infancy may put an adult at risk for a host of stress-related illnesses, depression, substance abuse, dementia, even suicide.

    On the other hand, intense early nurturing may provide a buffer against these conditions over time. Relying heavily upon animal research because comparable experiments with infants and children would be unthinkable, scientists are solving the mystery of how the link between nurture and brain development works. Their findings raise important questions about society’s health care, employment, and family support policies.

    The Facts:

    • Infants who lived at least eight months amid the emotional deprivations and abuse of Romanian orphanages have significantly higher stress hormone levels, even after living with Canadian families for six or more years, than do matching native-Canadian controls. [4]
    • Rat pups 28-32 days old were caged either alone or in a group in a large, toy-filled "complex" environment. After 30 days, those reared in a group and with toys had 30% more nerve cell connections in their brains, believed to be associated with improved performance on difficult learning and problem-solving tasks. [2]
    • When researchers drew two adult laboratory rats from each of nine litters and recorded their physiological response to the stress of being restrained for 20 minutes, they found an impressive .85 correlation between how frequently they had been licked and groomed as pups and lowered response to stress. [7]
    • Adult rats that are handled and nurtured as infants exhibit lower hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) reactivity and slower rates of cognitive aging. High HPA reactivity is associated with increased aging of the hippocampus, a part of the brain that first exhibits degeneration in Alzheimer’s disease. Individual differences in human brain aging are consistent with such an effect. [8]
    • Monkey infants raised by peers instead of their mothers grow up with reduced central nervous system serotonin functioning, a condition scientists have linked with violence, social isolation, and alienation among both humans and monkeys, and with suicide among humans. [5,6]

    Interview #1: 'Nurture Alters Nature'

    Stephen Suomi, PhD, is chief of the Laboratory of Comparative Ethology at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in Bethesda, Maryland. Beginning in the 1970s as a University of Wisconsin graduate student and protegé of Harry Harlow, PhD, Suomi has devoted much of his career to expansion of that pioneer scientist’s world-famous work on early attachment in rhesus monkeys.

    Q. What’s so important about early attachment between infants and their mothers?

    A. It reflects millions of years of evolutionary history. The mother buffers the child from the big, scary world. How she does that can have profound impact on her youngsters’ ability to function socially, as well as on their basic biology. [11]

    Q. Why study rhesus monkeys?

    A. They’re probably the world’s second-most successful primate species, after us. They thrive within a wide range of climates and terrains. They also share about 94% of our genes and are born with the same basic emotions that human infants have. A generation matures in just three or four years. In one scientist’s lifetime, it is possible to see how events in infancy affect adolescence, adulthood, and even subsequent generations.

    Q. What does the typical infant monkey get from its mother?

    A. Much like humans, rhesus monkey infants need external nourishment and heat. They spend virtually all of their first few weeks of life in physical contact with their mother. They establish an attachment bond with her and train their sleep cycles to match hers.

    Gradually they begin to spend time away from her, wandering farther and staying away longer. Throughout childhood they keep coming back to her, or at least looking back for reassurance. She serves as their secure base.

    Females grow up and stay in the same troop in which they were born, but once males reach puberty, they either leave their troop voluntarily or they’re forced out. They typically join all-male gangs and hang out together for anywhere from a few months to more than a year. It’s a rough time and nearly half don’t survive it. Those who do survive join a new troop and remain with it.

    Q. Are all monkey infants born alike?

    A. No. Just as human babies have individual temperaments, so do infant monkeys. Those that seem unusually shy and fearful have over-reactive hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axes.

    This physiological system produces the stress hormone, cortisol. When they encounter mild stressors, their cortisol levels increase more and for longer periods than in less-reactive youngsters. Their hearts pump faster and longer under stress, and their immune systems appear to be more easily compromised.

    In contrast, impulsive, aggressive youngsters have problems with serotonin metabolism. Serotonin is the neurotransmitter that slows or stops certain neurotransmissions. If you don’t have enough serotonin, you are less able to control behavior. This presents itself in young monkeys whose playful games escalate into fights. They also ignore social hierarchies, confronting older, dominant animals that clobber them for their efforts.

    Q. If the differences are present at birth, what role does the mother monkey play?

    A. A huge one. If there’s one thing I want to emphasize, it’s that genetic characteristics may be modified by experience. We have taken monkey infants away from their mothers and raised them almost completely among other monkeys their age. They form strong attachments with each other, show normal growth rates, and develop relatively normal behavior. Superficially, they appear to be completely normal.

    But in novel situations, these peer-reared monkeys are more easily disturbed behaviorally and physiologically. They mirror their mother-reared counterparts who were born shy and easily frightened. As they grow up, these peer-reared individuals start showing problems with serotonin metabolism – particularly with respect to aggression.

    This is especially evident in males. We attribute many of their characteristics to the fact that peers aren’t as good at comforting each other as are mothers, and in new situations they become as scared as their partners.

    Q. What other differences have you found in peer-reared monkeys?

    A. They drink like fish, at least in comparison with mother-reared monkeys. For an hour a day, my colleagues in the alcohol institute have given both types of monkeys access to an alcohol-laced liquid, as well as a non-alcoholic one. Peer-reared monkeys consume more alcohol and develop greater tolerance for it. That is, it takes more alcohol to bring their blood levels up and to have the same effects. This seems to be related to serotonin turnover, and it’s true for humans, too. Individuals who have lowered serotonin metabolism are also at risk to develop patterns of binge drinking. In our monkeys, the serotonin deficits can stem from genetic background, early experiences, or both.

    Q. So a nurturing mother can buffer a child from its genetic inheritance?

    A. Exactly. One of the newest and most exciting findings has to do with a particular gene, called "5-HTT," that regulates serotonin turnover. There are different forms of the gene, just as you have different forms of genes that give you blue eyes instead of brown. To make a long story short, this serotonin transport gene comes in a long and short form. We have been able to characterize most of the monkeys in our colony with respect to whether they have the long or short 5-HTT.

    We have found an interaction between the kind of gene and the experience the monkey infant had. Monkeys raised by good mothers showed fairly normal serotonin metabolism, regardless of which type of gene they had. But gene type made a huge difference in peer-reared monkeys. Those with the long version looked pretty good. Those with the short version had problems with aggression. This is among the first demonstrations of an exact interaction between a specific gene and the mother-infant relationship. I fully believe that this is just the first of many sorts of things we’re going to find.

    Q. Are there things we can do to change the outcome?

    A. Some monkey mothers naturally are more nurturing than others. We have taken highly reactive monkey infants – those most likely to grow up anxiety-prone – and given them to foster mothers that are extremely nurturing. These infants grow up with optimal outcomes. Most rise to assume dominant positions in their troops. Females become nurturing mothers themselves. They can calm themselves down much more quickly than other highly reactive individuals. They bring their heart rates down faster, lower their cortisol more quickly, etc. It seems that their experiences with nurturing mothers alter not only their behavioral propensities, but their physiological patterns as well.

    Q. How do your findings apply to humans?

    A. Good question. After all, these monkeys are not just furry little humans with tails. All these long-term effects are basically biological. Humans are presumably going through the same physiological experiences and the same emotional experiences, with the added influence of cognitive ability. So the basic ingredients for humans are there. We know this, because we see it in the monkeys.

    We don’t expect everything to translate directly. It’s hard to believe, though, that these monkeys, without language and oral traditions, can be so sensitive to early experiences and be susceptible to lifelong consequences, and humans would not be.

    Interview #2: 'The Brain-Growth Puzzle'

    Charles Nelson, PhD, a professor at the Institute of Child Development and Department of Pediatrics, University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, has focused his research on early brain development and its lasting effects upon health and behavior. He heads the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Early Experience and Brain Development.

    Q. How do our earliest relationships affect us later in life?

    A. This puzzle is as difficult as it is tantalizing. It's difficult, because there is no way on earth neuroscientists can subject human babies to emotional deprivation in order to study what happens to their brains. Only in animals can we do this. The human puzzle tantalizes us because children who have been emotionally deprived, for whatever unfortunate reason, are more likely to exhibit altered behavior. We infer that their brains have been affected because their behavior has been.

    Q. Can you give an example?

    A. Take the kids reared in Romanian or other institutionalized orphanages. They tend to be unusually vulnerable to stress. Precisely how their brains reflect this, we do not know. Nor can we be sure of exactly what deprivation they suffered. Many had mothers who were alcoholics, drug abusers, or mentally retarded. It's complex.

    Certain experiences must occur within a set period of time. If the person is deprived of these, the brain cannot develop normally. [10] Two good examples of this are vision and hearing. The parts of the brain that govern these systems finish developing during the first few years of life. During this period, certain things must take place if the person is ever to see or hear normally. Babies born cross-eyed or with other problems that prevent them from focusing correctly must undergo corrective procedures early. Otherwise, the developing brain "learns" to function with the abnormalities. Optical corrections later cannot reverse this.

    Babies born deaf, as well as those who, for whatever reason, are not exposed to normal speech sounds, can never develop normal language of their own. This remains true even if, as teens, they gain the ability to hear. That's because the relevant part of their brains finished developing before the sounds were introduced.

    Q. Then how do experiences affect the brain’s physical development?

    A. In three ways. First, experiences actually trigger anatomical changes in the brain. Rats, for example, when reared in environments with lots of other stimuli, actually form more connections between cerebral cells than do other rats.

    Secondly, experiences can cause metabolic changes. Skilled musicians such as violinists need extra oxygen, and thus blood flow, in parts of their brains governing their specific motor activity. New blood vessels to deliver this blood will develop.

    Finally, neurochemical changes can occur. When a synapse breaks, perhaps through injury, the brain senses a shortage of some substance and may grow new axons to release a replacement supply.

    Q. What chance does a child have who starts out in an unfavorable environment?

    A. The fact that different parts of the brain develop at different rates means we have periods of opportunity, as well as vulnerability. [9] You hear people talk about the importance of exposing kids to all the right experiences early on, as though what happens later doesn't matter. Speech and visual experiences must take place early, but other parts of the brain – the frontal lobes, for example, that are involved in higher-level thinking – do not become adult-like until adolescence. It's up to us as a society to nurture children not only through infancy but long after.

    Q. Does that mean "bad" mothers are to blame or are there other factors involved?

    A. Bad outcomes, like good outcomes, are multifaceted, with no one person or event bearing full responsibility. Rather, a host of factors typically contribute to a child's future success or failure in life. For this reason we need to be careful in using the first few years of life to predict what will happen later on. Early emotional experiences have the potential to influence us for the rest of our lives. They may influence how we interpret other early experiences and how we see the world. But chances are many of the people committing atrocities in Kosovo and elsewhere had nurturing moms. Even if the first few years are wonderful, what they largely provide is a foundation, not a guarantee of lifelong health and happiness. Events that occur at any point in life can affect you, either for bad or good.

    The Legacy of Romania's Orphanages

    The longer that infants lived in Romanian institutions for abandoned or orphaned babies, where they received poor care and low stimulation and were malnourished, the higher their level of the stress hormone cortisol even six years or more after being placed in middle- to upper-middle class families.

    More alarming, the elevated stress hormone levels of those who lived longest in these institutions were especially evident in the evening, when cortisol normally approaches its lowest level of the day. Failure to reduce cortisol to near zero at day’s end generally indicates dysregulation of this hormonal system.

    Scientists normally rely on rats and monkeys for research into early deprivation because they can hardly deprive human children of nurturing in order to study its effects. There is at least one major exception: children raised in Romanian institutions experienced levels of deprivation and neglect of basic needs no animal experiment has duplicated.

    Scientists are now studying the Romanian children closely, including 37 adopted by Canadian families, 21 of them after being institutionalized eight months or longer, and 16 adopted within four months of birth. They are matching these with 29 native-Canadian controls. Even after living with the families in British Columbia for six to seven and a half years, the Romanians who had been institutionalized at least eight months had higher cortisol levels than either the Canadian children or those adopted within four months.

    Megan Gunnar, PhD, of the University of Minnesota, and Elinor Ames, professor emeritus, Simon Fraser University, British Columbia, say the difference can be attributed to the treatment the infants received after birth because those lucky enough to be adopted early had the same cortisol levels as Canadian children reared by families since birth, despite their presumed differences in prenatal and perinatal conditions. [4]

    Rats Studies and Mothering:

    Rats can teach a great deal about the health effects of infant-mother relationships and how they are passed from generation to generation.

    The more frequently a mother rat licks and grooms her infant, the lower her offspring’s hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) response to stress will be. This means less exposure to the high levels of stress hormones over long periods that can lead to heart disease, diabetes, anxiety, depression, dementia, and other ailments. [7] Hyper-reactive animals – and humans – are thus vulnerable to these illnesses.

    As adults, the offspring of nurturing mother rats also show substantially less fearfulness than do those of non-nurturing mothers. Examination of their brains reveals differences in neural systems that mediate fearfulness. Again, this means lower levels of stress hormones and healthier lives. [1]

    Apparently, the mothers’ behaviors programmed these differences. The adult female offspring of nurturing mothers in turn become nurturing mothers themselves.

    Much the same happens among humans, report Michael Meaney, PhD, of McGill University, Montreal, and doctoral student Darlene Francis. [3] "Conditions that most commonly characterize abusive and neglectful homes," they write, "involve economic hardship, marital strife and a lack of social and emotional support. Such homes, in turn, breed neglectful and even abusive parents."

    The result is that stress hormones kick in more often at high levels, leading to poorer health outcomes, greater stress, and less nurturing. The cycle is self-regenerating. Meaney and Francis draw two important conclusions:

    "Variations in maternal care that fall within the normal range of the species can still have a profound influence on development. One does not need to appeal to the more extreme conditions of abuse and neglect to see evidence for the importance of parental care."

    "Environmental demands can alter parental care and thus infant development…. Environmentally induced alterations in maternal care …(affect) development of specific neural systems that mediate the expression of fearfulness. Such individual differences in fearfulness, in turn, influence the parental care of the offspring, providing a neurobiological basis for the intergenerational transmission of specific behavioral traits."

    For more information contact:
    Petrina Chong Director of Communications

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    References for Humanizing Prisons with Animals: A Closer Look at "Cell Dogs" and Horse Programs in Correctional Institutions

    Allen, K. M. (1985). The human-animal bond: an annotated bibliography. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press.

    Baskervill, B. (2003, August 25). Pen Pals sends dogs to reform school. The Washington Post, p.C3.

    Beck, A. (2000). The use of animals to benefit humans: Animal-assisted therapy. In A. Fine (Ed.), Handbook on animal-assisted therapy (pp. 21-40). San Francisco: Academic Press.

    Beck, A. & Katcher, A. (1983). Between pets and people: The importance of animal companionship. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons.

    Catanzaro, T. (2003). Human-animal bond and primary prevention. American Behavioral Scientist, 47(1), 29-30.

    Crist, S. (1989, August 27). Program keeps inmates on track. The New York Times, section 8, p. 7.

    Cusack, O. (1988). Pets and mental health. New York: Haworth Press.

    Cushing, J. & Williams, J. (1995). The wild mustang program: a case study in facilitated inmate therapy. Journal of Offender Rehabilitation, 22(3/4), 95-112.

    Delta Society (1996). Standards of practice for animal-assisted activities and animal-assisted therapy. Renton, WA: Delta Society.

    Ferguson, J. (2003, August 18). Helping horses from prison. Tulsa World, p. B3.

    Gehring, T. (2004). Correctional education history from A to Z. Unpublished manuscript.

    Gold, D. (2000, November 26). Wagging tails cool prison tempers. Maine inmates find calm in training dogs. Boston Globe, p. B12.

    Granger, B. & Kogan, L. (2000). Animal-assisted therapy in specialized settings. In A. Fine (Ed.), Handbook on animal-assisted therapy (pp. 213-236). San Francisco: Academic Press.

    Hammack, L. (2002, September 8). Program places puppies with prisoners; Virginia inmates help to train animals for work with the disabled. The Sun, p. B16.

    Hayden, M. (2004, February 8). Yo, dog: Prisoners get collar. Southern Indiana pen teaches inmates to train canines for service work. Gazette, p. C5.

    Hines, L. (2003). Historical perspectives on the human-animal bond. American Behavioral Scientist, 47(1), 7-15.

    Inmates learning from prison pets. (2000, June 14). Florida Times Union, p. A2.

    Lee, D. (1987). Companion animals in institutions. In P. Arkow (ed.), The loving bond: companion animals in the helping professions (pp.229-236). Saratoga, CA: R & E Publishers.

    Lloyd, J. (1997, September 9). Inmates bridled by wild horse equine rehab. Christian Science Monitor, p. 1.

    Mallon, G., Ross, S. & Ross, L. (2000). Designing and Implementing animal-assisted therapy programs in health and mental health organizations. In A. Fine (Ed.), Handbook on animal-assisted therapy (pp. 115-127). San Francisco: Academic Press.

    Matas, K. (2003, September 7). Prison program trains service dogs: Giving paws to inmates. The Arizona Daily Star, p. B1.

    Pedulla, T. (2001, October 17). Inmates get a helping hoof. USA Today, p. C3.

    Snyder, G. (1998, September 27). Convicts and mustangs; up in the high desert, at the California Correctional Center in Susanville, prisoners and wild horses come together in a program meant to change lives. San Francisco Chronicle, p. Z1.

    Svan, J. (2000, November 24). Horses, convicts gentle each other in program. Denver Post, p. A36.

    Wise, M. (2003, August 10). Partners, horse and man, in prison pasture. The New York Times. Retrieved March 10, 2004, from

    Simon, S. (2001, February 20). Program mends the spirits of broken men, broken horses; hope is abundant in prison barn. Los Angeles Times, p. A5.

    Strimple, E. (2003). A history of prison inmate-animal interaction programs. American Behavioral Scientist, 47(1), 70-78.

    Zollman, M. A. (1993). Formative correctional education: a process of reformation and transformation through evocation of the heart of being. Journal of Correctional Education, 44(2), 92-99.

    Biographical Sketch

    CHRISTIANE DEATON has been teaching at a Court and Community School for the Riverside County Office of Education since 1997. She works with juvenile probationers and expelled youth. She is currently obtaining her Master's Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with an Integrative Studies Option in Education. Her research interests include animal-assisted activities with an emphasis on equine-facilitated activities. She can be contacted at

    Copyright Correctional Education Association Mar 2005
    Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved

    For Mother's Nurturing: Medicine for Life

    The Research:

    1. Caldji C, et al. (April 1998). "Maternal Care During Infancy Regulates the Development of Neural Systems Mediating the Expression of Fearfulness in the Rat." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, 95: 5335-5340.

    2. Comery T, et al. (1995). "Rapid Communication: Differential Rearing Alters Spine Density on Medium-Sized Spiny Neurons in the Rat Corpus Striatum: Evidence for Association of Morphological Plasticity with Early Response Gene Expression." Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, 63: 217-219.

    3. Francis D, et al. (1999). "Maternal Care and the Development of Stress Responses." Current Opinion in Neurobiology, 9: 128-134.

    4. Gunnar M, (in press). "Early Adversity and the Development of Stress Reactivity and Regulation." in CA Nelson (ed.) The Effects of Adversity on Neurobehavioral Development, Minnesota Symposia on Child Psychology, Vol 31. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc., New Jersey.

    5. Higley J, et al. (1997). "A Nonhuman Primate Model of Excessive Alcohol Intake: Personality and Neurobiological Parallels of Type I- and Type II-Like Alcoholism." in M Galanter (ed.) Recent Developments in Alcoholism, Vol. 13: Alcoholism and Violence, pp. 191-219, Plenum Press, New York.

    6. Higley J, et al. (December 29, 1997). "Low Central Nervous System Serotonergic Activity is Traitlike and Correlates with Impulsive Behavior." Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 836: 39-56.

    7. Liu D, et al. (September 12, 1997). "Maternal Care, Hippocampal Glucocorticoid Receptors, and Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Activity." Science, 277: 1659-1662.

    8. McEwen B, et al. (1999). "Corticosteroids, the Aging Brain and Cognition." Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism, 10(3): 92-96.

    9. Nelson C. (in press). "How Important Are the First Three Years of Life?" Applied Developmental Science.

    10. Nelson C. (in press). "Neural Plasticity and Human Development." Current Directions in Psychological Science.

    11. Suomi S, (in press). "Attachment in Rhesus Monkeys." in J Cassidy and P Shaver (ed.) Handbook of Attachment: Theory, Research, and Clinical Applications. New York, Guilford Press, 1999.

    Facts of Life is prepared with assistance from:

    Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research
    Academy of Psychosomatic Medicine
    American College of Neuropsychopharmacology
    American Psychiatric Association
    American Psychological Association
    American Psychological Association-Division 38
    American Psychosomatic Society
    American Society of Psychiatric Oncology
    College on Problems of Drug Dependence
    International Psycho-Oncology Society
    International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies
    Society of Behavioral Medicine
    Society for Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics
    Society for Public Health Education
    Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco

    The Center for the Advancement of Health, , a nonprofit institute, promotes the science that explores health as a complex and dynamic system of relationships among biology, behavior, psychology, and social context and works to integrate this knowledge into public awareness, health care policy, and health care practice. The Center was founded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Nathan Cummings Foundation, which continue to provide core funding.

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