JBMTI Blog

The Jean Baker Miller Training Institute is proud to welcome you to the JBMTI Blog! Our hope is to create a place where the JBMTI community can visit often to check out the latest news on Relational-Cultural Theory practitioners, events, applications, and inspirations.

Please feel free to send us any ideas for posts to jbmti@wellesley.edu.

Recent blog posts

By KEVIN FREKING, The Associated PressWASHINGTON (AP/The Huffington Post)-- Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, struggling to form the words in her first extended interview since a January shooting rampage, said Monday she will not return to Congress until she is "better."

"No. Better," she said in response to a question about whether she wanted to return to Congress.

As she gestured as if to help her form the words, her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, completed the thought: "She wants to get better."

At that point, interviewer Diane Sawyer also tried to get Giffords to summarize her mindset, asking whether she was thinking she would go back to Congress if she got better. "And that's where you're at right now?" Sawyer asked.

"Yes, yes, yes," Giffords replied.  (Excerpt from Associate Press story on Huffingtonpost.com

Read the full article

 

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Does the Penn State molestation story ring any bells for you?

It does for David Clohessy, director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests.

"The parallels just go on and on," Clohessy said, talking about how in both the Catholic Church and Penn State University scandals, molestation allegedly continued for years because authorities didn't do enough to stop it.

And so a popular, respected institution, whose longtime football coach Joe Paterno was idolized for his commitment to character, integrity and morality, is now reeling as the truth comes out.

"You've got a very credible abuse report, an eyewitness with no ax to grind, and then you've got delays when they should have immediately gone to the police, but didn't," Clohessy said.

He was referring to a grand jury report that a witness saw former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky molesting a child in the Penn State showers in 2002. The witness said he went to head coach Joe Paterno, who said he reported the incident to the athletic director, but now wishes he had done more.

How could he not have?

How is it that a priest, a Boy Scout leader or a coach can be told about the sexual abuse of a minor and not IMMEDIATELY dial 911, send up a flare and scream his head off until the matter is fully investigated and the children protected?

Because no one went to the police, Sandusky was able to continue molesting boys until as late as 2007 while running a charity based at Penn State. (Excerpt from Steve Lopez: Shades of Catholic Church in Penn State Scandal; Photo Credit Pat Little/Reuters)

Read the full article

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The Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW) now has our own channel on YouTube dedicated to WCW programs, projects, and researchers. Below is one example: researcher Laura Pappano discusses women in sports. Stay tuned for additions from JBMTI:

Visit WCW's YouTube channel

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Amy Banks, M.D. will return to present three webinars as part of the "Reclaim Your Connected Brain" Series which starts in January 2012.

  • Brain Claims: What's Hype? What's Healing?
    January 20, 2012
  • Spot Removing: Positive Strategies for Decreasing Social Exclusion in Your Life and the World
    March 23, 2012
  • Reconnecting the Dopamine Reward System to Healthy Relationship
    May 18, 2012

Stay tuned for full course descriptions and registration information. 

Learn more about JBMTI webinars

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The smell was unmistakable. I recognized it immediately – a fungating infection. It’s what happens when a cancer breaks through the skin and the puss oozes out and aerosolizes, producing an unsurprisingly foul odor. This is what late stage cancer looks like if left unchecked, like many cancers were 100 years ago or still are today in the developing world. But I encountered this case this month, and Yvonne, the woman who sat crying before me, lives in Los Angeles. She lost her job two years ago and when her insurance expired, she was too ashamed to seek help for a mass she felt in her right breast.  Now the tumor had replaced her entire breast and blasted through the skin. Being cared for now — so late in her illness — was surely not what she would have wanted; and just as surely, it could have been avoided. How did we let this happen in America?

I was volunteering at the CareNow Free Clinic in the Los Angeles Sports Arena, one of more than 700 doctors, nurses and health professionals who had turned out to serve the local community. CareNow is a nonprofit founded to bring medical care to underserved communities, and the Los Angeles event was organized by Don Manelli, indefatigable president of the group. He was aware of what we would see here today, as was I, having volunteered at similar clinics in Little Rock, Arkansas and in Moorsville, N.C. We also conducted our own clinic for The Dr. Oz Show in Houston in 2009 and saw over 1,800 patients in one day. But simply having been down this road before does not mean you’re ever fully prepared for it. (Excerpt from Time "Enough Is Enough" by Dr. Mehmet Oz. Photo credit Adam Taylor)

Read the entire article

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Thank you to everyone who participated in the 2011 Introductory Institute this past weekend. We are always so energized by the amazing work RCT practitioners are doing in schools, agencies, and communities. We are grateful everyone had such a great time.

Stay tuned to the JBMTI website for more photos from the Institute as well as the video of the Jean Baker Miller Memorial Lecture.

We hope to see you all at the Intensive Institute in June!

Maurice Sendak, author of children's literature favorites Where the Wild Things Are and In the Night Kitchen, recently gave a touching interview on NPR's Fresh Air with host Terry Gross. Sendak talked about his new book Bumble-ardy, life, and love. Below are a few interview highlights. Enjoy!

On his current writing

"I feel like I'm working for myself at this point. If it's publishable, fine. If not, it makes not too much difference. Because I claim that this time is for me and me alone. I'm 83 years old."

"I'm writing a poem right now about a nose. I've always wanted to write a poem about a nose. But it's a ludicrous subject. That's why, when I was younger, I was afraid of [writing] something that didn't make a lot of sense. But now I'm not. I have nothing to worry about. It doesn't matter."

On wishing he had children, sort of

"I would infinitely prefer a daughter. If I had a son, I would leave him at the A&P or some other big advertising place where somebody who needs a kid would find him and he would be all right. ... A daughter would be drawn to me. A daughter would want to help me. Girls are infinitely more complicated than boys and women more than men. And there's no doubt about that. We just don't like to think about it. Certainly the men don't like to think about it. I have lived my whole life with a dream daughter."

On not discussing therapy sessions with his late partner, a psychoanalyst

"It just seemed like, why? It just seemed inauthentic and incorrect to burden him with that. My therapy went on forever. My being gay was something of not great interest to me. The person I lived with — we lived together for all of those years so we make trips to our favorite places in Europe, so that we could read our favorite books, so that we could listen to music.

"I couldn't deal with 9/11 the other day. I couldn't bear it. ... That evening of 9/11, they conducted Mahler's 2nd Symphony. ... And I sat there and cried like a baby listening to the music."

On being gay

"Finding out that I was gay when I was older was a shock and a disappointment. ... I did not want to be gay. It meant a whole different thing to me — which is really hard to recover now because that's many years ago. I always objected to it because there is a part of me that is solid Brooklyn and solid conventional and I know that. I can't escape that. It's my genetic makeup. It's who I am."

On his life

"I have nothing now but praise for my life. I'm not unhappy. I cry a lot because I miss people. They die and I can't stop them. They leave me and I love them more. ... What I dread is the isolation. ... There are so many beautiful things in the world which I will have to leave when I die, but I'm ready, I'm ready, I'm ready." (From Fresh Air's website)

Listen to the full interview

Trying to find a girl's costume this Halloween that doesn't include fishnet stockings or a corset?  It feels like it gets harder every year. With a little creativity, you can encourage girls to resist sexualization and enjoy Halloween on their own terms!  Here are a few tips from our awesome tip sheets:

This Halloween Let Her Creativity Sparkle (Not Just Her Costume)

1. Sit down with girls and listen to what they like and why.

2. If she is set on pink and glittery, let her pink and glittery DO something like take on a dragon or save the universe!

3. If she loves scary stories, let her go traditional and be a witch, monster, or ghost.  Encourage her to look as scary as she can!

4. Costumes labeled "for boys" are not off limits!  There are plenty of female police officers and fire fighters in real life.

5. If she is learning about amazing women from history at school, Halloween is the perfect opportunity to make learning fun!  Why not a Joan of Arc costume or a Mozart costume?  Be creative!

Visit the Hardy Girls, Healthy Women website for more info

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JBMTI is pleased to announce that Callie Crossley, award-winning journalist and WGBH radio host, will be the moderator for the  upcoming colloquium," Telling the Truths About Race: Reflections on the Politics of Connection in "The Help," on December 1, 2011 at the Wellesley College Club.

Ms. Crossley is host of “The Callie Crossley Show” on Boston’s WGBH-FM, 89.7.  ‘Intelligent talk’ is the hallmark of the one-hour daily show which covers current events, local happenings, arts and culture and water cooler buzz.  The talk show is the latest chapter in the career of Crossley, who has been an award winning broadcast journalist, a documentary filmmaker, and a television and radio commentator. In addition to her radio program, Crossley offers regular commentary on media for Beat the Press, which airs on Boston based WGBH-TV, and for Fox25 TV’s Morning News Show. She appears occasionally on national news and information programs including CNN’s Reliable Sources, The PBS News Hour, and The Takeaway, and is a regular contributor to Tell Me More with Michel Martin.  

Crossley’s busy career includes public speaking and moderating. She is a Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow guest lecturing at colleges and universities about the collision of old and new media, media and politics, media literacy, and the intersection of race, gender and media.  

For the last eight years, Ms. Crossley has served as Program Manager for the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard directing the speakers program.  

Prior to her current work, Ms. Crossley was a Producer for ABC NEWS “20/20” reporting health/ medicine stories. Crossley produced the Oscar® nominated hour of the acclaimed documentary series, Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Years 1954-1965.  “Bridge to Freedom” focused on the Selma, Alabama voting rights campaign. Crossley produced the film while working for Blackside, Inc., a Boston based independent film production company for which she also served as Senior Series Producer on the 2003 PBS documentary series “This Far By Faith: African-American Spiritual Journeys.”  

Crossley has won major film and television awards, including a national Emmy, a Peabody, a Christopher, an Edward R. Murrow award, and the top Alfred I. Dupont-Columbia award (Gold Baton), considered the Pulitzer Prize of broadcast journalism.   

She is the recipient of two Harvard Fellowships, Nieman Fellowship, and a Fellowship from the Institute of Politics at the John F. Kennedy School of Government. She is also the recipient of two honorary degrees from Pine Manor College and Cambridge College.  

She is a member of the judging Jury for the Alfred I. dupont -Columbia University Awards. She also sits on several Boston based Boards including the Ford Hall Forum, Cambridge Reads, and the Boston Book Festival.  

Crossley is also a wine enthusiast. She talks about wine on NPR, authors the wine blog “The Crushed Grape Report,” and is a member of the Boston Wine Writers.

Visit www.calliecrossley.com

Save the date! Please join JBMI Associate Director of Program Development Maureen Walker and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Christina Robb for a colloquium on the book and movie The Help on Thursday, December 1 from 7-9 p.m. at the Wellesely College Club.

Stay tuned for more event details and the forthcoming coming working paper.

Learn more

Marking the 17th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) helps us both appreciate the great strides that have been made in addressing all types of violence against women and recognize the fact that more needs to be done to create a society free from domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking. The Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) remains committed to addressing these crimes in a broad and comprehensive manner. (- Excerpt from The White House website)

View the entire original post

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JBMI Faculty and staff will be presenting at an exciting array of conferences and trainings in the 2011-2012 academic year in addition to our Introductory and Intensive Institutes and webinars. Below is the current list:

8th annual Human Trafficking, Prostitution, and Sex Work Conference
Details: Kate Price, M.A., presenter; September 28-30, 2011; University of Toledo, OH

21st annual Renfrew Center Foundation Eating Disorders Conference for Professionals
Details: Amy Banks, Ph.D., keynote; November 11-12, 2011; Philadelphia, PA

How Connections Heal: Founding Concepts and Practical Applications of Relational-Cultural Theory
Details: Maureen Walker, Ph.D., keynote; January 27, 2012; St. Paul, MN

Wellesley Centers for Women Brown Bag Lecture Series
Details: Kate Price, M.A., presenter; March 15, 2012; Wellesley, MA

Psychotherapy Networker Symposium 2012
Details: Amy Banks, Ph.D., keynote; March 22-25, 2012; Washington, D.C.

International Conference: A Relational-Cultural Approach to Addressing Violence Against Women and Children - Human Trafficking
Details: Judith V. Jordan, Ph.D., Amy Banks, M.D., & Maureen Walker, Ph.D., keynotes and Kate Price, M.A., presenter; April 19-21, 2012; HAWK University, Bremen, Germany

Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association's 2012 Annual Conference
Details: Judith V. Jordan, Ph.D., keynote; May 24-27, 2012; Calgary, Alberta

For more information visit our Upcoming Events page

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Women in the military who are sexually assaulted or harassed face obstacles not seen in the civilian workplace. They can’t decide to take time off or quit, often have no way to avoid a predatory colleague or supervisor, and certainly in combat zones, no way to visit the human resources department. They often work in a culture that has long tolerated misogynistic behavior. And they can be further traumatized by the indifference or hostility of the bureaucracy that is supposed to help them.

Servicewomen and veterans say they often struggle unsuccessfully to obtain health care and benefits related to sexual violence they endured while in uniform. The Service Women’s Action Network, an advocacy group, last year sued the Pentagon and Department of Veterans Affairs under the Freedom of Information Act for documentation on their handling of sexual assaults. The group says the V.A.’s own data bears out the charge of unfair treatment. While the Veterans Benefits Administration approves 53 percent of all claims related to post-traumatic stress disorder, it accepts far fewer claims — only 32 percent — when the P.T.S.D. is related to sexual trauma. (Excerpt from the NY Times, September 11, 2011)

Read the entire editorial

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Elizabeth Warren has yet to officially declare that she is running for US Senate, but the former presidential aide took another step yesterday toward fortifying her position as the choice of the Democratic establishment - a trend that is beginning to wear on the Democrats who have already entered the race.

Introducing Warren at the annual Labor Day breakfast yesterday, the president of the Greater Boston Labor Council compared her to the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy, while the state's top union and Democratic political leaders stood and applauded her fiery keynote address at the event.

It was her most public introduction to date after a month of invitation-only house parties. But she has yet to face audiences outside her party’s core liberal base.

Three of the other Democratic candidates in the field trying to unseat Republican Scott Brown were left to mingle on the sidelines of the Park Plaza ballroom as Warren stood beside Mayor Thomas M. Menino, Lieutenant Governor Timothy P. Murray, and other party notables on a stage in front of about 500 union leaders. - Excerpt from The Boston Globe (Photo credit: Aram for The Boston Globe)

Read the entire article

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Miss Representation is a recent documentary exploring how the media contribute to inhibiting women from gaining roles of power.  The film , written, directed and produced by Jennifer Siebel Newsom premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. Jean Kilboourne, the presenter of the third Jean Baker Miller Memorial Lecture, is interviewed in the film.

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The Jean Baker Miller Training Institute (JBMTI) offers a free Work in Progress paper, selected from our many publications, to our website visitors. The chosen free download may be one completed recently, one of our classic groundbreaking works, or one that is applicable to current issues we face today. You can be sure that the free download will be a valuable resource.

We hope that by reading JBMTI publications, you will gain an understanding of the complexity, depth, and importance of the work undertaken by the researchers and program staff at JBMTI.

This month's featured download:
"Men's Psychological Development: A Relational Perspective," by Stephen Bergman, M.D.

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Registrations for our Introductory Institute from October 21-23, 2011 are pouring in. Please make sure you register today to reserve your spot.

An added feature to this year's Institute is that our Jean Baker Miller Memorial Lecturer, Dr. Lyn Mikel Brown, will be joining us the Saturday morning of the Institute to discuss her work with adolescent girls. Dr. Brown is the author of Girlfighting: Betrayal and Rejection among Girls, and the co-creator of Hardy Girls, Healthy Women.

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Registration is now available online for the 2011 Introductory Institute and for the Director's Webinar Series featuring Dr. Judith V. Jordan.

The Introductory Institute, from October 21-23, 2011 at Wellesley College, is a unique opportunity for the intensive study of Relational-Cultural Theory (RCT) and its direct applications in the world. This approach rests on the premise that growth-fostering connections are the central human necessity and disconnections is the primary source of human suffering. In particular, relationships are profoundly influenced by cultural contexts.

And Dr. Jordan, the American Psychological Association's 2010 Psychotherapist of the Year, will present the following webinars:

Empowering Relationships, Expanding Human Possibility
September, 16, 2011

Mutual Empathy: Healing Through and Toward Connection
November 18, 2011

Challenging the Isolating Power of Shame
December 9, 2011

Register today!

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The lack of empathy shown by the rioters is terrible to see. A much distributed film features Ashraf Haziq, a bleeding young man with a broken jaw who was helped to his feet by seemingly concerned men, so that they could calmly rifle his rucksack and take those of his belongings that they wanted. Those people literally wanted to help themselves, and not others. That little film was a dark synecdoche of such attitudes, which are common throughout our society, not only among looters. Likewise, it is not only the rich who resent paying tax. In a film of the Clapham Junction disturbances, Sky News reporter Mark Stone challenged a woman who had just been looting the clothes-store TK Maxx. She was getting her taxes back, she blithely explained. Again, that is a common attitude.

Everyone needs to take responsibility. There can be no excuses for the rich, and no excuses for the poor either. Above all, it is simply practical to organise society so that everyone feels that they can attain some kind of stake in it, achieve some sense of responsible agency, however modest. The events of the past few days ought at least to bring home that it is simply dangerous, never mind unnecessary and wantonly cruel, to maintain a society that is inherently unstable, because those at its margins can so easily become petty, or not so petty, insurgents.

One thing ought to be crystal-clear now. Social and economic exclusion damages people, who want to do damage in turn. That opportunistic looters exist, in such numbers, is ghastly evidence of a host of societal flaws and ruptures – not least among them educational and parental failures. It's time to stop the petty, adversarial debates, and work at getting everyone possible on board to fix this. (Excerpt of Guardian column by social and political commentator Deborah Orr; Photo credit Matt Dunham/AP)

Read the entire column

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Doing research on an RCT-related project? You can now search through the more than 6,500 journal articles, books, and papers citing the works of JBMI Founding Scholars and Faculty since 1976. Click here for Research Connections, a PDF compendium of these citations. (Please note: This list of citations is by no means exhaustive, and we have found sporadic errors. Please feel free to contact us with any changes and/or any additions.)

Good luck with your research!

 

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For those of us hoping to keep our brains fit and healthy well into middle age and beyond, the latest science offers some reassurance. Activity appears to be critical, though scientists have yet to prove that exercise can ward off serious problems like Alzheimer’s disease. But what about the more mundane, creeping memory loss that begins about the time our 30s recede, when car keys and people’s names evaporate? It’s not Alzheimer’s, but it’s worrying. Can activity ameliorate its slow advance — and maintain vocabulary retrieval skills, so that the word “ameliorate” leaps to mind when needed?

Obligingly, a number of important new studies have just been published that address those very questions. In perhaps the most encouraging of these, Canadian researchers measured the energy expenditure and cognitive functioning of a large group of elderly adults over the course of two to five years. Most of the volunteers did not exercise, per se, and almost none worked out vigorously. Their activities generally consisted of “walking around the block, cooking, gardening, cleaning and that sort of thing,” said Laura Middleton, an associate professor at the University of Waterloo in Ontario and lead author of the study, which was published last week in Archives of Internal Medicine.

But even so, the effects of this modest activity on the brain were remarkable, Dr. Middleton said. While the wholly sedentary volunteers, and there were many of these, scored significantly worse over the years on tests of cognitive function, the most active group showed little decline. About 90 percent of those with the greatest daily energy expenditure could think and remember just about as well, year after year. (Excerpt from NY Times Well blog, Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Read the entire post

 

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This video is speaking about a recent study, "Comparing Sex Buyers with Men Who Don't Buy Sex: 'You can have a good time with the servitude' vs. 'You're supporting a system of degradation,'" completed by Melissa Farley, Emily Schuckman, Jacqueline M. Golding, Kristen Houser, Laura Jarrett, Peter Qualliotine, Michele Decker. A paper regarding the study was also presented at Psychologists for Social Responsibility Annual Meeting July 15, 2011, Boston.

Read the entire study

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We are pleased to announce the 2012 Intensive Institute will take place June 21-24, 2012 at the Wellesley College Club on the Wellesley College campus. More details to follow in the coming months. We hope to see you next June!

The Introductory Institute is a unique opportunity for the intensive study of Relational-Cultural Theory (RCT) and its direct applications in the world. This approach rests on the premise that growth-fostering connections are the central human necessity and disconnections is the primary source of human suffering. In particular, relationships are profoundly influenced by cultural contexts.

In addition to interactive presentations and workshops led by Institute Faculty, learning activities will include small and large group case discussions, community-building, role-plays, and multi-media presentations. Ideal for clinicians, social workers, educators, organizational leaders, and parents. Some knowledge of the Relational-Cultural Model is helpful.

This year's Introductory Institute participants will also have the opportunity to hear Lyn Mikel Brown, Ed.D. present this year's Jean Baker Miller Memorial Lecture the evening of Friday, October 21, 2011 (the first night of the Institute). Dr. Brown will speak about her ground-breaking work on girls' voice and visibility.

14 CEUs awarded to Institute participants (NASW, APA, LMHC, LMFT)

Download the full schedule and brochure now

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Summer is in full swing in New England, and JBMI is ready to join in the fun. We will not be posting on the blog for the next few weeks as staff taking summer vacations. We wish everyone a happy and healthy summer!

The office will remain open, though, if you need to reach JBMI. Please feel free to call our main number at 781-283-3800 or email us at jbmti@wellesley.edu.

Thanks!

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Thank you to everyone who participated in this year's Intensive Institute. We hope that the connections and inspiration from this weekend will energize your daily work. We hope to see you next summer!

 

United Nations:  There was a sense of disbelief among ministers and ambassadors from diverse nations when the chairperson of the 11th Info-Poverty World Conference held at the United Nations introduced the jeans-clad Chhavi Rajawat as head of a village in India.

For, from a distance one could easily mistake Rajawat, an articulate, computer-savvy woman, for a frontline model or at least a Bollywood actress. But she is
sarpanch of Soda village, 60 kilometres from Jaipur, in backward Rajasthan and the changing face of growing dynamic rural India.

30-year-old Rajawat, India's youngest and the only MBA to become a village head -- the position mostly occupied by elders, quit her senior management position with Bharti-Tele Ventures of Airtel Group to serve her beloved villagers as
sarpanch.

Rajawat participated in a panel discussion at the two-day meet at the UN on March 24 and 25 on how civil society can implement its actions and spoke on the role of civil society in fighting poverty and promoting development. - Excerpt NDTV.com (New Delhi Television)

Read the full article

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JBMTI Director Judith V. Jordan was recently added to Wikipedia, and we would love your input in adding your favorite books, journal articles, quotes, events, and any other information you would like to include. As a pioneer in psychology, we would love for her page to reflect the countless lives her work has touched.

Visit Judy's Wikipedia page

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Last call for the Intensive Institute from June 23-26, 2011. The entire JBMI team is so excited that the Institute is right around the corner. We cannot wait to hear more about the incredible work the participants who are already registered are doing. We hope you join us, and register today!

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Manal al-Sharif, a 32-year-old Internet consultant and activist, was recently detained in Saudi Arabia for driving. She was released after one week, and stated she would never drive again. 

The video below of Manal al-Sharif driving was recorded by a fellow activist Wajiha Howeidar, and posted on You Tube as a tool to organize other women to protest the driving ban. The video was taken down by the Saudi Arabian government, however, copies have resurfaced.

Read a full summary of events

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Dark Girls: Preview from Bradinn French on Vimeo.

Clips from the upcoming documentary exploring the deep-seated biases and attitudes about skin color---particularly dark skinned women, outside of and within the Black American culture.

This film will be released in Fall/Winter 2011. Please "Like" the Dark Girls page on Facebook, we will keep you updated with news there.

Directed by Bill Duke and D. Channsin Berry
Produced by Bill Duke for Duke Media
and D. Channsin Berry for Urban Winter Entertainment
Co-Produced by Bradinn French
Line Produced by Cheryl L. Bedford
Edited by Bradinn French

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The new free paper is available to download on our Free Download page under publications: "Relational Development: Therapeutic Implications of Empathy and Shame" by Judith V. Jordan, Ph.D.

NPR's Fresh Air recently aired a beautiful interview with Toronto's The Globe and Mail reporter Ian Brown about the grace needed to raise his severely disabled son, Walker. Brown has written a new memoir, The Boy in the Moon: A Father's Journey to Understand His Extraordinary Son. The interview is a striking example of parenting (and living) with empathy and humility.

When he was 8 months old, Walker Brown was diagnosed with cardiofaciocutaneous syndrome (CFC), a rare disorder that left him with severe cognitive, developmental and physical disabilities. By the time he was 3 years old, his father says, his medical chart was 10 pages long.

Now 15, Walker wears diapers and an apparatus on his wrists that prevents him from hitting and scratching himself. Developmentally, his age is between 1 and 3, and he will require constant care for the rest of his life.

"He can't speak," his father, Ian Brown, tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "He can't do a lot of things — he can't swallow, so he's fed through a tube. We don't know how well he sees or hears. We know he sees and we know he hears, and I think it might be getting a bit better, but because he can't talk, he just has no way of rationally communicating — so we spent a long time trying to figure out other ways to connect."

Brown has spent years trying to learn about his son's condition, a rare genetic mutation that affects only 300 people in the world. He writes about his journey raising Walker — and his mission to find the answers to both medical and philosophical questions — in his new memoir, The Boy in the Moon. - Excerpt from NPR's Fresh Air

Listen to the full interview

The first edition of Toward a New Psychology of Women, the book that launched Jean Baker Miller's career and serves as a keystone of JBMTI’s work, was published in 1976. Since then the book has sold over 200,000 copies, been translated into 20 languages, and been published in 12 countries. A second edition with a new forward by Jean Baker Miller was published in 1987. Both editions combined have been cited in more than 3,000 books, journal articles, and dissertations.

Most notable of these citations are landmark books In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women’s Development by Carol Gilligan, Women’s Ways of Knowing: The Development of Self, Voice, and Mind by Mary Belenky, and Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls by Rachel Simmons. Additional acclaimed authors and academics who have cited the book are Lyn Mikel Brown, Nancy Chodorow, Riane Eisler, Judith Herman, Jean Kilbourne, Harriet Lerner, and William Pollock.

Over the decades, countless women told Jean either in person or writing, “Your book changed my life.” Thanks to the lasting impact and reach of her work, such change continues today.

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Thank you to everyone who attended our final webinar of our Brain in Connection series this morning, and to all who participated during the 2010-2011 season. We look forward to presenting new webinars with JBMI Director and Harvard Medical School Assistant Professor Judith V. Jordan, Ph.D during our 2011-2012 season. Following is a sneak preview of this Director's Series, which opens Friday, September 16, 2011 with Empowering Relationships, Expanding Human Possibility. Registration will open mid-August.

Sneak Preview: 2011-2012 Webinar Series
All three webinars will be presented by JBMI Director Judith V. Jordan, Ph.D.
Empowering Relationships, Expanding Human Possibility - 9/16/11
Mutual Empathy: Healing Through and Toward Connection - 11/18/11
Challenging the Isolating Power of Shame 12/9/11

Stay tuned for more information and registration


Friday is our final webinar in The Healing Brain Series!  It Is Never Too Late to Change: Neuroplasticity and The Hope of Change will be presented from 11am-12:30pm EST. We've posted the following recent Q &A with Dr. Amy Banks a sneak preview of how accessible she makes the language of neurobiology.

Humans are hardwired for connection? Neurobiology 101 for parents, educators, & the general public

Q&A with Amy Banks , M.D., director of Advanced Training at the Jean Baker Miller Training Institute at the Wellesley Centers for Women ; instructor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School; co-editor of The Complete Guide to Mental Health for Women; and author of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: Relationships and Brain Chemistry.

Q: Why is the field of neuroscience so important to understanding the necessity of human relationships to overall well-being?

Dr. Banks: Due to a series of seminal studies and research, neuroscience is confirming our entire autonomic nervous system wants us to connect with other human beings. Of particular importance are mirror neurons, which are throughout our brain and allow us to read behavior. They are the basis of empathy – so that when you watch my face as I am talking I can watch your face and I can see that when I am more animated your face gets more animated. It’s that automatic moment-to-moment resonance that connects us. There have been studies that look at emotions in human beings such as disgust, shame, happiness, where the exact same areas of the brain light up in the listener who is reading the feelings of the person talking. We are, literally, hardwired to connect.

Q: So what happens when people are not connected?

Dr. Banks: One of the seminal studies in Relational-Cultural Neurobiology is something called SPOT (Social Pain Overlap) Theory. A group of researchers at UCLA, looked at the overlap between social pain and physical pain. They designed a benign computerized experiment that gradually excluded people from a multi-player game. What they found was the area that lit up in the brain for that kind of social rejection, the anterior singulate, was the exact same area that lights up for the distress of physical pain. So the distress of social pain is biologically identical to the distress of physical pain. Most people in our culture understand that physical pain is a major stressor, but we reject the idea of social pain. This impacts our society on a grand scale with in instances such as racism or homophobia: all of those ways that we divide our social structures. We leave out people all of the time: it’s how we define ourselves.  Rather than inclusion, it’s who’s excluded.

Q: So this brain’s activity can negatively impact a person’s physical health as well?

Dr. Banks: Yes, being pushed out of social relationships and into isolation is going to have health ramifications. In fact, there was a book done by health advocate Dr. Dean Ornish, called Love and Survival. There has been study after study done on the positive impact of loving relationships. What he had said at the time in that book was that if we had a drug that did for our health what love does, it would be far outsell anything that has ever been made. The efficacy is that potent. But we downplay the importance of love and connection in a culture based on the success of “the rugged individual.” And I think it’s a good analogy that healthy connection decreases our overall pain.

Q: So if you have individuals or communities or societies that have lived with trauma, isolation, rejection, is healing possible?

Dr. Banks: This is the other piece of the neuroscience that is profound and hopeful, and that is neuroplasticity: the capacity of our brains and autonomic nervous systems to change. Until Dr. FIRST Erikson discovered in 1998 that the brain could make new cells, the neurological model stated humans were born with a certain amount of brain cells that decreased with age and through circumstances such as head injuries or taking drugs. Now we know our brains are making new cells and are re-working brain connections all the time. The key for creating lasting change is motivation and interest in making different choices which will stimulate new areas of the brain and re-wire us.

Q: Why is this information medically important not only for clinicians for but parents, teachers, caregivers out in the world? That is of great importance to you, can you tell us a little bit why?

Dr. Banks: The history of science is historically to be 10-20 years ahead of where the culture is, and given what we have facing us today with the economy and many global crises, I think we have to get back to the real basics of having relationships be at the center of our meaning. This has been our passion at the Jean Baker Miller Training Institute for years, but it feels really urgent right now. My experience both as a clinician and as a mother is that people are hungry for this information. Our greatest gift is to connect, and we function better in connection as individuals and as a society. If we can teach our children how to connect, and we can teach our mothers and fathers and caregivers to raise connected children, we can foster the positive change that is emerging throughout the world.

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The Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights announced on Thursday that it would be investigating Yale University in response to a Title IX complaint by students and alumni. The complaint, which was filed by 12 women and four men who are current students and alumni of the university, cites recent public and private events where Yale's sexual assault and harassment policies have led to the creation of a hostile sexual environment. This environment limits "women's equal access to educational opportunities," the complaint argues. The 16 signatories have been discussing the possibility of filing a complaint since December of 2010, but Yale's lack of response to an incident in which men from the DKE fraternity chanted: "No means yes! Yes means anal!" outside of freshman dorms set the wheels in motion.

The complaint cites five other events, including the "preseason scouting report": A widely distributed email that rated women based on attractiveness sent out in 2009. In 2008, members of the Zeta Psi fraternity posted photos on Facebook of themselves holding a banner that said "We love Yale sluts" in front of the Yale Women's Center. In 2007, over 150 students at the medical school signed a letter to the administration, requesting that it investigate the school's sexual assault and harassment policy. The Title IX complaint is also in reference to students' private interactions with Yale after issues of sexual harassment, assault, stalking, or crimes in which a sexual assault also occurred. - Excerpt, Miranda Lewis, Yale student and XX Factor intern

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Dr. Nathan Dewall from the University of Kentucky discusses his study and Psychological Science journal article, "Tylenol reduces social pain: behavioral and neural evidence.

The Out of the Darkness Overnight is a walk like no other. It's an 18-mile journey through the night, from dusk until dawn where a courageous community of men and women like you will break the silence and bring the issues of depression and suicide into the light. We will walk together to turn heartbreak into hope for tomorrow. - from the American Society for Suicide Prevention

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A legal shift in looking at the men who pay for sex is a new focus for anti-sex trafficking activists. The strategy has led to changes in state legislation and educational programs at a growing number of "john schools."

Today, approximately 40 john schools serving 50 communities exist nationwide. Though "john school" is the generic term for educational programs for men who engage in transactional sex, each course has its own formal title, such as Chicago's Ammend Program.

By educating men on the consequences of soliciting sex--both for themselves and for sex workers--advocates say these programs raise awareness on the ramifications of sex trafficking and reduce recidivism. The reason behind educating men who pay for sex, says Hatcher, is simple: if there were no customers, there'd be no prostitution.  -  Women's eNews article excerpt

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In September 2010, syndicated columnist and author Dan Savage created a YouTube video with his partner Terry to inspire hope for young people facing harassment. In response to a number of students taking their own lives after being bullied in school, they wanted to create a personal way for supporters everywhere to tell LGBT youth that, yes, it does indeed get better.

Two months later, the It Gets Better Project (TM) has turned into a worldwide movement, inspiring over 10,000 user-created videos viewed over 35 million times. To date, the project has received submissions from celebrities, organizations, activists, politicians and media personalities, including President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Adam Lambert, Anne Hathaway, Colin Farrell, Matthew Morrison of "Glee", Joe Jonas, Joel Madden, Ke$ha, Sarah Silverman, Tim Gunn, Ellen DeGeneres, Suze Orman, the staffs of The Gap, Google, Facebook, Pixar, the Broadway community, and many more. For us, every video changes a life. It doesn’t matter who makes it. - From www.itgetsbetter.org

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Galia Slayen recently blogged on The Huffington Post's HuffPost College site about the life-size Barbie she built in 2007. "I was frustrated after quitting the cheerleading squad, frustrated with pressures to look and act a certain way and most of all frustrated with the eating disorder controlling my life. I wanted to do something that would turn others' apathy into action."

Some people have skeletons in their closet. I have an enormous Barbie in mine.

She stands about six feet tall with a 39" bust, 18" waist, and 33" hips. These are the supposed measurements of Barbie if she were a real person. I built her as a part of the first National Eating Disorder Awareness Week (NEDAW) at my high school, later introducing her to Hamilton College during its first NEDAW in 2011.

When I was a little girl, I played with my Barbie in her playhouse, sending her and Ken on dates that always ended with a goodnight kiss. I had fond times with my Barbie, and I admired her perfect blonde locks and slim figure. Barbie represented beauty, perfection and the ideal for young girls around the world. At least, as a seven-year-old, that is what she was to me. - Blog excerpt

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JBMI Director of Advanced Study Amy Banks, M.D. was recently interviewed by Joan Brunwasser for OpEdNews.com. The article, "Dr. Amy Banks on How to Keep Those Grey Cells Fit as We Age," focuses on in importance of brain health.

Not only does exercise keep your body fit, but it contributes to keeping your brain flexible and adaptable. One of the issues, particularly with advanced aging, is a sense of isolation as friends and family may be dying.I think people need to be able to maintain community and connections, opportunities to interact.The physiology of healthy relationship contributes to building a brain that is continuing to grow. - Article excerpt

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A recent editorial in the New York Times makes the case for the Supreme Court to listen to the women of Wal-Mart. Ms. Betty Dukes (pictured right) is the lead plaintiff in the sex discrimination class-action lawsuit Dukes vs. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

The employment discrimination lawsuit against Wal-Mart, which the Supreme Court heard last week, is the largest in American history. If the court rejects this suit, it will send a chilling message that some companies are too big to be held accountable.

It began in 1999 after Stephanie Odle was fired when she complained of sex discrimination. As Ms. Odle recounted in sworn testimony, as an assistant manager she discovered that a male employee with the same title and less experience was making $10,000 a year more than her.

She complained to her boss, who defended the disparity by saying the male had a family to support. When she replied that she was having a baby that she needed to support, the supervisor made her provide a personal budget and then gave her a raise closing just one-fifth the gap. - Editorial excerpt       (Photo credit: AP Images)

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The Jean Baker Miller Institute sent out a flyer this week asking RCT practitioners in our current database to update their email addresses. We are in the midst of upgrading our database, and want to make sure we have the most accurate contact information for RCT community members. The flyer is also full of upcoming program information, new publications, and RCT resources, so make sure to check it out and spread the word to colleagues and friends.

Thank you for your consideration and participation.

JBMI Associate Director of Advanced Training, Amy Banks, M.D., has spoken and published extensively on the effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in relationship, particularly interpersonal violence. She authored Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: Relationships and Brain Chemistry with Cambridge Health Alliance's Victims of Violence, a program co-founded by Mary Harvey, Ph.D. and trauma pioneer Judith Herman, Ph.D.

An instructor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Banks also co-edited The Complete Guide to Mental Health for Women, which includes her chapter, "Post-traumatic Stress Disorder." She also published "The Developmental Impact of Trauma," in Diversity and Development edited by Dr. Dana Comstock (Belmont, CA: Brooks Cole), and "A Relational Therapy for Trauma," in the Journal of Traumatic Practice.

Dr. Banks will be presenting a webinar Love and PTSD: Understanding the Devastating Impact of Interpersonal Violence on Friday, April 29, 2011 from 11am-12:30pm EST. Using an interactive format, she will explore brain changes seen in people diagnosed with PTSD. Participants will also discuss the "five bad things" of an abusive relationship and the process of amplification seen in PTSD. Pre-registration at www.jbmti.org is required.  Learn more.

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Ethics and Power: Navigating Mutuality in Therapeutic Relationships, by Pam Birrell, Ph.D. is now available through the Wellesley Centers for Women Publications Office.

This paper explores Relational-Cultural Theory (RCT) and the ethics of power-with, of mutuality and relational engagement. It examines how we and those with whom we work become whole and how we help others. Ethics is not a set of rules to follow, but is an attitude and a stance toward the suffering of others and toward helping them to heal. Mutual respect and mutual power, relational engagement, and the importance of uncertainty, being open to the people with whom we work are described as core ethical concerns. This paper initiates a conversation on relational-cultural ethics which can create possibilities and growth fostering relationships for all. - Abstract

Pam Birrell, Ph.D., is a Senior Instructor in the psychology department at the University of Oregon, and a psychologist in private practice. She completed the Jean Baker Miller Training Institute Practitioner Program in 2006.

REGISTER ONLINE TODAY for The Power of Connection: Tools for Personal and Social Change, JBMTI's  Intensive Institute from June 23-26, 2011 at Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA.

In response to feedback from our recent constituent survey, we've overhauled our Intensive Institute to focus more on practical applications of RCT and skills you need to be a better practitioner. We expanded workshops, community-building activities, research instruction, and theory-into-action exercises to empower and support participants as relational leaders in their work, families, and communities. We have also brought back on-campus housing accommodations during the Institute.

Highlights: Plenaries: Why RCT Matters in the Real World, "Be the Change" Conversations, and Action Growing from CommunityWorkshops: Creating Connection in a Sea of Disconnection: Research-Informed Clinical Practice, Getting Unstuck: The Tools of Empathy, Reclaiming the Connected Brain: A 10 Step Program to Awaken Your Natural Ability to Connect, and "Talking" the Talk through Media CommentaryCommunity: Group activities and poster sessions.

See you in June!

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RCT practitioner Judith Lockhart-Radtke recently published, Weaving Yarn, Weaving Cultures, Weaving Lives: A Circle of Women in Oaxaca, Mexico, in which she acknowledges Jean Baker Miller's influence on the book and her work:

This theory depended on the work of Paulo Freire and Jean Baker Miller...Jean Baker Miller has written extensively that women grown best in relationships of mutuality. This was the first experiment with Miller's work in the developing world in a cross-cultural project, and both Miller and the Institute she founded at Wellesley College were interested and supportive participants.

The Circle of Women began in 2002 when Judith Lockhart-Radtke and Pia Scognamiglio, a Swiss-Mexican midwife, joined to support the women of Oaxaca in building healthy and viable communities. Their vision is to "strive to realize social justice for women by supporting self-reliance, raising consciousness of individual talents and skills and enhancing cross-cultural relations."