The issue of violence is a glaring item in news articles today. As I research the topic I am often lead back to the item of “parent-child” bonding. Someone said to me, “All incarcerations include a story of the interruption of parent-child bonding early in the child’s life.”  Even though this statement seems intense, there is a hidden kernel of truth traveling throughout the words.

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A parenting enhancement program called The Family Thriving Program (FTP) uses a re-framing approach to adjust a parent’s attitude if their newborn is born in less than an optimal nurturing environment.  Less than optimal is defined as: a parent’s history of unemployment, past history of own abuse, lack of support, unstable housing.  The goal is to assist parents to become competent and independent problem solvers.  This program also looks at newborns at medical risk, i.e. preterm, cesarean birth or any infant/parent pair that has experienced an interruption in the bonding process.   This program also measures the child’s cortisol level.  Cortisol is associated with stressors, such as maternal stress or maternal depression, show elevated cortisol levels.   According to a report by the Promising Practices Network (retrieved 7/19/2018), elevated cortisol levels in early life are associated with reduced capacity for learning and memory later in life (Jameison and Dinan, 2001).

This FTP program incorporates the home visitation program offering support, information, education, problem-solving rethinking exercises, motivational re-framing of commonly-occurring challenges and general problem-solving strategies.

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The Center for Disease Control (CDC) defines child abuse and neglect as any act or series of acts of commission or omission by a parent or other caregiver (e.g., clergy, coach, teacher) that results in harm, the potential for harm, or the threat of harm to a child.  This definition falls under the definition of violence; abuse is violence.  Violence against children and child abuse affects children’s health now and later and is a costly venture for our country.

1 in 4 children suffered abuse – this translates into 676,000 children being confirmed by Child Protective Services as being victims of abuse and neglect in 2016

1 in 4 children (at least) suffered neglect sometimes in their life

1 in 7 children experienced abuse or neglect in the LAST YEAR

1,750 children died from abuse/neglect in 2016

An organized response to child maltreatment didn’t begin until 1874 in the U.S.

Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) affects 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men in the U.S. in their lifetime.  These people have experienced an intimate relationship.  A common thread that links victims of IPV is that the victim knows the perpetrator, knows him or her well, and vice versa.  IPV involves physical or sexual violence or stalking and psychological aggression, including coercive acts, by a current or former intimate partner.

An emotional tie often hinders a person’s ability to protect themselves against violence inflicted by their partner.  When a relationship turns violent, devotion can become deadly, giving a frightening and disturbing tone to the expression “till death do us part.” (American Nurse Today, Vol. 12, No. 3)

Workplace violence according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) occurs on a regular basis.  75% of nearly 25,000 workplace assaults occur in a healthcare or social service setting.  However, we know that this number is underreported since only 30% of nurses report violent incidents.  American Nurses Association President Pam Cipriano, Ph.D., RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, states: “Abuse is not part of anyone’s job and has no place in healthcare settings…”  As of December 2017, Medscape Medical News poll includes a poll of 569 nurses, 73% of female nurses and 46% of male nurses reported being sexually harassed.  Emotional and physical harm can be devastating.

There are a variety of public resources if anyone is at risk for abuse.

National Domestic Violence Hotline – 800-799-7233 (

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (

Stop Abuse for Everyone – (503)853-8686) (

Domestic Abuse Helpline for Men and Women – (888-7HELPLINE) (

Futures Without Violence: The National Health Resource Center on Domestic Violence (888-792-2873) (

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I will leave you with a thought to ponder.  There is a field of medical study called epigenetics.  This field relates how a person’s cells read their genes.  It doesn’t alter the DNA code sequence but it influences how the gene is expressed.  An article in Discover Magazine (5/26/2018) and in the journal Nature Neuroscience (June 2004) relate this medical genetic coding issue.  When two scientists, Meaney and Szyf conducted tests in genetic coding and genetic attachment (epigenetics) they noted changes not only in the brain of their test subjects but their genes as well.  The scientist also found by examining blood tests that these changes were passed on to the subject’s offspring thereby altering how gene information was expressed in the next generation.  According to this recognized study, “early stress in a child’s life impacts long-term programming of genome functioning.  Author Elena Grigorenko of the Child Study Center at Yale, states “parenting adopted children might require much more nurturing care to reverse these changes in genome regulation.”

Possibly, we can decrease the incidence of violence and abuse by kissing, hugging and nurturing our babies, and showing people in our lives that we care for them on a regular basis.  If we love and nurture the people in our present generation then they may in turn love and nurture the people in the next generation…


Lines of Listening

A collection of feelings, thoughts, and memories is formed by our interactions with our extended family, co-workers, and social acquaintances.  This collection, this Lines of Listening, is our story of our life from our perspective.

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These lines may be weak and barely visible in our mental reasoning.  They may pass through our life as a far-off, delicate whisper.  However, at times they may be intense and offer a strong, intense influence on every action in our life and be at the forefront of every decision that we make.  Whether these Lines of Listening are annoying because we don’t like what they say or enjoyable because we’re reminded of pleasant interactions, we all hear these mental conversations.

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What we decide to do with this mental “noise” that enters our emotional realm of detection affects our life.  Are we hearing or listening to this conversation?  The ability to hear depends on the sensitive anatomy of our body: head, ears, functional hearing structures.  However, listening requires us to discriminate the information and mold it into our beliefs to determine how we deal with issues in our life.

person wearing hearing aidUNDERSTANDING

Sometimes we want to hear, usually we want to listen.  Often we struggle to understand. However, the Lines of Listening are always part of who we are and how we communicate with the world.

Eye Contact

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The best way to leave a lasting impression is to make eye contact. “Secrets to Making Non-Awkward Eye Contact” The Muse – Tools & Skills – 2018 Lily Zhang – Career Development Specialist at MIT.  Obviously, this is something we all understand but it’s satisfying to know that the professionals who work in the field also verify our hunches. The Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary and Thesaurus (2007) defines the EYE as an organ of sight, a faculty of discrimination; something having an undeveloped bud or the calm at the center of a cyclone.  The definition of CONTACT from this same source is listed as the touching or meeting of bodies where a connection or relationship or communication is formed. Eye contact is important in our everyday life.  Dale Carnegie, the world-renowned speaker and inspirational guide, suggests that you make eye contact with someone long enough to register what eye color they have before looking away.  Somehow this seems instinctual; we do it without thinking about it.  Katherine Schreiber and Heather Hausenblas, Ph.D. (Co-authors of The Truth About Exercise Addition) relate in their article posted 9/20/2016 and verified by Psychology Today “What Eye Contact Can Do to You,” that newborns pay more attention to faces with eyes gazing directly at them than to faces with eyes looking off in the distance.  Even babies have the inborn desire to scan a human face looking for information.  There is also an indication that eye contact is crucial for successful early childhood/parent bonding.  This type of eye contact engagement may enhance memory for the child’s decision-making process.

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Eyes of Babies

Eye contact can have a memory-boosting effect as long as it’s wanted by the person being looked at.  So, make eye contact work to your advantage.  Sean Cooper (The Shyness & Social Anxiety Guy) viewed 7/15/2018 “How To Make Eye Contact Without Feeling Awkward,”  indicates that there is a socially acceptable time frame for maintaining eye contact before the technique becomes staring or inappropriate.  So, how long is too long?  Sean gives us a guideline for eye contact:

  •  eye contact with talking – 1/3 of the time
  • eye contact with listening – 2/3 of the time
  • eye contact with everyday conversation – spurts of 3-4 seconds during the verbal exchange

Since most human contact tends to be non-verbal (a study at UCLA indicated that 93% of communication is not verbal), that means we talk with a combination of body language and eye contact.  Wow, what a great opportunity to let another human being know how you’re feeling and what your opinions are about life.  Your eyes are your “scouts.”  They scan the horizon much like the advance scouts did in the days of the ole’ west when the military was traveling on maneuvers in the hot desert.   Processing of the information is the same: gathering, assessing and decision making.  It’s just as vital today to make the correct decision with the incoming information that you receive from eye contact.  Every day we all make connections through eye contact so you may want to pay attention to the cues coming from the person you’re looking at: it’s a good idea.

Intelligent Medicine

“Doctors who partner with (AI) artificial intelligence as a decision-making aid will see their healing powers expand more than they have in the past 100 years” (Men’s Health, p. 42, May 2018).

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Intelligent Medicine

Mr. Greg Corrado, Ph.D. was making a TedMed presentation about artificial intelligence this past year when he stunned his audience of medical professionals.  Well, Dr. Corrado should know the field well since he is a principal scientist at Google AI and an expert in machine learning.  He went on to explain that to tackle the storm of intense medical data available for medical evaluators today a practitioner needs to condense the “data beast” so that appropriate information can be funneled into focused patient care.

The future is coming.  The future is down the road.  The future is here.  Microsoft, Apple, IBM and many other tech-savvy corporations are creating algorithms for medical facilities.  An algorithm is a structured formula for solving a problem. So, when a doctor, hospital, medical records department, medication ordering program or medical supply procurement agency needs to determine the best solution for diagnosing a problem they turn to a robotic algorithm system to capture the solution.

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Personal Medicine

Personal medicine has become more personal.  Your medical treatment can be decided by a complex set of numbers calculated by a fined-tuned robot analyzing specific personal data about your past, current and future health.  Your medical provider even knows the odds of whether you will keep your next appointment.  Rachel Sturtz (Men’s Health, May 2018) relates a variety of “assistive” robots working to keep us healthy.

  • Sensely – this avatar checks symptoms and pulls data for your doctor to review
  • Woebot – this “chatbot” created by Alison Darcy, Ph.D., monitors your mood
  • AiCure – recognizes your face, verifies medication and checks for administration
  • SemanticScholar – a search-based engine for relevant medical information
  • ARTAS Robotic – transplants hair faster than a human
  • HeartFlow – diagnosing heart disease with 3D map of the heart
  • Butterfly iQ – a pocket-sized ultrasound scanner with unlimited possibilities
  • Watson for Oncology – a plethora of resources for cancer treatment plans
  • Lumo Run (Lumo Lift) – personal biomechanic feedback
  • PatientsLikeMe – a FREE patient network to gain insight from people with similar medical conditions
  • ColgateConnect E1 – toothbrush using 3D technology for healthier teeth
  • Noom – custom nutrition/exercise courses – CDC-RECOGNIZED FOR THE PREVENTION OF DIABETES
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Intelligent Health

Cloud-based, yes, cloud-based technology is being used to view, monitor, assess, analyze, scan, interpret, review, research, plan, learn, devise and track almost every aspect of your medical life.  This detailed analysis is reducing unnecessary, invasive medical procedures, eliminating or reducing health care costs, increasing medical diagnosis accuracy, decrease pharmaceutical waste, increasing the proficiency of medical product tracking, assisting medical providers in assembling a library of current and timely medical information, and most importantly, improving the quality of health care for all of us.

As in all things tech, it’s important not to become entangled in the business part of healthcare.  The use of technology must be tempered with the personal care of medicine.  Development of an effective care plan still balances between the medical provider and the patient; with a fair exchange of information.  Hopefully, humans still talk to humans.  This personal conversation isn’t a debate or gabfest, it’s an informed exchange between concerned people trying to intelligently discuss sometimes difficult health-related questions.  AI (artificial intelligence) is used to assist this exchange and achieve the best healthcare decision.

Rachel Sturtz (Men’s Health, May 2018) states, “artificial intelligence is medicine’s future.”  I would reframe that statement and say that intelligent assistance for personal healthcare is the future.

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The DocBot will see you now


Social Health

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Social Health

Like Social Security, Social Health affects everyone in some way.  According to Michael Jones, PhD, RN, MSN, MBA, “social health is expressed when each individual is able to put into practice the information he or she has been provided by their healthcare provider.”  This idea is burdened when 9 out of 10 of us struggle with understanding our health information, (The Mississippi RN – Summer 2018).

Within this context, the CDC’s (Centers for Disease Control) definition of social determinates of health is, “economic and social conditions that influence the health of people and communities. ” It further states that “these resources are shaped by the amount of money, power, and resources that people have,  all of which are influenced by policy choices.”

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Healthy People

“The context in which people live their lives, the resources available to them, and in particular their social and economic circumstances, are the primary determinates of population health outcomes.” This idea is presented by Professor Alan Davidson in his book entitled, Social Determinates of Health – A Comparative Approach. (2014)

So, how do we as a community get the best outcomes for our health resources?  Well, the WHO (World Health Organization) has developed a list of considerations – Social Gradients, Stress, Early Life, Social Exclusion, Work Life, Unemployment, Social Support Addition, Food, Transport.  Examining these 10 components will give you an in-depth picture of your – or anyone’s – standing within the social health spectrum.

  •  the further down you are on the social gradient, the more disease prevalence
  • stress can lead to distress which can lead to physical health issues
  • it is vital that you receive quality health care in the first two years of your life
  • discrimination impacts your physical health
  • accumulated workplace stress can increase your disease development potential
  • uncertain job security influences your physical health
  • strong social support often equals positive health outcomes
  • addictions as a coping mechanism have negative effects
  • healthy food is essential for good health
  • inadequate access to transportation equals poor health outcomes
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Social Access?

According to AAA (American Automobile Association), this July 4th weekend, in the United States 46.9 million Americans will travel over 50 miles from their home to celebrate the holiday.  They will use either a car, boat, ship or bus.  The National Retail Federation states that 106 million Americans will attend a community celebration.  A CBS News Poll (7-2018) determines that 53% of Americans believe that the “American Dream” is still attainable.

Consider the question,  “Does everyone in my social community have equal access to resources?”  You may well come up with a variety of answers.  According to the Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary and Thesaurus, “resource is the ability to meet and handle situations. ”  Obviously, the WHO considers Social Health from a “total person” point of view.  Living in a community that values education, social policy concerned with individual diversity, public transportation needs, early childhood health and stable employment is an environment that has considered the CDC, WHO, Dr. Michael Jones and Professor Alan Davidson issues.

You may want to consider the Social Health of your community.