Dawn Pisturino's Blog

My Writing Journey

The Path to Wellness

Wellness, from a holistic point of view, means wholeness.  We achieve wholeness when all the parts of our lives come into balance.  But how do we do this?

First, we make a choice.  Making the choice may or may not be easy.  We may genuinely enjoy smoking.  We may really like going out for Sunday dinner at the local steak house.  We may really believe that one more cup of coffee won’t hurt us.  But what is the end result that we want to achieve?

Do we want to breathe easy in our old age or be hooked up to an oxygen tank?  Do we want to maintain healthy arteries through our diet or to undergo surgical procedures to clean them out?  How many medications do we want to take — and who’s going to pay for them?  Do we really like the feeling of jitteriness that coffee brings? And oh, the heartburn!

Once we make the choice, it is all a matter of sticking with it.  Making a commitment to ourselves and our well-being goes a long way to achieving wellness.  After all, nobody else can do it for us.  The family doctor can prescribe drugs and suggest lifestyle changes, but he cannot do the exercise for us.  Neither is he going to give up his steak and ice cream for us.  He will, however, be more than happy to take care of us when we end up in the hospital.  Is that the outcome we want to achieve?

Frankly, it’s hard.  It’s hard to give up the things we love and which give us a sense of comfort when we are under stress or bored.  It’s hard to give up those little pleasures which make life worth living.  After all, isn’t that what life is all about? 

And who really wants to go out and jog five miles a day?  Who has the time?  And does it really matter whether we live to be 76 or 78?

Wellness means wholeness.  Wholeness means integration and quality of life.  It is not so much the number of years that we are trying to reach but the quality of life that we are trying to achieve.  A person may live to be 100, but if they are dragging around an oxygen tank, live in a nursing home, and have no family or friends, is that wellness?  Is that wholeness?  Is that the quality of life that we are striving to achieve?

Think about it.  Examine your life now and your possible life in the future.  What do you see?  Do you like what you see?  If not, then make a commitment to yourself to achieve a greater level of wellness in your life.
Dawn Pisturino, RN
November 2, 2006; June 28, 2022
Published in The Kingman Daily Miner, February 27, 2007

Copyright 2006-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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The Meaning of Wellness

The term “wellness” means many things to many people but, generally speaking, it refers to a feeling of wholeness.  While many people may regard wellness as an absence of disease, it goes far beyond physical health.

When we view ourselves from the holistic point of view, we see that we are much more than a collection of flesh and bones meandering aimlessly through life.  We have physical needs that must be met such as food, warmth, shelter, sex, etc.  Most people do well meeting these basic needs.  But once these basic needs are met, we find that we need more.  Instead of just physical gratification, we long for love and affection.  Our bodies crave healthy, wholesome foods, not just whatever junk we find in the cupboard.  We want to create an environment of peace and comfort that we can go home to at night after a long day at work.  We seek relationships and environments that are nourishing and contribute to our fulfillment in life.

Wellness begins with our physical health.  We can choose to be healthier by making better food choices, exercising more, watching our weight, and getting more rest.  We can do what we can to prevent illness, rather than trusting to luck and treating the illness after the fact, when it is more difficult and more expensive — or may be too late.

For example, we can stop smoking if we are concerned about future lung disease.  We can cut back on red meat and consume more fruits and vegetables if we are concerned about heart disease.  We can lose weight, exercise more, and cut back on starches and processed foods if we are afraid of developing Type II diabetes.  This control is in OUR hands.

Taking this a step further, then, we can also find wellness in other areas of our lives.  We can end an abusive relationship and associate with people who treat us with love and compassion.  We can quit a dead-end job, go back to school, and follow a new career.  We can cut up the credit cards and avoid incurring more debt.  We can express our creativity through hobbies, loving relationships, service to others, and spiritual practices.

Wellness, from a holistic point of view, is wholeness.  We achieve wholeness when all the parts of our lives come into balance.  It is a feeling of being fully integrated and connected with the world.  It is living a quality of life which brings us inner peace and a sense of well-being.

Examine your life.  Are there areas which you could improve?  Look at your options.  Are there new or better ways that you could live?  Make a choice and go with it.  You can always choose new paths later on.

Dawn Pisturino, RN
November 2, 2006; June 27, 2022
Published in The Kingman Daily Miner, February 13, 2007
       and The Standard, week of February 12, 2007

Copyright 2006-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

20 Comments »

Love Your Mother!

(GAIA)

Gaia was the Greek goddess of the Earth who was born out of Chaos at the beginning of creation. Through her mating with Uranus, the celestial gods were born. Her dalliance with Pontos brought forth the sea gods. Through Tartaros, she birthed the giants. All humans and animals were created from her material being.

The Greeks viewed the Earth as a flat disk surrounded by a river. Overhead, the Earth was protected by a heavenly dome. Underneath, a deep pit formed the dome of the Underworld. Gaia was the Mother who nourished and nurtured the Earth and everything on it. The seas and mountains anchored securely on her great and abundant breasts.

Humans are not separate from nature. We are as dependent on Mother Earth for our sustenance as any other creature. But the human ego, pumped up by advanced technology, has deceived us into believing that we are above it all. We are so powerful, intelligent, and all-knowing, that we can control nature, the weather, and all aspects of the natural order. We are the Masters of the Universe, ready to hop onto the next spaceship to another planet. The problem is that we will take all of our problems and our egos with us.

In the 1970s, scientists claimed that the Earth was headed for another Ice Age and had all the data to back it up. So far, it hasn’t happened. They claimed that the Earth would run out of petroleum in 25 years. It never happened. They claimed that the Earth was going to be so over-populated in the future that famine would be widespread. Except for the political manipulation of politicians, this has not happened.

In the 1990s, we began to see books like The Coming Plague (1994) and The Coming Global Superstorm (1999) which predicted widespread existential threats like devastating disease and severe weather patterns that would wipe out the human race. No natural event has ever occurred in the history of mankind which had the capability to wipe out the entire human race. (Please note that I’m not talking about the dinosaurs here.) COVID was never virulent enough to rise to that occasion, as inconvenient and life-changing as it has been. (And there is no evidence that COVID originated from climate change, as some people are claiming. It could just as likely have originated from a lab, as some evidence suggests, or arisen naturally as a result of mutation, which is the most logical conclusion.) And, the wildfires, hurricanes, and tornados we have experienced have been contained as local events.

When scientists first labeled climate change as “global warming,” they neglected to explain to the general public how that actually works, and people were confused by what they actually experienced; so they re-labeled it as “climate change” to make it easier to understand. Essentially, it means that when one part of the planet grows warmer and changes the local environment, other changes occur in other parts of the planet – but NOT NECESSARILY THE SAME CHANGES. For example, record heat in one part of the planet may be accompanied by record cold in another part, even if the overall temperature of the planet has increased. Increased drought in one area may be accompanied by increased precipitation in another. Climate (long-term conditions) and weather (short-term conditions) involve much more than just temperature. Wind and ocean currents play a big part. An extreme event would be a sudden and unstoppable shift in climate. This scenario was touched upon in the movie The Day After Tomorrow (2004), where North America was suddenly covered with ice, and people were forced to migrate south to Mexico. (This movie, by the way, is based on the book, The Coming Global Superstorm.)

Our Mother Earth also has mechanisms in place to control population (disease, infertility, old age, predation, and natural death). The human ego is so out of control that we have come to a point where we believe that nobody should ever get sick and nobody should ever die. This attitude has been clearly evident during the COVID pandemic. One of the most important things I learned as a registered nurse and healthcare worker is that you can’t save everybody, and in fact, you shouldn’t save everybody. This sounds cold-hearted, but it’s a fact of life. The world is out of balance because of human interference in the natural order.

On Earth Day and everyday, remember and love your Mother – she who nourishes and sustains your very existence. But please don’t spread the seeds of hysteria, fear, panic, and anxiety. When Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and others began telling young people that we were all going to die in 12 years because of climate change, we began receiving young people into our inpatient mental health unit who were so distraught and eaten up with anxiety, paranoia, and fear that some of them were on the verge of suicide. Deliberately spreading this kind of fear-mongering rhetoric is irresponsible, cruel, and unacceptable. It’s pollution of a different sort.

Recycle what you can, plant trees, pick up litter, and keep your environment clean and free from as many toxins as possible. Work to help endangered species and places to thrive. Help clean up our oceans, rivers, and lakes. Conserve water! Reduce your use of plastic. Use energy-efficient vehicles, appliances, and lighting. Drive electric vehicles, if that’s your style, but remember that those batteries create toxic waste (ALL BATTERIES create toxic waste). Electronic computers, cellphones, and other devices also create toxic waste and use elements like lithium that have to be mined from the earth. Mining leads to erosion and deforestation. Convert to solar, wind, and all-electric, if you want. But remember that even these technologies have their environmental downside. For example, the breakdown of energy sources used to generate electricity is as follows, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration: natural gas 40%, nuclear energy 20%, renewable energy 20%, coal 19%, petroleum 1%. Using electricity does not eliminate fossil fuels and nuclear energy from the equation. Anybody who tells you otherwise (including politicians and climate activists) has not done their homework. Furthermore, humans and animals are carbon-based entities. Plants depend on CO2 to produce oxygen. We could never live in a carbon-free world because that, in itself, would be an existential threat.

On April 22, we honor our planet. Happy Earth Day!

Dawn Pisturino

April 21, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

41 Comments »

Attachment Disorder and Crime

Abstract
Attachment disorders arise when children experience prolonged and persistent abuse and neglect.  They are unable to form attachments and respond to the world with anger, defiance, and aggression.  They resist authority figures and defy social rules.  Without early intervention, these children are at high risk for delinquency, criminality, and the commission of violent crimes.

Attachment Disorder and Crime
       Criminologists recognize that antisocial behaviors, which are more common in males, can lead to an increase in criminality and violent crime (Siegel, 2012).  Much of their research has been based on John Bowlby’s attachment theory.
       Psychoanalyst John Bowlby studied Lorenz’s research on imprinting.  He concluded that “children come into the world biologically pre-programmed to form attachments with others, because this will help them to survive” (McLeod, 2007).  Failure to make secure attachments can lead to “affectionless psychopathy” later in life (McLeod, 2007).
       “Attachment is an enduring affective bond characterized by a tendency to seek and maintain proximity to a specific person, particularly when under stress” (Levy, 2000).  This bond is created between mother and child during the nine months of pregnancy and the first two years of life (Levy, 2000).  The mother-child bond is unique and forms through social releasers — behaviors that ensure a reciprocal response between mother and child (McLeod, 2007).  Smiling, eye contact, holding, rocking, touching, and feeding are cues which create a “mutual regulatory system” (Levy, 2000).
       When the mother-child bond fails to develop, infants can suffer from severe colic and feeding difficulties, fail to gain weight and reach important developmental milestones, remain detached and unresponsive, refuse to be comforted, and respond too readily to strangers (Attachment Disorders, 2014).
       Children need a “secure base” to learn trust and reciprocity, qualities which lay the foundation for all future relationships (Levy, 2000).  They must be able to explore their environment without fear and anxiety so they can attain full cognitive and social development (Levy, 2000).  A strong, secure attachment between mother (or other primary caregiver) and child helps the child to learn self-regulation (self-management of impulses and emotions) (Levy, 2000).  The child has the opportunity to form a strong self-identity, competence, and self-worth and to create balance between dependence on the mother and his own autonomy (Levy, 2000).  A secure base allows the child to learn empathy and compassion and to develop a conscience (Levy, 2000). A well-established core belief system helps the child to evaluate himself, his caregiver, and the world around him (Levy, 2000).  He learns resourcefulness and the resilience to cope with stress and adverse events (Levy, 2000).
       Even adopted infants can “develop healthy attachment relationships” in the first year of life if raised in a safe and secure environment by a caregiver who is consistently responsive to their needs (Reebye, 2007).  Children with Down Syndrome tend to develop attachments later, during the 12-24 month period (Reebye, 2007).
       Secure attachment allows children to develop positive patterns of cognition, behavior, and interaction which help them to survive successfully within the family and society at large (Levy, 2000).  They internalize altruism, empathy, compassion, kindness, and morality, qualities which lead to proper social behavior and social cohesion.  They learn to view themselves, the caregiver, life, and the world as essentially good, safe, and worthwhile.
       Children who do not develop secure attachments experience just the opposite.  They learn to view themselves, the caregiver, life, and the world as hostile, dangerous, and worthless (Levy, 2000).  By age four, these children exhibit symptoms of chronic aggression — “rage, bullying, defiance, and controlling interactions with others” (Levy, 2000).  These are the children who overwhelm the child welfare and juvenile justice systems and carry diagnoses of conduct disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, and antisocial personality disorder.  Children with severe attachment disorder typically engage in cruelty to animals, bed-wetting, fire-setting, pathological lying, and self-gratification at the expense of others.  They are predatory and vindictive, controlling and manipulative.  They lack empathy, remorse, and a moral conscience.  They are unable to form close relationships with others because they never experienced it themselves.
       Adults with these traits are often labeled psychopaths and may become serial killers and mass murderers (Levy, 2000).  The motivations for their crimes are manipulation, dominance, and control.  They feel powerless and inferior, committing horrific crimes against others as a way to release their frustrations and hostilities (Levy, 2000).
       But why do some children fail to develop a secure attachment to their mother or other primary caregiver?  Researchers have determined several common factors — “abuse and neglect, single-parent homes, stressed caregivers, parents with criminal records” (Levy, 2000).  Other factors include parental mental illness, substance abuse, and a history of maltreatment.
       Within the family, persistent conflict and violence lead to childhood anxiety, fear, and insecurity.  Children learn that violence is an acceptable way of dealing with life (Levy, 2000).
       Poverty, living in an unstable community rife with violence, access to weapons, and graphic depictions of violence on TV and in the movies desensitizes children.  They learn to “express feelings, solve problems, boost self-image, and attain power” through aggression and violence (Levy, 2000).       

 Prenatal drug and alcohol abuse, maternal stress,  birth complications, prematurity, nutritional deprivation, and genetics can lead to inherited personality traits and brain damage that interfere with learning, attention spans, and impulse control.  Compound this with a firmly-established attachment disorder, and a child is likely to be difficult to control, impulsive, hyperactive, defiant, aggressive, indifferent to learning, and angry (Levy, 2000).
       Children who are maltreated are often found in foster care, kinship care, adoptive care, and orphanages (Chaffin, 2006).  This includes children adopted from other countries.  They grow up in unstable environments, without the consistent affection and nurturing required to develop secure attachments (Chaffin, 2006).  They may grow up with suppressed anger that causes them to “seek control, resist authority, engage in power struggles and antisocial behavior” (Chaffin, 2006).  They become self-centered, resist close attachments, and eventually fall into delinquency and criminality (Chaffin, 2006).
       Teenagers still need a “secure base” as they wrestle with independence versus security (Mathew, 1995).  If a teenager has developed a secure attachment to his mother or other primary caregiver, he will weather the storms of adolescence with more resilience and adaptive abilities to cope with stress and change.  A strong, loving family environment teaches teenagers social competence and self-confidence.
       Adolescents who grow up in unstable, inconsistent homes torn apart by conflict and violence develop “psychopathology resulting from the inability to function competently in social situations” (Mathew, 1995).  “Delinquency, addiction, and depression” grow out of “inadequate problem-solving” (Mathew, 1995).  The teenager suffering from attachment disorder is incapable of interpreting and responding to social cues in appropriate ways (Mathew, 1995).  They view the world as a hostile place, attribute hostile intentions to other people, and respond aggressively.

       Decades of research have found clear links between early childhood abuse and neglect, attachment disorder, and delinquency and violence later in life.  It is not surprising, then, that children under age twelve have committed some of the cruelest crimes or that adolescent males are three times more likely to commit violent crimes than their female counterparts (Levy, 2000).
Method

Process
       Research was conducted online through EBSCO and Google Scholar using the keywords “attachment disorder,” “John Bowlby,” and “attachment disorder and crime.”
Results
       Attachment theory has been around for a long time.  It has been studied and expanded on by others.  A lot of research is available concerning attachment theory, maternal deprivation hypothesis, reactive attachment disorder (RAD), disinhibited social engagement disorder (DSED), secure base distortion, rage theory, disordered attachment, disorganized attachment, disoriented attachment, and insecure attachment.  These are all variations on the same theme — early childhood abuse and neglect lead ultimately to emotional detachment, dysfunction, anger, defiance, and aggression.
Discussion
       Traditional psychotherapeutic tools are ineffective on children suffering from attachment disorder because these children are unable to trust others and form the therapeutic bond necessary to engage in treatment (Levy, 2000).  Without early intervention, however, these children are at high risk for risky behaviors, criminality, and incarceration.

       Several treatment modalities have been developed to help children overcome their attachment difficulties.  Most focus on learning how to trust and feel secure.  One of the more controversial, Holding Nurturing Process (HNP), involves forcibly holding the child and maintaining eye contact, which is supposed to promote secure attachment and self-regulation (Chaffin, 2006).  HNP has been associated with the death of several children, however, and criminal charges have been filed against some attachment therapists and parents (Chaffin, 2006).
       The most effective attachment therapies allow the child to gradually build up trust with a committed therapist who then works with the child to re-program patterns of negative thinking and behaving (Levy, 2000).  Therapy is based on the individual needs of the child and involves family, school, and community.  The child learns positive coping skills that help him to function successfully within the family and society.
       Parents and other primary caregivers can undergo Corrective Attachment Therapy in order to enhance their parenting skills and learn specific tools for dealing with a difficult child (Levy, 2000).  Parent and child must go through therapy simultaneously so that they both learn mutual caring and respect; open up to feelings of affection; set up limits, rules, and boundaries; share empathy and compassion; and learn how to be in tune with one another (Levy, 2000).
       If high risk families can be identified early in the process, families can be enrolled in special programs and children can receive the treatment they need to overcome the damage already done.   

References

Attachment disorders. (2014, January). American Academy of Child & Adolescent

       Psychiatry. Retrieved from 

http://www.aacap.org/AACAP/Families_and_youth/Facts_
       For_Families/FFF-Guide/Attachment-Disorders-085.aspx.
Chaffin, M., Hanson, R., Saunders, B., Nichols, T., Barnett, D., Zeanah, C., Berliner, L.,
       . . . Miller-Perrin, C. (2006). Report of the apsac task force on attachment therapy, reactive
       attachment disorder, and attachment problems. Child Maltreatment, 11(1), 76-89. doi:
       10.1177/1077559505283699.
Levy, Terry M. & Orlans, M. (2000). Attachment disorder as an antecedent to violence and
       antisocial patterns in children. In Levy, Terry M., Editor, Handbook of attachment inter-
ventions (pp. 1-26). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.
Mathew, S., Rutemiller, L., Sheldon-Keller, A., Sheras, P., Canterbury, R. (1995). Attachment  

       and social problem solving in juvenile delinquents (Report No. 143). Washington, D.C.:
       Educational Resources Information Center.
McLeod, S. (2007). Bowlby’s attachment theory. Simply Psychology. Retrieved from

http://www.simplypsychology.org/bowlby.html.
Reebye, P. & Kope, T. (2007). Attachment disorders. BC Medical Journal, 49(4), 189-193.
Siegel, Larry J. (2012). Criminology. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

(The references did not all format correctly.)

Dawn Pisturino, RN

Mohave Community College

Criminology 225
November 29, 2016

Copyright 2016-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

20 Comments »

Judging People Superficially

Photo by Photo Boards on Unsplash

As a registered nurse, I took an oath to treat all of my patients equally, regardless of race, color, nationality, religion, sex, or anything else. So, it appalls me when I read stories about doctors, nurses, and even whole hospitals refusing to treat unvaccinated patients. THAT’S POLITICS – NOT HEALTHCARE. If you work in healthcare, you take all the necessary precautions, and you get in there and treat the patient, regardless of your personal feelings. Otherwise, you deserve to lose your license to practice.

In 2008, America had become color-blind enough to elect the first black President, Barack Obama. My husband and I both voted for him and were proud to do so at that time. And yet, here we are, thirteen years later, backsliding as a society into judging people by their superficial appearance and using race, prejudice, and bias to judge and condemn other people. It’s become a real epidemic, and frankly, I’m sick of it, because – once again – this is POLITICS, PROFILING, and BULLYING – something people claim to abhor.

When I was a registered nurse fresh out of school, the housekeeper on our hospital unit refused to clean the room of an AIDS patient. She was afraid, and the hospital sent her home. I volunteered to clean the room since I had established a positive rapport with the patient. I donned the appropriate gear and cleaned the room. While I was in there, she and I conversed, and she revealed how isolated and alienated she felt from other people. I took care of her many times after that incident. And I’m glad I did, because she died a few years later. She was only in her late thirties when she passed away. She was annoying in so many ways! She was demanding and obnoxious! And she had very poor hygiene. She came into the hospital with lice more than once. But she was suffering both physically and emotionally. She was human. I learned a valuable lesson about courage and acceptance. And I never got HIV/AIDS or lice from my interactions with her.

One morning, when I was starting my shift on an inpatient psychiatric unit, two Native American clients came up to me and started complaining about the nightshift nurse. They claimed she was rude to them and, therefore, must be a white supremacist racist who hated natives. Now, I knew this RN very well. I empathized with them because, yes, she could be very rude and abrasive to anybody. But racist? I smiled and informed them that she was a card-carrying member of the Cherokee tribe in Oklahoma. In fact, she is a direct descendant of Sequoyah, the Cherokee who created the first Cherokee language syllabary. The response I got was, “Well, THAT tribe will let anybody in!” However, they both looked very foolish and never mentioned it again. I informed the RN that patients had complained about her being rude, and that was the end of it.

Another morning, it was very early, and the only client awake and in the dayroom was a black man from Africa. He was ranting and raving about how racist the staff were and how victimized he felt. I got sick of hearing about it because I knew it wasn’t true. We had a very diverse team of workers who were black (some from Africa), Hispanic, Native American, white, gay, etc. I had never witnessed any incidences of racism or overheard any racist remarks made by staff on the unit. We all took pride in working as a team to treat our patients fairly, equally, empathetically, and compassionately. I slammed my fist down on the table, which shocked both my co-worker and the client, and said, “Bullshit!” He stopped ranting and raving, and then we talked about what was really bothering him. He was Muslim and needed a place to say his prayers. So I got him blankets and towels and whatever else he needed, and he went into a private place and said his prayers. He never talked about racism again, he participated in the program, and he was discharged a few days later. It may sound rough, but getting past the racism barrier helped this gentleman get the help he needed. I have never lied to my patients and never will. And sometimes the truth, no matter how raw, is what turns people around and sets them free from the demons they are fighting

The counselors on our inpatient psychiatric unit did not like talking to psychotic patients because they saw no value in it. However, I disagreed and always made a point of talking to them, if for no other reason than to establish some kind of rapport. One client was so manic, she was completely psychotic. She would crawl around on the floor, imitating different animals, eat with her hands, and refuse to talk to anybody. This had been going on for a while, without any improvement. One day, when I came on shift, she was in the quiet room talking to herself, dancing, jumping up and down, and basically “bouncing off the walls.” I sat in there for twenty minutes listening to her, asking her questions, and listening for that “thread of truth” that often came through when psychotics babbled on. It became clear to me as I listened to her that she just wanted to be normal and to be treated like everybody else. When I began talking to her about this, she nodded her head and suddenly stopped what she was doing. She calmed down. After that, she stopped all of her bizarre behaviors, took her medications, and quickly got well enough to go home. Why? Because somebody took the time to listen to her and look past her bizarre behavior.

As a registered nurse, especially as a psychiatric nurse, I have seen people at their worst and their ugliest. I have been called names, threatened, and ignored. I have never let that stop me from helping someone, if I could help them. And it has been the difficult ones, the ones who make you want to tear your hair out, who have been the most rewarding, — because they are the people who truly need the help.

Dawn Pisturino, RN

November 6, 2021

Copyright 2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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