Doris Bersing, PhD

Marcel Proust on Memory and Coming Out

Who is afraid Of Marcel proustMarcel Proust, a  XX century famous writer, author of a masterpiece, In Search of Lost Time, brings to my attention the phenomenon of forgetfulness sometimes attached to the epidemic of dementia.  In Search of Lost Time, is one of Proust’s renowned creations (À la recherche du temps perdu published in seven volumes, previously translated as Remembrance of Things Past) (1913–1927).

In this work, Proust recounts his experiences  while growing up, participating in society, falling in love, and learning about art. He also discusses  memory, separation anxiety, the role of art in life, and homosexuality at length. He described many of the instances of Déjà vudéjà vécu effects and other phenomena related to memory. Proust shows the similarity between the structures and mechanisms of the human mind related to unfinished business and psycho-dynamic  principles he talks about, even without knowing or reading Freud.In this creation, Proust also speaks extensively in this book about the challenges of homosexuality, internalized homophobia, and the challenges of coming out as a homosexual.  Although Proust was gay, he had ambivalent feelings around coming out.

Proust stresses those challenges of being and living as homosexual in a society that des not understand or accept it. Identifying oneself as part of the LGBT group is not always easy or welcoming the way we would wish it to be. Although many people find that coming out is a positive experience, coming out has its challenges and it could have both a positive and a negative impact on the person’s life. It could affect the individual’s family relationships, social relationships, school, or work. Some LGBT people fear negative reactions, rejection and upsetting people they are close to. In many parts of the world strong cultural attitudes and discriminatory laws make coming out even harder. In USA things have changed legally, lately but at a personal level, there are still fears and internalized feelings of homophobia.

In a review by Edmund White for the New York Times, he states that among writers, the twentieth-century novelist they most admired–and who they thought would have the most enduring influence on the next century–was Marcel Proust.

An interesting take on Proust’s stance on memory is performed by  James Keller  a San Francisco Bay Area artist, who guides the audience through the seven volumes of  this Marcel Proust’s great 20th century novel, IN SEARCH OF LOST TIME, about the importance of memory and forgetting, using 180 slides and music as part of the narrative in a virtuoso performance which John Lahr (senior drama critic of The New Yorker magazine) called, “A tour de force” and also, has said that “James Keller is the most well-read person I know.”  Learn more and come to see more at Who is afraid of Marcel Proust. “Who’s Afraid of Marcel Proust?” will be performed in Berkeley on Thursday, 9/24/15  at 7:30pm at the Sacred Stream. For tickets and more information: and in San Francisco on Sunday 10/4/15 at 2pm and at 8:00 pm.  Fort Mason.  For tickets and more information:

One of the big accomplishments of In Search of the lost time, is Proust’s position about the impossibility to recover the time we lose, the forfeiture of innocence through experience, the emptiness of love and friendship, the vanity of human endeavors, and the triumph of sin and despair; but Proust’s conclusion is that the life of every day is supremely important, full of moral joy and beauty, which, though they may be lost through faults inherent in human nature, are indestructible and recoverable.

In a personal level, one of Proust’s marvels as a writer was projecting  his own homosexuality upon his characters, treating them, as well as snob, vane, and cruel, but able to love even if considered it as a sin.

Just food for thought in some of Proust’s  famous and inspiring quotes are:

  • The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes.
  • Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.
  • If a little dreaming is dangerous, the cure for it is not to dream less but to dream more, to dream all the time.

Thinking of Dementia and Identity

DB smTime goes by and I realized, I am getting old-er …although it is not a discovery, it is for sure, a daily fact. One that shows on the mirror more often than before. Always when thinking about getting older, given my line of work (gerontology, among others), I think: what if…what if I get dementia?

Most of us spend a big part of our life searching for meaning, trying to find our identity, and although Thomas Szasz said in The Second Sin (1973) said “…the self is not something one finds, it is something one creates…” we set ourselves for the pursuit of that elusive identity and our meaning as human beings. What is life all about and overall what is our role in life? What do we really live for? Who are we?

We pass many of our prime years looking for our identity, fighting for one, trying to assert one if we are ever given a glimpse of it, wrestling to have our needs met and to have our dreams come true. That search for identity comes sometimes in a puzzle of circumstances, challenges and exploits, and like the overprotected Nemo, we need to swim the oceans of uncertainty and grow until finding ourselves

Through the journey in search of our identity, we attempt to unfold our potential, our desires, and to adjust at the best of our abilities to the challenges of daily life. We build our life upon joys, shadows, and sorrows and fill that life with the mementos and the facts we carve in our memory, those we gathered throughout our journey but one-day, zas! You are diagnosed with dementia. There you are, all of the sudden lost, confused and soon to be stripped, if not of your identity, at least, officially, of your mind.

I know, hopefully, we all have been lost in our minds out of excitement, passion, or love and yet, after the diagnoses you will not be lost in your mind, anymore, since now, your are losing yours. Of course, we could discuss what really mind is, there is so much more to the mind than the cognitive aspect of it and yet for any purpose is THAT mind the one holding your memories, mementos, treasures, pains, and joys that is ready to go with the wind. Well in reality, with the plaques and tangles created in your brain, in a certain time you will not even remember the time of diagnosis. Just as Clark Gable stated while playing Rhett Butler in Gone with the Wind, stated, you may well say: Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn….” But he clock is ticking.

Professionals will offer all what they have. They talk and teach how to calm you down, how to deal with your mood swings and your challenging behaviors but do they really know what we are going through, what you are going through? Do they know that you are going through the tunnel, in and out of the darkness, the uncertainty with the challenge of living an existential tale of the here and now, for which, you did not sign up and for which, effectively you have never practiced. Then come the drugs, the optimism, the clinical trials, the walking to fund more research, hopefully before it is too late for you. Looking now for a different meaning. There is so much that is done, said, so much still to do and yet nobody really knows what you are going through.

We try and theorize about the phenomenon, the neurological, psychological, emotional, and practical side of it, even the spiritual side of it. Needless to say, we appreciate all the nice legitimate attempts people make writing new books about breakthrough treatments and findings; they present lectures, write articles about you but what if you could really explain how it is to know that your life is slipping away, fading away? What if you had a voice? What if they found a cure?

I wish I could be more helpful, but I really do not know how it is, all is in my best efforts to explain a phenomenon, I can only observe and witness with powerlessness, compassion and horror. I do not have dementia and I wonder if I had it how I would feel? What would it be like? Again, I do not know but if I could, if I were you, I would not like to go there. That said, I hope I would react calmly and with patience for myself, although I doubt it but let the journey continue and keep on swimming.

For now, I find some solace and motivation to keep ‘on swimming in Thoreau’s wisdom:

“…I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately… only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. ~Henry David Thoreau, 1854

LGBT Youth and Conversion Therapy

Born PerfectConversion therapy or restorative therapies are, ethically and intrinsically, wrong when trying to change an individual’s sexual preference based on homophobia and extreme religious beliefs. These types of treatment have been a source of controversy in the United States and other countries. The American Psychiatric Association has condemned “psychiatric treatment, such as reparative or conversion therapy which is based upon the assumption that homosexuality per-se is a mental disorder thus the need to revert the “disease” by changing your sexual preference.The issue is more serious when it comes to youth since they do no have the legal right to oppose their parents’ decisions. Well, for now a victory!

Samantha Ames, Esq. Staff Attorney & Born Perfect Campaign Coordinator for NCLR  just announced, moments ago, the District of Columbia Council unanimously approved a bill that will protect LGBT youth from conversion therapy.  When signed into law, Washington, D.C. will become the third jurisdiction—behind California and New Jersey—to pass legislation protecting LGBT youth from ineffective and harmful practices designed to change their sexual orientation or gender identity. Counsel Ames, explains “… today, the Council sent a powerful message to LGBT youth and their families that they are accepted, supported, and loved. It has used its power to protect the most vulnerable from a dangerous pseudoscience that tells them that who they are is wrong, and reaffirmed the consensus of every major medical and mental health organization in the country that all children are born perfect, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Earlier this year, NCLR launched the Born Perfect campaign to end conversion therapy across the country over the next five years by passing laws, fighting in courtrooms to ensure the safety of LGBT youth, and raising awareness about the serious harms caused by these dangerous and discredited practices Their site explains that in the past” …In the past, some mental health professionals resorted to extreme measures such as institutionalization, castration, and electro-convulsive shock therapy to try to stop people from being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT). Today, while some counselors still use physical treatments like aversive conditioning, the techniques most commonly used include a variety of behavioral, cognitive, psychoanalytic, and other practices that try to change or reduce same-sex attraction or alter a person’s gender identity…” Learn More about the Born Perfect Campaign.

Depression: You Can Break Free From it

Sadness and depression

Copyright: kmiragaya

More than just a bout of the blues, depression is not a permanent personality trait or a character issue or a weakness, nor is it something that you can simply “snap out” of.

Clinicians at the Mayo Clinic state that “…Depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. Also called major depression, major depressive disorder or clinical depression, it affects how you feel, think and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. You may have trouble doing normal day-to-day activities, and depression may make you feel as if life isn’t worth living…depression may require long-term treatment. But don’t get discouraged. Most people with depression feel better with medication, psychological counseling or both…”

Struggling with depression requires action, but taking action when you’re depressed is hard. Even f you know you could do something to feel better, the fact of just thinking about the things you should do to feel better, requires a level of energy, often, you do not have. It’s the paradoxical side of fighting depression: The things that help us the most are the things that are the most difficult to do and overcoming depression is not something you do in the blink of an eye, it is difficult stuff but there’s a difference between something that’s difficult and something that’s impossible.

A recent article on WebMD states that “…many people think of depression as an intolerable sadness or a deep gloom that just won’t go away. Yet depression can also be sneaky, disguised in symptoms that can be hard to identify. If you’ve had unexplained aches or pains, often feel irritable or angry for no reason, or cry at the drop of a hat — you could be depressed.

Fortunately, you can be proactive with depression. Learn how these less obvious symptoms can reveal themselves and when you should seek out depression treatment…” Read More

Autoestima Para Mujeres en el Siglo XXI

En el último cuarto del siglo XX mucho se escribió en el campo de la autoayuda y pareciese que todo es tan fácil como seguir los bien intencionados consejos de amigas, psicólogos, y autores que han esparcido sugestiones a diestra y siniestra de como ser la mujer de la nueva era. Y por supuesto, yo soy una de ellos!

Todos tenemos una historia y muchas de nosotras tenemos una historia de mujeres que marca  nuestra trayectoria, nuestros sucesos, nuestros fracasos, sueños y realidades. Sea cual sea tu hisotria, esta atada a mujeres, del pasado, de otras vidas, y las mujeres del siglo XX que enfrentan separaciones, cambios, retos y oportunidades. También representa una lucha por la autosuperación y la liberación. Liberación de viejos patrones, liberación de miedos y mapas que nos confunden y nos catapultan en direcciones equivocadas o en los mejores de los casos en direcciones que no son las que deseamos y las cuales no conducen al logro de nuestras metas. La lucha ha sido –y es- contra los paradigmas de una cultura patriarcal que ha disminuido el poder de la mujer como miembro activo y decisivo de la sociedad.

Aunque muchas civilizaciones antiguas exaltaron mujeres y las adoraron como seres divinos que poseian poderes de sanación, de decisión, y de gobierno y las convirtieron en Diosas, mucho ha sucedido a ese poder femenino que poco a poco en la travesia de los tiempos ha perdido fuerza, validez, poder e identidad. En los años noventa muchas mujeres acariciabamos la idea de poder entrar en la madurez y la plenitud de ser mujer. Una mujer con multiples alternatives y posibilidad de elección. La clave estaba en encontrar el origen todopoderoso y único, la divina esencia que se encuentra dentro de nosotras –la Diosa-   que nos convierte en criaturas únicas, maravillosas y poderosas. Esa jornada al centro de nosotras mismas empezaba con crecimiento personal, independecia, autosuficiciencia y desde ahi iriamos esculpiendo nuesrtro lugar en la historia de la humanidad, o por lo menos a nuestro alrededor; esto no era solo una posibilidad pero un mandato! Todo era possible si conectabamos conesa –nuestra- Diosa interior. Anque despues de una dozena de años y otro libro explorando la identidad femenina,  la verdad de esa Diosa a veces vapuleada, agobiada por la lucha, y cansada de la duplicidad de roles, de vivir el poder y la caida, me doy cuenta de que se necesita algo mas que el crecimiento personal y la spiritualidad para alcanzar la liberación.

Simone de Beauvoir – en los años 50’s, en su libro El Segundo Sexo –quien quizas sin proponerselo escribio el más certero y brillante alegato de cuantos se han producido a lo largo del siglo XX a favor de las mujeres y al no determinismo biologico del ser mujer expreso que ademas de la capacidad de crecimiento personal, la sociedad tiene un gran rol en lo que las mujeres pueden aspirar y lograr en la cultura: “…una no nace, una se convierte en mujer… es la civilizacion en su totalidad la que produce esta criatura”. Para Beauvoir –militante politica y comunista de la mitad del siglo XX- la revolución debía resolver también los problemas de las mujeres: “Yo creía que la condición femenina evolucionaría al mismo tiempo que la sociedad”. Aunque el libro El Segundo Sexo marca un hito en la historia del feminismo en el Siglo XX y constituye una obra maestra en cuanto a la descripcion de la condicion de la mujer y el determinismo social que la amenaza, tambien evidencial el impacto que la cultura y la sociedad que rodea a la mujer tiene en el rol que esta desempena y el lugar que alcanza. Asi dos fuerzas yuxtapuestas entran en juego para definir lo que seremos como mujer. Una -como Beauvoir y muchos otros culturalistas han propuesto- es la influencia de la cultura y los roles socialkes que son adjudicados, permitidosd o negados a la mujer. La otra, esa determinacion interior que esta ligada al potencial personal. Asi que aunque cambiemos el entorno y luchemos contra la opresion del determinismo patriarcal, nada lograremos si no damos ese primer paso de reconocer lo sagrado en nuestra esencia y aduenarnos de nuestro poder interior mientras decretamos la independencia de la mujer de nuestros dias. Lo social es una suma de individualidades…aunque esta realidad social sea mayor que la suma de las partes, las partes- lo individual- juega un papel crucial.

En los albores del siglo XXI encontramos a una mujer crecida que se ha forjado a traves de una nueva generacion, una mujer nunca vista, la llamada mujer de la generacion “baby-boomer” Una mujer con agallas, con ganas de crecer, con ganas de vivir, y un gran deseo de mimarse; una mujer que representa la liberación femenina, el acceso masivo de la mujer al empleo, aunque tambien representa la era del consumo y los medios masivos de comunicación. Esa mujer tambien representa la transicion de valores mas conservadores a valores mas liberales y ajustados a luchas por igualdad social y participacion democratica. Ahora, adivina… esa mujer que produjo la gran revolución juvenil, la generación de la televisión y la publicidad, aquella que provocó que el mercadeo y la publicidad apunten casi exclusivamente a los jóvenes… entró en la mediana edad en forma masiva. Si, muchas de las Diosas han crecido, se han repotenciado, han luchado, y todavia… luchan! Y yo me pregunto, cuales son las nuevas circunstancias, cuales las nuevas luchas, cuales los logros y cuales lor obstaculos a los suenos del movimiento feminista, el renacer de la Diosa, y la accion afirmativa? Es que hemos alcanzado lo que nos prometimos a nosotras mismas e incluso aquello que otros nos prometieron que podriamos alcanzar?

Contemplando la historia del último siglo, vemos hechos alentadores donde mujeres luchadoras han alcanzado el pinaculo de la fama y han conquistado lugares sin precedente en la historia. Ya en 1900, mujeres en Inglaterra y la costa este de Estados Unidos de America peleaban para sindicalizar a las trabajadoras textiles de estoss paises ya en la era industrial. Tambien en Estados Unidos de America y en los comienzos del siglo XX, feministas –sin saberlo- como Margaret Sanger peleaban por el derecho de las mujeres al control de la natalidad. Mientras tanto en Latino America Gabriela Mistral estudiaba para profesora y era llamada la Poeta nacional de Chile. En Venezuela, Carmen Clemente Travieso era la primera mujer a la que la Universidad Central de Venezuela (UCV) le daba el título de reportera. Al mismo tiempo, Eumelia Hernandez quien –en el año 1936- comenzaba a luchar por las mujeres en la Asociación Cultural Femenina; y por los trabajadores en general, unia las filas de el Partido Republicano Progresista del cual saldría el Partido Comunista de Venezuela. En Mejico Frida Kahlo -quien desarrollo su excelente talento artistico al luchar contra el dolor fisico, las penas morales, y el aburrimiento- escandalizaba un Mejico colonial con su arte, su amor por la vida, por los hombres y mujeres.. A traves de los años hemos sido testigos –a veces mudos a veces a viva voz- de muchas luchas, luchas personales, luchas socials, siempre luchas donde mujeres han logrado vencer las barreras tanto personales como socials que las disminuian.

Otras mujeres destacadas que vienen a mi memoria son –y aca no trato por ningun medio de hacer una lista exhaustiva de las mujeres que han hecho historia en el mundo (2) en el último siglo, ya que eso seria material para un libro totalmente diferente, sino materializar en estas paginas esas que por decadas han sido –para mi como para muchas otras mujeres de mi generacion- modelos de inspiracion en lo personal y en lo social- Argelia Laya de Venezuela quien desde los años cincuenta representa la voluntad férrea en el compromiso, el arrojo y sacrificio por las ideas de igualdad y justicia, el trabajo incansable por los derechos humanos y sociales, la solidaridad incondicional en la lucha por los derechos de las mujeres. En el quimerico Norte, en 1989, Antonia Novello –medico- era nombrada Jefe de Sanidad de Estados Unidos siendo la primera mujer y persona de color elegida para ese cargo.

Todas las luchas del movimiento feminista de los años sesenta y setenta se concentraron en reivindicar el lugar de la mujer en la sociedad; un lugar que aun necesita ser reinvidicado ya que incluso en los llamados paises desarrollados se ignoran los derechos igualitarios que tienen las mujeres. Por ejemplo tenemos la decisión de la Corte Suprema Norte Americana donde finalmente -y apenas en 1996- se obligó a todas las academias militares –publicas y privadas- a aceptar mujeres en sus salones – a pesar de otra orden de la corte suprema -en 1975- que dictaminaba que era illegal la discriminación contra mujeres aspirantes a la academia militar, algunas escuelas todavia seguian ignorando esa decisión.

Otras luchas por los derechos civiles –y que aun no se han extendido a todos los paises ha sido la lucha por el derecho de las mujeres a escoger abortar o continuar con un embarazo; la lucha para denunciar y castigar el acoso sexual en lugares de trabajo –basicamente en paises industrializados- tambien han marcado un hito en la historia del feminismo de estos ultimos cincuenta años. Luchas tambien llevadas a cabo por mujeres de paises del tercer mundo quienes han batallado por reivindicar su estatus y el de los de su clase. Dolores Huerta –Mejicana immigrante en los Estados Unidos de Norteamerica- en 1960 quien al lado de Cesar Chavez organizó la Asociación de Agricultores y además, ayudó a los hispanos de ese pais a obtener el derecho a votar en español y a tomar el examen para la licencia de conducir en su lenguaje nativo. Incluso la presencia de Rigoberta Menchu, una india Maya Quiché de Guatemala, en el panorama Internacional como ganadora del premio nobel de la Paz –aunque en entredicho y llamada “una farsante” por el neoliberalismo – expuso la necesidad de la liberacion femenina en su pais, y en sus tribus.

Heroinas como Gloria Steinem –principal figura del movimiento feminista en los Estados Unidos de Norteamerica que aun hoy a los setenta anos de edad continua luchando por minorias y por darle un lugar a las mujeres, incluso las que envejecemos y ya no estamos en el respalndor de nuestra juventud– debatieron publicamente y todavia consolidan un lugar central para la mujer en la sociedad norteamericana , aspirando que el ejemplo sea seguido por mujeres y sociedades de todo el mundo –lo que no podemos decir sea todavia una realidad para muchas naciones del tercer mundo que todavia luchan por basicos derechos de sobrevivencia y no-violencia.

Mujeres en muchos paises luchan por ocupar altas posiciones en la politica y el gobierno de sus paises pero solo un pequeño porcentaje de mujeres alcanzan alguna posicion en los gabinetes ejecutivos y a veces solo para hacerse cargo de los ministerios llamados de “segunda categoria”. Incluso la posicion capital de Jefe de Estado en los Estados Unidos de Norteamerica ocupada por una mujer –Condolezza Rice- no satisface plenamente al publico americano quien considera que la nominacion de Rice fue una artimaña politica para hacer creer que el gobierno del Señor George W. Bush es uno de pluralidad. Aunque es innegable que en los ultimos años, las mujeres han alcanzado lugares en la politica y en el mundo social que eran solo posible en nuestra memoria al recordar las mujeres que reinaban y gobernaban el mundo medieval y del Renacimiento, muchas no tienen alcance a las altas esferas del poder politico de sus paises y a muchas se les calla la voz. Algunos de los indiscutibles logros en el mudo de la politica alcanzados por la mujer fuera del hogar estan representados por un alentador aunque no suficiente total de 46 mujeres que han servido como cabezas de estado –presidentas o primeras ministras–en pequenos y no tan pequenos paises y estados.  Muchas de estas 46 mujeres – solo desde 1945 hasta el presente-–fueron electas popularmente o nombradas por los gabinetes ejecutivos de sus paises o continuaron la labor de sus padres o madres al morir pero muchas no terminaron sus madatos o no fueron reconocidas por la oposición o fueron vetadas por la oposicion –lo cual no es totalmente ajeno al mudo de la politica—Quizas lo que me llama la atencion es que a pesar de la discriminacion social, a pesar de que hay mucho por hacer, mujeres que descubren su poder personal pueden –y lo hacen- lograr las metas que se proponen. Entonces, si se puede! Sin embargo, hoy contemplamos lo que a veces parecen otras realidades, otras individualidades, otros valores y con nostalgia pensamos que los sesenta, setenta, ochenta -o para los efectos cualquier tiempo pasado- fue mejor; que eramos mas y mejores, mas creativas, mejores activistas, que conseguimos mas reivindicaciones sociales y que las nuevas generaciones estan adormecidas por el consumismo –y acaso no es ese el mismo consumismo que invadio a la generacion “boom”? – Tenemos una nueva generacion –la generacion Y- a quien ayudar a leer nuestra historia, esa de mujeres que luchan, abrazan a la Diosa que son pior dentro y que siguen luchando para hacer el camino –como decia el poeta Antonio Machado “…solo se hace camino al andar”

La nueva generacion “Y” – compuesta por las hijas de las mujeres de la generacion “boom’- que nacieron entre 1980 y 2001 y que parecieran mas interesadas en lo material y lo individual que en lo sagrado. Pero como en todas las generalizaciones – y gracias a Dios y a todas las Diosas- tambien existen disidentes dentro de esta cultura “Y” y   asi encontramos muchas mujeres jovenes respaldando los cambios propuestos por el partido verde a favor de una sociedad mas ecologica; las seguidoras del descontruccionismo de Derrida; el sarcasmo de la juventud gótica; las postmodernistas, las muchas que todavian siguen luchando por salvar al Amazonas, a la Antartica, las ballenas, los niños de las favelas Brasileñas, a detener la miseria de los ninos pobres del tercer mundo y mas… esperanzadoramente tambien vemos que existe una condicion humana que lucha por la verdad e igualdad. Una cualidad intrinseca a nuestro ser mujer –de poder, de querer, de cuidar, y de hacernos oir– de necesitar afirmar nuestra identidad, encontrar nuestra voz para clamar a los cuatro vientos el derecho de existir, de ser diferente, de ser, y de ser Mujer –asi con mayúscula!

Estamos presente en el transcurrir de este nuevo siglo, en el que hemos conseguido grandes triunfos y eso es muy alentador pero no nos ceguemos por que a pesar de las multiples luchas emprendidas por la mujer en este último siglo –y en el ultimo lustro- seguimos en este pugilato contra el poder de una sociedad patriarcal, imbuida de la arrogancia masculina –que con pocas exepciones–discrimina a la mujer y la despoja de su innato poder y la condena al estatus de ciudadanas de segunda clase –y en muchos casos y paises- ciudadadanas de tercera. En Europa, Fadela Amara –entre muchas otras– relata la lucha de mujeres inmigrantes que van de los paises del tercer mundo a paises “industrializados” –valdria decir a vces deshumanizados que dan cabida a fenomenos de violencia y discriminacion contra mujeres en particular del tercer mundo o de bajos recursos- en su libro Ni putas, ni Sumisas  expone la realidad de acoso, violaciones, y hasta muerte que sufren a manos de grupos de hombres pandilleros viviendo en las barriadas pobres de Francia.

A la mujer se le exige –todavia- que conforme ciertos roles y aunque se le concede cierta independencia–como ir a la universidad y trabajar por su cuenta y hasta dirigir su pais- el rol de esposa, ama de casa, y criadora de las futuras generaciones sigue siendo el prevalente. Mujeres con vidas alternativas como lesbianas, madres solteras, o profesionales que deciden no tener familia siguen siendo condenadas al ostracismo y vitupereadas publicamente y en algunos casos acosadas, discriminadas y excluidas de posiciones capitales en la sociedad. Muchas lesbianas en paises industrializados son discriminadas pero en paises del tercer mundo son a veces asesinadas, golpeadas y destituidas del derecho de criar a sus hijos o recibir servicios medicos. En el marco del Día Internacional por la No Violencia contra las Mujeres, el 25 de noviembre de 2005, lesbianas de latino America pusieron el dedo en la llaga al manifestar que: “En Nicaragua aún es delito ser lesbiana; en Cuba son obligadas a vivir en el “closet”; en Ecuador son recluidas en centros de rehabilitación para “normalizarlas” y en las favelas brasileñas se agreden sexualmente a las lesbianas negras…”. Las restricciones al poder socio-economico de la mujer y el fundamentalismo religioso tambien son factores que ademas de la homofobia cultural encarcelan a la mujer lesbiana y la obliga a llevar vidas paralelas donde la relacion homosexual es la importante y emocionalmente gratificante y la heterosexual es la relacion “conveniente.” Ante todos estos hechos indivduales y sociales de discriminación y debilitamiento del rol femenino es necesario que nos mantengamos vigilante y que incorporemos a todas nuestras hermans a la agenda feminista. Es necesario que sigamos reclamando nuestro lugar en la historia, en nuestros circulos y que la femeneidad sagrada se haga visible desde lo discursivo, lo simbolico, lo corporal.

Estos dias -que en muchos aspectos no son muy diferentes de los dias alla y entonces cuando escribi una utopia llamada autoestima para mujeres- me permiten corroborar que se ha transitado y se sigue transitando el camino hacia la liberación: Si se puede, pero siempre y cuando recordemos que toda transformacion externa comienza primero con una revolucion interna. Comienza con el descubrimiento y el aduenarse de ese poder que todas tenemos y que es inherente a nuestra divina esencia –la Diosa- y que refiere tambien al arquetipo de lideres que ha quedado enterrado en la cultura patriarcal y en el olvido del inconsciente colectivo –recordemos las reinas y gobernadoras de la edad media, las reinas del Renacimiento , las Diosas de la antigüedad Celta, Griega, Egipcia, China y Japon. Recordemos que no siempre las mujeres han estado condenadas “al fregadero” o a la marginalidad debilitante.

Necesitamos despertar y recordar nuestro linaje, nuestra herencia de Amazonas, soñadoras, poderosas, lideres, madres, cazadoras y guerreras. Es una lucha interna para despertar a los arquetipos enterrados en nuestro inconsciente y en el de la cultura, para reactivarlos mientras desplegamos nuestras alas, y alcanzamos nuestro completo potencial. Respeto y balance entre lo que queremos como individuos, lo que necesitamos como entes gregarios, la aceptacion de algunos patrones enquistados en nuestra cultura y la liberacion de cadenas ajenas a nuestra divinidad son terminos comunes al ver lo que el feminismo ha alcanzado. Respetemos lo que queremos y lo que otras quieren pues es cierto que nuevos valores y estilos de vida han sido puestos a la disposicion de las mujeres y tambien es cierto que muchos viejos valores, viejas tradiciones, y eternos deseos son todavia –y quizas siempre lo seran—importante para otro grupo entre nosotras. Pareja, matrimonio, igualdad, independencia, familia, autorealización no debieran ser imposiciones o terminos contradictorios sino posibilidades, elecciones;.

Aqui las dejo amigas, listas a recorrer este camino de luz, de pasion, de vida y crecimiento. Un camino que puede que este lleno de dolor, opresion, desencuentros, miedos, y limitaciones, pero tambien de reencuentros y luz. Recuerda que no estas sola. Te tienes a ti misma, a tu Diosa interior y a otras mujeres que antes que tu han recorrido el camino y que antes que tu han logrado redefinirse, encontrarse, and ser ellas mismas. La continuidad del tema, del constante esfuerzo por hacerse y recrearse me deja una maravillosa sensación de familiaridad mezclada con algo de dolor por el deja-vu de los lugares constantemente revisitados, la interminable lucha que solo se actualiza y cobra vigor en cada nueva mujer que nace…o que trata de ser en vez de dejarse hacer…Una historia magica, una historia sin fin…una historia, …de mujeres!

Estamos solas

Y nos pertenecemos.

En nosotras está el poder

Somos un pueblo de almas

en rebeldía


Lo que escribo aquí

se traza en el aire

el dolor es la senda

el dolor es el medio

por el dolor la fuerza

que combate el dolor

y lo transforma

por el dolor deshago

mi dolor en lo ajeno

y el ajeno en el mío


~Chantal Maillard 

Depression Hurts and Robs You of Your Life

Copyright by  Piotr Marcinski

Copyright by Piotr Marcinski

We have written about people dying of depression, which can be an ultimate fact for those who shut down and decided to go on a suicidal path, for those, that is the end. However for others, who go with untreated depression, death perhaps is not an option but a less than pleasant and meaningful life is. Having the blues or being sad after an important loss in your life, it is not depression but a normal and healthy response to events in life but when the blues become more purple than blue (so-to-speak), we are perhaps looking at a different situation.

Many myths regarding depression revolve around being stronger, like getting a grip on the particular situation one faces, or working harder to “get it out of your head…”or believing the prolonged sadness is just normal and not perhaps an illness; even thinking it is only one’s self-pity instead of a treatable condition add insult to an already deep and painful injury.

Sometimes, we are worry that treating the depression will mean being labeled as a mental patient, being on drugs forever, and seeing a therapist several times per week. Despite what the best seller “Prozac Nation” depicts (although some passages are right) about medication is only one of the tools used to lift depression. And looking for help does not mean you will be on psychotropic drugs forever. In fact, studies suggest that psychotherapy in any of its modalities (talking therapy, drama therapy, expressive arts, cognitive behavioral, deep brief oriented or others) work as well as prescription drugs to treat depression. Moreover, even if you are prescribed some drugs, chances are that it will not be a lifetime solution.

Feeling sad, hopeless, and helpless, is true, does not help to lift the by now purple instead of blues but do not fool yourself, the hopelessness is part of the illness, not a part of daily life and for sure not an unchangeable reality. When treated, positive thinking gradually replaces negative thoughts. In fact, most people (up-to 70% as by the National Institute of Mental Health) who seek for help to deal with their depression become symptom-free by combining medication and psychotherapy.

The bottom line is that if you have been feeling down and/or sad for what it seems to be too long, you should seek for help. Trying to diagnose yourself or going through the list of symptoms after a goggle search can confirm your suspicion but can mislead you as well. A reliable source on how to seek for help can be found on the WebMD or Psychology Today.

Whatever you do, remember you do not need to lose your mojo, being purple all the time, or miss out on all the fun and meaning of your life.

And the Wins for Marriage Equality Keep Coming!

NCLR (The National Center for Lesbian Rights) announced that the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 3-0 in favor of the freedom to marry—the tUtah Equality For Marriagehird federal court of appeals to issue such a ruling. Kate Kendall, NCLR Executive Director, says: “…That makes nearly 40 wins for marriage equality in the last year! Last week, we shared with you that we filed our brief asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the Utah case and end the patchwork of legal uncertainty that pervades the relationships of same-sex couples. We also told you of our exciting partnership with Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders Legal Director Gary Buseck and Civil Rights Project Director Mary Bonauto, who have joined our outstanding legal team.

Powerful briefs were filed yesterday with the Supreme Court urging the Court to decide this important constitutional question. The briefs represent the perspectives of families, businesses, and state governments, all urging the Court to strike down discriminatory state marriage laws and to end the untenable hodgepodge of laws which fail to give security and recognition to all couples. Kate thanks all involved and specially mentions the lawyers at NCLR, GLAD, Hogan Lovells, and NCLR lead counsel Peggy Tomisc of Magleby & Greenwood,  for standing with NCLR in their tireless effort to win the freedom to marry for all.  Read More

Depression Kills

Free Wallpapers by Karl

Free Wallpapers by Karl

Still after few days, the news about Robin Williams’ apparent suicide shocked me beyond what I expected my own reactions to this phenomenon would be. Few months ago, Philip Seymour Hoffman saddened me when dying of a drug overdose yet another consumed suicide. What has become apparent to me after these events is how much depression is underestimated by the general public and even by professionals and how, sometimes, it’s plays down as a personality fault, like not trying hard, being lazy.

How many times had we said to somebody who expresses feeling depressed…”comm’on …try it this or that…eventually it is about trying and you will be out of it…’ Well, the true facts show us that sometimes like in Williams; case or even Hoffman’s one, it is not that simple.The suffering created by mental illness is misunderstood by some people and the lack of empathy and support can be lethal for those affected by it.Millions of U.S. adults struggle with depression. Often, medication and psychotherapy help their moods and outlook. That said there is an optimal time to deal with the issue and a far-gone time when all hopes are over. Then we need to try to act upon the right timing and provide the help the person is looking for. Yet when depression kills, who is to blame, then? Is it the system, the therapist, the lack of willingness to work on the issues from the patients’ perspective, the despondence after trying tons of times?

Let’s face it, there is not a one size fits all answer and it is difficult to blame only one factor on why depression turn deadly for some and others seem to overcome it. Although they can be many factors affecting how bad depression can go like chronic mental illness, physical illness, untreated depression, feelings of hopelessness and emptiness, depression can be conquered. We need to continue talking about it and being alert and attentive to the signs of profound depression among us to support people affected by and encourage them to seek help.

Not all therapists are the same but if you are ready to do the “work”, therapy and the right therapist will help tremendously. Treatment works when done right. Medications help but alone it is just a palliative intervention and without diving into the deep waters of your mental issues, you are just masking the real reasons for your hopelessness. Look for someone who is a licensed therapist, with expertise in the area in which you are seeking help and combine it with supportive medication and be ready to walk through the dark night of the soul with the conviction that there is alight at the end of the tunnel.

Lord Buddha had already said 2,500 years ago that life is full of unpleasant moments and experiences and that there is pain in the world and it is unavoidable.
“Each life is filled with 10,000 joys and 10,000 sorrows.” But suffering, he said, is the response, “the relationship” we maintain, to the pain. He stated that one could experience pain without experiencing suffering. Even physical pain seems to reduce if we don’t resist it. Thus, there is hope, if we change the way we approach our suffering, we change the results of it. One valuable resource is mindfulness practice, used these days to work with pain, people with dementia, ADD, an other conditions and it teach us to breath and being in the moment, which, can help with the feelings of despondency and depressive thoughts. The breath calms the body and calms the mind. Mindfulness is about being aware of all this. It’s about stepping back and taking a different view of things, as the observer, rather than the participant. Of course, easier said than done and yet, we should have hope and seek professional help.

Diving into the deep sea of your issues is not comfortable or easy but very rewarding once you close some of the unfinished business that originate your current issues while gaining awareness of how your life became what is today. Yes, we are the product of the past but gaining that awareness here and now, helps us take the reins of our lives and make the changes we need to make to keep going in a different path from now on. Appreciate the opportunity to immerse yourself in anew path, one of change and hope. Start anew!

Resilience: The Client as an Active Agent of Change

Copyright : johan2011

Copyright : johan2011

Accepting we clinicians are not as mighty power as we , sometimes, want to believe, and as much of a blow to our egos, it can be, there is a fact we need to recognize as such: human resilience and people’s self-healing powers count for positive outcomes after traumas and strenuous circumstances, equally effectively or more than proven therapeutic approaches.

A very respected and renowned colleague of mine, Dr. Arthur Bohart always reminded me and anybody who wanted to listen to his revolutionary opinions in regards to the effectiveness of some therapeutic approaches or the best personality traits for a successful clinician, that human beings are more resilient that what we want to account for and that the theory of some approaches being more effective than others are more of a myth than a fact since for Dr. Bohart” the “client acts as a self-healer” and human resilience counts for more of the positive outcomes in therapy. So, what is the clinician’s role? In a way, we therapists are a catalyst or better said a witness to the self-healing process. A guide to educate and share the process with the client. In an article published in the Journal of Psychotherapy Integration, Vol. 10, No. 2, 2000, he describes the dominant “medical” or “treatment” model of psychotherapy and how it puts the client in the position of a “dependent variable” who is operated on by supposedly potent therapeutic techniques. Next I argue that the data do not fit with this model. An alternative model is that the client is the most important common factor and that it is clients’ self-healing capacities which make therapy work…” Read his article

The same concept works with the forgotten population, the older adults and elders. Resilience and aging: it’s a favorite theme of gero-psychiatrist Helen Lavretsy, MD, MS. It’s the subject of her new book, Resilience and Aging: Research and Practice and the theme of a symposium at the APA Annual Meeting in New York City. In a recent podcast, she talks briefly about interventions that can help bolster resilience and help older people recover quickly from adversity. Listen to her podcast


Resilience and aging: it’s a favorite theme of geropsychiatrist Helen Lavretsy, MD, MS. It’s the subject of her new book, Resilience and Aging: Research and Practice and the theme of a symposium at the APA Annual Meeting in New York City.Here, she talks briefly about interventions that can help bolster resilience and help older people recover quickly from adversity. – See more at:
Resilience and aging: it’s a favorite theme of geropsychiatrist Helen Lavretsy, MD, MS. It’s the subject of her new book, Resilience and Aging: Research and Practice and the theme of a symposium at the APA Annual Meeting in New York City.Here, she talks briefly about interventions that can help bolster resilience and help older people recover quickly from adversity. – See more at:

Anxiety and Mindfulness

Copyright : nejron

These days, we all are under steady pressure, stress, and with constant stimuli, anxiety really has gone “viral”. Anxiety can cause physical symptoms like a fast heartbeat and sweaty hands. It can make us limit our activities and can make it hard to enjoy our life and have meaningful and close personal relationships.

Anxiety is having too much fear and worry. Some people have what’s called generalized anxiety disorder. They feel worried and stressed about many things. Often they worry about even small things and it is s much more than being very nervous or edgy. An anxious person will report an unreasonable exaggeration of threats, repetitive negative thinking, hyper-arousal, and a strong identification with fear. The fight-or-flight response kicks into overdrive.

Although Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is widely used to treat anxiety and anxiety disorders by changing our thoughts and cognitive patterns, many specialists have found that healthy thinking and mindfulness can help us prevent or control anxiety. CBT attempts to replace maladaptive thinking by examining the patient’s distorted thinking and resetting the fight-or-flight response with more reasonable, accurate ones. The anxious person and the therapist work to actively change thought patterns. In contrast, instead of changing thoughts, mindfulness-based therapies (MBTs) seek to change the relationship between the anxious person and his or her thoughts. (Read More)

In mindfulness-based therapy, the person focuses on the bodily sensations that arise when he or she is anxious. Instead of avoiding or withdrawing from these feelings, he or she remains present and fully experiences the symptoms of anxiety. Instead of avoiding distressing thoughts, he or she opens up to them in an effort to realize and acknowledge that they are not literally true. Mindfulness involves paying attention “on purpose” and involves a conscious direction of our awareness.  It seems that awareness and mindfulness go hand-to-hand but Wildmind differentiates them”…We sometimes … talk about “mindfulness” and “awareness” as if they were interchangeable terms, but that’s not a good habit to get into…one may be aware one is irritable, but that wouldn’t mean one was being mindful of my irritability. In order to be mindful one has to be purposefully aware of oneself, not just vaguely and habitually aware. Knowing that  one is eating is not the same as eating mindfully…”

Margaria Tartakovsky, M.S says about mindfulness practice “…Mindfulness is one effective practice that helps to relax the mind and body…” according to Jeffrey Brantley, M.D., and Wendy Millstine, NC, in their book Daily Meditations for Calming Your Anxious Mind, mindfulness is: … an awareness that is sensitive, open, kind, gentle and curious. Mindfulness is a basic human capacity. It arises from paying attention on purpose in a way that is non-judging, friendly and does not try to add or subtract anything from whatever is happening. Ms. Tartakovsky had summarized 3 practices to calm your anxiety from Brantley and Millstine’s book.

UCLA research center in mindfulness  defines mindfulness as “… paying attention to present moment experiences with openness, curiosity, and a willingness to be with what is. It is an excellent antidote to the stresses of modern times. It invites us to stop, breathe, observe, and connect with one’s inner experience …” The UCLA research center in mindfulness is full of resources and information, as well. (Visit them)

Use all this information and resources and start today and stop the worrying that interferes with your daily life, remember chronic worrying is a mental habit that can be broken. You can train your brain to stay calm and look at life from a more positive perspective.  If needed talk to your physician or look for psychotherapy to help you out. Good luck and stay cool!