There are two bodies of work that I want to present at the beginning of this post, and if I can figure out how, I will attach a couple of links for those interested in looking into this a little more.
The first is a huge body of research by Vincent Felitti, MD, with the Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program in San Diego: Turning Gold into Lead, The Relationship of Adverse Childhood Experiences to Adult Health (ACE Study). I met Dr. Felitti at a training workshop several years ago. Later, following the publication of my book, A Certain Fall*, he invited us both to a workshop in Bangor, Maine. I introduced him to Janis. We spoke for a few minutes about her history and the ACE Study.
The second is a recent book by Robert M. Sopolsky, professor of biology and neurology at Stanford University. BEHAVE, The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst. A book that covers, as the title states, biology, the nervous system and the impact of child abuse on the brain and physical health of humans. This book, though a little challenging (kinda technical and immensely detailed in places) is a humbling and sobering look at what happens to the brain and bodies of children suffering abuse. And coupled with Dr. Felitti’s work, and my own thirty plus years in child welfare, jolted me, when I understood what I had intuited all these years with Janis: she suffered The Perfect (Brain) Storm.
As I continue to work on Entangled, I sometimes get lost in the 50+ years of our lives together. Adding to that, the theme of the book is not just a biographical text, but a text that describes how Janis fought back against the darkness, the fog of depression that covered all her days, the courage, the determination it took to get through her daily life. And in the end to leave her home, her two cats, her trips to the sea collecting sea glass, her family, and enter a locked unit to wait…
So why write about this? Really. It’s depressing. Why? Because Janis wanted to help others. She held a deep compassion and empathy for victims (including all wildlife and domestic animals. I’m still wading through all the mailings, magazines, and materials she subscribed to. Anyone need a free wildlife calendar? Or maybe some cute kitten stickers, address labels? Wrong address a problem?) She and I hoped that by sharing about her life it may help, even just a little, to build an awareness of the significance of early childhood abuse and the disastrous effect it has on our society. I’m convinced that if we can find a way to end or at least diminish the prevalence of child abuse in our culture, hell, all cultures world wide, it will make life a little sweeter for all our children, but as Felitti and Sopolsky attest, it may solve most of society’s problems: physical and mental health, addictions, violence, etc.
These posts will promote both of the above texts and point out some of the findings they have generated. It is an education worth pursuing.
Okay. Now how do I link you to some data sites? Hmmm. If all else fails, check my Facebook page for a link to any sites that carries information on the ACE Study.
* A Certain Fall, published in 2005 is now out of print, I will be revising and updating this book for a new edition. There may be some old, early editions available as used books via Amazon.
http://www.robertwchapman.com / FB: Maine Novels by Robert Chapman