Media & Publications
This Is Your Brain on Loneliness
Prolonged loneliness can make us see social threats and rejection everywhere, but we can still find connections by changing our perspective.
How Vaginal Birth Transforms Mother, Baby, and Their Bond
Vaginal birth supports rewarding interactions, called "bio-behavioral synchrony," which are key to infant-parent bonding and have a lasting impact on children's physical and mental health.
Born to Bond: Vaginal Birth Boosts Physical, Mental Health
Vaginal birth biologically primes parenting behavior and bonding, and physically alters the newborn to ready it for life outside the womb. Unfortunately, these processes are disrupted by C-section birth, which can save lives, but sometimes has negative long-term repercussions.
How Fairy Tales Set Us Up for Relationship Failure
A relationship shouldn't be measured by its length, but by the happiness and growth it brings - even after it's over.
What We Can Learn From This Revolutionary Divorce Court
When nothing else can get high-conflict parents to see eye-to-eye, hearing their children's unvarnished truths creates breakthroughs.
Why "Senseless" Violence Doesn't Exist
Understanding the surprisingly ordinary emotional dynamics behind gun violence illuminates what will and won't help us stop the killing.
We Are Suffering From a Social Famine
Surging mental illness isn't a pandemic. It's social starvation.
Why Your Cousin Won't Get Jabbed
The true explanation for vaccine resistance may lie in human nature and our visceral response to danger.
Invest in the Earliest Years: Americans Deserve a Full Year of Paid Leave to be with Newborns
New York Daily News
President Biden rightfully wants to set us back on the right track with massive investments in education and families - but by the time children arrive at the expanded preschool he has proposed, it may already be too late.
These Unconscious Reactions Are Fueling Vaccine Resistance
Automatic responses that evolved to protect people can steer them in the wrong direction when faced with unfamiliar threats such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
How to Stop Negative Emotions from Spreading Like COVID-19
Emotional contagion can turn a child's bad mood into a family-wide meltdown. Science can explain these dynamics and show how to stop destructive spirals and spread joy instead.
How to Inoculate Kids Against Failure
President Biden wants to inject hundreds of billions of dollars into public education - but to make it effective, we need a research-driven revolution.
5 Ways to Vanquish Loneliness in Socially Distanced Children
Worried that social distancing is making children lonely? Parents can solve the problem at home, even during lockdowns.
5 Ways Kids Can Learn and Thrive Without In-Person School
The science of facilitating intellectual and social growth at home.
Finding Joy Amid Uncertainty
Life lessons from Holocaust survivors can help us face up to reality, offer hope for a brighter future, and teach us to celebrate life no matter what.
How to Stop Covid-19 Transmission at the Pharmacy
Why pharmacy delivery should be mandated immediately to prevent discrimination and save lives.
Overcoming Addiction: A Social Problem?
New research shows that the key to the seemingly intractable addiction epidemic isn't psychological or pharmacological, it's social.
Letter to the Editor: Stop the Separation of Immigrant Families
Los Angeles Times
Every day we allow this to continue, children are being traumatized and irreparably harmed.
Exhaustion Kills: Why We Need a Federal Sleep Protection Agency
Prolonged sleep deprivation is as deadly as dehydration or starvation. But school, business and social schedules cater to the needs of corporations and bureaucracies, not human bodies.
Ruth Bettelheim appears on "The Emotional Podcast"
A conversation with host Marcus Lovett about what a life coach and an Olympic athlete have in common, as well as key aspects of emotional health including rewarding work, warm intimate relationships, and being able to observe your own emotions with non-judgmental compassion.
Can We All Just Agree That Love Matters More Than Marriage?
Too many American couples and families are finding out only when disaster strikes that their love and commitment, outside the bonds of marriage, leaves them unprotected at the very most vulnerable moments of their lives.
(also published as When Love Doesn't Count in the Huffington Post)
What "Inside Out" Got Wrong
This top-down vision of how emotions work is, itself, inside out. Locating emotional response purely in the brain overlooks our best source of social information and communication: the body.
This Is Your Brain on Loneliness
Everyone experiences loneliness sometimes, but most people don't know that it can trigger evolutionarily determined response patterns that actually undermine our ability to connect with others, creating a vicious cycle of pain and isolation.
My Neurochemistry Is All Shook Up: The Science of Love
As Valentine's Day approaches, our thoughts turn to romance. Unfortunately, many of our cultural myths about love, from fairy tales to rom coms, paint a very distorted picture. Love is not the pot of gold waiting at the end of our quest, incarnated in a single perfect partner. Instead it's something we need with us every step of the way -- it energizes us, gives us courage, and guides us. But we are just beginning to understand how it works.
(originally published as The Love Drug in the Huffington Post)
The Joy of Endings
Growing up, we treat endings as a natural part of life. However, between childhood and adulthood, there's a radical shift in our beliefs about the value of change. We impose on ourselves a standard of life-long stability in our intimate relationships, marriages, homes, and careers.
Getting Rid of Local Schools Would Make Student Bodies More Diverse
Enrolling kids in communities close to where their parents work might make commutes easier and student bodies more diverse.
Law Enforcement and Deadly Decisions: What the Science Tells Us
It would be comforting to think that life and death decisions are made more deliberately than traffic navigation, but this is not the case. Indeed, they are often at least as rushed and impulsive.
Doing Prekindergarten Right
We now know that the first 5 years of life constitute the most critical period for the development of social, emotional, physical and cognitive skills. If things go wrong at this stage, the price is a life time of handicaps and often failure in one or more areas.
Child Custody: In Whose Best Interest?
New York Times
When parents divorce, their child custody plans are supposed to place the "best interests of the child" first. We know children's needs change as they grow. Unfortunately, the way we develop and maintain custody schedules ignores that, and often makes children feel helpless by denying them any influence over the arrangements that govern their lives.
We Can't Afford to Neglect Dementia Research
We all hope never to endure having our minds slowly diminished and devoured by dementia, but the odds of that are worse than you might know. In fact, there's about a 40% chance that your brain is programmed to self-destruct while you're in your 80s. Your chances of developing dementia increase steadily every year.
Divorce is painful for children, but Ruth Bettelheim urges us to see what kids can gain when one family becomes two.
Beating the Valentine's Day Blues: Redefining Intimate Relationship Success
Valentine's Day inundates us with images of warmth, romance, and closeness, and although we enjoy the spirit of the day, it also exacerbates loneliness, as our own lives -- whether single or coupled -- seldom seem as rich or passionate as the ones on TV. Surrounded by social expectations and sentimentality, we judge our own relationships (or lack thereof) harshly, and often end up feeling like failures.
Outdated Teaching is Failing Our Children
Our public schools are turning millions of normal children into dropouts and failures. This isn't because of a few bad teachers or principals, but because the natural learning behaviors of children are routinely penalized instead of praised. Initiatives such as "No Child Left Behind" and "Race to the Top" won't change this, because they don't adequately take into account research about how children learn.
Why Heroes Kill Themselves
Suicide is now the most common form of death in the Army, claiming more lives than combat or motor vehicle accidents. This enemy will not be defeated until we recognize the link between Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and suicide, and are able to quickly and effectively diagnose and treat TBI.
The War on Sex: The Contraception Controversy's Hidden Agenda
The many condemnations of Rush Limbaugh's remarks about law student Sandra Fluke are appropriate, but they have thus far ignored the important subtext of his comments -- specifically, a contradiction so powerful that it is changing laws across the country to the detriment of both men and women.
No Fault of Their Own
New York Times
As we have just passed the 40th anniversary of that much vilified institution, the no-fault divorce, it is an appropriate moment to re-evaluate how divorce affects families, and particularly children. The California law took effect on Jan. 1, 1970, and was followed by a wave of marital separations that continues to this day.
Key Security Threats Ignored 10 Years After 9/11
Failure to understand or act on intelligence goes a long way toward explaining the attacks of September 11, 2001. On this 10th anniversary of those events, we seem, once again, not to grasp the import of the information being provided by our intelligence services. Lee Hamilton, former co-chairman of 9/11 Commission, recently said, "Everybody I know in the national security community thinks another attack will eventually succeed." The fight against terrorism is not over. Bin Laden is dead and al Qaeda is enfeebled, but our safety and security are still at risk. This time, the origins of the threat are in South Asia, not the Middle East.
An Obvious, But Ignored Strategy to Defeat the Taliban
Osama bin Laden is dead but the Taliban is not. Despite nearly a decade of war in Afghanistan, the Taliban has still not been defeated completely. We cannot afford further losses of human life and treasure, but neither can we afford to withdraw unless America's basic security requirements are met. The most effective way to critically disable the Taliban is to drastically reduce their income and delegitimize them among local populations. What has not been achieved on the battlefield may yet be accomplished in the marketplace.
Letter to the Editor: A Better Memorial
New York Times
The only fitting way to honor those who lie dead in mass graves and heaps of ashes is to stop genocide everywhere and every time it happens.
Gabrielle Giffords and You: The Truth About Brain Injuries
Pretend for a moment that you are Gabrielle Giffords, about whom we are at last being told the truth. After 6 months of inpatient treatment, the best that money can buy, you can't speak fluently and must rely upon facial expressions and hand gestures to make up for words that vanish as you search for them. But continuing rehabilitation will not be available to you because your insurance won't pay for it.
Sex and Stress: Male Vs. Female Political and Domestic Strategies
Neuroscience research confirms that when stressed, men tend toward 'fight or flight' reactions, while women prefer to talk -- and that men take more risks, while women are generally more cautious. However, neither the mechanisms underlying these findings, nor their implications for businesses, politics and families, have been adequately explored.
No Victory for Surge of Brain Injured Veterans
Normally we think of the costs of war in terms of dollars spent and body bags delivered to loved ones. However, this perspective overlooks the enormous financial and social burdens of veterans' long term disabilities such as those caused by traumatic brain injury (TBI), which is both under diagnosed and largely untreatable. As Dr. John Hart Jr., the President of the Society for Behavioral and Cognitive Neurology, notes: "A majority of the soldiers returning from the Iraq and Afghan wars are at risk of developing TBI."
Anxiety in America: Behind the Health Care "Debate"
Why do so many of our fellow citizens ignore the facts and actual issues in the current health care debate, and instead blindly insist that the health care reform proposals are a terrible danger to us all? At recent town halls and other meetings, the Democrats' bills have been described variously as "the systematic dismantling of this country," "trampling on our constitution," "communism," and "nothing short of evil." Protesters claim that "the government will choose to kill people instead of saving their lives" and "they have death panels that will kill the elderly and infirm." Interestingly, the protesters making these statements confirm that they or their family members are dependent on and happy with Medicare, even while they denounce the dangers of a health care proposal that would extend Medicare-like coverage to a small additional percentage of the US population
Hell Hath No Fury: The Sodini Murder/Suicide
George Sodini, who committed suicide after killing 3 women and injuring 9 others on August 4 at an LA Fitness gym in Collier Township, Pennsylvania, has been described as "hate filled," "Gal-hating" and a "madman, and "possibly psychotic." None of these terms accurately represent the feelings expressed in his blog, or clarify the emotions that underlie assaults on the people who reject us, whether those assaults are verbal or physical, as in cases of domestic violence, or as in this instance, a murderous revenge against the desired but unattainable object.
Crowley vs. Gates: The Heart of Prejudice
A heated debate about "racial profiling" was the immediate response to the arrest of Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. of Harvard University by Sergeant Crowley for disorderly conduct on his own front porch. It became, within moments of publication, an intense argument about the whether or not racial profiling had taken place in this instance. The two men became protagonists in torrent of commentary in which some painted Gates as a long suffering victim of social injustice, a sort of black everyman standard bearer for all people of color, and Crowley as the unjustly maligned police officer, a champion for the forces of law and order. The press, pundits, bloggers, and virtually everyone else immediately took sides as if for a gladiatorial contest, all of them framing the situation in the same kind of "us vs. them" way.
Hypocrisy in High Places
David Vitter, Mark Sanford, Chip Pickering, John Ensign, Newt Gingrich, Larry Craig, Henry Hyde, Rob Livingston, Mark Foley: all are Family Values politicians and former leaders in excoriating Bill Clinton and others for sexual misbehavior who have been caught with their pants down.
"Victims" of Infidelity?
It is hard to imagine four more successful, intelligent, and tough - or to use the press description, 'steely' - women than Hillary Clinton, Jenny Sanford, Elizabeth Edwards, and Silda Spitzer. In addition to their accomplishments, these four women have another point in common: their husbands have all been involved in highly publicized extramarital affairs.
When Disaster Response Is Its Own Disaster (and How We Can Easily Fix It)
Sunday a tornado ripped through Joplin, Missouri, destroying whole neighborhoods. Last month tornadoes left tens of thousands homeless, and in March we were riveted by images with hundreds of thousands displaced by the earthquake and then tsunami in Japan.
Family Mediation Quarterly: Spring, vol.9, no.2, "No Fault of Their Own"
Early Schooling in Asia (with Ruby Takanishi), McGraw-Hill Inc.,US (February 1977)
"Binuclear Man" (published in What Makes a Man, Rebecca Walker ed., Riverhead Books, 2004).