Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Storytelling Campaign

The Minority Male Mentoring (M3) storytelling campaign starts with a poster and one man's story about his journey to graduation. I want to wallpaper the world with these stories.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Recognize, Challenge & Change

"Cognitive restructuring is a technique that specifically focuses on cognition by teaching individuals to recognize, challenge, and change stress-inducing thoughts, attitudes, and beliefs in order to minimize unhealthy negative emotions such as anxiety, anger, and depression, and to minimize unhealthy thinking styles, such as pessimism while promoting health-enhancing mental states, including sense of control and optimism. Cognitive restructuring has become a core technique, along with the relaxation response, in mind–body medicine for reducing the effects of stress on a variety of medical conditions (Jacobs, 2001, p. 94)."

"In cognitive restructuring, teaching patients to alter negative, pessimistic thinking styles not only directly influences emotional states, including anxiety and depression, but in fact, improves...functions associated with depression, particularly appetite, sleep, and sexual activity (Jacobs, 2001, p. 95)."

Turning Poison to Medicine

"...hostility has been associated with increased coronary blockage, increased risk of heart attack, and increased risk of dying from all causes. Redford Williams, in research at Duke University on the relationship between hostility and heart disease, has shown that hostile men are seven times more likely to die within 25 years from any cause compared to less hostile men (Williams and Williams, 1993). In numerous studies assessing stress in the laboratory, stress has been shown to result in increased blood pressure, heart rate, and reduced blood flow to the heart (Jacobs, 2001, p. 86)."

synonyms for h
antagonism, unfriendliness, enmity, malevolence, malice, unkindness, rancor, venom, hatred, loathing, fighting, conflict, armed conflict, combat, aggression, warfare, war, violence 

Save yourself, brother-man. Release the anger and hang up your boxing gloves. Let your life lived well be your greatest "revenge." 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Fleeing Stalking and Violence

Update (August 13, 2017): The immigration judge granted the young woman asylum last Monday! She was released to family in the area, and is currently figuring out next steps.

I'm writing a forensic psychological report for an asylum seeker. She is fleeing a violent stalker in her country of origin. I am doing research and here are some of my notes...
  • Stalking seems to have common roots in a mixture of psychological processes that include frustration, aggression and the desire to control the target. 
  • Stalking refers to wilful, malicious and repeated following or harassing another person. Stalkers often persecute their victims by unwanted communication (phone calls, texts), camp outside the victim’s home or workplace, spread rumors about the victim. 
  • In many cases innocent parties and the target’s circle of friends and associated become victims of the stalker’s behavior. 
  • The various forms of harassment are done to gain control over the victim. 
  • Wright et al (1996) found that many stalkers were seeking possession of the victim, angry and retaliating against the victim, whom he perceived as rejecting him.
Canter, D.V. and Ioannou, M. (2004) A multivariate model of stalking behaviours. Behavormetrika, 31(2), 113-130. 
  • Similar to domestic violence relationships, power and control play a role in stalking situations. 
  • Psychological control and social control are the most common forms reported by victims. 
  • Physical assault during the stalking and financially controlling behaviors are also reported (Brewster, 2003). 
  • An objective observer might not understand the rationale for stalking once the perpetrator is clear that reconciliation has been ruled out as a possibility. In trying to make sense of stalking behavior, it is clear that the desire to control the former partner is a great, if not the most important, motivating factor. 
Brewster, M.P. (2003). Journal of Family Violence, 18(4), 207-217. 
  • Domestic violence research suggests that stalking may play a role in the “cycle of violence.” 
  • The cycle of violence is a three-stage process used to explain spouse battering. The first stage is called the tension-building phase, in which unresolved conflict and unexpressed anger collect and there is a sense of “walking on eggshells.” The tension continues to build to the second stage, called the explosion phase. During this stage, the actual abuse incident occurs, which may involve emotional, verbal, and/or physical abuse. This stage is followed by a honeymoon period. The abuser seeks forgiveness in a contrite manner, almost as if courting his partner, and promises never to let the abuse occur again. The cycle begins again as tension rebuilds. 
  • When the woman leaves an abusive relationship to stop the cycle, she is the most vulnerable to extreme acts of violence. When the male realizes that his usual methods of control are no longer effective, he is likely to resort to more extreme acts of violence. It is at this point that the woman is also at risk of being the focus of repeated, unwanted attention and harassment as he tries to “win her back.” The attention may take many forms and become progressively more violent when these efforts are not successful in reunifying the relationship. 
Coleman, F.L. (1997). Stalking behavior and the cycle of domestic violence. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 12(3), 420-432.

Fragile Power

When an abused child, a rejected adolescent, or a humiliated man is finally able to deny his desire for acceptance and love, he can become . . . a man obsessed with power and the abuser of others.  
He may be relatively secure only when in a position to dominate or humiliate someone else, which gives him a false and fragile sense of superiority. Lack of self-worth and experiences of devaluation, rejection, or abuse in childhood, coupled with a desire for revenge, make people prone to become like [this]. (Bolen, 1999, p. 26) 
From Brewster, M.P. (2003). Journal of Family Violence, 18(4), 207-217.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Challenging Nativism

This paper surveys the history of nativism in the United States from the late nineteenth century to the present. It compares a recent surge in nativism with earlier periods, particularly the decades leading up to the 1920s, when nativism directed against southern and eastern European, Asian, and Mexican migrants led to comprehensive legislative restrictions on immigration. It is based primarily on a review of historical literature, as well as contemporary immigration scholarship. 
Major findings include the following: 
• There are many similarities between the nativism of the 1870-1930 period and today, particularly the focus on the purported inability of specific immigrant groups to assimilate, the misconception that they may therefore be dangerous to the native-born population, and fear that immigration threatens American workers. 
Mexican migrants in particular have been consistent targets of nativism, immigration restrictions, and deportations. 
• There are also key differences between these two eras, most apparently in the targets of nativism, which today are undocumented and Muslim immigrants, and in President Trump’s consistent, highly public, and widely disseminated appeals to nativist sentiment. 
• Historical studies of nativism suggest that nativism does not disappear completely, but rather subsides. Furthermore, immigrants themselves can and do adopt nativist attitudes, as well as their descendants. 
Politicians, government officials, civic leaders, scholars and journalists must do more to reach sectors of society that feel most threatened by immigration. 
• While eradicating nativism may be impossible, a focus on avoiding or overturning nativist immigration legislation may prove more successful.

Young, J.G. (2017). Making America 1920 again? Nativism and US immigration, past and present. Journal on Migration and Human Security, 5(1), 217-235.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Free Adult

we have a natural thrust to grow and develop.
unless we get in our way.
what usually gets in our way is fear.
but fears are learned and may be unlearned.
the hardest part of growing up is not the growing part but the conquering of fears.
fears can be a motherfu#@er (and not in a good way).
it may seem easier and less scary to play the child and victim forever.
but the freedom of adulthood far outweighs the responsibilities and the work to overcome fears.
the woman in me remembers the good times past and the lessons learned.
it's a beautiful life.

our choices, our consequences.
cause and effect.
sow, reap.
truth and freedom.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Deep Dialogue

"Founding itself upon love, humility, and faith, dialogue becomes a horizontal relationship of which mutual trust between the dialoguers is the logical consequence (Freire, 2007, p. 91)"

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Stories, Narratives, Medicine, Paradise

"Stories are habitations. We live in and through stories. They conjure worlds. We do not know the world other than as a story world. Stories inform life. They hold us together and keep us apart. We inhabit the great stories of our culture." (Mair, 1998, p. 127 via Platt, 2012). "The shared stories of a culture greatly influence the thinking and behaviors of its inhabitants. Many cultural conflicts in the world arise from a lack of understanding of the stories held outside one's own culture (Platt, 2012, p. 355)."

Monday, June 5, 2017


"One of the primary values across Hispanic American groups is the value of familism (as opposed to the European American value of autonomy), which carries the expectation and sense of obligation among family members that the family will be the primary source of support, both instrumental and emotional, as well as the center of loyalty and solidarity (Negy & Woods, 1992; Staples & Mirandé 1980; Vega, 1990)."

Lindahl, K.L., & Malik, N.M. (1999). Marital Conflict, Family Processes, and Boys’ Externalizing Behavior in Hispanic American and European American Families. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 28(1), 12-24.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Sunday Morning Affirmations

"Self-affirmations invoke what has been termed--the Whispering Self (Purkey, 2000; Shaw, Siegel, & Schoenlein, 2013)... Self-affirmations are a brief psychological intervention based on the idea that 'people are motivated to maintain self-integrity' (Cohen & Sherman, 2014, p. 336)... the three principles of Self-Affirmation Theory as the need for children and adults to:
a) perceive themselves as 'good persons;'
b) feel that they are adequate enough to be considered moral and adaptive within a given domain, and;
c) 'act in ways worthy of esteem or praise' (p. 336)." 
From "A Case Study of Self-Affirmations in Teacher Education" by Scott Robinson in the Journal of Invitational Theory & Practice, January 1, 2014

Self-affirmations are the things that we tell ourselves about ourselves, others and the world.
Trauma can distort these messages from, "I am good, competent, worthy" to "I am bad, incompetent, helpless."
But what is learned can be unlearned and transformed.
We have the power to return home to our wholeness, integrity and worth - to the birthright of our worth.

Sunday morning has always been a sacred time for me. On this fine late-Spring Sunday morning, I leave you with some of my favorite affirmations.

  • "I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
  • If God is for us, then who can be against us?
  • El respeto a los derechos ajenos es la paz.
  • Continuously contemplate yourself as being surrounded by conditions you wish to produce.
  • Make a shift and catch yourself when you're focusing on what has already been and move your inner speech to what you intend to manifest. 
  • Become conscious of the energy levels of your acquaintances, friends and extended family. 
  • For as you think, so are you.
  • Mighty oaks from little acorns grow.
  • Let go of everything you fear to lose.
  • Optimistic visualization combined with prayer and faith will inevitably actualize achievement.
  • I'll act on my inner intuition impulses to create the work and relationships of my dreams.
  • Believe and succeed. 
  • A great idea and great faith.
  • Put it in God's hands.
  • Shift your mind from fear to faith - stop creating the object of your fear and instead actualize the object of your faith.
  • Fill the mind with thoughts of faith, hope, courage, expectancy.
  • God is now filling my mind with courage, peace and calm assurance.
  • God is now protecting me and my loved ones from all harm. 
  • God is now guiding me to right decisions.
  • God will see me through this situation.
  • I believe I am always divinely guided. 
  • I believe I will always take the right turn of the road.
  • I believe God will always make a way where there is no way.
  • If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, nothing will be impossible to you.
  • Fill the mind with thoughts of God's power, God's protection, and God's goodness.
  • Body, mind, and spirit work harmoniously for continuous energy.
  • Ask for what you want - be willing to take what God gives you. It may be better than what you ask for.
  • Throw your heart over the bar and your body will follow.
  • Attitudes are more important than facts.
  • Remember that God is with you and nothing can defeat you.
  • Muddied water. Let stand. Will become clear.
  • Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid.
  • Spiritual joy will release charm and loveliness in you.
  • Ask for the ability to do your best and to leave the results confidently to God.
  • To become a happy person, have a clean soul, eyes that see romance in the commonplace and a child's heart

My First

The benchmark for scholars and a requirement for tenure is the accumulation of peer-reviewed journals - that is, evidence that you are adding to the knowledge base in your academic discipline. Check out the abstract of my first at the link below:

I'm working on five more manuscripts with colleagues this summer:
  1. Pilot Evaluation of the Back to Basics Parenting Training in Urban Schools (Acuña & Martinez)
  2. Trauma Informed School Systems (Kataoka, Acuña, Vona & Escudero)
  3. Minority Male Mentoring (M3) Multi-Tiered Intervention Model for College Success (Acuña, Martinez, Ricks & Swain)
  4. UNAM-CSUN joint MSW degree (Acuña & Bartle)
  5. Housing Instability among Transgender Women (Ross & Acuña)
It. is. happening. 
Thank you, Yesus!!

Monday, May 29, 2017

Reading is my Elixir

Summertime, and the livin' is easy...
One of these mornings you're gonna rise up singing
And you'll spread your wings and you'll take to the sky...
So hush, little baby, don't you cry

Every summer I get to indulge in lots of reading.
There are usually a stack of books on my nightstand.
They aren't just an escape. They don't just teach me everything I know.
My mom used to say that my mother was my books (tu madre, los libros).
That sounds about accurate.
For most of us, the go-to mother/drug/soother in good times and in bad is alcohol (or sex, porn, shopping, food, work, social media, and so on) because it's there when you need it and the results are reliable and consistent, until you need more and more to get the same high.

My high from reading is pretty intense. I get vivid visions and make connections that solve problems big and small. I get transported and lose track of time. Summer reading is when I am likely to stay up all night to finish the novel I just can't put down. Summer is also when I tend to read novels, because normally I'm a non-fiction kinda gal. 

Right now, I am engrossed in a book called, "The World Until Yesterday." Here are some excerpts:
  • All human societies have been traditional for far longer than any society has been modern.
  • Traditional societies in effect represent thousands of natural experiments in how to construct a human society. They have come up with thousands of solutions to human problems, solutions different from those adopted by our own WEIRD (Western, educated, industrialized, rich and democratic) modern societies...some of those solutions - for instance, some of the ways in which traditional societies raise their children, treat their elderly, remain healthy, talk, spend their leisure time, and settle disputes - may strike you, as they do me, as superior to normal practices in the First World. Perhaps we could benefit by selectively adopting some of those traditional practices. Some of us already do so, with demonstrated benefits to our health and happiness. In some respects we moderns are misfits; our bodies and our practices now face conditions different from those under which they evolved, and to which they became adapted. 
  • ...changes among societies can be reversed.
  • Within a generation or two, and within the individual lives of many people...New Guinea Highlanders learned to write, use computers, and fly airplanes...the New Guinea Highlands of 1931 lacked writing, metal, money, schools and centralized government. If we hadn't actually had recent history to tell us the result, we might have wondered: could a society without writing really master it within a single generation?...All of those differences between the 2006 and 1931 crowds can be summed up by saying that, in the last 75 years, the New Guinea Highland population has raced through changes that took thousands of years to unfold in much of the rest of the world...Thus, New Guinea is in some respects a window onto the human world as it was until a mere yesterday, measured against a time scale of the 6,000,000 years of human evolution...All those changes that came to the Highlands in the last 75 years have also come to other societies throughout the world, but in much of the rest of the world those changes appeared earlier and much more gradually than in New Guinea. 'Gradual,' however, is relative: even in those societies where the changes appeared first, their time depth of less than 11,000 years is still minuscule in comparison with 6,000,000 years. Basically, our human societies have undergone profound changes recently and rapidly.

What's cool about this blog is that I started it in 2009 and it contains most of the important lecture notes, article and book excerpts that have made an impact on my thinking. When I have to write something and think, "where is that article about this thing I'm trying to write about?" all I gotta do is search this blog. It's like a back up and extension of my brain. So handy.