Want to Save 32,000 Lives a Year? It May Be As Easy as Seeing A Female Rather Than a Male Doctor

I still have a vivid memory of my first doctor, Dr. Minden. No one likes to see a doctor and I can still remember the fear of getting the immunization shots that were part of growing up. But doctor Minden was always so kind and caring, it made whatever I had to endure worth going. I knew that whatever he did was always done to help me and that any momentary pain would be short-lived. I was heart-broken when I grew older and learned that he was a “kid’s doctor” and I had graduated to adult doctors.

Part of the reason I went to medical school was to become the kind of doctor I remember Dr. Minden being. Part of the reason I left medical school was the kind of education I was getting was harsh and abusive rather than kind and caring. When I was in medical school, there were only a few females in my class. Now women outnumber men in medical schools (and colleges) and profession is shifting.

It seems that the care and compassion I remember from my childhood doctor are seen more commonly in female than in male health care providers. So, I’ve always sought out female health-care practitioners over the years. Compared to the male doctors I had, they were more  engaged and involved. They were much closer in spirit my childhood doctor Minden. I suspect that all doctors would be better doctors if they spend significant time learning about healing from children.

Now a new study by doctors from Harvard have found that we could save 32,000 lives a year if we saw female doctors as opposed to male doctors. After examining the medical records of Medicare patients from across the country, the Harvard researchers calculated that 10.82% of those treated by physicians who were women died within 30 days of being admitted to the hospital. Among patients treated by male physicians, the 30-day mortality rate was 11.49%, according to a study published recently in in JAMA Internal Medicine.

The differences between male and female providers persisted even after the researchers accounted for factors like the age, gender and income of patients, how sick those patients were when they first checked into the hospital, the resources of the hospitals and the experience of the doctors. There seems to be something about the qualities of being female that pays off in better health care. [Read more…]

What Every Woman Needs to Know About Men

My wife, Carlin, invited me and my men’s group to share some of things about being a man with her women’s group. We’ve done this before and one of the things that helped women “get” men was the fishbowl process, where the men sit in the center and the women sit quietly around and just listen. It doesn’t take long for the men to engage each other and the female’s presence fades into the background as we talk “man-to-man.”

This reminded me of my first fishbowl experience nearly 50 years ago. I was at a conference for men and women and the leaders first had the women come into a circle with the men listening on the outside. I was entranced as I listened to the women talking about themselves and thought “they’re just like me and they’re oh, so different.”

When it was time to reverse roles, the women began moving out of the circle and the men moved in. The woman sitting in front of me smiled and patted the spot where she was sitting on the floor, a warm gesture of “your turn, have a seat.” I sat where she indicated, but it was like sitting on a hot stove. I literally jumped up and finally moved to another spot. All this took place in a matter of seconds as the women moved out of the circle and the men moved in.

I immediately burst into tears. As the men finally took their seats, here I was sobbing and nothing had happened yet, our sharing hadn’t even begun. The somewhat surprised leader asked, “So what’s happening with you?” Between my tears I was able to share what went on for me: [Read more…]

Jed Diamond’s Trends and Predictions for 2017

18dsfu_vpzi-shane-hauserFor me, 2016 was a time of massive change. My wife and I moved from our home of 25 years in the beautifully quiet hills outside of Willits and bought a home in town where we could walk everywhere. I turned 73, which isn’t an obviously important age like 21, 60, 75, 80, or 100, but it was the year I healed old wounds, learned to love, and let go of fear.

I wrote about my process in a series of articles: (1) The Soul’s Code: Embracing My Destiny as a Man (2) My Mother, My Wife, My Marriage: How Inherited Family Trauma Can Impact Our Relationships; (3) Lost Fathers: How Deaths, Divorces, and Disconnections Impact Our Health and Happiness.

On the world stage, Time Magazine notes, “Between historic elections, populist movements in America and Europe and the loss of Prince, Muhammad Ali, Leonard Cohen, and more, 2016 was a year like no other. In the last 12 months, Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election, the U.K. voted to leave the E.U. and the world witnessed the destruction of Aleppo and the desperation of its citizens through social media. In moments of hope, nearly 200 countries ratified the Paris climate change agreement, refugee athletes competed in the Olympics, the Chicago Cubs broke a century-long curse to win the World Series, and Native American water protectors stood firm at Standing Rock.”

Each year I pick a Tarot card from the Voyager Deck. For 2017 it was “The Magician.” Here’s what it said, in part: “The magician symbolizes the law of talent. Magic comes from the ancient Magh, meaning power. Your power comes from being a channel for the universe.” So here are the things I see coming in 2017:

  1. Love and fear compete for our attention.

In 1979 Gerald Jampolsky, M.D., wrote a little book, Love is Letting Go of Fear. In the introduction he says, “In 1975, the outside world saw me as a successful psychiatrist who appeared to have everything he wanted. But my inner world was chaotic, empty, unhappy, and hypocritical. My twenty-year marriage had recently ended in a painful divorce. I had become a heavy drinker and had developed chronic, disabling back pain as a means of handling guilt.”

Jampolsky found personal healing in A Course in Miracles, and founded the first Center for Attitudinal Healing in Marin County (My wife, Carlin, was one of the early volunteers). There are now centers throughout the world based on this simple statement: Teach only love for that is what you are. 2017 will bring multiple opportunities to promote love or fear. Choose love.

  1. Mental illness and mental health are turned upside down.

My father was the black sheep of the family. His brothers were all successful businessmen who focused on the bottom line and made lots of money. My father was a dreamer who wanted people to love each other and he became increasingly depressed when he couldn’t fit into the system. He was sent to a mental hospital, diagnosed as manic-depressive, and given shock treatments. He later escaped from the “nut house” and became a successful puppeteer in San Francisco and taught people from different cultures how to love one another. [Read more…]

5 Things You Can Do Today to Make A Better World Under a Trump Presidency

gb5vdzcivba-austin-banThe world works in mysterious ways. As Donald Trump went from being seen as a comical figure that could never be taken seriously by the Republican Party to a serious threat to our democracy, I became increasingly afraid for my family and our collective future. In May, I wrote an article, “The Real Reason Donald Trump Will Be Our Next President” and another one just before the election, “Waking Up From the Nightmare: Why America Will Come Together After Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump Is Elected President.”

I felt there were larger forces playing out in the world, including out-of-control change and complexity that contributed to our fears and our subconscious desire for a dominant male figure who we imagined would protect us from “them.” When we can’t seem to address our real problems like global climate change, the destruction of our life support system including clean water, and extreme economics that make a few very rich and the majority increasingly poor, we look for scapegoats.

Donald Trump gave us a number of “bad guy” scapegoats he told us he would fight against including:

  • The political establishment
  • The media
  • The Mexicans
  • The Muslims
  • The Chinese

More than a few of us bought into the fear. Now we all have a chance to keep the fear going and find our own scapegoats, or we can begin a different kind of practice that can reduce the fear that is at the root of the violent mentality that has brought Donald Trump into power.

While attending a healing ceremony and tribute to a close friend who was murdered on Thanksgiving, my heart was sad and I felt the horror of violence that seems to be so prevalent in the world today. While waiting for the ceremony to begin, I chanced to read an article by David Stendl-Rast,  a Benedictine monk, teacher, and author. What he said, moved me deeply. He offers a perspective and some specific practices that I intend to put into my life today. [Read more…]

Lost Fathers: How Deaths, Divorces, and Disconnections Impact Our Health and Happiness

1j5rneyi28q-zara-walkerLike most people, I’ve come to accept the inevitable losses in my past as part of life, something everyone experiences. As we get older we must deal with our parent’s death, the loss of friends, and other family members. But there are certain losses that have a lasting impact on our lives. As a psychotherapist and marriage and family counselor, I’ve long been aware of how the loss of close family members at crucial times in our lives impacts our health, well-being, and our adult relationships.

Recently, I’ve been reading It Didn’t Start with You: How Inherited Family Trauma Shape Who We Are and How to End the Cycle. Wolynn is Director of The Family Constellation Institute and The Inherited Family Trauma Center and is North America’s leader in the field Inherited Family Trauma. In the book he says:

Depression. Anxiety. Chronic pain. Phobias. Obsessive thoughts. The evidence is compelling: The roots of these difficulties may reside not in our immediate life experience or in chemical imbalances in our brains but in the lives of our parents, grandparents, and even great-grandparents. Scientific research over the past several years, now making headlines, supports what many have long intuited—that traumatic experience can be inherited. Even if the person who suffered the original trauma has died or the story has been forgotten or silenced, memory and feelings can live on, encoded in everything from gene expression to everyday language.”

He notes that the loss of connection with our mothers is one of the primary losses that may impact our emotional well-being and the stability of our adult relationships. In taking a serious look at my family history I was able to have a much better understanding of my own issues with depression and bipolar disorder, and more importantly I discovered new ways to heal these long-standing issues, without long-term use of psychiatric medications. [Read more…]

Men’s Business: How Two Unlikely Entrepreneurs Help Men Look Good and Live Well

ebgr1szj3dg-idriss-fettoulI’ve been helping men live healthier, more joyful, lives for more than 40 years. I’ll be honest. It’s been an uphill struggle. Like most guys, I grew up with the belief that “real men” were tough, didn’t complain, and played hurt. I survived high school and college sports with my share of injuries, both physical and emotional. I’ve dealt with everything from back pain to bipolar disorder. Feeling that others might benefit from what I’ve learned in my own struggles, I started a business, MenAlive, to help men, and the families who love them, to live well.

I’ll tell you it isn’t easy making a living helping men. Women tend to be more focused on their health and well-being, but men need health and support just as much as women and women are happier and healthier when the men in their lives are healthy and happy. I’d like to introduce you to two men who have taken on the challenge of helping men live healthier and more joyful lives. Their names are Josh Meyer and Matt Bolduc.

Josh and Matt both grew up in Skowhegan, a small town in rural central Maine. They met in high school and have been best friends since they were sixteen. Good business role models are rare in economically-depressed central Maine. Matt’s parents owned a Christmas wreath shop. Growing up, he saw firsthand how much hard work a successful small business takes. Josh’s parents have always been hard workers. He worked along with his grandfather, dragging brush and doing odd jobs since he was a boy. From a young age, it was instilled in both Matt and Josh that you have to work for what you want. [Read more…]

My Mother, My Wife, My Marriage: How Inherited Family Trauma Can Impact Our Relationships

y1a40z2ntru-tanja-heffnerOne of the greatest joys in my life is my 36-year marriage to Carlin. But it wasn’t easy for either of us getting to this time in our lives where we feel fully engaged in our relationship, feel loving and in love. Each of us was married twice before and have children from our previous marriages. Both of us wondered whether there was something in our lives that was preventing us from having the joyful, long-lasting, relationship we both wanted. Like all couples, we’ve had our ups and downs, deep connections and times where we felt estranged, periods of ease and periods where there was great deal of dis-ease.

One of the things that was very important in understanding the ups and downs in our marriage was looking honestly at the past and the impact of childhood trauma on our health, well-being, and marriage. As a therapist for more than forty years, I like to look ahead. I don’t want to get caught up in endless recriminations about what people didn’t get from their mothers or fathers or the trauma they may have experienced as children. Yet I’ve found we do need to heal the past if we’re going to have a healthy relationship that lasts. But we don’t have to take years mucking around in our troubled past. We can do it relatively quickly and easily and the effort is worth it.

Here’s why. According the new research on the science of love, understanding the wounds most of us experienced from the past is essential to having a truly healthy, loving marriage that lasts through time. I’ve found that most of the problems I have in my love life have roots that go back to unhealed wounds from my family life.

Marriage and family experts Harville Hendrix and his wife Helen LaKelly Hunt offer the following summary in their book, Making Marriage Simple: 10 Relationship-Saving Truths, “About 90 percent of the frustrations your partner has with you [and you have with your partner], are really about their [and your] issues from childhood…Love delivers us into the passionate arms of someone who will ultimately trigger the same frustrations we had with our parents, but for the best possible reason! Doing so brings our childhood wounds to the surface so they can be healed.” [Read more…]

The Soul’s Code: Embracing My Destiny as a Man

8muutamcwu4-jez-timmsLearning to make sense of our lives and fully embrace who we are is a life-long journey. I’ll be 73 years old in December and have been spending time recently reflecting on my life. In his book, The Soul’s Code: In Search of Character and Calling, James Hillman says that we must answer two related question about our lives:

  1. How do I put together into a coherent image the pieces of my life?
  2. How do I find the basic plot of my story?

I took another step in answering these questions when I spent time with philosopher Pierre Grimes, author of Philosophical Midwifery: A New Paradigm for Understanding Human Problems. In my article, “A Little in Love with Death: My Healing Encounter with Pierre Grimes,” I describe my upbringing and my mother’s preoccupation with death and dying.

Soon after my birth my mother was convinced she would die before I was out of high school and bought a life insurance policy she couldn’t afford so I’d have money after she was gone (In face, she lived until she was 80). She also got a life insurance policy for me when I turned five, insisting you can never start too soon to take care of your family after you’re gone. When I started nursery school she was already preparing for my life after she was dead and for the life of my wife and family after I died.

My mother married my father on the rebound when the man she truly loved was sent to Europe on assignment as a writer for the New York Times. I don’t think their marriage was a happy one and I don’t think my father ever felt truly loved. He suffered from depression and bipolar disorder. We now view depression as a “brain disease” and treat it with drugs, but that may not be the best way to look at these problems. [Read more…]

The 5 Love Secrets Your Therapist Never Told You About

Love SecretsI’ll admit it. I’m a hopeless romantic. I cry at weddings and read Nicholas Sparks novels. I watch romantic movies and still get choked up remembering Titanic, Dirty Dancing, When Harry Met Sally, and Casablanca. I make up holidays so I can bring my wife flowers. But it’s taken me a long time to figure out how to have a romantic relationship that lasts. My first two marriages ended in divorce and Carlin and are still learning about love after being married for 36 years. Our book, The Enlightened Marriage: The 5 Transformative Stages of Relationships and Why the Best is Still to Come, is a guide for those who still believe in love, but don’t have a lot of time to waste.

We all pick our profession for a variety of reasons. I’m sure that part of the reason I wanted to become a marriage and family counselor was to better understand my family life—my parents divorced when I was five years old. My father was become increasingly more irritable, angry, and depressed. My mother was always anxious and worried and pre-occupied with death. I wanted to learn the secrets of love so that I could have a passionate, powerful, and satisfying relationship that lasted a lifetime. But to master the secrets of love, we must let go of some of our most cherished beliefs.

  • Love Secret #1: Love is not exclusive.

We all understand that we can have many “loved ones.” We can love our children, our parents, even friends and relatives we rarely see, in addition to our spouse or lover. But we believe that love is limited to a small group and that we can have only one “great love of our lives.” Often when we’re single we long for that special someone who we will fall madly in love with and love forever. [Read more…]

A Little in Love With Death: My Healing Encounter with Pierre Grimes

pierre-grimesIntroduction: I attended the 4-Day Sacred Path Men’s Retreat to recognize and support Stephen Johnson’s life and work and pay tribute to the men who have made possible these retreats over the last 30 years. I had never heard of Pierre Grimes, know little about philosophy, and next to nothing about the Greek philosophers. Yet I know when I’m in the presence of a master and took Pierre up on his offer to work through a dream and a daydream I had. I had no idea it would change my life.

Basic information: My parents were married on my mother’s birthday, October 5, 1934. The story I learned was that they tried to have a child, but were unsuccessful until they tried an experimental procedure of injecting my father’s sperm into my mother’s womb. I was told I was the “miracle baby, they had always wanted, with my birth December 21, 1943. They were sure I was going to be a girl and had dolls waiting along with an assortment of agreeable girl’s names. When the baby arrived sporting a penis, they had to quickly settle on a name.

My name: When I was born, I was named Elliott Diamond. I was named after my father’s nephew who had recently died. The story was that my mother cried for days until my father relented and I was given the name my mother preferred John Diamond, adding Elliott as a middle name. This time I was named after my mother’s dead father, John.

My life focus: I’ve always thought of myself as special, that I was a wanted child who brought great joy to my family. But there was a darker undercurrent of death that invaded my life.

Surrounded by death as a child: Soon after my birth my mother was convinced she would die before I was out of high school and bought a life insurance policy she couldn’t afford so I’d have money after she was gone.

She also got a life insurance policy for me when I turned five, insisting you can never start too soon to take care of your family after you’re gone. When I started nursery school she was already preparing for my life after she was dead and for the life of my wife and family after I died.

A close friend of family, Holly, shot himself in 1948 when I was five years old.  I remember going to the service, confused and afraid, but no one talked about why Holly died.  Later that year my closest friend, Woody, drowned in the river near our house. My mother was so glad I was alive, she wouldn’t listen to my own grief or feelings of loss. [Read more…]