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Tag: race

Tackling Childhood Trauma

“‘This is not a poverty problem. This is not a race problem. This is a function of human biology.'”

In an NPR interview with Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, who gave a TED Talk on Adverse Childhood Experiences in 2014, Burke Harris dove deeper into what childhood trauma does to a young child’s body and how she recommends healing its negative effects.

In her new bookThe Deepest Well: Healing the Long-Term Effects of Childhood Adversity, Burke Harris describes the ways in which childhood trauma can change one’s physical health for the remainder of their life.

“It can tip a child’s developmental trajectory and affect physiology. It can trigger chronic inflammation and hormonal changes that can last a lifetime. It can alter the way DNA is read and how cells replicate, and it can dramatically increase the risk for heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes — even Alzheimer’s.”

In the NPR interview, Burke Harris compared toxic stress created from childhood trauma to an interaction with a deadly bear. First, an individual feels a sense of adrenaline, and then his/her brain regulates executive functioning on how to logically handle the situation. One’s immune system is also affected because it is preparing for a potentially dangerous situation where harm to one’s body may occur.

She notes that if this reaction happens once in awhile, maybe if you ran into a bear, then it is okay. However, what is happening with adverse childhood experiences is that this happens way too frequently and is permanently affecting their health.

Dr. Nadine Burke Harris giving her Ted Talk. CC Image Courtesy of the Nadine Burke Harris website.

In relation to children who grew up in poverty, toxic stress can be seen more frequently.

“‘What we see is that poverty itself may have a very significant impact on, first, kids being exposed to adversity, and second, the probability that the kids who are exposed will go on to develop toxic stress, because of the impact of the stress of poverty on their caregiver,'” Burke Harris explained.

In Hillbilly Elegy, Vance reflected on the stresses he faced as a child growing up in a poor household and how his family has been affected by these same toxic patterns as well.

“For many kids, the first impulse is escape, but people who lurch toward the exit rarely choose the right door. This is how my aunt found herself married at sixteen to an abusive husband. It’s how my mom, the salutatorian of her high school class, had both a baby and divorce, but not a single college credit under her belt before her teenage years were over… For me, understanding my past and knowing that I wasn’t doomed gave me the hope and fortitude to deal with the emotions of my youth” (229).

J.D. Vance and his half-sister, Lindsay, growing up in Ohio. CC Image Courtesy of the J.D. Vance website.

Burke Harris also stressed the importance of health clinics diagnosing adverse childhood experiences and effectively treating them. She created the Center for Youth Wellness in San Francisco. Her goal is that pediatricians are doing routine screenings for these adverse experiences since early intervention makes a drastic difference.

In a school environment, some of the clearest signs of children experiencing toxic stress are difficulties with impulse control and with self-regulation, and trouble with attention. The symptoms are very similar to those of ADHD. However, it is difficult for educators to tackle the problem without enough resources to use for students in need.

She concluded the interview with suggestions on how to tackle such a monstrous and complex problem.

“‘…Schools you need help! Doctors offices, you’re part of the solution! You know, if you’re in early childhood, you’re part of the solution. If you’re in juvenile justice, you’re part of the solution. We all need to be part of the solution. If we each take off our little piece, it’s nuts how far we’ll be able to go, together as a society, in terms of solving this problem.'”

Last Two Weeks of Informing Consent Exhibit

As you plan your next two weeks on the west side of campus, please keep in mind that the popular “Informing Consent: Unwitting Subjects in Medicine’s Pursuit of Beneficial Knowledge,” closes on March 31st. Numerous classes, community members, students, faculty and staff have learned from seeing many of the themes in Skloot’s book “brought to life,” through photographs, newspaper clippings, magazines and medical journals.

It’s Not Too Late to Visit Ebling Library’s “Informing Consent” Exhibit


Sandy Magana, Ph.D, Associate Professor in Social Work and Waisman Center, brought her Social Work 952 graduate class to the Ebling Library for the Health Sciences on Wednesday February 16th for a two hour visit and discussion of the multi-layered themes in “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.” Professor Magana’s class, made up mostly Social Science PhD students were talking about the history of research in communities of color. The curator’s essay that introduces the exhibit suggests that Skloot might have unfairly framed Henrietta’s doctors in with the stories of Nazi human experiments, the Chester Southam cancer studies and the Tuskegee syphilis trials. The students argued that while Henrietta’s doctors might have been doing research for the greater good, the fact that they tried to keep Henrietta’s identity secret, and that they did not inform the family until well after HeLa had become the cell of choice in research and that there is still a question of remuneration for the cells in a family that can still not afford health insurance; needed to be told in a larger narrative that included various horrors and inequities in human research.

A discussion followed about how well or poorly medical professionals communicate with patients, the role of cultural competency in health sciences schools, and how effective current Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) protocols are even in 2011. They were also intrigued with the story of the African American physician who treated black patients in the 1950s and also treated a famous French artist.

“I am embarrassed to say that I’ve never heard that story,” said one student- affirming for this curator the reason we do exhibits; to highlight material not otherwise available to students, to inform, and to elicit discussion. “Informing Consent” is here until March 31st, please come visit. Ebling Library for the Health Sciences 750 Highland Ave. msullivan@library.wisc.edu

Photos:
From left to right:

Honoring Henrietta. It was important to contextualize Henrietta in 1950s Baltimore. Using artistic license and original Ebony and Good Housekeeping ads and articles we hoped to create the world that Henrietta knew. Readers will recognize the importance of Henrietta’s red nail polish in the Skloot narrative.

Captive Subjects-Is There Such a thing as Voluntary? This case includes the story of the mid 20th century malaria studies at Illinois State Prison as well as illuminating the human experimentation protocols that were suggested after the Nazi war tribunals.

Associate Professor Sandy Magana (with book), curator, Micaela Sullivan-Fowler (to her left) and graduate students in SW952: Research Methods in Communities of Color

“Race and Storytelling” Book Discussion

This Wednesday, November 10, a focused book discussion, “Race and Storytelling,” will be introduced and led by Professors Sandra Adell, Afro-American Studies, and Ethelene Whitmire, Library and Information Studies.

Professor Adell’s areas of specialization include Black literature and modern narrative; she has also recently published a memoir, Confessions of a Slot Machine Queen. Professor Whitmire’s current project examines the life of Regina Andrews (1901-1993),the first African-American supervising librarian in the New York Public Library system.

All are welcome at the discussion, which will be held from 5:30-7 pm in the SLIS Commons, Room 4207, Helen C. White Hall.

Sarah McDaniel
Go Big Read

Diversity Forum to Feature Go Big Read Panel

The 2010 Campus Diversity Forum, “Cultivating Excellence: Nurturing the Seeds of Success” will take place Thursday, September 30, from 8 am-4 pm at the Memorial Union. The event is free and open to the public. Registration for the lunch keynote is now closed, but you can still register for other events.

The Forum will include a Go Big Read Panel Discussion on The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks from 1:15-2:30 in the Class of ’24 Reception Room, 4th Floor, Memorial Union. Professor Dayle B. DeLancey, Assistant Professor, Department of Medical History and Bioethics and Professor Susan E. Lederer, Chair, Department of Medical History and Bioethics will lead the session.

Rebecca Skloot’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks shows readers how one woman’s experience with medicine has exposed issues of race and culture and highlighted ethical and legal dilemmas. In this joint presentation, two historians of medicine explore these overlapping issues and dilemmas. Professor Sue Lederer reconstructs the racial and cultural background of Henrietta Lacks’ case, while Assistant Professor Dayle B. DeLancey examines the case in ethical and legal context. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is the 2009-10 selection for Go Big Read (http://www.gobigread.wisc.edu), UW-Madison’s common reading program.

Participants who have not yet read the book but are interested in joining the conversation are very welcome, as are those who are more familiar with the material.

Hope you can join us!

Sarah McDaniel
Go Big Read & UW Libraries