Tuesday, December 14, 2010


I just watched a TED video (see link below) of the physicist Stephen Hawking. Carl Sagan said, “In the spring of 1974…Stephen Hawking was a legend even then.” 

          Many of you know that Stephen Hawking is one of the world’s foremost living physicists, author of A Brief History of Time, and A Briefer History of Time. He was until recently the Lucasian Professor of Physics at Cambridge University, England, a position once held by Sir Isaac Newton.
Steven Hawking also has Lou Gehrig’s Disease, Amotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, which has left him confined to a wheelchair for many years. The pronounced muscular degeneration caused by the disease has left him barely able to move and unable to speak. He must now use a computer setup that tracks his eye movements and allows him to pick out words from a screen by blinking to compose his thoughts. When he is finished, a computerized voice speaks for him.
For the TED video, Dr Hawking had prepared a speech that was spoken through his computer. The computer does not amplify his voice. Steven Hawking can no longer speak at all. He can barely move.
When the talk was over, Chris Anderson, the host of TED, asked Dr. Hawking the following question.
“Dr. Hawking, based on your current understanding, do you think we are alone in the Milky Way Galaxy as a civilization of our intelligence or higher?”
      light years,
      otherwise we would have heard radio waves. The alternative is that civilizations don’t last very long or destroy themselves.”

It took Steven Hawking, one of the most brilliant scientific minds on the planet, SEVEN MINUTES to give a thirty-five-word answer to a question he already knew the answer to.
That’s an average of five words per minute.
That’s one word every 12 seconds.
Take one minute, just one, to see what that feels like.
Look at your watch.
Take a full minute, 12 seconds per word, and say,
That's what Steven Hawking, staggering intellect, world-reknowned theoretical physicist, and possibly the longest living survivor of amotrophic lateral sclerosis has to do
            By the way, a light year is about six trillion miles.
            That's 6,000,000,000,000 miles.
            A few hundred light years is a very long way to have to go to find someone in the galaxy who is as smart and as gifted as you are.       
            It might be good to remember that now and then.
            And rave on.
            Stephen does.   
           You can hear Stephen Hawking by going to:

I can be reached at drjohnluca@gmail.com or 805/680-5572. Namaste.

Monday, December 13, 2010


You go to a workshop, or you schedule an appointment for a therapist, or you do something about working with issues from your past, issues stemming from your childhood relationship with your mom and dad. If you do any of these things, most likely you are a woman. Men often have a harder time with this sort of thing than women do. If you’re what some consider a real guy, then you’re certain this psychological stuff is for sissies, is a total waste of time, or worse. If you are not inclined towards self-help, meditation, therapy and that sort of thing, then you may characterize those who are so inclined as navel-gazers wasting their time and energy.
“The past is past,” you may say.
Your thoughts on the situation may be captured by the bumper sticker that says, “We all come from dysfunctional families. Get over it.”
We all know people who make us want to pull our hair out because they never get over the past, never stop telling the same story, never stop playing the victim, and never stop blaming the same people for their problems no matter how much therapy they get and how many workshops they attend.
“Get over it,” is pretty good advice, if you can genuinely get over it; ‘it’ being the negative stuff from your childhood.
But we need to be careful before we discount those who are trying to work through their childhood relationship issues with their parents, just as we must be very careful before we assume that we have successfully dealt with the issues from our own childhood.
There is a great deal at stake here.

For years, researchers Mary Main and Eric Hesse at UC Berkeley have been studying how children behave in what is known in the research literature as the Strange Situation, a research setting where a child from 3-18 months of age is observed as their mother or primary caretaker leaves and then returns under varying conditions involving a stranger in the room.
From the observations, the researchers determine an attachment style for the child. The important finding is that the results from this observation of the child in the Strange Situation strongly predict how prone the child will later be to psychological difficulties.
To repeat, the findings from observing the child in the Strange Situation will strongly correlate with the presence or absence of psychological difficulties later in life.
            If you are a parent, or soon to be a parent, or a teacher, or anyone interested in the well-being of children, then this research is very important for you and the children in your life. 
You may be asking a very important question, “What determines how a baby will respond to the Strange Situation, and is there anything we as parents and teachers and concerned adults can do about it?”
            The work of Mary Main and Erik Hesse is again important for answering this question. For over twenty years these researchers have been developing and refining the use of the Adult Attachment Interview, a series of questions that must be administered and coded, or scored, by a highly trained professional.
The AAI, the Adult Attachment Interview, is administered to an adult, not to a child, and then scored. The adult’s results on the AAI will have a very significant bearing on how the baby of that adult will perform in the Strange Situation, and the baby’s behavior during the Strange Situation has a very strong bearing on how the baby will fare later in life when faced with psychological challenges.
An adult’s results on the AAI have very important consequences for the mental wellbeing of his or her children.
            “What,” you may be asking, “is the Adult Attachment Interview? What does the AAI ask? What is it trying to discover?”
The AAI is designed to ‘trick your unconscious’ and determine whether you have successfully resolved the challenges from your childhood relationship with your parents or primary caregivers.
Before you run off screaming “Ah, the unconscious! Psychobabble! Give me a break! I thought Freud and the unconscious were dead and buried,” consider that the AAI has been researched for over twenty years with hundreds of studies confirming its value as a predictor of how a child will behave under the conditions of the Strange Situation, and the Strange Situation predicts how a child will likely respond to psychological challenges later in life.
The AAI has been administered and scored for over 10,000 people. There are hundreds and hundreds of studies looking at the AAI and the Strange Situation. The results are in, and the evidence is very strong.
An adult who is administered the AAI and categorized as not having successfully worked through their childhood relationship with their parents will have a child who is more likely to need help with psychological issues later in life.
How many adults, on average, does the research find have not successfully resolved their childhood relationship to their parents?
About 20% --that’s one out of five of us.
            I must make something clear. The AAI is a research instrument that must be administered by trained and experienced testers. It will not be easy for you to run out and get the AAI administered to you or your partner as it would be administered and coded in a research setting.
Going through the Adult Attachment Interview is not my point. My point is that one of the best things you can do for your child’s mental health is to make sure you have worked through your childhood issues.
The challenge is that even if you want to, you may not be the best judge of whether or not you have worked through your own issues. In research settings, parents are often observed to be unconscious of the behaviors that are negatively impacting their children.
If you are serious about seeing if you have material that you need to work on, you can look at how your child is behaving.
You can look at how you fare in relationships even before a child comes into your life.
You can go to workshops or to therapy, just like those people you may have once made fun of.
If you’re a guy, you can join a men’s group. (I am very familiar with this, so contact me if you need to know more.)
A good therapist should be able to help you find the areas where you have not dealt with unresolved issues from your childhood.
            I know for some of you all this may sound like as much fun as having a tooth pulled, but consider the research findings.
If you want to have mentally healthy children, you need to make sure you have made peace with your own childhood.
If you have children and you want them to change, you may need to change first.
Research shows that with help and effort people change, and those changes benefit our children. Though you may have thought that working on stuff from your past was selfish, silly, useless, indulgent, not for real guys or strong women, and very uncool, it may be the best and most important gift you can give your children and yourself.   
             Happy Holidays. And all the best.
             I can be reached at johnfluca@gmail.com or 805/680-5572