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David Arquette Spills Sex Secrets on Radio about Split with Wife


Are men becoming expendable?


Chile miners rescue: Dr. Judy Kuriansky talks life after darkness

The world watched the fate of the 33 miners and on October 12, 2010 they were all rescued.  I was on CCTV-9 News (Chinese TV that also airs in the United States on Time Warner cable systems), about the psychological meaning of the experience. Here are some questions they asked me, as well as others about the emotional issues and psychological impact involved in this amazing story.

Q: The plight of the miners and their rescue has attracted the whole world's attention. Why do we care so much about this?

A:  People of all ages and cultures have been united in the miner’s experience because we all know the experience of trauma or being trapped on some level, and so we are so relieved to have such a “happy ending.”  We all wish for miracles to end our suffering and the successful rescue of the trapped miners makes us feel hopeful that such miracles can happen.  Their story brings hope, inspiration, solidarity, pride and faith in the face of enormous suffering shared by people across the world (like the earthquakes in Haiti and China, the flood in Pakistan, and even the financial crisis) as well an individual traumas (illnesses, job stress, family problems). Watching their rescue makes us vicariously experience that we too can be “saved.” 

Q: Are there deeper psychological issues?

A. Yes. On a deep psychological level, the miners being trapped taps into early childhood fears of being lost or even of being buried alive (as some scenes in movies have shown). Also, the rescue of the miners revives fairy tales read as children about being rescued (like the Prince Charming did for Cinderella) and story endings that we can come “back from the dead”.       

Q: What are the major psychological problems the miners may face in the days to come?

A:   They will likely go through a range of emotions.  Of course they first feel jubilant and relieved (like everyone in the world who celebrates with them).  But in the aftermath, as in all traumas, they can go through re-experiencing fears, especially at night in the dark or when enclosed in small places like an elevator or even a car.  They can also feel isolated, as if no one except their group, can understand how they feel.  Immediately after their rescue, they are being flooded with attention not only from loved ones, but from people around the world, the government, and media, but once they have to go back to “normal” life, and once invitations to Presidential palaces fade, they can have emotional swings, including depression and anger.  While they were initially reported as being psychologically well, memories and symptoms can emerge later (even years later), which can dangerously lead to withdrawal, problems at work or in relationships, or worse, addictions to drugs or alcohol.  They need to have support from health professionals along their path of recovery, and access to help for years to come. Their experience can be like “war shock” of veterans of battle.  


The psychological stages can morph from immediate jubilation to alternating emotions that include feeling of pride for being a survivor or inner shame for having experienced fear or losing hope. Despite having been rescued, it did take many days, which can lead to anger that it took so long.  They may be ecstatic to be re-united with loved ones but also feel isolated, thinking even loved ones cannot truly understand what they went through.  Also, while they are being called heroes, some may not feel that way inside.

Q:  Should they talk about their experience?

A: Research suggests that whether people should discuss their trauma depends on their coping style.  Not all people benefit from “debriefing,” and can be re-traumatized by going over details of their experience. Yet, some people are helped by talking about what they went through. It is crucial to know whether the person wants to talk or not.  Also, mental health professionals are essential to help people process such trauma.

Q: What about their family members? They were actually suffering with their loved ones trapped underground during the whole rescue process. How will they be dealing with the experiences?

Q:  There is talk about the miners writing a book together.  Should they? 

A:  The miners writing a book together would be a way for them to process the experience together to develop what’s called a “collective memory” and to continue to be in contact with each other for ongoing group support.  But they must be prepared to re-experience the trauma, and realize that they can have different reactions.  If some do not want to participate, they should be allowed to decline.  

Such a book will helpful to the public, to collectively process the experience, to gain further insight into how they coped, and to serve as an inspiration for overcoming traumas of all kind.

Q:  Does the miner’s age make a difference in how they adjust?

A:  Older miners have the possibility of coping because they have had more experience with adversity.  But resilience (the ability to “bounce back”) is a personal matter and depends on factors like past coping with problems and available support from others.  Some older miners took a leadership role, which can give them confidence; others may feel they did not do enough in the group process. 

Q: Should the miners go back to work?

A:  Some may want to go right back to work, like “getting right back in the saddle” when you have fallen off a horse.  Others may need time and distance from the experience. None should be forced to return to work. While it can be helpful to “get back to normal”  life will not be normal for a while for them, especially with so much attention. 

Q. Many children watched the process on TV, whether purposely or simply in passing. What are their reactions and how can they be helped?

A: Children need special attention now, to be reassured that they are safe since their fears about being lost themselves, or about losing their parent may be exacerbated by this experience.  Parents should watch for symptoms like trouble sleeping, nightmares, fear of the dark,  and especially refusal to go to school (for fear something will happen to their parents while they are away).     

Q: What can we learn from this experience?

A:  We can certainly be reassured that even the most severe of challenges, anxieties and anguish can be faced and overcome, that others care, that faith matters, that there is hope in the face of extreme adversity and that life is precious.


Australian Morning Show on One Night Stands




The 3 Ts of Relationships

Originally posted on November 9, 2009 by WNYW/FOX 5 NEWS STAFF

MYFOXNY.COM - Dr. Judy Kuriansky is a relationship expert and author of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to a Healthy Relationship" says there are a lot of different strategies to help keep yours healthy, but often it comes down to three Ts:

  1. TRUST
  2. TALK
  3. TIME

Trust means that you are not cheating, she says. Trust means you say what you are going to do, even simply going to be home at 7 p.m. if you say you will.

Talk means remember to communicate. A lot of people stop communicating. Set aside talking time one person says what is on their mind, Dr. Judy says. Then listen intently to the other person sharing what they want and what they have been feeling.

Time means make a schedule. Dr. Judy says schedule some quality time alone at least twice a week.

"The time of twice a week should be at least three hours," she says. "It takes that amount of to really share some activity.

Definitely avoid this T while you are spending that time alone: Texting.

Texting while you are spending time together is totally a no-no, Dr. Judy says. You should slap your hand, put it in your pocket or behind back every time you reach for your cell phone.


Dr. Judy on ABCNews discussing psychological first aide in Haiti

Dr. Judy on ABCNews, discussing the particular psychological trauma faced by children and orphans in Haiti.Dr. Judy appeared on ABCNews to discuss psychological first aide in Haiti in the aftermath of the earthquake.  Click here to view the video now -- it includes stunning images and footage from Haiti as well as commentary on the value of psychological treatment for victims and first responders.

You may also be interested in our related press release, Psychological First Aide in Haiti.


Latest Press Releases on Haiti Earthquake Relief Work


Boy Scouts In Haiti

MEDIA: FOR FREE USE OF THESE PICTURES, PLEASE CONTACT VANESSA KIM, 646-484-9890, Vanessa (at) oneworldexp (dot) com

Dr. Judy trains Boy Scouts in Haiti to offer comfort to children and wounded in the earthquake aftermath

 Port-au-Prince. January 21, 2010.

On Wednesday morning after the horrific earthquake in Haiti, it is 6 a.m. and I am asleep in my tent on the church grounds where Father Wismick and I are staying during this mission to his home land.  We have come to try to retrieve the bodies of the ten young priests he has trained who are buried under the rubble of the school in which they were teaching.  They were like his “sons.” Six nuns from his order are also missing.  We fear the worst, that their bodies are under piles of rubble like innumerable others and will not be found.  We have also come to assess the psychological needs of his cherished church community, and to see how else we can be helpful.   

I am startled awake by some sensation that the earth is moving though I think I am dreaming.  I later heard CNN’s Anderson Cooper say the same thing in his report.  But I am alarmed at the commotion outside my tent. I unzip the tent and rush outside and a man tells me in French that there has been a big aftershock: 6.1. People are praying, led by the head priest Father Quesnel Alphonse.  I suddenly notice a familiar site:  a brown uniform I recognize from my childhood that my brother wore.  It’s a Boy Scout.  Memories of their motto, “Be Prepared” flood my mind.  I did not expect to see Boy Scouts here, but why not?  I know there is a worldwide Girl Scouts and Girl Guide organization because members were on my panel a few months ago about youth initiatives for peace, at the United Nations NGO conference on Disarmament in Mexico City.

A light goes off in my head: how perfect for the Boy Scouts to be here.  They would be ideal for the role of “comforters” for the suffering children at the church here and for the patients at the hospital at which we have been headquartered.  The President of Hopital de la Communaute Haitienne (HCH), Georges-Michel Celcis, had welcomed us as family, saying “Vous êtes de la famille,” so how perfect for the Boy Scouts to be part of that family.  Apparently, the scouts have been assigned to this church to help out with practical tasks like food distribution, but why can’t they also be taught the simple comforting skills that I have used to train other community leaders in disasters, like basketball coaches and school teachers.  These comforters as I call them, need primarily to have a “heart” and be “caring.” The Boy Scouts fit that bill, with their training for community service.  My brother was a Scout and he was caring; and I was a Girl Scout for years, so I know well the spirit of scouting.

Father Wismick appears from the church grounds where he was staying - literally across (what is left of) the street - where he has been sleeping on the ground in open air in the sleeping bag we brought along.  Dozens of other people spend the night in open air to avoid being trapped under collapsing buildings in the case of aftershocks. 

I describe my plan to enlist the Boy Scouts, and he loves it.  So we describe it to the Scouts gathered in the churchyard.

They all are enthused to take on this new role to help others  I can sense that they all would be wonderful, from my intuition about people’s personalities honed from years of being on the radio and knowing in an instant from a person’s voice whether they are warm and caring. 

I get to work right away, guiding the young men to a somewhat quiet corner of the church grounds.  They only speak French (no English) so I am grateful for all the years I spent studying the language and even reading Descartes and Camus in French when I thought I might major in French in college (thanks to my mom) and spent an intensive summer studying in Geneva.  My accent is rusty and some vocabulary fails me, resorting to English words like “breathe” until I remember “respirer.”  Since Father Wismick is  impressed with my French, I feel reassured.  Of course, Creole is another matter.

There are two tasks ahead of me.  Task 1 is to teach the scouts simple ways to cope with their own stress, as I know they have also lost loved ones and have been traumatized.  Task 2 is to teach them simple techniques they can use with children and patients.  I delve mentally into my “toolbox” of techniques that I have developed over the years working in trauma situations, that I catalogued in a paper I wrote for a professional book aimed at teaching graduate students, to pick techniques I think would work in this culture in this situation.

The Scouts are eager. They are Deneu, Sincy, Marcelin, Jhonny, Jean Bathiste and Antoine. 

I tell them that my goal is for them to feel strong “dans le corps and le coeur” (in the body and the heart). The first step is to achieve Calmness, using the breathing technique of exhaling to one more count than inhaling.  Using this breathing, the next step is “Grounding,” to feel secure within themselves, by squiggling their feet into the ground to feel rooted into the earth for a sense of solidity “comme un arbre” (like a tree).   

Another one of the techniques – one of my favorites – is aimed at feeling safe, since achieving a sense of safety is absolutely fundamental in any crisis.  This technique has been very effective in many cultures after disaster.  In this 3-part Security Exercise, they start out holding their hand on their heart saying “Je suis en securite” (“I am safe”); then turn to a partner reaching out their hand saying “Vous êtes en sécurité” (you are safe), and then make a circle extending to all the others “Nous sommes en sécurité” (we are safe). 

I also teach them techniques to help ameliorate headaches and stomaches. Somaticizing  emotional distress by having a physical symptom is very common for people, and especially children, particularly in non-western cultures where people do not traditionally talk about feelings. 

Every intervention has to be sustainable.  So, I tell them that whatever they have learned, they can pass on to others, who can teach others.  In emergencies, things have to be done immediately, so I ask them to find any children who may be suffering, and let’s put the techniques into practice right away, under my supervision, until they can do it on their own.  Jean Bathiste brings over a young child, and asks in Creole if he has any pains.  He motions he has head aches. 

I watch admiringly as the scout repeats the steps I did with him, instructing the young boy to imagine taking the head aches out of his head, and finding a remote hole in the ground and burying it in the hole.  The boy does it willingly and tells JB that he feels better.  It’s a start.  I tell JB I am proud of him; everyone needs reinforcement.

Another important part of psychological first aide in trauma situations is acknowledging the helpers, who themselves are suffering losses or certainly stress.  Wismick has told me that such appreciation is even more helpful in Haiti as people are not used to being told nice things about themselves (parents don’t tell children that they are wonderful; even if they say so to others). He thinks it would be wonderful if parents complimented children verbally. I reflect about how my mother was always so encouraging and openly admiring of her children, constantly telling my brother, sister and me how smart and capable we are, bolstering our self-confidence.  I note this is an important aspect of psychological care for this culture.

The scouts come with us to the hospital.  We start a meeting with staff about future plans, but one of the staff interrupts, saying that they cannot talk about the future, since there was a 6.1 aftershock this morning and they have to get busy. She impatiently asks, “We are in a crisis, what can you do now?”  Of course, she is right; this is an emergency; time for action, not talk.  The scout motto flashes across my mind, “Be Prepared.” We roll up our sleeves and go out to offer support.

We gather bottles of water to hand out to patients. The Scouts are enthused about their new role, despite some having normal shyness when thrown into such a new role.  But they are so courageous and kind-hearted.  I watch as they approach the patients lined on blankets under sheets or tent coverings, and talk with them in Creole.  I can see that they are doing exactly what they need to do: offer essential life-sustaining water and provide a caring presence.

At the end of the day, we gather for debriefing, and the Scouts are all enthused and excited about what they accomplished. 

Father Wismick and I are thrilled. 

The next day brings more volunteers thanks to the hospital social worker, Jean Yves Valcourt, a social worker who runs the AIDS clinic.  He sends out an email to students, that goes to a wide network of interested youth who want to help.         

That next morning, we meet the Scouts at the church grounds for another day at the hospital. Father Wismick corrals a flatbed truck so the scouts can pile into the back and we get in the cab. Such things like transportation in such a crisis have to be done sometimes “catch as catch can.”  You can prepare as much as you can for an experience like this, but then you have to improvise and go with the flow “on the ground” given the situation. When you see a possibility, you have to act on it immediately, as in the case of  finding the right vehicle to cart all of us the few miles to the hospital.

We are delighted when we arrive at the hospital to find that Jean Yves’s network has resulted in 30 students showing up, ready and willing to be trained to be comforters.  The Boy Scouts have already had a day’s previous training.  We set to work.     


GIANTS of Broadcasting honored by the Library of American Broadcasting  

"At 5'3", I have never been considered a Giant, Katie Couric announced from the stage when accepting the coveted "Giants of Broadcasting" award at our big annual luncheon for the Library of American Broadcasting at the Hyatt Hotel October 1st. You'd think everyone would recognize Katie by now, as the first female solo news anchor and after her years of success on the Today show, but humbly she chided that someone came up to her in the bathroom and said, "I loved you in the Golden Girls." The audience howled.

Tracing her career, Katie started out as a desk assistant, then graduated to Pentagon correspondent.  Later, she became best known for her on-air colonoscopy test (inspired by the death of her dear husband from colon cancer), causing a 20% increase in colorectomy tests, called the "Couric effect." Since then she noted she has been "humbled" by the magnitude of events" to which she has been given a front seat, singling out “memorable moments with the Central Park jogger (showing the world personal power); reminding David Duke of the dangers of anti-Semitism; flying over Afghanistan poppy fields with Defense Secretary Gates; probing with Sarah Palin; as well as being serenaded by Sam Donaldson, and realizing 'damn, I'm old.’" She recalled Walter Cronkite's synonym that objective journalism and an opinion column are as a similar as [a respectable newspaper] and Playboy, and she shocked members of the audience and even me, using the word "gravitas", and explaining it is the Latin word for having testicles, actually seriousness that men were expected to have to cover stories with substance. The word “Testicles” out of Katie’s mouth certainly added spice to the afternoon!  

In another humorous admission, Couris noted that the honor came in handy with her children that morning , when one of her daughters spoke sharply to her, to which she responded, "Don’t do that, I'm a Giant of Broadcasting." (The attempt fell on deaf ears, she noted, as her daughter responded, "Whatever...")

The problem with being the last acceptee, Couric noted, is that the jokes are already taken by others, as it was by former president of the Radio and Television News Directors Association Barbara Cochran, who had previously noted that at 5'3" she was surprised to be a called a "Giant."

Board members posed with winners including Couric (center, flanked by me on the left and CBS-TV Sunday Morning host and radio talk show veteran, Charles Osgood).  To Katie's and my left is radio guru Norm Pattiz, head of radio Westwood One, a company that once syndicated my popular "LovePhones" radio show.

Other honorees included documentarian Ken Burns (fifth from left), who has produced award-winning films on subjects others might not tackle, like about national parks and the Brooklyn Bridge (about which my most powerful memory was that ather and son builders died in the construction, getting the bends while descending below too fast- something that always haunted me while scuba diving).    

Other honorees this year included radio empire builder Norm Pattiz, the brains behind giant Westwood One syndication, and in memoriam for Bea Arthur (the real Golden Girl Katie was mistaken for) and long-time Johnny Carson sidekick Ed McMahon (who curiously died debt-ridden).  Pattiz’s beginnings are inspiring, as he took his own $10,000 from the bank to syndicate Motown programming when no one else had the idea, and went on to develop formats for country, black, Spanish-language and of course music. Pattiz impressively acknowledged his wife, who interestingly left radio DJ'ing to become a psychologist. .  . 

The Library of American Broadcasting is an important entity, as it houses the history of radio and TV broadcasting. As a great appreciator of preserving history, I am proud to be a Board member. The Library houses unique collections that students can learn about the business, not available in any other place!

Past honorees include greats in front and behind the scenes (e.g. in engineering and sales). 

It is also delightful that Osgood has been the host of the luncheon event for years. With his characteristic engaging story-telling style, he introduced each winner. I am particularly fond of him, being that his show did a feature about my work in China years ago, which was shot in China, covering the trainings I had been doing for years of medical doctors teaching them about techniques to become more "holistic doctors" in the tradition of complementary medicine and liaison work I had done at Columbia Medical School decades ago, introducing psychiatry into other disciplines for total patient care. The training focused also on AIDS education and taking sexual histories and giving simple advice about issues to improve partner’s "harmony" (the word used in China for healthy relationships). I had worked with producer Alec Sirken from CBS-TV  for years and the reporter was Barry Peterson who was CBS' Asia reporter. Interestingly, the part where I talked about doing the work for free became a piece may people remembered and talked to me about, since few people are willing to ever do that, but for me it felt like 'giving back."!


“I Want”: The Journey of TV Talk Show Personality Jane Velez Mitchell from Addiction to Spiritual Awakening”

“We are all addicts, the difference is your drug of choice,” television investigative journalist Jane Velez Mitchell announced to the full house at the lecture and book signing in New York City for her just-released autobiography “I Want: My journey from addiction and over-consumption to a simpler and honest life.”

The list of “stuff” we are addicted to is endless: work, gadgets, love, sugar, food, alcohol, drugs, sex, and drama.

“We are all victims of over-consumption,” Velez-Mitchell explained, including herself in the revealing public confessional about her own addictions to all that “stuff” and the inspirational account of her journey from addiction to spiritual peace and activism.

Jane signing copies of her book "I Want"Jane's friends at her booksigning: Hilary Barsky (right) Soshonah Wolfson (left) Dr Judy (middle) who worked with her at WCBS-TV news 








  “The book wasn’t supposed to be about my life,” the veteran investigative reporter-turned talk show host and pundit, announced.  “It was supposed to be about getting over addictions that millions of people have, and about how the Twelve-step program works, but as I got into it, my editor wanted me to tell my story.”

Smart editor, since every word and anecdote in Velez-Mitchell’s book is exceptionally compelling. She certainly had “Issues” – appropriately the name of her hit TV talk show airing nightly on Headline News Network.  On “Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell,” she passionately tackles tragic dramas of the day – from party mom Casey Anthony accused of killing her little girl to animal killer Michael Vick being rewarded with a TV show to Americans’ waistlines growing to deadly proportions. 

“I Want” is filled with brilliant psychological truisms: “The desire to own status symbols actually reveals low self-esteem” “No material product would ever fundamentally alter my inner emotional state” and “You consciously push away what you subconsciously seek.” It’s also an exceptionally accurate description of the steps towards recovery.

The book chronicles vivid examples of Jane’s real-life experiences, from doing an early-career TV report wearing a bikini, to screaming “RRRAAAIIISSSAA” to get the attention of the then-First Lady of Russia Raisa Gorbachev, to sparring with a shopper over the use of plastic bags.

Despite her humility, Jane’s story is a tale worthy of being told, and learned from, as she goes from “insanity to clarity, egocentrism to altruism, alcoholism to activism.” It’s chick full of confessions, like that “I couldn’t go through a day without having 3 drinks.”  

In true multi-addiction style, she also had “gadget lust” (buying flat screen TVs, sound systems and fancy bikes), co-dependency on love interests, and an obsession with diet soda. 

On top of all that, she was “over functioning” at work (a word from the addiction vocabulary, which she lists in a helpful glossary in the back of her book), going overboard with clever tricks to “get the story” like the inside scoop on Michael Jackson’s child molestation trial, or “one-on-one” comments from Robert Redford about saving the whales or from Raisa Gorbachev about world peace. 

So how did she finally kick the habits?

With true psychological insight, Jane acknowledges the multi-dimensions of the “disease,” “bottoming out” and getting sober. The one-time party-girl lush and so-called “kissing bandit” was doing “snake bites” (downing whiskey while sucking juice from a lemon in someone’s mouth), when she kissed the gay host, knocked him down the stairs and passed out.  The next morning, she panicked thinking her then-boyfriend had abandoned her (the bed was empty; he was on the couch); remembered a friend bugging her to get sober; and realized that at 39 years old what she was doing was “not pretty” anymore.  She called her friend, went to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting and has been going to meetings and sober ever since. That was 14 ½ years ago. 

“I called lots of people and said I was sorry for how I behaved,” she told the book signing audience at the 92 Street “Y.”

The Twelve-step meetings, and therapy, helped.  “It’s a journey,” she explains, “to live a life that is kind, compassionate and of service,” with emphasis on the word “service.”

“You have to get over your ego,” she said wisely, spelling ego as “Edging God Out.”

“When you’re an addict, you play God,” she explained in her typically engaging and articulate style.  “If it’s a rainy day, you say, oh, I’ll have a drink and feel better. When you surrender in the Twelve-step program, you say, ‘I’m not God.’  You get humility.” 

Velez-Mitchell is a brilliant spokesperson about addiction and recovery, and even about life and love. As a psychologist, I am continually impressed with how brilliantly, eloquently and accurately she describes deeper dynamics and analyzes human behavior, evident in her book title “I Want” and her outlining of the emotional requirements for recovery: learning to sit through and deal with feelings instead of escaping them, drowning them in drink or avoiding them with other ego-based over-indulgence (bigger cars, more clothes, more “stuff”).

Addiction is genetic (her dad was an alcoholic) and also psychological.  You get caught in a vicious cycle, Jane describes: (1) the “high of the buy” (if you’re a shopaholic); (2) remorse afterwards; and (3) when the remorse wears off, returning right back into the craving.  The only way out:  Instead of indulging the substance when you feel bad, do something else to feel better to fill the aching hole:  jog, go to a move, get a massage; call a friend.

“It’s not will power, it’s a disease,” she explains.

Her talk at the “Y,” and her book, is replete with quotable, succinct “sound bites” --

the television term for clear explanations in a few short seconds.  No wonder Walter Cronkite called her an “excellent reporter” when encountering her in the CBS-TV cafeteria, and why HLN host Nancy Grace (a major talk talent herself) gave her a break to express her opinion and not just the facts of cases she was covering. 

Ashleigh Banfield, a fellow television journalist interviewing Jane at the book signing,   told the audience that she “howled” at the story in Jane’s book when she went to Woodstock and barged into a stranger’s home to call in her story to the TV station (the farmer went to get his shotgun when he discovered her on his phone).  But Jane is tough on herself, wryly calling that an incident of workaholism, and recalling her nickname “One More Bite” referring to how she would always seek one more interview or video shot to perfect a story.

After she got sober, she had “a moment of clarity” that “one more” didn’t matter.  Her workaholism was even more evident to her when reflecting on how, during a vacation with a lover, she propped a camera on the pool’s edge, giving a running commentary on healthy vacationing, instead of spending intimate time with her partner. 

To set boundaries, Jane advises, “You have to decide, is my work making the world a better place.”  For someone like me who works a lot (though I love every minute), it was certainly issues to reflect upon.

There were also more surprising changes in store with sobriety:  For example, she came out as a gay woman. Jane had publicly announced that fact a few weeks earlier in a radio talk show interview with Joey Reynolds on his syndicated WOR Radio show.   She had also previously, yet hurriedly, mentioned her attraction to women years earlier on a gay man’s radio show, after feeling hypocritical discussing Idaho Republic Senator Larry Craig’s gay scandal in an airport bathroom.  Her own same-sex feelings, she describes in her book, date back to high school. Fearing those inklings at that time, she was purposefully rude to women she secretly coveted.

“I’m so happy I got sober, I got happy and I came out as a gay woman,” she told the “Y” audience.        

The lessons of “I Want” and Jane’s journey are not only psychologically valid, but also spiritually enlightened, not unlike a modern-day version of a classic book Jane (and many youth) read in high school, Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha. Jane likens the Twelve Steps’ principles to the Buddhist Noble Eightfold Path: right thoughts, right conduct, right livelihood and right effort – about practicing nonviolence, compassion and kindness.  Seek moderation rather than craving which only leads to suffering.   

With a knack to get the facts  (always responsibly warning her outspoken guests on her TV talk show not to indict a subject they’re analyzing before proven guilty), Jane also has uncanny psychological insight and ability to clearly outline dynamics.  It’s a quality as a psychologist I find tremendously impressive (and for which I give her an “honorary psychology degree”). When interviewing me about the cases in her book “Secrets can be Murder: What America’s Most Sensational Crimes Tell Us About Ourselves,” she brilliantly analyzed the cases; for example, tracing the demons of multi-millionaire record producer-and- convicted killer Phil Spector back to his father’s suicide, and analyzing his proclivity for shoving guns into women’s mouths as signs of phallic aggression.

Jane has equal insight into her own dynamics, weaving captivating stories about herself and even reflecting on her childhood lessons, like (1) don’t be boring; and (2) always DO something (never just sit there doing nothing, like mindlessly watching TV); and (3) express yourself in an interesting way.  She certainly does that, as a great story- teller.

Her upbringing, Jane reveals, was “eccentric.” Her Irish Catholic father (to whom she dedicates her book), a suave, debonair and successful advertising executive was sadly also an alcoholic, who died too soon. And her now 93-year old “flamboyant” Puerto Rican dancer and performer mom, sent her to endless classes – on elocution, tap, and Hindi dance. Both had major influences on her life and traits.  Her mom, sitting proudly in the audience, was always ahead of the curve, Jane described, teaching her (when she was only 6-years old) about veganism by serving guests vegan food, long before that lifestyle became well-known. 

Jane with her 93 year old mom AnitaJane grew up to become a major animal activist, along with friends like Peter Max (who is throwing her a book party), the head of PETA, and her first female long-time love, Sandra, with whom she made animal rights documentaries.

“There are more than 100 vegan restaurants in New York City,” Jane announces, explaining that it’s not impossible to be vegan and also live a full social life. It’s also a peaceful life.

“Peace is on your plate,” says Jane, referring to the PETA slogan that eating animal products amounts to killing.  “No matter what happens today,” Jane explains as her philosophy of life, “I am happy because I went through the day without killing something.”

In another take-away vignette – so typical of the conciseness and vividness with which she speaks – Jane explained that eating meat is the single cause of world hunger because the amount of grain that it takes to feed animals could feed the world’s poor. “We’re hogging our resources,” she declared.

Jane’s commitment to peace was evident to me when I was in Amman, Jordan at a conference, and she called me (at 4 am Middle East time), to be a guest on the radio talk show she was fill-in host for.  She wanted to talk about the lobbing in Washington D.C. I had just done with the Peace Alliance for a Cabinet level Department of Peace, spearheaded by Ohio Republic representative Dennis Kucinich.  Always on the cutting edge of issues, Jane had long been talking publicly about this issue:  “We have a department of war, called the Defense Department,” I have heard her say, “So why can’t we have a Department of Peace.”

Good friends figure largely in Jane’s current happy life, as does her love for her three Chihuahua mixes.  That Jane has a heart of gold is evident in the fact that she recently adopted an elderly dog to add to her brood of two cherished younger ones.

Going to AA meetings also helps. 

"Why do 12-step meetings work?” an audience member asked. 

Telling your story to others helps you realize you’re not alone, that your experience is not shame-based, and that others support you, Jane explained.  The reasons resonated with me, as they were the same reasons my radio call-in advice show listeners were so avid, feeling comforted knowing they are not alone, not the only one with their problem, and that help and support is available.  

Seeming motivated by talk of the value of such sharing, Banfield surprised the audience saying, “I was 190 pounds two years ago.  I struggle with it everyday.” Now, she explained, she has two children and no time for over-indulging.

Banfield, a gifted story-teller like Velez-Mitchell, also resonated with Jane’s commitment to protect the environment, evident in her carrying groceries in a cloth bag to avoid using plastic.  Tiny pieces of plastic get carried in the ocean, she explained, eaten by fish and then passed on to humans.  Frightening.  

The take-aways included the vivid stories and lessons learned.  Through her journey, Jane learned to distinguish between “want’ and “need,” and reached “psychological relief” from the pressure to succeed and control.  Even her breast cancer scare, and subsequent surgery and radiation, was a “wake-up” call to get in touch with her feelings and to change: to decrease materialism and increase efforts to make a difference.      

The passionate personality now surprises herself that she prays. “I wake up every morning and ask, ‘Please higher power, help me to humbly be of service, and make my day not just about what’s in it for me’,” she says.

After her talk, as fans lined up to get a copy of her book signed, some could be heard commenting, “She has so much courage to go public with what she’s gone through.”

Jane had earlier addressed that issue.  “I don’t care anymore about how people judge me,” she had said. “It’s part of my spiritual growth.  As an alcoholic you judge all the time- yourself and others – now that I am sober, I don’t judge myself or others anymore.  I accept myself, and I am no longer ashamed of me.”

Her ultimate, ever-so-smart mantra at the end of her book marking the continuation of her journey: I do enough, I am enough, and I have enough.”