On Wisconsin http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com For UW-Madison Alumni and Friends Fri, 03 Jun 2016 16:16:52 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.4.3 Horsepower vs. Hearing http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/calculation/horsepower-vs-hearing/ http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/calculation/horsepower-vs-hearing/#respond Fri, 27 May 2016 18:06:35 +0000 http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=17510 rural noise graphic

Tractor image, Shutterstock; all other images, IStock; photo illustration by Nancy Rinehart

Growing up on a dairy farm in Viroqua, Wisconsin, Melanie Buhr-Lawler ’00 heard her dad’s tractors and other loud equipment every day. Now, as a clinical associate professor of audiology at UW–Madison, she promotes hearing conservation to those with little to no information about these noisy risks.

melanie buhr-lawler

Melanie Buhr-Lawler says her father, a farmer, told her a tractor pull would be the ideal place to educate people about the dangers of rural noise. Sarah Morton

Most rural residents over age forty experience substantial hearing impairment, studies have found. On a farm, tractors and other heavy equipment each can exceed one hundred decibels or higher — enough to cause permanent hearing damage after fifteen minutes of exposure. Yet, the federal occupational health and safety regulations that protect employees in noisy urban work settings don’t cover farmers.

To raise awareness, Buhr- Lawler and students from the UW’s Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders attend the Tomah Tractor Pull, an annual Wisconsin event that draws sixty thousand spectators. They talk about options to protect hearing and offer free earplugs to block out the deafening roar of turbocharged, three-thousand-horsepower machines.

“A tractor pull is one of the loudest places on earth — as loud as a jet plane at takeoff,” says Buhr-Lawler.

The project, funded by a Statewide Outreach Incentive Grant from the UW, aims to create a model program that can be used at other loud events in rural areas.

When she started the effort three years ago, Buhr-Lawler felt some trepidation about passing out earplugs to a crowd that was clearly up for some noise. “We wanted to be a positive force, not the university coming in to ‘nag’ everyone,” she says.

But the crowds have welcomed her with open ears: so far, her team has passed out thousands of earplugs.

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Waiting http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/diversions/waiting/ http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/diversions/waiting/#respond Fri, 27 May 2016 18:06:22 +0000 http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=17527 Waiting cover

The picture book Waiting has earned Kevin Henkes x’83 two of the highest accolades in children’s literature for 2016: designations as a Caldecott Honor Book and a Geisel Honor Book. This is only the second time that anyone has won that combination, and these wins make Henkes the sole author/illustrator to have earned honors across the Caldecott, Geisel, and Newbery categories.

These are just the latest manifestations of literary praise and reader love that Henkes’s nearly fifty picture books and youth novels have garnered. Some of his best-known titles include Kitten’s First Full Moon, Owen, Penny and Her Marble, Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse, Chrysanthemum, Olive’s Ocean, and The Year of Billy Miller.

The congratulatory phone call prompted a reaction of “great joy,” Henkes told the Wisconsin State Journal. “I’ve been done with the book for a long time,” he said, and “my heart and soul are thinking about what’s next. So when something like this happens, it’s a nice bit of frosting on the cake.”

Kevin Henkes

The stars of Waiting are figurines of an owl, pig, bear, puppy, and rabbit sitting on a child’s bedroom windowsill. They’re all waiting for extraordinary things to happen — and they do: outside, inside, instantly, over time, spectacularly, quietly, frequently, and seldom. The book addresses the waiting that kids regularly experience and Henkes’s notion that, while waiting, “often life throws unexpected joys and sadnesses one’s way.”

The hundred-some little animal sculptures that he’s made at a clay studio near his Madison home were the spark for Waiting’s characters: those that sat on his own studio windowsill looked as if they were waiting for something.

Henkes’s latest work — illustrated by his wife, Laura Dronzek ’82, MFA’93 — is When Spring Comes, and look for his next book, Egg, in 2017.

 

Hello, book lovers! Check out the new Wisconsin-alumni section of Goodreads for more news about books by Badger alumni and faculty.

 

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How to keep the “four horsemen” at bay http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/features/how-to-keep-the-four-horsemen-at-bay/ http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/features/how-to-keep-the-four-horsemen-at-bay/#respond Fri, 27 May 2016 18:06:02 +0000 http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=17398 petri_dish

Return main feature: Love Is Not A Mystery 

Psychologist John Gottman has identified four behaviors that are the death knell for most relationships, but it’s possible to fight them off and preserve a healthy union.

Criticism
A complaint focuses on a specific behavior, while a criticism attacks the character of the person. The antidote for criticism is to complain without blame. Talk about your feelings using “I” statements and then express a positive need.

Criticism: “You always talk about yourself. You are so selfish.”

Antidote: “I’m feeling left out by our talk tonight. Can we please talk about my day?”

Defensiveness
Many people become defensive when they are being criticized, but that never solves the problem at hand. Defensiveness is a way of blaming your partner and saying, in effect, “the problem isn’t me, it’s you.” As a result, the conflict escalates further. The antidote is to accept responsibility, even if only for part of the conflict.

Defensiveness: “It’s not my fault that we’re always late, it’s your fault.”

Antidote: “Well, part of this is my problem, I need to think more about time.”

Contempt
Displays of contempt include sarcasm, cynicism, name-calling, eye rolling, sneering, mockery, and hostile humor. Contempt is the greatest predictor of divorce and must be eliminated. The antidote is building a culture of appreciation and respect.

Contempt: “You’re an idiot.”

Antidote: “I’m proud of the way you handled that teacher conference.”

Stonewalling
One partner withdraws from an interaction. He or she stops responding and shuts down when feeling overwhelmed by a fight or conflict discussion.

Antidote: Practice physiological self-soothing and stop the conflict discussion. Let your partner know that you’re feeling flooded and need to take a break for at least twenty minutes, since it will be that long before your body physiologically calms down. It’s crucial during this time to avoid thoughts of righteous indignation (“I don’t have to take this anymore”) and innocent victimhood (“Why is he always picking on me?”). Spend time doing something soothing and distracting, like listening to music or exercising.
source: The Gottman Institute

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The Gottman Method for healthy relationships http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/features/the-gottman-method-for-healthy-relationships/ http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/features/the-gottman-method-for-healthy-relationships/#respond Fri, 27 May 2016 18:05:46 +0000 http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=17401 atom

Return main feature: Love Is Not A Mystery 

Build love maps

How well do you know your partner’s inner psychological world, his or her history, worries, stresses, joys, and hopes?

Share fondness and admiration

The antidote for contempt, this level focuses on the amount of affection and respect within a relationship. (To strengthen fondness and admiration, express appreciation and respect.)

Turn towards

State your needs, be aware of bids for connection and respond to (turn toward) them. The small moments of everyday life are actually the building blocks of a relationship.

The positive perspective

The presence of a positive approach to problem-solving and the success of repair attempts.

Manage conflict

Relationship conflict is natural and has functional, positive aspects. Understand that there is a critical difference in handling perpetual problems and solvable problems.

Make life dreams come true

Create an atmosphere that encourages each person to talk honestly about his or her hopes, values, convictions, and aspirations.

Create shared meaning

Understand important visions, narratives, myths, and metaphors about your relationship.

Trust

A person needs to know that his or her partner acts and thinks to maximize that person’s best interests and benefits, not just the partner’s own interests and benefits. In other words, this means, “my partner has my back and is there for me.”

Commitment

Believe (and act on the belief) that your relationship is your lifelong journey, for better or for worse. (If it gets worse. you will both work to improve it.) It implies cherishing your partner’s positive qualities and nurturing gratitude by comparing the partner favorably with real or imagined others, rather than trashing the partner by magnifying negative qualities, and nurturing resentment by comparing unfavorably with real or imagined others.

source: The Gottman Institute

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Wild Life http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/vision/wild-life/ http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/vision/wild-life/#respond Fri, 27 May 2016 18:05:36 +0000 http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=17623 A family of great horned owls soaks up the springtime sun near the Lakeshore Path. This photo was captured in April 2015, but the birds returned in 2016. UW–Madison is home to a surprising variety of wildlife. In recent years, students and staff have spotted foxes, hawks, muskrats, turkeys, and turtles on campus.

Photo by Jeff Miller

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The Race to Stop Zika http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/on_campus/the-race-to-stop-zika/ http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/on_campus/the-race-to-stop-zika/#respond Fri, 27 May 2016 18:05:27 +0000 http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=17616 mosquito

ISTOCK

David O’Connor is doing something extraordinary for a scientist: the UW pathology professor is sharing his results daily.

His lab is studying the Zika virus, and he’s hoping that posting data online in real time will allow public health policymakers and other researchers to work on tests, treatments, or vaccines much sooner. If the results followed the traditional route, they would take months or years to become public via scientific journals. Instead, O’Connor’s lab posts results on a blog and updates followers via its Twitter feed, @dho_lab.

The effort began in October, when O’Connor last visited Brazil, where babies born with underdeveloped brains and small heads were the relatively quiet beginning of worry over the spread of the mosquito-borne virus. One of his Brazilian collaborators asked whether technologies developed on their decade-long research program studying drug-resistant strains of HIV could be used to look for new viruses that might explain some unusual cases of a birth defect, microcephaly, in the northern part of the country.

“At the time, we didn’t know it would explode into the public consciousness like it did,” O’Connor says. “But we did start planning.”

That culminated in some of the first experiments studying Zika virus in monkeys, conducted by a broad UW–Madison team that includes the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center and expertise in infectious disease, pregnancy, and neurology.

Until recently, Zika was an understudied virus expected to cause little more than flu-like symptoms — the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists fever, joint pain, and headaches — in about 20 percent of the people it infected. But the rapid spread of the virus and its connection to an otherwise rare birth defect have drawn plenty of attention from the public and government officials.

Many questions remain about the virus, and their answers are hotly anticipated, says Thomas Friedrich ’97, PhD’03, a UW associate professor of pathobiological sciences, adding, “There are a lot of countries in the tropics right now saying, ‘Don’t get pregnant until 2018.’ That’s not a sustainable public-health recommendation.”

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Physician, Heal Thyself http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/features/physician-heal-thyself/ http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/features/physician-heal-thyself/#respond Fri, 27 May 2016 18:03:44 +0000 http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=17307 In a nondescript classroom in the Brogden Psychology Building, David Rakel tells about fifty UW medical students to take a deep breath and slow down. Feet on the ground, eyes closed, breathe in, let it go. Focus on a time of grief and loss. Think about a person who made you feel better. Now focus on a person who, probably unwittingly, made you feel worse.

Rakel then asks, “What helped?” Hands are raised, answers are offered. “A hug.” “No words, just presence.” “They listened to me talk.”

What didn’t help? “Trying to relate their own story.” “Minimizing the situation.” “Trying to fix the problem, telling you what to do or think.”

What’s the difference, he asks, between the helpful responses and the hurtful ones? Discussion flows during The Healer’s Art, a course that Rakel has led for thirteen years as an associate professor of family medicine at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health. Before saying anything, he tells his students, a physician must be present with a patient, fully engaged, and sympathetic. “Most people’s intentions are good,” he says. “But remember this when you have to go and tell someone their loved one has just died.” The course, now offered at some ninety medical schools in the country, is helping to create a generation of more reflective physicians. Knowing themselves better can help physicians to understand their patients better — going beyond the symptoms to explore hopes and fears. And that, in turn, can lead to improved health and longer lives.

“Where do you carry your stress?” Rakel asks as he continues to push his students to be more aware. “In your neck? In your head? Turn toward it. Don’t ignore it. Turn toward it. This is evidence-based medicine. This process improves fibromyalgia by about 35 percent. Learn from your symptoms. Don’t just take an ibuprofen to mask the pain.”

For Rakel, a long-term goal for the class is producing “healthier physicians, less burnout, less suicide, and stronger relationships.”

The course “has shaped most of the ethics in my career,” says Jensena Carlson ’06, MD’10, an assistant professor of family medicine who now teaches the class with Rakel. Being exposed to these concepts as a first-year student “put names on the reasons I had been drawn to medicine in the first place … I felt like I had a place, like I belonged in medicine.” Each year, about one-third to one-fourth of the entering class signs up for the course. There have been periodic discussions about making it mandatory, but faculty have concluded that the class means more when students choose to participate in it.

As she works with patients, Carlson keeps an eye out for other physicians wearing a small gold lapel pin with a heart on it that signifies they’ve completed the course, knowing they will share her focus on the bigger picture. Physicians can also continue class discussions through an informal national network, allowing them to reinforce the concepts they learned in the course.

This community of practitioners is a relatively new movement, says Christina Puchalski, director of the George Washington Institute for Spirituality and Health in Washington, D.C. Although she has been teaching about spirituality in medicine since the early 1990s, she says the topic gained national momentum in only the last five years or so. The Healer’s Art course is one instance of a broader movement to form more self-aware, integrated physicians and to build a community around the shared values of being in a service profession.

“A lot of patients feel very lonely,” Puchalski says. “We take care of their physical needs, but do nothing for their spiritual or existential distress.” Physicians who are attuned to that distress can help patients to better cope with their illnesses, she says.

The growing interest in integrated care for the whole person is also connected to the Affordable Care Act, Rakel says. Since Medicare and Medicaid are beginning to pay health care providers based on results, rather than on services rendered, the industry has had to reassess how it delivers care and how best to measure wellness rather than illness.

When Rakel was a medical student in the 1980s, he felt that something was lacking. After a full day of filling his brain with random facts, he remembers, he turned on the TV and found The Sound of Music. “I had seen it like thirteen times,” he says, “but this time, when the von Trapp family got over the mountain at the end, I was crying like a blubbering idiot. I was out of balance.”

Being in balance, for a doctor, still means a large main course of science and rigor, but awareness is growing that the humanities and other disciplines are an important side dish. Rakel believes that in recent decades, medical schools have improved at acknowledging self-care and holistic well-being, but that the profession as a whole still needs to do a better job of recognizing emotional intelligence. If practitioners are aware of their patients’ emotions, for instance, they might notice when a patient is withdrawn or scared and alter their words and tone accordingly.

Part of wellness rests in patients becoming active participants in their health care. Along with the typical approaches of improving diet and exercise, nurturing a healthy emotional state — such as forgiving someone who hurt you — has also been shown to lengthen patients’ lives.

Yet, Rakel notes, “It’s harder to reimburse better health. It’s not black and white; there are no widgets to count.” Eventually, he says, the profession must figure out how to treat people as “bio-psycho-social-spiritual beings.”

Carlson, for one, sees The Healer’s Art as a critical counterpoint to the hierarchical, high-tech model of medicine that developed over the past century. Every year, hundreds of the course’s graduates across the country receive MDs or move from residency into private practice. But changing the U.S. health care system is considerably slower and harder than, say, turning around an aircraft carrier.

Back in the classroom, Rakel asks students to consider, Why do you want to be healthy? If you have your health, what are the most important things that will enable you to do?

That sense of meaning and purpose in their lives is their spirituality — an idea that is clinically separate from religion. Some people find fulfillment in church or prayer, some in family, and others in nature or in a hobby. Having a purpose “is what gets people to get up and move,” Rakel says. “You can’t do health without that. You can do disease. Health unites; disease segregates.”

Kristin Brown Lipanot MDx’18, a second-year student who took the class last year and is now a teaching assistant, says the class helped her answer a critical question: What are the things in life that keep me going when things get hard? For her — aside from helping others — the list includes family, nature, exercise, and a sense of balance in life.

“It’s very easy, in a busy medical student’s schedule, to not take time to reflect on what brought me to medical school, and the parts of me that are not science- and medicine-driven,” she says. Those parts of the psyche are fully engaged in a class session on mystery and awe, which concentrates on “what science can’t explain,” she says. “Honor that, and be okay with it. Some things just happen.”

That is an important lesson when a patient doesn’t respond to treatment. It’s easy for a physician to get frustrated in that situation, possibly even to the point of wanting to avoid the patient, Carlson says. Remembering mystery, in more prosaic terms, may help a doctor to say, “Here’s what could be going on, but it’s possible I’m missing something.”

Medical education can be dehumanizing, says medical student Katharine Kelly MDx’17, who also is a teaching assistant in the class. The Healer’s Art gives students a chance to explore their emotions and “maintain a sense of wholeness and humanity alongside our newfound clinical medical knowledge.” Kelly particularly values the small-group discussions that conclude every session. When a few students and a faculty member or community physician talk in a confidential setting, “you’re not trying to fix other people, but you listen and support your peers,” she says. “It’s a warm environment. It’s really welcoming.”

Away from class, as students go about their days, learning to become healers, they carry with them tangible reminders of the concepts they are learning. When they reach into the pockets of their white coats, they find a small stone — what Rakel calls “a meanings anchor” — passed out during the first class session to remind them of what gives them strength in the face of difficulty. They also find a colorful plush heart that nudges them to remember what to call upon as they greet the next patient: empathy.

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Love Is Not a Mystery http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/features/love-is-not-a-mystery/ http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/features/love-is-not-a-mystery/#respond Fri, 27 May 2016 14:27:24 +0000 http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=17374 Contempt, criticism, defensiveness, and stonewalling.

These are the simple, measurable behaviors that statistically destroy your chances of a successful relationship, and what renowned psychologist John Gottman MA’67, PhD’71 calls the “Four Horsemen.” Gottman should know: he’s spent more than four decades studying couples. When he looks at a marriage and predicts whether it will or won’t end in divorce, he’s right 94 percent of the time. His life’s work remains wildly popular at the consumer level — and with good reason: if half of today’s marriages end in divorce, who wouldn’t grab onto the comfort and promise of an easy, evidence-based antidote?

Long before Gottman became one of the world’s foremost researchers of marriage and divorce — before appearances on Oprah and Good Morning America, four National Institute of Mental Health awards, and forty-some books, including the New York Times bestseller The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work — he was a mildly awkward, unlucky-in-love, Brooklyn-raised MIT mathematics graduate drawn to UW–Madison by a burgeoning interest in psychology. It was 1966, and unbeknownst to Gottman, another shy, Jewish math geek from New York was schlepping around campus — my father. The two men never met, but I wonder if they unwittingly passed each other coming in and out of Sterling Hall, or rubbed knobby elbows at an anti-war protest. Or perhaps Gottman happened to be walking by the chemistry building the moment my father met my mother, a barefoot hippie art major balancing a stack of textbooks on her head. Dad was love-struck on the spot and, uncharacteristically, managed to squeak out a hello. “Huh?” she replied. Forty-five years later, they remain on the winning side of the divorce ratio. My own stats aren’t as successful.

I already had a Gottman book on the shelf when my editor called to assign this story, and another of his bestselling books, Why Marriages Succeed or Fail, had just arrived in the mail that very day. I’d recently remarried at the age of forty, and my new husband and I — each with a failed marriage under our belts — were participating in a free couples’ clinic at UW Health to make sure we got it right this go-round. It wasn’t quite the same thing as Gottman’s famous Love Lab, in which he and his colleagues at the University of Washington observed couples in a Seattle apartment laboratory, but it was definitely educational and useful.

The lead therapist suggested we read Gottman’s The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, after observing our interactions behind two-way mirrored glass. Like my mother, I’m more emotional, intuitive, and creative. Like Dad, my husband is an analytical, systematic thinker, and a pragmatic problem-solver. The two of us burned through Gottman’s book in one weekend, and we very quickly gleaned that my tendencies lean toward defensiveness and stonewalling, and his toward criticism. More importantly, we learned how we inadvertently damage our relationship when we give in to those weaknesses. But most valuable of all was the fact that Gottman’s work was based on decades of longitudinal data tracking thousands of couples. I’m a pretty easy self-help sell, but for my husband, this emphasis on scientific research proved critically validating. He found the knowledge comforting, its tools useful and practical. We were able to get on the same page without having to feel or think the same way first. We started to recognize our patterns and used Gottman’s tools for tempering defensiveness, de-escalating conflict, and working toward solutions.

“It has really normalized some of what couples deal with, and taken this idea that you have to have perfect harmony and perfect compatibility to make a marriage work long-term and kind of turned it on its head,” says Beth Wortzel ’70, a Madison-based psychotherapist. She and her husband, counselor Jim Powell ’73, both see clients individually and together. The husband-and-wife team has been applying Gottman’s concepts since first discovering his work in the early 1980s. Many times, they say, couples come in during a crisis and eventually leave with more than hope — they learn a shared language and realize their relationship is a puzzle that can be solved.

Powell particularly likes Gottman’s concept of the Sound Relationship House theory, developed in 1994, which identifies the key components of healthy relationships, visualized as a house built up from the foundation to the roof (with commitment and trust as load-bearing walls):

  • Build love maps
  • Share fondness and admiration
  • Turn toward instead of away
  • The positive perspective
  • Manage conflict
  • Make life dreams come true
  • Create shared meaning

Within that model, critically helpful concepts are detailed, such as the “emotional bank account” or the concept of “flooding” — in which a physiological emotional reaction makes a rational one nearly impossible.

As for the Four Horsemen that are the death knell for a relationship, Powell keeps a handout for his clients detailing each of them, along with suggested alternate behaviors. The Gottman Method is not the only one they use, but it’s a tool they find both accessible and intuitive. And there’s a bonus.

“It’s helped me be mindful myself in my own relationship, too, with Beth,” says Powell. “I think it’s quite revolutionary, what the Gottmans have done.”

Sixty First Dates

That’s Gottmans, plural, because John Gottman finally met his match in 1986 in Seattle.

After earning a master’s degree in mathematics at MIT in 1964, Gottman had every intention of continuing his studies with a PhD, until he found his roommate’s psychology books “a lot more interesting.” Gottman was more “turned on” by the softer curves of human relationships, and excited by the idea they could be scientifically measured. After a brief period as a computer programmer and mathematician at the Lawrence Radiation Lab in Berkeley, California, Gottman decided to point his sails in the direction of psychology — and he liked the way the wind was blowing in Madison.

“I picked Wisconsin because Harry Harlow was there,” says Gottman of the controversial psychologist who was methodically measuring baby rhesus monkeys’ need for their mother’s touch by depriving them of it. Another draw was the statistics department, home to “giants” in a mathematics field called time series analysis, a method of measurement that Gottman eventually applied to measure change within people for his PhD thesis. Gottman had also become actively opposed to the Vietnam War during his time at Berkeley, and was pleasantly surprised to find the Committee to End the Vietnam War was based in Madison. It wasn’t that he was anti-war per se — just anti-this one. “I would have fought in World War II,” he says.

Gottman, classified 1A, gained conscientious objector status. He finished up his PhD in clinical psychology at the UW after two years of alternative service, directing a Wisconsin program for migrant workers who’d dropped out of high school. From there, he began teaching at Indiana University, where he famously teamed up with psychologist Robert Levenson and launched the first of seven longitudinal studies that spanned and defined his career.

In the lab, Gottman and his colleagues measured physiological arousal using markers such as heart rate, skin conductance, gross motor activity, and blood velocity, and drew direct correlations with marital satisfaction. Over the years, they studied couples of all kinds (old, young, married, unmarried, gay, straight, college students, rural, and urban) and identified patterns that Gottman later coined as “masters” and “disasters” of relationships.

Their research allowed them to assess — with 94 percent accuracy — whether a couple would eventually divorce. Beyond scientific journals, Gottman made his findings accessible to a general public that was hungry for such guidance. Love had always seemed such a mystery, and here was a scientist saying it wasn’t the ultimate outlaw — which surprised even him, at first.

Meanwhile, Gottman was experiencing less promising results in his own relationships. By the time he got to Indiana, he’d been married and divorced, and struggled to meet women his own age. After moving on to the University of Illinois, he took a job as a professor of psychology at the University of Washington. That changed everything.

He arrived in May, four months before the start of the semester, and decided to finally take a scientific approach to his love life. With characteristic precision, he embarked on an experiment. He answered every personal ad and went on sixty dates in six weeks.

“Julie,” he says, “was sixty-one.”

Julie Schwartz — who would become Julie Schwartz Gottman within the year — was also a clinical psychologist. In a dizzying whir of hormones and neurotransmitters, John and Julie connected instantly. It was love at first sight, and it was thrilling. It was also terrifying.

“It was kind of like your father,” he says, referring to my own parents’ fateful meeting at the UW. But as he explained the fear that accompanied such a powerful connection between two already-divorced forty-somethings, I thought of my own second marriage instead, and those heady, scary early days. We knew our union was incredible, good and right — inevitable. But we also each carried intimidating data points of our own. So I asked, was there anything about studying all those couples that informed or comforted him?

Falling in love with Julie “wasn’t so much an intellectual decision based on research,” he says. “It was just more, really, an emotional decision.”

Masters of Love

The couple settled in Seattle and founded the Gottman Institute, where they masterfully honed the practical applications that make their findings accessible. Over the past thirty years, they’ve amassed an impressive body of research, publications, training sessions for professionals like Powell and Wortzel, and tools for couples like my husband and me.

The Gottmans host packed couples’ seminars in which they sit together on the stage and reenact any one of their ongoing private arguments, putting their own marriage on display, warts and all. That addresses one of the biggest misconceptions about this work, says Gottman: that successful relationships are those with no conflict whatsoever.

“We need conflict in order to keep learning how to love each other better as we grow older and change,” he says. The Gottmans are not some uber-evolved gurus levitating upon the marital mountaintop — they are a real live couple committed to the hard work of progress, not perfection.

The real work of marriage takes the willingness and unwavering commitment of both partners, and not every relationship is worth saving. Gottman does not claim his methods work for everybody, but they are 75 percent effective for moderately distressed couples. In the future, the Gottmans want to study other factors that affect relationships, including substance abuse, domestic violence, infidelity, and past traumatic experiences.

“I’d say we’re maybe 40 percent there in understanding relationships,” Gottman says. “Sixty percent is still a mystery, and requires more research.”

Take mate selection, for example. Although my husband and I are a Match.com success story (a modern version of Gottman’s classified-ad experiment), Gottman says the algorithms used by modern data sites are faulty because they’re based on finding someone just like you. “So that’s part of the problem, I think, is that people are pairing up with the wrong person,” says Gottman. “And not bailing out soon enough.”

Although Julie turned sixty-five this year and John is now seventy-four, the Gottmans show no signs of slowing down. Both still see patients clinically, fund research, and publish books, including The Man’s Guide to Women, released earlier this year.

Despite the comfort of having the Gottmans’ scientific findings at my fingertips, I still feel baffled sometimes, when my husband and I are in the thick of it — when I’m “flooded,” as the Gottmans say, and all my best tools and good intentions go right out the window. I look at my parents and how different they are — and their relationship still, at times, feels like a magical mystery to me. But I’ve never once doubted that they’re on the same side, nor have I doubted this with my husband — something Gottman says is key to the whole deal.

And so I can’t help but ask him: if you had to distill four decades of findings into one piece of advice, what would it be?

Don’t get defensive, he says. “If I was going to summarize it all in one thing, I would say that, in great relationships, they operate as if they have the motto, ‘Baby, when you’re in pain, when you’re hurting, the world stops and I listen.’ ”

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Unbowed http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/features/unbowed/ http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/features/unbowed/#respond Fri, 27 May 2016 14:27:24 +0000 http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=17412 Two days after last year’s Paris terrorist attacks, professional football teams around the United States flew French flags and observed a pregame moment of silence for the 130 victims. At Green Bay’s Lambeau Field, the tribute was broken by one fan’s bellicose outburst: “Muslims suck!”

Social media users also reported hearing chants of “Death to Muslims.” And for Kenosha native Naheed Qureshi ’94, a Muslim and diehard Packers fan, the words cut deep.

“They were talking to me,” says Qureshi, who was not at the November 15 game. The commentary, however, was clearly audible to millions of fans watching the nationally televised broadcast.

“The words were talking to my family and my parents, who spent fifty years of their lives educating generations of nurses who contribute to Wisconsin to this day,” she adds. “It’s really hard to hear those things. Football is something I do to take a break, so it was painful.”

Naheed Qureshi ’94

“This isn’t a Muslim problem. This is an American problem. This is a question of our values and who we are,” says Naheed Qureshi ’94. “It’s become completely acceptable to say the most vile, bigoted things about Muslims.” Timothy Archibald

The incident was a trenchant reminder of the challenges that Qureshi, the daughter of Pakistani immigrants, faces as deputy director of Oakland, California–based Muslim Advocates. The legal advocacy and educational organization works on the front lines of civil rights to guarantee freedom and justice for Americans of all faiths through high-impact lawsuits, community education, and policy advocacy.

Muslim Advocates focuses on ending racial profiling, strengthening the nation’s network of more than 1,300 Muslim charities — including soup kitchens, homeless shelters, and medical clinics — and countering hate. Notably, the nonprofit filed a lawsuit in 2012 — later joined by the Center for Constitutional Rights — against the City of New York, accusing police of spying on Muslims at home, work, school, and at mosques. The case is pending.

Qureshi helped found Muslim Advocates in 2005, when she was an organizer for the legislative office of the American Civil Liberties Union in Washington, DC. There, she worked on matters related to racial profiling, voting rights, the Patriot Act, and post-9/11 civil rights violations. Prior to that, Qureshi was recruited — after earning her law degree at Georgetown University — to join the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, where she helped shape the Initiative to Combat Post-9/11 Discriminatory Backlash. In that role, she organized community forums around the country, fielded discrimination complaints, and was a liaison to Muslim, Arab, and South Asian American communities.

The challenges haven’t abated, and Muslim Advocates’ stature in the national zeitgeist has become only more pronounced in recent months.

After Paris, and a subsequent attack last December in which an extremist husband-wife tandem killed fourteen public employees in San Bernardino, California, hate crimes against Muslims in the United States more than tripled, according to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism in California. There were eighty offenses in the four months following the Paris attacks, ranging from death threats and physical violence, to vandalism and arson attacks on mosques.

Fear has gripped Muslim communities, where parents have complained their children have been called “terrorists” or “Osama bin Laden” by classmates, Qureshi says. The same parents have vocally fretted about their children’s college and job prospects.

“The immediate aftermath of 9/11 is quite different from what we’re dealing with today,” Qureshi says. “There were hate crimes and it was quite challenging, but there were also lots of Americans coming together and supporting each other. There was a feeling that we were all in this together. I don’t think it registered with very many people that there are Muslims here. They didn’t speak about a Muslim problem.”

Fifteen years later, she laments that today’s climate “is beyond the bounds of my imagination.”

But Qureshi is unbowed. Her legal aspirations were shaped by a different time, when television fed the notion that justice always prevails. “I first wanted to be a lawyer because of Perry Mason,” she says with a laugh. “I used to watch repeats with my mom.”

But her commitment to fairness and justice can’t be summed up by a nearly sixty-year-old TV show. It was at UW–Madison where the political science major experienced an intellectual coming of age. Taking a pair of constitutional law classes from noted professor Donald Downs was particularly influential. “He pushed me to think about things from every different angle, even going to places that were uncomfortable,” Qureshi says. “He challenged my views in a way that forced me to question everything I took for granted. He challenged my basic ideas of what’s right and wrong with our system, and what do rights mean versus what does right and wrong mean? That taught me to become a different kind of thinker.”

Just as she is now, Qureshi was very much the political operative during her days at the UW. She organized a coalition of disparate student groups that sponsored educational events on the Bosnian War and genocide that was raging half a world away.

“That experience contributed to my education about justice and informing people about issues,” she says. “It was powerful to see all sorts of unusual partners come together to speak out against a great injustice. When you get together and start working on a common cause, you start to focus on how much more you have in common.”

It’s the same ethos that Qureshi brings to her work today at Muslim Advocates, which involves managing program staff and fostering relationships with other groups fighting to maintain civil rights.

Muslim Advocates also has aligned with the NAACP in pushing support for the End Racial Profiling Act. The proposed legislation, which would affect local law-enforcement agencies, has yet to gain traction in Congress. The organizations did, however, help sway the U.S. Justice Department in 2014 to expand rules preventing FBI agents from considering national origin and religion, among other categories, when deciding whether to open a case.

“Naheed played a major role in helping us frame that,” says Hilary Shelton, director of the NAACP’s Washington, DC, bureau. “She works in a respectful and noncombative way. She’s assertive and thoughtful and very diplomatic in her approach. She’s been a fantastic asset and ally. She has a gift of being able to see, almost immediately, the similarities between the various communities she’s speaking with, and that makes a huge difference.”

Qureshi’s collaborations extend to what, in the wider world, doesn’t always make for easy alliances. She works closely with Bend the Arc, a New York–based Jewish nonprofit that advocates and organizes for a more just and equal society. Arielle Gingold, the group’s associate director, calls Qureshi “one of my closest colleagues and most trusted partners in the work that we do. She teaches me constantly. We have a great dialogue about our different religions, and I learn from her and she learns from me.”

Bend the Arc was among nearly fifty civil rights, interfaith, community, and advocacy groups that joined Muslim Advocates last September to urge Republican and Democratic party leadership to hold party members and candidates accountable for promoting religious bigotry.

“In the U.S., there is a lot of common ground and a lot of really great and important work being done between the Muslim and Jewish communities, and the Christian community as well,” Gingold says, praising Qureshi for her “contagious passion for the work that she does.”

“We have a strong interfaith partnership advocating for the rights of our communities as a whole, and defending each other’s rights when they are attacked,” she says.

Qureshi derives many of her sensibilities from her parents. “They told my sister and me that we were Muslims, but that we should cherish and value everyone’s background and faith,” she says. Her mother and father met at the University of Idaho, where both were pursuing their doctorates. They went on to teach biology and chemistry in the nursing program at Gateway Technical College in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Qureshi also draws inspiration from the late anti-apartheid revolutionary Nelson Mandela, and musicians such as Peter Gabriel and U2 frontman Bono, who, after the 2005 bombings of London trains and buses, pointed to a headband emblazoned with the word “Coexist,” and uttered: “Jesus, Jew, Mohammed — it’s true. All sons of Abraham.”

Even Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers draws plaudits from Qureshi. During a postgame news conference on the day of the fan’s intemperate catcall, Rodgers, unbidden by reporter questioning, volunteered that the comment “disappointed” him and “it’s that kind of prejudicial ideology that … puts us in the position we’re in today.”

Qureshi says these are some of the people who give her hope. “It’s not the kind of society they want their children to grow up in. This isn’t a Muslim problem. This is an American problem. This is a question of our values and who we are. We shouldn’t have an environment where it’s okay to talk about Muslims that way.”

She chides a political system in which elected officials and political hopefuls have made anti-Muslim remarks, with no accountability. While Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has proposed blocking all Muslims from entering the United States, along with shutting down mosques and surveilling Muslims, former candidate Ben Carson asserted the United States should not elect a Muslim president.

“I have moments when I’m very afraid of what’s happening and what I see right in front of me,” Qureshi says. “A lot of people get really discouraged. They’ll say there’s no point to what we’re doing, because this is so overwhelming and we can’t make any progress. It’s become completely acceptable to say the most vile, bigoted things about Muslims.”

But, Qureshi notes optimistically, such behaviors have riled non-Muslims as much as members of her own faith.

“This has crossed the line for a lot of people, and they have made the decision that they can’t stay silent.”

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Campaign Roadshow http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/bygone/campaign-roadshow/ http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/bygone/campaign-roadshow/#respond Fri, 27 May 2016 14:27:24 +0000 http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=17489

UW–Madison Archives S08042

UW–Madison loves politics and, from time to time, politicians even return that love.

During this campaign year, we look back to one of the first occasions when a presidential candidate visited campus.

In October 1911, Woodrow Wilson (seated at right with blanket) came to Madison while testing the waters for a White House run. He was then the newly sworn-in governor of New Jersey and former president of Princeton University. UW president Charles Van Hise 1879, 1880, MS1882, PhD1892 is in the driver’s seat, and presumably they’re on their way to or from the Red Gym, where Wilson addressed a crowd of Wisconsin Democrats.

Wilson had come to the UW to speak at a national conference called Civic and Social Center Development.

“The best treatment for bad politics is the same as that for tuberculosis,” he told the assembled crowd, “and that is exposure in the open air.”

We’ve since learned that the best treatment for tuberculosis is antibiotics, but as politics seems to be a drug-resistant disease, open air is the best we can do.

As Princeton’s leader, Wilson had developed a relationship with UW administrators and faculty. He’d corresponded with Thomas Chamberlin when the latter was UW president in the 1890s. And Van Hise sought Wilson’s advice when the Wisconsin Union was first proposed at the beginning of the twentieth century.

When it came to politics, however, Wilson and Van Hise were less mutually supportive. Van Hise was a friend and adviser to Theodore Roosevelt, who would become Wilson’s chief rival in the election of 1912. Wilson ended up winning the vote in Wisconsin and across the country, but he didn’t visit campus again.

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