Spring 2003 l Capital University Journal
If lost loves meet, it’s for keeps
When it comes to old flames, the Hollywood ending is a smokescreen, says Nancy Kalish. The Sac State psychology professor has been studying relationships between lost loves for nearly a decade and says movies like Castaway and Casablanca—where reunited couples resist the urge to rekindle their relationships—don’t tell the true story.
“Movies rarely get it right. Real life is happier than Hollywood,” she says.
The “Lost Love Project” began after Kalish tried to reestablish her own relationship with a lost love. An Associated Press article on her work, along with an appearance on the show “20/20,” brought contacts from more than 1,000 people who had met up with lost loves.
The result was a book, Lost and Found Lovers: Facts and Fantasies of Rekindled Romances, which features her research findings as well as stories about the couples’ experiences, and a website—www.lostlovers.com.
Kalish found that rekindled romances are amazingly successful. Seventy-two percent of the couples in her study ended up staying together. “It’s not a fantasy,” she says.
The couples in the study represented a wide range of ages—18 to 84 with an average age of 35—who had spent at least five years apart. Usually the initial breakup was situational—the parents disapproved, one party moved out of town, or one of them had either gone off to war or had left a war-torn country.
A decade ago Kalish found the impetus for couples to reestablish contact was often a turning point in one of their lives such as a divorce, widowhood or a serious illness. The cliché of the high school reunion sparking passion was the cause in only 6 percent of the cases. “They don’t wait for the reunion. They pick up the phone and call,” Kalish says.
But if that study were being done today, the first move would more likely be through the Internet, which for Kalish is cause for concern. “People shouldn’t treat this type of contact lightly—80 percent of those people I hear from online are in an extramarital relationship with a lost love,” she says. “Before the Internet, contacting a lost love was much more purposeful.
“With the Internet it’s much more casual because it is so easy. Someone who is bored at work might do a search for a lost love’s name, write ‘Hi, how are you?’ and have it lead to an affair.”
She adds that these couples aren’t necessarily looking for trouble going in. “Most are just curious and want to say hello and catch up. But it ends up steamrolling over them,” she says. “They don’t expect there will be an emotional reaction when they actually hear the person’s voice.”
Kalish has bad news for those therapists who dismiss the power of a lost love relationship as a fairytale. “They don’t understand—it’s a different kind of romance. All the rules are thrown out the window,” she says. “They’re not making up their feelings.”
A perfect example, she says, is Prince Charles and Lady Camilla Parker Bowles. “They were in love and they were kept apart. It’s not a matter of how attractive the parties are—it’s first love.”
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A spoonful of nurture
There’s a debate underway in mental health nursing about the causes and proper treatments of mental illness. And Sac State nursing professor Bonnie Raingruber has found herself at the center of it.
Many of her peers are trying to shift the focus of their profession to drug-based treatments, and away from a holistic approach that includes extensive personal interaction. They’re arguing for a “nature” instead of “nurture” approach, with the assumption that mental illness is solely a biological problem.
Raingruber believes they’re wrong. She says mental illness has social, cultural and environmental roots, as well as biological ones.
She recently defended her position at a national nursing conference in a debate with Wanda Mohr, a leading researcher who supports the drug-based approach. Afterwards, Raingruber received a standing ovation, though the professional debate is far from settled. She’s been asked to take part in a second debate on the West Coast.
“My argument is that we need an integrated approach in which one person can provide nurturing and, when needed, prescribe the drugs,” Raingruber says. “Mental health nursing needs to challenge the idea of treating people in small bits, and care for the whole person.”
She says many patients—perhaps half, according to some research—don’t respond to drug treatments.
In fact, Raingruber’s research over the years suggests personal interactions and intense therapy are often at the heart of successful treatment.
Raingruber’s graduate research focused on interactions between psychiatric nurses and patients. She has since published numerous articles on the topic in both Perspectives in Psychiatric Care and the Journal of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association.
“The better you know the person, the better you are able to help them,” Raingruber says. “It’s kind of like a friend who knows you so well they can hear the importance of a tone and get much more from a simple comment. When you know the patient, when you provide therapy for a patient, you can get much more from a simple conversation.”
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with a fishy excuse
years, the citizens of Sesame Street have demonstrated that puppets can
make learning fun. But two Sac State professors say puppets also help
make children better readers.
Talk to me doc
Communication studies professor Marlene von Friederichs-Fitzwater credits a life-threatening illness as motivation for research she has conducted since doctors diagnosed her with cervical cancer 20 years ago.
During the course of her illness von Friederichs-Fitzwater, who was studying mass communication, observed changing dynamics with her doctors. “I noticed that the worse the prognosis, the more trouble physicians had in communicating with me.”
She says she wanted to know why medical personnel spoke to her differently as her illness grew more serious, and if the experience she had was similar to other patients’. She wanted to help people, especially after her health improved.
She founded Health Communication Research Institute, Inc. in 1989 with the goal of improving the outcomes of health care by improving communication.
Von Friederichs-Fitzwater, also a public relations specialist, uncovered doctors’ tendencies to dominate patient interviews. She says physicians interrupt every 18 seconds and they often change the subject. “When the patient mentions something on an emotional level, the physician usually turns the conversation back to physical symptoms,” she says.
One way she’s ensuring the research helps others is by instructing professionals and medical students. Her institute offers free online classes about pain management and how to treat terminally ill patients. Von Friederichs-Fitzwater says she likes applying the research. “I enjoy being able to translate, educate. I’m happy seeing the research put to use. It’s my passion.”
The institute’s next big project is a $500,000 undertaking to install interactive, video-based kiosks in Sacramento-area community centers, churches and schools. They will dispense medical information in several languages including Russian and Hmong. “We’re trying to reach at-risk populations who don’t have access to quality health information and change risky health behavior,” she says.
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Settling a sticky debate
Japanese consumers know rice. And nearly 80 percent of them “know” California grown rice is inferior to domestic rice.
That plays a significant part in justifying Japanese trade restrictions. But can they really tell the difference?
“The answer is, ‘no,’” said Ken Chinen, professor of international business at Sac State. “In blind tests they cannot tell the difference even though they say they can.”
Chinen, a native of Japan, put Japanese tastes to the test. He asked 161 Japanese nationals to taste short-grained white rice—the kind preferred in Japanese cooking—and rate them by sweetness, stickiness, texture, fragrance and whiteness. Participants were also asked about their attitudes toward domestic and imported rice and, finally, to identify the samples as Japanese- or California-grown.
The results showed Japanese consumers could not clearly tell the difference. Of the 80 percent who expressed a preference for rice grown in Japan, 40 percent misidentified the rice grown in Japan.
“Statistically speaking, there is no significant difference,” Chinen said. “It’s just an issue of perception. Rice is rice.”
Chinen said the real issues behind official Japanese distaste for foreign rice is economic and cultural, with a dash of national security.
“In Japan, rice is the source of culture, religion, wealth, power and aesthetics,” Chinen said. “Rice is not just food, rice is more than that.”
Domestic rice production is also tied to national security through fears that Japan—which relies on food imports—could be held hostage by foreign rice growers.
Indeed, 65 percent of the Japanese surveyed by Chinen said they were concerned about the island nation’s future food supply. In addition to worries about “food security,” the Japanese also fear that foreign rice may be contaminated with pesticide residues or harmful preservatives.
Under international trade agreements, Japan does import rice—660,000 tons in 1999—but often re-exports it as food aid to impoverished nations. The United States supplies 51 percent of Japan’s imported rice, with approximately 75 percent of that coming from California growers. Thailand (19 percent), Australia (15 percent) and China (10 percent) are other major importers.
Chinen noted that a California buyer could purchase a 20-pound bag of koshihikari rice for under $14. The Japanese buyer would pay about $40 for a bag of the same rice grown in Japan.
“Middle-income Japanese consumers are starting to ask why they have to pay so much more for domestic products when similar foreign products are cheaper,” Chinen said. Part of the answer is in the protectionist policies Japan pursues at the urging of domestic rice growers—very similar to the political influence American agribusinesses have on U.S. policy.
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