Who are you, what brought you here, where are you coming from, when were you made aware of AU, why did you decide to join...
I am Joan Denoo, an 84-year old lady, mother of 3, grandmother of 4, great-grandmother of 7. I grew up in a violent home and married a man who was violent. I divorced 45 years ago and remained single. I learned how to be dependent on violent men and had to unlearn that when I divorced.
I had three ten-year-old children when I left my marriage. Maybe I should explain about the children. We adopted a newborn and brought him home when he was 5-days old. When he was 5-months 13-days old, our twins were born. My husband was a dentist in the U.S. Army and we moved about every 2-years. From Madigan Army Medical Center in Ft. Lewis near Tacoma, WA, to Brooke Army Medical Center in Ft Sam at San Antonio, to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center at Bethesda, MD, to Darnall Army Medical Center at Ft. Hood, Tx.
I put my 3 kids, 2 mother cats and their litters in my car and drove 2,000 miles to Spokane where I bought an old, condemned, home in a lovely neighborhood. I raised my children and remodeled the home with help from my parents and family. I found a job as a dishwasher in a taco place and quickly moved to the manager. I continued to work full time and started back to college as a sophomore majoring in psychology I wanted to learn what happens when living in violent families and what it takes to have a healthy family. I discover Learned helplessness "a phenomenon in which an animal or human experiences an uncontrollable, inescapable event and subsequently has difficulty obtaining desirable outcomes, even when it is easy to do so. The term is often used to explain why people may display passive, helpless behavior or feel powerless in situations that are actually simple to avoid or change."
The psych professor started his lecture and very soon I began to squirm in my seat. "Martin Seligman and Steven Maier discovered learned helplessness accidentally while conducting behavioral research on negative reinforcement with dogs." I subsequently learned all I could about learned helplessness and realized I learned to be helpless from the crib. My mother was helpless too, and my grandmothers, and there was no definition or word for it. When research discovers a syndrome, gives it a name, it becomes a reality. Now, I had something with which to work.
Learned behavior is learned, not innate! This resolved my first problem.
I earned a master's degree in Applied Behavioral Science that included parenting classes, communication workshops, anger management, problem solving, power, and conflict courses.
My thesis was, "Toward a theory of family violence, its antecedents, treatment, and prevention."
Learned behavior can be unlearned. This resolved my second problem.
I taught these skills to my 3 children and our home became a nonviolent home.
Because I understand the role of learned behaviors and sex-role stereotyping, that healthy behavior can replace unhealthy ones, I knew I could teach others the skills. I earned a doctoral degree at Gonzaga University, a Roman Catholic school in Spokane. My research was on the role of religion in maintaining and perpetuating family violence. The priests denied me a degree because "My research was biased!"
My dissertation was, "A splendid heresy."
This resolved my third problem. Why was it improbable for my grandmothers, mother, and me to function as a mentally healthy, mature, adult?
I taught at the Community Colleges of Spokane, Morning Star Boys Ranch, Spokane County Geiger Prison, and gave workshops and motivational talks. I consulted with police officers, judges, and city officials regarding the cause and effect of learned helplessness and its remedy. I served our city mayor as a consultant to the city council.
I became ill with heart problems, diabetes, cancer, and my oldest son cared for me until he became ill with esophageal cancer and died. I sold my home and moved into my daughter and son-in--law's, Laura & Larry (L&L), home. They treat me with so much kindness and love and I am near my 2 granddaughters and 7 great-grandchildren. They are in and out of my room and in my garden every day. They planted an orchard for me and help me in the greenhouse that L&L had built for me.
I am a content old lady, a survivor of many battles, and grateful to be alive.
~ Learned Helplessness
~ Martin Seligman’s Experiments That Led to the Theory
~ Learned Helplessness: Seligman’s Theory of Depression (+ Cure)
~ Broverman, I. K., Broverman, D. M., Clarkson, F. E., Rosenkrantz, P. S., & Vogel, S. R. (1970). Sex-role stereotypes and clinical judgments of mental health. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 34(1), 1–7. https://doi.org/10.1037/h0028797
August 9, 2020
Good write up, Joan.
That was a wonderful and inspiring post, Joan. Thanks,
Such a powerful post-Joan. And a very impressive story, to my mind impressive enough for you to write it down in a book. Thanks for sharing.
My Yindyamarra -( respect ) for you took what you knew from living through it and used it to your advantage to build a better and more peaceful life for yourself and your children.
You are one strong woman.
As for this quote
My research was on the role of religion in maintaining and perpetuating family violence. The priests denied me a degree because "My research was biased!" end quote
Yes! Your research was biased in their eyes because it did not suck up to their religion and paint a pretty picture of it, but rather showed the religion for what is really was.
Research on learned helplessness has confirmed that prisoners of war, men and women, children, dogs, cats, horses, octopus, pike, and pigeons, can learn to be helpless. Videos of fish, birds, and other critters, however, no longer can be accessed because of the cruelty of the experiments.
Videos I can find are
Joan. There's one thing that I've learned over the years. if you want to achieve something put a woman in charge.
Joan, this probably goes without saying, but it is positively SPLENDID to see you here! Thanks for joining A|U!
A great story, Joan, and I'm very glad that you found a happy home with your family!
Now that I'm here I can introduce myself too.
I was born in the Dutch bible belt in a disfunctional family and I escaped before I was 20. Tried to build a life - that was easier when I found the love of my life after a few years. Learnt some things other people learn in their childhood, tried to educate myself and went to work as a teacher. Three years ago my husband came out as a transwoman and started transition. We're waiting for her changes and happily celebrating our senior years together.
Getting out from under the large religious thumb is always good to hear.