Autobiography and Personal Anecdotes - Jan Hanson, M.S.
I was born on March 14, 1954. I am the second of three children, the
others both boys, and blessed to have been raised in a relatively sane
family and to have had - believe it or not - a happy childhood! I never
doubted that my parents loved me, and overall I had a clear sense that I
was a good, capable, and intelligent person. I always loved
heart-to-heart conversations with people, and remember many nights of
having such conversations with my father until the wee-small-hours
My family enjoyed the pleasures of an extended family, particularly with
my maternal grandparents. We always lived near my grandparents, and
actually shared a duplex with them for a year when I was an infant.
They stayed at our house every weekend; arriving on Saturday morning,
my gandmother cleaned our house from top-to-bottom, and then my parents
went out to dinner and for a "date" each and every Saturday night. When
we were pre-schoolers, we also met my grandmother every Wednesday for an
excursion to one of many local parks for the day. (Later in life after
my grandfather died, this allowed for a seamless transition of my
grandmother moving in with my family until she died, and never having a
moment of awkwardness .. she was part of the family.) I cannot even
imagine how different it would have been for me as a mother had I had
that kind of support in the early rearing of my own children.
Academically, my interest was always math and science; my analytic
abilities always thrilled my father (him again!), and I remember him
challenging me with math problems throughout my childhood. Through
fabulous good fortune, I ended up having a job as a high school student
working in a neurochemistry research laboratory. I enjoyed the work,
where I was allowed to be fully involved in running experiements. I
also enjoyed my relationships with the intelligent adults I met there,
and our lovely philosophical conversations about communication and the
meaning of life. The academic culmination was that I became a co-author
of a reseach paper presented at a National Neurochemistry Society
Meeting as a high school student.
I began school at U.C.San Diego, having been given another gem job
making computer animated films. I had presumed that I was on my way to
medical school, but the questions began to pile up about the level of
sacrifice needed - which conflicted with my budding new-age sense of
taking care of myself. After a number of months, I transferred to
U.C.L.A., because I missed my friends in LA, particularly a preforming
group of folk-dancers that I was a part of, and continued in pre-med.
After my sophomore year, I made the jump to being a psychology major,
graduating with honors in 1978. I was very interested in the human
potential movement, and participated in programs like "Helpline"
telephone counseling services and Peer Health Counselors at U.C.L.A. I
also worked for two years as a clinical assistant at the U.C.L.A.
acupuncture clinic, at the very beginning of the introduction of
acupuncture in the United States.
In my latter years at college, I met Rick - who at that time was a mix
of an unbelievably wild and unbelievably wise guy - and I set my sights
on him from our first introduction. It was many years, however, before
he got the same clarity about this that I had, but they were filled with
all sorts of great activities. After college, I worked with Rick putting
together a successful company that delivered growth seminars on the
topic of communication and relationships. When that folded - due to
Rick's desire to move on - I decided to continue with my interest in
health care and became a Hellerwork Practitioner. Hellerwork is a kind
of deep tissue body therapy out of the tradition of Rolfing. I rapidly
became a teacher of this work, and continued doing it for 12 years,
until depletion changed my course.
During my early years with Hellerwork, Rick and I reconnected after some
time apart, and this time there was a rapid move toward a committed
relationship and - yup! the "m" word - marriage. We had five great years
of growth and development personally, spiritually, and as a couple,
before we decided to have babies.
In the early years of my depletion, it became clear that my body could
no longer bear up under the physical demands of Hellerwork, and I also
wanted a career that could help people in more fundamental and
far-reaching ways. Having worked with the health problems of my daughter
homeopathically - and having used homeopathy, Chinese Medicine, and
naturopathic methods for my own problems, I developed a great love for
these kinds of health care. I pursued formal training as an
acupuncturist - receiving a Master's Degree in Traditional Chinese
Medicine in 1997 - as well as additional, ongoing training in nutrition
and homeopathy. This work allows me to do the three things I love
most: enjoy meaningful relationships; help people; and analytically
figure out when in the world is going on with them! As a good friend of
ours who is a professor at Harvard Medical School said, my favorite
patient is an internist's nightmare!
I think that one thing that sets me apart from many care providers is
that when people tell me about their emotional problems, I immediately
think about the underlying physiology that might be causing such
distress. This comes from my own experience, of course, because that is
so much of what worked for me. My children continually tease me that
the first thing I say when they get moody is "Did you take your
vitamins?" The amazing thing is that many mothers who are doing very
poorly amotionally - feeling crazy, depressed, or whatever - are helped
dramatically by straightening out their physiology.
Mostly these days I am a mother - first and formost - and then a health
care provider. I am somewhat obsessed with understanding health and the
contribution nutritional interventions can make: my idea of an exciting
piece of literature is the Alternative Medical Review, and a great time
is evening cup of tea with Harper's Biochemistry! Additionally, I do
arts and crafts, particularly with my daughter, and enjoy hiking and
occassionally play a little piano. I treasure my friendships and all of
the time I spend with friends and family.
Why I wrote this book
My purpose in writing this book stems from both my profesisonal and
personal story. In fact, I was the "poster child" for depleted mother
syndrome. I could have prevented, or dramatically lessened, most of the
health problems that I suffered had I taken care of myself physically,
emotionally, and socially in the way our book recommends. I so want to
share that with other mothers.
Second, but equally filled with personal zeal, is my desire as a
professional to awaken mothers (and others!) to the benefits of
integrated, intelligent holistic care. I love the rational approach to
health care expressed in our book. I love undersatanding the
intricacies of individual metabolism and how that can be influenced by
benign nutritional interventions. I love the fact that many difficult
health problems are resolved with natural medicine. So, this book
allows me to express this passion beyond my patient population.
For more information, please see "Jan's Story" in Chapter 5.
Learn About Ricki Pollycove, M.D.
Learn More About Rick Hanson, Ph.D.