Siegel & Tannen: Nurture Preserve

March 27th, 2006

I had a great time doing the show that airs tonight at 7:30 (and repeats Friday night at 10:30): interviews on family matters with child psychiatrist Daniel Siegel and linguist Deborah Tannen -- along with a very touching "Wandering Josh" segment.

Dr. SiegelI got in touch with Dr. Siegel after reading his (literally) mind-blowing book Parenting from the Inside Out, co-written with Mary Hartzell (who ran the preschool that Siegel's child attended). Drawing on exciting new findings in brain science, Siegel makes a persuasive case that the best way for us to become great parents is to make sense of our own childhoods. As a dad (and a son) myself, I ate up Siegel's lucid account of how the brain is physically transformed by our deepest experiences -- especially our early interactions with caregivers. And as a professional monologuist, I was delighted to hear that telling -- and understanding -- our life stories may be key to our families' happiness. ...

Deborah TannenAnd while we're on the subject of understanding: who better to chat with than Deborah Tannen, whose 1990 mega-bestseller You Just Don't Understand: Women and Men in Conversation incited my mother to send me repeated letters and postcards urging me to read it. (Was she trying to tell me something? I didn't understand.) Now Tannen has a new book that I, in turn, can heartily recommend to my mom, whose own childhood was fraught with painful complexities. In You're Wearing THAT?: Understanding Mothers and Daughters in Conversation, Tannen -- with compassionate wit and linguistic insight -- delicately untangles these incredibly nuanced relationships. I emerged from our conversation grateful and moved, having been reminded of what a gloriously difficult struggle it is to love and be loved. ...

In between these two interviews, I wander over to the Berkeley campus, where psychology professor Dacher Keltner -- aided by two grad students with eerily similar nail-polishing habits -- allows me to participate in an experiment about communicating emotion through touch. I don't mean to brag out how well I did, but let's just say that Bill Clinton isn't the only one who feels your pain. ...

Entry Filed under: tv episodes


  • 1. Bernice Selden  |  April 5th, 2006 at 10:09 am

    Wierd! She looks like (an earlier) me in the photo–MOM

  • 2. Josh Kornbluth  |  April 15th, 2006 at 12:31 pm

    Judi: I’m so glad you liked this episode — we put a lot of work into arranging all the logistics (it was taped on separate days), and I was pleased with how it turned out. …

    Mom: She does look kind of like you, but not so much that it struck me when I interviewed her. Hope you’re doing great in Chicago!

  • 3. judy dunworth  |  July 25th, 2006 at 7:19 am

    I loved hearing both of these guys but especially Deborah Tannen. I emailed my mom about it. Hair, clothes and weight. Wow. she nailed the big three. No wonder women needed to be liberated. I wonder how many generations it will take before we stop being so mindful of these kind of trivial aspects of each other? They certainly are operant in my consciousness even though I struggle to disarm their portency. You’re a good, if somewhat unconventional, interviewer. I saw you with Harvey Pekar and that was a hoot. Keep up the good work. Unconventional is your forte.

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