Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Chizuko Norton Interview
Narrator: Chizuko Norton
Interviewer: Alice Ito
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: April 27, 1998
Densho ID: denshovh-nchizuko-01-0041

<Begin Segment 41>

AI: Well, we were talking about some of your activities during the 1980s, and you were doing so much during that period. As you mentioned, at an earlier time, you were involved in co-founding the Separation and Loss Institute. Can you tell me a little bit about that, the nature of the institute?

CN: Yes. The institute is now a part of Virginia Mason, and it's now called the Separation and Loss Services. But when we, when Dr. Rynearson and I first went into this -- he's the one who got me involved -- it was to do what we could to train professionals in this whole area of the effects of separation and loss. In the early 1980s, we knew we didn't really have that much understanding of the effects of loss on individuals, it involves not only the emotions, but physically as well as cognitively. That's something that we didn't feel at that time that not everyone knew about. So we went into this with the idea of doing as much training through conferences, getting people who've done a lot of research in this or were doing research in this from other parts of the country to come, and also from areas like England and Australia as well. And, at the same time, people would come to us with problems that we would work with them therapeutically. And we also wanted not just therapists and psychologists and psychiatrists, but other doctors and other professionals who work in any way with, with people, even, even educators.

AI: So it was very multidisciplinary.

CN: Uh-huh, uh-huh. And so we started in May of 1984, and it is still going strong. I left in 1983, or was it '84? No, it was 1983. And it was taken over by John Perrington.

AI: I'm sorry. You said 1983, you were at the institute?

CN: Did I say '83? '93.

AI: 1993?

CN: 1993, excuse me. It was taken over by a gentleman by the name of John Perrington for a few years, and now the person, Dr. Edward K. Rynearson or Ted Rynearson (...) is doing a fantastic job along with several of his colleagues.

AI: Well, with this pioneering work that you did in investigating all these various aspects of loss, together with the personal experience that you had of so much loss along with the rest of your Nikkei peers, what kind of observations or reflections have you developed regarding the impact of such great loss in people's lives as they went through the war years and the incarceration?

CN: I've noticed a tremendous amount of illness. And also the, I think that we Niseis have a lot of difficulty in -- Niseis will take me to task for this -- a lot of this is due to the fact that we have a very difficult time verbalizing our feelings. And that's one of the ways in which we can work out the grief around all these losses, because we're talking about loss not only through death, but we lost our homes, we lost our, really our identity as good citizens, and we lost our friends, and so it goes on and on and on. And also there is a tremendous amount of... when I say illness, I mean heart as well as cancer. And I feel -- not everyone believes me, agrees with me, but I think a lot of that is caused by the tremendous stresses over the years. And so anyway, I think that the Sanseis are better able to verbalize your feelings as well as your anger and frustrations better than, than we Niseis. And so I'll stop there. [Laughs]

AI: I also wanted to ask you about the connections with the post traumatic stress disorder, whether you saw, in your professional opinion, some impact there, some continuing impact, on the Nisei as a result of incarceration.

CN: Uh-huh. It's just that I can't say that I've done a lot work with Nisei patients, because we do have... well, we keep things to ourselves. But a tremendous amount of -- I'm repeating myself -- the illnesses that we see in the Niseis, I think, is due to what they had to sustain during World War II and afterwards. And though they have been very successful, more than most people, it was at a tremendous cost to their health, too, because we find that -- and of course, people will say it's rampant among the Caucasians as well as the Afro Americans and all -- but I think with us Japanese, we are feeling, still feeling the effects of it. So I'm hoping that you (Sanseis) and the Yonseis will, while you're able to be much more open than we ever will be.

<End Segment 41> - Copyright © 1998 Densho. All Rights Reserved.