Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Getting to know Author Maria Teresa De Donato

Getting to know Author 
Maria Teresa De Donato


Tiziana Cazziero

Today I am honored to host author Maria Teresa De Donato on my blog. I had the pleasure of having been contacted by her and glad that, after an exchange of messages and emails, I have the chance to tell you about her experience as author. I asked her to tell us something about her and her works.

Maria Teresa, let’s start with you introducing yourself to the readers. Who are you and how did you ended up being involved with the world of books?

Thank you, Tiziana, for this opportunity. I was born and raised in Rome where I graduated as a Technical Expert in Tourism at the T.I.T. “J. F. Kennedy”. After graduation, I enrolled at the University “La Sapienza”, Faculty of Magisterium, Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, which I attended for two years before dropping out since I didn’t find the environment very exciting. From 1980 to 1982, I also studied Journalism at the Scuola Superiore of Journalism “Accademia”, while collaborating at the same time with one of my former professor to the revision of his three-volume series of Touristic Geography of Italy, of Europe and of the World as they used to be in those days. Among the many works and collaborations I had, I eventually got the job at the Department of Health from which I resigned several years later due to my relocation to the United States. Hence, since February 1995, I have been living permanently in America.

I come from a family that loves books and culture. Our home has always been full of books of all sorts and of encyclopedias. Since I was a child I read thousands of books and I wish I would have read many more… had time and circumstances allowed me to do so. My love for reading has always been accompanied by that for writing which led me to resume my journalistic studies in USA where I graduated at the American College of Journalism.

My first articles were published on the school journal In Cammino when I was just a child attending elementary school. Later on, when I was already here in the US, I started an intense writing activity and collaborated with both Italian and American magazines while writing articles of different sorts on a variety of topics; this till 2015 when I decided to publish my very first work The Dynamics of Disease and Healing: The Role that Perception and Beliefs Play In Our Health and Wellness, which is, in fact, my final dissertation that I wrote and defended for my doctoral degree in 2012 at the conclusion of my academic studies.

The main subject you discuss in your works relates to health; why don’t you tell us about you and your relationship with a healthy life and what is your personal experience with this topic?  

For health reasons when I was still in my teen years, I approached holistic therapies understanding that try to suppress disease and symptoms without identifying and removing the root cause that determined them was not the best way to proceed to reach a true and permanent healing and a state of total wellness. It was Homeopathy that opened my eyes on the importance of all this. Furthermore, I come from a family with healthy eating and lifestyle habits and which has always recognized the great importance of natural therapies, of the exercise in the open air and of those that we could define as “Grandma’s remedies.” This does not mean at all that whenever the need required it, we wouldn’t use also traditional therapies based on modern western medicine, but rather that we focused on prevention first.

Personally, given my family cultural background, that I kept treasuring over the years; given my personal experiences as a patient even before those as a holistic health practitioner, as well as given my academic studies and the professional skills I acquired over the years, I have developed the conviction and understanding of the absolute need for mind, body and spirit to be in harmony with each other so that a state of optimum health might be maintained and enjoyed, and whenever already compromised, of the importance to restore a situation of balance to enable the body to recover and to heal. Health is something that needs to be conquered and this is one of the major differences between conventional medicine and natural therapies (holistic, complementary, alternative, integrative or however we may want to define them): the patient who uses exclusively or primarily conventional medicine has, generally speaking, quite passive an attitude and is more inclined to completely rely on physicians and on pharmaceutical drugs. It is not so in the case of those who opt, only or primarily, for natural therapies: in those latter, in fact, the level of awareness, the sense of responsibility and their consequent active participation in embracing healthy eating habits and lifestyle changes and in being architects of the success of their own health prevail. And this is what makes the difference, increasing exponentially the chances of staying healthy and of healing.

Symptoms and disease are not enemies to fight against, but, on the contrary, they are our allies: they are part of our alarm system by means of which our body warns us that the [state of] balance has been compromised and tries to restore it. It helps to understand that changes are needed in our lives… at whatever level and in whatever area that might require it.

As for me, I work a lot, and even more than that, I try to exercise regularly, walking at least one hour each day, practicing yoga, tai chi/qigong and transcendental meditation and, whenever I get the chance, swimming or hiking/trekking on the mountain. I enjoy cooking and eating, but I avoid excess. I am inclined towards a vegetarian diet… and to sleep at least 8 hours per night. I do not smoke, nor do I use drugs.  

My personal health and life experience and, later on, my academic studies in holistic health have been the reason why my first book focused on topics and aspects related to health. I wish, however, to clarify that I do have many interests and that my versatile and eclectic nature leads me to write about a great variety of issues and topics, while approaching them not only from a holistic but also from a multidisciplinary perspective where everything… is linked to all that is… For many years, in fact, and even before getting my degrees in holistic health in the US, I have been working on other publications having different nature, historical-genealogical and fiction, which I hope to finish soon… both in Italian and in English.

What kind of readers might be especially interested in your books and why?

It depends on the book. Some of my books relate to concepts such as health, symptoms, disease, healing, alternative methodologies, the role that our perception and our belief system play in these areas – the book I mentioned before and that right now is available in English language, both in paperback and in kindle version, is a good example. The booklet that I wrote (2015 and 2016) specifically focuses on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and is already available both in paperback and in kindle version, both in English and in Italian. DARE to RISE (2016), that I coauthor, is a book of self-development/coaching that examines several areas of life – love, family, relationships in general, work environment – along with awareness/consciousness, the ongoing shift, and much more from a holistic and multidisciplinary perspective. The last book I wrote, Hunting for the TREE of LIFE (2016), that I am also coauthoring, it’s a work having a more religious and spiritual nature. It examines some topics raising some questions while exploring sacred texts, such as the Bible, not necessarily as “God’s Word” (a definition not everybody might agree with), but rather as historical books that offer the possibility for a discussion with the reader… leaving then the latter with the freedom to choose what to believe in. From this point of view, in fact, my coauthor and I come from a very different religious and spiritual background. She is, in fact, a very religious person while I, on the contrary, consider myself more an individual naturally inclined towards spiritual matters. This leads us to see some aspects, even fundamental ones, in a different way. However, it has been this very difference, along with the love and respect we have for each other, that has made it possible for us to write a book together which we are very happy for. Having said that, whenever we happened not to agree on the subject, we have introduced them as hypothesis A) and B), both valid, and we have left the reader with the possibility to elaborate their own opinion on the matter.  The book can be read by anyone and has been intended as an invitation to put aside all our religious, spiritual and faith-related differences in the attempt to overcome the barriers that divide humanity in this regard, with the understanding that we all recognize (at least for those who do so) that we all originate from a Superior Intelligence that regulates everything and is the cause of everything, regardless of how one might see or call It/Him/Her – God, Yahweh Adonai, Jehovah, Allah, the Field, the Supreme Consciousness, the Universal Mind, the Dynamic Energy or else.

Also the books I wrote about the holistic approach to health can be read by everyone since their goal is not to change anybody’s beliefs but rather to inform the readers about natural therapies which can be as valid as the conventional ones when it comes to health and wellness, and that do not need to be necessarily viewed as “alternative” but can also be integrated and complement the traditional ones… . This is, however, quite complex a topic, which we may need to come back to and deepen into maybe in our upcoming interview… .

The book of coaching, DARE to RISE, which right now is available only in English, it’s a book I believe everybody can appreciate and be motivated by. It encourages self-examination, awareness development and the application of Love, not necessarily the Eros one, which characterizes a couple’s relationship, but rather and above all the Agape one, that is, Unconditional, Universal Love we all should experience towards everybody else and that is the only force able to really change ourselves and, as consequence, the entire world.

Author of books but also Blogger: Let’s talk about your activity on the web.      

As I have already mentioned, while already in the US, I graduated with a Bachelor, a Master and a Doctoral degree in Holistic Health, and specializations in Naturopathy, both western and eastern Nutrition and Herbalism (thus including Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine), as well as in Classical Hahnemannian Homeopathy.  After that I pursued also Certifications in Anger Management, Conflict Analysis, and in Negotiation and Conflict Management that have refined my coaching skills, along with many other courses that I took each year to keep up with my profession and that are required for the renewal of my memberships to the various associations/organizations I belong to.

Having said that, I consider myself above all an Educator and, therefore, I see educating and informing people as my first responsibilities. My blog  has been intended as a window onto the world, open to the public; as a journal where I write – in Italian, English and German – about topics and experiences that can be beneficial to the readers in every area of their lives, regardless of the specific circumstances they find themselves in. I have also an official web site in English language which relates to my activity as a Naturopath, Homeopath and Life Strategist   whose Italian version can be read on my site   along with two blogs, one in English   and one in Italian    which relate only to homeopathy and finally  , a blog focused on my activity as a writer, and which, for the time being is only in English.

Furthermore, I am very active on several socials, such as Facebook, Linkedin, Google+ and many more, where I regularly publish my own material or that from other sources which I consider informative and useful to the readers.

While reading your biography I discovered a book on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: Conquering the Invisible; how did you come up with the idea of writing a book on this problem that each year afflicts each thousands of people worldwide? I am sure many readers might be wondering about your competencies in this matter; would you like to talk about this in a more detailed way? Feel free to elaborate…

Conquering the Invisible – Holistic Approach to PTSD (Post-traumatic Stress Disorder) is a booklet I dedicated to the memory of my father Vincenzo who suffered from it all his life. In his case the PTSD was the consequence of some emotional traumas due to the premature loss of his mother when he was a child and to the Anglo-American heavy aerial bombardments occurred during World War Two when his family moved from Rome to Liguria – headquarters of the weapons industries where my grandfather – who was a Colonel – worked a few years as the Commander of the barracks.

Unfortunately, PTSD is a condition that each year affects several thousands of people, regardless of the kind of trauma that might determine it (whether war, physical, psychological or mental violence, incest, rape or else) and it must be diagnosed in order to deal with it properly and treat it or at least to try and manage it the best possible way so that one might have a life as normal as possible.

As a Naturopath and Homeopath, I wrote this booklet to let the general public, as well as the victims of PTSD and their families, know about the existence of the so many holistic modalities and activities and initiatives that can be employed to facilitate the recovery of the patient and of their physical, psychological and mental conditions and, consequently, even their healing, whenever possible, or at least the improvement of their life situation, of their own existence.

This work of mine is above all the result of my personal experience I had with my father who suffered from it and who, by denying even to himself to have a problem, tried to manage his emotional traumas by the use of alcohol, this making his own life and that of the whole family a living hell. PTSD does not affect only the single individual who is victim of it, but rather the entire family. Having personally experienced this enables me to perfectly understand not only the dynamics of PTSD per se but also the problems that both the patients affected by it and their beloved ones might face.

This booklet is intended as an aid for, as an invitation to all those who are affected by PTSD and their families to acquire more knowledge and awareness of the so many natural therapies and activities available that can surely help the recovery, when not even the healing. By means of it I say: “It is absolutely a must that PTSD be diagnosed as such; that a therapy be started and regularly followed – regardless of its typology – whether through mainstream or complementary medicine or through the integration of the two modalities. If you are already following a pharmaceutical drug therapy, please be aware that there are so many other things that you can personally do and that can help you to speed up your recovery; that might allow you to have a greater control on your health if you play a more active and a more responsible role in it and that it will bear its fruits for sure, regardless of the extent of the improvement which is extremely subjective and that no one can predict let alone guarantee – neither a physician nor a naturopath or a homeopath.”

Playing an active role in one’s own health is absolutely necessary to improve the perception of the reality one lives and, consequently, also one’s own circumstances. A positive mental and psychological attitude promotes also physical wellness. In recent years even mainstream medicine has finally reached this conclusion.

As long as the patient relies completely and exclusively on pharmaceutical therapies and on their physician… he or she will always see and perceive him/herself as a victim and completely powerless when facing certain events. Feeling oneself as an integral and active part of one’s own healing process truly represents a turning point in the person’s life and in their recovery at whatever level that might be.

Your books, the ones that are online and written in English, will they be available also in Italian language? 

It is my desire to give also the Italian public the possibility to read the works that I have written and that at the moment are available only in English. Time permitting, I hope to be able to work soon on their Italian version. The booklet on PTSD is already available, as I previously mentioned, both in English and in Italian, in both versions, paperback and kindle.

Some other books being of historical-genealogical and fiction nature which I have been working on for several years during my free time will be published first in Italian language. I hope to be able to complete my fiction novel and make it available to the public by the end of this year.

Hence, I invite all our readers to check the evolving of my activity on my Amazon Author Page at   and to follow me.

In your texts you mention the difference between Disease, Sickness and Illness, a very interesting and very current topic. Today, many people are looking for information on the web to help themselves with the diagnosis and to understand certain body symptoms. Could you help these readers by briefly explaining the differences among these classifications?

Certainly, it’s a pleasure. However, before answering your question I wish to clarify a point: although I am not a physician and I deal with natural therapies, therefore, nutrition, herbalism and homeopathy, and in my practice I apply principles of Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine, I do recognize the importance of modern western medicine. And what I also mean by saying that is that the diagnosis must absolutely be made by a physician. Once the diagnosis has been made, then the person can collect more information about the variety of modalities that can help his or her case and decide what path to follow, whether the traditional or a different one. I, however, invite all who might read [our interview] to avoid and make a self-diagnosis. Many symptoms can be similar or even appear equal to those we might experience and, nonetheless, characterize conditions and even disease very different from ours. The diagnosis can and should be made only by a licensed physician. Trying to make a self-diagnosis without the ability or the skills to do so can be very dangerous and may end up with us compromising our health to a much greater extent.

We may also want to remember that natural remedies, such as herbs, for instance, although extremely useful and effective in treating disease, are also very powerful. The fact that a remedy is “natural” that doesn’t mean at all that it cannot cause damage when given to the wrong person or in the wrong circumstance or in an excessive dosage. Some herbs cannot be prescribed to a person who suffers from high blood pressure or who has other ongoing medical conditions, or to a pregnant woman, etc. And this is just to mention a couple of examples. Furthermore, we also need to be very careful when it comes to the possible interaction between herbs and pharmaceutical drugs. For these reasons, the questionnaires that my clients fill in before a consultancy are very detailed and allow me to have quite an accurate clinical picture of the person, which includes potential genetic predispositions along with informing me about which medical and pharmaceutical treatments they are following at the moment or have followed in the past. 

On the contrary, when it comes to the holistic approach, the naturopath or homeopath does not focus on symptoms and disease per se but rather he or she examines the individual and their specific circumstances at 360°, while trying to identify the root cause that might have triggered the health issue.

Now, to reply to your question…

In our modern language, these three terms – Disease, Sickness and Illness – are perceived by most people as being interchangeable, equivalent to each other. However, if we research deeper into the lexicon, we might discover that, since ancient times, these terms have indicated different conditions.

The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia gives us a good example when under “disease” explains that this term “implies any condition which interferes with normal body function and usually indicates infectious diseases, which are caused by pathogenic microbial agents like viruses, bacteria, fungi, protozoa, while infections that do not compromise body function are not considered diseases.”

The words “disease” and “sickness” translated from ancient Hebrew and ancient Greek, and included in the Bible (chalah; choli and nosos) indicate that while disease and sickness encompass either physiological or psychiatric disorders and are caused by biological, chemical, genetics and immunity or metabolic disturbances, and, therefore, are objectively diagnosable, the term “illness”, on the other hand, refers to the feeling of pains, discomfort and uneasiness that the individual may experience and which may appear as disease symptoms, or not, despite the individual feeling sick. Simply stated: [in the latter case] one can feel ill and even experience symptoms similar to those of a disease, but that clinical tests do not prove they have, that are not objectively diagnosable, hence, even if they are ill… they are not considered as being sick or having a disease.

Something that caught my attention while studying your biography is the explanation of the concept of Shadow and of Personality Types. I am sure this is something many readers might be interested in; what are we exactly talking about?

The famous Swiss psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung, father of Analytical Psychology, states that the process of individualization, which consists in integrating both conscious and unconscious, is absolutely necessary for the individual to become a whole. When this integration does not occur, all thoughts, feelings, instincts and weaknesses that the individual denies to recognize in him or herself and, therefore, to accept, are confined to that area of the unconscious mind that Jung calls “Shadow”. All that is confined to the shadow does not disappear, but rather forms a negative presence, an accumulation of repressed negative energies that sooner or later manifest in the form of symptoms and then most likely as disease.

To be healthy, therefore, we need to ‘metabolize’ thoughts, feelings, weaknesses and whatever else we might not like about ourselves, accept their existence, work on them, but never try to repress them.

The theory of psychological personality types that Jung published in his work Psychological Types (1921) has inspired the Myers-Briggs Indicator (MBTI); according to specific characteristics linked to the individual’s cognitive functions, Myers and Briggs came up with a classification that can be approximately summarized as follows:

-         Extroverted and Introverted, depending on the way the individual interacts (or not interacts) with the outside world;

-         Sensing and Intuition, depending on the perceptive functions that prevail in them;

-         Thinking and Feeling, depending on their judging functions.

On the contrary, the Jacob Goldsmith theory, which is also employed in psychology, divides the individuals in Type A, Type B, and Type AB although some psychologists have also added Type C and Type D to it.

To summarize, we can say that each type has its own specific characteristics which, generally speaking, make the individual inclined to specific behaviors, which in turn make them prone to incur in certain health problems and/or diseases.

It is also true, however, that many among us end up embodying a combination of psychological types while some have characteristics prevailing in a specific type (we are referring here to percentage) which make them identify with one specific psychological type. This, of course, when speaking in general terms, because in reality, and despite the classifications that psychology made (but this also applies to science and medicine, in general, for instance when referring to which blood group we might belong to) each of us is a Universe on its own and, therefore, each case needs to be evaluated individually and at any given time.  According to Homeopathy, in fact, the same individual can change several times throughout his/her life and, consequently, can be identified, over time, with a different Constitutional Type compared to that he or she used to in the past… .
For those who might enjoy taking some personality tests I suggest searching on Google (Myers-Briggs Test) and giving them a try. It might also be useful, in my opinion, to repeat the same test months or years later and verify if the result is still the same or if the personality type we belong(ed) according to the test has changed.

What is the placebo effect? Can our belief of healing through a treatment really represent an effective solution? Many people hear about this but then one wonders what it really is and why people are talking so much about it? What is your personal opinion on the matter?

A placebo is a therapy by means of which a substance with no active ingredients is given to the patient while it is presented as it had effective pharmaceutical and healing properties.

Let’s use an example to understand how it works.

When a drug is still being tested it is offered to the public and those who decide to take part to the research are divided – without them knowing it – into two groups: the treatment group, whose members will receive the substance the research is based upon (that is the true pharmaceutical drug) and the controlled group, whose members will receive a placebo, that is, a substance – a tablet, a capsule or else – that will appear just like the true drug given to the members of the other group, but that, on the contrary, will contain no active ingredient.

Several experimental researches have shown that individuals who were in the control group, and who consequently received a placebo, saw their health conditions improve when not even heal (at least in some cases).
The question one might ask is therefore: If in their case, no substance containing the active ingredient was given and yet the conditions of the individual, nonetheless, improved or even disappeared, what is that really determined such an improvement or even healing?

And here we enter the world of the invisible, of the non-physical, non-material, of the ability of the mind, of the conscious and subconscious, of the power of suggestion, of the biology of perceptions and of beliefs which would require more time to be explained and that I shall be very happy to discuss in a second interview…

The topics are many and I am sure that this opportunity is not sufficient to explore all of them in details; if there is something else you would like to add, here you have the choice; you can add whatever information you might consider useful and which have not been mentioned yet.

Thank you, Tiziana, for this opportunity. Previously, I have already indicated the links to my sites, blogs and to my publications along with some of the social platforms I use and through which those who are following us can contact me. I just wish to add that my holistic practice takes place only by means of videoconferences and emails and that I do not receive in person. No need to say that the questionnaires that need to be filled in for my consultancies as well as the videoconferences are available also in Italian language.

Those who wish to contact me for health or for any other reason related to a specific area of their life – relationship, work, education – can do so by sending me an email at or  being specific about their problem and relying on a first online contact of 15 minutes which is completely free of charge in order to get to know each other.

Payments are made in advance via PayPal.

The videoconferences can be made by using Skype (dedoholistic), Facebook Messenger, Google Hangouts, or Zoom, which are all free platforms, and they only require to open an account, that is to register with them.

I am available for whatever clarification or information.

Thank you

Thank you, Tiziana, for giving me this opportunity.

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