Anxiety and Panic

Psychology Around the Net: December 19, 2015


Happy Holiday, Psych Central readers!

OK, so we're technically still in the throes of the holiday season, for those of you who celebrate, but you won't get another Psychology Around the Net until after Christmas -- which means, you need lots of goodies to read until then, right?

Fortunately, we have them for you!

Keep reading to learn about how small talk helps us bond with others, the research related to mental health courts, the one trick to a happy and successful relationship, and more!

See you next week!

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Bullying

I Won’t Make the Same Mistakes My Parents Made

“I will not make the same mistakes my parents made.” It may be one of the most common sentiments in the world of parenting. But when we express this desire, it is often met with rolled eyes or some other doubtful response. Why is that? Deep down inside, I think we all sense it is much more complicated than we are willing to acknowledge.

Changing our parenting approach from the way we were raised is extremely difficult. The only easy solution is to swing the parenting pendulum to the opposite extreme, which does very little to improve the situation.

It is as though we are hardwired to behave in the same manner. In reality, that may be the truth. Our brain has been wired to perceive reality in a certain way.

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Anxiety and Panic

Memory Isn’t Important to Recover from Trauma

Memory comprises all the ins and outs of our lives. We go looking into it for everything from survival to simply making a joke. We use memory every day and sometimes it’s hard to separate the things we’ve done or experienced from our very identity.

For us who survived child abuse, memory isn’t our best friend. Memories may be intrusive. We might flashback suddenly and relive the trauma all over again. We can be well on the road to recovery, and these images and all the feelings they evoke may return.
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Bullying

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Children

The mental health community has come to understand that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be as common in children as in adults. What began as a disorder mostly of combat veterans has been shown to affect numerous trauma survivors across many situations.

Trauma comes in many forms. A child could be traumatized by a major event, such as physical or sexual abuse, a car accident, or by witnessing a horrifying event. Those are the easier ones to identify. But children also can be traumatized from a conglomeration of daily toxic stress, such as living in poverty, constant bullying, or moving to a place much different than their previous geographic location (culture shock).

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Personal

Seeing More Clearly After Trauma and Denial

Have you ever been surprised by watching a movie or television show a decade after you first watched it and saw it in a whole new light? You’re older, you’re in a different place and so the experience of watching that film or show again is different. Different emotions come up, you identify with different characters and notice brand new things in the narrative making it a truly novel experience. It’s like you’re seeing the movie or show for the first time.

If you’re the victim of abuse, seeing an old movie or show can actually be a trigger to those old emotions, and all that emotional pain can come flooding back. But once you begin healing those wounds, the trigger disappears and you begin to see things with new eyes.
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Anxiety and Panic

How Trauma Can Trigger Positive Transformation

There’s a common misconception surrounding trauma. We assume that after someone experiences trauma, they might develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or return to their old life.

But many individuals also experience something else: positive change. In fact, in 1996 psychologists Richard Tedeschi and Lawrence Calhoun coined the term “post-traumatic growth” to describe this phenomenon (in this
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Brain and Behavior

More Basic Information for Trauma Survivors

In my last post I presented reasons why trauma survivors often fail to get the support they need, what it feels like after trauma, how easy it is to misdiagnose trauma, and how valuable psychoeducation can be. In this post I suggest important reminders and a list of things you can do after trauma that will lead you toward trauma integration.

Trauma also brings emergence of new life .

The moment that you experienced trauma, your survival system called upon unused personal resources to help you survive. It continues to do so. Most trauma survivors are barely conscious of the strengths they have already displayed in coping with trauma. These are innate survival instincts that have helped you to hold on to life even at its most challenging. They are an important source of energy in your trauma integration process.

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Depression

Suicide and the Werther Effect: A Message from the Edge

At the close of September, which is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, I learned that suicide rates peak when a celebrity commits suicide. Reviewing posts on social media researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology found “increased suicidal ideation” after the suicide of 10 famous individuals. The increase in suicide after media coverage of suicide, reading about others’ suicide, or the suicide of a close friend or family member is...
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Bullying

Healing Trauma: Victimization Has No Grey Area

"I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it." -- Maya Angelou, Letter to My Daughter
An important step in healing from sexual, physical, and emotional abuse is accepting that it is in fact abuse. There is no grey area. We know on a gut level what abuse is, and we know it is wrong. But for some reason it's hard to accurately identify when it's happening to us. Surely, in our case it’s something different. We think there must be another explanation.

Accepting that we have been abused means having to trust our perception and accept that something horrible has happened to us -- and will change us. It's much easier to see abuse as a grey area, as something "open to interpretation." Although sexual abuse and child abuse are both specifically defined by the American Psychological Association, in my mind there was wiggle room and I didn’t trust myself enough to label it.
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Brain and Behavior

Basic Information for Trauma Survivors

The symptoms of trauma often are mistaken for other disorders. Below is some basic information for trauma survivors and a practical list of things you can do after the trauma.

Trauma affects the nervous system at deep, pre-conscious levels. Traumatic memories are not stored in a place where thought and talk-based mechanisms are managed in the human brain. Trauma seems to be processed mainly by the instinctual part of the brain -- the part that makes you yell and jump a foot into the air when something startles you -- and it also seems to take up long-term residence there.
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Memory and Perception

When Abuse Becomes Denial

“The victim who is able to articulate the situation of the victim has ceased to be a victim: he or she has become a threat.” -- James Baldwin
I used to think that abuse victims who lived in denial of their situations had to know they were in denial. Who could possibly ignore what's happening to them? Who could just pretend that nothing's wrong year after year? From the battered wife who claims "he's a changed man" to the alcoholic who doesn't "have a problem," I thought they had made a concerted effort to ignore reality. And then my own reality hit me.
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Caregivers

Responding to Humanitarian Crises

According to World Vision, more than 12 million are affected by the crisis in Syria. That is far more than those affected by Hurricane Katrina, the Haiti earthquake, and the Indian Ocean tsunami combined.

Recent events remind us of a dark time in Europe when other refugees were denied haven and abandoned to fate. Once again, large numbers of people are targets of violence and trauma. After years of suffering, they have left their homes and everything they love and care for because life has become intolerable. They have endured a hellish journey to find safety. And then they have been greeted by faces and hearts of stone.

Thankfully, it seems that voices of compassion are prevailing and refugees are being allowed to proceed to refuge, as international law guarantees civilians fleeing war.

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