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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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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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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Brain and Behavior

Surviving Abuse: Rejecting the Scarcity Lie

Survivors of abuse often live a life plagued with scarcity. We were taught at a young age that we weren’t enough, there wasn’t enough and life would not provide enough for us in the future. When we suffer financial abuse or trafficking, things are often worse. We can believe we have a finite worth, we are a commodity, and we have already expended that worth. All these beliefs leave very little hope for an abundant future.

My relationship with money has been a struggle for my entire life. I always made enough to survive when I worked in the corporate world. As I have started working for myself, I have come face-to-face with my monetary dysfunction. The lack of stability, the self-doubt and the intense commitment required make it scary on the good days.

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Anxiety and Panic

The Science Behind PTSD Symptoms: How Trauma Changes The Brain

After any type of trauma (from combat to car accidents, natural disasters to domestic violence, sexual assault to child abuse), the brain and body change. Every cell records memories and every embedded, trauma-related neuropathway has the opportunity to repeatedly reactivate.

Sometimes the alterations these imprints create are transitory, the small glitch of disruptive dreams and moods that subside in a few weeks. In other situations the changes evolve into readily apparent symptoms that impair function and present in ways that interfere with jobs, friendships and relationships.
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Brain and Behavior

The Perfection in Being

When I was growing up, my parents wanted me to be perfect. They were very clear that I must exceed all standards. They wanted me to have perfect grades, perfect looks, perfect extracurricular activities. They pressured me to be the picture of everything society wanted from a human being.

This expectation created a storm inside me. I was sure I was none of those things. I had been abused long enough to know I had no real worth. I was sure I had nothing to offer the world. I was an imposter. I had no value to add to the human race. I was only here to be victimized.
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Psychology Around the Net: June 13, 2015

Learn about the summer version of seasonal affective disorder, how creative people might carry genes for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, the importance of proper nutrition regarding mental health, and more in this week's Psychology Around the Net.

Does Summer Make You Depressed? Although we often associate seasonal affective disorder (SAD) with the winter months, it actually affects some people during the summer months, with symptoms such as decreased appetites and insomnia.

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