Violence and Aggression Articles

Pumpkin Fest Madness & the Age of Narcissism

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

pumpkin-fest-madness-age-narcissism“It’s just like a rush. You’re revolting from the cops … It’s a blast to do things that you’re not supposed to do.”
– Steven French, age 18 [1]

When I first saw the headline — “Pumpkin Festival Riot” — I thought it might be a parody, along the lines of spoofs published by The Onion.

But it was all too true: there really was a riot at the “Pumpkin Festival” held Oct. 19th, 2014 in Keene, New Hampshire. What is it about a small-town annual festival that has turned it into a chance to party — and riot? Does it say something about changing societal norms?

Love Crimes: When the Abused Believe It’s for Their Own Good

Monday, October 13th, 2014

Love CrimesOne of the most nurturing, compassionate women I know is also an abused wife who once shared her biggest regret. Did she regret staying with her abusive husband? No. The most regretful day of her life was when she phoned the police after he physically assaulted her yet again.

“I ruined his life,” she said. “It’s the biggest mistake I ever made.” Immune to any reason, she pressed on, blaming herself for the “humiliation he had to endure” at anger management classes, the draining of her family’s resources on lawyer fees and the indelible black mark “she caused” on his otherwise spotless veneer.

Anger Detection and the Brain

Saturday, October 11th, 2014

angry woman screaming man 2When Greta gets angry, Dave has noticed that she tends to be quiet, almost stoic. Greta can detect slight changes in Dave’s tone of voice that signal to her he is angry. Couples like us can learn to be extremely sensitive to signs of anger in their partners, because understanding your partner’s emotional state helps you decide how to respond.

It’s also important to be able to detect anger in strangers — in some cases, your very life might depend on it! Over the years, lots of research on anger has focused on facial expressions. While “anger” does have a characteristic facial expression that is readily detected, there’s plenty of other evidence we can use to decide if someone is angry, like Dave’s tone of voice and Greta’s silence. Until the past decade, however, very little research had been conducted on another important component of anger detection: Body position and movements.

Childhood PTSD: Spanking Is Not ‘About Love,’ It’s About Rage

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014

early-start-for-kids-with-autismMy first memory is of being spanked. I was 3 years old, and I didn’t know what I had done wrong. All I know is that it made me terrified of my father and forever doubtful of my safety in my home.

Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was recently suspended after he was charged with reckless or negligent injury of a child after allegedly spanking his 4-year-old son with a switch. Peterson’s mother Bonita Jackson told the Houston Chronicle that spanking “is not about abuse”:

How to Be Real Without Being Mean

Sunday, September 14th, 2014

What is Anger?The mantra to “get real” has become popular nowadays — and for good reason. We live in a society where images rule and authenticity is reserved for blue jeans and ethnic recipes. We’re trained to polish and parade a false self that we think will garner acceptance and accolades.

The isolation and disconnection that’s rampant in our society is based on a disconnection from our own genuine feelings and longings. We’re afraid to show what’s real, including our fears, insecurities, and yearning for love and intimacy. Instead, we may try to project a confident, self-assured, unruffled self that we think will win us friends and gain success. For example, we might conceal our hurt or sadness when our partner is late. Our built-up disappointment or resentment might leak out later over something trivial, which leaves our partner confused.

The Psychology of Personal Space: Seat Reclining

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014

The Psychology of Personal Space: Seat Reclining

Over the past few weeks, we’ve heard more and more accounts of airline flights being diverted because of an argument over reclining seats. Reclining seats are obviously not the problem — they’ve been available on most airlines’ flights for the past five decades.

The problem is that as airlines seek to eek out every dollar of profit from your pocket, many have decided to reduce the space between seats, making your personal space up to an inch smaller than it was just a year or two ago. The person in front of you trying to recline their seat isn’t to blame — the airline you’ve chosen to purchase a ticket from is.

But all of this really a battle over personal space. And no battle may be more emotionally involving than this one.

Building Empowerment After Sexual Assault

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

Building Empowerment After Sexual AssaultHealing from sexual assault is a process, and recovery is different for everyone. When working with clients who have been sexually assaulted, I attempt to provide some general guidelines that may prove useful in their individual journeys.

The healing process is multifaceted. It involves:

1. Asserting boundaries related to disclosure.
2. Assigning accountability to the perpetrator.
3. Managing self-blame.
4. Realizing that many people lack education or experience related to dealing with survivors.

Mass Shooters = Mental Illness?

Sunday, June 29th, 2014

Mass Shooters = Mental Illness?In the wake of yet another mass school shooting, we mourn. We are angry. Why is this happening in our country? What is going on? And yet, as I flip on my television — what do I see? It’s certainly not anything about gun control or raising children properly, but alas, mental illness.

No one is disputing that our mental health system is a wreck. I know from firsthand experience that it is a travesty. I must admit, however, that the media’s portrayal of these shooters is uncomfortable and offensive.

Adverse Childhood Experiences Affect Adult Behaviors

Saturday, June 28th, 2014

Adverse Childhood Experiences Affect Adult BehaviorsAdverse childhood experiences negatively affect adult life, says a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). One in four young adults were severely maltreated during childhood and approximately half of adults in England have suffered an adverse experience during their childhood.

Roughly one in ten adults have experienced four or more adverse childhood experiences. There are many forms of childhood adversity, ranging from physical abuse to emotional neglect.

Delusional Thinking 101: How Blaming Mental Illness Won’t Help Stop Mass Shootings

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

Delusional Thinking 101: How Blaming Mental Illness Won't Help Stop Mass ShootingsWe’ve written in the past how there’s is a real delusional disconnect between the desire to act to stop future mass shootings, and people constantly pointing the finger at mental illness as being the root of the problem.

I say “delusional” because the leap of logic it takes to utter statements like, “mentally ill people only account for a small fraction of the gun deaths in America every year” and “the vast majority of those gun deaths are suicide, not homicide,” and then to blame such violence on mental illness is mind-boggling. I just cannot understand it.

Yet that’s exactly what Mel Robbins over at CNN has done. She says “don’t blame the NRA” for these shootings. I say, stop blaming people with mental illness too.

Social-Emotional Learning is a Must to Reduce Bullying

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

Social-Emotional Learning is a Must to Reduce BullyingI’ve heard it said too many times: Social and emotional learning shouldn’t be taught at school because that’s a job for parents.

Good in theory, but in reality, there are many children who lack supportive, loving and safe home environments that promote good values. Instead, these children often experience an ugly side of life that can have a devastating effect on their character and development.

‘We Would Need a Monument 5 Times Bigger than the Vietnam Memorial’

Thursday, June 12th, 2014

need-monument-vietnam-memorial

We can do more to prevent gun-related mental health deaths. But probably not the deaths you’re thinking of.

You’re probably thinking of all those high-profile, media-driven mass shootings that apparently are becoming more and more common. You might even think the shooter’s mental health is a big component of identifying and preventing similar future shootings.

But the title of this headline isn’t referring to just those deaths. It’s referring to the estimated 300,000 people killed by gunshot wounds in the past decade that were due to mental illness.

And the reason so few people care about these deaths? Because the vast majority of them — more than 95 percent — are suicides.

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