Violence and Aggression Articles

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.

Violence Against Women: The Washington Post’s Sad, Sloppy Journalism

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

Violence Against Women: The Washington Post's Sad, Sloppy JournalismOne would hope that one of the last bastion’s of good journalism wouldn’t just publish some researchers’ thoughts on a topic without vetting the research they’re based upon. Not at the Washington Post.

In an article originally entitled, “One way to end violence against women? Stop taking lovers and get married,” researchers Robin Wilson and W. Bradford Wilcox decided to ignore all the other risk factors research has identified for partner violence against women and focus only on one of them.

In doing so, the scientists seemed to have purposely painted a biased, blurry picture of what we know about violence against women — especially in partner relationships.

The Psychology of Elliot Rodger

Tuesday, June 10th, 2014

The Psychology of Elliot RodgerI’m a bit scared to admit that I actually wasn’t shocked when I watched Elliot Rodger’s now-infamous YouTube video. I was horrified, to be sure, but not surprised.

You would think that it’s unnatural not to feel shock when watching a video of an intelligent, articulate young man relish describing his plan to “slaughter” all of the “girls” in the “hottest sorority.”

But these types of desperate, vengeful fantasies have become familiar to me in my line of work. I have, with some frequency, sat in my therapy office and listened to similar sentiments expressed by more than a few patients over the past several years. There are many more Elliot Rodgers in our country than we’d like to believe.

Where Do Bullies Come From?

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

Where Do Bullies Come From?I don’t write about my experiences with bullying very often. Maybe I have internalized society’s beliefs that I should have stood up for myself in middle and high school, especially when my peers were doing the bullying. Maybe the shame is more significant because this time, the abusers were my age.

Maybe the messages about “asking for it” are still driving my interpretation of the situation. Sometimes it is even hard for me to believe that I could be subjected to so much cruelty by so many heartless people. I felt as though I was a magnet for abuse.

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