It was Friday, New Years’ Eve morning, December 31, 2021. The sun was shining, but the wind was gusting. I was walking my dog when I noticed a cloud of smoke in the distance. I thought nothing of it because it appeared to be a grass fire. After my dog completed her business, we headed back to my condo. It was astonishing how fast the smoke covered the neighborhood. As I sat at my desk, I noticed my eyes became irritated, and the smell of smoke filled the apartment. When I looked out my window, I was shocked to see black smoke over the entire neighborhood. Soon, there was a pounding at my door. The police politely but firmly ordered me out of the condo when I opened it. My neighbors were also in the corridor. All of us went back inside to gather a few things, and we left the condominium complex.
These same neighbors drove us to Erie, a distance from the fires and smoke. We were on the way to my daughter’s house as they did the same. As we drove, we somberly viewed the dark smoke and flames. All of us were grateful to have escaped what turned out to be a major disaster.
We learned later that the county lost 1,000 homes were in flames. So miraculously, only two fatalities resulted from something that could easily take thousands of lives. However, the shock and trauma were unbearable.
Understanding the emotions and normal responses that follow a disaster or other traumatic event can help you cope with your feelings, thoughts, and behaviors.
Recovering emotionally from disaster
From The American Psychological Association, 2013
Disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes, transportation accidents, or wildfires are typically unexpected, sudden, and overwhelming. There are no outwardly visible signs of physical injury for many people, but there can be an emotional toll. It is common for people who have experienced disaster to have strong emotional reactions. Understanding responses to distressing events can help you cope effectively with your feelings, thoughts, and behaviors and help you along the path to recovery.
What are common reactions and responses to disaster?
Following a disaster, people frequently feel stunned, disoriented, or unable to integrate distressing information. However, once these initial reactions subside, people can experience a variety of thoughts and behaviors.
Typical responses can be:
- Intense or unpredictable feelings. You may be anxious, nervous, overwhelmed, or grief-stricken. You may also feel more irritable or moody than usual.
- Changes to thoughts and behavior patterns. You might have repeated and vivid memories of the event. These memories may occur for no apparent reason and may lead to physical reactions such as rapid heartbeat or sweating. It may not be easy to concentrate or make decisions. Sleep and eating patterns also can be disrupted. Some people may overeat and oversleep, while others experience a loss of sleep and appetite.
- Sensitivity to environmental factors. Sirens, loud noises, burning smells, or other environmental sensations may stimulate memories of the disaster, creating heightened anxiety. These “triggers” may accompany fears that the stressful event may repeat.
- Strained interpersonal relationships. Increased conflict, such as frequent disagreements with family members and coworkers, can occur. You might also become withdrawn, isolated, or disengaged from your usual social activities.
- Stress-related physical symptoms. Headaches, nausea, and chest pain may occur and require medical attention. Preexisting medical conditions could be affected by disaster-related stress.
How do I cope?
Fortunately, research shows that most people are resilient and can bounce back from tragedy over time. It is common for people to experience stress in the immediate aftermath. Still, most people can resume functioning as before the disaster within a few months. It is important to remember that resilience and recovery are the norms, not prolonged distress.
There are several steps people can take to build emotional well-being and gain a sense of control following a disaster, including the following:
- Survivors need time to adjust and anticipate that this will be a difficult time in the lives of survivors. Allow yourself to mourn the losses you have experienced and try to be patient with changes in your emotional state.
- Ask for support from people who care about you and who will listen and empathize with your situation. Social support is a crucial component of disaster recovery. Family and friends can be vital resources. You can find support and common ground from those who’ve also survived the disaster. You may also want to reach out to others not involved who may provide more significant support and objectivity.
- Communicate your experience. People need to express what they are feeling in whatever ways they feel comfortable, such as talking with family or close friends, keeping a diary, or engaging in a creative activity.
- Find a local support group led by appropriately trained and experienced professionals. Support groups are frequently available for survivors. Group discussion can help survivors realize that they are not alone in their reactions and emotions. Support group meetings can be beneficial for people with limited personal support systems.
- Engage in healthy behaviors to enhance your ability to cope with excessive stress. Eat well-balanced meals and get plenty of rest. If you experience ongoing difficulties with sleep, you may be able to find some relief through relaxation techniques. Avoid alcohol and drugs because they can be a numbing diversion that could detract from and delay active coping and moving forward from the disaster.
- Establish or reestablish routines. Routines can include eating meals regularly, sleeping and waking on a regular cycle, or following an exercise program. Build positive ways to have something to look forward to during these distressing times, like pursuing a hobby, walking through an attractive park or neighborhood, or reading a good book.
- Avoid making major life decisions. Switching careers or jobs and other essential decisions tend to be highly stressful in their own right and even harder to take on when someone is recovering from a disaster.
When to seek professional help?
Persistent feelings of distress or hopelessness and you feel like you can barely get through your daily responsibilities and activities, consult with a licensed mental health professional such as a psychologist. Psychologists have the training to help people address emotional reactions to disasters such as disbelief, stress, anxiety, and grief and make a plan for moving forward.
I’m So Bored!
Have you ever heard this plaintive cry or uttered it yourself? This lament about boredom affects young or old alike. Unfortunately, however, we do not know about it, except boredom is very unpleasant. So, what is boredom, what seems to cause it, and what can we do about it?
According to the Oxford American Dictionary, second edition, the word bored “is a feeling of being weary because one is unoccupied or lacks interest in their current activity.” Another definition of “bored” is a “feeling” of having nothing to do. The word “feeling” in the last sentence is in quotes because boredom is subjective and in the person’s conscious experience. In other words, if two people attend a lecture and one is bored and falls asleep. Still, the other one is fascinated. It means that they each have a different and subjective reaction to the same experience. Due to feeling bored, one person cannot focus their attention on the lecture and gradually fall asleep, unlike the political science class I took in undergraduate school many years ago. Others in the class were fascinated, but I could barely keep my eyes open.
What Causes Boredom?
It has never been clear what causes boredom, but many theories and explanations exist. Speculation has it that some people crave a lot of external stimulation to prevent boredom. The particular type of external stimulation will vary from one individual to the next. For instance, those extroverted people are very successful in finding people to speak to and avert becoming bored. The constant stimulation from the successful ways they interact with people is a continuous source of them. However, introverted people may have more of a problem finding motivation because socializing with people does not come so quickly to them.
Some researchers believe that some people experience boredom out of an inability to know what they are feeling and what they want. Alexithymia is the inability to understand what one’s feelings are.
People who experience alexithymia lack a fantasy and dream life or cannot remember their dreams. If they remember them, they have no way of explaining or imagining what they might mean. One does not have to experience alexithymia in its full-blown flatness. Still, the inability to know what one prefers to do is a similar type of thing. In other words, it is the inability to know what to do, what might feel good, or to have any hobbies, interests, or enjoyments that leads to the feeling of being bored.
One theory of boredom comes from psychoanalysis. The theory states that boredom is anger and hostility that a person turns against the self, resulting in boredom.
Many professionals in substance abuse state that boredom is one catalyst for drug and alcohol abuse. The big book of Alcoholics Anonymous suggests that yearning or wanting, along with bored feelings, leads the alcoholic to drink. Using a similar explanation, many teenagers turn to drugs and alcohol out of boredom at home and in school.
Many years ago, I suggested that adolescents feel bored because their metabolism operates more quickly than during adulthood. The supposed result is that young people experience time passing very slowly. Supposedly, as we age, metabolism slows with the result that time seems to pass more quickly. Well, I do not know if a slowed metabolism is why time seems to fly by so fast for me, but it certainly seems to move at an ever-quickening pace, and many of my peers agree.
Addiction specialists believe that boredom can be a symptom of depression. The lack of interest in anything is the withdrawal from the world due to feelings of hopelessness and helplessness. In addition, a lack of stimulation in the environment can promote boredom among small children because their natural curiosity and need to explore are not satisfied.
Finally, in school, classes that are either too difficult or too easy for a child or adult can lead to boredom. For example, those who are incredibly bright and have high IQs can feel bored if the content of the lessons is not stimulating because they are too easy. On the opposite side of the spectrum, classes that are too challenging for students can lead to boredom because what they are learning is beyond their ability or readiness to master the content.
What to do?
Suppose you have a chronic sense of boredom or a child who complains about boredom at home or school. In that case, you need to explore the possibility of depression or something else causing that uncomfortable feeling. For example, if your child is bored in school, they might be in the incorrect class. While many children complain about boring school, they should not dismiss it. Many youngsters are unwilling to talk about what is bothering them at school. Perhaps there is a bully the youngster fears to discuss or due to classes being too easy or hard. A fear of talking about “I am bored” can represent many things, especially when a child constantly repeats it.
There is always the possibility of consulting a mental health professional for yourself or your child if boredom continues unabated.
If you give it some thought, you realize we go through two childhoods in our lives. The first childhood is ours, but the second is our children’s. Unfortunately, both stages of life are filled with perils. Unfortunately, the dangers are often the result of parenting style.
Children take for granted that their parents love them. If that love is apparent, children form secure attachments to both mother and father. This leads to an adulthood in which the man and woman approach the world with confidence and security. They form romantic relationships with someone from a significant other. These secure men and women also form long-term friendships, excellent and rewarding careers, and explore the world with a sense of wonder.
Tragically, not all parents are loving, not even mothers.
The Impact on Children of Chronic Arguing, Conflict and Authoritarianism in the Home.
According to the American Psychological Association, the definition of parenting is:
All actions related to the raising of offspring
Researchers describe different human parenting styles—how parents interact with their children—with most classifications varying on the dimensions of emotional and control.
One of the most influential of these classifications is that of U.S. developmental psychologist Diana Baumrind, involving four types of parenting styles:
1. authoritarian parenting, in which the parent or caregiver stresses obedience, deemphasizes collaboration and dialogue, and employs strong forms of punishment.
2. authoritative parenting, in which the parent or caregiver encourages a child’s autonomy, still places certain behavioral limitations.
3. permissive parenting, the parent or caregiver accepts and makes few demands and avoids exercising control.
4. rejecting, neglecting is the unsupportive parent, who fails to monitor or limit behavior, and is more attentive to their needs than the child.
Attachment Styles in Greater Detail
A child who is securely attached to its mother will explore freely. In contrast, the mother is present, engages with strangers, is visibly upset when the mother departs and is happy to see the mother return.
Securely attached children are best able to explore when they know a secure base to return to in times of need. When assistance is given, this bolsters the sense of security. Also, assuming the mother is helpful, educate the child on coping with the same problem in the future. Therefore, secure Attachment can be seen as the most adaptive attachment style.
According to some psychological researchers, a child becomes securely attached when the mother is available and able to meet the child’s needs responsively and appropriately. However, others have pointed out that there are also other determinants of the child’s Attachment and that the parent’s behavior may, in turn, be influenced by the child’s behavior.
Anxious-ambivalent insecure Attachment
A child with an anxious-resistant attachment style is anxious about exploration and strangers, even when the mother is present. When the mother departs, the child is highly distressed. The child will be ambivalent when she returns, seeking to remain close to the mother but resentful and resistant when she initiates attention.
According to some psychological researchers, this style develops from a mothering style that is engaged but on the mother’s own terms. Sometimes the child’s needs are ignored until some other activity is completed. That attention is sometimes given to the child more through the parent’s needs than from the child’s initiation.
Anxious-avoidant insecure Attachment
A child with an anxious-avoidant attachment style will avoid or ignore the mother – showing little emotion when the mother departs or returns. The child will not explore very much regardless of who is there. Strangers will not be treated much differently from the mother. There is not much emotional range displayed irrespective of who is in the room or empty.
This style of Attachment develops from a mothering style that is more disengaged. As a result, the child’s needs are frequently not met, and the child believes that communication of needs has no influence on the mother.
A fourth category termed disorganized Attachment is the lack of a coherent style or pattern for coping. While ambivalent and avoidant styles are not totally effective, they are strategies for dealing with the world.
Children with disorganized Attachment experienced their caregivers as either frightened or frightening. Human interactions are shared as erratic; thus, children cannot form a coherent interactive template. Suppose the child uses the caregiver as a mirror to understand the self. In that case, the disorganized child looks into a mirror broken into a thousand pieces. It is more severe than learned helplessness as it is the self-model rather than a situation.
How does each of the four attachment styles manifest in adults?
Anxious / Preoccupied
For adults with an anxious attachment style, the partner is often the ‘better half.’ The thought of living without a partner (or being alone in general) causes high anxiety levels. People with this type of Attachment typically have a negative self-image while positively viewing others.
The anxious adult often seeks approval, support, and responsiveness from their partner.
People with this attachment style value their relationships highly but are often anxious and worried that their loved one is not as invested in the relationship as they are intense fear of abandonment, and safety is a priority. The partner’s attention, care, and responsiveness appear to be the ‘remedy’ for anxiety.
On the other hand, the absence of support and intimacy can lead the anxious/preoccupied type to become more clinging and demanding, preoccupied with the relationship, and desperate for love.
Avoidant / Dismissive
The dismissing/avoidant type would often perceive themselves as ‘lone wolves: strong, independent, and self-sufficient; not necessarily in terms of physical contact, but instead on an emotional level.
These people have high self-esteem and a positive view of themselves.
The dismissing/avoidant type tends to believe that they don’t have to be in a relationship to feel complete. They do not want to depend on others, have others rely on them, or seek support and approval in social bonds.
Adults with this attachment style generally avoid emotional closeness. They also tend to hide or suppress their feelings when faced with a potentially emotion-dense situation.
Disorganized / Fearful-Avoidant
The disorganized type tends to show unstable and ambiguous behaviors in their social bonds. For adults with this style of Attachment, the partner and the relationship themselves are often the sources of desire and fear.
Fearful-avoidant people do want intimacy and closeness, but at the same time, experience troubles trusting and depending on others.
They do not regulate their emotions well and avoid strong emotional Attachment due to their fear of getting hurt.
The three attachment styles covered so far are insecure attachment styles.
They are characterized by difficulties with cultivating and maintaining healthy relationships. In contrast, the secure attachment style implies that a person is comfortable expressing emotions openly.
Adults with a secure attachment style can depend on their partners and, in turn, let their partners rely on them.
Relationships are based on honesty, tolerance, and emotional closeness.
The secure attachment type thrives in their relationships and doesn’t fear being on their own. They do not depend on the responsiveness or approval of their partners. They tend to have a favorable view of themselves and others.
The Dangers of Overprotective (helicopter) Parenting
Bob’s mother went to school to complain about the classes. She wanted more challenging courses and demanded his schedule be changed. She also complained about the time of day he would take lunch. His current plan meant that he would be eating too early in the day to suit his needs. She was most insistent in her attitude and would not take “no” for an answer. To make matters worse, she told him to send his laundry home every week so that she could do it for him, and she would send it back. Never mind that the dorm had plenty of facilities for the students to do their laundry.
Bob was highly embarrassed by his mother’s interference in his life for his part. He knew that he could see these issues himself and didn’t need her to come to school. He felt deep resentment because, once again, she was treating him like a disabled person, as though he was still a child.
Bob was nineteen years old, a freshman in college, and lived far away from home. She traveled a long way to come up to campus uninvited.
Bob’s mother was a helicopter parent.
During the early stages of life, babies and toddlers rely on their parents to do just about everything for them. However, the development process is such that, as the child grows and develops, they want to take on more tasks independently. Parents often hear the demand, “I can do that.” Perhaps the child cannot “do that” yet, but they want to try.
The helicopter parent hovers over their child, not letting him learn by doing. The child is never out of her sight. He is never sent to the store to do some family shopping with a list of needed items. He is never allowed to take an after-school job delivering newspapers or working in the local supermarket.
The helicopter parent impedes the child’s acquisition of skills of all kinds, social, academic, and working. She hovers over his social life and academic life. She discourages him from getting that after-school job that teenagers want extra cash. Most of all, this type of parent does not allow her youngster to learn from his mistakes.
Parental over-involvement can lead to adverse outcomes. Rick, now a 40-year-old man, was someone who could talk about that because his mother was this type of parent. He recounted how his mother, a loving, warm, and caring person, brought mothering to a new level of over parenting. As a result, when Rick went off to college, he was filled with anxiety. Rick did not have the type of anxiety most youngsters experience when about to leave home. Instead, Rick feared that he would not take care of himself. His mother even buttered his bread for him, resulting in fear for his ability to do something as basic as that. He describes himself as someone whose mother mollycoddled him from as far back as he could remember.
The point is that for adults like Rick, Bob, and others, over parenting harmed their sense of self-esteem. Adult children of helicopter parents are often depressed, anxious, and dependent. That last is no surprise since they are accustomed to relying on someone else to do everything for them. They also express less satisfaction with life because they do not feel independent.
For those who emerged from these types of homes and want to regain their sense of self-confidence in navigating life, there is help. Psychotherapy helps people learn and acquire the necessary skills and self-confidence missing from their lives. That is what Bob and Rick did and with satisfying results.
The New York Times · by Meg Bernhard · December 15, 2021
The basis of this blog is on a New York Times article by writer Meg Bernhard, and a correspondence between myself and my dear friend. My friend is referring to the death of my wife, Pat. We were married for fifty years, and friends assured me that I would heal with time. But, on the contrary, I continue to feel a deep sense of loss. I have a lasting sense of loss of my beloved wife. Then I came across a New York Times article, “What if there is no such thing as closure?”
The basis of this article is on Social Scientist Pauline Boss and her book, “Ambiguous Loss: Learning to Live With Unresolved Grief.”
Pauline Boss from the New York Times Article:
” Boss studied and provided therapy to the family members of Alzheimer’s patients, as well as the relatives of people whose bodies were not recovered after natural disasters or in the collapse of the original World Trade Center on 9/11. Theirs were losses without “conclusion,” in the traditional sense of the term, the experience of paradox — a simultaneous absence and presence — that eluded resolution. Can you mourn someone whose body is present, even if the mind isn’t? Or whose death is unconfirmed? Can you grieve a foreclosed future?”
“The concept, Boss maintains, is inclusive, encompassing a range of moderate to severe losses that we might not perceive as such. Moreover, it can take many forms, often quotidian: an alcoholic parent who, when intoxicated, becomes a different person; a divorced partner, with whom your relationship is ruptured but not erased; a loved one with whom you’ve lost contact through immigration; or a child you’ve given up for adoption. “
These experiences are an accumulation of heartbreaks that we cannot always recognize.”
A dialogue between my friend and me:
“Pat died. You lost her as a companion. You lost her as someone who shored you up.You lost your marriage, your married way of life. Your entire way of life changed, and continues to change in various ways, and each change is an ambiguous loss.”
“And, what I get from the article, is that it’s that way for all of us. What did I lose when Joan(his estranged wife) moved to Oklahoma? My life changed irreparably. What have you and I each lost (and each other person on the planet) with the pandemic that will never return as it was before? What have I lost since developing chronic arthritis pain impacting walking? Lost with Laura’s(his daughter) horrible illness and surgery, though gratefully, seeming to be moving towards a full recovery, but scarred by the ordeal?”
“When I was 11, we moved from the house and neighborhood I’d known since birth. I cried for a year. What did you lose when you moved in with your grandparents?”
“We’re “adapting” to loss all of our lives.”
Recent reports show significant increases in domestic violence and drug and alcohol use. In addition, the stress and anxiety created by the Pandemic are taking a heavy toll on mental health. This article describes the types of abuse. Further reports will explain abuse’s impact on people, including trauma and its consequences for mental and medical health. Finally, there will be an article reporting the therapies that help best for survivors of abuse.
What is Abuse?
Abuse occurs when people mistreat or misuse other people, showing no concern for their integrity or innate worth as individuals, and in a manner that degrades their well-being. Abusers frequently are interested in controlling their victims. They use abusive behaviors to manipulate their victims into submission or compliance with their will.
Physical and sexual abuse greatly exacerbate the risk of substance use disorders. Abuse has particularly far-reaching effects when it occurs during childhood.
Types of Abuse
- Verbal: They may verbally abuse them by calling them names, telling them they are stupid, have no worth, or will not amount to anything on their own.
- Physical: They may become physically violent, inflicting pain, bruises, broken bones, and other physical wounds (visible and hidden both).
- Sexual: They may rape or sexually assault their victims.
- Negligence: Alternatively, they may neglect dependent victims, disavowing any responsibilities they may have towards those victims and causing damage through lack of action rather than through a harmful, manipulative action itself.
Abuse is a commonplace event in modern times, taking on many different forms, including physical, sexual, emotional, and verbal abuse, occurring in many different contexts, including the home (domestic violence, spouse rape, incest), the workplace (sexual harassment), and in institutional (elder abuse, bullying) and religious and community (hate crime) settings. It touches victims across the lifespan, from children through elders. Abuse is a severe social and cultural problem affecting everyone, whether as a victim of abuse, a perpetrator, a friend or confidant of an abused person looking for ways to be helpful, or simply as someone who is angry about injustice and wants to work for positive change.
If you are currently being abused or abused in the past, you should know that you do not suffer alone. Right now, millions of people worldwide struggle to maintain dignity, safety, and self-worth in the face of ongoing abuse. In addition, millions more people work to recover from wounds they have sustained during past abuse.
You should also know that help is available for abuse victims, although it is not always easy to access. Community abuse resources (such as domestic violence shelters), mental health professionals, law enforcement, various other organizations, websites, and printed resources can provide instruction and assistance for people who need help removing themselves from abusive situations.
Victims of abuse often deal with severe psychological and physical consequences of being abused. There are various forms of counseling, psychotherapy, medical, and self-help resources available for people who have been used and want assistance and support for managing problems and issues they have developed due to being abused.
Such post-abuse issues are sometimes called ‘abuse sequela’ by health professionals. While no therapy is capable of erasing the effects of abuse, such resources can provide meaningful assistance in helping to minimize the adverse effects of abuse.
Types of Psychotherapy
These are the main types of psychotherapy described by the American Psychiatric Association.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) helps people identify and change thinking and behavior patterns that are harmful or ineffective, replacing them with more accurate thoughts and functional behaviors. It can help a person focus on current problems and solve them. However, it often involves practicing new skills in the “real world.”
CBT can help treat various disorders, including depression, anxiety, trauma-related disorders, and eating disorders. For example, CBT can help a person with depression recognize and change negative thought patterns or behaviors contributing to the depression.
Interpersonal therapy (IPT) is a short-term form of treatment. It helps patients understand underlying interpersonal issues that are troublesome, like unresolved grief, changes in social or work roles, conflicts with significant others, and problems relating to others. In addition, it can help people learn healthy ways to express emotions and methods to improve communication and how they relate to others. It is most often used to treat depression.
Dialectical behavior therapy is a specific type of CBT that helps regulate emotions. It is frequently helpful in treating people with chronic suicidal thoughts and borderline personality disorder, eating disorders, and PTSD. It teaches new skills to help people take personal responsibility to change unhealthy or disruptive behavior. It involves both individual and group therapy.
Psychodynamic therapy views the idea that behavior and mental well-being go back to childhood experiences and inappropriate repetitive thoughts or unconscious feelings (outside of the person’s awareness). Therefore, a person works with the therapist to improve self-awareness and change old patterns to take charge of their lives more fully.
Are you feeling irritable and short-tempered and getting into arguments at home? So many people are experiencing nervousness and restlessness? So many are finding it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep? You are not alone.
There are many things about which people feel stressed, anxious, and worried. For example, Coronavirus and social unrest are causing worry and fear. Also, many have lost jobs and their salaries. One of the most challenging things that many must deal with is that it isolates them at home—having to be indoors, whether alone or even with family, is extremely difficult. As a result, I hear from many people who feel irritable, angry, sensitive, anxious, and depressed. What can people do to help themselves deal better with these problems?
Here or some suggestions for coping during this difficult time:
- While wearing masks go out for walks, whether alone, with family, or with friends. In doing so, it is essential to remember to maintain Social distancing.
- Avoiding alcohol is extremely important. The reports are that many people are drinking to self-medicate their problems. Rather than working as self-medication, drinking worsens the problems. It creates irritability and the tendency to get into arguments at home.
- Social interaction is essential. The frustration is that the Coronavirus makes it difficult to socialize. While wearing masks and maintaining social distance, it is possible to mix and necessary. I encourage people to chat as much as possible while maintaining safety in my psychotherapy practice.
- Exercise is important. I know of one person who reported that they walk around their house as much as possible, including going upstairs and downstairs.
- Owning a dog can help. People who own dogs understand they must be what walked. Two crucial goals or achieved for those who have the dog. One important goal is getting out of the house and walking, allowing for some exercise. Besides, I always remind my clients that it’s impossible to be isolated when you own a dog. Neighbors, children, and anyone will greet and pet the dog. That is often the beginning of a friendly chat.
- One of the best medicines in the world, for most situations, is his humor. That is why I recommend watching funny television programs. These movies are comic and email humorous cartoons to family and friends. There is nothing like making jokes, laughing, smiling, having a sense of humor, or being suitable for the body and good for the soul.
- Listening to music is one of the most soothing it will axing things a person can do.
- I strongly recommend meditation. There is a beautiful app named CALM. Download this app to your cell phone. Sitting or lying down and listening to some meditations is hugely relieving. The reflections are guided or purely musical and, depending on your choice, can last from 5 to 30 minutes.
- Under stress, many people breathe in a more shallow way without realizing it’s happening. Instead, it’s essential to take a full breath, count to five, let it out, and repeat two or three times. You can feel the body relax.
- Additional strategies include avoiding watching the news.
- Stretch to relax muscle tension—deep muscle relaxation techniques.
- Nature helps a great deal, such as walking in the local park.
- Avoid turning to alcohol to self-medicate. That only worsens all the symptoms mentioned, including domestic violence and child abuse.
People are experiencing feeling shut into their homes as frustrating. There is evidence that this has resulted in increased alcohol consumptions, domestic violence, and child abuse. It is essential to turn to psychotherapy for this and all the other reasons mentioned if the different strategies do not work.
It may seem silly, but it’s also important to smile. An old song, “smile, and the entire world smiles with you.” It is accurate, and evidence points out that smiling helps us feel better.
Child Abuse and Parental Denial
ALLAN SCHWARTZ, LCSW, PH.D.
I recently had the opportunity of revisiting a question that I have struggled to find answers to for many years. The question is, why faced with a parent sexually, physically, or verbally abusing a child, does the other parent remain silent?
In my psychotherapy practice, I am experiencing an increase where one parent said nothing. In contrast, the other parent abused their children. The abuse came as constant shouting at the child and hitting and punching the child most times. There is also child neglect and, sometimes, sexual abuse.
The adult survivors of abuse also report experiencing gaslighting. In addition, they recall the abuse and the fact that the other parent offered no safety.
Gaslighting is extremely serious. Here is a psychological definition of gaslighting:
“Gaslighting is an insidious form of manipulation and psychological control. Victims of gaslighting are deliberately and systematically fed false information that leads them to question what they know to be true, often about themselves. They may end up doubting their memory, their perception, and even their sanity. Over time, a gaslighter’s manipulations can grow more complex and potent, making it increasingly difficult for the victim to see the truth.” Part of the strategy of parents and families who use gaslighting is to convince abuse survivors of mental health problems.
Some parents behave like blame victims when their adult children confront them with the abuse.
Child abuse, gaslighting, and denial form part of a family pattern in which grandparents, uncles, and aunts join in the disclaimer and gaslighting. Most times, siblings join this pattern of disclaiming abuse even though they are survivors of abuse.
The question others have asked me and that I ask myself is, how or why would a parent remain silent in the while, the abuse of the children is happening. Here are a few hypotheses.
1. Denial is a powerful and primitive defense mechanism. Someone dependent, frightened, and themselves the victim of abuse, can remain silent and not even see or hear the abuse to maintain the desperately needed relationship with the abuser. It is a variation of the old saying, “Hear no evil, see no evil.” Well, people hear it and see it and cannot act.
2. Both abuser and spouse can be mentally ill people who collude out of mutually shared sadism. A few people can get a sense of pleasure out of treating children abusively.
3. Over the years, I have known a few cases in which the wife has such a deep need to avoid sexual relations that they prefer their husband engage in Oedipal relations with a daughter, which is usually unconscious, with a complete denial in operation.
4. Chronic and severe drug and alcohol abuse loosen inhibitions that otherwise sober and sensible people do things that would shock them if they were not under the influence of certain types of drugs.
5. Parents who come from abusive environments repeat the pattern once they are parents. The vicious cycle of abuse is probably the primary cause of domestic violence in the United States.
It is natural to ask why an adult would now confront their parents about abusive acts that happened during childhood? The answer is that these survivors seek an apology and an affirmative statement admitting their wrongdoing. Parental failure to apologize to the survivor further adds to the despair. The despair results not simply by the refusal of an apology but the complete denial that anything happened.
It is the responsibility of neighbors, family, friends, teachers, and school officials to report suspected abuse to the authorities, who will then investigate.
Allan N. Schwartz, PhD