Monthly Archives: March 2016

Hiding our feelings from children have consequences…

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Child Observing Military Memorial Service of a Parent…

Hiding our feelings…from children… Encountering America by Jessica Grogan, Ph.D., is the author of Encountering America: Humanistic Psychology, Sixties Culture, and the Shaping of the Modern Self (January 2013, Harper Perennial). She’s also a Licenced Marriage and Family Therapist Associate in private practice in Austin, TX.

Jessica-Grogan

Grogan’s research covers a range of topics related to psychology, psychotherapy, and American culture. She has presented papers on humanistic psychology, American psychotherapy, psychedelics, Alcoholics Anonymous, the philosophy of psychological science, and the relationship of psychology to women’s liberation and civil rights for the American Studies Association, the American Historical Association, Cheiron International Association for the History of Social and Behavioral Sciences, and the American Psychology Association.

Quote from Dr. Grogan’s bio…

“I work individually with adults and kids, particularly those dealing with relationship problems, anxiety, and periods of high stress. My specialization is in couple’s and family therapy, and I’m welcoming of high-conflict couples and families. As a therapist, I’m committed to developing a close, working relationship with clients, and I believe humor, openness, and directiveness,all serve this goal. My strength is in balancing assertiveness and directness with empathy and support.

I tend to view problems as occurring when we get stuck in some way, using ineffective solutions to problems, relying on outdated coping styles, and repeating patterns that make problems worse rather than better. Change is possible when we learn to disrupt these patterns, creating the possibility for more satisfying interactions and deeper connection.”

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As a trauma survivor and lay researcher, author, blogger, and child advocate; my work is very much on the discovery and needs assessment side of innovation, problem solving, and creative solutions.  I relate to Dr. Grogan’s research and work as a therapist very much, and appreciate the focus on humanistic or the “whole person” as a foundation for treatment of post-traumatic stress symptoms.

In the context of “hiding our feelings,” it was a huge relief to find out from my research and therapy that it is okay to be vulnerable and honest with family members, especially kids.  If there is a consistent family conversation and culture of openness at home, the risk of sudden outbursts of angry and potentially harmful escalations can be minimized or negated.  When an entire family suffers from post-traumatic stress, saying nothing about stressful feelings and anxiety was a demonstration of strength.  If you are a military child it is pure hell having a father or mother who suffers from PTSD.  Those who serve America in the armed forces are trained to be emotionally numb as a mandate for survival.  America is learning now that we have to start early with trauma informed coaching for military families and 1st responders.  This is very much an example of a humanistic approach or continuum of therapy designed to help trauma affected families achieve normalcy as smoothly and as quickly as possible.

My research and discovery as a lay person has enlightened me to the extent that healing is now possible in my later years.  I have to work each day to be mindful of triggers and therapy practices to keep a good balance.  Life is not without challenges at any age, but I feel a peace of mind at age 70.  There is joy and happiness each day.  I do much better with down time, living in the moment is so much healthier.  Living with mental health challenges is a work in progress for most.  With a high level of awareness and the access to humanistic therapy alternatives, life is as good as it gets these days.

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1&2… Click the highlighted text for my author page and to order books, etc.

 

 

 

Children of a War Ravaged World…and the generational pain of post-trauma stress!

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Children play at the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, where more than 120,000 Syrian refugees live. Roughly two-thirds are kids, many of whom have been traumatized by the violence in their homeland. Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps

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Mercy Corps organizes games and movies at the Zaatari camp to help children return to more normal activities and routines. Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps

Syria’s Grinding War…and the children who suffer for a life-time…

How bad can it be?  Most do not have a clue…

“Alexandra Chen, a specialist in childhood trauma, is on her way from the Lebanese capital, Beirut, to the southern town of Nabatiyeh, where she’s running a workshop for teachers, child psychologists and sports coaches who are dealing with the Syrian children scarred by war in their homeland.

“All of the children have experienced trauma to varying degree,” explains Chen, who works for Mercy Corps and is training a dozen new hires for her aid group.

Her intense five-day workshop is based on skills and techniques developed in other conflict zones, used for the first time here.

“They need to know enough to understand exactly what’s going on in the brain of the children they are working with,” Chen says of her trainees. Her course stresses the science of severe trauma, which can be toxic for the brain.”

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After reading this article today, my heart was sinking thinking about “how bad can it be” for the children who represent our future everywhere, not just in America.  These kids and youngsters everywhere need our attention right now to help them transition to a healthy quality of life as adults.  We can do more!  We must do more!

Please take a look at my new Kickstarter non-fiction project, “I Worry About the Kids!”  The workbook format and structure will guide parents, teachers, mentors, and others in helping kids emerge from a traumatic childhood to a more balanced and productive young adult experience while preparing for life as an adult.

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1&2… PLEASE click the highlighted text for my author page and to order books…

 

 

Pat Neal…2011 Oregon Rural Health Hero of the Year! A selfless community service leader and trailblazer for mental health…

 

Mental Illness is a Medical Problem, by Patricia Neal, Mental Health Advocate, Lincoln County Oregon…Newport News-Times, Viewpoint, Wednesday, March 9, 2016

We have heard a great deal about people with mental illness in connection with mass shootings and sometimes when police are trying to deal with the mentally ill. Many people know very little about mental illness and because of the stigma associated with mental illness there may be a reluctance to learn about it or discuss it. There was a time when parents were blamed for raising their kids wrong and causing mental illness. In the 1970’s a few of the medications used for mental illness were in use and we knew mental illness was a medical problem. The early medications did not work for everyone and although many more medications have been developed there still are people who are not well served by the existing medications. Medications sometimes seem to be more effective if given as a shot rather than a pill. More research is being done to develop medications and to better understand how the brain works and what affects the development of the brain.

Emphasis is now beginning to integrate treatment for mental illness with primary care. Physicians are not normally trained to work with mental illness and efforts are now being made to provide them with training on the subject.

We hear of schizophrenia frequently in connection with police involvement. It affects people differently. Some can’t sleep, get agitated and angry, may hear things that are not real and others may go into a catatonic state. My nephew stood in front of the refrigerator and did not move for three hours. He said his mind was going so fast that he could not make a decision to move. Paranoia may be part of schizophrenia and they think everyone is watching them, threatening them, or trying to do things to them.

Many of the medications have undesirable side effects. Weight gain and type two diabetes are two “side effects”. The medications also may leave them perpetually ’tired’ and slow to wake up in the morning. .

There is a program now being taught here and elsewhere in the country called Mental Health First Aid. It is used with first responders, physicians and other medical providers, and parents. There is a version for students and that is very important because mental illness frequently strikes during the high school years. (It can be found online—use a well-known website like Mayo Clinic or some universities for medical information. Wikipedia is not necessarily reliable.)

Mental illness—depression, bipolar (once called manic depressive because of the mood swings) and schizophrenia frequently start in the high school or puberty years. As young people begin to have symptoms they may not understand what is happening and self-medicate with alcohol or drugs. Then when they are diagnosed with mental illness they have two problems.

Recent research seems to indicate that Gluten (associated with Celiac Disease) may attack the brain rather than the digestive system and cause schizophrenia and perhaps other mental problems. Both Celiac Disease and Schizophrenia are inherited diseases. Type 1 diabetes is also frequently found with Celiac Disease.

Mental illness has a physical medical association or medications would not help deal with the illness. We need to recognize it as a medical problem, remove the stigma associated with it and begin to learn about it and deal with it.

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I’m so pleased and honored to have Pat Neal as a guest blogger, especially on the topic of mental health.  She has been making a huge difference in Lincoln County for over 20 years since her retirement.  Pat’s life experience and family circumstances fuels a passion to make a difference.  Pat and I are now teaming up serving on the Lincoln County Mental Health Advisory Committee (MHAC). Pat Neal really cares!  I can only hope that my work in post trauma growth can help carry her significant contributions and passion forward.  She intends to stay engaged and active in the community for as long as possible.  I feel lucky to know her as a friend and neighbor.  Thank you, Pat Neal, for all you do!

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1&2… Please Click the highlighted text for my author page and to order books.

My Post-Trauma Growth project and workbook, “I Worry About the Kids,” for parents, teachers, mentors, and others.  Please click the highlighted text and for the project video clip.  Support and backing as a donation and sharing is most appreciated.  Thank You!

 

 

Anger in American Politics! Is generational post-trauma carry-over at the roots?

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Decades of War, Hardship, and Trauma in America…

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Why are so many Americans angry in this political season?

Why are Americans so angry?

A CNN/ORC poll carried out in December 2015 suggests 69% of Americans are either “very angry” or “somewhat angry” about “the way things are going” in the US.

And the same proportion – 69% – are angry because the political system “seems to only be working for the insiders with money and power, like those on Wall Street or in Washington,” according to a NBC/Wall Street Journal poll from November.

Many people are not only angry, they are angrier than they were a year ago, according to an NBC/Esquire survey last month – particularly Republicans (61%) and white people (54%) but also 42% ofWhy are Americans so angry?Democrats, 43% of Latinos and 33% of African Americans.

 

Trauma Carried Across Generations of People…  Click on the highlighted text to read more…

Molly S. Castelloe Ph.D.

Molly Castelloe Fong, Ph.D.Molly S. Castelloe, Ph.D., holds a doctorate from New York University in theater and psychoanalysis. She has presented on the subjects of performance and applied psychoanalysis at national symposia including the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University. Her scholarly articles have appeared in international publications and refereed journals including the Journal for the Psychoanalysis of Culture and Society and Clio’s Psyche: Understanding the “Why” of Culture, Current Events, History, and Society.  She has taught at New York University and is a Professor at Metropolitan College of New York.

As an actress, Molly appeared in the critically acclaimed film “Clean, Shaven,” a story about schizophrenia. She is proud to have been among the ensemble that made the first bilingual film in Sri Lanka.  Inspirations include performer Anna Deavere Smith, political psychologist Vamik Volkan, and pioneering pediatrician D. W. Winnicott.

About The Me in We

Current research looks at history through a psychological lens. This is the field of “Psychohistory.” Of special interest: group identity, the transmission of trauma across generations, processes of collective mourning and creativity.

 

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My research and writing the last six years on the topic of post-traumatic stress in America has revealed an epidemic of post-trauma symptoms that have built up over many decades in America.  Stopping the cycle of pain and emotional baggage must start with new families by increasing trauma awareness and sensitivity.  We must create a trauma informed society to stop the carry-forward baggage of trauma at the roots of the problem, the family at home.  I reference two article above to help my readers become better informed on the scope of the problem and implications.  Also included is a link to my Kickstarter project, “I Worry About the Kids,” a workbook for parents, teachers, and mentors to help build awareness and to serve as a guide for trauma affected families and for those who are trusted with the care of children at school and at play.

Please click this website right now…

 

 

 

“I Worry About the Kids” A new post-trauma growth project! by Steve Sparks

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Dear Family, Friends, and Colleagues,

“I Worry About the Kids!”  is my new creative non-fiction publishing project!  Please click on the highlighted text to review my project proposal, and the personal video clip of a previous talk on behalf of the Chinook WindsCelebration of Honor at the Lincoln City Cultural Center.  Please support this important work and project on behalf of Children and Families in Life After Trauma.  A big shout out and thank you to all my family members, friends, and colleagues who have supported my work over the years.  I’m very grateful for your compassion, sensitivity, and support!

Following is an excerpt from, I Worry About the Kids, Chapter 1, Introduction… 

“Although children are resilient and adapt to their immediate surroundings and their broader environment—good, bad, indifferent, and ugly as it might be—kids inhale the pain of loved ones, especially parents they look to for love, support, and security. Parents don’t always see or even think that toxic behaviors in the home, school, and neighborhood will have long-term implications on the healthy growth of their children. Parents who suffer from severe post trauma stress are fully engaged in their own world of emotional pain, a private agony that can strike at any moment by haunting triggers from the past. Outbursts of anger, panic attacks, and irrational behaviors represent a trauma-affected adult who is expressing grieving emotions from past traumatic events. When these scary events occur in the home, kids become frightened for their safety. Children are often silent and try to stay clear of threatening violent behaviors, but they never forget. They live and cope with whatever happens around them just like adults. I’m often asked why I worry so much about babies and young children when thinking and writing about post-traumatic stress and the toxic circumstances that surround a family when a parent suffers from it. I worry because even unborn babies can be damaged from post-trauma family dynamics. And I worry about the kids because the longer the delay in paying attention to them, the more permanent the damage. Where do I find these children? The terrible answer is I find them in every social strata, every economic level, in every neighborhood, everywhere. Children exhibiting the signs of post-traumatic stress often live in military families that include a parent who served in hard combat but came home fueled by anxiety, depression, and anger. They are children of 1st responders whose work places them in the midst of terrible violence and chaos, and they can’t help but bring some of their despair back home. They are homeless kids sleeping wherever they can lay their head for the night. Sometimes their parents are with them, sometimes not. They are the children of alcoholics and drug users. They are kids living among convicted criminals who need supervision of their own. They are the children of chronically depressed parents. They are undernourished kids living in poverty. They are kids with limited access to education—for whatever reason. They are children who have witnessed a murder, or a gun accident, or pulled the trigger themselves—you read about these stories in the newspapers way too often. They are children who found a parent dead of suicide. Or who was in the room when their mother was raped. They are foster children taken from parents who abused or neglected them, only to end up in another abusive situation. They are kids whose father or mother skipped out one day, never to return. They are children living with their grandparents because their own parents are dysfunctional or violent. They are children at the mercy of adults—stepfathers, pastors, relatives, neighbors—with sexually deviant personalities. Our society is experiencing an epidemic of children suffering from post-traumatic stress right this minute.” 

Can’t we do more?  We must do better!

Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, Child Advocate

SteveSunriver

Trauma Resiliency…Why Are Some People More Resilient to Trauma Than Others?

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Children suffer the most in a home struggling severely with PTSD!

Trauma Resiliency…  May 21, 2015 • By Sunda Friedman TeBockhorst, PhD, Posttraumatic Stress / Trauma Topic Expert Contributor…quote from this article…

Why is that?

The answer to this appears to be largely the same as the answer to so many other quandaries in the field of psychology: the unique combination of genetic constitution and set of life experiences for any given individual. It’s the old “nature vs. nurture” question, and, as is typically the case, the answer seems to be “yes, both influence outcome significantly.”

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Trauma resiliency is an area of research PTSD survivors can appreciate.  Most of us on the severe side of trauma exposure constantly wonder, with some shame and guilt to boot, why some move forward in life after trauma in pretty good shape in terms of emotional baggage.  I fall into the category of long exposure to traumatic experiences as a child and young adult, including living with an entire family suffering from post-trauma stress, especially my post WWII and Korean War father.  Without a strong dose of nurturing from parents and family members, it is near impossible to recover as a child or young adult.  We head into adult life with a heavy emotional load that must be reconciled eventually.  If not, we live a life of constant pain from the symptoms of post-trauma stress.  You see, parents and siblings suffering from PTSD do not have the capacity to nurture.  A toxic home culture is ruled by fear, isolation, denial, stigma, emotional numbness, and self serving behaviors.  Sound painful?  Yes, it is painful indeed.  Can’t we do more?  We must do better…

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1&2… Click the highlighted text for my author page and to order books, please!

SteveSunriver

Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, Child Advocate

“Nightmare of Child Abuse!” Kids need trusted teachers & mentors in school and after-school…

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Dr. Wills Neighborhood Podcast click here…

Thanks to psychotherapist, author, speaker and all-around terrific dude Dr. Will Miller, BeAKidsHero now is available as a podcast!

dr-wills-neighborhood-logo-w-convDr. Will has put together an online community of podcasts as part of his Dr. Will’s Neighborhood, where folks can join “the best conversation in town”… and he’s invited BeAKidsHero to move into ‘the hood’! 😉

An impressive lineup of expert guests will join me in discussing ways to protect children from sexual abuse and other types of maltreatment, as well as a host of issues related to child abuse. Parents, teachers and other caring adults will gain greater insight into child protection and exploitation issues that can impact kids of all ages from infancy through their teenage years.  Expert guests will offer insight, advice and tips that can help each of us make a difference and truly improve the world one child at a time.

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Ginger Kadlec, “BeAKidsHero,” is one of my early collaborative friends in our work on behalf of Children and Families in Life after Trauma.  I’m grateful for her support and caring friendship.  Ginger encouraged me to keep writing in my blog, speaking, and authoring books.  Our best collaboration is “The War Within: PTSD” by Ginger Kadlec, published by Project Eve. My years of heartfelt work with www.neighborsforkids.org and the children we serve has been at the center of my own personal growth and healing as well.

Dr. Will talks about “Refrigerator Rights” with those trusted friends, neighbors and mentors outside of the home as a powerful social interaction benefit to help children who become isolated as a result of child abuse and maltreatment.  I certainly recall the loneliness of my childhood back in the 1950’s when our home was scary.  It was even worse trying to talk about it, so we lied to our teachers, coaches, friends and mentors.  We siblings hung on to hope that our toxic life at home was normal and we were tough.  We had very few close friends as we moved so often as a post WWII and Korean War US Navy military family.

Please listen to the podcast, Dr. Will’s Neighborhood with Ginger Kadlec.  This is honest straight talk for parents, teachers, and mentors.  The conversation touched my heart and soul!

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life after Trauma, Part 1&2…click the highlighted text for my author page and to order books, please!

SteveSunriver

Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, Child Advocate