Archive for the 'Trauma & Abuse' Category

Feb 22 2015

Sandra Bland’s Arrest = the clash of two human being’s implicit memory systems.

Implicit memory is a type of long term memory which has an unconscious influence on the way we think, feel and behave. In a stressful situation, our implicit memory systems kick in and we react in a “same pattern over and over way.” For Sandra, an educated woman sensitized to systemic brutality of African Americans, she was upset by what she experienced as a unnecessary police stop and the lack of courtesy and professionalism (already determined by authorities) of the policeman. For the policeman, I can only speculate, he experienced some type of victimization himself early in his life that caused him to react so harshly. The policeman clearly becomes emotionally hijacked, meaning he is adrenalized, his thinking slowed down, and he is reacting automatically (unconsciously) to his mistaken view Sandra is a threat to him. Maybe an earlier trauma, abuse by someone in authority, taunting by bullies, or some other victimization is related to his unprofessional treatment of Sandra.

For more information on implicit memory, watch this video.

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Dec 09 2014

A Review: Clearing the Path: Opening the Spiritual Frontier by Dr. Robert Mark

Summary: Dr. Mark gets an A+ for writing an interesting narrative of his personal and professional development. However, a diminished grade for encouraging people to dispense with their critical thinking to entertain the possibility of higher powers and alternative realities. Discouraging a belief in science is a surprising part of this book and therapists especially should not take this advice seriously, lest they begin to practice unethically.
My acknowledgement: I was involved in Dr. Mark’s men’s program and have insights about him and his work. Perhaps there is no good ending in a relationship with people or organizations. This was true for me, so any negative views I express may be colored by my ending experiences.

I was very curious about this book when I learned it had been written and recently had a chance to read it. I surprisingly enjoyed it, as an autobiographical account of the author’s development as a human being and professional therapist. In person, Dr. Mark is both impressive and charismatic.

As the depth of his book demonstrates, he’s intelligent and highly skilled as a therapist. You can tell he has an ease and comfort with traditional forms of therapy and having seen him in action, I can confirm he is an exceptional agent of change in people’s lives.

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Feb 05 2013

“Personal Growth Weekends”, Cults, and How They Use Recruitment as a Strategy for Survival and Profit

Cults…I talk a lot about the Yearning for Zion Ranch (YFZ Ranch) and the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS), but what are some of the characteristics of a cult?

Keeping it simple, it’s an organization of narcissistically driven (usually) men who use a variety of methods to manipulate and exploit vulnerable people.

Here are the essential characteristics of a cult:

  • mind control…use of bizarre religious or secular ideas to enforce the obedience of followers
  • emotional disclosure…participants are encouraged to disclose private, emotionally important information…while the leaders do not share emotional information with the larger group
  • recruitment…participants are encouraged/expected to go out and recruit others to join the cult organization using deceptive and manipulative tactics
  • restriction from all outside ideas and influences ( no radio, television, computer/internet, newspapers)
  • claims that the outside world is evil and will lead to the death or damnation of anyone who betrays the cult
  • participants are manipulated to believe that they can not survive without all the cult offers them
  • participants may also be physically and sexually abused, in addition to the pervasive emotional abuse
  • intimidation by threatening to harm others or animals, especially pets, like a pet white rat, a rabbit, puppy or kitten
  • leaders are a few men who directly benefit from the cult by abuse, manipulation, threat of harm, sexual control of women and intricate financial arrangements
  • methods during the activities include various rituals, guided imagery, psychodrama, native american spirituality, sweat lodges, and over-simplified and out of context psychological ideas
  • key to all these experiences is the claim they can “change your life”
  • marketing literature will often claim the programs are based on science, but they don’t mean research. These claims are often followed by non researched based psychological ideas, such as those of Carl Jung (the shadow and persona in personality archetypes)
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Nov 28 2011

Recovered Memory: Freud’s Belief, Then Rejection of Recovered Memories of Abuse

One only needs to examine the work of Freud to see the origins of the recovered memory debate.

In 1896, Freud wrote of a pattern of sexual abuse of women in eighteen consecutive cases.

Robert Dewey quotes Freud in his “Introduction to Psychology”:

“The event of which the subject has retained an unconscious memory is a precocious [unusually early] experience of sexual relations with actual excitement of the genitals,

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Nov 20 2011

Damage of Secrets: Research Shows Secrets Clang (my word) Around Inside Our Brains

How do you spell relief? D-I-S-C-L-O-S-U-R-E

Therapists and clients alike understand the relief provided by the disclosure of sad, angry, fearful memories. Therapy is a place where people should feel safe enough to disclose anything they choose, significant or insignificant.

In dysfunctional families or organizations, people are often exposed to behavior which shocks
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Nov 19 2011

Yes, Rage And Fear Are Automatic Responses Triggered By The Sympathetic Nervous System

The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for triggering the “fight, flight, or freeze” reaction in human beings.

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Nov 14 2011

Ray Gricar and the Penn State Tragedy: Did Someone in Power Pressure Gricar to Ignore the Incriminating Results of the “Police Sting” of Jerry Sandusky?

People in power routinely stay in power through intimidation, bribery, threats, and other malignant methods.

In one of the most alarming pieces of evidence in the allegations of sexual abuse against Jerry Sandusky, we are learning a boy stepped forward, Victim 6, and accused Sandusky of taking a shower with him nude with another boy.

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Nov 13 2011

Penn State and the Catholic Church

Examining the religious right wing activism defending catholic clergy sex abusers and the response of the church, it’s pretty easy to understand why Joe Paterno didn’t do anything to protect the children being raped by Jerry Sandusky.

He’s Joe Paterno and probably feels entitled to do whatever he wants, just like Bill Donohue, Bishop Finn of Kansas City, the catholic pope, and the entire catholic church hierarchy.
Bill Donohue, Executive Director of Catholic League Center for Religious and Civil Rights,

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Nov 01 2011

Setting the record straight

Addendum: There is an almost completely new Victories Board which has corrected some of my concerns, so this should be read as an historical document from 2011. You can read my update on positive Victory changes here.
Here are important ethical and program related questions for the VOH Board to explore:

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Apr 20 2011

The Similarity Between the Modern Catholic Clergy Sex Abuse Scandal and the prior 2,000 Year History of the Catholic Church: Recovered Memory Series VIII

A key question in the recovered memory debate is whether it’s possible for someone to forget traumatic abuse and then remember it later, sometimes decades later.

If you want to move ahead and study some of the research validating this forgetting and remembering process, go to the following websites:

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