Friday, November 21, 2014

Adolescents and Secrecy

You know (referring to all three of my readers), every so often I run across an article that gets my mind going. The reason I say that it's only "every so often" is because much of what I read seems to be repetitive; therefore, when I come across something that really catches my interest I like to talk about it.

In my job for the University I have the unending privilege to review dozens of student responses per week online. Most of them include article reviews. Today, I read one that reviewed an article on the correlation between parent invasion with adolescents and adolescent secrecy. It indicated that there is a positive correlation between the two behaviors. In other words, the more parents pry with their adolescents, the higher the chance that the adolescent will engage in acts of secrecy. Now, I did not follow through with reading what types of secrecy, so in the case of my comments that will not be addressed. It wasn't so much the results of the study that intrigued me or got me thinking. It was more the idea of why an adolescent feels or believes that secrecy must be used when a parent asks "what is going on?" Moreover, I would want to know what type of interaction the parents had with the child long before they progressed into adolescence and how that interaction played into the adolescents' perceived need for secrecy? What was being taught in the home? What kinds of principles were encouraged and modeled for them? Now, I do understand that a child, once they grow into an adolescent is trying to build an identity. Erik Erikson was very clear on that with his psychosocial stages of development. I am also not implying that if a child is taught principles of transparency and integrity that they won't "experiment" when they become an adolescent. That happens! I am simply curious what happened before the child became an adolescent and what would be considered statistically significant if deeper research were done.

My thoughts may seem archaic and maybe even a little outdated, but as a mental health clinician, and as a father myself, I prefer the idea that if you teach children and even adolescents correct principles to live by, then the likelihood of inter and intrapersonal integrity is increased. I do know that there are those out there that follow evolutionary and developmental models who might disagree with me. They may say that it is part of an adolescent's developmental and genetic make-up to experiment and make mistakes and that it is only by those mistakes that they will learn. Because I have only three readers or maybe even three-hundred, I argue that it is not necessary, but it does happen. One can learn how to live with integrity without the need for secrecy. Those are just my thoughts.

Dr Law

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Here We Go Again...More Trauma Thoughts...

Recently, while reviewing a few discussions with my job with Capella University, I came across a really great thread and it got me thinking. No one will ever read this, so I will leave it "as is" without editing it.

This discussion got me thinking about trauma, as a general area of study and treatment, and how my opinion and viewpoint of it has changed drastically over the years. I remember originally finding the trauma response as being an invasive and tragic experience for clients. Biochemically speaking, their lymbic system super-cedes their prefrontal cortex  due to the situation creating a survival response (freeze, fight, flight). Then, due to the severity or consistency of the trauma, their lymbic system tells the autonomic nervous system to remain in a hyper-alert response in order to prepare for possible traumas in the future. The experience thus results in poor sleep, anxiousness, avoidance, dissociation to some extent (sometimes), and intrusive symptoms such as nightmares, flashbacks, or even reliving the trauma.

However, as time went on and after I had worked with many clients, I began to see it in a different light. I didn't see it as invasive any longer. I realized that invasiveness was akin to a victim role that someone might not overcome. I began to see it in an existential light, in that "life sometimes throws things at us, every hour of every day, and asks us 'what are you going to do with this now?'" I realized that most of the strongest people in history have pasts that are wrought with pain and heartache, yet they survived and even thrived. It didn't mean that they didn't struggle. They almost began to find a purpose in their existence and even meaning from the trauma. I realized, in my view, that it had to do with viewpoint and mindset. Many of the clients I worked with that WANTED to overcome it succeeded. Those that didn't want to, or didn't believe they could, or didn't believe they were worthy of it had a harder time.

Additionally, I began to change my worldview on what is painful and what is fair when it comes to equality. Due to life's struggles I began to think that all people despite race, ethnicity, culture, SES status, country of birth, background, etc. had pain and happiness and that what made us equal was not any of the aforementioned things, but that we all came into this world in a similar fashion, we all strive for similar goals (some semblance of happiness or joy), that we all struggle in our own individual ways, and that we ultimately leave the earth in the same way (i.e. our heart stops beating, our lungs stop filling with air, our organs cease to function) and that it makes us very similar. Therefore, I had the capacity to help others in all kinds of pickles, because I understand it to some extent what it means to be happy and to struggle. Thus, trauma has taught me a lot and I hope to continue learning from it.
Dr Law