The mind is freed: is it possible to overcome a traumatic experience

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© Juan Chavarria Jr.

Is it possible to make the mind more stable? To answer this question, the BBC journalist Emma young studied the basic methods of training of the psyche to combat extreme stress. Published a translation of this text. "It was a beautiful day, I think he will be remembered by all. And now, even when the day is beautiful, and the sky blue, I think only about one thing: what else can happen?"

On Tuesday 11 September 2001, the headmistress Lisa Sigman was at his workplace at the school in the heart of Manhattan. Windows in the classroom with the fifth graders on the fourth floor of the building looked out on the world trade center. "Had a great view on the twin towers," said Lisa. — "Suddenly, the children saw people jumping from the Windows. The boys immediately ran into the school lobby as though they were punched in the stomach".

The school was far enough and students are not required to evacuate, but that's why it ferried students from two other schools that were closer to the destruction area. In the afternoon, the school turned into a temporary morgue, and trucks-refrigerated trucks stood along Hudson street.

The tragedy has affected the majority of children across the city. By the end of the same day, municipal authorities established a special "September 11 Fund". First donations went to direct assistance — food for the rescuers and to assist the victims and their families, but then embrace a program for the rehabilitation of citizens after the incident. The fact that the injury was not only physical but also mental. The priests and psychiatrists have teamed up to offer their support and expertise. They were not thinking about children: how they coped with this stress and trauma?

The discussion was attended by Linda Lantieri, a former headmistress of a school in East Harlem and administrator with the City Department of education. She helped to develop the social and emotional trainings for students, he co-founded and headed the "national center for creative conflict resolution" — an organization founded to overcome the consequences of school violence. Lantieri, showed their strengths in effective support, helping children cope with trauma and learn to control your emotions. She outlined his solution: increase resilience — the ability to go through difficulties without serious mental damage.

Since that time similar programs to stimulate mental stability began to introduce in schools around the world — not only in order to help children to recover from serious injuries but also to cope with daily stress. Mass used techniques like "mindfulness", which, according to some, promotes the stability of the psyche. Meanwhile, the scientists studied adults successfully operating in stressful situations, in order to understand what you need to consciousness was truly persistent. Is it possible to teach people to be more mentally tough?

In the scientific community the concept of mental stability came from studies of children who succeeded in life, despite adversity — poverty or domestic violence. Long endurance time was considered a factor congenital or acquired in childhood. This view is fueled by the popular statistics about traumatic experiences: the majority of people will quickly be back to normal, but there will be those who will say that he became even stronger than before; the remaining eight percent will develop post-traumatic stress disorder, claimed eminent American specialists.

Dennis Charney of the school of medicine at mount Sinai in new York and Stephen Southwick Yale school of medicine enthusiastically immersed himself in research, trying to understand why some people are more stable than others.

Extreme stratclyde, whose bodies rapidly respond to the threat of a surge of hormones adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol, and then also recover quickly seem to cope better with stressful situations and activities (e.g., work in the armed forces).

More stable people seem to use better hormone dopamine, which plays an important role in brain reward system to maintain a positive attitude in times of difficulty. The Charney group, together with colleagues from the National Institute of health, examined a group of special forces of the United States. They found that the level of activity of their systems of remuneration remained high when they lost money in a virtual game, unlike the brain activity of civilian volunteers. This suggests that the system is stable brain activity of people can be in General less susceptible to stress and adversity.

The structure of the brain of each of the soldiers showed the presence of a large and healthy hippocampus (which is not only involved in the formation of memories, but is also responsible for the release of adrenaline during a reaction of "fight or flight"), as well as strong activity in the prefrontal cortex, a brain area, entitled "rational thinking". This, in turn, inhibits the activity of the amygdaloid bodies of the brain that process negative emotions such as fear or anger, allowing the prefrontal cortex to create a rational plan for solving the problem.

"Had a great view on the twin towers. Suddenly, the children saw people jumping from the Windows. The boys immediately ran into the school lobby as though they were punched in the stomach"

In addition, Charney, and Southwick investigated the psychological attitudes and mental strategies related to sustainability. They interviewed a former pow of the Vietnam war, victims of sexual violence in Washington, survivors of the earthquake in Pakistan and, later, of the people injured in the terrorist attack of September 11. "We started with a clean slate," said Charney. Those who managed to recover, they asked some questions: "Tell me how you did it? What factors influenced this?"

Thanks to this scientific work of Charney and Southwick identified ten psychological and social factors that help to increase resilience — both individually and in effective combinations:

• ability to deal with his fear

• the presence of a moral compass

• reliance on faith

• the adoption of social support

• presence of positive role models

• good physical shape

• the desire to ensure your doubts

• the presence of cognitive and emotional flexibility

• the presence of meaning, purpose and opportunities for growth in life

• "realistic" optimism

Charney and Southwick was convinced that the development of these factors can lead to positive changes in the lives of healthy people — in their ability to cope with deep trauma and everyday stress. This progress can help one of the techniques. Until recently it was little known, and has now become common: awareness.

The origins of the concept of completeness awareness lie in Zen Buddhism, but its highlights — including the attention and the awareness, are secular. The modern definition States that it is free from judgment, an arbitrary focus of attention with the progressive formation of the experience in each concrete moment of the act of awareness.

Practice osoznaniya opinion, Lantieri, the awareness and other fundamental strategies for reducing stress is a critical Foundation for the changes mentioned by Charney. She stressed: "Many of these factors are internal forces that can be developed through mindfulness: for example, cognitive and emotional flexibility and overcoming fear. You can't just tell people about the need to face their fears, not explaining how to do it."

In September 2001, when new Yorkers were clearing the rubble, Lantieri developed for teachers "Program sustainability". It has compiled a set of techniques for promoting mindfulness in the classroom to help children cope not only with such serious injuries as consequences of a terrorist attack, but also with everyday stressors — exams, poverty or family quarrels. These techniques included deep breathing, designed to improve awareness of my body and closure which will at least partially cope with stress and anxiety and, presumably, will improve long-term mental stability.

Although, Lantieri is a "veteran" in the field of promotion programs to increase stability, she's not alone. The concept of sustainability is popular outside the school walls. In February of this year the inter-party government in the United Kingdom has prepared a special report calling on schools to promote "character and resilience". In may, all parties United to launch the ad hoc group focused on the research potential of practice completeness awareness in education and health care and criminal justice.

Mark Williams, head of the Center for mindfulness at Oxford University, was a co-author of the methodology for the treatment of depression called "cognitive therapy awareness". It involves encouraging patients aimed to find out their thoughts and accept without judgment. Studies have shown that this method can be as effective to prevent recurrence of painful conditions in people who once struggled through the depression as drugs.

Meanwhile, in 2010 a pair of former teachers in the UK have gathered to develop a "School project awareness". They developed a curriculum of nine lessons to teach children the basics of meditation in awareness (for example, the "body scan"), helping them to cope with stress and keep the attention on the present.

Martin Seligman (known as the father of positive psychology) and the University of Pennsylvania developed the "Pennsylvania program stability" for students in primary and secondary schools, the main focus was on the content of the thoughts. For more than twelve sessions of 90 minutes students were trained to fix erroneous judgments, to assess their accuracy and to combat the negative beliefs with the search for alternative explanations ("the Popular girl ignored me in the corridor, not out of hatred, but because they just didn't notice"). In addition, students learn the techniques of ' assertiveness, negotiation, decision making, problem solving, and relaxation.

What is proof theory?But are these programs? The efficiency of a course of awareness in the curricula of six schools have been carefully studied during the initial study conducted by Willem Keygenom at the University of Exeter in conjunction with other specialists. The results, published in the British psychiatric journal in 2013 showed that the programme has had a promising, but ultimately little effect on the level of stress and well-being. But scientists have expressed a desire to continue study in a large-scale experiment in secondary schools.

Pennsylvania program sustainability noted in the US and UK, the effect was again small but statistically significant. On average, the scientists noted "some impact on depression level, attendance and grades in English language and mathematics," — said in the report. However, the effect lasted only for the next year, and a year later disappeared completely.

"You can't just tell people about the need to face their fears, without explaining how to do it"

"This does not mean that the program is useless," said Kaikeyi. Research that includes all — not just those who have problems, usually show a small result. "These methods have the potential to bias the Gaussian curve — that is, can help those who are at one end of it is at risk of depression, those who feels great and most in the middle of the schedule."

"Until now, there is no panacea when it comes to mental stability of children," warns Ron Palomares, school psychologist at Texas women's University. From 2000 to 2013 he worked at the American psychological Association "the Road to sustainability", which he created after September 11 to inform the public how to become more persistent. "For teenagers with symptoms of depression Penn program might fit better," he added. A program of awareness developed in the US and the UK, focused on the management of emotions, with which some children have problems, but others — no.

An integrated approach "Program of the internal stability", Lantieri more suitable for whole groups, such as schools, because more likely to satisfy the needs of most students. Compared to government programmes, methods, Lantieri like a "bag of tricks" or "practical strategies" as she described it. The activist says that she wants to give adults and children the maximum number of opportunities to help cope with what life presents them. "We are able to protect children from what they may face in this complex and unstable world, to just the extent that they wish. We have to give them all the skills of inner resilience, so they were ready for normal daily life".

This program was adopted in schools in Ohio, Vermont, Manhattan, and launched in Madrid. According to Lantieri, was involved in more than 6,000 teachers and 40,000 students. The estimates were various, but the Lantieri not aware of the formal parameters. Given the loose way of combining elements of the programme (some schools used them more, some less), to make such a report it would be difficult. "It was really organic. And should be so, because every school is such a mixture of people, opinions and personal experience. You can't force everyone to do the same".

Headmistress Eileen Reiter school No. 112 in new York has been teaching for 50 years. Emerging new techniques, but the system, Lantieri features equal attention to teachers and students. The writer shares the opinion that calm the trained teachers more likely to help children. "We are talking about that care about the teachers passed to their care for students." Namely, these children need the fullness of help that could get. "Many children grow up with grandparents or in foster families. Some in the shelters, someone has one parent or even both are in prison. Also have children with special educational needs".

When collapsed the twin towers, the writer just assumed the position of headmistress. "Prior to this event all felt safe, but it opened our eyes. The time has come to think about it, if we support children in their daily tension."



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