Archive for the ‘Police Therapy Tactics’ Category

Police Psychology:  Divorce Part 3

by Gary S. Aumiller, Ph.D.  ABPP


“At first I was afraid, I was petrified.  Kept thinking I could never live without you by my side.”

So starts the 70’s anthem song about the breakup.  Gloria Gaynor in 1978 found silver, gold and platinum, and became the singer of the only song to ever win a Grammy in the Best Disco Song of the Year category (it was only given one year before disco died in the charts).  It spoke to every woman “thinking how he did me wrong” and she “grew strong” and learned she had to survive.  It was excitement, passion, and most of all, something a large part of the record buying population could relate to.  And it was for men too.  Not too shabby for the “B” side of a small record by a Newark “New Joisy” girl.

Why did so many people relate to it?  It was a theme of recovery from a bad breakup and the mantra “I Will Survive” rang out for anyone who has had the experience of the severe wrenching pain when love turns into despair.  Survival is the most important thing through divorce.  Survival through terrible emotional ups and downs, through some severe depression, through grief.  What happens when you don’t survive?  You become bitter towards others.  You check out at work or overemphasize the role of work in your life, and you may not be ready for another relationship in your whole life.  Most suicides, especially in police populations, are stimulated by relationship breakups or relationship problems.  So, surviving a divorce is very important, in fact it is paramount to your future as a healthy individual.  How do you survive and how do you help your friends or a person that works for you survive during this most critical time in their life?  Let me give just a couple of principles of survival during divorce.

Relationships that end in divorce are seen by the parties as a monumental failures.  Two people make a pact and should stay together forever and live happily ever after.  Frankly that doesn’t happen very frequently.  It does happen sometimes, but people have a tendency to change from the starry-eyed person in love when kids come along or just through the fact of growing older.  In fact, just the process of having kids changes women physically, as their bodies prepare them to be mothers.  Men don’t have that metamorphosis and that often becomes an issue in relationships as sometimes the lifestyle doesn’t make the changes needed to prepare for another human in the home.  Sometimes men make the changes but women don’t.   You tend to draw a little into your own needs when there is a lot of stress in your life and then it becomes that no one cares about your needs.   All this is part of the failure that surrounds divorce.  You are afraid you will be seen as a failure to co-workers, to friends and sometimes afraid to lose respect in your own family or lose your spouse’s family.  The failure factor is the reason many people stay “married and miserable.”  Seeing a divorce as a failure needs to be taken down in your big board of thoughts.  Sometimes the mix just doesn’t last, or there were too much changes, or there was too big of an interaction effect (read the third to last paragraph).  You weren’t aware of the changes when you started the whole thing.  You weren’t aware of the interaction effect.   

Too often the spouse wants to blame the other person for the whole failure of the relationship.  I spoke about that in the Blame Game article.  But what I didn’t speak about is the fact that many people get serious side effects of blaming and they lose all sense of self.  They accept the blame and have a terrible view of themselves because they screwed up and they alone destroyed the relationship.  Not quite that way.  You lose your trust in your own moral character, your trust in your making decisions and even your trust in your problem-solving ability.  You see yourself as a hunk of turtle dung and stop functioning with any self-esteem at all.  The best thing to do is remind yourself or your friend of the good you’ve (they’ve) done in the world.  Have they been a good father or mother?  Have they been a good employee?  What have they accomplished?  You need to give them a constant reminder that the divorce is regarding the relationship and not in other parts of their life.  Build up their self-esteem, remind yourself or the other person what good has been done in the world because of their (your) work.

If I was to say there are only three factors, I would be being ridiculous, but a third major step is to make sure you or the other person knows how to go into survival.  In survival, you conserve resources, reduce behavior, reduce stress, go back to base levels in meeting wants while continuing to meet your basic needs.  Conserving resources means saving rather than spending, more than just money.  Holding back for doing things that take up a lot of your daily allowance, either financially or energy-wise is a good solid way to survive longer.  I mean, if you are in a box with limited oxygen do you continue to breathing every few seconds or do you reduce your breathing?  Same principle, stop expending resources so you have some left for whatever is down the road.  You cut back on your behavior when you slow up on the dating scene, the wild and crazy actions, even the events that you might have gone on otherwise.  How many times have you seen someone who gets divorced and two years later they are in exactly the same situation with another person very much like their first spouse.  You need to sit back and look at what is going on, and that means cut the noise of your own behavior.  This will also reduce the stress in your life.  Let’s face it, there is no good and bad stress, there is just stress.  Reducing stress generally means cutting back on something.  Cut back to a survival level so you are not in a state of having to figure out what is going to happen next.   Finally, you must distinguish between needs and wants.  Needs have to be met, wants are things you desire but don’t need to be met right now.  There is always another person to come along that will thrill you when the time is right.  In survival, you meet your needs and delay your wants, and that will help to clear your mind.

There is always a little pain in life and particularly in divorce.  But if you stop believing it is a sign of a monumental failure, stop beating yourself up over it, and cut back on what is unnecessary, you’ll be on the right track to a fix.  If you accept that people change, keep repeating the good things you have done in the world, and stay in survival mode awhile rather than meet your wants right at that moment, you will have a greater chance for a long-term recovery.  As most people say, divorce was the worst thing that ever happened to them and frequently the best things that ever happened to them.  It can be a freeing event in your life if you both have the right attitude about it.  Enjoy the freedom, but be careful not to fall into the traps in this article.  And remember the last words of the chorus of the song…

“I’ve got all my life to live, And I’ve got all my love to give and I’ll survive, I will survive.”


Site Administrator:  Gary S. Aumiller, Ph.D. ABPP

Please share this article from down below.

Please join the email list on the top of the sidebar and you can get these sent to your email.  Also follow me on Twitter ( for other articles and ideas, and YouTube at .

Share this Article:

Police Psychology:  Wish List

by Gary S. Aumiller, Ph.D.  ABPP

When I finished my doctoral dissertation, I had mesmerized my committee with a great presentation and knew just about everything ever published on my topic: “training parents to make kids behave.”  I literally knew more then anyone in the room on the topic and when I left the room, everyone was supposedly impressed as hell.  Then I came back in the room, and was told that they felt I was too obsessed with the topic and I needed to learn how to live instead of just the science.  See my mom had died in my first year of graduate school, and I had finished a five-year program in 3 ½ years, and my dissertation was three times the size of most of the dissertations they had seen. The committee gave me an exercise in the book The Magic of Thinking Big and said I wasn’t finished my school until I did the exercise.  I was in shock, but I went home and absorbed the book before I went to sleep (I guess I did tend to obsess) and the exercise was to make a “wish list” of the things I wanted to do in my life.  My list should be 100 items long and I was to think big.

I started writing and came up with 111 things including build a career, go to Paris and Italy, begin to learn to speak Italian.  Then I started thinking big and came up with sing on a gondola in Venice, cook in a French restaurant in France, travel to the furtherest point in the earth, see a national championship football game again, save a life, be in a movie, etc., etc.  I wanted some things that were a little out there, but surprisingly it made me feel better to dream and to take the time to think of myself and what I wanted to do.  I didn’t realize the power of the “wish list” until a few years later. When I had become a police psychologist. (more…)

Share this Article:

Police Psychology | “Inside the Mind” of an Anarchist

by Gary S. Aumiller, Ph.D. ABPP

There are the guys seen dressed in all black with black masks that are crashing chairs through windows and ripping up cars alongside of the road at the recent demonstrations.  They are destruction-oriented and do not tend to favor either party, although they sit with the extreme left now and most often do.  They look for a peaceful demonstrations and turn it into a riot.   They call themselves anarchists, and they are not so much of a group as an instant mob, just add water.  One thing is for sure, they make a demonstration uncomfortable, not only for police, but for the demonstrators themselves.

A true anarchist does not want any government at all.  They fight all forms of authority and even fight the idea that a society should be organized.  That is why they look for demonstrations and try to create chaos.  They don’t like authority so they destroy anything built by a company, such as a building.  The cars they just throw in for free as they represent the hierarchy of life.  They wear black for a reason, and it is not to look thin.  Black is the absence of color, the absence of light.   This is homegrown terrorism and the actors are known as domestic terrorists.  But there is more than meets the eye in this terrorist movement.  Let’s get inside “THE MIND OF AN ANARCHIST.” (more…)

Share this Article:

Police Psychology | Building Resilience

 by Doug Gentz, Ph.D. Psychological Services

Resilience is the ability to effectively and quickly recover from difficulties, failures, illness, and injuries.  From a neurophysiological perspective, resilience is the ability to recover rapidly from sympathetic nervous system (SNS) over-activations with adequate parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS) activations. Since working in law enforcement guaranties moderate SNS over-activations on a frequent basis and intense SNS over-activations on occasion, enhanced nervous system resilience is a long-term survival booster.

Four strategies for enhancing resilience are 1) minimize your exposure to unnecessary negative environmental over-stimulation, 2) take more responsibility for how you interpret your experiences, 3) notice and manage dysfunctional SNS over-activations with PSNS activations as soon as feasible, 4) stay in good cardiovascular condition with a regular aerobic exercise program supplemented with regular strength and flexibility training.   (more…)

Share this Article:

Police Psychology | Apocalypse or Utopia:  You Decide

by Gary S. Aumiller, Ph.D.  ABPP


I have learned a lot in my sixty years about the intricacies of the human mind.  I have learned about intelligence, about federal politics and the criminal mind.  I have learned a lot about women, and especially when to keep my mouth shut.  I am learning much more about children first hand, although I had a good handle on them before.  And, I am also learning first-hand about aging and the process of going toward the “finish line of life.”  But, I have never learned how to predict the future.

I will confess, I did not like Hillary Clinton.  I have talked to a lot of federal agents, secret service and the like, who were around her from her husband’s presidency on, and they were not flattering at all to her.  Him yes, her no.  I also don’t like the refugee situation she wanted to create, the destruction of evidence, the confiscated FBI files from when her husband was president, among other things.  On the other side, a close friend of mine did business with Donald Trump, and he was told point blank that he wasn’t getting what he was promised for work already done, for no other reason than Trump was cutting corners.  Trump’s brash, emotionally responsive, and unfiltered, and he says things that are just off.  He takes politically incorrect to a whole new level, and although I am far from politically correct, I am not as extreme.  Besides, I am mellowing with age.  What a choice, but the process is over and we go through an inauguration this week, one that is guaranteed to make some happy and others disgusted.  But, all said,  I still can’t predict the future.  What I can predict is we voted for change, and we are likely to get it. (more…)

Share this Article: