Archive for the ‘Mastering Change’ 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. (more…)

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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…)

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Police Psychology:  New Year’s Resolutions

by Gary S. Aumiller, Ph.D.  ABPP


I asked my intern what her New Year’s Resolutions were and she said she wanted to go to the gym more often, graduate college and get a job. She also wanted to make her room less messy. I want to be able to still remember when I graduated college, or got my first real job, and I have given up long ago on the gym or the clean office. “I can’t stand all the disgusting youth at the gym. It’s all over the place.” Her resolutions don’t really help me decide mine. I must find someone else. I must ask my patients.

Less anxious, less angry, happier, less complaining, drink less, etc. My patients weren’t much help either. I actually need to drink more (red wine is good for the heart), get angry on more occasions, and care enough about things to give a damn about complaining. Where will the search for a resolution lead me next. Sure, I need to lose weight, clean up the office and ten thousand things around work, but what about real resolutions. (more…)

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Police Psychology | Police Divorce Part 2:  Hate to Admit

by Dr. Gary S. Aumiller

When I was in my late 20’s and just married, I asked a friend of ours (who was really old, a few years short of 40) what was it like to be divorced?  police, divorce, psychologyDoes it feel different?!  He had an early marriage that didn’t work, and frankly divorce wasn’t in my wheel of experiences then, so I was curious.  He said “it was really rough at first, but looking back now it was just a relationship gone bad, like you had in high school or college.”  I didn’t buy it.  I mean this was a marriage, the sanctity of vows, building a life together, dreams, together goals, and all that jazz.      

So you’ve started the process of getting a divorce.  You’ve stopped blaming the other party.  You’ve stopped envisioning him in a refrigerator box living on the streets or her in a mental hospital, now you have to do something, right?   Time to find some loose women and play the field, or find a real man that knows how to take care of a woman, or play on the other team for awhile and gain some new experiences with your own sex, or become more independent and find yourself by jumping out of a plane, or perhaps stay with that new love that got you out of your marriage and will lead you to eternal bliss.  Let me know how these work out for you.  I’ll be waiting for you to boomerang to the same spot you are in right now.  (more…)

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Police Psychology | Police Divorce Part 1: Shutting Down the Blame Game

by  Dr. Gary Aumiller, Ph.D.    ABPP

The real cause of police suicide is divorce or marital problems. Internal affairs investigations are a distant second. I would venture to say divorcewhen human error comes into play in car chases, and misjudgments by cops, there is often a divorce behind it. As the rest of the regular world, most officers going through a divorce can think of nothing else in that time. They find they have a hard time concentrating and they lose focus easily. Their emotions are on edge, and deep sleep is a sporadic visitor in their life. Not so bad if you are an accountant, but it can be a killer if you are a cop. Literally. And it doesn’t have to be that way. This series on Divorce is about how to calm down a divorce when you are facing one. The first thing we want to talk about is the Blame Game.

I was a consultant with the FBI and we decided to throw three conferences to find out what was really going on with police officers. They were going to invite the best people in the world for these conferences and give them a place to stay in the academy to discuss issues on the topics. The first was Domestic Violence in law enforcement officers, the second was Suicide and the third was Divorce. The first two came off wonderfully and gave the field the basis for policy and program development. The third was interrupted by an internal transfer and lockdown after 9/11. At that conference most psychologists would have stood up and presented internet quote of the police divorce rate being 60-70% (in the general population, somewhere around 45-50% deal with a divorce in a lifetime). A psychologist from Virginia named Mike Aamodt would have gotten up and presented a very logical technique to show that the divorce rate was the same as the general population or that there was no good research on it in policing (he actually did that research anyway using census data). I would have gotten up and presented an innovative treatment program which would have been ignored by mostly everyone for ten years.  There is one thing I can tell you for sure, a cop is much more likely to go through a divorce than shoot his weapon at an assailant in his career, but most academies train how to shoot repeatedly and going through divorce not at all. So let’s begin by learning how to treat a divorce in policing. (more…)

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