Archive for the ‘Police Stress’ Category

Police Psychology | PTSD 4:  Flashbacks

Gary S. Aumiller, Ph.D.  ABPP


Of course, you are going to think I’ve lost it on this one, but it shows some merit.  And it makes some sense logically.  Researchers in England  say that flashbacks from traumatic events can be moderated through playing Tetris right after the event occurs.  That’s Tetris, the video game where you move puzzle pieces in all directions to make lines or blocks. etc. Makes you wonder if Candy Crush can be used for Ragin’ Anxiety and Donkey Kong and the Mario brothers could be used to sew up Open Heart Surgery!

So the thought is this: by playing a video game after a serious traumatic incident, you are stimulating your eye movement and concentration and that causes the brain to not be able to spend all its time to store long term memories, thus it doesn’t keep coming back into your head as much.  In fact, in the medical journal called Molecular Psychiatry in March of this year told of a study that gave people Tetris after a traumatic incident and others were given a placebo or basically nothing.  The Tetris group had 9 flashbacks the next week while the nothing groups had 23 flashback the next week.  Pretty significant!  Oxford University in England and the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden said just 20 minutes of Tetris right after a traumatic incident was all that was needed to greatly reduce all PTSD effects.  Scientific America reported the same effect in their study.  In fact, case studies are cropping up all over saying that Tetris therapy is great at reducing flashbacks if given in the hospital after car accident, witnessing shootings and even rape.  Let me get this right, (doctor calls out to nurse):  scalpel…suture…bandage…Gameboy.  This doesn’t make sense to me, but let’s look at it a little closer… (more…)

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Police Psychology | PTSD 3:  Car Accidents

by Gary S. Aumiller, Ph.D. ABPP


Of course, they’re driving around 24 hours a day, non-stop.  The problem is there are other people on the road.  The cops have lights on the car and fancy writing, but that just attracts people who have only partial attention to a mundane task like driving.  Two cars hit, one of them is a cop car.  From helping cop to a victim, from a person in charge to helpless man lying on the ground in pain or even unconscious.   At an accident scene, we are worried about everything from keeping the traffic moving to making sure everyone gets the help that is needed.  But the help the cop needs may not be as obvious as a broken bone, or some blood-stained clothes.  And that becomes a major problem for policing.

A New York Times article in June of last year told a story about a physician that was analyzing a soldier’s brain that had been in Iraq and Afghanistan, and had died of a drug overdose.  He was complaining of sleep problems, cognitive problems, memory loss, balance problems and suicidal depression.  The physician notices a buildup of a certain type of protein and some dust-like scarring between the gray matter and the white matter of the brain.  Many other soldiers’ brains seem to have the same scarring and complained of the same symptoms.  The physicians felt it was from blast exposure, or all the loud sounds a soldier was exposed to.  Up to 20 percent of soldiers seem to have these symptoms at different levels of severity.  Problem was soldiers didn’t want to report it for fear they would be seen as going crazy.  The article opines that in World War I, thousands of soldiers were shot for desertion or cowardice that may well of had a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).  In the 2015 movie “Concussion,” Will Smith play Dr. Bennett Amalu who fights against the NFL when he discovers microtears in the brains cells of football players and the NFL won’t recognize it.  Players complained of headaches, problems sleeping …(you know the rest).   The NFL and the American Military recognize it as a disorder, when will our police departments become aware of it and recognize it? (more…)

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Police Psychology | The Obsessed Mind-Body Connection

by Gary S. Aumiller, Ph.D. ABPP

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Police Psychology: Intrinsic Heart Rate – A Landmark for the Ability to Engage in Rational Thought

by Doug Gentz, Ph.D. – Psychological Services

Your intrinsic (inherent) heart rate is how fast your heart would beat when you are calm and at rest if it wasn’t slowed down to your (observed) resting rate by your vagus nerve. Your resting heart rate is best measured  when you’re comfortably laying down and relaxed. The “normal”  resting rate for a healthy, young adult ranges from about 60 to 85 beats per minute (bpm), slightly higher on average for females than males. Individuals with well conditioned cardiovascular systems may have lower resting rates, often less than 60 bpm.

intrinsic-heart-rateLet’s start with two systems in your body — the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) and the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PSNS).  The sympathetic nervous system raises you up, pumps blood to your muscles, makes you heart rate go up, releases acid in your stomach to chew up the food, makes you breathe shallow and quick and all stuff so you can fight or flight.  It throws your brain into the mode that causes tunnel vision, so it affect everything.  Now you can’t just keep going up and up, so the parasympathetic nervous system calms you down.  It releases the different hormones and stuff that calms all the body down so you can relax.   They work in conjunction with each other to regulate your body and make it a mean fighting machine, or a run fast and get away from the Tyrannosaurs Rex running machine.

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Police Psychology | An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure

Robert John Zagar PhD MPH and Brandon Northern

Current ways of finding challenges like trauma and stress miss 61% of at-risk. Conventional approaches of interviews, background checks, and short paper and pencil tests are less than chance accurate and comparable to a coin toss. This costs billions of U.S. dollars in work productivity. This is money that can be used for education, and making communities, workplaces, and the armed forces safer. Finding trauma and post-traumatic stress are crucial to treating it, given that many estimates suggest one in five police officers and even more corrections officers suffer chronically from these two issues.  It is an occupational hazard built into the job.

Post-traumatic stress (PTSD) is experienced at many points of life, in any setting. Understanding that it can be diagnosed accurately and treated is crucial to keeping police officers healthy and functioning at peak levels. Understanding PTSD requires comprehending trauma. To do that it’s important to distinguish between acute and chronic trauma. (more…)

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