Archive for the ‘Police Stress’ Category

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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Police Psychology | Not-So-Fantastic Four

by Gary S. Aumiller, Ph.D.  ABPP

The Human Torch, the Invisible Woman, the Thing and Mr. Fantastic are Marvel’s creation of four people with super powers who work BURSTRESStogether as a team to stop crime.  Not one of their powers is complete, but together they are unstoppable.  In fact in each adventure, at least one of them is in jeopardy, but gets saved by the other.  They are effective as a team and that is why we like them so much. 

Stress” also is a team and is a powerful team that works together for one overall effect.  It’s just not such a good team.  You see, stress is cumulative, and one stress builds on top of the other.   Individually, they might not be so effective, but together they can put you on the floor.

I would like to propose that when it comes to police psychology, we look at law enforcement as having four sources that contribute to police stress:  institutional, lifestyle, traumatic, and operational.  I call them the Not-So-Fantastic Four —  The superheroes of making stress!

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Police Psychology | PTSD 2:  Crash and Burn

by Gary S. Aumiller, PH.D.  ABPP

Have you ever had the chance to be in a drunk driving simulation or even play a game on a drunk driving simulator?  You try to keep the car on a straight path, but it keeps moving around.  Every turn you make for the car is exaggerated and you end up swerving and pretty much out of control down the road.  They even have games wheregears in head you can add a pint of beer or a shot to the mix and see how hard it is to control the car with the extra drink.  Essentially, you feel like you are separate from the vehicle, and the vehicle is doing whatever it wants.   Until you crash and burn at the end.  You almost always crash and burn or else there was no lesson taught.

When you have PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), it is very much like being the driver in one of those simulators.  You can usually control the directions, but the magnitude of the response is often not connected to the action you thought you made.  Your emotions and feeling seem almost not linked to the events that are happening.  It weird when you go from calm to angry in a matter of seconds or you go from smiling to crying because someone got a “A” on their report card in a kid’s movie that your child was watching on the Disney channel.  There’s a name for all this, of course, us doctors give names for anything and everything.  But the name is not as important to understand as the problems this can cause, the fact that it is normal and how to get rid of it! (more…)

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