Archive for the ‘Police Stress’ Category

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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Police Psychology | Getting Off the Floor

by an Anonymous Reader


Do you remember the first few minutes before you entered the police academy as a recruit? There were a million thoughts running through your mind. You landed the greatest job in the world and now you are going to get some of the best training ever.  You probably thought I am going to be trained on everything from a car stop to recovering evidence at a homicide scene.  I’m going to be in the best shape ever by running and lifting weights, learn how use defensive tactics, and learn how to shoot a pistol. It just dawned on you that you are going to be “that” person who is requesting you to go a 911 to handle anything.  Sounds exciting!

What happens when you have a few years on the job and you come across the “S” word? The “S word I am referring to is Stress. Stress comes in so many different forms for officers.  You may find out one day anxiety, Police Psychologyduring a physical exam you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol.  You may find you can’t sleep at night.  You are more irritable and moody than ever before. You are breathing heavily. Your heart rate is through the roof. You are constantly nervous.  You worry about everything.  You don’t want to make a mistake. Everyone is watching your every move.  That’s how I ended up on the floor! (more…)

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 Police Psychology | Too Much Ugly

By Robin Kroll, PsyD ABPP


When officer Frank arrived at the scene of the crash, he knew immediately there was a fatality. He found the teenage driver ejected, lying on the side of the road, dying. In his attempt to give aid, he heard the gurgling sound that was all too familiar, the sound of death. He detested that sound.  Officer Frank has a 16-year-old son of his own and immediately felt the parent’s pain.

He knew he had to pull it together so, without emotion, he mechanically and procedurally finished his tour and headed home. In his 17 years on the job, Frank had seen a lot of violence; a lot of death; a lot of “ugly.” He thought he would be used to it, but today he felt “off.” Today he thought of his own son. Today he felt intense pain. (more…)

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Police Psychology | Night of the Living Binge

by Gary S. Aumiller, Ph.D.  ABPP

I’ve got to have some chocolate before dinner. Where is it?  Wait there’s some cheese.  I could eat this cheese instead.  Where’s the knife?  Hell I don’t need a knife, I could eat the whole chunk of cheese in two bites.  drinking policeOkay, now what else, I’m still hungry.  How about those potato chips?  There less than a third of the bag.  Let me eat those.  I’ll keep looking through here.  Hello, a slice of old pizza! That is a piece of heaven.  Let me just eat you, you poor little neglected pizza right now.  I love cold pizza, wait, is that the chicken parm from Tuesday?  Hell, if someone doesn’t eat that it is going to be bad tomorrow. I could go for some chicken parm, after all my wife is making salmon cakes tonight and I never liked salmon cakes, and I didn’t have much lunch, and man this is good!  Now where was that chocolate?  Ahh, I think I see chocolate – nah, just Cocoa Puffs.  Well that is chocolate flavored, let me take a handful of that. Wait, there’s the chocolate. Mmm, nothing like the real thing. SLAM.  The front door opens.

“Hi honey, I thought we’d go out for dinner tonight.  I don’t feel like cooking.”

“Yes dear. I’m ready. Let’s go have some dinner…..”  Despite eating enough calories to choke a hippo, you go and have dinner, and boy do you feel it later that night. (more…)

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