Posted: January 19, 2016 in Mastering Resilience
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Marla W. Friedman Psy.D., Board of Directors-Badge of Life

Immediate Past Chair PPSS/ILACP,  Booklight@att.net


In the last 35 years I have provided psychotherapy services to a wide range of patients, in both inpatient and outpatient settings. I have worked with people from every profession. However it is my experiences with veterans, law enforcement and public safety personnel that have been some of the most challenging and satisfying work that I have been involved in.

Over the years I have compiled this list to distribute to patients who are in public service so they can see that they are not alone in their struggles. I do not give the list to every patient, as I want to protect law enforcement from repercussions from the public, as some of the issues should remain private within their profession.

We can all identify with some of these statements but some are unique to under cover agents, dispatchers, firefighters and police officers.   As a result of my good fortune to work with these remarkable and brave women and men I developed this list I call, “The Short List of Human Problems.”

I have bad credit.

I can’t afford the life I’m living.

My job consumes my life.

I don’t know how to set boundaries between my job and my personal life.

I have family conflict that is getting worse and worse.

My relationships with my significant other and children are deteriorating daily.

I can’t feel emotionally close to anyone.

I have dropped my friends.

I feel


I felt helpless in the past on the job.

I feel I have no control over things that are happening.

I only hang out with other cops.

I don’t know how to raise children.

I don’t want to fuck-up my kids.

I am afraid of losing my children.

I want the respect of my children.

I can’t confide in my spouse or significant other.

Sometimes I wish I were dead.

I’m having an affair.

I’ve had multiple affairs.

I’m currently separated from my spouse or significant other.

I don’t want people to know my secrets.

I want to tell someone my secrets because they are killing me.

I’m divorced.

I’ve had multiple divorces.

I’ve lost respect for myself.

I’m adopted and it bothers me.

Most people are assholes.

I grew up in foster care.

I want to adopt children.

I don’t like or want children.

I have fertility issues.

I have financial problems.

I have caused someone to die.

I have seen dead bodies.

I’ve lost my confidence in my decision-making.

I have seen dying and dead children.

I have killed a child.

I have seen too many dead people.

I don’t want to see others in pain anymore.

My boss doesn’t care if I get killed as long as I get the job done.

No one would miss me if I were gone.

I want to cause pain to others.

I’m glad when bothersome people die.

I want to kill someone.

I have killed someone in my personal life.

I’m involved in illegal activity on the job.

My peers are involved in illegal activity with me.

I have done something illegal and I can’t undo it.

I have obsessive thoughts that bother me.

I have behaviors I feel compelled to do, but I don’t understand why.

I’ve been bullied and taunted on the job.

I don’t want anyone in the department to know I’m gay.

I’ve bullied others.

I’m being blackmailed.

I am the only female in my department.

I have been sexually harassed.

I’m trapped by my previous actions.

I’m in too deep and I can’t see a way out.

I can’t correct the things I’ve done wrong.

I feel angry all the time.

I’m afraid I will cry in front of others.

I have tampered with evidence because I was pressured to do so.

I have tampered with evidence because it was right and just in the long run.

I lie

I steal.

I feel guilty about things I’ve thought or done.

I don’t feel guilt.

My life is in danger by people I know.

My life is in danger because I am in law enforcement.

People don’t respect me because I am in law enforcement.

I have perjured myself in court to protect others or myself.

I have perjured myself because I thought it was the right thing to do in the long run.

I feel sick all the time.

I have panic attacks.

I’m embarrassed about my feelings.

I feel like I can’t learn things fast enough.

I don’t believe in God.

I don’t believe in God anymore.

God has saved me.

I wish I could believe in God.

I feel frustrated with technology.

I feel like I can never catch up on all of the things I’m supposed to be doing.

I hear voices that other people don’t hear and it bothers me.

I have a hard time trusting anyone anymore.

I have fears and phobias that I hide from other people.

I’m afraid if I go for counseling I’ll be misdiagnosed as crazy, and I’m not.

Sometimes I think I’m crazy.

Sometimes I don’t feel like a real person.

I don’t know how I got here.

My sense of time is off.

I feel shame.

I have intrusive thought about events I was involved with.

I sometimes get confused.

I have isolated myself personally and professionally.

I drink too much alcohol.

I misuse prescription drugs.

I use street drugs.

I gamble too much.

I have a sex addiction.

I have unusual sexual interests.

I can’t share my sexual preferences with my spouse or significant other.

I’m addicted to pornography.

I rely on prostitutes.

I have a lot of credit card debt.

I over rely on caffeine, sugar and fast foods.

I’m caring for my aging parents.

I have an ill child.

My child is dying.

My child or children are dead.

I am devastated by the loss of a pet.

I have a history of sexual abuse.

I have a history of physical abuse.

I have a history of emotional abuse.

I have a history of verbal abuse.

I am an abuser.

I am frequently agitated and I snap at people I love.

I have or continue to abuse people physically, emotionally, sexually or verbally.

I have witnessed abuse of many kinds.

I hate myself.

I don’t understand how someone could love me.

I have stolen money.

I have difficulty feeling sexually aroused.

I can’t have an orgasm.

I feel worthless.

I hate people.

I’ve been betrayed.

I’m afraid to tell anyone my thoughts.

I have problems with my memory.

I worry constantly about my health.

I have medical problems that interfere with my personal life and my job.

I am alone.

I am in agony.

I don’t want anyone to know that there is something very wrong with me.

I don’t want to disappoint my family.

My children hate me.

My children are disappointed with me.

I continue to break promises to my family.

I don’t want to disappoint my chief.

I hate my chief.

I don’t want to appear weak.

I’m afraid to go on an antidepressant drug.

I am exhausted all the time.

Sometimes I see things other people don’t see and it scares me.

I don’t understand my thoughts.

I don’t understand my impulses.

I am a veteran and I can’t adjust to life back home.

No one can understand what I’ve been through.

I’ve seen extreme injuries to others.

I have seen people killed.

I have killed someone in my professional life.

I’m lonely and feel trapped inside a false personality.

I’m afraid to reach out to anybody.

I’m afraid of negative judgment by others.

I’m suspicious of other people’s motives.

I never learned how to identify my feelings or sort them out.

I’m alone now.

I’m afraid of losing my job.

I’ve had a concussion on the job.

Sometimes I feel like I can’t breathe.

I’m afraid I am going to start crying in front of others.

Sometimes I want to leave law enforcement entirely.

I have taken a life in the line of duty and it haunts me.

I have taken a life in the line of duty and it doesn’t bother me.

I am enraged and it interferes with my life on every level.

I am sad.

I am depressed.

I think about suicide.

I have a plan of how I would take my life.

I intend to take my own life.

I’m numb. I don’t feel anything anymore.

I’m scared.

I’m anxious all the time.

I’m having panic attacks.

I have chest pain.

Sometimes I ache all over.

I can’t sleep.

I want to sleep all the time.

I have nightmares.

I hate my ex.

I snore.

I have restless leg syndrome.

I have diabetes.

I have medical problems I ignore.

I’m losing my vision.

I’m losing my hearing.

I don’t want anyone to know that I’m falling apart.

I’m afraid I have cancer or a terminal disease.

I engage in risky behavior more and more.

Please take care of my family. I can’t do it anymore.

I’m surprised when good things happen.

I never resolved issues from my past and they are interfering with my life today.

I’m always on edge. I can’t relax.

I’m always on high alert because I have to be, but it’s wearing me out.

I was born in another country and I feel isolated because of it.

I have survived a natural or manmade disaster and I feel guilty about it.

Someone in my family has killed himself.

I was raped by someone in my department.

I think other people are smarter than me.

Sometimes I can’t get my words out.

I take my rage out on innocent people.

I wonder if I am Bipolar.

I try to avoid conflict if I can.

I feel jealous of people who seem happy.

I’m afraid of germs.

Sometimes I like to feel out of control.

I try to stay in strict control.

I have flashbacks of bad things.

Sometimes a smell or sound takes me back to a traumatic incident.

I am good at manipulating other people.

I eat in my sleep.

I have fired my weapon in my sleep, and don’t know it until I see the evidence in the morning.

Sometimes I can’t stop talking.

My mind won’t slow down.

I’m way behind on my paper work.

Sometimes I’m afraid to leave my house.

I don’t always answer my phone because I want to avoid people.

I am frequently asked, am I normal, do other people think and act like this? I’m sure as clinicians you have heard and treated these same problems. Feel free to contact me to add to the list and use it if you think it will help with your patients.

I realize these statements and questions are just the tip of the iceberg. Patients feel relieved after reading the list though, sometimes they cry when they read it because it hits home. Then they are able to articulate issues that they had previously been afraid to talk about. Knowing they aren’t alone and seeing their issues on the list allows them to open up and start to deal with some very scary topics. These issues can be treated and they need to hear that from us.

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

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  1. Anne says:

    Gary, boy did you recruit an awesome writer and clinician.
    Question: Do people ever say the list was too long or not be able to finish it?

    Comment: I would add the following two: “I have taken a life and feel proud that my training worked.”
    – it is not the same as feeling bad or not feeling, but it is a reaction that I think is ‘normal’ but not common.
    “I have neglected officer safety.” I have heard, “If I just stepped backward into traffic my family would be taken care of.” and, “Once I wrote a ticket on the roof of a car with my chest exposed to the suspect’s car window.”
    Great job Marla

    • Marla Friedman says:

      Thank you Anne. I always add to the list. I will add your 2 as these are things I do hear in my practice. Feel free to add as you go, the longer I practice the longer the list gets.

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