Psychiatry & Psychology--General/Newtown shootings

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Question
Hello Dr. Elmore,

I just wanted to reach out to you about the Newtown school shootings.  I don't know anyone up there and I don't even have children, but I am a very empathetic, sensitive person and this whole incident has affected me deeply.  I'm certainly functional, but I can't stop thinking about it, even when I'm out and about.  It's difficult to focus intently on anything else.  I know I should limit the amount of news coverage I take in but I find myself glued to the TV anyway, just like I was after 9/11.  I've lost most of my "Christmas spirit", and the chore of writing out cheery Christmas cards is something that feels too incongruous, even inappropriate, to do.  I'm sleeping okay, but it takes me longer to get to sleep because my mind is spinning over what has happened to these people.  Not only are 27 innocent babies and women dead, during a season whose focus is supposed to be peace and joy, but many people are now running out and buying up available assault rifles before any kind of ban goes into effect - the exact same rifle that tore these women and children apart.  What kind of world are we living in?? I've written to my congressional representatives, I've sent donations, I've signed online condolance cards for the families, but nothing seems to be enough.  I cannot even imagine what those families in Newtown are going through.  I also feel a little guilty - for being "weak" and needing support when nothing has directly happened to me, and for trying to get back to my own life while these victims' loved ones will never know a normal life again.

Am I the only one who feels this way?  I'm trying hard to wrap my mind around this tragedy, the helplessness of not being able to take away these people's pain, and the ensuing, largely wonderful but sometimes infuriating public reaction to it.  I just wonder if you have any advice to share on dealing with these overwhelming feelings and this overactive empathy.  Journaling?  Exercise?  Meditation?  Some type of cognitive redirection?  I live alone, and so far the friends and relatives I've spoken with don't seem to want to talk about it too much - a couple sentences and they're done.  I'll continue to test those waters with others, but in the meantime I was wondering what things I could do to help myself while I sort through all these emotions.  

Thank you so very much for your time; I really appreciate it.

Tina

Answer
Tina

There is nothing wrong with being a sensitive thoughtful caring human being, except that is that most of us feel like freaks when our nature is brought so acutely into relief as it is after something as epic and horrible as the, Newtown school shootings.

You are not the only one who feels this way but one of the special group of people who experiences the beauty, poignancy and terror of life more intensely than most.  Sensitive people are the good people of the earth, the ones who care more about others than themselves, the ones who try, as you so nobly have, in the wake of terrible events over which we have no control, who in spite of the irreversibility and horror of it find every possible means for attempting to contribute emotionally and financially to the causes determined to prevent such things from continuing to happen.

Human beings fondness/slash addiction for physical violence against one another is one of several glaring tragic flaws in our collective DNA.  Another is being global motivated by fear, the powerful negative emotion that regresses the level of evolution of our species and that is the cheapest and easiest way to manipulate humans to some base end, like wars or buying a machine gun to protect your family from burglars.  I have yet to hear of one story of how having an assault rifle at hand protected someone's family.  You would  have to be beyond brain dead to use a machine gun in your home, ever, since the bullets tears through walls and often kill innocent people on the other side, including members of your own family.

It is only the good people, people like yourself who do every little thing to make the world a better place, who feel like they are impotent or not doing enough.  If one fourth of all the people who do not act like that did, you would be a movement starting hero for your efforts.

It is not your fault, by any conceivable stretch of the imagination, that more people do not feel the empathy and compassion that comes so naturally to us sensitive people.  Doing whatever you can, setting the fine example for others you do by your efforts, spreading goodness like the counter-force to evil that it is, is all we can do and it is a noble cause.

Good people are the silent and unrecognized glue that holds society together and that prevents every day from being more like life's worst days.

Best always,

Dr. Andrew Elmore

Psychiatry & Psychology--General

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Andrew M. Elmore, Ph.D.

Expertise

I can answer questions about: Stress. Headaches. Stress-related Disorders. Anxiety/Panic Disorder. Depression. Psychopathology. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Personal Problem Solving. Life in General. Relationships: Love, Friendship, Business Partner, Coworker, Family,Child/Parent. What makes us tick. The use of psycho-pharmacological agents in combination with psychological treatment. How to deal with evil people in your life. How to improve your outlook under duress. How to control stress. How to control mood. How to control headaches. I cannot answer: Questions about Eating Disorders. Questions about computers.

Experience

30 years in private practice as a psychologist in Manhattan. Dealing with people from almost every conceivable ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds, and as many character types as exist in this country. Dealing with patients from 8 years old to 90 years old. Pioneer in biofeedback and the treatment of stress-related disorders. Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine since 1982. Treatment of stress-related, anxiety and depressive disorders with biofeedback and cognitive behavioral therapy. Developed personal problem solving, an extremely precise form of psychotherapy. Relationship therapy for couples, families, parent/child issues, business partners, coworkers, employers, and dealing with psychopathic individuals in your life.

Organizations
American Psychological Association. Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback. Biofeedback Certification Institute of America. New York Academy of Sciences.

Publications
The journal, Psychophysiology. The book, Expanding Dimensions of Consciousness. The journal, Headache. The journal, Biofeedback and Self-Regulation. The journal Psychiatry Digest. The book, The TMJ Book. The book, Dental Phobia. The network, CNN. Parade Magazine. The newspaper, Newsday. The Manhattan TV station, WCBS. The national news program, The CBS Evening News. The newspaper, The New York Post. The national TV program, The Phil Donohue Show. The magazine, The New Yorker. The magazine, Glamor. The magazine, Redbook. The magazine, Health. The magazine, Bottom Line Personal. Web MD. The website, Healthology. The magazine, Newsweek.

Education/Credentials
Ph.D. SUNY at Stony Brook, 1979. B.A., magna cum laude with Honors in Psychology, Illinois Wesleyan University, 1974.

Awards and Honors
Who’s Who in Medicine and Healthcare, First, Second and Third Editions, 1997-2000. Appointed to the Training Faculty of the Biofeedback Certification Institute of America (BCIA), 1993. Senior Fellow BCIA. New York Academy of Sciences, 1987. Who’s Who in the East, 1983-present. Who’s Who in Frontier Science and Technology, First Edition. Citation Paper Author. Eleventh Annual Meeting of the Biofeedback Society of America, Colorado Springs, Colorado, 1980. Biofeedback Society of America Scholar, 1979. Co-author, USVA Grant, “Variables Affecting the Experience of Pain in Migraine,” USVA Medical Center, Northport, New York, 1977-1979. Biomedical Research Fellow, Department of Biomedical Engineering, SUNY at Stony Brook, Stony Brook, New York, 1978. NIMH Predoctoral Fellowship, 1976. BA, Magna cum laude, with Honors in Psychology, 1974. Danforth Fellowship Nominee, Illinois Wesleyan University, Bloomington, Illinois, 1973.

Past/Present Clients
Most of my clients are my private patients. However I have provided many seminars, lectures and workshops for: Columbia University. The Mount Sinai School of Medicine. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Museum of Natural History. The UJA Federation. The university, CW Post. The College of New Rochelle. Equinox Fitness. Travelers Insurance. AutoOne Insurance. Chubb Insurance. Metropolitan Life. Allstate Insurance. State Farm Insurance. Encompass Insurance. The public relations firm, Porter Novelli. The investment firm, Capital Re:. The Estee Lauder corporation. The law firm of Irwin Abrams. The National Insurance Crime Bureau. GEICO Insruance. Beth Israel Hospital.

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