Mind Over Matter Only When Your Mind Matters

Spring has sprung. The cooler temperatures, rain, and gray days can bring about feelings of sadness, lethargy, anxiety, and other troubling feelings. Thankfully, the days of backyard barbecues, libations, beautiful weather, new experiences, and friendly faces will soon be upon us. With those warm, sunny days comes plenty of sensory stimulation and a lot of pressure to socialize and conform. With ample opportunities to socialize, comes the risk of adverse events (from our distant and recent past) bubbling to the surface. We all have bad days. Some of us have a nagging low level of adversity whereby we kick ourselves all day for doing something we regret. Some experience adversity at a higher volume due to having witnessed, or directly experienced traumatic and/or adverse events. These folks may develop addictions and other unhealthy behaviors to cope with memories, thoughts, feelings, and sensations from these events.

In 2009, the findings from the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) study conducted in the mid-nineties created quite a stir for medical professionals and communities around the world. The study was a collaborative effort between Robert F. Anda, MD at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Vincent J. Felitti, MD at Kaiser Permanente. The study investigated the link between adverse experiences in childhood (including, but not limited to crime and abuse) and biopsychosocial health issues (including, but not limited to addiction and illness) in adulthood. This essay is a call to arms for medical professionals and the community to be more thoughtful about the way we treat one another.

In conclusion, the study makes the point that society and the medical industry have become obsessed with the quick fix—“medication and impressive technologies”—to treat adversity that has not been proven to benefit from these techniques. Social taboos discourage us from discussing sexual abuse at a dinner party and six to twelve minute appointments with your primary care physician are difficult to adequately identify, much less address your adversity needs. Take the time to discuss your ACE(s) with a professional mental health practitioner (i.e., Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Psychologist, etc.) and notice the shift in your capacity to treat yourself and others with more respect. Prepare yourself to be more present at that barbecue, concert in the park, or dinner party by minimizing the power of adversity from your past.

Sources:

Felitti, V.J. and Anda, R.F. (2009) The Relationship of Adverse Childhood Experiences to Adult Medical Disease, Psychiatric Disorders, and Sexual Behavior: Implications for Healthcare.

R. Lanius, & E. Vermetten (Eds), The Hidden Epidemic: The Impact of Early Life Trauma on Health and Disease (pp.77-88). Cambridge University Press.

Love Has Won

Whether you like it, or not—this planet, the United States and its inhabitants are changing. Climate change is wreaking havoc around the world, the United States Framers’ old world values will be seen as bigotry, and the people are learning how to tolerate and (dare I say) embrace diversity. I recently read portions of the Supreme Court of the United States’ (SCOTUS) Syllabus, Opinion of the Court (written by Justice Anthony Kennedy), and the dissenting views of Justices John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito related to the ruling in favor of same-sex marriage. The reading was rather heavy with interesting information.

I learned that Justice Kennedy is an articulate writer and as the swing vote in the ruling, demonstrated unequivocal flow in writing the Opinion of the Court. I also learned a new word: anti-miscegenation. Though this term does not directly relate to same-sex marriage, it defines a concept that we all know too well—prejudice. Until 1967, it was illegal (in the state of Virginia) for interracial couples to engage in sexual acts, much less marry. Fast forward to today, four Justices and the American people in thirteen states still classify homosexuality as a conscious choice (versus a biological predisposition) and therefore continue to demonstrate prejudice towards the homosexual community in refusing to recognize that bans on same-sex marriage are no less ignorant than anti-miscegenation.    

An interesting point was presented by the dissenting Justices—every American is entitled to life, liberty and property without governmental action unless the people of the State rule otherwise. So the question remains, should a resident in Texas be forced to accept that their heterosexual marriage has the same rights as a homosexual marriage? Should a priest in North, or South Dakota be forced to conduct a same-sex marriage ceremony despite their beliefs about marriage between a man and a woman?

Given the above SCOTUS ruling, the answer is “yes” (though I am still not clear how/if that will be enforced). On a human level, the answer is “yes”. If two consenting, legal adults wish to marry—there should be no governmental, or personal interference. However, the question remains: what of the church who wishes to maintain the union of man and woman? To that I say, should your life, liberty, and/or property be threatened by a same-sex couple who wishes to marry in your church, or community—call the police, but know that there is no evidence to support your claim that loss, or violation of life, liberty, and/or property is the direct result of same-sex marriages. Kennedy writes (in the Opinion of the Court): “Changed understandings of marriage are characteristic of a Nation where new dimensions of freedom become apparent to new generations.” Your/Our children will appreciate your open-mindedness, particularly as they grapple with their own identity.