Dr. Judy 24/7
Saturday
May262018

12 Tips For Coping With Mass Shootings and Terror Attacks: Advice for Mothers’ Coping

In the wake of so many mass shootings and random terror attacks that have injured such innocent children, mothers have become particularly worried. The fears are sadly warranted, as these tragic events have happened while children are at school, in church, or even just on the street.

Many mothers ask me about what to do. Here’s my advice for the mothers about how to cope.

* Give extra comfort. Child developmental psychology indicates that when trauma occurs, this is the time to give extra comfort. Spend time especially at night when children’s fears can escalate and lead to nightmares. Tell happy stories. Tuck them in. Give them soft toys to cuddle; these serve as “contact comfort” or in psychological terms, as “transitional objects” to represent you as a nurturing and protective figure.

* Talk about facts. Since children can be exposed to news about such attacks through social media or from schoolmates, prevent them from spreading myths and fears by talking to them about the events. Ask, “What did you hear about this terrible event?” to find out first what they know. Reassure them that they can be safe. Be an “askable parent”: Be sure to add, “Please talk to me if you have any questions or worries.”

* Talk about fears. These are escalated when mass shootings target innocent people, and also since “new” weapons of terrorists are common items like knives and vehicles rather than guns or suicide vests, and new targets are “soft” rather than high profile American symbols like the Twin Towers or the Capitol. Best practices in psychology recommend to feel the fear and adjust to a “new normal” to prevent fears from leading to phobias about daily activities. Children can develop school phobia (refusal to go to school) out of fear something may happen to them or to you while they are away. Encourage children to tell you about any fears, but then turn the conversation to happy events, as a psychological technique to recondition positive emotions.

* Notice changes in behavior. Children manifest reactions often in somatic symptoms, like headaches and stomachaches, especially at early ages when verbal skills are not developed. Often these will subside, especially with techniques like the above. If children act aggressively at school, be sure to talk to them or to school authorities, to prevent deep-seeded problems or anyone getting hurt. If any of these issues persist, seek professional help.

* Be conscious of your emotions. Don’t display them to children so they do not transfer to them. Children pick up on and copy parent’s emotions. Don’t obsess about thoughts that these attacks could happen to you.

* Direct your anger where it belongs. Get mad at the shooters or terrorists to avoid the typical psychological tendency to project aggression at others, like at your children for small transgressions like leaving their toys in disarray or not finishing their homework.

* Uncover associations to your past. Publicized victimizations can trigger repressed memories of times you were a victim or mistreated, even decades ago, as outlined in a report in the American Psychologist. Process old experiences and separate them from the present.

* Notice your prejudices. Children often learn about prejudice from their parents. Examine your own views about “the other.” These can be triggered by specifics of a perpetrator’s profile, whether it comes from reports about a shooter having mental problems, or a terrorist being identified as a religious extremist. Be kind to whoever the “other” is to you.

* Accept reality. You cannot be a magician to protect your children. There is no absolute safety or perfect protection for you and them. Indeed, churchgoing and afternoon strolls should be safe. Officials wisely advise, “Be vigilant” and, “If you see something, say something.” Measurement of the psychological principle of “locus of control” shows that even people who feel “captain of their fate” may accept that destiny plays a role; after all, you can simply be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Teach your children to be cautious but not hyper-vigilant. Also, reassure them to trust authorities, since they have averted some threats.

* Educate yourself. Learn about mass shooters, terrorists and terrorism. Be prepared to answer your child’s questions about such evil people. Knowledge reduces fear. Such individuals are different types with varied motivations. Don’t generalize that all are mentally disturbed, that can only lead to stigma against mental illness. Psychopathy and narcissism are common dynamics. With regard to terrorism, educate yourself about the ideology of radical extremism, foreign fighters, “lone wolves” and abusive use of the internet. These aspects are outlined in the newly released book, A New Counter-Terrorism Strategy: Why the World Failed to Stop Al-Qaeda And ISIL/ISIS And How To Defeat Terrorists Now (ABC-CLIO, 2017) by former Ambassador of Iraq to the UN, Hamid Al-Bayati. Older methods of terrorism used WMDs — weapons of mass destruction — but newer tactics use “Weapons of Mass Psychological Destruction” that aim to erode our emotions, as explained by psychologist Dr. Larry James in his book with that title.

* Get active. Action reduces anxiety and increases a sense of control. Encourage schools to educate youth about such events, perpetrators, and violence, and to hold memorials when appropriate. Put pressure on congressional leaders to prioritize public safety, and on social media companies to prevent abuse of technology that encourages violence. Participate in a local media campaign.

* Talk to kids about the meaning of life. Don’t shy away from profound questions that children may ask, like about life. Know for yourself that it’s normal to have an existential crisis about the purpose of life, but don’t lose faith. Violent perpetrators don’t win when you get on with your life, going to church, and as New Yorkers did celebrating Halloween and enjoying the city’s weekend marathon. This is an opportunity to teach them about being resilient, which means when you are knocked down, get back up. Violence is tragic but not a reason to give up on life, hope and believing in others.

Saturday
May262018

Achieving Poverty Eradication by Sustainable Health, Well-being and Education: The Case of Ebola in West Africa and other Epidemics and Disasters Worldwide

 

 

 

30 Jan 2018 -  Side Event during the Commission for Social Development 2018 (CSocD56) Given the Priority Theme on: “Strategies for eradicating poverty to achieve sustainable development for all”. 
This side event focuses on the urgency of awareness and attention to long-term recovery and resilience of communities suffering the after effects of health epidemics that have plagued countries and regions worldwide. The importance of this is highlighted in efforts to achieve the sustainable development goals, namely, SDG3 of Health and Well-being for All, including specifically target 3.4 which relates to “promoting mental health and well-being” as well as SDG4 -“Education for All,” in the context of these being relevant to the “road out of poverty.” The panel serves as an example of SDG 17, given that it represents various sectors. The deliverable is to call for policies and programmes that address sustainable long-term care and capacity building in health crises, as well as a multi-stakeholder partnership to implement interventions.

Saturday
May262018

Lessons from Memorial Day for daily life

As the world faces ongoing conflicts and threats of violence around the globe, please set aside political views for a moment, to consider valuable emotional lessons we can learn from those who gave the ultimate sacrifice whom we honor on this Memorial Day.   

Pride. There was a day when pride in flag and country prevailed.  As a child growing up on an army base in Kentucky, I have vivid memories when taps were played (signaling the lowering of the flag and the “lights out” command at day's end) when our family was driving in the car and my a father, an officer, would stop the car, get out, face the direction of the flag, stand at stiff attention and salute. A line of soldiers similarly outside their stopped cars were doing the same.  

Similarly, every morning on my way to school on the base, I saw soldiers dropping out of the sky, practicing parachuting. I was so proud of those men, that every time I hear the name of 101st Airborne Division – as I did during the Iraqi invasion – or hear the national anthem sung like at a baseball or football game, my chest gets tight and tears flood my eyes.



So on this Memorial Day, I am motivated to ask myself and everyone, “What or whom are you proud of in your life now?” and “How do you show that pride?”  

Mothers are proud of their kids, lovers of each other, mentors of their protégés.  

As a psychologist, I reflect that too rarely do we acknowledge or elaborate that pride.  Yet, it is fulfilling to feel pride of others and for them to hear you express that pride in them. 

In some cultures pride is looked upon negatively, as a sign of hubris, vanity, or superior status, or in Christianity, as one of the seven deadly sins.  In contrast, pride can be a virtue as Aristotle postulated, or a sign of group identity that counters shame and stigma as for ethnicities and gender identities, or as in psychology as a sign of esteem, acknowledgement and appreciation of self or others. 

Tell yourself what you’re proud of in yourself, like your achievements or positive qualities. Don’t feel egotistic to pat yourself on the back for a job well done. 

Also, tell others, “I am proud of you for …. (fill in the blank).”   

Sacrifice. On this Memorial Day, we honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice, giving their lives in service of country. Dare to consider, “What or whom am I willing to die for?” What matters to you so much that you would face danger?   Most people I asked answered, “My children.” 

Some people also added that they could never be in the position of a general or military strategist giving an order knowing the death risks. President Roosevelt did this, when he approved the landing on the exposed Normandy beach in WWII risking brave young soldiers being target practice for enemy fire. And on the TV show “West Wing,” the president (played by actor Michael Sheen) is deeply troubled when briefed about the high percentage of men vulnerable to being shot in the operation of a dangerous mission, but gives the order anyway.   

Bravery. On this Memorial Day, I am moved to ponder, “What motivates people to be  brave?”  In the movie “Braveheart,” Mel Gibson’s freedom-fighting character lies on the enemy’s chopping block, being eviscerated (his guts cut out), as he screams out, “Freedom!”  The scene is indeed gut-wrenching to us as viewers, yet ever so awe- inspiring. 

Romance novels and literary classics are filled with characters willing to die for love.   

What passion or duty do you hold so dear that you would be willing to die for it? It’s a tough consideration. 

Loyalty is another characteristic of war, worthy of examining in our own life. Marine troops live by the credo, “Semper Fi,” pledging faithful brotherhood, going to all lengths to cover each other’s back and rescue any buddy in trouble. In another powerful scene from my childhood in Ft. Campbell, Kentucky, I remember seeing a paratrooper in the sky grab his fellow serviceman whose chute did not open, bringing him down to safety.   

When’s the last time you went out of your way for someone else, regardless of the risk to yourself?  What can you do today for someone that puts you out?  Whose back are you covering? 

Courage is another lesson.  Consider soldiers who volunteer for dangerous missions, on the front lines or scouting. I keep my father’s army helmet hanging on the wall near my desk, reminding me of him being on the front lines, as a dentist, patching together the jaws of young soldiers blown apart by enemy fire. I also hold dear a patch from the “Flying Tigers,” a courageous WWII fighter squadron that operated in China.   

When’s the last time you had courage in the face of potential danger and were willing to take a risk?  For me, it was when the Ebola virus epidemic broke out in West Africa and I went to Sierra Leone to help run trainings and workshops to offer psychosocial support for the villagers, children and health workers facing drastic deaths and illness. Everyone said to me, “Are you crazy going to the center of a place with a deadly virus?”  I didn’t think about that, I only thought about what I could do to help. 

Overcoming fear. Fear, anxieties and panic attacks run rampant in our daily life these  days. I have great admiration for those who contain their fear in drastic real dangers like war.  I remember a soldier being asked by a TV reporter about his feelings about fighting in a far-away war. “I may not be happy about it,” he said, “but we have a job to do.” Too often fear in everyday life paralyzes us.  

One of my favorite phrases that can guide many situations in everyday life is, “Feel the fear and do it anyway.”    

Honor.  Honor and respect has eroded in our current sadly selfish society.  I hear so many parents complain of smart-alecky kids, teachers of disrespectful students, and spouses of overly-critical partners. In grave opposition to the abuse that led to the #MeToo movement of today, another current movement revives the ancient tradition of “honoring the goddess” whereby women respect themselves and men treat women with reverence. The corresponding ancient Sanskrit greeting “Namaste” indicates that “the divinity in me honors (greets and sees) the divinity in you.”   

A beautiful video about remembering those who died in Vietnam: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6y64zTRlrmo 

Bless all the men and women who perished in the course of conflict and war so that we may live courage, devotion to others, pride, loyalty and honor, in peace.    

Sunday
Nov052017

9 Tips for Coping with the NYC Terror Attack

 In the wake of the terror attack in New York City, in which an ISIS devotee driving a rented truck mowed down pedestrians and cyclists on the street, killing 8 people before crashing into a school bus and injuring two other adults and two children. Called the “deadliest terror attack since 9/11,” the tragedy triggers emotional reactions that can run high and disrupt your life and relationships.

Here’s how to cope:

 Talk about fears. These are escalated now, since “new” weapons of terrorists are common items like knives and vehicles rather than guns or suicide vests, and new targets are “soft” – meaning normal people in daily activities -- rather than high profile American symbols like the Twin Towers or the Capital. Best practices in psychology counsel to feel the fear and adjust to a “new normal,” to prevent fears leading to phobias about daily activities. Don’t obsess about thoughts that since the NYC terrorist rammed into bikers and a school bus injuring children and adults inside, that it could happen to you.

• Direct anger where it belongs. Get mad at the terrorists, to avoid the typical psychological tendency to project aggression at people at home or work.  Partners should especially share reactions and accept any differences in their ways of coping to prevent arguments.
   

* Uncover associations to your past. Publicized victimizations can trigger repressed memories of times you were mistreated, even decades ago, as outlined in a report in the American Psychologist. Process this old experience and separate it from the present.

• Notice prejudices and xenophobia.  These can triggered by the NYC terrorist shouting, "God is Great" in Arabic. Be kind to Muslims and whoever the “other” is to you. 

• Pay particular attention to children.  Since youngsters can be exposed to the attack on social media or from schoolmates, prevent their spreading myths and fears, by talking to them about the event. Child developmental psychology indicates this is the time to give extra comforting and notice changes in their behavior.  

• Accept reality. There is no absolute safety or perfect protection for you and your children. Indeed, as teens who watched the NYC terrorist from their Stuyvesant High School windows said, “We’ve lost our innocence.” Officials wisely advise “Be vigilant”
 and “If you see something, say something.” But, take breaks from being “on guard” to reduce stress. Measurement of the psychological principle of “locus of control” shows that even people who feel “captain of their fate” may accept that destiny plays a role; after all, you can simply be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Also, trust authorities; they have averted other threats.

• Learn about terrorists and terrorism. Terrorists can be religious extremists and/or be socially and mentally maladjusted. Don’t generalize. Educate yourself about the ideology of radical extremism, foreign fighters, “lone wolves,” and abusive use of the internet. These aspects are outlined in the newly released book, “A New Counter-Terrorism Strategy: Why the World Failed to Stop Al-Qaeda And ISIL/ISIS And How To Defeat Terrorists Now” (ABC-CLIO, 2017) by former Ambassador of Iraq to the UN, Hamid Al-Bayati. For example, a “lone wolf” is a misnomer, even a terrorist who acts alone usually has extremist contacts. Older methods of terrorism used WMDs – weapons of mass destruction – but newer tactics use “Weapons of Mass Psychological Destruction” that aim to erode our emotions, as explained by psychologist Dr. Larry James in his book with that title.

• Consider activism. Action reduces anxiety and increases a sense of control.  Put pressure on congressional leaders to prioritize public safety and on social media companies to stop terrorists’ abuse of technology. Participate in a local media campaign, and encourage schools to educate youth about terrorism.  

• Reexamine your philosophy of life. It’s normal to have an existential crisis about the purpose of life but don’t lose faith. Terrorists won’t win when you get on with your life, as New Yorkers did celebrating Halloween and enjoying the city’s weekend marathon. Be resilient: when knocked down, get back up. Terror attacks are tragic but not a reason to give up on life, hope and believing in others. 

 

 

Monday
Jul172017

Friendship & the Rise of "Temple of the Souls"


Why are Dr. Judy Kuriansky and Reporter Jane Valez-Mitchell teaming up?
 
The two longtime friends are connected in many ways to the play and its themes: Friendship and Family.
 
Jane and Dr. Judy have been fast friends since 1982 when they were both reporters at WCBS-TV in New York, with ongoing illustrious media careers and interests and expertise in relationships.
 
From their days at Channel 2 News together, Jane Velez-Mitchell went on to host many shows including on HLN-TV, “Issues with Jane Velez Mitchell” having previously worked as a fill-in host for Nancy Grace.  An advocate for social justice and human rights, she was nominated for a GLAAD Media Award in 2010 for outstanding TV Journalism.  Her top-rated books include  “iWant: My Journey from Addiction and Overconsumption to a Simpler, Honest Life” chronicling her journey overcoming alcohol addiction; “Addict Nation: An Intervention for America”; and “Secrets Can Be Murder: The Killer Next Door” about sensational trials that she has covered over her stellar journalism career; and “Exposed: the Secret Life of Jodie Arias.”  She is now an avid advocate for animal rights.
 
Dr. Judy Kuriansky went on to host the wildly popular radio call-in advice show, Lovephones, aired on the top-rated Z100 radio station, with rock stars adding their sex advice, and then to become a United Nations advisor to an African government and run two NGOs to the UN, where she, like Jane, also advocated – to successfully get mental health and well-being included in the new UN agenda for the first time; and also to become a professor at Columbia University Teachers College, and to criss-cross the world providing disaster relief after earthquakes in Haiti, China and Japan, hurricane Katrina in Louisiana and Superstorm Sandy in NY.  Her theatre interests date back to 3rd grade when she was given the role of Queen in her 3rd grade play.
 
The background collaboration story of Temple of the Souls is rooted in a family history of the writers: Jane is the daughter of story creator Anita Velez-Mitchell and the aunt co-book writers of sisters Lorca Peress and Anika Paris. Their mother is an award-winning poet Gloria Vando and their father is music conductor and author Maurice Peress. Lorca and Anika's maternal grandparents, Anita Velez-Mitchell and Erasmo Vando have their life's work archived in the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College.
 
Dr. Judy and Jane are available to speak to you about their involvement in the show and their feelings on friendship and family, and thee topics of their career, getting over addictions, and controversial celebrity trials today (for example, Bill Cosby, for which Dr. Judy gave psychological opinion for a TV special, “Bill Cosby: An American Scandal”.

Don't miss this great opportunity to come enjoy this amazing musical!
For tickets, contact http://www.nymf.org/festival/2017-events/temple-souls/ or call 212-352-3101. 

Sunday
Jul162017

The Reason Why You Should Go See "Temple of the Souls"

Popular Sex Therapist and UN Advisor, Dr. Judy Kuriansky, is the Executive Producer of the upcoming world premiere musical Temple of the Souls at the New York Musical Festival (NYMF).

"The virtual extinction of the native Taíno people by Spanish colonizers in 16th-century Puerto Rico serves as the background for the new musical, Temple of the Souls... Using a "Romeo and Juliet" love affair between a Taíno man and the daughter of a conquistador to depict the tragic consequences of that cultural collision.” (Backstage)

The theme of cultural-divide in Temple of the Souls – with the Taíno natives persecuted by the conquering Spaniards -- is a passion of Dr. Judy's as she has produced multiple events at the UN, such as the “World Day of Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development” and “Interfaith Harmony Week,” as well as her books on the Middle East crisis, including “Terror in the Holy Land” and “Beyond Bullets and Bombs,” and her work for peace, in her “Stand Up for Peace Project” and “Global Kids Connect Project.”

In the play, set in the 16th Century Puerto Rico, the lovers, Guario, a young Taíno runaway, and Amada, the daughter of a Spanish Conquistador, meet by chance during a raucous Fiesta, but their union is thwarted by the intolerant world around them. The star-crossed lovers escape to the Temple of the Souls, to blend their two worlds with their forbidden love stronger than death. 

The theme of cultural divide is exceptionally relevant in today’s world.  Says, psychologist Kuriansky, a professor at Columbia University, who is popularly known as “Dr. Judy” from her years giving top-rated call-in advice on the radio, “The success of this romance is imperative to show the world today about the power of blending culture and race, and in turn, to decrease hatred and increase social tolerance and peace.  This is the hope for our present and future.”  

Dr. Judy is available to talk about her involvement in the play and her expertise on the subject of cultural differences.

For tickets, contact http://www.nymf.org/festival/2017-events/temple-souls/ or call 212-352-3101.

 

 

Saturday
Jul152017

Proudly Presents "Temple of the Souls"

History repeats itself, an unfortunate truth when it comes to the persecution of people from certain cultures, whether it is the siege of Masada, the Holocaust, the Puerto Rican Taínos, or today’s crisis in Syria and the Middle East.
 
Popular clinical psychologist, radio and TV personality and United Nations NGO representative, Dr. Judy Kuriansky, is the Executive Producer of the upcoming world premiere musical Temple of the Souls at the New York Musical Festival (NYMF), a love story that deals with the theme of cultural persecution – when the Taíno natives in the 1600s were victimized by the conquering Spaniards and leapt to their deaths off El Yunque rainforest cliffs rather than be enslaved, much like the Jewish people who jumped to their deaths from the Masada plateau rather than be massacred by the Romans in 35 BC.  Cultural understanding is a passion of Dr. Judy, given that she has produced multiple events at the UN, including the “World Day of Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development” and “Interfaith Harmony Week,” has written two books on the Middle East crisis, including “Terror in the Holy Land” and “Beyond Bullets and Bombs,” and done symposia and concerts for peace through her “Stand Up for Peace Project” and “Global Kids Connect Project.”
 
Interestingly, Temple of the Souls is created by sisters Anika Paris and Lorca Peress, who are half Jewish. On their Polish side, members of their family lost their lives in the Holocaust, and on their Puerto Rican side, they were victims of the Taíno struggle. Paris states, "We have this type of discrimination in our history on both sides and are extremely passionate about it, as well as the fact that it is so poignant and relevant in today’s political climate." 
 
“The Romeo-and-Juliet theme in Temple of the Souls reminds us of the importance of resolving world conflicts so that love can survive and heal the world,” adds Dr. Judy.
 
Dr. Judy, Paris, and Peress are all available to speak to you about the play and their expertise and experience about cultural diversity and victimization.  I've enclosed the press release for your perusal, and look forward to speaking to you about this unique  story angle and exceptional play, being performed July 19-23.
Catch limited performances at festival. For tickets, contact http://www.nymf.org/festival/2017-events/temple-souls/ or call 212-352-3101. 

 

Wednesday
Jul122017

Temple of the Souls - the MUST SEE musical !

Are Romeo and Juliet dead?  No! Forbidden love is alive and well this summer on stage in a mystical rainforest in an exciting must-see
musical, Temple of the Souls, that enchantingly portrays the fate of star-crossed lovers, a native Puerto-Rican Taíno youth and the daughter
 of a conquistador, that depicts “the tragic consequences of that cultural collision” (Backstage).

Noted relationship and love expert, author, and TV and radio personality Dr. Judy Kuriansky, is the Executive Producer of this West Side Story-type love affair, this July at the New York Musical Festival (NYMF).
 
Why is Dr. Judy supporting Temple of the Souls so wholeheartedly?  As a famous relationship expert, the star-crossed lovers/Romeo and Juliet-theme of Temple of the Souls is her expertise, evidenced in her giving advice to thousands on her popular call-in radio show “LovePhones” and in her many books, “The Complete Idiots Guide to Dating” and “The Complete Idiots Guide to A Healthy Relationship.”
 
“Falling in love from different ethnic, racial, age, or socio-economic backgrounds is more common today,” says Dr. Judy. “But couples still have to bridge their gaps and understand each other to make love last.”
 
Dr. Judy is available to speak about her involvement in the show and her expertise on the subject of love and forbidden love, and trends in choosing partners today:
 
·       Are the Romeo and Juliet-type relationships alive today for real couples?
·       Are more singles choosing partners of clashing cultures or backgrounds?
·       What differences are easiest or hardest to cope with for couples?
·       What do culture-clash couples have to do to make their relationship work?
·       What blocks and objections do culture-clash couples face today?
·       What are the 5 secrets to compatibility in a relationship?
·       What can we learn from this play and star-crossed love that will help heal the divides that exist in our   culture today?

For tickets, contact http://www.nymf.org/festival/2017-events/temple-souls/ or call 212-352-3101. 

 

Thursday
May182017

Artificial Intelligence & Technology Tools for Mental Health, Well-being, and Resilience

Sunday
Apr092017

WHO World Health Day 2017 - Youth and Mental Health