Mind Matters: Stress in America

A front page headline in the Boston Globe proclaims that the “newest topic of the therapist couch conversation” is politics.

Since the election, says the Globe, mental health professionals have experienced a rise in politically induced anxiety. Yes, I have just moved to “liberal” Massachusetts. So you might say, “Oh, that’s just happening there and nowhere else.” In fact, the feeling is more pervasive. The American Psychological Association found that its Stress in America survey indicated a significant spike in overall stress levels in the U.S. between August, 2016, and January, 2017. Worries of both Democrats and Republicans included the future of the country as well as the current political climate.

There has not been this much national upheaval since 9/11. I recall in 2001, post 9/11, that I was unable to go to New York City to do any Red Cross volunteering there because people were clamoring for appointments like never before. Even though 9/11 may not have been directly addressed in sessions it was the event that tipped the emotional balance for many. Past traumas and unresolved grief came flooding into the room.

The situation now may be even worse that 9/11 because there does not seem to be a let up of stressful news and there is no new normal in sight.

This new administration has mainstreamed hatred and bigotry so that those who have been bullied in the past feel they could be victimized again. Those who have been sexually abused also feel threatened.

According to the Globe, Boston therapists are faced with clients concerned about civil rights, the environment, immigration, the potential for war, and, not to be forgotten, the loss of health care.

Young women who have grown up with Title IX and have considered that misogyny was a thing their mothers and grandmothers dealt with and buried have had the rude awakening that misogyny is as much a lethal virus as is racism and bigotry.

However, what therapists can convey to their clients is that there are ways to inoculate ourselves while this rampant epidemic rages. These viral bullies like to see people victimized and demeaned. What fends off the viral bully the most is standing up to them and not collapsing into victimhood.

The civil rights movement of the 1960s knew this and so it is that the civil rights movement for the equality and acceptance of all continues. The bullies are back, but victory is never theirs.

* Kayta Curzie Gajdos holds a doctorate in counseling psychology and is in private practice in Belmont, Massachusetts. She welcomes comments at MindMatters@DrGajdos.com or 610-388-2888. Past columns are posted to www.drgajdos.com. See book.quietwisdom-loudtimes.com for information about her book, “Quiet Wisdom in Loud Times: The Rise of the Wounded Feminine.”

** The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the ownership or management of Chadds Ford Live. We welcome opposing viewpoints. Readers may comment in the comments section or they may submit a Letter to the Editor to: editor@chaddsfordlive.com

 

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About Kayta Gajdos

Dr. Kathleen Curzie Gajdos ("Kayta") is a licensed psychologist (Pennsylvania and Delaware) who has worked with individuals, couples, and families with a spectrum of problems. She has experience and training in the fields of alcohol and drug addictions, hypnosis, family therapy, Jungian theory, Gestalt therapy, EMDR, and bereavement. Dr. Gajdos developed a private practice in the Pittsburgh area, and was affiliated with the Family Therapy Institute of Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, having written numerous articles for the Family Therapy Newsletter there. She has published in the American Psychological Association Bulletin, the Family Psychologist, and in the Swedenborgian publications, Chrysalis and The Messenger. Dr. Gajdos has taught at the college level, most recently for West Chester University and Wilmington College, and has served as field faculty for Vermont College of Norwich University the Union Institute's Center for Distance Learning, Cincinnati, Ohio. She has also served as consulting psychologist to the Irene Stacy Community MH/MR Center in Western Pennsylvania where she supervised psychologists in training. Currently active in disaster relief, Dr. Gajdos serves with the American Red Cross and participated in Hurricane Katrina relief efforts as a member of teams from the Department of Health and Human Services' Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.Now living in Chadds Ford, in the Brandywine Valley of eastern Pennsylvania, Dr. Gajdos combines her private practice working with individuals, couples and families, with leading workshops on such topics as grief and healing, the impact of multigenerational grief and trauma shame, the shadow and self, Women Who Run with the Wolves, motherless daughters, and mediation and relaxation. Each year at Temenos Retreat Center in West Chester, PA she leads a griefs of birthing ritual for those who have suffered losses of procreation (abortions, miscarriages, infertility, etc.); she also holds yearly A Day of Re-Collection at Temenos.Dr. Gajdos holds Master's degrees in both philosophy and clinical psychology and received her Ph.D. in counseling at the University of Pittsburgh. Among her professional affiliations, she includes having been a founding member and board member of the C.G. Jung Educational Center of Pittsburgh, as well as being listed in Who's Who of American Women. Currently, she is a member of the American Psychological Association, The Pennsylvania Psychological Association, the Delaware Psychological Association, the American Family Therapy Academy, The Association for Death Education and Counseling, and the Delaware County Mental Health and Mental Retardation Board. Woven into her professional career are Dr. Gajdos' pursuits of dancing, singing, and writing poetry.

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