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Reflections on Violence
Boston Marathon Explosions
Recovering from Disappointment
The heart was made to be broken
Seasonal Affective Disorder


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Dennis Carradin


Reflections on Violence

As I sit to write this blog entry,  I reflect on a simple question I was asked today regarding the Boston Marathon explosions.   "Why are there so many acts of violence on innocent people lately?"     When I was in graduate school, we were taught never to ask the "Why?" question because the default answer was always "I don't know".    The default answer to the question posed to me could be that simple, "I don't know why there is a rise in violence."  But, that answer is too simple and does not pay the respects of reflection the question warrants. 

As I await my deployment orders for Boston,  I reflect to several weeks ago when I was alerted to a shooting in the New Castle County Courthouse in Wilmington, DE.   The father of a man who kidnapped his three young daughters in 2007 opened fire with a handgun at the New Castle County courthouse killing his former daughter-in-law and her friend and wounding two police officers.    This came only a week after a Wilmington Police Officer was shot in the face while performing a traffic stop.    These stories fall under the shadow of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings, the looming nuclear attack from North Korea,  and the outcry for gun control.    

 I often worry my blogs may not be politically correct or accurate to both sides of a debate.    I attempt to give my opinion in a logically thought out manner by researching the subject matter and compiling a list of pros and cons.    This topic has touched too close to home for me to remain completely unbiased.    My reflections on the topic of violence have to be from my viewpoint because of what I do and who I am.   As a trauma therapist, I am often called upon to help victims and families of violence to cope with the situation and begin the healing process.   I work closely with Law Enforcement, Fire Service, and Emergency Medical Personnel to provide comfort and aid to those affected by life's tragedies.   And, when the needs arise, I help Law Enforcement, Fire Service, and Emergency Medical Personnel find peace and healing as life's tragedies inevitably affect them as well.   I am ever vigilant of what affects me emotionally, physically, mentally, and even spiritually during these crisis calls.   I immediately reflect back to my recent deployment to the  Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings.   I posted a picture I took of a memorial in Sandy Hook, CT.   In the caption, I wrote, " I have been trained to counsel people during tragic times but the overwhelming sorrow is indescribable. I have told people throughout my time here it is normal and healthy to cry. As my heart hurts, I find myself crying with the ones I have provided comfort. I hurt for them, not as a professional but as a father, a son, and a human. God bless these tiny souls so they may find peace".   I cannot be completely unbiased to the subject of violence.   I can give facts, which are easily researched, but I have to give my opinion as well.     

Currently,the United States has substantially more mass shootings but the same percentage of psychiatrically suffering patients than any other nation.  We have more firearms in our country than in any other comparably developed nation.  An individual in the United States is about a hundred times more likely to die due to the discharge of a firearm than in any other Western nation.  Our government's response to these undisputed facts is the need for gun control or a ban on assault weapons.   Opponents of this action post feverishly about the second amendment and how no one will take their guns away from them.   Meanwhile, two homemade bombs are detonated at the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon killing two and injuring dozen more.   The issue of violence in our society has little to do with whether Joe Politician and Joe American can agree on what is designated as an assault weapon.   In an instant lately, our rights as US citizens have been taken away not by our Government or legal gun owners, but by individuals who are not playing by society's rules.   

When violence strikes without warning it can leave lasting scars not only physically, but emotionally as well. Whether it is a terrorist attack or some domestic threat, watching innocent people being directly affected by violent actions pulls at everyone’s heartstrings.  Fear can be a debilitating emotion, and how you cope with that fear is as important as the safety measures you take.   After a frightening situation, overwhelming danger or a sudden loss of security, you may experience what is commonly called “post-traumatic stress.” Even a perceived or imagined threat of violence or danger can be as emotionally disturbing as a real one. When we experience an event as life threatening, it shatters our basic assumptions about ourselves and the world we live in.  We all handle traumatic events differently.   It is not unusual to feel hyper-alert or jumpy, to have difficulty going to sleep, or to feel any number of physical or emotional symptoms.   I believe the surge in the rate of violence has left us all questioning ourselves and our safety.    

The common thread in many terrorist attacks is how people respond after the incident.   According to the American Psychological Association many people who have witnessed these events “may go into a state of acute stress reaction.”   In this state of acute stress reaction, we are not able to make proper decisions or judgments.   We are not able to fully control our thoughts and our emotions.    With this said, it would stand to reason the US Society has be bombarded with debilitating violence over the past several years leaving us afraid, angry, emotional, and fatigued.   

While people never tend to forget tragic or horrendous events, easing the feelings that are associated with these traumas can be mitigated by taking specific actions in your life. The following tips have been compiled from the Kansas State Cooperative Extension Service, University of Illinois, American Psychological Association and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.      

Provide direct help in dealing with the disaster - Help an elderly or homeless person who is affected by the disaster. Volunteer by helping your fire department or police department during their times of need. Many communities have Community Emergency Responder Teams for neighborhoods. This is a good way to help in times of need. If you are removed from the situation give blood or money to charitable organizations that are helping with the relief effort.       

Talk and listen - Sharing feelings with others, especially family, friends and neighbors, helps people deal with and overcome anxiety and feelings of helplessness. On the same token, listening can help others cope with these same feelings. One of the best ways to help is to lend an ear.      

Identify your feelings - Understanding your feelings can help you realize that you are feeling the effects of stress and sympathy. Knowing yourself can help you cope with the abnormal situation you might find yourself in.      

Show by words and actions that you care - Act. Don’t be afraid of doing the wrong thing, or offending someone, just try to help in any way you can. A word of support or a helping hand goes a long way to encourage other people who are also trying to cope in a difficult situation. 

Realize that you are not alone - When it comes to terrorism, realize there are numerous law enforcement and government agencies that are trying to prevent and solve the problem of international terrorism. Knowing that you are not alone in this situation is an important step in dealing with your fears.        

Get back to your daily routine as soon as possible - You might not be able to do all of the things you once did, but trying to get back to some sense of normalcy is important in the healing process. Make sure you also maintain good sleeping and eating habits.      

Realize that not everyone heals at the same pace - Don’t be judgmental if you have found your way out of the emotional pitfalls of a disaster, but your spouse, son or neighbor is still feeling the pain.        

Remember you have overcome obstacles in the past - Try to remember what you did in other difficult situations and see if those skills can be used in the current crisis.        

Limit watching the news - Watching the same event time after time will not help you in the healing process. Collecting important information is important, but watching just for the sake of shock is not healthy.       

Avoid major life decisions - When people are under stress or bereavement they cannot make logical decisions. Immediately after a traumatic event is not the time to change careers, move or change your relationships. Give it time, and then make the decision.        

Keep helping - The disruptions caused by a traumatic event may continue for a long while. Recovery may take even longer. Friends, family members and neighbors will need regular acts of kindness and understanding to maintain their morale and put their lives back together.

Boston Marathon Explosions

My thoughts and prayers are with the entire Boston community at this time.  I was deeply deeply saddened to hear about the tragic events that took place this afternoon.  My heart goes out to all those impacted.   

The City of Boston has always had a special place in my heart.   There is just something about Boston that inspires, revitalizes, and reinvigorates me. From Harvard Yard to Fenway Park to the Northend to the Harbor, Boston does it for me.    I am positive the City will be resilient and will get through this tragedy.     My thoughts and prayers are with the injured, the families of the deceased, and the men and women of Boston's emergency services.    

I know the "Sheepdogs" of the Boston's emergency services will tend to their flock.  “If you have no capacity for violence then you are a healthy productive citizen: a sheep. If you have a capacity for violence and no empathy for your fellow citizens, then you have defined an aggressive sociopath--a wolf. But what if you have a capacity for violence, and a deep love for your fellow citizens? Then you are a sheepdog, a warrior, someone who is walking the hero’s path. Someone who can walk into the heart of darkness, into the universal human phobia, and walk out unscathed.” ~ Lt. Col. Dave Grossman 

Children's Reactions to Disaster

A disaster, whether community wide or involving only a single family, may leave children especially frightened, insecure, or upset about what happened. They may display a variety of emotional responses after a disaster, and it is important to recognize that these responses are normal.

How a parent reacts will make a great difference in the child's understanding and recovery after the disaster. Parents should make every effort to keep the children informed about what is happening and to explain it in terms that they can understand.

The following list includes some of the reactions you may see in your child:
  • Crying/Depression Inability to concentrate
  • Bedwetting
  • Withdrawal and isolation
  • Thumbsucking
  • Not wanting to attend school
  • Nightmares
  • Headaches
  • Clinging/fear of being left alone
  • Changes in eating and sleeping habits
  • Regression to previous behaviors
  • Excessive fear of darkness
  • Fighting Increase in physical complaints
Some things that will help your child recover are:
  • Hug and touch your child often.
  • Reassure the child frequently that you are safe and together.
  • Talk with your child about his/her feelings about the disaster. Share your feelings too. Give information the child can understand.
  • Talk about what happened.
  • Spend extra time with your child at bedtime.
  • Allow children to grieve about their lost treasures; a toy, a blanket, a lost home.
  • Talk with your child about what you will do if another disaster strikes.
  • Let your child help in preparing and planning for future disasters.
  • Try to spend extra time together in family activities to begin replacing fears with pleasant memories.
  • If your child is having problems at school, talk to the teacher so that you can work together to help your child.

Usually a child's emotional response to a disaster does not last long. Be aware that some problems may not appear immediately or may recur months after the disaster. Talking openly with your children will help them to recover more quickly from the loss. If you feel your child may need additional help to recover from the disaster, contact your Employee Assistance Program, or your Mental Health Association.

Recovery Efforts for Hurricane Sandy

As images and news reports continue to surface from the devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy, please remember the recovery efforts of a cataclysmic storm may last for several weeks, months, or years.   Food, water, shelter are only the bare essentials a family would need to begin the recovery process.   The impact of Hurricane Sandy will go far beyond  physical damage. The emotional toll can result in a wide range of intense, confusing, and sometimes frightening emotions.   Just as it takes time to clear the rubble and repair the damage, it takes time to recover and rebuild lives.      
This is an incomplete list of websites for the Recovery Efforts with Hurricane Sandy:
Please check in with shelters here:
The American Red Cross here:
NYC Services here:
Delaware - After the Storm Resources Page:
New York Hurricane Sandy FEMA Page:
New Jersey Hurricane Sandy FEMA Page:
Connecticut Hurricane Sandy FEMA Page:
National Firefighters Endowment Fire Responders Relief Fund


With the impending Frankenstorm (Hurricane Sandy) heading for the East Coast during Halloween, I wanted to provide simple advice on Hurricanes and how to stay safe during one.
Hurricanes are enormous cyclonic storm systems covering thousands of square miles which usually develop in the tropical or subtropical latitudes during the summer and fall.  To be a hurricane, the system must be producing winds of at least 74 miles per hour. Less intense storms are called tropical depressions or tropical storms.  Hurricanes, like tropical storms, are individually named to aid in identifying them. Each hurricane is, essentially, an organized system made up of hundreds of individual thunderstorms. The core of the hurricane is called the eye, an area of relatively benign weather several miles across surrounded by turmoil. All of the severe weather conditions produced by individual thunderstorms (heavy rain, hail, lightning, tornadoes, downbursts, etc.) are greatly magnified within the hurricane. Working together, such storms can also generate tremendous tidal surges, which can decimate coastal areas.  Historically, individual hurricanes have caused the loss of thousands of lives and billions of dollars in damage as they ran their course over populated areas.
Remember: Hurricanes are among the most destructive phenomena of nature. Their appearance is not to be taken lightly.
FEMA Safety Guidelines for Hurricanes
Before a Hurricane
  • Make plans to secure your property. Permanent storm shutters offer the best protection for windows. A second option is to board up windows with 5/8” marine plywood, cut to fit and ready to install. Tape does not prevent windows from breaking.
  • Install straps or additional clips to securely fasten your roof to the frame structure. This will reduce roof damage.
  • Be sure trees and shrubs around your home are well trimmed.
  • Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts to prevent misdirected flooding.
  • Determine how and where to secure your boat.
  • Consider building a safe room.
  • Keep articles in your basement elevated to avoid damage from even minor flooding.
  • Keep a well-stocked Family Disaster Kit in case you lose power. Think about what you might need if you are isolated for a number of days.
If a hurricane is likely in your area, you should: During a Hurricane
  • Stay informed by monitoring the store via radio, TV, and internet.
  • Secure your home, close storm shutters, and secure outdoor objects or bring them indoors. Objects such as lawn furniture, trash barrels, hanging plants, toys, and even awnings can be broken and picked up by strong winds and potentially become a projectile.
  • Turn off utilities if instructed to do so. Otherwise, turn the refrigerator thermostat to its coldest setting and keep its doors closed.
  • Turn off propane tanks. Avoid using the phone, except for serious emergencies.
  • Keep your vehicles fully fueled.
  • Have a certain amount of cash available. If power is lost, ATMs may not be working.
  • Moor your boat if time permits.
  • Ensure a supply of water for sanitary purposes such as cleaning and flushing toilets. Fill the bathtub and other large containers with water.
You should evacuate under the following conditions:
  • If you are directed by local authorities to do so. Be sure to follow their instructions.
  • If you live in a mobile home or temporary structure—such shelters are particularly hazardous during hurricanes no matter how well fastened to the ground.
  • If you live in a high-rise building—hurricane winds are stronger at higher elevations.
  • If you live on the coast, on a floodplain, near a river, or on an inland waterway.
  • If you feel that you are in danger.
If you are unable to evacuate, go to your safe room. If you do not have one, follow these guidelines:
  • Stay indoors during the hurricane and away from windows and glass doors.
  • Close all interior doors—secure and brace external doors.
· Keep curtains and blinds closed. Do not be fooled if there is a lull; it could be the eye of the storm - winds will pick up again.
  • Take refuge in a small interior room, closet, or hallway on the lowest level.
  • Lie on the floor under a table or another sturdy object.
During a hurricane, and possibly for days or even weeks afterward, electricity and other utilities might not be available. Debris and/or water might block the roads, preventing vehicles from getting in our out of your neighborhood. Help might not reach you for days after the hurricane, so you’ll need to be completely self-sufficient during that period.

Here are some of the most critical supplies to have on hand, well before a hurricane threatens:
  • At least a 3-day and preferably a 7-day supply of water (one gallon per person per day)
  • Non-perishable food
  • Formula, diapers, and other baby supplies
  • Manual can opener
  • First aid kit
  • Prescription and non-prescription medicines
  • Toiletries
  • Cell phones and battery-powered cell phone chargers
  • Battery-powered radios and flashlights
  • Plenty of batteries
  • Extra cash
  • Blankets, sleeping bags, books, and games (especially if evacuating)