The brain of a serial killer…is a story about child abuse

brain

There are three interesting aspects of this infographic about the brains of serial killers:

  • The acknowledged link to high levels of childhood trauma.
  • That brain scans of psychopaths are similar to others who exhibit evidence of behaviors besides rage and violence, such as overeating, drinking too much, inappropriate sex and workaholism. Rage, violence and the other behaviors are all  coping skills to deal with childhood adversity.
  • That the experts mentioned in the infographic are coming around to the conclusions from epidemiological research in the CDC’s ACE Study, and from neurobiological research about the effects of toxic stress on children’s brains.

brain2You can find the entire infographic here. There’s one part that’s not accurate  — the concept of a warrior gene. Epigenetics research shows that the social environment turns our genes on and off, so any behavior is likely to be a result of an interplay among many genes and neurodevelopment.

And who put this infographic together? Bestcounselingdegrees.net. Really.

The mental health field has a branding problem

brandingFor more than two centuries, the mental health field, and psychiatry in particular, has actively cultivated a “brand,” distinguishing itself as a remedy for societal ills, largely by adapting its philosophy and methods to the dominant social agenda. This began in 1793, when Dr. Philippe Pinel initiated reforms in the Salpêtriere and Bicêtre Hospitals in Paris where the insane were often held in chains. The field cast itself as moral reformer and protector of human rights, and thus mirrored the values promoted by the French Revolution and the Enlightenment.

When democratic societies needed ways to decide which of its citizens actually had free will and could act as autonomous subjects, the mental health field obliged with criteria for the insanity plea, protecting citizens from both dangerous minds as well as judicial systems unschooled in the limits of human reason. During darker moments in human history the mental

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Why I went from being a top student to an expelled dropout

I was expelled from school in 9th grade, and I’m currently 19 years old with no plans on ‘finishing’ my education (as if education ever ends). I say this with pride, because too often, people dismiss academic-underachievers as “lazy,” and any attempt to explain our side is labelled an excuse. I feel a need to show why it’s rarely that simple for the kids who leave school. I used to be a top student, the kind that got praised by teachers, friends, and family alike. For me to leave that behind, it had to take something special. Through the following moments, I will share how I went from a parent’s dream child, to a delinquent with a reticent family.

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At Cherokee Point Elementary, kids don’t conform to school; school conforms to kids

Kids run to greet Godwin Higa, principal of Cherokee Point Elementary School, during lunch.

Kids run to greet Godwin Higa, principal of Cherokee Point Elementary School, during lunch.

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What does ANY of the following POSSIBLY have to do with school discipline?

  • Every day at 7:40 a.m., all of the school’s 570 children start their day by eating a free breakfast. In their classrooms. With their classmates.
  • Every other week, the San Diego Food Bank drops off 4,000 pounds of fruits or vegetables for families of students, and another 12,000 pounds every month for the community. Nothing goes to waste.

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Preemies have difficult start on life; attachment issues make situation much worse

Last week I wrote about twinless twins. Casey was a twinless twin, but she never knew it. Her sister was stillborn and we never told her out of fear it would freak her out. But that wasn’t her only challenge when she came into this world on May 3, 1990. She wasn’t ready. Her mother went into labor six weeks early – week thirty. Casey’s birth weight was only three pounds.

Casey probably went straight from the delivery room to an incubator, where she likely spent much of the next two months before she was sent to the orphanage in Mragowo. Who even knows if her mother ever held her?

When my wife and I learned about Casey’s premature birth, we tried to learn everything we could, a task made difficult by the fact that this was 1991; we couldn’t just Google “preemie.” We were years away from a home computer. So we consulted an old high school friend who was a neonatal intensive care nurse.

The long-term effects of a premature birth were terrifying: learning disabilities, vision and hearing problems, digestive and respiratory problems and

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Girlfriend divorcing? Be the girlfriend who champions the children

kidIf going through a divorce is, for adults, like surviving a heart attack, I think for children it must be like surviving a heart attack every month for the next ten years or so, with intermittent pains – and the expectation of them – for the duration.

So my girlfriend-helping-a-girlfriend-going-through-divorce advice is this: take care of yourself, for sure. Surround yourself with sane, functional people who love you. But if you are a mom, your biggest job is guiding your children through this heartache so you do not add to THEIR pain. This means being an adult when you most want to act like a child and lash out, when you want to go back to sleep or forget about soccer practice or hit the drive through, or, perhaps, hit the bottle.

As the mom, you are an adult with some understanding of what’s going on. The children

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Punishment vs. compassion: A tale of two principals

toughlove

There is an age-old debate when it comes to schooling and parenting. Should we discipline children by enforcing punishment and obedience, or raise them through respect and understanding? I am about to share how one principal walks the first path, while another embraced the second.

Our first principal is Dave Derpak. He took over Killarney Secondary School in Vancouver, Canada, in the summer of 2010. Vandalism, false fire alarms, locker break-ins and drug deals were common before

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