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So far Dr. James Zender has created 84 blog entries.

The Role of Community in Healing

A patient recently told me during a therapy session about a movie she recommended I see. As always, when a movie is discussed as meaningful to the psychotherapeutic process, I was intrigued to see what it is about and how it might further elucidate significant inner issues. The movie was "Lars and the Real Girl," a 2007 film written by award-winning playwright and screenwriter Nancy Oliver, who was actually nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for this film. In 2008, she won the Humanitas Prize for [...]

2021-06-25T19:28:11-04:00July 24, 2020|Psychology Today Blog|Comments Off on The Role of Community in Healing

The Meaning of Trauma

Trauma turns the world upside down and inside out, disrupting our ability to process feelings and meaning. In psychology, the word “affect” is used to mean emotions or feelings. A big part of trauma-informed psychotherapy is about working to process trauma-linked emotions and regaining—or learning—affect regulation and affect tolerance. Donald Kalsched, author of The Inner World of Trauma, offers us his useful definition of trauma: “Trauma is about the fact that we are all given more to experience in this life than we can bear to experience consciously.” (This quote is from [...]

2021-06-25T19:28:37-04:00June 22, 2020|Psychology Today Blog|Comments Off on The Meaning of Trauma

Tips for Recovering from PTSD and TBI

Living as a human being in our world exposes us to many events that have the potential to cause trauma. The traumatic stimulus can be actual or threatened injury or death to self or others. One of the many stimuli for traumas that, unfortunately, befall many people are auto accidents, some of which are severe and cost life, limb, and livelihood. For the past 15+ years, I have subspecialized in psychological care of people traumatized by severe car accidents. Initially in this work, I focused exclusively on the psychological dimension [...]

2021-06-25T19:28:45-04:00June 1, 2020|Psychology Today Blog|Comments Off on Tips for Recovering from PTSD and TBI

Pandemics and Psychoneuroimmunology

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” was a profound truth voiced by Franklin D. Roosevelt in his inaugural address confronting the national crisis of the Great Depression. As psychologists and clinicians, we live day in and day out in the intrapsychic land of fear. Roosevelt's speechwriter identified a sage truth regarding fear. Fear is there to protect us from an identified danger. But we cannot allow it to take us over and surrender to the prolonged cortisone secretions elicited by the neuro-chemical alarm mechanisms [...]

2021-06-25T19:28:53-04:00April 27, 2020|Psychology Today Blog|Comments Off on Pandemics and Psychoneuroimmunology

PTSD, TBI, or Both? A changing brain science paradigm

The history of the diagnostic term post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) weaves back to the diagnoses of "shell shock" during World War I, and even earlier to the Napoleonic Wars and the American Civil War. Dr. Charles Samuel Myers, a consulting psychologist and physician to the British Army during World War I, first coined the term "shell shock" to describe the neurobehavioral difficulties—including emotional and cognitive breakdown and problems with balance—that military physicians observed in soldiers incapacitated due to combat exposure. It is estimated that 80,000 British soldiers [...]

2021-06-25T19:29:01-04:00March 23, 2020|Psychology Today Blog|Comments Off on PTSD, TBI, or Both? A changing brain science paradigm

The Cookie Jar: How to change the habit of being you.

Working with many people in psychotherapy who are attempting to recover from life-altering traumatic events, I am forever looking for new tools for my patients to use. Today I will give you two powerful tools that many find useful: "The Cookie Jar" by David Goggins and "A Conversation Between Your Future Self and Past Self" by Dr. Joe Dispenza. I first learned of David Goggins over a year ago from a client. Goggins is the author of Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds, a former Navy Seal, and an [...]

2021-06-25T19:29:10-04:00January 2, 2020|Psychology Today Blog|Comments Off on The Cookie Jar: How to change the habit of being you.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Metaphysics

Over the years, I have found great usefulness in the lessons of inspirational speaker and author Esther Hicks. Hicks claims to connect with her "higher consciousness," which she calls Abraham. Dr. Wayne Dyer referred to her as one of the greatest teachers on the planet today. Dr. Dyer has felt, to me, like a kindred spirit; he lived in a foster home in Mount Clemens, Michigan as a child and, I believe, attended the school which is next to my current office. For decades, he was a frontline leader [...]

2021-06-25T19:29:18-04:00October 22, 2019|Psychology Today Blog|Comments Off on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Metaphysics

A Life Reclaimed: The Travis Mills story

This year, at the 39th annual Michigan Brain Injury Association fall conference, I met a remarkable man who was one of the key note speakers. Travis Mills is from a small town in Michigan and was captain of his high school football team. He joined the Army, and while on patrol during his third deployment to Afghanistan in 2012, dropped his backpack and triggered an improvised explosive device buried in the ground. As a result of the explosion, he is now one of only five soldiers from the [...]

2021-06-25T19:29:26-04:00October 15, 2019|Psychology Today Blog|Comments Off on A Life Reclaimed: The Travis Mills story

An Inspiring Response to Trauma

At the recent 39th Michigan Brain Injury Conference a keynote speaker gave a remarkable talk about how she responded to her brother’s brain injury. Her way of coping is having a positive impact on the entire world. Mallory Brown, age 33, I would wager to say is destined to win a Nobel Peace Prize of which she is deserving. She is a humanitarian filmmaker, impact storyteller, social entrepreneur and humanitarian who has visited 50 countries and is helping thousands of people living in poverty find new hope [...]

2021-06-25T19:29:33-04:00October 10, 2019|Psychology Today Blog|Comments Off on An Inspiring Response to Trauma

The Story of Angela M. – An interview about TBI and PTSD

Angela M was a rapidly rising classical pop singer/songwriter, having just sung for an audience of 220,000 at the Canada vs. Ireland rugby match when the roll-over auto accident happened.  In an instant her life was changed in ways she is still learning to cope with. She was being driven to the airport when the driver lost control, flew off the highway, struck a light pole, and flipped the car.  There was little left of the car that was not damaged. She does not recall [...]

2021-06-25T19:29:41-04:00June 17, 2019|Psychology Today Blog|Comments Off on The Story of Angela M. – An interview about TBI and PTSD

Honoring the Unspeakable. Ghosts of childhood trauma.

My training analyst, Dr. Henry Krystal, who had survived five Nazi death camps, would often tell me in my training sessions, “Sometimes a good forgettery is better than a good memory.”  We may live with imprints of events from our distant pasts that cause bitter pain and suffering that with existing resources are too overwhelming to speak of.  They must be spoken around.  Around versus of.  But often like a cosmic black hole, these suppressed, partially buried unresolved traumas suck the life force into them, severely [...]

2021-06-25T19:29:48-04:00May 2, 2019|Psychology Today Blog|Comments Off on Honoring the Unspeakable. Ghosts of childhood trauma.

A New Paradigm for Traumatic Brain Injury

Dr. Gordon is the medical director of Millennium Neuroregenerative Centers and the author of two books, Traumatic Brain Injury, A Clinical Approach to Diagnosis and Treatment (2016), and The Clinical Application of Interventional Endocrinology (2007). I was so impressed with the results of Dr. Gordon’s treatment of Andrew Marr for his war-related brain injury, documented in Marr’s book Tales from the Blast Factory, that I wanted to learn more about an effective treatment approach I knew nothing about.  Gordon had achieved what the most skilled psychotherapy could not. In doctoral [...]

2021-06-25T19:29:56-04:00April 30, 2019|Psychology Today Blog|Comments Off on A New Paradigm for Traumatic Brain Injury

Post-concussion Syndrome: Does one of the diagnostic criteria do patients a disservice?

An excellent review of diagnostic issues related to mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) and post-concussion syndrome (PCS) can be found in McCrea (2008). He clearly breaks down the various diagnostic systems that are currently used for head injuries. The American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine (ACRM) developed one of the most accepted diagnostic criteria for mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). The criterion states that a person must have experienced a traumatically induced disruption of brain function manifested by at least one of the following: 1. Any [...]

2021-06-25T19:30:03-04:00March 19, 2019|Psychology Today Blog|Comments Off on Post-concussion Syndrome: Does one of the diagnostic criteria do patients a disservice?

Pituitary Dysfunction: Traumatic Brain Injury Factors

I continue to receive testimonials from the patients of Mark L. Gordon, MD about the astounding results he is achieving through Hormone Replacement Therapy treating traumatic brain injuries.  Over thirty testimonials were obtained from patients writing comments to my blog posts reporting on Dr. Gordon’s work as a neuroendocrinologist evaluating hormonal dysfunction for patients who have suffered traumatic brain injuries.  From the testimonials, Dr. Gordon has helped restore the lives of many veterans and others who have sustained disabling TBIs with symptoms of PTSD. Read more at Psychology Today.

2021-06-25T19:30:11-04:00March 15, 2019|Psychology Today Blog|Comments Off on Pituitary Dysfunction: Traumatic Brain Injury Factors

Near Death Experiences: Is There Life After Death?

A reader of one of my recent blog posts posted a comment that is the stimulus for this writing.  He commented that there is an unrecognized problem: being misdiagnosed by mental health professionals.  The gentleman, a retired Navy Chief Petty Officer, directed me to videos by a retired PhD Army nurse, Colonel Diane Corcoran. Corcoran talks about near death experiences (NDEs) and the transformative lessons learned from them.  She studies NDEs and offers legitimate criticism that mental health professionals are mostly ignorant of this body of work. Auto Accidents [...]

2021-06-25T19:30:18-04:00January 17, 2019|Psychology Today Blog|Comments Off on Near Death Experiences: Is There Life After Death?

Omega-3s in the Treatment of Posttraumatic Brain Injury

Recently I had the pleasure of having a long telephone conversation with Dr. Michael Lewis, the author of When Brains Collide: What Every Athlete and Parent Should Know About Concussions and Head Injuries.  Dr. Lewis is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and Tulane University School of Medicine, and completed post-graduate training at Walter Reed and Johns Hopkins.  Lewis is a retired Army Colonel who is now providing treatment and education through his nonprofit Brain Health Education and Research Institute, and Brain CARE. While in the military, Lewis worked [...]

2021-06-25T19:30:25-04:00January 15, 2019|Psychology Today Blog|Comments Off on Omega-3s in the Treatment of Posttraumatic Brain Injury

Understanding and Managing Flashbacks

There is relatively little empirical research into the flashback phenomenon.  Nevertheless, flashbacks are a common distressing symptom people experience in the aftermath of surviving a traumatic event.  Traumatic events emotionally overwhelmed the survivor and involve danger of loss of life or limb or witnessing others being harmed.  Indeed, flashbacks, nightmares and sleep disturbance might be considered the trifecta of post-traumatic stress disorder. David J. Morris in his compelling book The Evil Hours: A Biography of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder describes flashbacks as “memories gone wild.”  There is an involuntary aspect to the memory recall which typically [...]

2021-06-25T19:30:32-04:00January 8, 2019|Psychology Today Blog|Comments Off on Understanding and Managing Flashbacks

New Hope for Traumatic Brain Injury Survivors: The Age of Endocrinology.

Since the time of Galen, one of the greatest physicians of first-century Rome, the endocrine system—which produces and sends hormones through your body and organs—has been acknowledged as vital to the functioning of your body.  But only recently has the role of endocrine glands and hormonal imbalances been highlighted as central in the neurobehavioral and neurocognitive dysfunction following head injuries Endocrinologist Mark L. Gordon and former Special Forces Green Beret Andrew Marr are turning the attention of the public and health care professionals to the devastating effects of injury to the [...]

2021-06-25T19:30:39-04:00December 14, 2018|Psychology Today Blog|Comments Off on New Hope for Traumatic Brain Injury Survivors: The Age of Endocrinology.

Transforming the Trauma Paradigm: Treating Inflammation

Most mental health professionals receive no training in the role inflammation and hormonal imbalance plays in disturbed emotion, behavior, and cognition.  This is partly due to the continued split between mind and body that was crystallized in the 17th century by the French philosopher René Descartes. Descartes, Deep Philosophy, and the Ancient Mystery Schools Descartes talked about some really good things that have served us well.  In his book Rules for the Direction of the Mind, he proclaimed the power of logic and clarity of thought.  In his book Discourse on the Method, [...]

2021-06-25T19:30:45-04:00December 11, 2018|Psychology Today Blog|Comments Off on Transforming the Trauma Paradigm: Treating Inflammation

Omega-3s and Beyond: Could they be trauma miracles?

In my last blog post, I wrote about advances in our understanding of how neurosteroids, those hormones that are produced in the brain by glial cells, are impacted by traumatic injuries. The importance of looking at hormone balances post-brain injury is highlighted in the experience of Andrew Marr’s recovery from traumatic brain injury and the benefit he derived from hormone replacement therapy. Marr’s experience is described in an important book Tales from the Blast Factory. A Brain Injured Special Forces Green Beret’s Journey Back from [...]

2021-06-25T19:30:55-04:00November 27, 2018|Psychology Today Blog|Comments Off on Omega-3s and Beyond: Could they be trauma miracles?
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