Author Archives: Asa Don Brown

The Power of Forgiveness

Posted by: Asa Don Brown on April 23, 2024 4:43 pm

People hurt us, and unfortunately, we are bound to hurt others. It’s a vital part of the human experience. Believe it or not, life without pain, strife, and disappointment would be imbalanced. Life is about experiencing the good and the bad. The Yin and Yang. It is about appreciating our failures, as well as, our successes. It is about experiencing heartache, heartbreak, and love. Without experiencing some sort of conflict, strife, and disappointment, we would surely be maladjusted and ill-equipped to face life’s challenges. We are taught many lessons through obstacles, failures, and disappointments. Whether these occur because of our own mistakes or the mistakes of another, life requires that we endure hardships. It’s all about the human experience. Living life without opposition, conflict, and strife, is like riding a bicycle without peddling. Just like living life, we know that the peddling ultimately creates the momentum that we need to move forward. Naturally, peddling a bicycle only occurs through an individual’s ability to endure. As the old adage says, “No Pain, No Gain”.

Did you know that our physical health affects our psychological wellbeing? Research has long indicated that individuals who carry around baggage are more apt to have health related issues. These issues may stem from real harm to perceived harm. They may be fostered by something that we have done or that someone else has done. Either way, these issues have an ability of affecting your physical life and overall well-being. Research has clearly shown that individuals who have pent-up frustrations, anxieties, and disappointments are prone to develop major medical conditions. Furthermore, these same individuals are prone to develop a variety of mental health conditions as well. It is not a “win-win” solution, rather it’s a lose-lose proposition. Living life is about moving forward and we can only move forward if we are willing to let go of the chains that bind us.

There are obviously many theories and perspectives on the concept of forgiveness. Yet, while they may take different paths to achieve forgiveness, they almost always draw upon the same conclusion: forgiveness is an essential part of living life free of mental anguish, heartache and despair. It’s ultimately about releasing the wrongs and harms that have captivated your heart and mind. It’s about consciously and intentionally letting-go and moving forward. Whereas, the constant stress of anger and bitterness reaps havoc on your health and wellbeing. Not only is your immunity capable of being jeopardized, but you are at risk of developing multiple chronic health related issues, which may include: high blood pressure, chronic fatigue and sleep disorders, high cholesterol, diabetes, weight gain or loss, cognitive impairment and disorders, and of course, the risk of a heart-attack. As one might expect, these physiological changes have an ability of affecting one’s overall mental health as well.

On the flip-side, studies have also found that forgiveness is necessary to living a healthier life. There are many personal benefits to consciously releasing your mind and heart of past sorrows, pains, and heartaches. It’s about letting go and moving forward. It’s about allowing your mind to be free of the clutter that has long captivated it. Why are you allowing these messages to live rent free in your mind? How much longer are you going to dwell on the past?

Forgiveness is not only capable of providing you a clear consciousness, but it will improve many aspects of your life. When we hold onto bitterness and resentment, we are often outwardly displaying our inward mindset. Not only does it have an ability of affecting our physical and mental health, but it has an ability of affecting our personal relationships, friendships and support systems. Even within our own mind, it can create divides between us and others. Even if, these individuals had nothing to do with the past harm, they may feel the brunt of our inner pain and sorrow.

Forgiveness has an intrinsic way of restoring one’s faith and hope in humanity. It has an ability of restoring and cleansing our mind. Authenticity is essential! Authentic individuals are genuine and sincere with their personal desires. Sincerity goes a long ways when we have been wrong or been wronged by another. Sincerity is void of dishonestly or hypocrisy.

What if, we are not asking for forgiveness, but rather, we are expecting an apology? When we live in a world of expectations, we are priming our minds for disappointment. Rather than expecting an apology, you might consider living a life of unsolicited forgiveness. Forgiveness does not mean that you have to reconcile with an individual, but it does mean that you have to move beyond the past. Forgiveness is as much about releasing your own mind, as it is about releasing the other person. If you can’t forgive, then you will live a life captivated by the past.

Please understand that I am not implying that everyone deserves our forgiveness, but rather we deserve to have the ability to let go of the past. Forgiveness has as much to do with the person who has harmed us, as it has to do with our own personhood.

Forgiveness is an active form of communication. Are you consciously and unconsciously conveying contrition rather than retribution? Are you consciously and unconsciously conveying acceptance rather than rejection? It’s sometimes about loving another person despite themselves. Forgiveness occurs through our willingness to let go and move forward. Forgiveness occurs when we no longer choose to cling to the past. It’s about letting go of past grudges, anger, failure, resentment, and bitterness. It’s about allowing our bodies and minds to move beyond the bondage of harm. Most of all, do not expect that others should forgive you, but be certain to forgive yourself. It’s about the inner dialogue that we choose to entertain. What dialogue are you entertaining?




*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

Aging in the 21st Century: The Benefits of Volunteerism and Community

Posted by: Asa Don Brown on January 31, 2024 3:35 pm

Older adults are more active, more mobile, more engaged and more energetic than previous generations. Their vitality may be explained through a variety of factors including a well established support system. Research conducted by Cigna healthcare (2024) “which was based on a survey of more than 10,000 adults of all ages, found that seniors have the highest average vitality score of any age group (71.5 vs. 67.2 for all adults). Even people a few years younger – 63 and 64 – tend to have lower vitality, with an average score of 68.9.” Surprisingly, adults between the ages of 18-24 scored the lowest at 64.4. Whereas, adults between 25-34 scored 66.5; 35-49 scored 66.8; and adults between 50-64 scored 66.0.

Cigna’s findings are fascinating to say the least, but what was it about these adults that caused them to stand out from younger generations. According to Cigna, they are typically more concerned about making healthier life choices. They are often capable of making healthier decisions, as far as, eating a well-balanced diet of fruits and vegetables, sleep habits, and they are free to come and go as they please. They have fewer stressors related to job performance and academic endeavors. Thus, the lifestyle and habits of an older and more mature adult offers something for younger generations to consider.

The Downside of Growing Older

The downside of growing older is that we begin to lose individuals close to us, our loved ones, our friends, and our community. The greatest challenge for many is losing their primary support system. A primary support system is a group of individuals with which we connect throughout the span of our life: this group may include our family, friends, and peers.  Support systems act like glue reinforcing, supporting, and solidifying an individual. Without these proper support system in place, an individual may feel isolated, afraid, and intolerably alone. The lack of proper support systems exposes the individual to bouts of depression, feelings of isolation, and having a lower quality of life and perspective therein.

The Upside of Aging

The upside of aging is life itself. Whether you want to admit it, or not, you’ve been blessed with the gift of living a long life. Why then, not contribute something of yourself unto others? Why withdraw your knowledge, your talents, and your achievements? You have so much to offer of yourself. You have life experiences and influence that a younger individual has yet to develop. You have the ability to see life from a different perspective. Your worldview and personal insights may shed light on a variety of issues. While you may not completely understand or relate to all of the new trends, your background and knowledge set may offer a unique point-of-view on up-and-coming trends. Life is a constant continuum cycling from one generation to the next. It’s important to recognize that each generation harbors something of worth, knowledge, and substance. It’s not all about volunteering or offering of your time, but to isolate yourself from others, has its drawbacks.

The Benefits of a Healthy Support System

The benefits of a healthy support system are acceptance, fulfillment and overall satisfaction. The very definition and understanding of a support system may vary from person to person. Likewise, these systems may even vary as we age. Even the makeup and design of such a support system will undoubtedly be a reflection of our personal backgrounds, cultures, heritages, gender, and race. Let’s not forget that those  backgrounds will be heavily influenced by our religious and political ideologies. However, it is not to say that your circle of friends and support system cannot be diverse and inclusive, because some of the best friendships start with diversity of thoughts, interests and perspectives. 

Research has shown that having a healthy support system is vital for living a productive and fulfilled life. There are many benefits that come with having a healthy support system. Unfortunately, when we are aging the selection of friendships begins to thin out, leaving us with fewer connections over time. Many older individuals begin to withdraw and isolate from the outside world. This allows for such individuals to dwell on their past mistakes, errors, and troubles in life. They dwell on feelings of inadequacy and unfamiliarity. They dwell on, life, its fairness and the unfairness. We find ourselves connecting with fewer and fewer individuals.

Life isn’t perfect so let’s not allow the past to divert us from living in the moment. Not unlike our youth, as we age we are presented with a whole new learning curve. It’s about accepting our past failures and successes and the good and the bad. It’s about accepting our inner person. It’s about accepting what we have become and are capable of becoming. It’s about moving beyond the mistakes that we have made in this life. Remember that if we are fortunate enough to keep working throughout the span of our lives, then we have a built-in community of support. But I plead with you, do not compromise your own sense of integrity to have others in your life. Do not lay aside your long-held moral compass for a fractured compass that does not resemble your own moral and ethical standards. Not unlike our youth, the elder years will be about figuring out what we believe and why we believe, what we believe.

As a clinician, I have spoken with a variety of individuals over the years who have indicated feeling alone, isolated, and disposed of. There are those who have physical and mental health challenges that prevent them from living an active life. These issues may prevent them from being out-and-about, but it shouldn’t prevent them engaging with others and asking for others to reach out. Even if, an individual has no current social support system, there are resources that can be called upon and on behalf of the individual. It’s important to remember that research has clearly shown that staying active is key to living a more productive and healthier life. It’s not all about volunteering or offering of your time, but do not isolate yourself from others, because isolation has its drawbacks.

For those who are unsure of what to do next, I highly recommend that you consider volunteering for yourself and your time. Think of it this way, it’s a definite win-win. By volunteering, you will have a window of influence and you may have an opportunity to learn from others. I have no doubt that you will establish a new network of friends. It’s not uncommon to hear of elderly individuals volunteering throughout the span of their community. By the way, there are individuals volunteering in their local schools, hospitals, fire and ambulance departments, and religious venues. The volunteering does not end there, because I personally know of individuals who have volunteered in the gathering of the census, stats, and poll information. It is not uncommon for the elderly to find their groove by volunteering on behalf of the election processes, candidates, and political organizations. Please understand that this message is to encourage you and to uplift you. I am not saying that volunteering will be-all and end-all, but it’s one way in which you may establish a community. Remember this, volunteering is a win-win. You are not only offering your time, knowledge and efforts, but you are adding quality to your own life by being surrounded by others.




*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

Prison Life

Posted by: Asa Don Brown on December 5, 2023 12:28 pm

Imagine with me for a moment, a world where your conscious and unconscious minds are subjected to think on your past mistakes. Day in and day out, you are bombarded by the clanging symbols of your personal errors in life. To society, your mistakes may be considered of an egregious nature or they may be relatively harmless, but you are now incarcerated. The outside world sees you as a menace and you are no longer welcome to roam among the living. It’s a
world that has been intentionally designed to break you, as a person. It’s a world invested in making you pay the ultimate price, for your crimes against humanity.

Prisons are a dichotomy of rules and lawlessness. As a clinical psychologist and chaplain, I have had first hand experience of what it is to be behind the walls of a prison. I have spent an untold amount of time within the confines of both prisons and jails. Deep within these barbaric fortresses, there are few amenities and definitely no luxuries. It’s undeniably a surreal and a deplorable environment. Many of the facilities are considered to be “state of the art,” yet the advancements are seldom intended on improving the prisoner’s life, but rather they are focused on the containment.

Prisons are institutions unlike few others. These correctional facilities are designed to incarcerate and rehabilitate. It’s within the confines of these walls that these institutions frequently fail to rehabilitate and restore an individual, but rather they perpetuate an environment unfavorable to growth and maturation.

As a prisoner, you have no individual autonomy. Your freedoms have been vanquished and you are, for all intensive purposes, a ward of the state. You have no freedoms, no rights, no ability to make personal decisions. Essentially, you have no stakes in this thing that we call life. You are reduced to an animal in captivity and nothing more. It’s a deranged way of treating someone and it is inhumane. There is seldom any compassion, any empathy, and most commonly, a lack of a healthy community. It may not surprise you to learn that the rate of recidivism is an ever-growing population of people who offended and reoffend. Often, these individuals are at odds with life outside of the prison.

The psychological impact of incarceration can leave a dire impression on an individual’s life. These dire impressions are often invisible, but commonly witnessed through negative shifts within an individual’s personality. The severity of these shifts increases the longer the individual is confined within the walls of a prison. Prison life not only has an ability of transforming an individual’s personality, but it has a tremendous impact upon the wellbeing of the person. Research has clearly shown that the longer an individual is incarcerated, the greater the probability that they may develop significant mental health issues. Institutionally, prisons have been designed to isolate, punish, and of course, ideally rehabilitate, but they are the perfect breeding ground for psychological conditions. These issues are exacerbated by the environment with which this population lives. It is common for a majority of prisoners to feel stress and anxiety related to their personal safety and wellbeing. The longer someone is imprisoned, the more profound the psychological stress.

Prison life alone can exacerbate any underlying condition, but separate an individual from their primary social support system and you will add fuel to the fire. It’s the lack of healthy relationships and social support that will often do in an inmate. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, “Social isolation and loneliness have been linked to increased risk for: heart disease and stroke, type 2 diabetes, depression and anxiety, addiction, suicidality and self-harm, dementia, and earlier death”. Remove an individual from their sense of community and you deny them the right to bond, connect, and commune with others. Undeniably, not all social support systems are healthy nor are they ideal ingredients for improving an individual’s life, but seldom are these perspectives even considered. Research has repeatedly shown that social isolation in itself, can prove the gateway to a number of psychological conditions.

While social isolation is one of many key risk factors behind inmates developing mental health conditions, it’s the individuals with which they are isolated from, that makes all the difference. As you can imagine, the level of intimacy and the relationship itself, can play a significant role in the feelings of separation. For some, they may have very little feelings of distress or anxiety about being separated. For others, they may feel a heavy burden related to the absence of significant relationships in their lives. Likewise, it is important to mention that one’s psychological diagnostics, can have a tremendous impact on how they relate to such a separation.

Social isolation maybe one of the key factors, but it’s the lack of personal autonomy, that can leave an individual with feelings of helplessness and utter despair. It’s the inability to declare oneself an independent thinker, that can prove the most intolerable aspect of prison life. When you compound the social isolation with an individual’s inability to prove autonomous, you create the perfect environment for a mental health condition. Personal autonomy is more than making individual choices for one’s life, rather it is also about having the freedom to think, ponder, hope and dream. It’s important to understand that prisons serve a purpose within our society, but remove an individual’s ability to think, ponder, hope, and dream and you ultimately remove their ability to thrive.

Prison systems are complex environments brimming with a plethora of negative consequences including: social isolation and lack of social supports, inadequate physical and mental healthcare, lack of meaningful and lasting relationships, the feelings of being constantly watched by guards and the eye in the sky, mandatory solitude, constant violence and the probability of violence occurring, overcrowding, the uncertainties about the future, and even the inhumane aspects of a prison, can create havoc with one’s perspectives and worldviews.

According to research by Timothy G. Edgemon and Jody Clay-Warner, “Not only do many prison inmates suffer from mental health difficulties, but incarceration itself increases the risk of certain mental health disorders” (Edgemon & Clay-Warner, 2019). Prisons are institutions of depravity, instability and a lack of opportunity. Research has clearly shown that the longer an individual is incarcerated, the more likely they are to develop a significant psychological condition. Unfortunately, prisons are less about rehabilitating and more about confinement.

Inmates are not only faced with a barrage of issues on the inside, but once out, they face countless challenges and hurdles that they’ll need to overcome. Just in case you were unfamiliar with the outcome, post-incarceration is a continuation of an inmate’s time served. Many will find it difficult to obtain a driver’s license, housing, financial assistance, and employment prospects. Therefore, many inmates fall back on a life of crime, because they feel as though they have no skills or options to live their life. As a natural consequence of living in prison, they may have obtained new tricks of the trade and may utilize these assets to survive and often provide for their own. Let’s not forget, that a countless number of inmates were exposed to the most egregious side of life, thus it is not uncommon that they may have developed a severe mental health condition. Sadly, they are seldom rehabilitated or granted an opportunity to move beyond the life that they are familiar with. As such, the rate of recidivism will remain high and prisons will often be their second home.




*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

Impact of War on Mental Health

Posted by: Asa Don Brown on October 24, 2023 11:50 am

[War] strips us of the later accretions of civilization, and lays bare the primal man in each of us. It compels us once more to be heroes who cannot believe in their own death; it stamps strangers as enemies, whose death is to be brought about or desired; it tells us to disregard the death of those we love.

Sigmund Freud, 1915

In recent years, conversations about wars, and rumors of war, have increased exponentially. The water cooler conversations are no longer saturated with dialogue about the latest game, family or friends, rather they are conversations that involve discussions of war and the probability of war. As a global community, we are no longer sheltered by the convenience of being off in the distance, rather we receive our news instantaneously. We receive such egregious messages and are expected to digest them in the same breath. We are well aware that our ideological perspectives vary drastically from one corner of the world to the next. We have leaders who are pro-war and pro-armament; then there are the leaders who are antiwar and advocate against such drastic actions. The psychological ramifications of these conversations have been taking a noticeable toll on our society. As a society, it is difficult to avoid conversations about war, warmongering, antiwar and the very real possibility, that our children may one day become involved in such an unfavourable conflict.

What is it that drives war? Obviously, there are a variety of reasons and rationales behind a country entering war. Wars are seldom fought over insignificant issues, but most commonly occur because of geopolitical and religious ideological perspectives. Ironically, you seldom hear of wars being fought to defend race, sex, gender or economic hardships of the downtrodden. For the majority of wars, they are often fought over political, economic, and religious ideologies.

As a global community, we have become immersed with the 24 hour news cycle. As such, war is ticking away every moment of the day. War is on the minds and hearts of nearly every person that you encounter. Whether they are pro-war or antiwar, the psychological ramifications of being so deeply entrenched has had a dire effect on the mental health and wellbeing of our society.

In the 1945 Charter of the United Nations, there were decrees and resolutions drafted declaring what justifies a declaration of war. The UN was desperate to create measures to prevent future catalysts of hate and tyrants from ruling countries in the future. The UN had created a number of guidelines divulging what they consider appropriate and inappropriate in a time of armed conflicts. Most of all, they were concerned about protecting the wellbeing and health of all global citizens.

Undoubtedly, the effect of war has a way of fracturing the very fabric of our collective mental health. When there is war, we all suffer. War knows no victors and has no allies. Yet, there are times that war must proceed and conflicts must escalate.

The impact of war on mental health has only begun to be fully understood. War does not only impact the soldiers and those leading such operations, but it has an ability of vicariously impacting the mental health of all who are directly and indirectly associated with the war. Notably, you may not be even living in a war torn country to be affected. Research has shown that the more media that you consume of a war or a hostile action, the greater the likelihood that you will be severely impacted. The vicarious implications may creep up on you subtly, but the long-term effects have a way of mimicking firsthand experiences.

According to the World Health Organization, the United Nations has suggested that “there are more people living with mental disorders in areas affected by conflict than we previously thought – many more. One person in five is living with some form of mental disorder, from mild depression or anxiety to psychosis. Worse, almost 1 in 10 is living with a moderate or severe mental disorder” (World Health Organization, 2023). For far too long, a shadow has been cast over the egregious affects of war. For those directly and indirectly impacted, war has a way of injecting itself into the lives of its victims. The physiological and psychological repercussions of war should always be considered when entering a conflict.

The implications of war on soldiers has been well-documented since the early 1900’s, but the implications on the noncombatants and civilians has been lackluster. We know that war has a way of severely impacting an individual’s sense of self. The cognitive implications are indisputable. The physical ramifications are incomprehensible. Furthermore, it has been well-documented that soldiers are traumatically effected by a number of variables, including: witnessing friends and comrades being killed; the death of noncombatants and civilians; and witnessing an enemy combatant being killed. As soldiers, you are not only witnessing wartime casualties, but there is extensive research that proves you will be impacted by what you have witnessed for years to come. Furthermore, research has clearly indicated that the health implications for a soldier are often masked by their own ideological perspectives of the job. Similar to first responders, soldiers have a difficult time expressing a need to be helped. For many, it is a sign of weakness and many refrain from expressing their personal vulnerability. For others, they may fear losing out on a promotion, if something is placed on their military record.

As a society, we must remember that war knows no allies. We seldom consider the outlying implications of war, but these implications have a direct bearing on an individual’s ability to thrive and survive. When a country has endured a war, the ramifications last long beyond the final battle. The economic repercussions alone can cripple a nation. The evidence is clear, when a country that has endured a war, the ramifications trickle down to those who are most vulnerable.

The most vulnerable are seldom considered when the rumblings of war occur. According to the National Institutes of Health, “The direct correlation between the degree of trauma and the amount of the psychological problems is consistent across a number of studies. The greater the exposure to trauma – both physical and psychological – the more pronounced are the symptoms.” Psychologically, trauma leaves an impression upon the mind and physiological makeup of each person it encounters. Regardless of one’s age or intellectual quotient, we know that the ramifications of being exposed to a traumatic event can leave a deep and lasting impression.

There is consistent evidence that indicates that those involved in a conflict can improve. The implications of war does not have to be the endgame for an individual. Whether you are, or you have served as a soldier, there is hope on your horizon. Moreover, studies have indicated that those who are, or were, victims of war are capable of minimizing the consequences of trauma. The truth is, the greatest obstacle in minimizing the effect of exposure is the lag time between the event and the care. Please do not avoid asking for help. The immediacy of care is of the utmost importance. There are a variety of treatment interventions that are capable of helping individuals recover from a traumatic experience. Please do not delay seeking advice or care.




*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

The Rise of Elder Abuse

Posted by: Asa Don Brown on September 27, 2023 1:39 pm

In recent years, we have witnessed a rise in violence among the elderly. This is not an isolated incident nor is it an issue solely related to the United States or Canada, but rather, this specific demographic has witnessed an upward increase occurring throughout the global community. According to research gathered through the Department of Justice Canada (2023) “About 45 percent of seniors report experiencing some form of abuse from the age of 65 on.” Further research has indicated that “The overall prevalence of elder abuse in Canada is similar to the levels found in the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.” The rise of abuse amongst any population should garner our attention.

The rise in elder abuse has been well documented, but the number of unreported cases, is astronomical. According to the World Health Organization, “Emerging evidence indicates that the prevalence of abuse of older people in both the community and in institutions have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. A United States study (conducted by Chang and Levy, 2021), suggests that rates in the community may have increased by as much as 84%.” Let me repeat, this is not an isolated issue within the United States or Canada, rather the rates of abuse are sadly reflected throughout our global community. Elder abuse is on the rise.

Why is it and how is it that such cases continue to occur? Elder abuse, like all forms of abuse, is inexcusable, unpardonable, and unimaginable, but like all other forms of abuse, they are hidden. They are hidden from others in order to conceal one’s misdeeds, wrongdoings, and egregious ways. They may be hidden as a guise, concealing one’s true intent and true nature.  Most commonly, they are hidden because the elder person is either unable, scared, or unwilling to speak up for themselves.

Why is it that victims of abuse refuse to report? Psychologically, there is a term that aptly explains this particular issue and the rationale to hide such abuse, it is called  “trauma bond” (a.k.a. Stockholm Syndrome). A trauma bond occurs when an individual has an emotional attachment or connection with their perpetrator. The bond may have transpired over the discourse of time or it may have been thrusted upon the victim. It is not unusual for the relationship or the bond to be based on need, rather than want or desire. Either way, the bond has an elastic element that brings the perpetrator and victim back together.

The relationship of the abused and perpetrator is one of imbalance. The imbalance is always in the favour of the perpetrator. The elderly person may feel as though they have no sense of personal control or even the ability to control their own lives. The abuser may have convinced the victim that they have no friends, associates or allies. They may have convinced the victim that they are their closest and dearest friend. The

imbalance of power is driven deeply within the core of the mind of the individual. Eventually, through cognitive manipulation and restructuring, the victim develops a belief system that they cannot live without the perpetrator. The perpetrator becomes their sounding board, their support system, and their perceivable ally.

Elder abuse is intentional. It is not uncommon for elder abuse to manifest in a variety of forms, which may include: psychological, physical, sexual, emotional, verbal, financial or medical. The ramifications of elder abuse have been known to cause cognitive impairment, social and emotional withdrawal, and an overall decline in an individual’s perceptions and worldviews. By the way, decline in an individual’s physical and cognitive functioning used to be considered a mere consequence of aging, but we now know that such abuse can have a dire effect upon an individual’s overall well being. Notably, it may not account for all types of cognitive impairment, but it is indeed one of the many elements that can play a major role in an individual’s physical and cognitive impairment.

The abusers are frequently placed in direct care of the victim. The victim may feel as though they are incapable or unable to speak up for themselves. They may feel fearful of the repercussions of speaking up and the possible consequences. It is not uncommon for abusers to utter threats and intimidate the elder person, persuading the individual from seeking help. Ultimately, the elder may feel as though they have limited to no options, leaving them at the will of the perpetrator.

According to the World Health Organization “Globally, the number of cases of elder abuse is projected to increase as many countries have rapidly aging populations. Even if the proportion of victims of abuse of older people remains constant, the global number of victims will increase rapidly due to population aging, growing to some 320 million victims by 2050, as the global population of people aged 60 years and more increases to 2 billion by 2050.”

Who are the abusers? Research has shown that the perpetrators of elder abuse are often intimately associated with the victim. The perpetrators may be a child, grandchild, spouse, or extended family member. In some cases, the perpetrator may have a close relationship with the individual. They may be a lifelong or family friend, religious figure, financial or legal resource, medical personnel or caregiver, or a member of a service organization. It’s important to understand that the most intimate of relationships can lead to someone taking advantage of the elder.

How do I identify a perpetrator or predatory behaviours? In general, predatory personalities are the ultimate chameleon. They are persuasive and capable of convincing others to allow them to take charge. They will morph into whatever disguise that fits your needs, wants, or overall desires. They are charming, intellectual, and reliable. They may insist on overseeing financial matters or the care of another. It is not uncommon for such personalities to lack empathy, personal insight, and an integral sense of the world.

What should I do if I know a victim of elder abuse? Be involved. Be an advocate and a liaison of the elder. Do not hesitate to report any allegations or suspensions of abuse to the authority. Encourage the elder and their family to create a multi-disciplinary team to provide support and advocacy on behalf of the elder. The multi-disciplinary team may be comprised of mental health and healthcare practitioners; adult protective services; legal and criminal justice systems; religious and faith based organizations; and if possible, a team comprised of family and friends.  Please remember that elder abuse is on the rise. Elder abuse is one of the most rapidly growing segments of the population, but one of the least reported.




*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

The Complex Nature and Relationship of Stress and Anxiety

Posted by: Asa Don Brown on August 23, 2023 12:04 pm

Have you ever been confused by the difference between stress and anxiety? What exactly is the difference between the two? And how can they be effectively managed?

Let’s begin by clarifying the difference between these similar, but very different coping strategies. Stress and anxiety have a comparable effect on the mind and body. Both can manifest through a number of physical and psychological symptoms. They are both effected by one’s biological, psychological and social environments, or as we say in psychology, biopsychosocial environments. While stress commonly has a short-lived or an acute effect upon an individual; anxiety can have a longterm or chronic effect upon the physical mind and body. Stress itself is a reaction. There is certainly a cause and effect that prompts stress. It may be triggered by an event, circumstance, situation, or an internal or external response to something occurring in one’s life. It can be thought of as an unwarranted tension with adverse effects. Whereas, anxiety often encapsulates an obsessive quality or component that intensifies as one feels an overwhelming sense of being without control. The individual may experience an impeding sense of doom and gloom. They may feel as though they have no ability of overcoming whatever they are

facing. Anxiety is essentially the manifestation of persistent stress. Initially, the anxiety may have been triggered by a stressor, but it may continue to plague an individual long after the stressor has been removed. It is important to recognize that there are anxieties that are known to manifest without a specific cause or reason.

Stress is the internal catalyst informing the mind and body to react now. It is a survival mechanism that informs us of potential threats or danger. You may not only lean upon stress when encountering the probability of a threat, but the possibility of losing out on something. Stress can come in a variety of forms including: a baseball player who sees a ball flying across centerfield; a student who is taking an academic exam; a speaker who’s addressing a large audience for the first time; a couple sharing marriage vows; a physician who’s treating an unfamiliar illness. Please note that a healthy balance of stress is a normal attribute of the human condition.

Another way of looking at the difference is, stress often manifests in relationship to something or because of something. Whereas, anxiety may occur whether or not there is a real-life threat or obstacle to overcome. Anxieties may have been related to a stressful situation, but the event continues to plague the mind and body of the individual long after the event has passed.

Generally speaking, stress is the body’s way of coping and managing events occurring in the moment. While anxiety is commonly an overwhelming sensation that does not dispensate following a stress induced occurrence. Notably, stress and anxiety can both have a profound effect upon the mind and body. The symptoms can exacerbate or be the catalyst of other physical and psychological conditions. These issues may lead to

a generalized feeling of being unwell, a lack of sleep or disrupted sleep patterns,  excessive worry, increased blood pressure, chronic fatigue, irritability, tension, bruxism (TMJ), and headaches. It may also have a systemic effect upon one’s overall immune, digestive, cardiovascular, or reproductive systems, and a barrage of physical and psychological manifestations.

By the way, you are not alone with your health concerns. There are others facing the same and similar challenges. It is not too late to reach out for help.

The good news is, both stress and anxiety can be effectively treated. You can learn to cope, manage and possibly overcome these issues. Please understand that it is not uncommon to experience some level of stress and anxiety throughout one’s life. It’s how we cope and manage these issues that makes all the difference.

The following are strategies that may help you with your personal stress and anxieties:

  • Regular exercise can have a profound effect on an individual’s mood, concentration, alertness and overall cognition. Furthermore, just 30 minutes of regular exercise has been shown to have a positive effect on self-esteem and cognitive function.
  • Be certain to eat a well-balanced diet and stay hydrated.
  • Consider the possibility of seeking the care of a mental health practitioner.
  • Journaling is an excellent way for you to pen your thoughts, perceptions, and any personal challenges. It’s an excellent opportunity to practice positive self-talk and another way to focus on behaviours, attitudes and perceptions that you might like to improve.
  • Scientific research has shown that controlled and concentrated breathing is a beneficial way for managing stress and anxiety.
  • Meditation can provide you a place of balance and an overall sense of control.

There are many methods with which one can eliminate, manage, and cope with stress and anxiety. It’s important to recognize that you are ultimately in control. Do not allow your mind to convince you otherwise. Adapt the skills mentioned above to your own personal routine. Do not feel afraid to adapt skills or to manipulate skills to fit your own life. At the end of the day, it’s all about your mental health and wellbeing.

[email protected]
www.asadonbrown.com




*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

Vicarious Effects of Mental Health on Children

Posted by: Asa Don Brown on July 4, 2023 2:21 pm

By now, you have surely read, heard, or listened to a news broadcast about the state of mental health in this country. We are living in unprecedented times as a nation and as a global community. According to the World Health Organization, the state of mental health ranks as one of the leading causes of disability. Its elevation should be a cause of real concern, especially in relationship to the lives of our children and our youth.

We are living in precarious times. It is a time of global uncertainty, anxiety, and unrest.
Whether you are discussing tensions brought on by economics, the pandemic, the political environment, or the churning of society’s core belief systems; we are in a time of global uncertainty. How does this translate onto the life of a child? Children are the most vulnerable around those that they trust, or in some cases, distrust. Moreover, they are influenced by those who have taken on the role of a caregiver. For many years, I have had a core belief that teachers and teaching staff are simply surrogate caregivers. After all, teachers and staff have direct contact with our children for approximately 6 to 7 hours a day. This may vary depending on the school and if the student rides the school bus, but the reality is, it takes a village to raise a child.

While they spend countless hours with teachers, coaches, and instructors of all types, the truth is, children are more likely to be impacted by issues related to a parent than they are those related to their teachers. Nevertheless, this is not to say that those in direct contact with our children have no influence over their behaviours, attitudes, perceptions or worldview. To the contrary, for we know that whatever the role, the life of a child is capable of being influenced by anyone who plays a significant role in their life. Likewise, we know that a child who is aware of their caregiver’s willingness to seek out care, is influenced by this decision. They are the most receptive to a parental caregiver who is willing to express their own vulnerability and find answers to cope and manage this particular issue. Moreover, we know that teachers, coaches and other staff bring their stresses to work. Yet, we seldom take this under consideration. The probability of a child being influenced and impacted by any adult is higher when they have a direct and ongoing relationship with that child.

Any person can be vicariously affected by an individual they have an ongoing relationship with. Thus, the vicarious affects are significantly higher when we are in direct contact with that individual and they have a position of power or authority over us. Therefore, it is important to recognize that children and youth are in the direct line of influence. They are influenced by the day to day nuances of an individual’s mannerisms, moods, frustrations, and overall personality. They are influenced by an individual’s nonverbal and verbal communications, but we seldom consider the direct and indirect effects of the academic setting on the life of a child. While one may hope that a majority of teachers and professional staff know how to manage their own levels of stress and anxiety, there are those moments that a teacher’s personal life invades the classroom setting. What are we doing to ensure the wellbeing of our children in all environments?

Our mental health has a direct baring upon the life a child. If we refuse the proper care, then this too can have a dire effect. Have you ever worked in an environment that is unfavourable? Have you ever worked with a colleague who brings their personal drama to work? The likelihood is relatively high that you have been indirectly and directly impacted, or even influence, by another’s personal mental health. Please understand that you do not have to speak of your stressor to project your stress on the life of another. Stress and anxiety have this incredible way of boring into our minds. It does not even have to be our own stress or anxiety.

The impact of mental health is not unlike the woodworm. Woodworms have this amazing way of propelling themselves through various timber, by using pincers to bore a hole through wood. Similarly, you may be a solid person. You may have never had a mental health concern or even been exposed to someone with an extreme mental health condition. Yet, just like that solid piece of timber, you are suddenly impacted by something that you never dreamt of. Do not consider yourself weak or of frail mind. Do not allow the naysayers in the back of your mind to dismiss this challenge. Please do understand that mental health challenges have the ability of effecting the strongest of individuals.

Let’s consider the following, adults often have a difficult time confronting a colleague at work, much less their boss, about issues stemming from the workplace. What if, your boss has a grave mental health condition and this is having an influence over your personal performance, what would you do? How would you proceed? Would you consider speaking with this individual? What if, they are not receptive? Would you consider going above their head for support? As a manager, how would you show support for both individuals?

As adults, we should be aware of any protocols and guidelines with which to proceed with our concerns. Now let’s take this down a different path, what if, you are a child? What if, your teacher or someone within the academic setting is causing you undue distress? What if, your teacher’s stressors are having an effect upon you? What avenues do you have to seek out support? Where do you turn to? What if, the issue is coming from the principal? As adults, we know and recognize that there are measures with which to find support for a child. What is the probability that a child knows that there are supports in place to keep them safe? What is the probability that a child knows that they do not have to put up with the egregious behaviours of another, including an adult?

We are in a precarious time indeed! The issues stemming from stress and anxiety are directly or indirectly impacting nearly every person on this planet. By the way, you would be the exception not to have been impacted in one way or another.

Now how do we go about showing support for those that are the most vulnerable? Make your child aware that it is never too late to find help. Make them aware that they are not alone with their personal struggles, and that it is absolutely normal to face such struggles. After all, research has indicated that one in four individuals are facing a mental health challenge. Remind your child of your admiration, appreciation and unconditional love. Encourage your child to have daily, yes daily conversations about their day. Encourage your child to discuss their likes, dislikes, comforts, discomforts, and anything that they maybe feeling. Avoid ridiculing or dismissing your child’s feelings about events, situations, circumstances or individuals who may have influence over them. Show your child support by acting as an advocate and ally. Do not hesitate finding a trained therapist who can offer confidential and compassionate counsel. Be certain that your child is receiving the proper supports in school and at home. Remember that we are actively raising these children together. Parents and teachers you are not alone. Most of all, be certain that your home and school are a safe haven for the life of your child.




*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

Being Empathic: An Empath’s Journey

Posted by: Asa Don Brown on May 26, 2023 4:40 pm

It’s another day and you’ve continued the journey down life’s precarious highway. Those who know you best, know how much you deeply care about each and every individual that you encounter. Knowing you, is to know an individual with tremendous empathy, compassion, and unconditional love. It’s the passion, within compassion, that is often the common thread that weaves throughout such a personality. Your empathy often knows no limits, but this can prove as a hinderance to your own maturation and ability to thrive. Individuals with this type of personality are often at odds with their own needs versus the needs of others.

Please understand that empathy is not an exclusive attribute of empathic individuals. Rather, empathic individuals often have a core mechanism within them that accelerates this feature of the human condition. So what is empathy? It’s the cognitive ability of immersing yourself into an event, situation, circumstance or the life of another. Plainly speaking, it’s about having unrequested compassion for someone else. Ultimately, empathy is about meeting someone where they are at.

How does someone cultivate or refine their own level of empathy? Dr. Jamil Zaki of Stanford University describes empathy as “our ability to share and understand one another’s feelings—a psychological ‘superglue’ that connects people and undergirds cooperation and kindness.” (The Economist, 2019). It’s the ability of understanding that we need to be more engaged and showing more unrestricted care to those around us. As a clinician, I have met individuals who sincerely believe that empathy is predetermined, hardwired, and decided at birth. Fortunately, empathy is not predetermined, hardwired or decided at the moment of your birth. In fact, research suggests that you are not restricted to the level of empathy that you currently retain within your person. Empathy is pliable, amenable, and capable of being changed.

As a natural empath, I have had to learn the careful balance of giving versus depleting your own natural reservoir. It’s the ability of knowing when you are offering of yourself versus sacrificing yourself. Please understand me that it is not always easy for someone who genuinely yearns to serve others. It’s not natural for those who have a deeply woven spirit that thrives to serve. To deny this aspect of oneself feels like a rejection of thy inner-self, but the truth is, we must all learn the necessity of balance and personal selfcare.

As a clinical psychologist, I have worked with other empaths on managing and bringing balance to their own lives. Again, it’s not easy when we have a heart to serve and be of service. While empathy is a gateway of service, we must also lead by example. For after all, how good is someone’s service if they are no longer capable of serving? It’s not about the rejection of others or their personal needs, but rather, it’s about balance of the preservation of one’s own life, health and overall wellbeing. It’s about recognizing that you have your own limits and personal needs.

Self-care is essential! It is of the utmost importance that we practice self-care in our home and in our daily lives. What good are we if we sacrifice our own life, personal health and wellbeing? Attending to your personal needs is exemplifying the best attributes and role modeling unto others. It’s ultimately about being an example unto others. Self-care is not self-centered or selfish, it’s about offering aid to yourself when you are feeling depleted. It’s about ensuring that your reservoir is full and that you have an adequate supply when serving others.

What is self-care? Self-care is the practice of being consciously aware of your needs and taking the necessary steps to preserve or improve your overall personal health. It is the ability of recognizing your essential needs. It’s the ability of recognizing when you have had enough. Fundamentally, it’s about knowing what you require to rejuvenate and feel refreshed. Research suggests that those who experience burnout, or report burnout, have had many signs and symptoms developing long before they are recognized. What does this suggests? It suggests that we must be better stewards of our own health and personal wellbeing. Remember that whether as a practitioner or a patient we must be diligent not only to look after the needs and wellbeing of others, but we should be looking after our own needs as well.

Self-awareness is one of the greatest instruments that an empath has on hand. It is through our self-awareness that we are constantly observing, interacting and experiencing life. We must understand that self-awareness begins by being cognitively aware, attentive and knowing our own person. It is through self-awareness that we are capable of understanding the essential needs and issues of others, as well as, our own.

Whether or not you identify as an empath, it’s important that each individual practice a balanced life. A balanced life may appear different in each life that it encounters. Yet, there is a common and consistent truth, life is about centeredness and balance. It’s about consuming as much good, as the negative, that will assuredly come our way. We must constantly monitor our own needs and our overall welfare, while serving others. Even if, our work does not allow us to work directly with others, we must strive to maintain a balanced life. So what does it mean to have a balanced life? A balanced life is about achieving a particular synergy in life. It’s about equipping your life with the proper support mechanisms that will enable you to live a healthy, productive and fulfilled life. It’s about recognizing those areas of your life that deplete your reserves and those that replenish them. It’s about utilizing tools that will enrich your life like daily breathing,
meditation, journaling, exercise, and a healthy diet. Ultimately, life is about living, thinking, and feeling healthy.




*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

The Power of a Healthy Friendship

Posted by: Asa Don Brown on April 21, 2023 3:43 pm

There is something rather unique about the bonding that takes place between two individuals. As we develop as infants and toddlers, we learn many of our social, moral and ethical cues from our parents or primary caregivers. We learn the difference between right and wrong, our likes and dislikes, and the ability to trust or distrust another. It is the quality of this relationship that reinforces our sense of self. The parental relationship has a distinct bearing upon our overall psychological makeup and the way with which we see the world. Yet, research has shown that while parents or caregivers play a significant role in the development of a child; there remains something rather striking about an authentic friendship.

We know that friendships have had a significant role in the development of the human consciousness. It has been debated whether or not the urge for friendship is stimulated by a collective consciousness or an individual consciousness. Research has indicated that friendships are a unique blend of the individual and the collective. It is this unique weaving of the individual and the collective consciousness that appears to be the foundations for friendship.

Why are we drawn towards total strangers? What is it about friendship that we crave as a species? Friendships are not unique to homo sapiens, rather there are many examples throughout the animal kingdom of such binding relationships. Until recently, researchers often refrained from describing the bond that occurs between animals as “friendship.” Dr. Lauren Brent who is a primatologist and professor at Duke University, is conducting research on rhesus macaques. She is looking specifically at the quality and development of relationships and friendships amongst the rhesus macaques. According to the National Geographic, “Rhesus macaques are familiar brown primates with red faces and rears. They have close-cropped hair on their heads, which accentuates their very expressive
faces. Rhesus macaques are Asian, Old World monkeys… These intelligent animals can adapt to many habitats, and some can even become accustomed to living in human communities.” Dr. Brent’s research suggests that the rhesus macaques do indeed develop lifelong friendships. It is this research and others that lends one to think that just maybe we are innately predisposed to friendship. Furthermore, science has revealed that friendship was an evolutionary response to ensuring that the human species would thrive and survive. Without the contribution of others, our species may not have survived.

Friendships are a fascinating aspect of the human experience. It is not uncommon for childhood friendships to develop through social constructs, such as attending the same school, religious venues, extracurricular activities or living in the same neighbourhood. Similarly, adults continue this trend by connecting with work colleagues, neighbours, and through a variety of other social constructs.

Friendships play a significant role in this thing called life. It is commonly expected that friendships will naturally take a backseat to familial events, circumstances and decisions. After all, we have no familial loyalty or structure to those that we call friends. We also know that as adults that there may be extended periods of time that we do not engage with our friends. For most individuals, this is an acceptable behavior for this particular construct. Likewise, there is something intrinsically special about choosing a friend. Often times, we develop friendships out of thin air. Think about it for a moment. Friendships are unlike family, in that, there are no familial obligations or considerations bonding you together. Consider the following: the next time you are walking in a park, pay close attention to how young children and youth engage. It is not uncommon for a child to befriend a virtual stranger. Again, friendships often occur out of thin air. There is something dynamic about friendships.

There is something uniquely special about choosing a friend. I have heard patients declare that they can choose their friends, but they are stuck with their families. What is it about having an ability to choose a friend? Are friendships that much different from other relationships? If so, why are they different from other relationships?

Friendships are an evolving aspect of the relationship paradigm. As children, we might knock on our neighbour’s door begging for their child to come out and play. As youth, we continue this cycle, but with more independence and freedom to make such a request. Of course, technology has had its clutches on the ever-evolving changes that is occurring within friendships. The likelihood of knocking may sadly be a thing of the past, but the truth is, children still rely upon the permission of the parents or caregiver. As we enter adulthood, many find themselves spending less and less quality time with their friends and more and more time with their families, work colleagues and other associates.

While social media has made it possible to keep in touch with mass groups of individuals, research is discovering that many of these “so-called” friendships are shallower than before. It may be because we tend to embrace friendships that may have otherwise fizzled with time. Social media has violated this natural function of relationships. Whereas,before the relationship would go through a variety of stages including the loss of the relationship; rather, we now tend to clasp on to these individuals collecting them like
bottle caps.

Social media has a damning effect. For many individuals seem to be incapable of moving beyond their own mistakes. We have all known someone who reminds us of our past. We have all known someone who is more than willing to share our mistakes, our mishaps, and our misunderstandings. Unfortunately, social media does not allow for the individual to grow and move beyond what has occurred in his or her past. Let’s return to what is friendship? Friendship is the ability to connect with another. It is this ability to share in common interest, desires, and achievements. It is also having an ability to connect when times are not so rosy. It is in these particular times that we tend to grow together, bonding over the situation, circumstance or event. Friendships are naturally woven together by these experiences.

An authentic friend does not need to receive a daily, weekly, monthly, or even a yearly call. An authentic friend remains loyal during the difficult times. An authentic friend is willing to be assertive and accountable when the times call for it. An authentic friend understands that friendship is an ever-evolving relationship bound to be complicated, but commonly comprised of mutual respect.

Throughout our lives, we will encounter many individuals. We may have the privilege of developing lifelong friends. We may elect to develop different sets of friendships throughout the many stages of our lives. We may even elect to move beyond a friendship for reasons related to our own mental health and wellbeing. Remember that friendships are never perfect, but authentic friends should always look at empowering you.

Most of all, what does it take to develop a healthy friendship? Healthy friendships and relationships occur through mutual respect and understanding. You cannot simply “click” a healthy friend into being. Healthy friendships and relationships transpire over time with trust, dignity and active communication. It is these types of relationships that are fortified by the individual loyalties that create a unique bond. Likewise, such relationships are based on a mutual admiration and ambition towards a particular outcome. At the end of the day, authentic friends have chosen to be friends. They are well aware of one another’s flaws, attributes, compliments and personalities. It is this type of friendship that we should all strive for, but such friendships can only evolve over time with dedication unto one-another. The ultimate power of a healthy friendship occurs through the ability of having an authentic friend.




*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

Corporal Punishment: Rethinking Parental Correction

Posted by: Asa Don Brown on March 21, 2023 12:23 pm

The World Health Organization declares “Corporal punishment is linked to a range of negative outcomes for children across countries and cultures, including physical and mental ill-health, impaired cognitive and socio-emotional development, poor educational outcomes, increased aggression and perpetration of violence.”

Gabriel and her friends are play wrestling in their home. Gabriel’s parents have long insisted that Gabriel and her friends are not allowed to wrestle or tussle inside their home. However, one fateful afternoon, Gabriel and her best friend are vigorously scuffling around her father’s office, when luck has it, they knock over her father’s prized hockey trophy. The trophy tumbles off the a shelf bringing several other items rapidly tumbling to the floor.  Her father’s prized trophy and several other items lie fragmented throughout the room. Gabriel is immediately shaken by this mishap. She is aware of her parent’s rules and the consequences of misbehaving. She seldom disobeys her parents out of fear of the known consequences. As she reflects on the last time a mishap occurred, she vividly recalls the spanking received by her father.  It left a negative impression. She’s well aware of her parent’s belief system on spanking. She knows that if she misbehaves, or acts out, that she will be dealt with accordingly. She has long heard her parent’s stance on “sparing the rod and spoiling the child.”

While the story of Gabriel is fictional, it is reflected in many homes, schools, dormitories and foster placements. A child makes a mistake and they are punished with severe physical consequences.

What would happen, if the courts and legislative body embolden employers to use corporal punishment? What would be your personal reaction? Would you stand for your employer spanking you the next time you get out of line, backtalk, or simply stood up for yourself? Would you be at odds with your employer? Or, would you feel that your employer was justified for spanking you?

What would happen, if the courts and legislative body embolden the police with the right to spank their clients? Would you allow for some police officer to force you to bend over your vehicle? Would you be okay taking lashes for driving over the speed limit? Would you be bothered that a police officer has the judicial right to make such decisions on the spot?

Let’s take it one step further, what if, your son or daughter were traveling overseas to a country that corporal punishment was enforceable? What if, they committed a crime that might be perceived in your country as mischief?  Or, perhaps a simple misdemeanor? What if, in your community, the punishment typically involved a fine and community service, but rather than the child receiving community service or a stiff fine, they are forced to face several lashes for vandalism? How would you react? What would be your overall gut impression? Well, in the spring of 1994, an American student, Michael Fay was charged and convicted of vandalism in Singapore. Under ordinary circumstances, Michael Fay should have received a stricter penalty, but in his case, President Bill Clinton, interceded on his behalf. In the end, Michael Fay received four lashes, rather than the typically administered six lashes for the crime with which he had committed. Now as a parent, how would you react if your child was facing such a harsh and very stiff, penalty? Isn’t it funny, as a society we justify the use of corporal punishment in the home, but yet, we would be hell bent on protecting our child from corporal punishment outside the home environment.

The ramifications of spanking a child can be significant, leaving the child with the impression that violence and physical altercations are acceptable. Research has clearly shown that spanking has a profound effect upon the child’s biological, psychological, and social environments. It is not uncommon for children to struggle with a host of issues which may include: anxiety, stress, nightmares or night terrors, bedwetting, regressiveness, self-esteem and self-worth, proper attachment, issues involving feelings of security and trust, and so forth. The issues range from acute to chronic and they may plague the individual throughout the remainder of their life. Please understand that corporal punishment does not lead to desired outcomes, rather there is evidence that shows spanking can have profound effect upon the cognitive and processing centers of the brain. When we alter these regions of the brain, we effectively alter the attitudes, perceptions and behaviours of the individual being punished.

There are a number of problems with corporal punishment. Research has indicated that parents who rely on corporal punishment, commonly utilize various forms of correction when they are knowingly out of control. Many parents report feeling fed up and unable to regulate their own emotional state. At the moment of use, the parent’s mindset is seldom calm and collective. Rather, it is not uncommon for the parent to be highly stressed, frustrated and bewildered.

Ultimately, what can a parent do if other forms of discipline or correction are not achieving their ultimate aim? Parents who are feeling overwhelmed, should consider seeking out the services of a professional. Likewise, there are a number of resources for parents who are feeling exacerbated by the role of simply being a parent. In many communities, there are classes for helping parents improve upon their parenting, relationship and communication skills. Parents are always encouraged to communicate their frustrations with a professional therapist. Improving upon the foundations of one’s parenting skills is not an indication of weakness or inability, rather they are proof that you are seeking to obtain healthy skills for parenting. Fortunately, there are services for individuals who live remotely or in communities without local professionals. Parents should be encouraged to join online parenting classes, workshops, and even the ability of meeting with trained professionals.  Professionals often encourage the parent(s) and child to attend family and individual therapy.

Why is it that we continue to rely upon the use of corporal punishment to correct children? It has been many decades since an employer or legal system could utilize corporal punishment on the life of an adult. Why is it that we have outlawed violence between partners? Yet, we continue to permit the use of physical violence on the innocent life of a child? Why is it that we have set such strict standards on workplace violence,  and yet, we continue to harbour violence in the home?

In Canada, Section 43 of the Criminal Code permits parents, guardians, and other caregivers to discipline a child with corporal punishment. Corporal punishment is seldom isolated to physical spanking. According to the Department of Justice Canada, “Experts say that spanking is not an effective form of discipline. Spanking can make children angry and resentful. It can cause them to lose trust in their parents. It teaches children that hitting others is okay. In the long run, spanking can make children’s behaviour worse.”

Ultimately, what are we teaching children? We are teaching children that physical violence is an acceptable form of communication. A majority of parents would never intend harm to the life of their child, but the truth is, corporal punishment has an ability of leaving unknown scars marring the perceptions and worldviews of their child.  As a practitioner and father, my argument is that corporal punishment is an ancient artifact that continues to systemically plague our society. As a society, we have long relied on corporal punishment as a corrective instrument.

We must resolve this issue by making all forms of corporal punishment illegal. We can no longer use the justification that “well my parents used it and it had no effect upon my life.” You may be the exception to the rule, but the truth is, there is research that indicates the lasting effects of corporal punishment.  The problem with corporal punishment is that there is no way of setting a regulated standard of discipline. We know that parents who utilize corporal punishment range in age, intellectual quotient, economic backgrounds, etc. The demographics are immeasurable. There are no absolute guarantees involving the safety and wellbeing of the life of a child.

There is no justification of applying corporal punishment on the life of a child. A child who is infused with the concept of corporal punishment, has a higher likelihood of relying on physical violence to solve their problems. Again, we are teaching children that there is always a justification for violence. The justification for physical violence on the life of a child is unjustified and inexcusable. It is time that we lay aside the ways of our past and look to implementing instruments that correct, guide, and lovingly nurture the lives of our children.

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*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA