I have just returned from attending The Psychology of Illness invited conference on the beautiful Coromandel peninsula. It was a privilege to be surrounded by 60 of the world’s top health psychologists for 4 days and be a part of an amazing conference organized by Professor Keith Petrie.
Of interest to me was a presentation by Professor Roxanne Silver entitled Resilience vs. Vulnerability, of the Department of Psychology and Social Behavior in the Department of Medicine at the University of California. Professor Silver has done some great work looking at Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in 9/11, the Columbine School shootings, US Financial Crisis and the Chilean Earthquake. What she found was that the incidence of PTSD was similar in urban centres far away from the quake and also the terrorist bombings. One theory is that repeated television exposure causes PTSD as much as those who have been involved in the disaster itself. She also found that people who have been “inoculated” with a positive experience from a previous life event suffer less PTSD and are more resilient.
This really rang true for me as I have personally been through a number of disasters such as being hit by a tsunami in Java, divorce, a home invasion stabbing and a few others mentioned in my books. That is what made me develop Healthy Thinking which is now a program taught in schools, companies and boardrooms.
We have had this theory that “immunizing” people with Healthy Thinking tools enables them to cope better with what life throws at them. A case in point is the Christchurch Earthquake where Professor Rob Kydd, a psychiatrist and Head of the Department of Psychological medicine at the University of Auckland and I went and spoke to about 200 St John Ambulance Staff after the 1st Christchurch earthquake about Healthy Thinking. A number of these staff then went on to use the on line Healthy Thinking program and read the books. I am discussions with Professor Silver and St John to see if in fact using Healthy Thinking can lessen the incidence of Post Traumatic Stress disorder following the second quake. My hunch is that it will.
Just like we can immunize our bodies with healthy antibodies, we can immunize our mind with what we call Cognitherapeuticals, therapeutic thoughts that prevent distress and promote resilience. It’s what I and the team at the Institute of Healthy Thinking have been doing for years.
Attending a conference such as this reminds us how important research and evidence is to further the application of tools to make us healthier and more resilient to what life throws at us.