Emotions Mapped in the Human Brain

Written by Honor Whiteman emtions-brain

By applying an algorithm to functional magnetic resonance imaging, scientists have been able to see emotions at work in the human brain.

The findings – recently published in the journalPLOS Biology – could enable better assessment of emotional states, which may help individuals who struggle to convey their feelings.

According to the research team – including Prof. Kevin LaBar of Duke University in Durham, NC – it is well established that movies, music, and other external stimuli can trigger emotions that are reflected in patterns of brain activity.

But what about past emotional experiences? Can the feelings induced by the memory of a birthday party or the recollection of the loss of a loved one be represented in brain activity?

This is what Prof. LaBar and colleagues set out to investigate in their new study.

The researchers note that previous studies have shown that functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) can differentiate between thoughts of specific objects, such as a face or a house.

In this study, the researchers applied an algorithm – incorporating various models of emotional experience – to the fMRI scans of 21 university students.

This allowed them to pinpoint seven brain activity patterns – or “maps” – that reflect certain emotional states, including contentment, amusement, surprise, fear, anger, sadness, and neutrality.

Click on this link to read more: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/312915.php

Source: Medical News Today

Image courtesy of http://www.brainharmonycenter.com/

A Brief Guide to Quitting a Bad Habit

By Leo Babauta power of habit

There aren’t many of us who don’t have some bad habit we’d like to quit: smoking, sweets, shopping, nail-biting, porn, excessive checking of phones or social media, other distractions …

The problem is that we think we don’t have the willpower, faced with past evidence
of failure after failure when we’ve tried to quit before.

We don’t think we can quit, so we don’t even try. Or if we do try, we give ourselves an “out,” and don’t fully commit ourselves.

Let me tell you this: quitting a bad habit takes everything you’ve got.

It’s hard, but doable — if you put your entire being into it.

10-Steps — Just as Good as the 12-Step Folk

You don’t actually need to follow every single one of these steps to quit a habit, but the more of them you do, the higher your chances. I recommend all of them if you want to be all in.

  1. Have a big motivation. Lots of times people quit things because it sounds nice: “It would be nice to quit caffeine.” But that’s a weak motivation. What you really want is strong motivation: I quit smoking because I knew it was killing me, and I knew my kids would smoke as adults if I didn’t quit. Know your Why, and connect with it throughout your quit. Write it down at the top of a document called your “Quit Plan.”
  2. Make a big commitment. Now that you know your motivation, be fully committed. A common mistake is say, “I’ll do this today,” but then letting yourself off the hook when the urges get strong. Instead, tell everyone about it. Ask for their help. Give them regular updates and be accountable. Have a support partner you can call on when you need help. Ask people not to let you off the hook. Be all in.
  3. Be aware of your triggers. What events trigger your bad habit? The habit doesn’t just happen, but is triggered by something else: you smoke when other people smoke, or you shop when you’re stressed out, or you eat junk food when you’re bored, or you watch porn when you’re lonely, or you check your social media when you feel the need to fill space in your day. Watch yourself for a few days and notice what triggers your habit, make a list of triggers on your Quit Plan, and then develop an awareness of when those triggers happen.
  4. Know what need the habit is meeting. We have bad habits for a reason — they meet some kind of need. For every trigger you wrote down, look at what need the habit might be meeting in that case. The habit might be helping you cope with stress. For some of the other triggers, it might help you to socialize, or cope with sadness, boredom, loneliness, feeling bad about yourself, being sick, dealing with a crisis, needing a break or treat or comfort. Write these needs down on your Quit Plan, and think of other ways you might cope with them.
  5. Have a replacement habit for each trigger. So what will you do when you face the trigger of stress? You can’t just not do your old bad habit — it will leave an unfilled need, a hole that you will fill with your old bad habit if you don’t meet the need somehow. So have a good habit to do when you get stressed, or when someone gets angry at you, etc. Make a list of all your triggers on your Quit Plan, with a new habit for each one (one new, good habit can serve multiple triggers if you like).
  6. Watch the urges, and delay. You will get urges to do your bad habit, when the triggers happen. These urges are dangerous if you just act on them without thinking. Learn to recognize them as they happen, and just sit there watch the urge rise and get stronger, and then and fall. Delay yourself, if you really want to act on the urge. Breathe. Drink some water. Call someone for help. Go for a walk. Get out of the situation. The urge will go away, if you just delay.
  7. Do the new habit each time the trigger happens. This will take a lot of conscious effort — be very aware of when the trigger happens, and very aware of doing the new habit instead of the old automatic one. If you mess up, forgive yourself, but you need to be very conscious of being consistent here, so the new habit will start to become automatic. This is one reason it’s difficult to start with bad habits — if there are multiple triggers that happen randomly throughout the day, it means you need to be conscious of your habit change all day, every day, for weeks or more.
  8. Be aware of your thinking. We justify bad habits with thinking. You have to watch your thoughts and realize when you’re making excuses for doing your old bad habit, or when you start feeling like giving up instead of sticking to your change. Don’t believe your rationalizations.
  9. Quit gradually. Until recently, I was a fan of the Quit Cold Turkey philosophy, but I now believe you can quit gradually. That means cut back from 20 cigarettes to 15, then 10, then 5, then zero. If you do this a week at a time, it won’t seem so difficult, and you might have a better chance of succeeding.
  10. Learn from mistakes. We all mess up sometimes — if you do, be forgiving, and don’t let one mistake derail you. See what happened, accept it, figure out a better plan for next time. Write this on your Quit Plan. Your plan will get better and better as you continually improve it. In this way, mistakes are helping you improve the method.

I’m not saying this is an easy method, but many people have failed because they ignored the ideas here. Don’t be one of them. Put yourself all into this effort, find your motivation, and replace your habit with a better habit for each trigger. You got this.

Images copied from http://attitudes4innovation.com/

Disclaimer!  The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Rawan Online! 

Afghan-Americans and Need for Creating New Narrative

Esmael Darman

One of the most important building blocks of the existence of an individual, a group, and a community, is identity. An identity to know oneself, to know how one relates to a group, and to know where one’s community is going. As social animals, humans crave attachment, belonging, and togetherness, and if the group does not address this need in an efficient manner, individuals end up with more confusion. Another significant component of identity formation is narrative. How narratives are formed and delivered can leave a marked impact on the entire process of identity formation. I recently attended the first ever Afghan American Conference held in Berkeley and I was lucky to listen to Reza Hessabi, a young professional who appreciates the importance of narrative and beautifully describes how to work on creating a new narrative. Following is the script of his speech delivered to some 300 young Afghan American students and professionals:

 

So, I remember everything about the morning of 9/11. Where I was, what I was doing. Everything. And I’m sure many of you do as well. The reason this event is so etched in our memory is because 9/11 was a watershed moment in the history of this nation. And even more so was it a watershed moment in the lives of Afghans living in America. In fact it was a cataclysm.

Speaking from my own experience, since that day I have had my identity told to me through news media, books written by men who have never shared my experience, and the random passerby who happened to have read The Kite-Runner and found out I was of Afghan heritage. These thrust-upon identities have ranged from angry brown male to poor child of tragedy. Either I must be irate at America for its invasion of Afghanistan, or I must be inconsolable that a land I cannot in good conscience call my home has suffered so much.

Reza Hessabi talks about the significance of a new narrative
Reza Hessabi talks about the significance of a new narrative

It’s a weird position to be in, having these different identities shoved my way by people who aren’t me. And today I want to talk about how we, as Afghan-Americans, can wrestle our identity back from this appropriation.

There are three actionable steps we all can do to accomplish this. The first is showing up at venues such as these. It is remarkable that so many of us have gathered in one place, with one goal in mind. I am deeply honored to be up here addressing each and every one of you. It is at events like these where we as a community, being so small as we are, can communicate, network, and organize for a better tomorrow.

The second step is creating our narrative. There’s a lot that goes into this, so creating a narrative will be the bulk of my speech. The first question many may be asking, is what exactly do I mean by narrative?

And the best way to answer that question is by using an example. Hopefully most, if not all, of us have learned about America’s fight in World War II. Whatever view of history you take, it’s important to note just how America spoke about itself during that time. From cartoons to posters, Donald Duck to Rosie the Riveter, images, symbols, signs and signifiers were being constructed by America to tell America’s story: One of a mighty nation, full of good, righteous people, taking on the fight against barbarism, against the insanity, the wanton violence of a Reich gone amuck.

This story justified, canonized, and legitimized a new American identity, a new American purpose. According to Charlie Chaplin, to Superman, to our President, we were doing right by the planet. Our identity was something others should aspire to, and no one could tell us wrong. We were the world’s saviors. We were its new superpower.

That’s what a narrative is. A story that feeds an identity. A series of symbols and signs that signify a greater meaning, some greater purpose for a community of people. Afghan-Americans deserve a narrative of similar strength. And it’s not like we don’t have the tools Americans had in the 1940s. In fact, we have more tools. We have television channels that reach thousands of homes through the Internet. We have ready-made heroes within our culture, upon whom we can juxtapose those values we wish to elevate amongst our people.

This segues neatly into the next aspect of creating a narrative. What’s the content? What signs and symbols are we going to use? Now I will not stand up here and tell each of you what to do in this regard. That isn’t my job, and discussion is the incubator of great ideas – not lecturing.

But I will say this. Our narrative, as Afghan-Americans, should be broader in scope than just Qabuli life. I say this as an outsider to much of Afghan culture, who has studied it not from the perspective of a participant but that of a surveyor. The life many of our parents had in Kabul during Zahir Shah’s time, during Daoud Khan’s time, was idyllic in a lot of ways. I’ve heard from my own parents of mayla-ha (picnics), of Fridays spent relaxing in the park, trips to Paghman, picking fruit straight from the trees and eating them like candy.

This is all a worthy antidote to the gore of civil war that has gripped our diaspora’s narrative so far. But it is not the only story to tell. I implore each and every one of us to look beyond Kabul’s borders for the rest of Afghanistan as well. I say this because we as Afghan-Americans have a unique opportunity that our counterparts in Afghanistan do not. We are not bound by fear, by threats to our survival, by a lack of education to the confines of our neighborhood. We can see beyond what our eyes tell us exists, looking for the stories that define the Afghans living in Herat, in Mazar-i-Sharif, in Qandahar, in the wide plains of Afghanistan’s East, or the nomads still living in its mountains.

If you haven’t read this book before, I encourage each of you to do so. It’s called A Journey Through Afghanistan: A Memorial. It is the story of a young American who didn’t pray fives times a day, and yet still experienced what I like to call the zenith of Afghan culture: Our transnationalism. Our plurality.

Afghanistan is often called the Graveyard of Empires. I have found little joy or pride in this title. But one bright spot is that this nigh-constant disrespect of the country’s borders has forced Afghans to confront people who look differently, speak differently than them time and time again. As a people, Afghans have been forced into plurality as few cultures have. And the aftereffects are present to this day. We are not one monolith, but a veritable melting pot of ethnicities and tribes, lifestyles and points of views, each one occupying an arbitrary space of land together.

So this book becomes then a testament to that plurality, to that many-ness that so many countries attest to yet few can lay true claim to. This is not lost yet. It may seem so with all that we see in the country today, but I can assure it is not lost yet. Not if we grab it back.

In creating our narrative, we must each of us strive for this same dignified plurality. We must strive each of us strive to accept our brothers and our sisters who may not share our ethnicity, our tribe, our mayla-ha, our way of life. In this way, we will be honest, and forthright in creating our identity, doing one better than those cultures that have walked this path before us.

The Afghan - American Conference was held in Berkeley early April this year
The Afghan – American Conference was held in Berkeley early April this year

Now, I wanted to talk about the third step in creating this narrative upon which our new identity will rest. Just as the content of this new narrative relies upon a pillar of our culture – plurality – so too, so too does the structure of that narrative. Which leads me to Afghan TV.

What astounds me is the lack of emphasis on storytelling, especially coming from a culture of storytellers. Why is this? There are many factors, from how would we pay actors, directors, lighting technicians, cameramen, script writers, to how do we quality control, where would we shoot, what locations are available?

I’m not asking that as the third step in creating a narrative, we must all overcome these factors now. It will not be done in a day. But we can begin discussion of how to build past these obstacles. Because long-form, fictional narratives are essential tools in creating a narrative. With them we can control the story, we can control the characters and how they portray the Afghan-American experience.

This isn’t to say that Afghan television isn’t making strides in this direction. A man named Tarique Qayumi is an Afghan filmmaker who gave a remarkable TEDx talk a year ago. In it he spoke about the power of stories, and what he himself is doing right now in Afghanistan to help that country forge a new future.

I encourage those of you who have ever wished to work in the arts, who have had an idea germinate in your mind but never found the will to put it to the page, or to the screen, to do so. We need more storytellers, we need more voices in our narrative, because without either of those a new identity for Afghan-Americans cannot be forged. We need you, so stand up.

Let me end with a summary of my points. There are three steps to creating a new identity, one removed from the fires of 9/11 and the near half-century worth of bloodshed our culture has experienced. One is to come to events like these. The other is to formulate a narrative, based on signs and symbols that we create, or that we dredge from the past, that looks beyond Kabul, beyond the middle-class of the country, and encapsulates the Afghan experience as a whole. The third step is to tell this narrative in a long-form, fictional presentation, in keeping with the vast history of poets and storytellers Afghanistan has long held pride in.

We as Afghan-Americans are in a unique position in history to foment this new identity. In so doing, we will stop the appropriation of who we are, and start a new conversation about what we can achieve. Thank you.

Reza Hessabi is an MCAT instructor at Kaplan in Los Angeles.

 

 

How Men and Women Process Emotions Differently

Red and yellow indicate the more active areas of the brain when images are rated as highly stimulating. Green indicates the areas that specifically become more active in women. (MCN, University of Basel)
Red and yellow indicate the more active areas of the brain when images are rated as highly stimulating. Green indicates the areas that specifically become more active in women. (MCN, University of Basel)

By Elahe Izadi 

Women react more intensely to negative images than men, a difference that can be seen even when looking at their brains, a new study finds.

Researchers from University of Basel, whose study will be published in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of Neuroscience, found that women rated positive and negative images as more emotionally stimulating than men did, and that their brains were more active than men’s when viewing negative pictures.

Such findings seem to support a common perception that women are more emotionally sensitive than men “and provides evidence for gender differences on the neural level,” said lead author Annette Milnik of the University of Basel.

A total of 3,398 men and women ranging from 18 to 38 years old participated in the study. First, they were shown 72 images of natural scenes that were categorized as positive, neutral or negative. For example, they showed pictures of cute cats (positive), houses (neutral) and accidents (negative).

The participants rated how positive, negative or neutral the images were, and then how emotionally stimulating they were. The women rated the negative and positive images as having more impact than the men did.

To test their memories, the researchers distracted the participants for 10 minutes and then asked them to recall some of the images they saw. Women outperformed men on freely remembering all types of images.

Researchers also looked at fMRI data from 696 of the participants and found that women had more brain activity, especially in motor regions, than men when they looked at negative images.

It was already known that people tend to better remember emotionally stimulating things and that women outperform men on memory tests. “One could speculate that if women react stronger to arousing information, it could explain part of their memory advantage in comparison to men,” Milnik said, which is why they looked into that question.

But women were better at recalling all kinds of images, especially positive ones. “This would suggest that gender-dependent differences in emotional processing and memory are due to different mechanisms,” Milnik said in a statement.

Researchers don’t know why women’s brains were more active than men’s when looking at negative images, and whether it’s a question of an innate quality or one that’s the result of social conditioning. But Milnik said the findings help further the understanding around whether there are gender-specific mechanisms that control intense and shifting emotional responses.

“Women are more likely to develop major depression, anxiety disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder, all of which are related to emotional dysregulation,” she said.

Source: American Psychological Association

Communication Tips for Parents

Be available for your children

  • Notice times when your kids are most likely to talk — for example, at bedtime, before dinner, in the car — and be available.
  • Start the conversation; it lets your kids know you care about what’s happening in their lives.
  • Find time each week for a one-on-one activity with each child, and avoid scheduling other activities during that time.
  • Learn about your children’s interests — for example, favorite music and activities — and show interest in them.
  • Initiate conversations by sharing what you have been thinking about rather than beginning a conversation with a question.

Let your kids know you’re listening how-to-talk-child

  • When your children are talking about concerns, stop whatever you are doing and listen.
  • Express interest in what they are saying without being intrusive.
  • Listen to their point of view, even if it’s difficult to hear.
  • Let them complete their point before you respond.
  • Repeat what you heard them say to ensure that you understand them correctly.

Respond in a way your children will hear

  • Soften strong reactions; kids will tune you out if you appear angry or defensive.
  • Express your opinion without putting down theirs; acknowledge that it’s okay to disagree.
  • Resist arguing about who is right. Instead say, “I know you disagree with me, but this is what I think.”
  • Focus on your child’s feelings rather than your own during your conversation.

Remember:

  • Ask your children what they may want or need from you in a conversation, such as advice, simply listening, help in dealing with feelings or help solving a problem.
  • Kids learn by imitating. Most often, they will follow your lead in how they deal with anger, solve problems and work through difficult feelings.
  • Talk to your children — don’t lecture, criticize, threaten or say hurtful things.
  • Kids learn from their own choices. As long as the consequences are not dangerous, don’t feel you have to step in.
  • Realize your children may test you by telling you a small part of what is bothering them. Listen carefully to what they say, encourage them to talk and they may share the rest of the story.

Parenting is hard work

  • Listening and talking is the key to a healthy connection between you and your children. But parenting is hard work and maintaining a good connection with teens can be challenging, especially since parents are dealing with many other pressures. If you are having problems over an extended period of time, you might want to consider consulting with a mental health professional to find out how they can help.

how-to-talk-child

Three Major Elements in Solving Marital Conflicts

Esmael Darman 

For as long as you’re married, there can be disputes and conflicts with your partner here and there. So forget about a totally conflict-free life, because that would be asking for impossible and searching for something that doesn’t exist in the first place. However, the good news is that many studies as well as experience show that the most successful couples are those who effectively resolve disputes. The other good news is that one can learn conflict-resolution techniques.

For instance, highly respected and famous researcher in marriage and parenting John Gottman (1995) showed that if there are five positive behaviors for each negative behavior in the family, then relationships are still healthy and they can function well. Therefore, family conflict shouldn’t always be considered a negative issue or a problematic pattern. Rather, problem-solving techniques should be promoted and people should be encouraged to learn and implement them.

However, there are three elements that should be considered crucial, because they are the building blocks for maintaining a healthy relationship in addition to learning problem-solving techniques.

The first and most important element is communication. This is vital, because if there is no communication, the relationship loses its meaning and value. Whenever there is a lack of communication, assumptions arise, speculations take form, and misunderstanding grows further. For example, when the husband avoids talking to his wife, or when the wife leaves the house and prefers to communicate with her husband through their children, any or all these problems can take shape and turn into a more serious and complicated problem that the couple will not be able to solve on its own.

The second important element is respect. What I mean by “respect” is not an up-to-down look, or the type of respect we usually pay for the elderly because of their age, or the type of respect some students show to their teachers, or the type of respect some children show to their parents out of fear and distress. What I mean by respect is that two people accept each other for who they are and as a result generate a feeling of esteem, confidence, and appreciation in each other.

The third important element is understanding. I am not trying to define “understanding” from a cognitive or philosophical perspective here. Here, understanding simply means a genuine attempt to find out how the other person is feeling or trying to say in the here and now. Take understanding out of the environment between the couple, and there walks in anger, frustration, and resentment. And since marital relationship is not a temporary encounter, such feelings and emotions can seriously wear out the couple in the long run.
It is crucial to know that in marital conflicts, there is no winner, champion, or hero! The husband or the wife may feelthat s/he has won the argument, but we are talking about a marital relationship and that obviously indicates there are at least two people involved, so there are always two scenarios:

1. One partner is sure that s/he has won the argument and therefore feels good about it (even though temporarily) whereas the other partner is left with frustration, anger, resentment, and worry. More importantly, the problem remains unresolved and unattended.

2. Both partners work together and generate a win-win situation, because they realize that living together is not about competition but it is about working together, solving problems together, enjoying each other’s company, reaching their goals together, and supporting each other in the process and along the journey. I am sure by now you know what that “journey” is. That journey is life itself!

When it comes to Afghan couples, I can see that usually one, two, or all three of these elements are missing, especially that our culture encourages us to confront the problems indirectly, to imply things instead of speaking openly, and to suppress our feelings instead of expressing them. What I suggest, however, is that it doesn’t have to be a very non-Afghan method. Even within our own culture, there are ways to put these elements into the problem-solving process and gradually address issues that give rise to conflicts.

In the upcoming articles, I will explore other dimensions and requirements of conflict-resolution in the family.

References

Gottman, J.M. (1995). Why Marriages Succeed or Fail. New York: Simon & Shuster.

Photo: http://education.byu.edu

How Parents See Themselves May Affect Their Child’s Brain and Stress Level

Science Daily  

A mother’s perceived social status predicts her child’s brain development and stress indicators, finds a study at Boston Children’s Hospital. While previous studies going back to the 1950s have linked objective socioeconomic factors — such as parental income or education — to child health, achievement and brain function, the new study is the first to link brain function to maternal self-perception.

In the study, children whose mothers saw themselves as having a low social status were more likely to have increased cortisol levels, an indicator of stress, and less activation of their hippocampus, a structure in the brain responsible for long-term memory formation (required for learning) and reducing stress responses.

Findings were published online August 6th by the journal Developmental Science, and will be part of a special issue devoted to the effects of socioeconomic status on brain development.

“We know that there are big disparities among people in income and education,” says Margaret Sheridan, PhD, of the Labs of Cognitive Neuroscience at Boston Children’s Hospital, the study’s first author. “Our results indicate that a mother’s perception of her social status ‘lives’ biologically in her children.”

To read more about this, click on this link: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130809115100.htm

Source: www.sciencedaily.com
Photo by http://parentloveyou.blogspot.com

Disclaimer!  The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Rawan Online! 

 

Afghan Couples, the West, and a Shift in Status

Esmael Darman 

As soon as I posted some questions on the Facebook page of Rawan Online the other day, asking the members whether or not they found the website and its contents useful, one of the readers suggested there should be more articles on marital conflicts, particularly among the Afghan couples who immigrate to the West. In fact, there have been dozens of articles as well as a number of video shows on this subject on Rawan Online; however, I also agree that more information needs to be shared with our readers.

There are of course many factors behind marital conflicts. Some of these factors get resolved as time passes by and the husband and wife become more mature in dealing with their differences and emotions. Some of them result in separation and divorce, and some of them cause long-lasting unhappiness, misery, discontent, emotional blackmailing, and even violence.

It appears that one of the most visible and significant factors of marital conflict among Afghan couples is a shift in status. Afghans have a patriarchal society. Particularly those who are brought up in Afghanistan, or among families that hold a stronger traditional value system, men get better education and employment opportunities. Therefore, they have a stronger and upper social status. Women, however, are usually expected and encouraged to bring up children. These traditional roles are of course changing, but the process is very sluggish.

Once these couples immigrate to the West, their status may obviously change. Usually husbands can no longer get equal opportunities they used to have in Afghanistan. That can be discouraging. It can also make them increasingly inflexible, leading to a growing disappointment at the system.

The situation, however, can be different for wives. Not having competitive jobs back home or being overly concerned about status, they can be more open to change, thus getting more opportunities. As a result, a shift in status soon happens and the power struggle can give rise to conflict and violence in the household. Of course this doesn’t usually happen to every single couple.

The important thing here is to understand what is happening in the process of change and help these couples deal with the challenge in an effective manner. If the problem is not very serious, a simple intervention and raising awareness might be helpful. Nevertheless, professional intervention in the form of family and cultural counseling is often needed. Once the couple, particularly the husband, realizes that the main goal of living together is to enjoy the company and prosper together as two equal human beings, he would become more open to the concept of change in the family dynamic. It is easier said than done, but it is worth the effort!

 

Esmael Darman is the founder and editor-in-chief at Rawan Online.

Dream Interpretation – A Documentary

Dear viewers!

This beautifully produced documentary by the BBC explores the fascinating world of dreams and dreaming. The documentary also examines areas such as: How do we dream? Why do we dream? And how can we forget painful memories? Esmael Darman

http://youtu.be/q2-dfI2BQY4

Secure Infant Attachment and Its Importance

This 22-minute video teaches parents how to create a secure attachment bond with their baby and overcome challenges that make connecting difficult. The attachment bond is the deep, lasting relationship that shapes your baby’s lifelong development.

©Helpguide.org. All rights reserved. Helpguide.org is an ad-free non-profit resource for supporting better mental health and lifestyle choices for adults and children.

Feature Photo: http://www.mary.havering.sch.uk/psychology.html

The Afghan Diaspora and the Future of Afghanistan

A message by Dr. Nilofar Sami, Afghan psychologist in the Bay Area   

Please join us this coming Wednesday, November 6, from 6-7:30 pm, for a presentation by Professor Farid Senzai, an Afghan American professor of Political Science at Santa Clara University   His talk will focus on The Challenges faced by Muslim Communities in the U.S. after 9/11 which is based on his study The Bay Area Muslim Study: Establishing Identity and Community.  Professor Senzai’s presentation will be at the Old University Union, Room 102 Cal. State University, East Bay.
  
This is a free event so please join us and bring a friend.  Light snacks and refreshments will be provided.  For more information contact:nilofarsami@gmail.com or carl.stempel@csueastbay.edu
Please see the CSUEB map for directions and parking.  Parking permits can be purchased at the kiosk on Lot N on Carlos Bee Blvd.  Lot A and B are closest to the Old University Union building.
Thank you and I look forward to seeing you at the event. Please download the below flayer for your information:

 

 

 

 

 

The Afghan Battle Mind: War, PTSD, and Intergenerational Family Conflict

Esmael Darman 

Dr. Marius Koga at a presentation at UC Davis

 

“The Afghan battle mind: War, PTSD, and intergenerational family conflict” is an upcoming event to be presented by Dr. Marius Koga, Director of Refugee Health Research in California and Assistant Professor at UC Davis School of Medicine. The presentation is part of the series on the topic of the “Afghan Diaspora and Future of Afghanistan”.

The presentation will be held on Thursday, 17th October between 6-7:30pm at California State University, East Bay (CSUEB).

According to Afghan psychologist Dr. Nilofar Sami, “Dr. Koga’s presentation is very timely given the Afghan communities’ becoming aware of and dealing with the list of the 5000 martyrs.”

Below is the flyer. You can download it if you like to share it with those who are interested in the subject.

DSSS and SSOS colloquium series – Koga

Feature photo by www.rabble.ca

 

Emotions Mapped in the Human Brain

Written by Honor Whiteman emtions-brain

By applying an algorithm to functional magnetic resonance imaging, scientists have been able to see emotions at work in the human brain.

The findings – recently published in the journalPLOS Biology – could enable better assessment of emotional states, which may help individuals who struggle to convey their feelings.

According to the research team – including Prof. Kevin LaBar of Duke University in Durham, NC – it is well established that movies, music, and other external stimuli can trigger emotions that are reflected in patterns of brain activity.

But what about past emotional experiences? Can the feelings induced by the memory of a birthday party or the recollection of the loss of a loved one be represented in brain activity?

This is what Prof. LaBar and colleagues set out to investigate in their new study.

The researchers note that previous studies have shown that functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) can differentiate between thoughts of specific objects, such as a face or a house.

In this study, the researchers applied an algorithm – incorporating various models of emotional experience – to the fMRI scans of 21 university students.

This allowed them to pinpoint seven brain activity patterns – or “maps” – that reflect certain emotional states, including contentment, amusement, surprise, fear, anger, sadness, and neutrality.

Click on this link to read more: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/312915.php

Source: Medical News Today

Image courtesy of http://www.brainharmonycenter.com/

A Brief Guide to Quitting a Bad Habit

By Leo Babauta power of habit

There aren’t many of us who don’t have some bad habit we’d like to quit: smoking, sweets, shopping, nail-biting, porn, excessive checking of phones or social media, other distractions …

The problem is that we think we don’t have the willpower, faced with past evidence
of failure after failure when we’ve tried to quit before.

We don’t think we can quit, so we don’t even try. Or if we do try, we give ourselves an “out,” and don’t fully commit ourselves.

Let me tell you this: quitting a bad habit takes everything you’ve got.

It’s hard, but doable — if you put your entire being into it.

10-Steps — Just as Good as the 12-Step Folk

You don’t actually need to follow every single one of these steps to quit a habit, but the more of them you do, the higher your chances. I recommend all of them if you want to be all in.

  1. Have a big motivation. Lots of times people quit things because it sounds nice: “It would be nice to quit caffeine.” But that’s a weak motivation. What you really want is strong motivation: I quit smoking because I knew it was killing me, and I knew my kids would smoke as adults if I didn’t quit. Know your Why, and connect with it throughout your quit. Write it down at the top of a document called your “Quit Plan.”
  2. Make a big commitment. Now that you know your motivation, be fully committed. A common mistake is say, “I’ll do this today,” but then letting yourself off the hook when the urges get strong. Instead, tell everyone about it. Ask for their help. Give them regular updates and be accountable. Have a support partner you can call on when you need help. Ask people not to let you off the hook. Be all in.
  3. Be aware of your triggers. What events trigger your bad habit? The habit doesn’t just happen, but is triggered by something else: you smoke when other people smoke, or you shop when you’re stressed out, or you eat junk food when you’re bored, or you watch porn when you’re lonely, or you check your social media when you feel the need to fill space in your day. Watch yourself for a few days and notice what triggers your habit, make a list of triggers on your Quit Plan, and then develop an awareness of when those triggers happen.
  4. Know what need the habit is meeting. We have bad habits for a reason — they meet some kind of need. For every trigger you wrote down, look at what need the habit might be meeting in that case. The habit might be helping you cope with stress. For some of the other triggers, it might help you to socialize, or cope with sadness, boredom, loneliness, feeling bad about yourself, being sick, dealing with a crisis, needing a break or treat or comfort. Write these needs down on your Quit Plan, and think of other ways you might cope with them.
  5. Have a replacement habit for each trigger. So what will you do when you face the trigger of stress? You can’t just not do your old bad habit — it will leave an unfilled need, a hole that you will fill with your old bad habit if you don’t meet the need somehow. So have a good habit to do when you get stressed, or when someone gets angry at you, etc. Make a list of all your triggers on your Quit Plan, with a new habit for each one (one new, good habit can serve multiple triggers if you like).
  6. Watch the urges, and delay. You will get urges to do your bad habit, when the triggers happen. These urges are dangerous if you just act on them without thinking. Learn to recognize them as they happen, and just sit there watch the urge rise and get stronger, and then and fall. Delay yourself, if you really want to act on the urge. Breathe. Drink some water. Call someone for help. Go for a walk. Get out of the situation. The urge will go away, if you just delay.
  7. Do the new habit each time the trigger happens. This will take a lot of conscious effort — be very aware of when the trigger happens, and very aware of doing the new habit instead of the old automatic one. If you mess up, forgive yourself, but you need to be very conscious of being consistent here, so the new habit will start to become automatic. This is one reason it’s difficult to start with bad habits — if there are multiple triggers that happen randomly throughout the day, it means you need to be conscious of your habit change all day, every day, for weeks or more.
  8. Be aware of your thinking. We justify bad habits with thinking. You have to watch your thoughts and realize when you’re making excuses for doing your old bad habit, or when you start feeling like giving up instead of sticking to your change. Don’t believe your rationalizations.
  9. Quit gradually. Until recently, I was a fan of the Quit Cold Turkey philosophy, but I now believe you can quit gradually. That means cut back from 20 cigarettes to 15, then 10, then 5, then zero. If you do this a week at a time, it won’t seem so difficult, and you might have a better chance of succeeding.
  10. Learn from mistakes. We all mess up sometimes — if you do, be forgiving, and don’t let one mistake derail you. See what happened, accept it, figure out a better plan for next time. Write this on your Quit Plan. Your plan will get better and better as you continually improve it. In this way, mistakes are helping you improve the method.

I’m not saying this is an easy method, but many people have failed because they ignored the ideas here. Don’t be one of them. Put yourself all into this effort, find your motivation, and replace your habit with a better habit for each trigger. You got this.

Images copied from http://attitudes4innovation.com/

Disclaimer!  The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Rawan Online! 

Afghan-Americans and Need for Creating New Narrative

Esmael Darman

One of the most important building blocks of the existence of an individual, a group, and a community, is identity. An identity to know oneself, to know how one relates to a group, and to know where one’s community is going. As social animals, humans crave attachment, belonging, and togetherness, and if the group does not address this need in an efficient manner, individuals end up with more confusion. Another significant component of identity formation is narrative. How narratives are formed and delivered can leave a marked impact on the entire process of identity formation. I recently attended the first ever Afghan American Conference held in Berkeley and I was lucky to listen to Reza Hessabi, a young professional who appreciates the importance of narrative and beautifully describes how to work on creating a new narrative. Following is the script of his speech delivered to some 300 young Afghan American students and professionals:

 

So, I remember everything about the morning of 9/11. Where I was, what I was doing. Everything. And I’m sure many of you do as well. The reason this event is so etched in our memory is because 9/11 was a watershed moment in the history of this nation. And even more so was it a watershed moment in the lives of Afghans living in America. In fact it was a cataclysm.

Speaking from my own experience, since that day I have had my identity told to me through news media, books written by men who have never shared my experience, and the random passerby who happened to have read The Kite-Runner and found out I was of Afghan heritage. These thrust-upon identities have ranged from angry brown male to poor child of tragedy. Either I must be irate at America for its invasion of Afghanistan, or I must be inconsolable that a land I cannot in good conscience call my home has suffered so much.

Reza Hessabi talks about the significance of a new narrative
Reza Hessabi talks about the significance of a new narrative

It’s a weird position to be in, having these different identities shoved my way by people who aren’t me. And today I want to talk about how we, as Afghan-Americans, can wrestle our identity back from this appropriation.

There are three actionable steps we all can do to accomplish this. The first is showing up at venues such as these. It is remarkable that so many of us have gathered in one place, with one goal in mind. I am deeply honored to be up here addressing each and every one of you. It is at events like these where we as a community, being so small as we are, can communicate, network, and organize for a better tomorrow.

The second step is creating our narrative. There’s a lot that goes into this, so creating a narrative will be the bulk of my speech. The first question many may be asking, is what exactly do I mean by narrative?

And the best way to answer that question is by using an example. Hopefully most, if not all, of us have learned about America’s fight in World War II. Whatever view of history you take, it’s important to note just how America spoke about itself during that time. From cartoons to posters, Donald Duck to Rosie the Riveter, images, symbols, signs and signifiers were being constructed by America to tell America’s story: One of a mighty nation, full of good, righteous people, taking on the fight against barbarism, against the insanity, the wanton violence of a Reich gone amuck.

This story justified, canonized, and legitimized a new American identity, a new American purpose. According to Charlie Chaplin, to Superman, to our President, we were doing right by the planet. Our identity was something others should aspire to, and no one could tell us wrong. We were the world’s saviors. We were its new superpower.

That’s what a narrative is. A story that feeds an identity. A series of symbols and signs that signify a greater meaning, some greater purpose for a community of people. Afghan-Americans deserve a narrative of similar strength. And it’s not like we don’t have the tools Americans had in the 1940s. In fact, we have more tools. We have television channels that reach thousands of homes through the Internet. We have ready-made heroes within our culture, upon whom we can juxtapose those values we wish to elevate amongst our people.

This segues neatly into the next aspect of creating a narrative. What’s the content? What signs and symbols are we going to use? Now I will not stand up here and tell each of you what to do in this regard. That isn’t my job, and discussion is the incubator of great ideas – not lecturing.

But I will say this. Our narrative, as Afghan-Americans, should be broader in scope than just Qabuli life. I say this as an outsider to much of Afghan culture, who has studied it not from the perspective of a participant but that of a surveyor. The life many of our parents had in Kabul during Zahir Shah’s time, during Daoud Khan’s time, was idyllic in a lot of ways. I’ve heard from my own parents of mayla-ha (picnics), of Fridays spent relaxing in the park, trips to Paghman, picking fruit straight from the trees and eating them like candy.

This is all a worthy antidote to the gore of civil war that has gripped our diaspora’s narrative so far. But it is not the only story to tell. I implore each and every one of us to look beyond Kabul’s borders for the rest of Afghanistan as well. I say this because we as Afghan-Americans have a unique opportunity that our counterparts in Afghanistan do not. We are not bound by fear, by threats to our survival, by a lack of education to the confines of our neighborhood. We can see beyond what our eyes tell us exists, looking for the stories that define the Afghans living in Herat, in Mazar-i-Sharif, in Qandahar, in the wide plains of Afghanistan’s East, or the nomads still living in its mountains.

If you haven’t read this book before, I encourage each of you to do so. It’s called A Journey Through Afghanistan: A Memorial. It is the story of a young American who didn’t pray fives times a day, and yet still experienced what I like to call the zenith of Afghan culture: Our transnationalism. Our plurality.

Afghanistan is often called the Graveyard of Empires. I have found little joy or pride in this title. But one bright spot is that this nigh-constant disrespect of the country’s borders has forced Afghans to confront people who look differently, speak differently than them time and time again. As a people, Afghans have been forced into plurality as few cultures have. And the aftereffects are present to this day. We are not one monolith, but a veritable melting pot of ethnicities and tribes, lifestyles and points of views, each one occupying an arbitrary space of land together.

So this book becomes then a testament to that plurality, to that many-ness that so many countries attest to yet few can lay true claim to. This is not lost yet. It may seem so with all that we see in the country today, but I can assure it is not lost yet. Not if we grab it back.

In creating our narrative, we must each of us strive for this same dignified plurality. We must strive each of us strive to accept our brothers and our sisters who may not share our ethnicity, our tribe, our mayla-ha, our way of life. In this way, we will be honest, and forthright in creating our identity, doing one better than those cultures that have walked this path before us.

The Afghan - American Conference was held in Berkeley early April this year
The Afghan – American Conference was held in Berkeley early April this year

Now, I wanted to talk about the third step in creating this narrative upon which our new identity will rest. Just as the content of this new narrative relies upon a pillar of our culture – plurality – so too, so too does the structure of that narrative. Which leads me to Afghan TV.

What astounds me is the lack of emphasis on storytelling, especially coming from a culture of storytellers. Why is this? There are many factors, from how would we pay actors, directors, lighting technicians, cameramen, script writers, to how do we quality control, where would we shoot, what locations are available?

I’m not asking that as the third step in creating a narrative, we must all overcome these factors now. It will not be done in a day. But we can begin discussion of how to build past these obstacles. Because long-form, fictional narratives are essential tools in creating a narrative. With them we can control the story, we can control the characters and how they portray the Afghan-American experience.

This isn’t to say that Afghan television isn’t making strides in this direction. A man named Tarique Qayumi is an Afghan filmmaker who gave a remarkable TEDx talk a year ago. In it he spoke about the power of stories, and what he himself is doing right now in Afghanistan to help that country forge a new future.

I encourage those of you who have ever wished to work in the arts, who have had an idea germinate in your mind but never found the will to put it to the page, or to the screen, to do so. We need more storytellers, we need more voices in our narrative, because without either of those a new identity for Afghan-Americans cannot be forged. We need you, so stand up.

Let me end with a summary of my points. There are three steps to creating a new identity, one removed from the fires of 9/11 and the near half-century worth of bloodshed our culture has experienced. One is to come to events like these. The other is to formulate a narrative, based on signs and symbols that we create, or that we dredge from the past, that looks beyond Kabul, beyond the middle-class of the country, and encapsulates the Afghan experience as a whole. The third step is to tell this narrative in a long-form, fictional presentation, in keeping with the vast history of poets and storytellers Afghanistan has long held pride in.

We as Afghan-Americans are in a unique position in history to foment this new identity. In so doing, we will stop the appropriation of who we are, and start a new conversation about what we can achieve. Thank you.

Reza Hessabi is an MCAT instructor at Kaplan in Los Angeles.

 

 

How Men and Women Process Emotions Differently

Red and yellow indicate the more active areas of the brain when images are rated as highly stimulating. Green indicates the areas that specifically become more active in women. (MCN, University of Basel)
Red and yellow indicate the more active areas of the brain when images are rated as highly stimulating. Green indicates the areas that specifically become more active in women. (MCN, University of Basel)

By Elahe Izadi 

Women react more intensely to negative images than men, a difference that can be seen even when looking at their brains, a new study finds.

Researchers from University of Basel, whose study will be published in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of Neuroscience, found that women rated positive and negative images as more emotionally stimulating than men did, and that their brains were more active than men’s when viewing negative pictures.

Such findings seem to support a common perception that women are more emotionally sensitive than men “and provides evidence for gender differences on the neural level,” said lead author Annette Milnik of the University of Basel.

A total of 3,398 men and women ranging from 18 to 38 years old participated in the study. First, they were shown 72 images of natural scenes that were categorized as positive, neutral or negative. For example, they showed pictures of cute cats (positive), houses (neutral) and accidents (negative).

The participants rated how positive, negative or neutral the images were, and then how emotionally stimulating they were. The women rated the negative and positive images as having more impact than the men did.

To test their memories, the researchers distracted the participants for 10 minutes and then asked them to recall some of the images they saw. Women outperformed men on freely remembering all types of images.

Researchers also looked at fMRI data from 696 of the participants and found that women had more brain activity, especially in motor regions, than men when they looked at negative images.

It was already known that people tend to better remember emotionally stimulating things and that women outperform men on memory tests. “One could speculate that if women react stronger to arousing information, it could explain part of their memory advantage in comparison to men,” Milnik said, which is why they looked into that question.

But women were better at recalling all kinds of images, especially positive ones. “This would suggest that gender-dependent differences in emotional processing and memory are due to different mechanisms,” Milnik said in a statement.

Researchers don’t know why women’s brains were more active than men’s when looking at negative images, and whether it’s a question of an innate quality or one that’s the result of social conditioning. But Milnik said the findings help further the understanding around whether there are gender-specific mechanisms that control intense and shifting emotional responses.

“Women are more likely to develop major depression, anxiety disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder, all of which are related to emotional dysregulation,” she said.

Source: American Psychological Association

Communication Tips for Parents

Be available for your children

  • Notice times when your kids are most likely to talk — for example, at bedtime, before dinner, in the car — and be available.
  • Start the conversation; it lets your kids know you care about what’s happening in their lives.
  • Find time each week for a one-on-one activity with each child, and avoid scheduling other activities during that time.
  • Learn about your children’s interests — for example, favorite music and activities — and show interest in them.
  • Initiate conversations by sharing what you have been thinking about rather than beginning a conversation with a question.

Let your kids know you’re listening how-to-talk-child

  • When your children are talking about concerns, stop whatever you are doing and listen.
  • Express interest in what they are saying without being intrusive.
  • Listen to their point of view, even if it’s difficult to hear.
  • Let them complete their point before you respond.
  • Repeat what you heard them say to ensure that you understand them correctly.

Respond in a way your children will hear

  • Soften strong reactions; kids will tune you out if you appear angry or defensive.
  • Express your opinion without putting down theirs; acknowledge that it’s okay to disagree.
  • Resist arguing about who is right. Instead say, “I know you disagree with me, but this is what I think.”
  • Focus on your child’s feelings rather than your own during your conversation.

Remember:

  • Ask your children what they may want or need from you in a conversation, such as advice, simply listening, help in dealing with feelings or help solving a problem.
  • Kids learn by imitating. Most often, they will follow your lead in how they deal with anger, solve problems and work through difficult feelings.
  • Talk to your children — don’t lecture, criticize, threaten or say hurtful things.
  • Kids learn from their own choices. As long as the consequences are not dangerous, don’t feel you have to step in.
  • Realize your children may test you by telling you a small part of what is bothering them. Listen carefully to what they say, encourage them to talk and they may share the rest of the story.

Parenting is hard work

  • Listening and talking is the key to a healthy connection between you and your children. But parenting is hard work and maintaining a good connection with teens can be challenging, especially since parents are dealing with many other pressures. If you are having problems over an extended period of time, you might want to consider consulting with a mental health professional to find out how they can help.

how-to-talk-child

Three Major Elements in Solving Marital Conflicts

Esmael Darman 

For as long as you’re married, there can be disputes and conflicts with your partner here and there. So forget about a totally conflict-free life, because that would be asking for impossible and searching for something that doesn’t exist in the first place. However, the good news is that many studies as well as experience show that the most successful couples are those who effectively resolve disputes. The other good news is that one can learn conflict-resolution techniques.

For instance, highly respected and famous researcher in marriage and parenting John Gottman (1995) showed that if there are five positive behaviors for each negative behavior in the family, then relationships are still healthy and they can function well. Therefore, family conflict shouldn’t always be considered a negative issue or a problematic pattern. Rather, problem-solving techniques should be promoted and people should be encouraged to learn and implement them.

However, there are three elements that should be considered crucial, because they are the building blocks for maintaining a healthy relationship in addition to learning problem-solving techniques.

The first and most important element is communication. This is vital, because if there is no communication, the relationship loses its meaning and value. Whenever there is a lack of communication, assumptions arise, speculations take form, and misunderstanding grows further. For example, when the husband avoids talking to his wife, or when the wife leaves the house and prefers to communicate with her husband through their children, any or all these problems can take shape and turn into a more serious and complicated problem that the couple will not be able to solve on its own.

The second important element is respect. What I mean by “respect” is not an up-to-down look, or the type of respect we usually pay for the elderly because of their age, or the type of respect some students show to their teachers, or the type of respect some children show to their parents out of fear and distress. What I mean by respect is that two people accept each other for who they are and as a result generate a feeling of esteem, confidence, and appreciation in each other.

The third important element is understanding. I am not trying to define “understanding” from a cognitive or philosophical perspective here. Here, understanding simply means a genuine attempt to find out how the other person is feeling or trying to say in the here and now. Take understanding out of the environment between the couple, and there walks in anger, frustration, and resentment. And since marital relationship is not a temporary encounter, such feelings and emotions can seriously wear out the couple in the long run.
It is crucial to know that in marital conflicts, there is no winner, champion, or hero! The husband or the wife may feelthat s/he has won the argument, but we are talking about a marital relationship and that obviously indicates there are at least two people involved, so there are always two scenarios:

1. One partner is sure that s/he has won the argument and therefore feels good about it (even though temporarily) whereas the other partner is left with frustration, anger, resentment, and worry. More importantly, the problem remains unresolved and unattended.

2. Both partners work together and generate a win-win situation, because they realize that living together is not about competition but it is about working together, solving problems together, enjoying each other’s company, reaching their goals together, and supporting each other in the process and along the journey. I am sure by now you know what that “journey” is. That journey is life itself!

When it comes to Afghan couples, I can see that usually one, two, or all three of these elements are missing, especially that our culture encourages us to confront the problems indirectly, to imply things instead of speaking openly, and to suppress our feelings instead of expressing them. What I suggest, however, is that it doesn’t have to be a very non-Afghan method. Even within our own culture, there are ways to put these elements into the problem-solving process and gradually address issues that give rise to conflicts.

In the upcoming articles, I will explore other dimensions and requirements of conflict-resolution in the family.

References

Gottman, J.M. (1995). Why Marriages Succeed or Fail. New York: Simon & Shuster.

Photo: http://education.byu.edu

How Parents See Themselves May Affect Their Child’s Brain and Stress Level

Science Daily  

A mother’s perceived social status predicts her child’s brain development and stress indicators, finds a study at Boston Children’s Hospital. While previous studies going back to the 1950s have linked objective socioeconomic factors — such as parental income or education — to child health, achievement and brain function, the new study is the first to link brain function to maternal self-perception.

In the study, children whose mothers saw themselves as having a low social status were more likely to have increased cortisol levels, an indicator of stress, and less activation of their hippocampus, a structure in the brain responsible for long-term memory formation (required for learning) and reducing stress responses.

Findings were published online August 6th by the journal Developmental Science, and will be part of a special issue devoted to the effects of socioeconomic status on brain development.

“We know that there are big disparities among people in income and education,” says Margaret Sheridan, PhD, of the Labs of Cognitive Neuroscience at Boston Children’s Hospital, the study’s first author. “Our results indicate that a mother’s perception of her social status ‘lives’ biologically in her children.”

To read more about this, click on this link: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130809115100.htm

Source: www.sciencedaily.com
Photo by http://parentloveyou.blogspot.com

Disclaimer!  The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Rawan Online! 

 

Afghan Couples, the West, and a Shift in Status

Esmael Darman 

As soon as I posted some questions on the Facebook page of Rawan Online the other day, asking the members whether or not they found the website and its contents useful, one of the readers suggested there should be more articles on marital conflicts, particularly among the Afghan couples who immigrate to the West. In fact, there have been dozens of articles as well as a number of video shows on this subject on Rawan Online; however, I also agree that more information needs to be shared with our readers.

There are of course many factors behind marital conflicts. Some of these factors get resolved as time passes by and the husband and wife become more mature in dealing with their differences and emotions. Some of them result in separation and divorce, and some of them cause long-lasting unhappiness, misery, discontent, emotional blackmailing, and even violence.

It appears that one of the most visible and significant factors of marital conflict among Afghan couples is a shift in status. Afghans have a patriarchal society. Particularly those who are brought up in Afghanistan, or among families that hold a stronger traditional value system, men get better education and employment opportunities. Therefore, they have a stronger and upper social status. Women, however, are usually expected and encouraged to bring up children. These traditional roles are of course changing, but the process is very sluggish.

Once these couples immigrate to the West, their status may obviously change. Usually husbands can no longer get equal opportunities they used to have in Afghanistan. That can be discouraging. It can also make them increasingly inflexible, leading to a growing disappointment at the system.

The situation, however, can be different for wives. Not having competitive jobs back home or being overly concerned about status, they can be more open to change, thus getting more opportunities. As a result, a shift in status soon happens and the power struggle can give rise to conflict and violence in the household. Of course this doesn’t usually happen to every single couple.

The important thing here is to understand what is happening in the process of change and help these couples deal with the challenge in an effective manner. If the problem is not very serious, a simple intervention and raising awareness might be helpful. Nevertheless, professional intervention in the form of family and cultural counseling is often needed. Once the couple, particularly the husband, realizes that the main goal of living together is to enjoy the company and prosper together as two equal human beings, he would become more open to the concept of change in the family dynamic. It is easier said than done, but it is worth the effort!

 

Esmael Darman is the founder and editor-in-chief at Rawan Online.

Dream Interpretation – A Documentary

Dear viewers!

This beautifully produced documentary by the BBC explores the fascinating world of dreams and dreaming. The documentary also examines areas such as: How do we dream? Why do we dream? And how can we forget painful memories? Esmael Darman

http://youtu.be/q2-dfI2BQY4

Secure Infant Attachment and Its Importance

This 22-minute video teaches parents how to create a secure attachment bond with their baby and overcome challenges that make connecting difficult. The attachment bond is the deep, lasting relationship that shapes your baby’s lifelong development.

©Helpguide.org. All rights reserved. Helpguide.org is an ad-free non-profit resource for supporting better mental health and lifestyle choices for adults and children.

Feature Photo: http://www.mary.havering.sch.uk/psychology.html

The Afghan Diaspora and the Future of Afghanistan

A message by Dr. Nilofar Sami, Afghan psychologist in the Bay Area   

Please join us this coming Wednesday, November 6, from 6-7:30 pm, for a presentation by Professor Farid Senzai, an Afghan American professor of Political Science at Santa Clara University   His talk will focus on The Challenges faced by Muslim Communities in the U.S. after 9/11 which is based on his study The Bay Area Muslim Study: Establishing Identity and Community.  Professor Senzai’s presentation will be at the Old University Union, Room 102 Cal. State University, East Bay.
  
This is a free event so please join us and bring a friend.  Light snacks and refreshments will be provided.  For more information contact:nilofarsami@gmail.com or carl.stempel@csueastbay.edu
Please see the CSUEB map for directions and parking.  Parking permits can be purchased at the kiosk on Lot N on Carlos Bee Blvd.  Lot A and B are closest to the Old University Union building.
Thank you and I look forward to seeing you at the event. Please download the below flayer for your information:

 

 

 

 

 

The Afghan Battle Mind: War, PTSD, and Intergenerational Family Conflict

Esmael Darman 

Dr. Marius Koga at a presentation at UC Davis

 

“The Afghan battle mind: War, PTSD, and intergenerational family conflict” is an upcoming event to be presented by Dr. Marius Koga, Director of Refugee Health Research in California and Assistant Professor at UC Davis School of Medicine. The presentation is part of the series on the topic of the “Afghan Diaspora and Future of Afghanistan”.

The presentation will be held on Thursday, 17th October between 6-7:30pm at California State University, East Bay (CSUEB).

According to Afghan psychologist Dr. Nilofar Sami, “Dr. Koga’s presentation is very timely given the Afghan communities’ becoming aware of and dealing with the list of the 5000 martyrs.”

Below is the flyer. You can download it if you like to share it with those who are interested in the subject.

DSSS and SSOS colloquium series – Koga

Feature photo by www.rabble.ca