Lady Killers’ Pharmaceuticals

Today we’re discussing one of my favorite topics, lady killers and the drugs they use as murder weapons. I’m also thrilled to introduce you to James Murray, a long time author friend and pharmacist who has agreed to answer some questions for us.

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Jim has experience in both pharmaceutical manufacturing and clinical patient management. Medications and their impact on a patient’s quality of life is his expertise. He draws on past clinical practice as a pharmacist along with an infatuation for the lethal effects of drugs to weave tales of murder and mayhem.

Diane:

Good morning, Jim! Thanks so much for joining me today on my blog!

Jim:

Good morning, Diane. It’s great to be here. Thanks for having me. Ask your first question. I’m locked and loaded.

Diane:

I know it’s out of the norm for women to kill. In fact, women do only 11-15% of ALL MURDERS. Is that correct?

 

 

 

Jim:

That’s right. Criminologists agree that women who murder are not the norm, and that murder is a predominantly male trait. Women commit only 11-15% of all murders according to recent statistics, and women account for a mere 2% of mass murders.

 

Women are also not usually serial killers. Women tend to know their victims and, according to statistics, are more likely to kill just one person. Serial killings account for only 1% of all murders, and women represent only 17% of serial killers.

The usual victims of women who kill are their significant others (a spouse, an ex-spouse or someone the murderer is dating up to 60% of the time), and women tend to use poisons or drugs that don’t produce violent side effects to put down their intended victim.

Diane:

What types of drugs do women often use and how do they affect the body?

Jim:

The types of drugs most commonly used by women as murder weapons include those that sedate their victims—drugs that cause the victim to fall asleep and never wake up. These include toxic doses of alcohol, opiate painkillers, and sedatives-hypnotics. Let’s take a closer look at the specifics of these general categories:

 

 

Alcohol: These might include spiking a drink with too much alcohol and then injecting the victim with a lethal dose after the victim is too intoxicated to fight back. Methanol and isopropyl alcohol (the kinds of alcohol used in rubbing and disinfectant alcohols) are the most lethal to inject. Ethylene glycol (a form of alcohol used in antifreeze) is a most effective poison to add to flavored drinks.

Opiate Painkillers: Opiate drugs include some of the most popular prescription painkillers. Some are natural opiates derived from opium poppy seed plants. These include the familiar drugs codeine and morphine. They are powerful painkillers, and larger than therapeutic doses will suppress the central nervous system to produce an opiate coma and eventual death.

Other often-prescribed painkillers are synthetic drugs manufactured to function as opiates in the body, are usually much stronger medications, and work faster as lethal drugs. These synthetic opiates include oxycodone (Oxycontin), oxymorphone (Opana), hydrocodone (Vicodan, Lortab, Norco), hydromorphone (Dilaudid), meperidine (Demerol) and fentanyl (Duragesic). These are much stronger painkillers and, therefore, more effective and efficient when used as murder weapons.

 

 

 

For instance, a mere 7.5mgs of hydromorphone is equivalent to a larger 30mg dose of morphine. To view a chart of therapeutic dosing and duration of actions, and click http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/2138678-overview for equivalent dose comparisons of the various opiate drugs. A normal one-week supply of any of these medications, as is often prescribed for severe pain, would be more than enough to kill a victim—with a few pills left over to calm the killer’s nerves.

 

Sedatives-Hypnotic Drugs: These medications, like the opiate drugs, cause body functions to slow down—and in large enough doses cause the body to cease functioning at all, resulting in death.

 

The barbiturate and benzodiazepine classes of drugs predominate the sedative-hypnotic drug categories. The barbiturates include all the “…bital” drugs: secobarbital, pentobarbital and phenobarbital most notably. The benzodiazepines include Valium, Librium and Tranxene tranquilizer drugs.

Some non-benzodiazepine drugs include the popular sleep medications Ambien, Lunesta and Sonata.

 

All of these sedatives-hypnotics are lethal in larger than therapeutic doses and are readily prescribed by physicians these days to patients with sleep disorders. Click here to review some of the specifics of these potentially deadly medications.

Diane:

Thanks so much for the information, Jim. Jim also has some great books out. A list and links are provided below.

Jim:

Diane, I have a new novel coming out in May 2016 that is the sequel to Lethal Medicine, and it’s also an international thriller, mystery, police procedural. It’s called IMPERFECT MURDER. And you’re very welcome. I had a blast. And I’m offering Lethal Medicine FREE to your readers for the next 5 days (March 2nd-6th). Just click on the Lethal Medicine link below.

Happy Writing,

Diane Kratz

Jim’s social networks:

Website: http://www.jamesjmurray.com/

Blog: https://jamesjmurray.wordpress.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jamesjmurraywriter

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JamesJMurray1

Amazon Author Page: www.amazon.com/author/jamesjmurray

Goodreads Author Page: www.goodreads.com/jamesjmurray

Lethal Medicine (Free for the next 5 days)

Clinical pharmacist Jon Masters seems to have it all. But, still haunted by his days in Special Forces, Jon’s life implodes when evidence found at a murder scene implicates him in an elaborate scheme to distribute a pharmaceutical quality street drug disguised as an experimental medication. With the help of a trusted army confidante, Jon reenters the world of covert ops and cyber intelligence and embarks on a global mission to save his reputation and regain control over his life. He uncovers a complex international conspiracy to redefine the nation’s recreational drug culture.

Cuffed (A Short Story)

It’s not easy to work the graveyard shift, and pharmacist Sam Delaney finds out that the overnight shift can be deadly when a dangerous patient from an ER steps into his pharmacy and presents a questionable prescription. Concern turns to panic as Sam calls the police and is told that they will be delayed. A storm and its inevitable fender benders leave Sam to deal with the situation on his own.

Available at: Amazon, iBook/iTunes, B&N/Nook, Kobo and Smashwords.

Unforeseeable Consequences:

Six short stories (including one from Diane) of intrigue and suspense created by five talented authors about the consequences of actions. The lives of the characters in each story are forever changed as a result of the choices they make and the unforeseeable consequences.

Available at: Amazon, iBook/iTunes, B&N/Nook, Kobo and Smashwords

Almost Dead (A Murder Mystery):

Detectives Rosie Young and Vince Mendez chase an elusive villain when not one but two victims turn up alive less than twenty-four hours after they are pronounced dead. The body count continues to climb as the detectives investigate how two seemingly unrelated victims share an almost identical near-death experience but have no memory of the event. The trail of evidence leads to startling revelations of deceit, greed, and an international conspiracy in this entertaining murder mystery.

Available at: Amazon, iBook/iTunes, B&N/Nook, Kobo and Smashwords

IMPERFECT MURDER. Coming out in May 2016.

{No cover yet}

While mourning both professional and personal losses suffered in the recent past, clinical pharmacist Jon Masters learns that his trusted friend and mentor, Dan Whitmore, has died. Although the police have ruled the death a suicide, Dan’s wife, Sheila, insists that her husband was murdered and asks Jon to help prove that. Pushing through his tremulous emotional state, Jon convinces the police to reopen the investigation.

When Jon retraces the last hours of Dan’s life, he uncovers evidence that proves Dan was not only murdered but was also involved in an international conspiracy to undermine the nation’s drug delivery system.

Blog edited by: Sally Berneathy

Resources used in blog:

Statistics of women murderers/serial killers

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/5-myths-about-serial-killers-and-why-they-persist-excerpt/

How women kill

http://www.bustle.com/articles/127381-statistics-on-female-murderers-show-theyre-predictably-less-common-than-male-killers

Women are more likely to use poisons to kill

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/05/07/poison-is-a-womans-weapon/

List of Opiates

http://www.opiate.com/opiates/a-list-of-opiates/

Chart of Opiate dosing comparisons

http://mcintranet.musc.edu/agingq3/calculationswesbite/convchart.pdf

List of Sedatives-Hypnotics

http://www.well.com/user/woa/fsseda.htm

 

 

Surviving Christmas Grief

English: A Christmas Tree at Home

English: A Christmas Tree at Home (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today I am sharing something not too many of my writer family knows about me. I lost my sixteen year old son, Eric, in 1996 to suicide.  I’d love to report that I’m over his death, but the truth is, his death is something I know I will never get over. But I have learned to deal with my loss of him.

Eric and Chrustmas

My daughter Courtney, me, and my son Eric on Christmas Eve.

December is hard for me, and I know it is for countless others who are dealing with the loss of their loved ones. Eric’s birthday was December 7. Last year my daughter gave me my first granddaughter born on his birthday.

Charlotte Joann born December 7, 2012.

Charlotte Joann born December 7, 2012.

Ms. Charlotte Joann is named after my mother who died two years after my son. In the span of two years, I lost two people I loved.

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My mom with all her grandkids. Eric is the curly headed boy with glasses and Courtney is the dark- headed beauty in red.

For years after my mom died, I’d break out her tree even though it was so old the limbs wouldn’t stay in their holes and my husband had to put yarn around it to attach it to my wall so it would stand up straight and not fall over. It was my way of keeping her with me during the holidays she loved so much. Two years ago, I finally bought a new tree and was able to let Mom’s go. But it took time.

And then there are Eric’s homemade ornaments, my treasures he made me in school. As I hang them on my tree I’m brought back to a time when he was alive, and I begin to grieve for him all over again.

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Eric made me this star in second grade.

Seeing holiday family movies or Christmas commercials can trigger grief. The family dynamic has changed. The holidays have become a painful reminder of what we’ve lost.

I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge those of us who grieve and to offer some expert advice to those going through this process.

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Today I have Dr. Debra Holland as my guest. Debra is a corporate crisis/grief counselor who consults with companies that have experienced robberies, accidents, sudden deaths, and other critical incidents. She received a master’s degree in Marriage, Family, and Child Therapy and a PhD in Counseling Psychology from the University of Southern California (USC) and is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.

Dr. Holland worked for American Airlines after 9-11, counseling flight crews and staff. She counseled the victims and families of the Metrolink train wreck in 2002. In 2005 she volunteered as a mental health relief worker in Louisiana for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. She also volunteered as a mental health relief worker during and after the 2008 fires in California. In 2011 she counseled the Superstorm Sandy victims in New Jersey.

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Debra, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, has written The Essential Guide to Grief and Grieving, published by Alpha Books. She is currently writing Aftershock: How Managers Can Help Employees Cope With the Death of an Employee.

She is here to help us understand the various kinds and levels of grief, how people are trained to experience grief, and ways to get through the pain and achieve some level of comfort.

Thank you, Debra, for sharing your vast experience today on my blog.

Can you explain how society deals with grieving people?

Debra: In our society, we don’t really know how to deal with grief, and thus we tend to avoid discussions about bereavement and loss. When it comes to a death, there is nothing we can say or do to fix the “problem” like we can in most other circumstances, and that leaves people feeling helpless. Most people either say time-worn and unhelpful platitudes, avoid those who are grieving, or both.

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The death of a child or a suicide (or in your case the death of a child by suicide) is even more difficult to talk about because the situation is so complex and tragic. The death of a child is a parent’s worst nightmare. Other parents don’t even want to think about such a tragedy, much less talk to a grieving parent.

People who are grieving often feel isolated, which makes them feel worse. What others need to know about the bereaved is that you don’t need to use words to offer comfort. Silent support and listening can be very helpful.

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When I was writing the chapter on the death of a child for my book, The Essential Guide to Grief and Grieving, every single parent I interviewed cried when he or she talked about the child no matter how long ago the death had happened. In one of my first interviews, I apologized to the mother for bringing up the painful subject that caused her tears. She said that any time she had a chance to talk about her daughter Megan was a “good day” even if she cried.

One man told me that after his 25-year-old son died in a car accident, the most comfort he received was a visit from an acquaintance. The visitor didn’t try to talk. He just listened. The bereaved father talked about his son for an hour and showed his visitor the family photo albums. That time of sharing meant so much to him.

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Diane: In my family, when my son died, my husband dealt with his death differently than I did. My mother cried constantly and I couldn’t be around her because I knew how badly he had hurt her. I couldn’t deal with her pain because mine was so raw. My daughter was three years younger (12 years old; her birthday is March 24, he died on March 13) than my son, who was sixteen when he took his life. I tried to talk to her about the feelings she was going through, and she refused to talk to me about him or her feelings. Now, seventeen years later, she told me she didn’t want to hurt me, and I now know her feelings. It only took seventeen years!

What are the differences between men and women, younger and older, on how they cope with loss?

Debra: First of all, everyone copes with loss differently based on their gender, personality, the type of loss, past history with loss, and other life circumstances. In general, men tend to not talk about their feelings, so sharing their grief can be very difficult for them. Also they might feel they have to be “strong” for their families. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that he’s not deeply feeling the loss because he doesn’t talk about it.

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A husband and wife might mourn differently, so they don’t feel on the same page with their grief. He might feel anger, and she might cry every day. Understanding this about your spouse or other family members is what’s important.

Children can feel protective of their parents, especially if mentioning the death makes their parent cry, something they might never have seen until the death happened. They also become “lost” in the grief of the rest of the family.

For that reason, it’s important to discuss the idea of crying not being bad–that even if mommy cries, talking about the loved one is comforting. Also provide nonverbal ways for children to express their feelings such as drawing pictures or writing in journals. A grief support counselor or group can be helpful because it provides a safe place outside the family for the child to process and express his or her feelings.

Diane: Is there a difference in the way a person grieves because of the circumstances of what caused the death? Two years after my son’s death I lost my mother who had been ill for a long time. I experienced her death quite differently than my son’s death, which was unexpected. Though I grieved for Mom, in a way I was happy to see her go because she wasn’t suffering anymore.

Debra: Absolutely. As you mentioned, the relief from suffering is a huge comfort. Your mother was no longer in pain, nor were her loved ones suffering in watching her go through the dying process. Also, I’m sure you had time to prepare yourself for her death, to have necessary and important conversations about the past, and to say good-bye.

With a sudden death, which there is no preparation, no chance to say good-bye. The shock can take a long time to wear off. And in the case of suicide, there are so many other feelings and questions which complicate the grief.

Diane: I can say now, seventeen years later, I’m on a different level in my grief than I was 10 or even 5 years ago. I no longer cry every time I think about him. I can finally think about what his life was about and not linger so much on the “why” or “how” he died.

Debra: As a loving parent, you will think about him and miss him and sometimes cry for the rest of your life.

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Diane: Thank you! ((HUGS))

Your book, The Essential Guide to Grief and Grieving, talks about the different levels of grief. Can you explain what those are?

Debra: The term “Stages of Grief” frequently is spoken and written about when actually no such process exists. Grief doesn’t flow in an ordered process from one stage to the next. Instead, it’s very messy and complex. Your emotions and reactions can shift from moment to moment and day to day. It’s like riding a rollercoaster that has plenty of loops and even goes backward. What’s important is to be kind to yourself on the journey and not to have expectations for how you (or others) SHOULD feel.

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Diane: For me, the holidays are a triple whammy.  I drag out my homemade Christmas ornaments my son made for me in school, my son’s birthday is December 7, and my mother WAS Christmas. She absolutely loved it. She decorated, cooked, and had more holiday spirit than everyone I’ve ever known. I still try to keep our family together, but it’s been hard. I am not my mom or my dad (we lost him in 2004). We went from a family where we had to do three Christmases in one day to trying get family members together for one.  At times it feels like we are losing each other.

Debra: In addition to your grief over the deaths of your loved ones, you are mourning the loss of the holidays you had—grieving a time and place—as well as people. Your fears about the family and future holidays can also make the present ones more difficult.

I suggest you discuss your concerns with your family and invite them to be honest with you and each other—regardless of how it might make you feel. They can’t share concerns and feelings if they think you’ll cry. Reassure them that your tears are not a reason to hold back on communication.

childrensroom.org

childrensroom.org

Perhaps on some level many of them feel there is too much pain associated with Christmas. Maybe other issues need to be addressed. Maybe you can do something else as a family that happens at another time of year, which will affirm your bonds, so you don’t feel like you are losing each other.

Dr. Debra’s Tips for Weathering the Holidays

 

Share how you’re feeling with trusted loved ones, especially the way your grief has changed or deepened due to the holiday.

Reduce your stress. This isn’t the year to worry about a perfect celebration. Only do what you feel is necessary.

Ask for help. Others will be happy to step forward to lend a hand. Let others know specifically what you need. Don’t say, “Can you bring something for dinner?” Do say, “Can you bring dessert for 10 people?”

My mom bought this for him after he died. I now hang it on my tree in memory of them both.

My mom bought this for him after he died. I now hang it on my tree in memory of them both.

Find a way to memorialize your loved one. Set out a special candle. Hang their stocking with the others and have everyone write a letter to the deceased. You can read them together on Christmas morning. Make an ornament with their picture on it or buy one that represents them in some way. Include the deceased in a family prayer.

Don’t let others direct how you should spend the holidays. Just because someone thinks it would be best for you to go away for the week doesn’t mean it’s right for you.

Be of service to others. Helping others is a way to give new meaning to the holiday and help you feel better. Prepare and serve food at a homeless shelter or organize a gift drive for some needy families and deliver the presents yourself.

Realize that you might feel overwhelmed and exhausted, both from your reactions to the loss and from the stress and hectic pace of the holiday. As much as possible, get to bed early and take naps.

You don’t have to pretend to be happy. If you think your sadness might be a problem for others, have a little talk with them beforehand about how you and they will handle your feelings.

Spend time with people who are supportive and caring. By now, you know who among your friends and family is supportive and who’s not. Gravitate to the understanding ones and avoid the others.

During the holidays, you can’t help but think about and miss your loved one. However, try as much as possible not to dwell on your pain. Imagine your loved one being present in spirit. Instead of his or her absence, focus on the presence of the other family members. Your loss helps remind you of how precious time is with your family. Appreciate and love each one of them.

Diane: If you haven’t read Dr. Holland’s book, The Essential Guide to Grief and Grieving, you really should. It gives concrete advice to help the healing process of grief. It is also very helpful for those who counsel the grieving as well as those who’ve experienced loss.

Buy link:  http://www.amazon.com/The-Essential-Guide-Grief-Grieving/dp/1615641114 .grief

Thank you so much, Debra, for sharing my blog today. You certainly helped me and I think this topic will help  many people.

Debra: Your welcome!

You can also connect with Debra at:

Website: www.drdebraholland.com.

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/DrDebraHolland

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/debra.holland.731

Facebook Fan Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Debra-Holland/395355780562473#

My thoughts are with all of you who have lost someone. Please know you are not alone. Be good to yourself.

Peace be with you and your family,

Diane Kratz

Below are book and web resources taken from Debra’s book as well as a few I have used. These can help you or someone you love cope with grief, not just during the holidays, but every day.

Books:

101 Ways You Can Help: How to Offer Comfort and Support to Those Who Are Grieving by Liz Aleskire. http://www.amazon.com/101-Ways-You-Can-Help/dp/1402217560

Parentless Parents: How the Loss of Our Mothers and Fathers Impact the Way We Raise Our Children by Allison Gilbert. http://www.amazon.com/Parentless-Parents-Mothers-Fathers-Children/dp/B0057DC6AC

The Grief Recovery Handbook: Action Programs for Moving beyond Death by John W. James and Russell Friedman. http://www.amazon.com/Grief-Recovery-Handbook-Anniversary-Expanded-ebook/dp/B001NLKYIS

When Bad Things Happen to Good People by Harold S. Kushner. http://www.amazon.com/When-Things-Happen-Good-People/dp/1400034728

The Grieving Garden: Living With the Lost of a Child by Suzanne Redfern and Susan K. Gilbert. http://www.amazon.com/The-Grieving-Garden-Living-Death/dp/1571745815

The Worst Loss: How Families Heal from the Death of a Child by Barbara D. Rosof. http://www.amazon.com/The-Worst-Loss-Families-Death/dp/080503241X

One Foot in Heaven by Heidi Telpnet. http://www.amazon.com/One-Foot-Heaven-Heidi-Telpner/dp/0982678436

Healing Grief: Reclaiming Life after Any Loss by James Van Praagh. http://www.amazon.com/Healing-Grief-Reclaiming-Life-After/dp/0451201698

Websites:

www.aamft.org (American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy) A national website for professionals and couples looking for marriage and family advice.

www.aarp.org/famililies/grief_loss (American Association of Retired Persons) Grief and loss articles, support for seniors.

http://www.afsp.org (American Foundation for Suicide Prevention) A national group website that provides support, education and advocacy for the prevention of suicide. It also has a page where you can honor your loved one who lost his or her life to suicide.

www.cancer.net (Cancer resources, including help for planning end of life care.

www.aplb.org A website for pet loss.

www.compassionatefriends.org A nonprofit, self-help support organization for families who have lost a child. (This group helped me tremendously!)

www.grief.net A website for helping people move beyond loss.

www.griefwork.org  (The National Catholic Ministry to the Bereaved) A faith-based bereavement ministry.

www.memory.com A website for creating an online memorial.

www.suicidology.org (American Association of Suicidology) Help with all issues suicide, including those grieving the loss of a loved one due to suicide.

www.try-nova.org (National Organization for Victim Assistance) Assistance for victims of crisis and crime. You can also call 1-800-TRY-NOVA.

Blog edited by Sally Berneathy!

Analyzing Cops

Ever wonder where law enforcement officers and their families go for help for mental health issues?

Meet Ellen Kirschman, MSW, PhD., who I am thrilled to have on my blog today! Ellen has worked as a police psychologist for over thirty years.

Ellen Kirschman, MSW, PhD.

Ellen Kirschman, MSW, PhD.

Can you tell us something about your background?

I’ve been a police psychologist for over 30 years. I started out as a clinical social worker and eventually got my PhD. My dissertation was titled “Wounded Heroes.”

It was what we call an intensive case analysis of three officers all of whom began their careers in good mental health and wound up retiring on stress related disability retirements – kind of a cross between Sigmund Freud and Mickey Spillane.

Dareen Mcgavin as Mickey Spillane

Dareen Mcgavin as Mickey Spillane

Sigmund Freud

Sigmund Freud

People ask me all the time if I’m married to a cop or a fire fighter. I’m not. I like to keep clear boundaries between my work and my personal life.

My husband is a retired contractor and a talented photographer. He took that great author photo of me. We love to travel, cook and hang out with friends. In addition to writing and holding workshops, I train peer supporters and volunteer at a wonderful organization, the First Responder’s Support Network.

We hold retreats for psychologically injured officers and their families. If your readers are interested, they can go to www.frsn.org to learn more. My husband also volunteers at FRSN, cooking for the Spouses and Significant Others (SOS) retreats.

Are there any differences you’ve found in counseling police officers vs. Joe Citizen?

You have to earn a cop’s trust. That’s hard work. Cops are protectors and may try hide some of their most pressing issues because they don’t want to injure their therapists. They are skeptical about the value of psychotherapy and the worry more than the average client about confidentiality. In particular, they are concerned their departments will find out they are in treatment and this will jeopardize their jobs as well as their standing with co-workers.

Tell me about your new book, Counseling Cops, What Clinicians Need to Know.

Counseling Cops, What Clinicians Need to Know

I co-wrote this book with two colleagues, Mark Kamena and Joel Fay, both of whom are psychologists and retired police officers. Our collaboration made the book so much richer than it would have been had I written it alone. As lead author, I was responsible for blending our voices into one readable narrative using  plain English, not psycho-babble, to describe various dimensions of the police culture, de-mythologize cops as super-human or super-aggressive, and challenge clinicians to examine their own biases. We talk about the prevalent mental health issues cops and their families experience and offer evidence based strategies we know will work for these problems and this culture.

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Our aim is to help clinicians become culturally competent to treat this unique population. Police officers are very reluctant to seek counseling, fearing it means they are weak or crazy. When their suffering is so great that they finally reach out for help, they deserve to be treated by clinicians who understand them and the culture in which they work.

For example, one of our clients needed treatment after two terrible shooting events. The first question his new therapist asked him was, “Are you ready to stop being a trained killer?”

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This was a very inappropriate statement and upsetting to the officer who felt himself to be the victim of these two events. Needless to say, he didn’t return to that therapist and would have given up on therapy completely had a peer supporter friend not helped him connect to a therapist who understood cops.

As a therapist, I can see the value in reading this book. The book is grounded in clinical research, extensive experience, and you have a deep familiarity with police culture, this book offers highly practical guidance for psychotherapists and counselors.

You vividly depict the pressures and challenges of police work and explain the impact that line-of-duty issues can have on officers and their loved ones.

ct.counseling.org

ct.counseling.org

You offer numerous concrete examples and tips showing how to build rapport with cops, use a range of effective intervention strategies, and avoid common missteps and misconceptions. And you have practical approaches to working with frequently encountered clinical problems such as substance abuse, depression, trauma, and marital conflict, which the book discusses in detail.

When making an assessment, clinicians are trained to consider the whole of their client’s assessments. This would include the police culture. Can you explain what a  police culture is?

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Hard to do in just a paragraph or two. Let me approach the question by listing the attributes of people who want to be cops. They are action oriented, rule abiding folks who value emotional control and structure. Like social workers, they want to make a difference in their communities. They have great senses of humor, a bit coarse for some, but it’s what gets them past the ugly stuff, and they see plenty of ugly stuff.

coppschicago.com

coppschicago.com

They are comfortable working in a para-military setting, taking and giving orders. They are decisive, sometimes a bit too black and white.  They love variety, take great pride in their work, and are fiercely dedicated to each other. They are protection oriented and may have assumed the role of protector or rescuer in their families as they were growing up. They are extroverted, perfectionistic and have high standards for themselves and others.

phyang.org

phyang.org

They are great in a crisis and rate high on mental toughness, at least when they are first hired. although for some, this can change over time. They are willing to use physical means to achieve a desired end and they are courageous enough to do what the rest of us couldn’t or wouldn’t.

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Policing is also a story culture. Stories are how cops transmit norms, values, tactical wisdom, and model behavior. I have hundreds of stories circulating in my head. They are wonderful teaching devices and fodder for my new career as a mystery writer.

Can you explain what an FFD is, when they are used and why they are needed?

The acronym stands for Fitness For Duty.

Police employers have a legal duty to ensure that cops under their command are mentally and emotionally fit to perform their duties. Failure to do so can result in serious breaches of public confidence, danger to the officer in question and his or her co-workers, citizens in the community and the department’s reputation.

Circumstances that trigger a request for a FFD vary greatly. Some relate to on-duty actions (excessive force, emotional outbursts, repeated problems with judgment, reckless behavior and so on).

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Others may pertain to egregious off-duty conduct such as intoxication, driving under the influence, drug abuse, domestic abuse, stealing, and other behaviors that raise questions about the officer’s fitness to serve. Suicide attempts, psychiatric hospitalization or a disability claim for mental health injuries will also trigger an FFD.

An FFD is a complex and lengthy procedure often entailing numerous legal complications. It is painful for the officer and should never be used as punishment or in lieu of discipline. The requesting agency should be able to articulate the problematic behaviors in question. The FFD examiner can be a psychiatrist or a psychologist.

Unlike therapy, the client is the requesting agency, not the officer.  Under these circumstances, the officer has no confidentiality.

What types of mental conditions do you see often of with police officers? 

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Post traumatic stress injuries. We call them injuries because disorder sounds so permanent and we know that, with the proper care, cops can and do recover from trauma. Cops experience a whole range of common psychological problems, just like the rest of us:  substance abuse and addiction, relationship problems, panic attacks, sleep disturbance, depression, and anxiety.

What are the suicide, domestic violence, and PTSD statistics within this group of clients?  

Some of these statistics are hard to find. For example, statistics around suicide are controversial and there is disagreement among professionals.

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The most important statistic, in my opinion, is that cops are two to three times more likely to kill themselves than to be killed in the line of duty.

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That’s alarming. The prevalence of PTSD is also debatable, but certainly less than we see in returning combat veterans.

On the other hand, combat is time limited, cops work for 30 years, so they have plenty of exposure to trauma. Soldiers don’t get sued for going to war, but cops get sued a lot.

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techcrunch.com

Trying to find out about domestic abuse is also difficult. What I do know is that psychologists are doing a better job of screening out applicants with the potential to commit abuse.

What would you like to see changed or improved? 

Good question. I would like to see every agency, big and small, have a confidential peer support program, family orientations at first hire and again every five years, a chaplaincy program,

supervisors who are knowledgeable about spotting mental health issues and compassionate when talking to their officers, and easy access for officers and their families to culturally competent, confidential, low cost counseling.

As a writer, I can also see where this book would help me in understanding my fictional LEO character’s flaws, inner thoughts and would help me construct the conflict.  Can you tell us how your book can help writers create more believable LEO characters?

I can’t tell you how many writers tell me they have dog-eared copies of my first book, I Love a Cop: What Police Families Need to Know, on their desks.

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Written for families, this book describes what police families experience and what they can and can’t do to help themselves. It’s true to the popular bumper sticker that says, “If you think it’s tough being a cop, try being married to one.” Their are literally hundreds of stories in I Love A Cop, all of which provide grist for the writers mill.

Counseling Cops, What Clinicians Need to KnowCounseling Cops: What Clinicians Need to Know will give writers a deeper understanding of the emotional and psychological challenges facing officers and their families. The book is also filled with with stories as well as  a suggested dialogue. Readers can  learn what good and bad therapists say during a counseling session. I’ve tried hard in  both these books to  describe officers as three dimensional human beings who are both the same and different from the rest of us, not like the one dimensional characters you see on TV.

scOw9In Burying Ben readers will see police psychologist Dot Meyerhoff struggling to find her footing in the Kenilworth police department as a civilian, a woman, and a politically liberal character whose allegiance to the cops is shaken by memories of her father, a student activist, who was beaten and injured for life by police. Her world and her sense of self is shattered when Ben, a rookie cop she is counseling, unexpectedly commits suicide and leaves a note blaming her. Readers tell me they rarely read a book told from the clinician’s perspective.

Thank you so much Ellen for joining me here today! I’ve had so much fun and learned so much from you. I’ve read Burying Ben and I’ve almost finished Counseling Cops: What Clinicians Need to Know.  Although I’ve never counseled a cop, I will keep this book on my professional bookcase alongside my DSM-5 and treatment planners, as a resource.

Any Questions? Ellen will be checking in all day, so ask away!

Until Next time,

Happy Writing,

Diane Kratz

You can order Ellen’s books from Guilford Press, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and more of your favorite vendors, in print or as an e-book.

You can connect with Ellen at:

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Website: http://www.ellenkirschman.com

Facebook Fan Page: https://www.facebook.com/EllenKirschmanBooks?ref=br_tf

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/333996.Ellen_Kirschman .

Blog Edited by: Sally Berneathy