Therapy Marathon Aftershock

As a therapist I sometimes analyze what possessed Djhokhar Tsarnaev, now accused of setting off the bombings on April 15. I did meet him a few times when he was 16 at the Cambridge high school. He came to the US at the age of 9 from Chechnya; after a

Boston and gay pride

Boston and gay pride

divorce the mother left the Tsarnaev brothers to live in Russia. His fate is wrapped up with hundreds of injured people. I cannot excuse what he did.

I work with families who come from war-torn countries. Some in my practice are Latinos, some are Ethiopians. I have clients who fled from FARC militants and families who have applied for asylum in the US. Many refugees are escaping horrific violence from Haiti and Salvador and Sudan. When my curious sons entered high school, I realized that our cities can be a war zone for teenagers. Many teens are harassed by gangs after school: they are intimidated and paralyzed. An armed police officer was employed at the high school, where some boys were told to leave the school for carrying knives.

Now after Aurora CO and Newtown CT an epiphany struck me. A major problem of our culture is that Americans murder one another as much as we kill “enemies” overseas. An armed police officer is employed at the high school, where students have been removed for carrying switchblades. These massacres, by and for Americans, show how our young men are addicted to violence. It’s not criminals pulling the trigger– it’s not the drug dealers, nor the crazies, nor the sociopaths. It’s our children, growing up under the opium of the gun. By 10 years old, Americans learn that problems will get solved if you reaching crawlcarry a gun. Our boys are executing the values promoted by big business and allowed by the media (TV, games, CDs). The hard truth of the Boston bombings is: we are all complicit.

My specialty for decades is helping families stop family violence. Do we accept violence as a way to solve difficulties? Our haunting fear is that our children are at risk in schools, on buses, concerts, and now at sports events. How do we reverse the gang-busting, trigger-happy attitudes of our young people?.The sexism, hip-hop language, the video games of war and murder, the evil gothic fashions, the push to be an Arnold Swartzenegger or a Marshall Matthews is seductive. In family counseling values are being suggested overtly or indirectly. How can you be a respectful, strong man without being violent or vengeful?

We will talk about the Marathon bombing for months in Cambridge where the two Tsarnaev brothers grew up. Djzokhar, the 19 year old was a year behind my son in high

Boston in Recovery from Trauma

Boston in Recovery from Trauma

with Krystal Campbell whose body was blown up by the bombing. One son knows the accused, the other one knows the victim killed. As a mother, I try to expand my compassion to include both. Therapists and parents need to call upon our collective strengths. Let’s not just continue work as usual; let’s speak to our children about how we will stop the onslaught of violence.


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