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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