Author Archives: Susan

Gov. Congratulates Rep. Johnson

On Oct. 25, after more than three weeks of struggling in the U.S. House of Representatives, Louisiana Rep. Mike Johnson, a conservative from Shreveport and an LSU educated Constitutional attorney, was elected Speaker of the House.

In a press release from October 25, Gov. John Bel Edwards said, “Congratulations to Louisiana’s Mike Johnson on his election as Speaker of the United States House of Representatives. In Louisiana, despite our differences, we have found ways to work across party lines to guide our state through challenges and deliver progress for our people. I hope that Speaker Johnson can bring these Louisiana values to Washington.”

On the same day, the Louisiana Democratic State Party Chair Katie Bernhardt also issued a press release saying that Mike Johnson was a “threat to democracy,” and that he was a “radical MAGA and Freedom Caucus member.”

Johnson is the representative of Louisiana’s fourth congressional district. He is 51 years old. Born in Shreveport, Mr. Johnson is the oldest son of Jeanne Johnson and firefighter James Patrick Johnson. He has three younger siblings.
Mr. Johnson received his high school diploma from Captain Shreve High School in Shreveport. In 1995, he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Louisiana State University. After finishing his undergraduate studies, he went to Louisiana State’s Paul M. Herbert Law Center, earning a Juris Doctor in 1998.

Mr. Johnson and his wife, Kelly, have four children: Hannah, Abigail, Jack, and Will. According to sources, Mr. Johnson is a devout Christian, has been the host of a conservative radio talk show, a columnist, a college professor, and a constitutional law seminar instructor.


Foods that can help fight off Everyday Stress

Any acute stressor triggers the same physical reaction to stress, like nerves before a presentation or finishing an article on a schedule. We all are subject to stresses in ordinary life. Concepts such as Acute vs Chronic Stress have been frequently discussed. The many and varied ways to reduce stress and the importance of reducing it have often been a subject of this column. Many people don’t know, however, that a varied and balanced diet can really help you deal with the physical responses your body automatically produces to daily acute stress. We all recognize the hormone, Serotonin, which is linked to our mood. But, did you know that 90 percent of Serotonin is produced in the gut – not in the brain? And, if the cells in the GI tract have access to the correct nutrients, they can produce more Serotonin. Apparently, it comes down to eating foods that contain an essential amino acid known as Tryptophan, which then produces Serotonin. We cannot make tryptophan naturally so we must ingest foods that contain it. Tryptophan can be found in food; Serotonin cannot.

The answer is not foods high in refined sugar. Such foods can actually impair brain function. Research on nutrition says that our bodies crave variety, a mix of vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, protein, and carbohydrates in order to boost levels of balancing hormones, like Serotonin.

Some foods help reduce Cortisol, which is another well-known hormone linked to stress. Cortisol increases inflammation. Fruits like blueberries are full of antioxidants and vitamin C, which reduce levels of Cortisol in the body. Avoid inflammation-increasing foods such as refined sugar, alcohol, refined grains, trans fat, and saturated fat. Some dietary experts recommend use of 100% maple syrup and coconut sugar as substitutes.

Anyone familiar with the Harry Potter books will recall that Professor Lupin gave Harry Dark Chocolate whenever he was stressed. Dark chocolate also reduces Cortisol. Dark chocolate also has compounds called flavanols which are thought to relax blood vessels, improve blood flow, and decrease blood pressure. Milk chocolate and white chocolate do not do nearly as good a job as dark chocolate.

Fruits and vegetables boost Serotonin. Bananas in particular, boost Serotonin. Spinach, Swiss Chard, pumpkin seeds, edamame, avocado and potatoes are all good sources of magnesium, which reduces Cortisol and promotes good sleep. Oranges, broccoli, sweet potatoes, peas and cucumbers are rich in Potassium. Veggie sticks with hummus work as well.

Fish, particularly oily fish as we noted last month, can reduce anxiety and increase brain function. It is the Omega-3 fatty acid that works.

In summary, this is a list of the top Serotonin boosters. Remember any food that contains the essential amino acid, tryptophan will produce Serotonin. But the other top foods are: Salmon gets top marks for boosting Serotonin. Spinach is second (that includes Swiss Chard and probably most all of the leafy greens, including Kale). Seeds and nuts and soy products are also top on the list of Serotonin boosters.

When it comes to reducing Cortisol, the list is different. Dark Chocolate stays at the top and is probably the easiest to sell. But, don’t forget seeds (pumpkin, chia, flax, and hemp), avocados, bananas, spinach, broccoli, nutritional yeast and probiotics. Many of these are high in magnesium, even dark chocolate. Oh, and nuts (walnuts and almonds) help reduce high cortisol levels.

As much fun as it is to read about good foods to help manage stress, please don’t forget that practicing meditation or mindfulness, getting good sleep and moderate exercise are essential to keep your mind and body in balance during these chaotic times.

For Veterans Day: Our WWII Fathers

They were young and they were green. Two-thirds of them had never even fired a rifle. They marched off, 16 million of them, half of all the young men in the country, to the deadliest and most widespread war in history.

They went to stop the Axis powers from carving up the world. And they did it.  They were our fathers. As the last of the WWII Veterans fade from life’s stage, we honor all our Veterans this month by sharing three stories, by psychologists, about their WWII fathers.

With some saying that we are on the brink of war, the realities of world war must not be forgotten.

In this special feature, Dr. Susan Andrews, Dr. Julie Nelson, and Dr. John Magee will share some of what they remember about those in the Greatest Generation.

Kenneth A. Ring, Jr.
Battle of the Bulge, defense of Alsace, France
Awarded Silver Star, two Bronze Stars
by Susan Andrews, PhD

My father, Kenneth A. Ring, Jr., was one of the thousands of veterans who served our country in the last days of WWII in France, Austria, and Germany. My memories of my father have always pictured him as “larger than life.” I knew he was multiply decorated (Silver Star, 2 Bronze Stars) and I guess I knew that meant that he was a hero but I don’t think the meaning really sunk in until recently. My son was telling me what he had learned about how his grandfather had earned the Silver Star, and wondered if I knew how my father earned the Bronze Stars.

Dad never talked about the war to me–or in mixed company, in general.  Unfortunately, he died in 1978 at age 53 from a brain tumor. However, my brother knew a lot of his stories from years of hunting and fishing trips with dad and other men, some veterans. In the evenings, they would sit around and trade stories. My brother has an amazing memory and shared some of what I am now sharing with you. Some of it comes from details of two books about the 42nd “Rainbow” Infantry Division (I.D.) published immediately after the war.  The first book tells the story of the 42nd I.D. while the second book details the 222nd Regiment of the 42nd I.D., which was dad’s regiment.

The 222nd was part of the Rainbow Infantry Division under the command of Major General Harry J. Collins, and shipped from Fort Bragg to Camp Gruber to Camp Kilmer to Marseilles in November 1944, and in 1945 took part in the Battle of the Bulge.

My father was a leader even before he was pressed into his role in history. He was the Cadet Commander of the ROTC at Texas A&M, in his junior year in petroleum engineering when he was called to active duty. He reported to Camp Gruber with the rank of 2nd Lieutenant.

My mom, newly married, tagged along and rented a room in a house in the little Oklahoma town of Muskogee just to be near dad until he shipped out, sometime before September 1944. I did not meet my father until the war was over and he shipped home. Mother and I lived in Dallas, Texas, where both of my parents were born and grew up a block apart.

My father was on the front lines in heavy combat for 114 days in the thick of those last days of the war in Europe. He was awarded his Silver Star for his heroic defense of Alsace France on January 24, 1945. At that point he would have been in Europe for only 2 or 3 months. Only a few months before he had been a petroleum engineer junior year student at Texas A&M.

As a 21-year-old, green, 2nd lieutenant, he was instrumental in turning the tide in the Battle of the Little Bulge, important in the defense of Alsace, France, for which he earned the Silver Star. He also earned two Bronze Stars in the short 3 or 4 months after that. Dad and his Company made raids behind enemy lines.  He found and arrested Hitler’s secretary, and many other high-ranking Nazis, who were trying to hide in the Bavarian Alps, including the infamous Butcher of Paris, SS General Von Oberg, who was posing as a private.

As the Commander of his Company in the 222nd Regiment of the 42nd I.D., they advanced 450 miles from the Hardt Mountains of France to the border of Austria, along the way capturing the towns of Wurzburg, Schweinfurt, and Furth. His was the first unit to successfully cross the Siegfried Line. Dad said that they knew the fighting was going to be intense when the men were given a steak dinner and a new pair of socks the night before. The Rainbow Division captured 51,000 German prisoners. When they were finally in the Tyrol and quartered in fancy hotels, Dad’s men found a cache of $300 million in gold and art (just like the Monument Men). He also served as the Occupational Mayor of Achensee, Austria, in the Tyrolian alps. Finally, his unit was among those who captured Munich.

One of the highest profile things my father did was to command the forces that liberated Dachau through the front gates. I never heard the stories of those days from my father. But, I accidently––at age 14 while looking for something in the attic–– found the pictures my father had taken inside Dachau. Members of my family and myself have occasionally seen captured news footage of my father that was taken during the liberation. I know I had nightmares as a teen and young adult from the photographs. In fact, I can still see the pictures as if they are burned on my brain. I feel sure that my father had more than nightmares from that experience. The concentration camps were among the true horrors of that war. However, that kind of emotional reaction was handled differently by most WWII veterans.

Finally, my father moved to Vienna and became the Aide and bodyguard for General Mark Clark, the general over Austria. Among other things, dad organized and ran the Officer’s Club in Vienna for the General until he was discharged and returned home to mom and me.

In trying to imagine what veterans like my father must have gone through, I have tried to gather as much information as I could find about what my father lived through in the first few months after landing in Europe, the events that led to his Silver Star.

His unit landed in Marseilles in November 1944. It was called the worst winter in Europe in 100 years. The temperature dropped to 20 degrees below. Our troops were not prepared for the extreme cold. The bitter cold of that winter is one reason why the Russians defeated the Germans.

The landing and deployment of the Rainbow Division into the Western Front was supposed to be kept a big secret but somehow the Germans found out they were coming and were ready, waiting and actually taunting our young, totally green troops when the Battle of the Bulge started Christmas eve 1944.

The Germans were planning the last major offensive campaign on the Western Front in Europe, called Operation North Wind (Unternehmen Nordwind). It began on December 31,1944 in Alsace Lorraine and ended on January 25, 1945. Hitler, himself, briefed his military command on December 28, 1944, three days prior to the launch of Operation North Wind. Hitler told his command that the goal of the offensive was to break through the lines of the US 7th Army and the French 1st Army in the Vosges mountains and destroy them. He wanted to liberate Alsace but more he wanted to “exterminate the enemy forces wherever we find them…destroy their manpower.” This last Battle of the Little Bulge, as some called it, was a month of some of the bloodiest fighting by the Americans in Europe. Winston Churchill called World War II’s Battle of the Bulge “the greatest American battle of the war.” Steven Spielberg impressed the 6-week ordeal on the popular imagination with the movie, Band of Brothers, which dramatized the attack on the village of Foy by three companies of the 101st Airborne Division, the Screaming Eagles. The 222nd I.D. fought alongside of the 101st.

Imagine the stress these young men were under. They have never faced combat and now they are facing two very experienced German army groups; one group was commanded by Reichsfuhrer-SS Heinrich Himmler, himself. Our young men sat in their foxholes, wet and freezing, close enough to the Germans that they could hear them being whipped up to a battle frenzy with drugs, mostly crystal meth, while waiting for dawn.

The fighting, which started on December 31,1944 was intense and our line had bulged as we retreated. The 222nd had been forced, because of casualties and the delay of reinforcements, to pull back up north from Strasbourg toward  Haguenau to the French town of Neubourg where my father set up a defensive position on the south bank of the Moder River on January 21, 1945. Thus, at age 21 my father found himself the leader of Company M (heavy machine gun platoon) of the 222nd Regiment of the 42nd I.D. He was a Company Commander because of field promotion after the death of Company M’s commander in the earlier battle.

I have seen it written about the events of those days: “Further withdrawal was being planned; had it not been for the brilliant defenses of the 222nd.”

My father was a crack shot and he had taken up a defensive position in a farmhouse basement, where he was lying on the snowy steps coming out of the basement, surrounded by sandbags with several carbines and several of his men behind him, reloading the carbine rifles and passing them up to him. It was night, about 20 degrees below; the roads were so covered with ice that men could not walk without slipping and falling.

My father ordered his men to hold their positions when the Germans penetrated the main line of resistance with a large force. The 222nd had no artillery support or tanks or tank destroyers. It was riflemen against self-propelled guns and armor. They were trapped in the basement with only turnips and schnaps to eat or drink for three days. Dad had blown three bridges that the tanks could cross on the Moder toward the Rhine. All night he lay in the snow and shot moving targets in the snowstorm. In the morning light, they saw that the enemy casualties were enormous; the Germans had withdrawn and were never able to capture the town of Neubourg.

In the final analysis, my father spearheaded a defense of what later proved to be the last offensive action ever launched by the German army on the western front in Europe.

For my father, as for so many others, he saw horrors and lived through things that we can only imagine today with the help of movies. He rarely spoke of it.  He never went to therapy or claimed any mental or emotional disorder. Most of the true heroes I have met do not ever talk about what they did to be known by others as heroes. Maybe they don’t even think of themselves as a hero. I don’t know.

My father probably had what was called “combat fatigue” when he returned home. I really do not think he had PTSD. WWII vets did not react in the same way as veterans with PTSD do now. They came home from war, drank a bit too much, had an occasional nightmare but with family support and knowing they won and saved the world, they tried to put it behind them.

They typically did not talk about it much and did not even seek out other veteran groups. They felt that people did not want to hear about it. They did not want people to feel sorry for them. They did not want to be the hero who came back troubled by what he did over there and the people that he had bombed or killed.

Only in recent years have I realized that in my growing up years, I was often afraid of my father. He would become fiercely protective when his family was in danger and I can remember him spanking me when I came home crying that some kid had hit me. He spanked me and made me go back out and stand up for myself to the bully. He later explained and apologized saying that he saw many European children not know how to protect themselves and that he never wanted to see that happen to us if some foreign power were to invade our country. In those days, late 1940’s and 1950’s, people thought it was possible that America might be invaded.

I lost my father at his young age of 53. Many of those brave men died young.  Some blame their early deaths on the amazing stress and horrors they endured and then mostly buried when they returned from the war. Although it is not easy to “re-member” the events of those days, it is with great love and honor that I remember my father; he was a great influence in my life.

Gordon Nelson
Master Sergeant Army Air Corps, 20th Air Force,
XX Bomber Command, HQ
by Julie Nelson, PhD

I don’t think my father, Gordon Nelson, had any romantic ideas about war. Like all true Irishmen he told amusing stories about his experiences, which seemed to lighten what I always thought was a more melancholy undertone. But maybe that’s just true of the Irish in general.

Dad (Gordon) was 19 when he signed up for the Mississippi National Guard. Coming from a poor, single mother family (his own father had taken off when he was small), his options for college were nil. He enlisted in November of 1940, probably knowing that peacetime draft would pull him in, because this was before Pearl Harbor in ’41. Gordon was a strategic thinker, so he might have signed up so he could change from the Army Infantry to the Air Corps (later renamed Air Force).

This now seems logical. My kid brother, Kevin, said that Gordon realized that 2nd Lieutenants and Sergeants in the Army Infantry “… were all being shipped to Europe battlefields and killed within two weeks on average. He said he was in line for that, so he switched to U.S. Army Air Corps which later was known as the Army Air Forces.”

Gordon’s letters home to his mother were significant. “Those letters,” Kevin said, “were poignant and fascinating to read. Very telling. I started seeing a change in tone in GN’s letters…something along the lines of grim acceptance that he was doomed and there wasn’t a damned thing he could do about it.”
Gordon had bomber training at MacDill Field in Tampa, Florida, and then went on to Smoky Hill Army Air Field in Salina, Kansas where he had his first experiences in B-29s. The subtext which was to color his war experiences.

In a letter home from Smoky Hill, Gordon said that he and his buddies “were all a little droopy” because of a recent crash. A crewmember had come to his office and inquired about a fellow and Gordon said, “Who, that little Dago kid? He was killed in the crash.” Gordon wrote that the crewmember “… just slumped in shock and grief because they had become quick friends and poof, he was gone, dead.”

The dangerousness of the B-29s would follow him to the other side of the world.

B-29s were the very heavy bombers that were pushed into production by Roosevelt. While considered the most advanced bombers in the world at that time, they were not fully tested by the time they were put into service. Because of their size and heavy loads, they were hard for pilots to handle. Takeoffs were risky. Boeing had rushed development and the B-29s had mechanical problems, including engines with a tendency to overheat.

Gordon served with the 20th Air Force, XX Bomber Command, at the Kharagpur Air Field, West Bengal, India. From Kharagpur, the bombers would double as transports and carry their own fuel and cargo, over the Himalayan Mountains, known as “the Hump.” There were so many crashes between India and the China air bases that pilots called it “The Aluminum Trail.”

But President Roosevelt wanted to bomb Japan and had promised Chiang Kai Shek that the U.S. would bolster the Chinese war efforts, and the B-29s were the best chance to reach the Japanese islands.

So, my father’s war stories included the occasional mission with him as a tail gunner, the highjinks of young men, living as best they could in the moment, and dealing with whose plane would be going down next. Toasting their dead and “turning down the cup” of the friend they’d all lost. The imagery Gordon could paint (he was a poet at heart) of India was, I think, part of how he coped, and also the irony he saw in things that happened.

The Japanese would strafe the airfield at Kharagpur and the men would dive into the ditches on either side of the runway, Gordon told Kevin. But, it was considered almost as dangerous to jump into a ditch because of the poisonous krait snakes and cobras that were often in the ditches.

The cobras were everywhere. They were so bad that tent members would hire a local “coolee” to bring his pet mongoose in and clear the tents before everyone went to bed.

In the latter part of the war, General Curtis LeMay took command and turned a failing B 29 program into a successful one, by flying low altitude missions that had more bombing accuracy, albeit even more risky.

My father liked and respected LeMay, and was part of the group that attended when LeMay inspected the facilities. During one inspection of the cafeteria, the General singled out my father and abruptly asked, “Sergeant! What do you think of this mess?” Gordon, confused about of what LeMay was asking but not wanting to appear inattentive, fudged and answered, “Well, Sir, I guess it’s not too good?”

LeMay cursed and said, “I knew it! Get this damn mess up to snuff for these men.” And then LeMay walked off in disgust, thinking that Gordon had confirmed that the food, “the mess,” was substandard.

At a 1986 Christmas party we held in Baton Rouge, my father came face-to-face with a piece of his past. As the young Sergeant in India, he had spent his money collecting some “stones” that he bought from Indian jewelers. He had sent one, a star sapphire, home as a gift for his baby nephew. Forty years later it had found its way into a dinner ring for that nephew’s wife.

Recounting the events, Gordon said that the other stones had “disappeared,” which he thought was due to retaliation by a tent member. Gordon had taken the tent member’s beer (he had left him “Rupees 18”). He and his buddies had needed the beer––they had drunk all of theirs–– because Baldy Van Buren was in the base hospital with the flu and they went to visit him and would never go empty handed (without liquor) to see Baldy.

“In those days we thought we would live forever,” Gordon wrote to us. “But now it seems so long ago and far away that the little stone and the lives it touched has a strange poignancy about it. After thinking about it I’m reminded of the verse from the Rubaiyat that goes: “And not a drop that from our Cups we throw/ For Earth to drink of, but may steal below/ To quench the fire of Anguish in some eye/ There hidden––far beneath and long ago./”

“Can’t you hear temple bells, Indian children calling ‘Bakaheesh, Sahib.’ I can. Haven’t thought of it for 40 years, but I can see Baldy the practical joker, in the rick-shaw race we had in Calcutta flinging handfuls of appes at the hundreds of kids running behind to bottle up the rest of us.”

“The war was winding down––or sort of,” Gordon wrote. “Some of us were being rotated back stateside to form a new 21st Air Corps and go West to Guam. Others were preparing to be flown across occupied China. To do this they flew long, long missions in the B-29s and on one of them to Mukden, Manchuria, Baldy’s plane had engine trouble and crashed.”

It was this tone, where the story ends in a minor key, that I always noticed. I do think my father was affected by the war, whether it was PTSD or Moral Injury or just the way that a young man would be affected when people around him keep dying.

He was not in regular combat like some–I believe he worked to avoid that. I think that my father flew only the required number of combat missions.
But one night, late, while he was drinking too much, he began to talk about an event I’d never heard him talk about before. While guarding a prisoner, the man escaped. Dad shot at the man’s legs to stop him, but missed, and killed him. My dad began to cry, and then he started to sob, and he didn’t stop. I was stunned and felt helpless. I said something lame like, “It was an accident.” After a while, he finally stopped, wiped his eyes and, embarrassed, told me to ignore him, that he was being “silly.” The next day he refused to talk about it and acted as if nothing had happened.

Gordon was not any sort of hero, and would candidly say that he spent most of the war scared out of his wits. He came home in April 1945 and went to college on the G.I. bill and studied journalism and Shakespeare. He married my mother and contributed four children to the baby boom and was normal, for him. He lived to 91, and was happy.

As far as I know, once he returned to the U.S., he refused ever to fly again. When my kid brother visited Ireland, Dad “treasured the vial of Irish dirt” Kevin brought back for him from Killarney, his hereditary home. Dad always wanted to see Ireland for himself, but he never did.

Warren Magee
Second Lieut., Marine Corps
“Soldier’s Heart”
by John W. Magee, Jr. PhD

My Father, Warren Magee, never once talked to me about his combat experiences in World War II as a Marine Corps bomber pilot. Not once.
Warren Magee was the third of four boys born to Johnny and Vina Magee. His father, “Dr. Johnny,” was a true country veterinarian, and, during the Depression, often took payment in fruits and vegetables, and sometimes a chicken. Vina once told me the family history was one of “country folk.” It was not an apology.

Warren wanted to be a veterinarian like his father, and a farmer like his Uncle Lamar. After high school, he started college in Pre-Veterinary and Agricultural Studies at Mississippi State University.

Warren was 20 years old, a full-time, sophomore-level, undergraduate student on December 7, 1941—the “date which will live in infamy”—when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. He learned of the bombing that Sunday in the small country store of his uncle in Caseyville, Mississippi, less than 100 yards from Uncle Lamar’s 400-acre farm.

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Warren left college and joined the Marine Corps. The course of his life changed forever, as it did for most everyone in his generation, including his three brothers—one of whom joined the Army Air Corps, another who was a glider pilot involved in the fighting of Europe in 1944, and another who joined the Merchant Marines.

My uncle, W.O., was a child during World War II, but later joined the military, and served in Vietnam as a navigator on B-52 bombers during the Vietnam War. Uncle W.O. recalls my Father, Warren, as one of a group of young officers in World War II who were called “90-Day Wonders.” After Pearl Harbor, because of urgent need for officers, some were put through an intensive, condensed training period of 3 months. The term was sometimes used as derogatory, but by others with affection. Of the 90-day training, W.O. says “if you survived it, you went on.”

Warren did survive the training, and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant, and then sent to train at Corpus Christi Naval Base, where he became a pilot. Information from “The Slipstream,” published by the Corpus Christi Naval Base after the war, indicates Warren was part of Squadron 5A, one of the earlier squadrons to go through Corpus Christi. According to W.O, Lieutenant Magee, at 5 feet, 8 inches tall was the ideal height for a pilot in the smaller bomber cockpits.

Warren was sent to the Marine Corps Air Station at Cherry, Point North Carolina, with Marine Air Craft Group 11 (“MAG 11”), 2nd Marine Air Craft Wing (“MAW”), under the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force. Cherry Point had an auxiliary pilot training station at Edenton, North Carolina, a small, picturesque town on a natural harbor from the Atlantic Ocean. Warren was a flight instructor there on B-25 Mitchell Bombers for Marines who would serve in the Pacific.

It was at Edenton that Warren met my Mother, Sarah Russell, who reportedly broke a date with a Major to go out with Warren. Uncle W.O., who grew up in Edenton, said “Warren got the prettiest girl in town.” Sarah used to say she first spotted Warren in church. Although Warren probably attended her church, and she may have spotted him there, they actually first met at the USO Club. “He was so good looking,” she said of my Father, “and a good dancer.”

Sarah also told a story that Warren had said that on a specific day and time he’d fly over her family’s house. Sarah waited outside, until his bomber appeared and he dipped each wing as his “wave” to her. Warren was a young man preparing for war, but there had still been a little room for romance.
Only months after their wedding, Warren was sent overseas to Okinawa for the remainder of the war. It was from Okinawa that he and his crew flew bombing missions until the war’s end.

My Father only told me one story that had occurred while he was in the Pacific. It was a typical Warren story, and not a combat story.

Warren was leaving his plane when he saw a group of indigenous people in a circle, just off the runway. Curious, Warren walked over. The group had circled around a snake and one of them was trying to kill it with a long pole.

In college, Warren had earned extra money by catching snakes for the biology department. He had been taught that the only poisonous snake with round pupils was the coral snake. This snake was clearly not a coral snake, so Warren moved inside the circle and grabbed the snake just behind the head. The people in the circle began yelling, which Warren interpreted as undeserved congratulations.

Then, still holding the snake, he began to think more about that rule. Realizing he wasn’t sure if this was the rule for “all” snakes, or just for snakes in the U.S., he walked outside of the circle and tossed the snake into the brush. He continued to receive congratulations, and, of course, later learned the snake was indeed quite poisonous. He said he never engaged in snake-catching on the island again.

Warren separated from the Marine Corps as a Captain after the end of the war in February 1946. Uncle W.O. and other family members indicate that Warren did not talk about his combat experiences, so the number of combat missions he flew, or specific events he experienced, are unclear.

After his military service Warren intended to return to college to become a veterinarian. But Mississippi did not have a Veterinary school and out-of state admissions were very rare. An individual at a school in Alabama reportedly asked Warren for $500 as a bribe for admission, but Warren refused. He never got into veterinary school.

In 1946, he started in the oilfield business, where he worked for 39 years. After his death, I learned he quit one job when they wanted to transfer him to Morgan City because he was concerned that my sister and I would not get a good education there.

Warren grew up Methodist, and Sarah, Baptist, but my father did not believe that only one religion had it “all figured out.” When we first moved to Shreveport, my parents visited different churches, looking for the right fit. Eventually, they joined the First Presbyterian Church, and more importantly, they became part of a Sunday School Class. For years, I witnessed the importance of that class to my parents. Besides attending Sunday school, they ate together, played bridge, fished, and took trips. I still recall laughter as a regular feature of those times, even as I wondered how religious people could laugh so much.

It was some 30 to 40 years later, ten years after my father died, that I learned more about the “Sunday School Class.” In the late 1990s, I recognized one of the men from the Class and learned he was a former POW from World War II. His wife told me something that I had never known—every man in the class was a World War II veteran.

The class was like a family, and I’ve often wondered about the combat experiences of all of those other men in the class. The laughter that I heard as a child, and their obvious love for one another, means much more now, after learning about PTSD, and my 29 years of clinical experience treating combat veterans. Ironically, I know more about the combat experiences of that ex-POW than I know about my own father’s experiences in the war.

My father died unexpectedly of a heart attack at age 64, one month before his retirement, and before I had earned my PhD.

It was only after his death that my Mother told me the one combat-related story she knew, of a time when Warren and his crew almost had to ditch his B-25 Bomber into the Pacific Ocean when returning to Okinawa after a mission. She had no details other than they almost did not make it back. I think Warren would have been the same person, regardless of his circumstances. I never heard him curse, ever. He never spoke ill of others because of race, age, sex, or religion. He was honest and ethical in all his relationships.

Warren never became a veterinarian, and never had a farm. Despite many reversals of fortune, I never heard my father complain about the unfairness of life, even though his early goals in life were not realized, and even with numerous major stressors and losses involving family and finances.
I don’t think my Father had PTSD, but he had a strong sense of doing what was right and facing things directly. He transmitted to me an awareness of his expectations, whether these came from the Marines or the war, or just my Father. These included standing up for what was right, even against bullies, and even at the cost of a fight.

My father softened over the years, though he could still be tough. Somewhere along the way, the tough Marine country boy seemed different. He read poetry books I gave him, even though I know he much preferred other offerings. He did not judge me through my various phases (long hair, beard, leaving school, living with a girlfriend). He was amenable to change, even in himself.

A couple of years before his death, my father and I went fishing. I asked him about his life—it had turned out so differently from the one he had planned before World War II. He told me he was happy and had been happy, and believed things had turned out the way they were supposed to. He talked of the important things of his life—family, friends, the Sunday School Class, daily choices in life. He wondered if my sister and I would have received a good education if we had been living on a farm deep in rural Mississippi. He had once told me that you can “lose” almost anything you get in life, but not education.

After my father’s death, my Uncle Mac told me a story about Warren’s last trip to Mississippi. While squirrel hunting somewhere deep in woods unfamiliar to my Father, he and Uncle Mac separated to hunt alone. Later in the day, Mac realized he hadn’t heard Warren fire a shot all morning, and he went to find him.

Mac found Warren sitting on the ground with his back against a tree, looking up at the tall canopy of trees above, his rifle some distance away. Warren said that he had been so struck by the beauty around him that he just sat down to enjoy it, and he didn’t want to spoil it by hunting. Warren told Mac “If heaven’s supposed to be better than this, it must be some place.”

Two months later my Father passed away.

That day when we went fishing, when I asked about his earlier dreams, as he explained how he had been happy, even though he never got to be a country veterinarian or farmer, my Father also said, “Besides, try and picture your mom living way back in the woods.” I realize that Warren had his priorities right—he didn’t want to lose the prettiest girl in Edenton.

I’m sure my Father was grateful for the life he had, even if it wasn’t the life he planned. As a school boy, he chose his grandmother’s farm for the summers. As a young man, he chose to join the Marines, instead of continuing his studies. He chose not to pay a bribe to get into veterinary school. He made the choices he wanted to live with. I know he wouldn’t use the words I’m using, but I’d say he figured out what was important. Warren got the big things right, even if others wouldn’t see them as the big things.

One of the old terms for PTSD was “Soldier’s Heart.” In that time, some believed that the afflicted soldier was suffering from a form of heart-sickness for his home and family. I don’t think my Father had PTSD, but I think he had to overcome more body-blows than the average boxer, and he did so with quiet grace. Maybe for him, the term “Soldier’s Heart” would have meant more about the internal and external resources that helped him overcome life’s “slings and arrows” so he did not succumb to them.

After my father’s death, my sister Susan said that, even though our Father was often quiet, “You always knew he loved you.” I think there may be no greater inheritance to have from anyone.

The Shape of Water

by Alvin G. Burstein

My first reaction was to think of this film as a mash-up of The Creature from the Black Lagoon, with its fantastic and frightening monster, and Splash, with its mermaid romance.

But more complexity is promised by the beginning and ending epigraphs that frame it:

If I spoke about it – if I did – what would I tell you? I wonder. Would I tell you about the time? It happened a long time ago, it seems. In the last days of a fair prince’s reign. Or would I tell you about the place? A small city near the coast, but far from everything else. Or, I don’t know… Would I tell you about her? The princess without voice. Or perhaps I would just warn you, about the truth of these facts. And the tale of love and loss. And the monster, who tried to destroy it all.

And the afterword:

Unable to perceive the shape of You, I find You all around me. Your presence fills my eyes with Your love, It humbles my heart, For You are everywhere.

The opening, with its uncertain ifs and references to fair princes and last days suggest something other than facticity despite the story’s purported setting in the 1950’s cold war and space race. It implies a truth that transcends history, the truth of myth or legend.

The central characters are a striking assortment: A possibly divine monster from the deep, capable of bloody wrath, magical healing and striking vulnerability; a totally mute scrubwoman, employed at a top-secret research facility; a closeted gay illustrator, her confidant; a federal agent who combines sadism and phallic narcissism.

As the story unfolds, one striking theme is the federal agent’s figuring himself as a Samson castrated by a wily Delilah. He suffers losing two fingers in his battle with the creature, and ultimately rips off the re-attached digits in a desperate effort to avoid being defeated by the woman protecting his captive. This sub-plot includes the agent’s trying to act on his urge to sexually assault the mute scrubwoman. When she rejects him, he reacts by having rough sex with his wife and buying a fancy new car—which gets wrecked in the course of the unfolding plot.

The major focus of the film, however, is on the “princess without a voice,” the scrubwoman. During the day, she mops floors and cleans urinals. At home, she luxuriates—and masturbates—in the tub of her decrepit bathroom, and fantasies while watching television movies with her illustrator neighbor. When she encounters the captured monster, she sees past his grotesque and frightening appearance. He, beset by alien humans, recognizes her as a savior—and princess.

That brings us to the closing epigraph. Our prince and princess avoid attending to apparent externalities. They choose to bathe in each other’s love.
Amor Omnia Vincit.

Is the mythic lesson of the film that love always wins? Or that love is most important? Or is it that the real monster is not the grotesque creature, but crass and dangerous appartchik functionaries ignorant of the meaning of love?

Or does writer/director Guillermo del Toro have all three in mind?

Dr. Buckner Awarded Grants: Alcohol, Drug Abuse and Microaggressions for Blacks

Dr. Julia Buckner, Professor in the Department of Psychology at LSU and the Director of LSU’s Anxiety and Addictive Behaviors Laboratory & Clinic, has been awarded two grants, totaling over $800,000, to study alcohol and drug abuse for Black persons including the impact of microaggressions.

Dr. Buckner is also a Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at LSU-Health Sciences Center and a Visiting Professor at the London South Bank University School of Applied Sciences.  She is also a licensed clinical psychologist.

The first grant is for the project, “Black Hazardous Drinkers:  Ecological Momentary Assessment of Racial/Ethnic Microaggressions.” The agency is the National Institute On Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the amount is $402,835.00.

According to the project materials, “Black persons are the second largest racial minority group in the U.S., accounting for over 13% (44 million) of the population. Black persons evince numerous health inequalities, particularly as it relates to alcohol consumption and negative affect (NA; e.g., sadness). Indeed, Black individuals evince the greatest increase in average daily volume of alcohol consumed such that it is 41% greater among Black compared to White individuals who consume alcohol.

“Further, Black Americans report increases in drinking frequency and heavy drinking episodes at rates greater than most other racial/ethnic groups. And when Black persons experience alcohol use disorder (AUD), their symptoms tend to be more chronic than non-Hispanic/Latin White individuals. Minority stress-based models
of substance use and mental health outcomes tend to propose that
marginalized groups such as Black Americans are vulnerable to risky substance use via the interplay of several domains including interpersonal (e.g., experiences of racial discrimination) and individual factors (e.g., emotional symptoms). Indeed, meta-analytic data indicate that racial discrimination is positively related to alcohol consumption, heavy/binge drinking, at-risk drinking, and
drinking-related problems among Black persons. […]

“There is a need to understand the proximal and longitudinal nature of MAs [microaggressions] and alcohol use motivation (i.e., greater alcohol craving, intention to drink, and coping-oriented motives for alcohol use) and drinking (i.e., greater alcohol consumption, greater frequency of drinking, and more negative consequences from drinking) among this health disparities group.”

The second grant is for the project, “Ecological Momentary Assessment of Racial/Ethnic Microaggressions and Cannabis Use among Black Adults.” The agency is the National Institute On Drug Abuse and the amount is $419,904.00.

From the materials, “Black individuals who use cannabis use cannabis more frequently and are more likely to use riskier cannabis use methods (e.g., blunts), associated with greater exposure to carcinogens and toxins and with greater risk for cannabis use disorder (CUD). In fact, Black individuals who use cannabis are more likely to meet criteria for CUD than White or Hispanic/Latin persons. This is concerning given rates of cannabis use (including daily use) appear to be increasing among Black adults in the U.S.

“Minority stress-based models of substance use and mental health outcomes propose that marginalized groups, such as Black Americans, are vulnerable to risky substance use via the interplay of several domains including interpersonal (e.g., experiences of discrimination) and individual factors (e.g., emotional symptoms). Yet, despite meta-analytic data indicating that racial discrimination (a source of significant minority stress) is positively related to adverse drinking outcomes among Black individuals, the impact of racial discrimination on cannabis use behavior among Black individuals has received little empirical attention. […] there is a need to understand the longitudinal nature of MAs and cannabis use motivation (i.e., greater cannabis craving, intention to use, coping-oriented motives for cannabis use) and cannabis use and related problems among this population.”

Dr. Buckner’s program of research primarily focuses on: (1) psycho sociocultural causal and maintaining factors implicated in substance use disorders and co-occurring anxiety substance use disorders; and (2) development and evaluation of empirically-informed treatment and prevention protocols for substance use disorders, including treatment for co-occurring anxiety-substance use disorders.

Dr. Buckner has had over 190 publications and she has utilized a variety of methodological procedures in her research, including ecological momentary assessment, affect and craving induction paradigms, attentional processing paradigms, technology-based interventions, and randomized clinical trials.

She has been involved in several NIH grants as PI, co-PI, consultant, and sponsor and is currently Project Director on a graduate education training grant from the US Department of Health & Human Services’ HRSA. She has also received awards from organizations such as the American Psychological Association, College on Problems of Drug Dependence, Anxiety Disorders Association of America, and Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT) Addictive Behaviors & Anxiety Disorders Special Interest Groups.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

by Alvin G. Burstein

“Once upon a time” is a phrase signaling the beginning of a fairy tale. Fairy tales are folk tales that persist in a culture because they embody and illustrate that culture’s values. They function as parables. So the title of this film invites us to look for its moral center.

There is another interesting aspect of director Tarantino’s choice of the title. On one hand, the film is deeply rooted in a particular historical moment, the fifties and sixties. On the other hand, the tale is an odd amalgam of fact and fable. Movie actress Sharon Tate, whose tragic 1969 murder by Manson acolytes riveted the public, is a central figure in the film. But the tale the movie unfolds is an alternate history saga: what if the murderers had gone to a neighboring Beverly Hills mansion instead of that occupied by Tate and her famous husband, Roman Polanski?

That second house is owned by the fictional character Rick Dalton, played by Leonardo DiCaprio. Dalton was the star of a western bounty hunter TV series. He is struggling to upgrade his stereotyped small screen television career into a more rewarding one in big screen movies. An integral part of Dalton’s career is his relationship to his stunt double, Cliff Booth, played by Brad Pitt.

Booth is more than a stunt double. He is Dalton’s factotum, and the film makes much of their relationship, intentionally troubling us with the disparity between their rewards and social status, and the nature of their tie to each other. They need each other, but in ways that transcend convenience and utility. Part of the fairy tale element of this film is its providing an opportunity to make a moral judgment about this pair of characters. The fictional movie star owner of the opulent Beverly Hills mansion next door to Tate and Polanski is less admirable than is his stunt double and body man, an ex-Green Beret who lives in a trailer on a lot behind a drive-in movie screen.

Booth’s “roommate” in his trailer abode is Brandy, a pit bull. In a highly comedic element, Booth feeds his dog Wolf’s Tooth dog food, “Good Food For Mean Dogs.” It comes in two flavors, Rat and Raccoon. Brandy, eager and quivering with hunger, is trained to wait while Booth prepares the dog’s dinner. Not until her owner, at his leisure, gives her the signal, does she lunge slavering to her repast. Brandy later plays a key role in dealing with the misdirected home invasion by Mansonites. She is one of the most admirable characters in the film. The moral point: a creature of simple if urgent impulses, she controls herself out of attachment to Booth. In addition to the contrast between Dalton and Booth, we have a contrast between Dalton and Brandy. Dalton uses Booth and others, Brandy’s devotion is unconditional.

The film is very popular—high ratings from Rotten Tomatoes, grossing over a hundred million dollars at this point. Part of its popularity is its focus on an interesting time and place. Another element of its fascination is its look behind tinsel town glitter. It has the allure of a gossip column, a peek at what goes on behind the doors of the rich and famous. In Freudian terms, a peek into the parents’ bedroom.

Dr. Leonhard, Award Recipient, Grateful to Late Janet Matthews

Dr. Christoph Leonhard, founder and first department chair of the Chicago School of Professional Psychology at Xavier, is the 2023 recipient of the Janet R.  Matthews, Ph.D. Outstanding Psychology Mentor Award, announced by the Louisiana Psychological Association.

Spokesperson Dr. Amanda Raines, said, “This award recognizes and honors Dr.  Janet R. Matthews for her lifetime of mentoring work and the impact she had on psychologists in Louisiana. This award is given to an individual who has made significant contributions in their mentoring of others in psychology. This year we
are recognizing Dr. Christoph Leonhard.

“Dr. Leonhard is a Professor of Clinical Psychological at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology at Xavier University,” Raines said. “In his current and previous roles, he has tirelessly mentored dozens of students and chaired numerous doctoral dissertations. Dr. Leonhard has also mentored faculty within the department to aid in their transition to academia. In sum, he consistently goes above and beyond to cultivate competent and diverse professionals.”

Dr. Leonhard told the Times that he is particularly grateful for his connection to Dr. Janet Matthews.

“My first feeling about the award was gratitude toward the late Dr. Janet Matthews, whom the award is named after. When I arrived in New Orleans about a dozen years ago with the idea to possibly start a PsyD program here, folks quickly directed me to Janet. Her mentorship and support were instrumental in helping get the program started,” Dr. Leonhard said.

This is a legacy award developed by Dr. Laurel Franklin, who was mentored by Dr. Janet Matthews. Dr. Janet Matthews passed away in 2019.

Margaret Smith, PsyD, the current Department Chair/Director of Clinical Training/Professor at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology at Xavier University of Louisiana, said, “Dr. Christoph Leonhard was the founder of our program at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology at Xavier University. He worked tirelessly with our students ensuring that they would have opportunities to present posters at the Xavier Health Disparities conference as well as at the Louisiana Psychological Association annual conventions. He has mentored a number of our students to successfully publish articles and has provided guidance and mentorship to our adjunct and core faculty members over the years. He has also provided me with mentoring on administrative program responsibilities.”

Dr. Leonhard also said, “Additionally, I feel very honored that the LPA recognized me for the mentoring I do with our PsyD students. Working one-on-one with our students is the most rewarding part of my job. I feel very humbled by the award because the bulk of this honor really belongs to my mentees. The very essence of mentorship is the collaboration between the mentor and the mentee – with the heavy lifting being done by the mentee. Most of my mentoring centers around professional development with a focus on research and clinical skills. Doing research, writing proposals, dissertations, conference presentations, and publications is all done by the mentees with only sporadic input from me. Ditto for clinical skills development. I can mentor and guide all I want but ultimately, it’s the mentee who is attending that workshop, reading that book, or working in supervision to develop that new skill.”

What does he think are his most important achievements so far?

“Even if it is now unfortunately closing, my bringing a Chicago School clinical PsyD program to New Orleans in collaboration Xavier University is my proudest achievement,” he said. “We have been able to train a goodly number of much needed psychologists, many of whom represent historically marginalized  populations. And we will graduate several more as the program is being taught out. Most of our graduates are now practicing locally and are bringing much needed mental health services to this underserved area,” Dr. Leonhard said.

“With the PsyD program closing, I am transitioning to focusing on my consultation practice. For the past three years, I’ve been writing about statistical and methodological problems with using neuropsychological tests to determine whether an examinee is malingering. There are huge social justice implications of this work that I plan to pursue in the future. As luck would have it, some of my
mentees are also interested in this work,” Dr. Leonhard said.

Dr. Leonhard has a Google Scholar Ranking at Institution: 10th most productive (1,323 Citations, h-index: 12), he was named the Chicago School of Professional Psychology: Distinguished Teaching Award for Diversity and International Psychology He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Cognitive and Behavioral Psychology, Association for the Advancement of Behavior Therapy: Honor Roll, and Illinois School of Professional Psychology: Faculty of the Year Award.

He has served as Visiting professor at University of Malta, Visiting professor at Beijing Normal University, and Instructor at the Institut für Verhaltenstherapie  und Sexuologie.

His research positions include Research Consultant at Institut für  Verhaltenstherapie und Sexuologie, Nuremberg, Germany, where he worked in designing, implementing, and publishing research on the topic of mindfulness-based Self-Practice/Self-Reflection in the advanced training of CBT therapists.

He also has served as Research Consultant at “RAI Ministries-Camp Restore”, a social justice program in New Orleans East. He has served as Program Evaluation Consultant at “The Way Back In,” a residential and outpatient clinic for patients with substance abuse problems.

Examples of his publications include:

Leonhard, C. & Leonhard, C. (in press). Neuropsychological Malingering Determinations: Science or Fiction of Lie Detection?  Georgia Law Review, 58(2).

Leonhard, C. (2023) Quo Vadis Forensic Neuropsychological Malingering Determinations? Reply to Drs. Bush, Faust, and Jewsbury. Neuropsychology Review.

Leonhard., C. (2023). Review of Statistical and Methodological Issues in the Forensic Prediction of Malingering from Validity Tests: Part II: Methodological Issues. Paper accepted for publication in Neuropsychology Review.

He will be conducting a Forensic Grand Rounds organized by Alberta Hospital Edmonton and the University of Alberta via Zoom on October 11 at 10AM Central Time. The title of the presentations is Neuropsychological Determinations of Malingering: A Forensic Junk Science?. The event is free and open to all who are interested with prior registration required at

Dr. Joy D. Osofsky Acknowledged for Scientific Contributions

Dr. Joy Osofsky’s achievements were recently acknowledged by the Louisiana Psychological Association when they named her the recipient of the Award for Contributions in Psychological Science.

Dr. Osofsky, clinical and develop-mental psychologist, is the Ramsay Endowed Chair and Barbara Lemann Professor of Child Welfare at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in New Orleans where she is director of the Harris Center for Infant Mental Health.

She has published widely and authored or edited numerous books on trauma in the lives of children. She has established an international reputation has an expert
in this area and recently testified at a congressional panel. Currently, with three  colleagues, she is editing the WAIMH Handbook of Infant and Early Childhood  Development.

Dr. Osofsky is also Past President of Zero to Three and of the World Association  for Infant Mental Health. She currently serves on the Board of Zero to Three. She  has served as Co-Principal Investigator of four Centers within the National Child  Traumatic Stress Network since 2003. She is currently President Elect of Division 7(Developmental) for American Psychological Association.

The Louisiana Association spokesperson, Dr. Amanda Raines, said, “Dr. Osofsky is  a Professor of Pediatrics and Psychiatry with the LSU Health Sciences Center and  the Paul J. Ramsay Chair. She is an internationally recognized expert in infant and  child mental health. Dr. Osofsky has published hundreds of peer-reviewed manuscripts, books, and book chapters and received support for her work  through various agencies.”

The nominating individual said, “Dr. Osofsky’s decades-long career embodies the  heart of excellence in bringing the science of psychology to the benefit of others,  through applications, education, writing and scientific investigation. She is a clinical psychologist, professor, author, researcher, and she brings her integrative thinking to the education of tomorrow’s leaders and innovators. She exemplifies what it means to advance psychology for the benefit of the larger society.”

In 2007, Dr. Osofsky received the Sarah Haley Award for Clinical Excellence in work
with trauma by the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies. In 2010 she  was recognized with the Lourie Award for leadership and outstanding contributions to the health and welfare of children and families. In 2020, she was awarded the Translational Research Award from the International Congress on  Infant Studies and in 2021 she received the Zero To Three Lifetime Achievement  Award. Dr. Osofsky has been recognized many other times for her contributions.  These include Honorary President Distinction, World Association for Infant Mental  Health; Presidential Commendation from the American Psychiatric Association for leadership in mental health recovery following Hurricane Katrina; the Nicholas Hobbs Award by Division 37 of the American Psychological Association for contributions to public policy; the Medal of Honor by the Mayor of New Orleans;  the 2000 Role Model by Young Leadership Council, New Orleans; Best social  science reference text, American Publishers Association for the WAIMH Handbook of Infant Mental Health (four volumes), as just a few examples.

Dr. Osofsky serves as Clinical Consultant, Safe Babies Court Teams, Zero to Three, in Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia,Arkansas, Connecticut, Nebraska, Iowa, New York, Cherokee, NC. She is the Past-President, Zero to Three: National Center for Infants, Toddlers and Families and Member of Executive Committee of Zero to Three (2000-2007); Member of Board of Directors (1986-present); Member Committee on the Board (2006-present); Program Chair, National Training   Institute (2009-present).

The Times asked her what she feels are her most significant contributions.

“I have  contributed over many years to recognizing the importance of understanding of  the effects of trauma on children and on their families, and says to help them recover and gain resilience,” she said. This includes  contributing to an understanding of preparation, response and recovery following  major  disasters including recently the intersection and inequities related to the  COVID-19 pandemic, she explained.

“I have developed one of the few programs in the country offering training to psychology interns and postdoctoral fellows and child psychiatry fellows in infant  and early childhood mental health including training in evidence based clinical practice for young children under the age of six years,” Dr. Osofsky said.

Her work has been acknowledged through numerous grants including:

Louisiana Association of United Ways/Red Cross funding for Family Resiliency Project, Co-Project Director with Howard J. Osofsky, M.D., Ph.D., 2008-2009, $554,246;

Louisiana Rural Trauma Services Center Substance Abuse Mental Health Administration. Principal Investigator, Center in National Child Traumatic Stress  Network, 2008-2012, $1,999,000 (50% time);

Mental and Behavioral Health Capacity Project for the Gulf Region Health  Outreach Program, Funded as part of the Medical Settlement following the  Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, Co-Director, 2012-2017, $14,400,00 (80% time);

Terrorism and Disaster Coalition for Child and Family Resilience, National Child Traumatic Stress Network, Co-Principal Investigator, 2016-2022, $1999,000 (50%  time); and

Harris Foundation funding for Prenatal and Perinatal Behavioral Support for  Maternal and Infant Well-Being, (MIST Program). CoPrincipal Investigator, 2017- 2024. $630,000, 20% time.

Examples of her extensive publications include:

Osofsky, H.J., Osofsky, J.D., Hansel, T.C., Lawrason, B., & Speier, A. (2018). “Building
resilience after disasters through the Youth Leadership Program: The importance  of community and academic partnerships on youth outcomes.” Progress in  Community Health Partnerships: Research, Education, and Action, 12. Special  Issue, 11-21.

Weems, C. F., Osofsky, J. D., Osofsky, H. J., King, L. S., Hansel, T. C., &  Russell, J. D. (2018). Three-year longitudinal study of perceptions of competence and well-being among youth exposed to disasters.” Applied Developmental Science, 22(1), 29–42.

Osofsky, J.D. & Osofsky, H.J. (2018). “Challenges in building child and family  resilience after disasters.” Family Social Work, 21,115-128.

Osofsky, J.D. and Osofsky, H.J. (2020). “Hurricane Katrina and the Gulf Oil Spill:  Lessons Learned about Short and Long-term Effects.” International Journal of  Psychology.

Osofsky, J.D., Osofsky, H.D., Mamon, L.Y. (2020). “Psychological and social impact  of COVID-19.” Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy.

Osofsky, J.D. & Osofsky, H.J. (October 2022, in preparation). “The importance of  building regional coalitions to support resilience for children and families in  response to disasters and violence.”

Osofsky, J.D., Osofsky, H.J., Frazer, A., Olivieri, M., Many, M., Selby, M., Holman, S.,  & Conrad, E. (February-March, 2021). “The importance of ACEs in an intervention  program during the perinatal period.” American Psychologist, 76.

She has produced over 70 books and book chapters and hundreds of scientific  presentations, invited presentations and seminars. Her works include:

Osofsky, J.D. (Ed) (2011) Clinical Work with Traumatized Young Children. New York: Guilford Publishers.

Thomas, K. & Osofsky, J.D (Eds) (2012). Emerging Issues in Infant Mental Health.  Zero to Three Journal., Washington, DC.

Osofsky, J.D., Cohen, C., Huddleston, J., Hudson, L., Zavora, K., Lewis, M. (March,  2017). Questions Every Judge and Lawyer Should Ask About Infants and Toddlers in the Child Welfare System (Update). Reno, NV: National Council of Juvenile and  Family Court Judges.

Osofsky, J.D., Stepka, P., & King, L.C. (2017). Treating Infants and Young Children  Impacted by Trauma: Interventions That Promote Healthy Development. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Osofsky, J.D., Fitzgerald, H., Keren, M., Puura, K. (Eds) (2021, in preparation).  WAIMH Handbook of Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health, Two Volumes,  Springer Publishers.

Invited Plenary, “Lessons learned from children exposed to trauma.” Early Intervention and Education Meeting, St. Petersburg, Russia, July,  2013

Invited  Conference, “Trauma through the Eyes of a Young Child,” Hong Kong  Infant Mental Health Association, Hong Kong, March 2017.

Invited Master Lecture: “Recognizing the Effects of Trauma and Adverse Childhood Experiences during the Perinatal Period,” World Association for Infant Mental  Health, Brisbane Australia Virtual June 2021

Legacy Interview: “How to Heal Childhood Trauma,” MindinMind, UK, October 2022

What are her plans for the future?

“Currently, I continue to provide training and supervision in infant and early childhood mental health,” Dr. Osofsky said. “I initiated 4 years ago and am director of a support program with several excellent LSUHSC faculty that also has an evaluation component – Mother-Infant Support Team (MIST) for high-risk pregnant mothers at University Medical Center.”

She said she will continue to do presentations, virtually and in person, on the  effects of trauma on children and families and ways to support resilience,  including components related to inequities, in the United States and  internationally.

“I also do presentations on the impact of vicarious trauma and compassion fatigue when working with trauma and how to provide support for providers,” she said.

“I am working as lead editor with three colleagues, two of whom are international,  on the two volume World Association for Infant Mental Health Handbook on  Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health which will go to press at the end of September 2023.”

Stress Solutions

Salmon and Sardines for Stress Reduction

Benefits attributed to eating oily fish are mounting. Eating fish is now credited  with combating depression, reducing the symptoms of arthritis, reducing the risk of heart disease, protecting vision, and most recently with reducing stress and  improving working memory. Of course, this is due to oily fish, like salmon and  mackerel, being very rich in omega-3 poly-unsaturated fatty acids and protein.  White fish have fatty acids too but not as much.

A study published in the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative,  and Comparative Physiology shows that fatty fish oils can “counteract the  detrimental effects of mental stress (read that: the fight or flight reaction) on your  heart.” The study, led by Jason Carter of Michigan Technological University,  revealed that people who took 9 grams of fish oil supplements a day for over a  month experienced less mental stress in measurements of cardiovascular health,  including heart rate and muscle sympathetic nerve activity (MSNA) compared to  those who took 9 grams a day of olive oil instead.

Oily fish are species of fish that contain significant amounts of oil throughout their body tissues and in their belly cavity. In contrast, whitefish only contain oil in their liver – and much less of it than oily fish. Other examples of oily fish include trout,  sardines, kipper, eel, and herring.

The American Heart Association recommends that people eat at least two servings of fish every week. The National Health Service of the United Kingdom also advises people to eat at least two portions of fish a week, including one of oily fish.

It has been known since the famous Avon, England study of all the pregnant  women in that city during one year in the 90’s that women who do not eat fish  during pregnancy are more likely to experience high levels of anxiety at that time.  The University of Bristol longitudinal study suggested that eating fish during pregnancy could help reduce stress levels, which – in turn – has the effect of  reducing behavioral and attention problems in the offspring of oily fish eating mums.

My favorite study involved London cabbies, a stressed group who can always use  some working memory improvement. The BBC reported on a small group of 10  cabbies who agreed to eat 4 portions of oily fish a week for 12 weeks. They were  tested before and after the 12 weeks to see what affect the increased intake of  oily fish had on their stress levels and memory.

At the end of the 12 weeks it was found that cabbies were better able to deal with  stressful situations and their visualization-based memory had also improved significantly, something Omega 3 is believed to help with. As a group, their stress  hormone as a whole was down by 22% and their anti-stress hormone up by 12%.

Since the study included only ten participants and had no control group, the  results are only suggestive. However, the cabbies could be heard to exclaim: “So long and thanks for all the fish…”

OCD Louisiana New Orleans “Million Steps Walk” on October 8 to Raise Awareness

In a recent press release, OCD Louisiana President, Dr. Kristin Fitch, announced that the New Orleans One Million Steps for OCD Walk will take place on Sunday, October 8 at Washington Square.

Co-hosted by the International OCD Foundation, the One Million Steps for OCD Walk is the nation’s largest grassroots awareness-building and fundraising campaign to highlight obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and related disorders, including body dysmorphic disorder and hoarding disorder.

Officials noted that the OCD Walk aims to reduce the stigma associated with OCD and mental illness in general and funds raised support the important work of the IOCDF and its partnering Affiliates, including OCD Louisiana. These programs aim to drive change through advocacy, education, research, and resources that improve the lives of those living with OCD and related disorders, said officials.

“It’s estimated that 1 in 100 adults and 1 in 200 children live with OCD. Despite its prevalence, OCD is often misunderstood and misrepresented in the media as a personality quirk or helpful trait that keeps people organized. In reality, OCD is debilitating and severely impacts those living with the disorder, as well as their friends and family. The World Health Organization (WHO) has ranked OCD in the top ten of the most disabling illnesses of any kind in terms of lost earnings and diminished quality of life.”

The IOCDF is the world’s largest non-profit organization focused solely on improving the lives of those impacted by OCD and related disorders. OCD Louisiana is an official affiliate of the IOCDF with the goal of furthering the IOCDF’s mission in Louisiana.

OCD Louisiana said they invite all members of the community to join the New Orleans OCD Walk this Sunday, October 8 at Washington Square to raise awareness, funds, and hope. Washington Square is a dog friendly, shaded, historic park with a playground in the Marigny. The Walk Route is between 1 – 2 miles and we will also have a “Why I Walk” photo station, Awards ceremony and Raffle. To learn more, visit

Louisiana Department of Health Seeks to Destigmatize 988 Use

In a September 13 press release, the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) said it is launching a new marketing campaign aimed at raising awareness, destigmatizing the need for mental health treatment and services, and increasing Louisiana 988 usage statewide.

A key goal of the campaign is reaching vulnerable populations about the services available through 988, including individuals who are Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC), LGBTQ+ people and veterans.

A series of historic storms, the COVID-19 pandemic and other traumatic events have taken a major toll on the mental health and emotional well-being of Louisianans of all ages in recent years, said the officials. Because of these challenges, the message from LDH has been clear: It’s OK to not be OK, and Louisiana 988 has counselors ready to assist anyone seeking help.

“LDH recognizes that stigma and even fear may deter individuals from seeking support from 988. This campaign is designed to address those barriers and encourage Louisiana residents to reach out whether they are in a mental health crisis or just having a bad day,” said LDH Secretary Stephen Russo.

“Our hope for this new marketing initiative is to reach a wider audience, including vulnerable communities, so that all Louisianans know how to utilize 988 and what to expect. All of us need help sometimes, and LDH is committed to eliminating the stigma around mental health and substance use. The 988 helpline ensures everyone has easy and confidential access to high-quality emotional support, regardless of why the support is needed.”

According to the announcement, one in five adults in the U.S. lives with a mental health condition. Death by suicide is the 14th leading cause of death in the state, and it is the third leading cause of death for Louisianans ages 10-34. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, 689 Louisianans died by suicide in 2021.

LDH noted that their campaign is informed by field research that identified three primary barriers to individuals contacting 988: Not knowing what to expect when calling 988; Fear of being let down when someone is feeling most vulnerable; and Fear of overstepping personal boundaries or making things worse for someone else when calling for help.

Key components of the campaign include an aggressive paid media strategy starting with social media advertising, a new website — — for people to learn more, and a platform for community partners, advocates and local influencers to generate their own 988 promotional materials. To help kick off the new marketing campaign, and in recognition of National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, the Governor’s Mansion lit up in purple on the evening of Wednesday, September 13.

In July 2023, Louisiana, along with other U.S. states transitioned to using the 988 dialing code to strengthen and expand the existing Lifeline. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) sees 988 as a first step toward a transformed crisis care system in America, said the officials.

LDH believes 988 to be an important resource for residents to get immediate support when they need it. According to national studies, the helpline works — individuals who contact 988 are significantly more likely to feel less depressed, less overwhelmed and more hopeful after speaking to a counselor. Almost 98% of people who call, chat or text the 988 helpline get the support they need and do not require emergency services in that moment, according to SAMHSA.

COVID Vaccines Linked to Increased Overall Mortality

Evidence continues to mount

A research study published Sept. 17 by Correlation
Research in the Public Interest, “COVID-19 vaccine associated mortality in the Southern Hemisphere,” examined the vaccine-dose fatality rate for all ages.

Researchers assessed all-cause mortality in 17 countries and found COVID-19 vaccines did not have any beneficial effect on reducing overall mortality.

The researchers did find however that unexpected peaks in high all-cause mortality in each country—especially among the elderly population when COVID-19 vaccines were deployed—coincided with the rollout of third and fourth booster doses.

“This would correspond to a mass iatrogenic event that killed (0.213 ± 0.006) % of the world population (1 death per 470 living persons, in less than 3 years), and did not measurably prevent any deaths,” the authors said.

The researchers conducted an analysis of all-cause mortality using data from the World Mortality Dataset for 17 equatorial and Southern Hemisphere countries, including Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Malaysia, New Zealand, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, Suriname, Thailand, and Uruguay. Equatorial countries have no summer and winter seasons, so there are no seasonal variations in their all-cause mortality patterns.

Key findings from the 180-page report include:

• In all countries included in the analysis, all-cause mortality increased when COVID-19 vaccines were deployed.

• Nine of 17 countries had no detectable excess deaths following the World Health Organization’s March 11, 2020, declaration of the pandemic until the beginning of the COVID-19 vaccination campaign.

• Unprecedented peaks in all-cause mortality were observed in January and February 2022, during the summer season of Southern Hemisphere countries coinciding with or following the rollout of boosters in 15 of 17 countries studied.

• Excess all-cause mortality during the vaccination period beginning January 2021 was 1.74 million deaths, or one death per 800 injections, in the 17 countries studied.

By examining mortality and vaccination data from Chile and Peru by age and dose number, researchers observed clear peaks in all-cause mortality in July through August 2021, January through February 2022, and July through August 2022 among elderly age groups. The increase in all-cause mortality observed in January and February 2022 in both countries coincided with the rapid rollout of Chile’s fourth COVID-19 vaccine dose and Peru’s third dose.

It is unlikely that the rise in all-cause mortality coinciding with the rollout and sustained administration of COVID-19 vaccines in all 17 countries could be due to any cause other than the vaccines, researchers said.

“There is no evidence in the hard data of all-cause mortality of a beneficial effect from the COVID-19 vaccine rollouts. No lives were saved,” Denis Rancourt, co-director of Correlation Research in the Public Interest with a doctorate in physics, told Epoch Times. “On the contrary, the evidence can be understood in terms of being subjected to a toxic substance. The risk of death per injection increases exponentially with age. The policy of prioritizing the elderly for injection must be ended immediately.”

All Correlations reports and this study can be found at

Dr. Nemeth Collaborating to Help in War-Torn Ukraine

American and Ukrainian psychologists are collaborating to develop  emotional rehabilitation workshops for Ukrainian veterans and their  families, A recent event was held on the eve of the Ukrainian  Independence Day Celebration. Participants gathered at the Veteran  Hub on August 23, in Kyiv, according to the press release.

These events are sponsored by Chiraj’s founder, Rajeev Fernando,  M.D., a Harvard-trained disaster medicine physician, who supplies  medical support to those on the front line. Other sponsors include:  International Association of Applied Psychology and the World  Council for Psychotherapy. The Ukrainian psychologists at the Kyiv Center, Oleksandr Zharokv, Dmutro Tutyla and Irina Scheveleva, will  demonstrate their art therapy techniques, Mandala paintings.

Trauma experts, Judy Kuriansky, Ph.D., and Joseph Geraci, Ph.D., from Columbia University, Teachers College along with their staff, Julia  Maney, Caroline Burke, June Chang, and Carl Tauberman, are  assisting with group interventions to promote wellness, resilience,  and recovery. As was the case in their post-Katrina recovery  workshops, Dr. Kuriansky, has paired with the Neuropsychology  Center of Louisiana’s (NCLA) founder, Darlyne G. Nemeth, Ph.D., M.P.,  M.P.A.P., CGP, and her assistant, Cody Capps, to collaborate in this  train-the-trainer style of intervention.

“We are emphasizing group intervention techniques,” said Dr.  Nemeth. “The three psychologists in the Ukraine are doing the work  onsite, and the rest of us are participating via Zoom. Our work is then  translated into the Ukrainian language and delivered by our onsite  colleagues.”



Can Stress Cause Dementia?

The relationship between stress and dementia is actually a fairly new  research topic and one that is important the longer people live and  the more complex, demanding, and chaotic our lives are becoming.  Most of us find it difficult to avoid the chaos and conflicting demands  on our time and resources. Given the circumstances, it is only natural to ask if stress can cause dementia. The short answer is: Yes! Early studies are at least linking stress with an increased risk of dementia.  Here are some of the recent findings.

1. A longitudinal study of 2 ½ years, involving 62 participants, with an  average age of 78 years, who were diagnosed as either mild cognitive  impairment or cognitively normal, were followed for cortisol levels, ratings of the amount of stress of lifetime events, and changes in  independent psychiatric diagnoses. The authors concluded that  prolonged highly stressful experiences can accelerate cognitive  decline in people with aging, already susceptible brains. However,  cortisol measures were not associated with decline or change in diagnosis. (Peavy, Jacobson, et al. 2012.)

2. In another study with mice, it was found that high levels of stress  hormones are linked to higher levels of tau and amyloid precursor  protein, which is linked to Alzheimer’s.

3. The importance of highly stressful experiences and prolonged  highly stressful experiences seem to be a repeating finding. One thing is well known: highly stressful experiences can age the brain more  quickly than is typical in the passage of the same amount of time.  Defining a “highly stressful experience” are things such as being fired after age 50 when it is much harder to find another job. Another  experience that rates as highly stressful would be a financial crisis.  One study of over a thousand participants found that each stressful  experience aged the brain by 4 years. One implication from this  finding is that there is most likely a cumulative effect of stress and each stressful event could increase the risk of dementia. The study’s  authors argued that this cumulative hypothesis may help explain why  African-Americans, who tend to face higher rates of stress, have  higher rates of dementia.

The risk of chronic stress increasing one’s risk of dementia becomes a greater concern for people for whom dementia runs in their family. It  is important for all of us to help pass the message that stress is  something you can have significant control over. If people will wake  up to the importance of reducing stress on a regular basis and become more aware of their states of mind, they should be able to  reduce the risk of dementia by regularly reducing their stress.

Dealing With The Devil: A Review of Black Mass

by Alvin G. Burstein

The biopic’s title prepares us for a consideration of moral perversion. Johnnie Depp’s chilling portrayal of James (Whitey) Bulger, the Boston mob boss, his bloody career, and his relationship with the FBI provide that opportunity, raising questions, some of which go unanswered.

The film describes Bulger’s transition from a member of the Winter Hill mob of “Southies,” Boston toughs at war with the Italian mafia centered in north Boston, to a crime kingpin in that city, one whose odious tentacles extended abroad. His success, perverse indeed, was grounded in his murky collaboration with the FBI as much as in his elaborate murderous sadism.

From a dramatic point of view, Depp’s depiction of Bulger is extraordinarily effective. I find myself feeling an unreasoning reluctance to suggest an Oscar because of the evil of his creation. And the film director’s blood-splattered horror scenes of torture and murder will doubtless gratify any inhibited or displaced aggressive drives in eager audiences.

From a psychodiagnostic point of view, the movie poses a question about whether the portrayed Bulger is a psychopath, a person without the capacity for empathy and lacking a moral sense or whether he is a sociopath, someone whose morality is deviant, a person whose social surround and consequent morality deviates from that of the larger society.

Many of Bulger’s associates would appear to merit the second diagnosis: sociopath. They are loyal to their fellow crooks, see law enforcement as the enemy, and the larger society as naïve in its inhibitions. Bulger himself, despite the film’s nod in the direction of his having a love for his mother and his son, violates a basic law of his deviant tribe by becoming what the FBI called “a top echelon informant.” In that capacity, he was later claimed to have contributed to the conviction of many members of the mafia. But he also escaped prosecution (until many years later) for serious crimes of his own.

A central question raised by these anomalies is the degree to which the FBI itself displays a kind of sociopathic readiness to collaborate in some criminal activities, perhaps even murder, in order to pursue other illegal practices. In the film, the FBI’s collusion with Bulger is regarded as the work of a few bad apples, but some commentators have suggested that a code of silence operates at the FBI level as well. Some have suggested that the Bulger’s success in avoiding capture for a decade and a half was due to the desire by the FBI to avoid questions about a practice instituted by J. Edgar Hoover in 1961, to develop “live sources within the upper echelon of the organized hoodlum element.”

The film does not go deeply into two fascinating loyalty issues. One is the tie between John Connolly and Whitey Bulger. Connolly was a fellow Southie who joined the FBI and who recruited Bulger as an informant. Connolly was one of the few of Bulger’s associates who did not agree to testify against his old buddy in return for a reduction of sentence. Like Bulger, Connolly is still in jail. And then there is Bulger’s younger brother, Billy. A long-time member of the state senate, Billy went on to become president of the University of Massachusetts. When it became clear that he had been lying to investigators about being in touch with his fugitive brother, he was forced to step down. What he has said about Whitey is, “…I cared about him deeply and I still do.” There is no indication that he ever suggested to his brother that he turn himself in.

One is left wondering about how Whitey, the sadistic murderer, feels about them.