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December 18 2012

After Tagedy, Don't Obsess, Heal Gently

Editor's note: Deepak Chopra is the founder of the Chopra Foundation and the author of more than 70 books. He is a fellow of the American College of Physicians, a member of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists and adjunct professor of executive programs at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, among other posts.

(CNN) -- Two reactions seize people in the face of a horrific event like the mass murder of little children in Newtown, Connecticut. The first is shock, the second is a rush into activity.
The reason we rush into activity is to escape the numbness of shock and the pain that follows it. But if we bury ourselves in every detail of the story, staying glued to the TV, reliving the event in our imaginations and obsessing over the meaningless of violence, we may be working against the healing process rather than helping it.

Medical science knows a lot more about the effects of trauma on the brain than it did even five years ago. One salient point is that post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, affects not just the immediate victims of violence, whether in war or the result of crime, but also bystanders and witnesses.

Another discovery is that brain trauma causes abnormal activity in at least three areas of the brain. The amygdala, responsible for emotions, is over-activated. The hippocampus, responsible for short-term memory, starts to recycle the traumatic event obsessively. The prefrontal cortex, especially in the area that mediates emotions, becomes weaker.

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Top comments

  • PERFECT! thank you.

    Roseli // 2012-12-18 15:31:51 // //
  • I LOVE YOU, Gratitude Deepak...

    Roseli // 2012-12-18 15:33:21 // //



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  • Peace Be With You! Thank you, Dr. Chopra!

    Your Spiritual Friend // 2012-12-27 21:46:51 // //
  • In the United States five times as many people were murdered by bare hands and baseball bats as with rifles. It is a good idea to liberalize gun laws - liberals should favor liberalization - and ban baseball bats and bare hands. No assault rifle shot Ronald Reagan No assault rifle shot John Lennon No assault rifle shot Gabriella Giffords No assault rifle shot John Kennedy No assault rifle shot Bobby Kennedy No assault rifle shot Martin Luther King Most of the above were shot with common revolvers and bolt action rifles. The ONLY difference between a so-called Assault Rifle and a semiauto hunting rifle is that the assault rifle has a plastic stock and pistol handle and the semiauto hunting rifle has a wood stock and revolver handle. No Swiss male, most of whom have machine guns in their homes with children and women, killed anyone today.

    RAND // 2012-12-26 13:46:22 // //

    Capri Adirim // 2012-12-19 16:13:35 // //
  • * * • • •

    Capri Adirim // 2012-12-19 16:12:36 // //
  • Well said

    Dawn Williamson Hartzog // 2012-12-19 01:35:28 // //
  • Just BE. feel the pain.breathe. be kind. Do not just do it now. make it a life style. SET AN EXAMPLE TO THE WORLD , YOUR COMMUNITY IN YOUR HOME.

    Deborah Tageson // 2012-12-18 20:14:35 // //
  • the news coverage is going to drive us all is just for ratings..and over-dramatizing everything. We need REAL change..and thanks to the DIM-O-CRATS..that is 3 WHOLE yrs AWAY..grow up Democrats. We are so tonight..we have to sit and listen to TINT..(T.I's) dumbo wifey..on MTV..with a bunch of other dumb friends..talking abt. Donald Trump..calling him a LOSER.."just like Mitt Romney"..and SHE calls HIM a LOSER? She is trash..pure trash..couldn't work at McDONALDS..and we are force fed THESE losers day in day OUT in this country! I am sick of it! THIS is why nothing gets done..they are KILLING our youth..they all get tatoos and piercings..easily MIS-lead. STOP!

    Nanci Humes // 2012-12-18 19:49:57 // //
  • eyes of love

    Eleni Solange // 2012-12-18 19:21:04 // //
  • They, the children and teachers chose this outcome even before they were born. Why? To teach others. For others to learn something. This concept may be hard to digest for some.

    Nguyenit Vargas // 2012-12-18 18:04:03 // //
  • You look so cool, thank you for the sharing.

    Sarita Singh // 2012-12-18 17:40:03 // //
  • traurig!!!!

    Marta Sturm // 2012-12-18 17:36:12 // //
  • Glad you are around are alway so helpful. Namaste

    Paul // 2012-12-18 16:46:21 // //
  • The irony of this post is you have to go to CNN to finish this article. Going to CNN, or any other power house media outlet, is that the drown us with articles about the shooting and re-living the events. Come on Deepak. I really appreciate your words, but this is the problem.

    Ashley // 2012-12-18 16:44:51 // //
  • Thank you I share your opinion!!!!!

    Melba Levey // 2012-12-18 16:14:54 // //
  • Everybody who thinks the owning of guns make the life safe is a moron. Nothing else. And the owning of killing tools makes a society not free. That is pure stupidity. A lot of people earn a lot of money with this shit. And it is shit.

    Heimo Alexander Kruschinski // 2012-12-18 16:03:54 // //
  • ,What is wrong w/America & gun obsession? The problem is , even when parents buy such for "protection" - the rest of the family & their friends find ways to discover such "arms" - MIS-USE !!! At first, I thought I would be on the side of the "right" to own guns. NOW, I'm not so sure...

    Martha Guyer // 2012-12-18 15:59:57 // //
  • As always very instructive, so inspiring and reassuring about who we are, what we are made of and all the possibilities we are offered to heal even in such circumstances that inevitably affect us all. Thank you so much Mr Chopra!

    Sophie Lasnet // 2012-12-18 15:54:42 // //
  • Deepak, this much needed advice. I have refused to turn on the media. But i cannot deny that these events- i know have thrown myself into a state of consciousness , that i know deep inside, is not at all healthy. I do not believe i am manic depresive- in fact i know i am not- I do know i have endured my own state of complex post trumatic stress sydrome- since 2001- attributle to childhood abuse- But I know this state is manic in nature- I have not slept for the past 4 nights. I sleep entire days- without even knowing. I have no concept of time- I have no thoughts. I cannot locate a sense of selfhood whatsoever. I am totally and utterly detached from all experience- and while it brings some sort of feeling of freedom- it is lined with a excuriating sense of brokeness. I know inside, these social ills- and my extended, and deeply hidden lonleyness, since 2001- ontop of my own struggles- and pressures knowing that my own social role is one where i am meeant to be a persons who helps other- yet i am a persons who is in need of the most help- that i have reached the limits of my capacities to cope- and gone over into this state of consciousness. I feel very much like a antenna- which is recieving a constant stream of all the pain and chaos of a global conscious, and its of such immense negativity, it is overbearing. It is a awful burden to bare, and i feel every naunce of these rvents. My health is suffering as a result. It seems my psyches only response- has been complete disidentifaction with it all. I am tired of being `open` like this. I really wish i did not have to be in this circumstance- i wish i was at least with a intimate loved one, or just connected to anyone but this horribleness.

    Onyx // 2012-12-18 15:51:08 // //
  • Dann können wir ja deutsch reden. Die anderen können gerne übersetzten wenn sie wollen.

    Heimo Alexander Kruschinski // 2012-12-18 15:48:59 // //
  • Great! Me too. And?

    Heimo Alexander Kruschinski // 2012-12-18 15:47:47 // //
  • I am German:)

    Hilu Gander-Ludlow // 2012-12-18 15:46:37 // //
  • I know that. That is what I meant. That is the only country in Europe with such kind of armee. As far as I know. But that is not the problem of the US citizens. You have enough problems with your own bullshit.

    Heimo Alexander Kruschinski // 2012-12-18 15:40:55 // //
  • @Heimo Alexander Kruschinski....I don't wish to fight with you, but do read this please: - I am all for peace, believe me and I do believe it to be possible! Yet, I think the language needs to change, the discussion on family life, income, spirituality, health. Education too. I appreciate Mr. Chopra's insights and knowledge. Brain health and it's communication with our body has fascinated me for the longest time. Very early I asked myself why we blush when somebody embarrasses us or pays us a compliment - or when a person of the other sex smiles at us when we are teenagers. I'd say had been a teenager when I this question posed itself to me:) - Or dreams, in my case, some became reality or messages. - Telepathy with certain people- or strong feelings that were informing me of a danger a friend would be in soon (without being specific).

    Hilu Gander-Ludlow // 2012-12-18 15:38:27 // //
  • Thank you for your words. I've been waiting for your guidance.

    Laura Poindexter Morrison // 2012-12-18 15:37:50 // //
  • I LOVE YOU, Gratitude Deepak...

    Roseli // 2012-12-18 15:33:21 // //
  • PERFECT! thank you.

    Roseli // 2012-12-18 15:31:51 // //
  • Thank you Deepak.

    Perry Holmes // 2012-12-18 15:31:20 // //
  • so true.

    Gee Rebelo // 2012-12-18 15:27:53 // //
  • A wonderful read. Thank you!

    Peace-Making & Relationship Transformation // 2012-12-18 15:23:41 // //
  • perfect

    Steve Chaszar // 2012-12-18 15:20:34 // //
  • Thank you Deepak:) I will pass this on. Nameste

    Chrissy Easthope // 2012-12-18 15:18:20 // //
  • Your voice is always so comforting. Thank you!

    Carole Gomez // 2012-12-18 15:14:51 // //
  • It's not obsession brother, there is a war, an invisible war going on and not everybody will see it, they are just gonna see the results of it, that's isn't good, not at all

    Jose E. Ortega // 2012-12-18 15:13:00 // //
  • By the way. Nobody knows for what Switzerland needs an army. They have no enemies. The Swiss banks keep the money of the rich who evade the taxes. This is better than any army. But Deepi is not interested in money. In the moment he is busy with healing.

    Heimo Alexander Kruschinski // 2012-12-18 15:11:39 // //
  • That are soldiers Hilu. Switzerland has a militia army. Not everyone has a gun. This is not the same as in America.

    Heimo Alexander Kruschinski // 2012-12-18 15:04:35 // //
  • shared**

    Gayle Williamson // 2012-12-18 15:03:23 // //
  • Will have to check this out..

    Cindy Gum-Tomasik // 2012-12-18 15:01:02 // //
  • I feel that real moms and dads are in need. Freshly cooked, healthy meals, the chat around the dinner table.... Loving relationships. - Every Swiss person learns how to shoot and owns a gun. Why don't we hear such horror stories from there?

    Hilu Gander-Ludlow // 2012-12-18 14:56:40 // //
  • auchhh que wuaperrimo se ve maestroo...toda mi admiración ...esa pic esta fenomenal ...saludos...

    Valentina Diaz de Leon // 2012-12-18 14:53:40 // //
  • I know I'm burned out on this story. I had just had meetings towards getting health care and finding work again. I felt better than I had in several years when I got home and received news of the shootings. The story was unfolding on CNN, and while I tried to resist I was overcome by this tragedy. The other night I had dinner with several members of my family, and was that evening struck by how badly I felt. I was suffering. I thought about why this family gathering had me so down, and then realized that this suffering was due to the tragic media coverage sinking in. The preacher in church on Sunday actually broke into tears when she addressed this tragedy in her sermon, and I thanked her after church, as I was deeply troubled by this tragedy. Now both the gun control and the right to bear arms communities are up in arms. I felt this tragedy was actually a welcomed change of pace from the fabricated fiscal cliff government sponsored terrorism. And now that is back in the News. I fear the future has literally been canceled, clearly there is no sign of intelligent life on this planet. Beam me up Branson. Plan B is in full effect.

    John E. Chadwick // 2012-12-18 14:52:02 // //
  • They read certainly the newspaper. Speak to them personally. You could help the psychologists who take care for the people. They would be happy to get help by a profound healer like you.

    Heimo Alexander Kruschinski // 2012-12-18 14:50:55 // //
  • please circulate, give your backing & support!! heartfully yours, Even if you own guns now, ifyou believe in change, takeOne Gun Now to your local police station. Imagine thousands of people, who may have another gun at home, still take action now to change our violent ways, to say to kids we understand, and as a gesture of love in a fractured world. Ed Kaplan

    Ed Kaplan // 2012-12-18 14:44:54 // //