Monitor on Psychology - November 2011 - (Page 4)

Letters Painful image I am writing to express my extreme dismay over the cover picture for the September Monitor. As a native New Yorker this image evoked a powerful emotional response that I was not prepared to deal with as I opened my mailbox or saw the magazine sitting on my desk. I actually tore the cover off so as not to have to continually be exposed to the painful memories of that day. However, what horrified me more than the image was that the fact that APA selected this photo for the cover. We as psychologists know how powerful images can be. We also know how these types of images in the media can negatively affect our functioning. In fact, we often tell people to shelter themselves from the media, something I have been doing a lot of this week as I cannot turn on the Internet, the TV or the radio and not be bombarded with images and sounds of 9/11. I am so disappointed that our organization chose to be a part of the mass proliferation of these painful images and certainly would have expected an increased sensitivity to this issue from psychologists. I hope you will take more time to consider the power of the images that you place in the Monitor in the future and remember that psychologist are people, too. All of the negative responses that the public at large has to the media, we have, too. ShAhANA KoSlofSKy, PhD Beaverton, Ore. day.” There is simply no empirical evidence to support this claim, yet the author cherry picks the flashbulb memory literature to support it. This sensationalist argument suffers from two fundamental problems. First, despite the efforts of researchers quoted in the article (see quotes from both Hirst and Talarico), the author does not appreciate the critical distinction between accuracy and consistency in memory research. Ebbinghaus (1885) demonstrated that forgetting occurs in seconds, therefore, if an experimenter does not have an account of each participant’s experience in the moment of a salient event like 9/11, then claims about memory accuracy are invalid. Second, with respect to the role of emotion in memory, evidence that people from downtown Manhattan exhibit greater amygdala activity while recollecting the events of 9/11, than people from midtown Manhattan does not necessarily mean that they have more accurate memory of the events of 9/11. A simpler explanation is that people from downtown Manhattan become more emotional when asked to recall the events of 9/11 than people from midtown Manhattan. For more comprehensive accounts of flashbulb memory of 9/11, and flashbulb memory in general, we recommend Conway et al. (2008) and Kershaw et al. (2009). ANDREW R.A. CoNWAy, PhD Princeton University liNDA J. SKitKA, PhD University of Illinois at Chicago JoShuA A. hEMMERiCh, PhD The University of Chicago tRiNA C. KERShAW, PhD University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Misleading report The September article, “Seared in our memories,” is disappointing, and worse, misleading, starting with the subtitle, “How well you remember may depend on how directly you were affected that 4 Why are we hiding? I was overall dismayed by the tone and focus of the September article, “Ethically Speaking: Cornered by a would-be patient.” While the author acknowledges the importance of kindness and the fact that as psychologists we have knowledge about important issues that people care about, I dislike the idea that we are encouraged to put on our headsets and stare straight ahead or tell people we are “funeral directors” as one psychologist did. Granted, I don’t fly weekly, but I think it is an important advertisement for our profession and an opportunity to educate people who are interested about what we do as psychologists. Hopefully, through our training (and possibly our own therapy), we have clear boundaries, but can talk generally about the data when we know it, refer people to appropriate websites for more information or to request a therapist, etc. I think it’s critical that we are aware of the fact that this is not a patient, that it is not confidential. Psychologists give talks all the time about our areas of expertise and are encouraged to do so. I am also quite able to say, “It’s been nice talking with you. I think I will read my novel now ... or get back to work” or whatever. The New York State Psychological Association, of which I am a member, has a new bumper sticker that says: “For life’s challenges, talk to a psychologist.” What other profession hides its light under a barrel the way that we do? I do not feel this is a sticky situation and feel quite adept to deal with it and effectively promote my profession. ChRiS AllEN, PhD Syracuse, N.Y. continues on page 8 M o n i to r o n p s yc h o l o g y • n ov e M b e r 2 0 1 1

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Monitor on Psychology - November 2011

Monitor on Psychology - November 2011
President’s Column
Guest Column
‘Grand Challenges’ offers blueprint for mental health research
Documentary seeks to reach parents of LGBT kids
Treating veterans will cost at least $5 billion by 2020
Selfless volunteering might lengthen your life
Combat and stress up among U.S. military in Afghanistan
South Africa to host international psychology conference
Study uncovers a reason behind sex differences in mental illness
Navy psychologist gives a voice to combat trauma
In Brief
Psychologist suicide
On Your Behalf
Journey back to Heart Mountain
Psychology is key to pain management, report finds
ACT goes international
Judicial Notebook
Random Sample
Time Capsule
Science Watch
Behavior change in 15-minute sessions?
Health-care reform 2.0
Perspective on Practice
Giving a heads up on concussion
Practice Profile
Searching for meaning
Inspiring young researchers
Aging, with grace
Public Interest
Thank you!
APA News
Division Spotlight
American Psychological Foundation
The man who gave Head Start a start

Monitor on Psychology - November 2011