Today: Jun 17, 2024

Southern holds Aavo Rakfeldt memorial lecture series

Robin Glynn | general assignment reporter Dr. Steven Southwick spoke a lecture about resilience and how to manage stress from work.

Robin Glynn – General Assignment Reporter

The lecture given in the Adanti Student Center was part of the Social Work Departments Beta Rho Honor Society Induction.

“Tonight’s lecture, I hope, will get you thinking about the importance of resilience in the life of many of your clients who must struggle with and overcome their own great challenges,” said Dr. Gregory Paveza, dean of the School of Health and Human Services.

Steven Southwick, M.D. presented titled “Mastering Life’s Greatest Challenges: How Science Informs Resilience” to the standing room only audience.

“The somber, emotional climate in Connecticut, the country, and around the world caught on from the Newtown tragedy lead us to invite Dr. Southwick to be this year’s speaker,” said Rakfeldt.

Southwick, according to the Social Work Department, is the Glenn H. Greenberg Professor of Psychiatry, PTSD and Resilience at the Yale University School of Medicine and the Yale Child Study Center. Southwick is also the Medical Director of the Clinical Neuroscience Division of the National Center for PTSD. His expertise is in the psychology and neurobiology of extreme psychological trauma, PTSD and resilience.

Southwick has also worked with a wide range of stress sensitive and stress resilient individuals including children with life threatening medical illnesses, college students, combat veterans, former prisoners of war, and Special Forces soldiers and Navy Seals.

Southwick has served on a broad range of federal grant review and policy committees including the RAND Corporation and Department of Defense expert panel on, “Promoting Resilience: Review of evidence-informed factors or elements that promote resilience.”

Southwick has been awarded research grants and has been included on the Thompson list of Most Highly Cited Researchers. He has also been selected for Best Doctors in America from 1998 to 2013 and has served in the U.S. Army in the 564th Military Police Company from 1968-1970.

“Tonight’s lecture on mastering life’s greatest challenges is apropos to the Southern student,” said Dana Schneider, Beta Rho Honor Society Faculty Advisor, “particularly the Southern Social Work students.”

Southwick said stress response is the same no matter what stressor is face, and the stress response can be life saving but not for too long.

“Our response to stress can be more damaging than the stressor itself,” said Southwick.

Southwick says when animals are stressed, their stress response returns to base level once the danger or cause of their stress is gone and they rarely experience damage from their own stress, but the he says the same cannot be said for humans.

“We can become stress from ideas, thoughts and emotions,” said Southwick.

Southwick said resilience is determined from a number of factors, including genetic, developmental, biologic, psychological, social and psychosocial.

Robin Glynn | general assignment reporterDr. Steven Southwick  spoke a lecture about resilience and how to manage stress from work.
Robin Glynn | general assignment reporter
Dr. Steven Southwick spoke a lecture about resilience and how to manage stress from work.

Southwick said anxiety disorders are also an issue.

“Facing fear is critical,” said Southwick. “Avoidance and failure to face fear is at the heart of all anxiety disorders.”

Southwick said avoidance plays a big part in that perpetuates the condition. Southwick said people can face their fears with a therapist to help cope.

To help in the recovery of resilience, Southwick said things people can do for resilience, including exercise, meditation and having role models.

Southwick mention Christopher Reeves as an example of a role model.

“We admire him as Superman,” said Southwick, “But we admired him even more for how he handled tragedy and how he took on a mission to help others that were paralyzed.”

Southwick tied is lecture together with the movie The Wizard of Oz.

“Dorothy had all she needed inside already; she was resilient but she didn’t know it.”

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