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Learning From The Past and Planning For The Future


"It is part of the American character to consider nothing as desperate -
to surmount every difficulty by resolution and contrivance."
- Thomas Jefferson

Short Subjects

Rocky Mountain Region
Disaster Mental Health Institute

Mental Health Moment Online

CISM/CISD Annotated Links

Gulf War Syndrome




NIMH Meeting Announcements


Rocky Mountain Region
Disaster Mental Health Institute

Dates & Locations:
Laramie, WY: November 12-15, 2003
Casper, WY: November 21-22, 2003
Contact: George W. Doherty
Box 786
Laramie, WY 82073
Download Flier

IV Mexican Congress of Social Psychology
November 5 - 7, 2003
Location: Tlaxcala, MEXICO
Contact: Manuel Gonzalez, President of SOMEPSO
(Mexican Society of Social Psychology)
Phonr: +52 55 5804 4790, Fax: 5804 4789

International Conference on Creativity and
Imagination in Education and Methods of Mastery

November 17-20 2003

Location: Moscow, RUSSIA
Contact: Vladimir Spiridonov
Vygotsky Institute of Psychology
The Russian State University for the Humanities
Miousskaya Square 6, 125267
Moscow , Russia
Phone: +7-095-250-61-47, 7-095-250-66-32
Fax: +7-095-250-44-33

Middle East/North Africa Regional
Conference of Psychology

December 13 - 16, 2003
Location: Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Contact: Dr. Raymond H. Hamden
MENA RCP, PO Box 11806
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Phone: +971-4- 331-4777
Fax: +971-4-331-4001

Society for Judgment and
Decision Making Annual Meeting

November 10 - 11 2003
Location: Vancouver, CANADA

Society of Australasian
Social Psychologists 33rd Annual Meeting

April 15 - 18, 2004
Location: Auckland, NEW ZEALAND

27th National AACBT Conference
(Australian Association for
Cognitive and Behavior Therapy)

May 15 - 19, 2004
Location: Perth, Western Australia

5th Conference of the
European Academy of Occupational Health Psychology

November 20-21, 2003
Location: Berlin, Germany

37th Annual Conference
Association for Advancement of
Behavior Therapy (AABT)

November 20 - 23, 2004
Location: Boston, Massachusetts, USA


Wildfire Maps
Shows the fire danger map for the
United States. Allows you to zoom in on anywhere
you want to see hot spots detected
by satellite.

Satellite Photo of Smoke Plumes: Santa_Ana_Fires.jpeg


Deadly California Fires Threaten 30,000 Homes(Exerpts from FireHog Newsletter)

The hot Santa Ana wind driving wildfires across parts of Southern California eased Monday but officials warned that there was still a threat from the flames that had devoured entire neighborhoods and killed at least 13 people. Gov. Gray Davis announced he was activating the National Guard, calling on more resources from neighboring states and predicted the cost of the fires would be in the billions. More than 900 homes had been destroyed and an estimated 30,000 others were still in danger, officials said. The blazes scattered from the Mexican border to the suburbs of Los Angeles had triggered a harrowing flight to safety for thousands of residents, along with hospital patients and prison inmates.

"I was grabbing wet towels. Fire was at our feet. It was blazing over our heads and burning everywhere," said Lisza Pontes, 43, recounting her Sunday morning escape from a fire in San Diego County. The death toll was the state's worst since the 1991 fire in the Oakland hills of Alameda County that killed 25 and destroyed more than 3,200 homes and apartments. Many of those who died had waited until the last minute to flee, Sheriff Bill Kolender said Monday. "When you are asked to leave, do it immediately. Do not wait," he said at a news conference.

Airline travel was disrupted, major highways were blocked and some schools were closed. Monday night's pro football game between the Chargers and Dolphins was shifted from San Diego to Arizona. At least one of the fires was believed to be a result of arson. "That's an evil move. What kind of fun is that, to put so many lives in danger," said Steven Herrera, 41, of Pinecrest.

Authorities said the fierce Santa Ana wind appeared to be easing. The National Weather Service canceled wind advisories in Los Angeles and Ventura counties, and Los Angeles Fire Chief William Bamattre said fire crews were taking advantage of the change to go on the attack. However, gusts of up to 45 mph still were possible in canyons. San Diego City Fire Chief Jeff Bowman said he was concerned that three fires that incinerated 460 homes and 150,000 acres in the surrounding county would merge into a super fire. The Santa Ana wind season usually stretches from September through February, with October often the strongest. The rainy season could start any time but heavier rainfall is not likely until January.

The blazes had charred more than 400,000 acres, or 625 square miles - more than half the size of the state of Rhode Island - of dense, dry brush and trees. More than 7,000 firefighters battled the spreading flames. To the south, two deaths were blamed on forest fires near Mexico's port city of Ensenada, about 50 miles south of Tijuana, authorities said Monday. Officials said 10 houses were destroyed and 290 people were evacuated.

In San Bernardino County, a blaze called the Old Fire, which had destroyed more than 400 homes, torched 25 more when it jumped a road and moved into the heavily forested town of Crestline, fire information officer Candace Vialpando of the U.S. Forest Service said Monday. Shortly before 6 a.m. Monday, an 80,000-acre blaze in suburban Simi Valley, 35 miles northwest of Los Angeles, jumped a highway and came within yards of several homes before firefighters began to get the upper hand. Schools in the city of 110,000 people were closed Monday because of the fire, which already had destroyed six homes. Nine people had been killed by the 100,000-acre Cedar Fire in San Diego County. About 260 homes, ranging from modest to expensive, were destroyed. The San Diego County victims included two people who died inside their car as they apparently tried to escape the flames. That fire was started Saturday near the mountain town of Julian when a lost hunter set a signal fire, authorities said. The hunter may face charges.

Another fire near San Diego killed two people, authorities said. And two men collapsed and died in San Bernardino County, one while evacuating and the other while watching his home burn, the county coroner said. Around the congested suburbs of San Bernardino, a city of about 200,000 some 50 miles east of Los Angeles, one flank of a nearly 80,000-acre fire burned through four towns while the other flank destroyed more than 450 homes. Two fires - the Old Fire and the Grand Prix - had merged on Sunday, creating a flame front 35 to 40 miles long. Authorities sought two men for investigation of arson and possibly murder in connection with the San Bernardino fires. Three looters were arrested, police said.

Fire forced the evacuation of a Federal Aviation Administration control center in San Diego, disrupting air travel across the nation. Some airlines canceled flights into the region. The National Football League moved Monday night's football game between the Chargers and Miami Dolphins from Qualcomm Stadium, which is being used as an evacuation center, to Tempe, Ariz.

Thousands across Southern California were evacuated from their homes as wildfires surprised residents and ravaged suburban neighborhoods over the weekend. Hundreds of homes were destroyed and more than 300,000 acres - an area equivalent to about 470 square miles - have burned in what has become one of the area's worst wildfire seasons.

Some people were given hours to collect their belongings, others just minutes. Duke Adams was watching some late-night television at his girlfriend's parents' house in nearby Ramona, Calif., when his daughter was awakened by the noise of helicopters and the pungent smell of smoke. "I stepped outside and there were flames surrounding the whole neighborhood. It was coming at us from all different angles," Adams said. "We just started packing up as much stuff as we possibly could." Adams arrived at a Red Cross shelter early Sunday and was treated by paramedics for smoke inhalation after frantically "grabbing every picture, every memory, everything we could think of." "My face went numb, my throat hurt, my chest hurt, my legs went numb," Adams said. "I could hardly move my fingers." Adams said he didn't know if the house was intact because authorities wouldn't allow him to return.

In one of San Diego's hardest-hit neighborhoods, residents gathered on a ridge to watch their neighbors' homes burn in a canyon below. "The question at school will be, 'Is your house standing?'" said 15-year-old Amanda Hicok as she chatted with a group of friends from Scripps Ranch High School.Elizabeth Ingrum already knows the answer. "They told me my home burned down," the 16-year-old said. "I don't know where we're going to live." Ingrum, who was spending the night at a friend's home, said she knew about a dozen other classmates in the same situation. "I'm just waiting for someone to tell me my home is on fire," Hicok said.

The Scripps Ranch area, an affluent San Diego neighborhood where home prices often reach seven figures, was ravaged by one of the most destructive fires in San Diego County history. At least 150 homes in Scripps Ranch were destroyed or damaged, and San Diego fire officials said that was probably a conservative estimate. Police officers went door-to-door and gave hundreds of people 15 minutes or less to leave their homes.

About 100 miles north at San Bernardino International Airport, approximately 1,000 people slept in their cars, in tents pitched on asphalt, or on green cots inside a TWA hangar. A half-dozen teens watched a videotape of "Total Recall," starring Governor-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger, while volunteers served chicken dinners, chips and salsa and cookies. Volunteers also watched over cats, fish, howling dogs and other pets in a nearby parking lot.

In Claremont, just west of Los Angeles, firefighters taking a break from battling a huge wildfires sprung back into action when flames spreading west from San Bernardino County threatened their own station Sunday. Damage from the fire ultimately was limited to two toppled utility poles. But crews went through some tense moments as they worked to bring the fire under control. "The winds blew it faster than any of us could do anything about it," fire Inspector Roland Sprewell said. "There was literally a huge wall of flame behind the station."


Stress in any organization can result from many different things or from one really big thing. Change is often one of the major causes of stress in an organization. This may be due to re-organization, changes in personnel, changes in goals, difficulties in management, or a variety of other problems.

At one time or another, we all experience feelings of being overly involved in trying to achieve certain goals. We try real hard to accomplish something important and may have some difficulty getting our goals across to others. This often results in our attempting to accomplish it all by ourselves. Rather than delegating tasks to others (which may or may not result in task completion), we try to do it ourselves. This means that we tend to become more intense in our personal committment and spend both more time and personal involvement than may be necessary. From a management standpoint, this can alienate those who could provide needed expertise to an organization. In volunteer organizations, this is a good way to lose people and their participation.

There are certain stressors associated with changes. Some of the patterns we may experience include:

  • SENSE OF TIME URGENCY - Time urgency is a feeling of insistent demand for your time and efforts. When this exists, you are likely to feel compelled to do more and more, to produce, and to keep filling your available hours as rapidly as possible with new tasks.

  • SEEKING DEADLINES AND PRESSURE - Here you are pushed to set unnecessary and often unrealistic deadlines. Preference is shown for activities which will tend to generate the maximum pressure for you to perform.

  • SETTING POORLY DEFINED GOALS - This is characteristic of people who frequently act by throwing themselves into any available activity as soon, and as completely, as possible without evaluating the outcome or the use to be made of the goal when it is finally achieved.

  • AGGRESSION AND HOSTILITY - This occurs when your behavior becomes so intense that any person or thing gets in the way of the goal path is met with aggression and anger, simply because it is not part of the current committment.

  • "POLYPHASIC" THINKING - This is a $100 word that merely means that you tend to think (or worry) about many items at the same time and often concentrate on the incomplete tasks ahead of you rather than the tasks you are presently engaged in.
  • One or more of the above characteristics may cause you stress and/or cause you to be an ineffective manager. Consider the following statements:

  • "I have very little time for hobbies and other activities which are 'nonproductive' in nature."

  • "When I'm working, I always try to work on several jobs at the same time."

  • "I feel that most people don't get enough done simply because they don't work hard or long enough at it."

  • "If I run into a problem on the job, I generally move ahead as best I can without asking for help or guidance."

  • "It never seems like I have enough time to finish all the things I have started."

  • "When watching TV or reading, I feel nervous and guilty if I'm relaxing and not working on something productive."

  • "I often rush into a job without getting all the details about what is expected of me."

  • "I frequently need to wake up earlier or go to bed later in order to complete all the jobs I have to do."

  • "If a job is taking too long because of unexpected delays, I get upset and angry."

  • "It is my general feeling that I have taken on too many things to do and will be lucky if I can finish them all."
  • If one or more of these statements is tru for you, you may want to consider methods of reducing the stress such behaviors cause. You may need to change how you react in common situations. Let's consider three initial techniques you can use to do this:

  • SLOW DOWN AND REST - Break up the working day by setting aside specific periods for a short rest and review of activities. Decide ahead of time WHEN, Where and WHAT for each pause you intend to take. This involves a committment on your part. STICK TO IT.

  • GOAL ANALYSIS - This is the process of deciding whether specific things that you are working on are really worth the effort, or are really important as part of your life. Ask yourself: "Is the objective in this case of small importance either to me personally or to my life?"; "Is it possible to set aside this task for some period in order to concentrate on more important activities?" SET PRIORITIES.

  • ACTIVITY CONCENTRATION - Require yourself to select work activities in terms of their life significance and concentrate your efforts only on those items which are of real importance to you. The key is to try to arrange the tasks remaining after your GOAL ANALYSIS into a ladder of importance. Then concentrate your efforts on the tasks near the top instead of attempting to act on all tasks at once. DO NO "SPREAD YOURSELF TOO THIN."

  • If you decide that you want to change some of your approaches to stress, the next step to consider is setting some personal goals. The following are suggestions for making changes in the way you react to people, situations, and events:

  • Focus on living up to your own expectations. When you are tempted to push yourself harder because of a lack of confidence in your own or someone else's ability, step back and objectively appraise the job done so far. Make sure that you have not lost sight of the original goals and are not just caught up in the process of doing better.

  • The next time you find yourself spending lots of energy trying to get things done to "perfection", remember what you have read about ACTIVITY CONCENTRATION. Try to be a little more flexible in your assessment of the relative importance of various objectives.

  • Try to decrease the inappropriate feelings of obligation and responsibility you may have when you approach an objective.

  • It will help temper your driving approach to job activities if you will try to be more easygoing and less detached from the people surrounding you.
  • Accomplishments depend on the performance, interaction and cooperation of all involved. Effective organizations are not a one person operation. All members are involved. Sometimes this causes stress. Reducing stress and accomplishing the objectives may require some changes in behavior. This can benefit both you and your organization.



    To search for books on disasters and disaster mental
    health topics, leaders, leadership, orgainizations,
    crisis intervention, leaders and crises, and related
    topics and purchase them online, go to the following url:


    Toxic Turmoil: Psychological and Societal Consequences of Ecological Disasters (Plenum Series on Stress and Coping

    by Johan M. Havenaar (Editor), Julie G. Cwikel (Editor), Evelyn J. Bromet (Editor)


    Book Description

    Over the past two decades the world has witnessed an increasing number of disasters involving massive exposure of the population to radiation, chemical toxins, or other hazardous agents. The recent bombings of the World Trade Center in New York -- setting aside all other personal, economic, or geopolitical aspects encompassed by this tragic event -- is yet another unfortunate example. Besides the massive loss of life, a large segment of the population of Manhattan was willfully exposed to large clouds of dust and smoke, asbestos, and other harmful materials. As a consequence of this terrorist act, apprehension about possible further attacks, perhaps with biological or chemical weapons, will continue to hold the country in its grip for quite some time. The term `ecological disaster' is used to indicate these incidents, some minor, some catastrophic or apocalyptic. Often these accidents are followed by widespread fear of future adverse health effects. In many cases these fears are justified or partly justified for those who became exposed. However sometimes illness may occur in the absence of significant exposure to toxic substances. Concerns and worries about health tend to facilitate the appearance of medically unexplained symptoms or syndromes. This mental health component has received relatively little attention in the disaster literature. It can occur simultaneously with direct physical consequences and is not always clearly distinguishable from it. This situation appears to be particularly likely to occur in the wake of chemical and nuclear events, which are usually followed by years of disputes about facts and opinions about health effects and their relation to the disaster.

    This book presents an overview of research on the psychological and societal consequences of ecological disasters. It gives in-depth case studies on most of the major incidents that have occurred in the 1980s and 1990s. It summarizes the accumulated knowledge in this area and identifies areas of future research. It can serve as a resource for practitioners and policymakers dealing with current and future ecological calamities and may help them to define an adequate response to the complex public health challenges these incidents represent.

    Additional Readings at:

    Stress and Disaster

    Disasters and Culture

    Also try looking here for September 11, 2001: A Simple Account for Children.

    Videos on Terrorism
    Other videos about terrorism


    Contact your local Mental Health Center or
    check the yellow pages for counselors, psychologists,
    therapists, and other Mental health Professionals in
    your area for further information.

    George W. Doherty
    Rocky Mountain Region
    Disaster Mental Health Institute
    Box 786
    Laramie, WY 82073-0786


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