Children should be allowed to imagine to overcome their traumas!

Prof. Nevzat Tarhan met with teacher candidates in Istanbul within the scope of “Future’s Teacher Academy Trainings'. Emphasizing that the traumatic effects of natural disasters such as earthquakes and floods may continue for a while, Tarhan said that teachers have important duties in overcoming this process. Stating the importance of giving a sense of hope to children and young people in this period, Tarhan said that the imaginations of children coming from the earthquake region should be kept alive. Tarhan said, "Let them talk, let them dream and live in a climate of possibility. Let them discover themselves, the future, and let them dream. Let's give them the opportunity to write, draw and to talk. This way we help them overcome the trauma.".

Prof. Nevzat Tarhan: "A sense of hope is effective in coping with trauma"

President of Üsküdar University, Psychiatrist Prof. Nevzat Tarhan was the guest of the ‘Future’s Teacher Academy Trainings' organized by the Istanbul Provincial Directorate of National Education. Tarhan, who met with teacher candidates in Istanbul, made an assessment about traumas and the effects of traumas on the development of the child under the title of "Different Perspective on Earthquake Trauma".

Childhood traumas disrupt the system in the brain

Noting that traumatic events experienced during childhood adversely affect the development of the child, Prof. Nevzat Tarhan said, "Trauma in human beings is childhood trauma. When a child is playing, a dog comes and they are afraid of the dog, and then the child loss their tongue. When such a thing happened in our student years, when it was said that the child was afraid of the dog and then stuttered, our teachers would say that these were urban legends and that there was no scientific counterpart. However, now it turns out that when that child experiences a sudden shock or fear, the neural circuit in the brain explodes. The connection between the word-producing region of the brain and the brain region that gives meaning to the word is broken. The child produces words but cannot express them and gets stuck. You reteach them, you create a new network, so that is what trauma is like. When there is an excessive shock in the brain, it shorts and disrupts the network in the brain. Traumas can have a lasting effect on the developing soul of the person and affect their future life.".

We will prepare for the winter, but we will wait for the summer

Prof. Nevzat Tarhan stated that the latest earthquake caused a social trauma in the program held in the Prof. Dr. Mümtaz Turhan Social Sciences High School conference hall and said, "This earthquake is also a social trauma. The traumas, dangers and crises experienced have two dimensions; threat and opportunity dimension. The threat dimension is always discussed, however, there is also the opportunity dimension. There is a pain, however, in the medium and long term, and if a correct position is taken, it turns into a gain. This is the same with all life events. Quantum scientists are studying this. In fact, a mistake is part of perfection, part of goodness. Therefore, human beings cannot develop without evil, diseases and accidents. Thus, instead of complaining, it is necessary to think about how to turn this into an opportunity and how to overcome this with a gain. We call these developing traumas. In post-traumatic growth, the person evaluates as follows: ‘Now I have started to treat my relatives better, I have started to give more importance to spiritual values, I have started to appreciate the things I have more’. We will think about the threat dimension of the trauma, we will take precautions, however, we need to go back to our normal lives and proceed by considering the opportunity dimension. We will prepare for the winter but we will wait for the summer, otherwise our mental health will be disrupted.".

Stating that it is important to take precautions to overcome the fear of earthquakes, Prof. Nevzat Tarhan said, "We cannot live with the constant fear of earthquakes like living in the same room with a snake. You will take precautions against it in the short, medium, long term. Then, we will get our life back to normal, mentally, we will do it. We need to change our importance and priorities quickly. We will return to our daily routine, but we will definitely take precautions related to the earthquake.".

The behavior language of teachers is very important

Highlighting the importance of the attitudes of parents and teachers in dealing with children's concerns about the earthquake, Prof. Nevzat Tarhan said, "The child takes the mother and father as example, and they observe teacher in the classroom. If the teacher evaluates this event in a healthy way and lives in a healthy way, the child is relieved. Therefore, the behavior language is more effective. The behavioral language of educators is also very important here. Especially in children coming from the earthquake region, when the subject of the earthquake is raised, if the child asks questions, it is necessary to listen. Let the child express themselves and share their feelings. It is useful for guidance departments in schools to follow up with students especially in this regard. The teacher's leadership in the classroom is also very important.".

Children and young people must be given hope

Expressing that children and young people should be given a sense of hope in this period, Prof. Nevzat Tarhan said, "The most important thing is not to cause despair to young people. The moment a person falls into despair, the brain becomes resentful. When you fall into despair, there is no recovery. We see this in patients, as well. If one has lost their expectation and sense of hope for recovery, we say that the patient has pulled the plug. If there is an expectation and a sense of hope for recovery, the brain helps. Therefore, it is necessary to keep the sense of hope alive to activate the brain in both children and young people.".

They must dream to overcome the trauma of an earthquake

Underlining the importance of supporting children coming from the earthquake region to keep their imagination alive, Tarhan said, "Let them talk, dream and live in a climate of possibility. Let them discover themselves in that climate, discover the future, use their imagination. Let's give them the opportunity to write and draw in their speeches. Let them write games about the earthquake, write stories, make a scenario of what they experience about the earthquake according to their age status, and in this way, we help them overcome the trauma. Even the talents of children from that area can be manifested. They can paint or express themselves in the field of literature.".

Stating that we should not fall into pessimism as a society, Tarhan said that the young generation willingly participated in these studies in sending aid to the earthquake region especially in the first days of the earthquake.

Social support is important in overcoming traumas

Stating that social support is also important in overcoming traumas, Prof. Nevzat Tarhan said, "Since our social support is excellent, there is no mental health deterioration in the form of explosions at the moment. The biggest reason for this is that as a society, we have managed to make them feel that they are not alone. The state has taken and is still taking steps to make up for it in earnest. Due to such developments, a trust was formed in people. It is very important to maintain that trust in people. This reduces mental health problems.".

Uncertainty stresses you out

Prof. Nevzat Tarhan stated that the thing that stresses people the most is uncertainty, "Uncertainty is more dangerous than bad luck. If a person knows that there is a cliff ahead, that person will take precautions. Living without knowing what is going to happen at every moment is a much bigger source of stress. For this reason, human feels the need to eliminate uncertainty and put it into a logical framework. This is also a trauma solution. If you can take the unresolved trauma and put it into a logical framework and solve it, you forgive it if you can forgive, you accept it if you cannot forgive, and you realize that you cannot afford to change it. That's how you define it, you put it on the shelf, and you go about your life as normal.".

We must think in a process-oriented way, not result-oriented

Prof. Nevzat Tarhan, who stated that process-oriented rather than result-oriented thinking should be done in dealing with anxiety, said, "We say to young people, think process-oriented, not result-oriented. Anatolian wisdom is very beautiful in this regard. Our ancestors said, ‘how ambition in education, but be content with outcome.' Accept whatever came out at harvest time, however, you will work at that time. When you are going to produce, work hard and show ambition. That's how it should be. In cases where we cannot afford it, we will accept and use the method of governing.”.

The wound should not be scratched, otherwise it will not heal!

Addressing to what can be done to cope with trauma, Prof. Nevzat Tarhan recommended that especially continuous earthquake news should not be followed and that this should be limited during the day. Tarhan said, "When we listen to the same things again except the times when we need them, it has the effect of scratching the wound. Thus, it feels good at that moment, however, it keeps the wound fresh. What happens if you scratch the wound, the wound does not heal. If you constantly scratch that trauma in your brain in the same way, the trauma will continue. We apply the method of changing the focus of attention. Change the focus of attention, change the center of attention. When the person changes the focus of attention, after a while, the brain gradually minimizes that trauma. You can lead your normal life.".

Noting that the effects of trauma should decrease after eight weeks, Prof. Nevzat Tarhan said that if the effects continue, the specialist should be consulted.

Üsküdar News Agency (ÜNA)