Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Stress of Arrest

We all know that stress kills. In 1967 two psychiatrists, Drs’ Holmes and Rahe came up with the Stress Scale. They studied 5,000 people, and proved a causal link between specific stressful events, and a person’s overall health. They assigned (quantified) different numbers of "Life Change Units" to things like divorce, job change, and the death of a loved one to figure an estimate of how likely that person would experience ill health in the coming year. They were way ahead of their time. These days we take for granted, words like holistic, and approaches to understanding human ills based upon internal (mental) issues.

But the doctors left a few life events off their scale. They didn’t calculate the effects of an arrest, and pending criminal charges.  I often wonder how they would fair (or figure) in terms of the stress scale? In some respects the mind has greater difficulty with the “pending” element. Nothing is more stressful to me then the hanging in the balance. Oh the dread of waiting, the expectation of punishment, and the stagnant air of uncertainty.

I believe from dealing with hundreds of clients that the stress of any litigation (legal proceedings) is enormous. Clients have reported to me that they are unable to eat, sleep, think, study, and work while their matters are pending. I think that being aware of this potential stress can allow you to prepare for it.

1. Keep your problems in perspective. Your attorney should place them on the spectrum of black and white. Your case is usually a shade of grey.

2. Think about what you are facing in it’s totality. Do not negate any parts of it. Don't minimize it. Confront it early, and create a game plan for dealing with all of it. It is best to look at all of it not some of it. The mind (psyche) doesn't play that game too well. Anything left hanging sits in the recesses of your consciousness.

3. Purposely adopt healthy practices during this time. Exercise, eat well, drink water, and practice any form of self-care. This may be a perfect opportunity to turn a corner.

4. Communicate with your attorney, any and all fears, any questions, any concerns, and get as much certainty about your situation as is possible. Remember that Uncertainty (much like the unknown) is the real killer. The more you know the more empowered you will feel in the most stressful situation.

Dr. Lawrence A. Newman, D.C., Esq.