Argosy University Blog

Northern Virginia’s Brian Sharpless’ Exploding Head Syndrome Study Covered in Guardian Story

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Professor Brian Sharpless, instructor, the American School of Professional Psychology at Argosy University | Northern Virginia, was recently mentioned by the Guardian as a world expert in the study of Exploding Head Syndrome.

The article’s authors—Christopher French, Alice M. Gregory, and Dan Denis—include a call to action for people who have experienced Exploding Head Syndrome (EHS) to contact them. “We are hoping to carry out a large-scale survey of EHS. We’re also interested in the equally intriguing phenomenon of sleep paralysis, which involves a temporary period of paralysis occurring between sleep and wakefulness.”

According to the article, EHS sounds can include explosions and other types of loud noise including gunshots, fireworks, thunder, doors slamming, clapping, shouting, and the clash of cymbals.

Results from the survey will be published in scientific journals, presented at conferences and publicized via the media, according to the authors. “In this way, we hope to make progress in learning more about the nature of such sleep-related anomalies. Just as importantly we want to help to reassure those who suffer from them that, although such episodes may be terrifying, they are essentially harmless.”

Read the full article here:

https://www.theguardian.com/science/blog/2017/oct/31/what-is-exploding-head-syndrome

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For Argosy University Graduate Kareema Fletcher Lewis, A Second Chance is All She Needed

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Kareema Fletcher Lewis knows just how powerful the kindness of strangers can be.

Back in 2012, Lewis—then a single mother with four children, including two with special needs—was facing challenges that would have broken the spirit of someone less resilient.

Lewis had completed her associate’s degree when her oldest son was in eighth grade, and she was determined to earn her bachelor’s degree in psychology before he graduated high school. When she enrolled at Argosy University in Atlanta to study psychology two years earlier, she was the first in her family ever to attend college. But with one daughter in remission from leukemia and a newborn with Down’s Syndrome, the obstacles were overwhelming.

“It became more than I could handle,” remembers Lewis, now 35. “I had four kids under the age of 12, including one daughter with serious medical issues and another with special needs. I failed one of my classes because I had no time to study, and I was under incredible financial pressure. Even though I was only eight classes away from graduation, something had to give—and that something was my education.”

While she knew she made the right decision under the circumstances, it was one Lewis often regretted. Three years later, in 2015, she was feeling frustrated and defeated. She was working at a community services center that provided second chances to people recovering from addiction, but she felt like her own life and career had come to a standstill.

“I was passed up for jobs because I didn’t have the educational background they required,” she explains. “I knew I needed to complete my degree in order to create the career and life I wanted for my children, but I just couldn’t see how I could make it work.”

Lewis decided it was time to try creating a second chance for herself. She picked up the phone and made a call that would change her life.

“I decided to call Argosy University Online, explain my situation, and see if anyone could or would help me,” she recalls. “I connected with an admissions representative named Richard Gerhardt. After I explained my situation, he said he’d call me back in an hour—and he did! He went so far above and beyond what he needed to do. He found a scholarship I was eligible for. He showed me how to utilize prior learning assessment in some of my classes. He connected me with John Barley, a finance counselor at Argosy who helped me apply for student loans and created a payment plan that I could manage. The encouragement and kindness Richard and John showed me gave me hope at a time when hope was hard to find.”

Her decision to return to college reaped immediate rewards. Soon after showing her employer proof that she had returned to college, she received a promotion. Eight classes later—on December 3, 2016—Lewis graduated with her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology, with a concentration in Criminal Justice. It was also a big day for two other reasons. Earlier that day, she spoke by phone with her father, whom she’d never met. Later that night, her boyfriend proposed marriage.

With all of the good things happening in her busy life, Lewis was ready to exhale and slow down. But when Richard Gerhardt encouraged her to consider pursuing her master’s degree, she listened.

“At first, I just laughed,” Lewis recalls. “I had already accomplished more than I imagined was possible. But the more we talked, the more seriously I considered it. He pointed out that I’d already developed a routine, a structure and study habits that worked for me. When he showed me how I could earn my master’s degree in 13 months, I decided to go for it.”

Now just four classes away from her completing her Master of Science in Human Services, Lewis is on track to graduate in December.

“It’s amazing how the kindness of strangers can change a person’s life forever,” says Lewis, who recently started a new job as a Child Protective Officer with the Georgia Department of Family and Children’s Services. “When I called Argosy, I never expected that the person who answered would become such a powerful influence in my life. Even though I’ve never met Richard in person, I feel like he’s a friend. Every step of the way, Richard, John and so many others at Argosy have been there for me. I did the work, but they helped me believe. I’m hoping I can meet them one day to give them a hug and to say thank you in person.”

Lewis is certain that without their support, her life would have been very different.

“It hasn’t always been easy,” she says, “but it’s absolutely been worth it. The process of earning my two degrees has allowed me to be a role model to my children, to show them anything is possible. That means the world to me. I love knowing that my kids are as proud of me as I am of myself.” ###

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Get Educated on Suicide Prevention and Current Trends

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Written by Wayne Rosenfield, PhD | Argosy University, Sarasota Professor

I was at work in a hospital emergency department in Connecticut, when the news on television was that Robin Williams was dead. I call him Robin, because his sensitive character portrayals made him seem so familiar; a friend to whom I could easily relate. More details entered the discussion in the coming days. I don’t recall how or when I became aware that Robin had died intentionally. I felt loss and I felt sad for myself. Very quickly, though, I realized the depth of despair and hopelessness that Robin must have experienced. Some of the other professional emergency staff mentioned Robin to me, if just to join me in our shared grief. They seemed to hope that the emergency psychologist would be able to make sense out of the mix of feelings. “If we could have gotten him in here,” I would say, “maybe we would have saved him.” “Yeah,” they would say with a distant gaze, before returning to the people currently in our care.

Suicide is a multiple tragedy. The survivors suffer, just as many of us felt the loss of Robin. The first time I attended a funeral for a suicide, a speaker ostensibly standing to deliver her brother’s eulogy, asked us to please not be angry with him. As one of the survivors I had a mix of feelings, but I certainly was not angry. I was aware that the person who completes a suicide has experienced unbearable emotions, and utter hopelessness. According to the latest statistics published by the American Association on Suicidology, more than 120 Americans reach this point and complete a suicide every day. Many suicides can be prevented if the signs are recognized and if we are able to intervene.

The good news is that mental health interventions can be very effective in preventing suicide. We would want to convey the message that suicide is a permanent solution for what may be only temporary problems. Also helpful is the knowledge that talking about suicide with someone at risk, and even asking that person directly about his or her intentions, are not themselves causes of suicide. We need to shine a bright light on suicide, and convey the information that people care, and that the professionals can help. The first part of this bright light is a willingness to talk to people about whom we are concerned. Nothing is gained and there is much to lose by ignoring talk of suicide.

Most often, a professional assessment finds the suicide risk to be low and the risk factors to be manageable. One teenager whose friend became worried about her and told the adults, engaged quite easily with me – in the emergency department in the middle of the night – and was finally laughing about how much she had overreacted to a social sleight. She went home with her Mom. Yet on another occasion, I left a patient’s bedside thinking, “Whew! That was a close one.”

Occasional suicidal thinking is not necessarily an emergency. But neither should it be ignored. Many mental health professionals have formal training in suicide risk assessment. And there are crisis lines where a trained person is available to talk to a distressed person, and to make an initial assessment.

There are people who want to help.

Let’s not have the tragedy of suicide any more.


Author Bio

Dr. Wayne Rosenfield worked for many years in Connecticut to develop and implement inpatient treatment programs for persons with chronic and debilitating mental disorders. His interest in addressing the most intense problems led him to disaster mental health deployments with the Red Cross following the 2001 terrorist attacks, and then to crisis work in hospital emergency departments. He was again with the Red Cross in Newtown the day after the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Engaged with Connecticut’s response to Sandy Hook he was part of a statewide initiative to treat trauma in children. Having relocated to Florida, he is part of a research team examining a novel treatment for combat PTSD, and he performs psychological assessments for a group practice. He is a frequent speaker in the US and internationally on the subject of rare diseases. He is a professor in the Argosy University School Psychology program in Sarasota. His highly rated book, Great Necessities, is available on Amazon.com. 

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