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The Charleston Shooting and the Psychology of Hate, Looking Forward to Getting Older – In Case

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In this week’s In Case You Missed It (our roundup of articles touching on psychology, health, mental health and social justice issues from multiple news and commentary websites), we cover the Charleston shooting, the growing number of Latinos graduating with STEM degrees, and why we should all look forward to getting older.

The nation is still reeling from the hateful and racist actions of Dylann Roof, a 21-year old gunman who shot to death 9 African American members of the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC at their bible study class on June 17. As the country grapples with making sense of his violent acts, CNN interviewed Dr. Erik Fisher, a psychologist, on what contributes to the “psychology of hate.”

“What I always teach people about hate is that there are seven protective emotions that we experience, which are anger, rage, arrogance, flippancy, defiance, sarcasm, and hatred. These always protect something inside that feels weak or vulnerable…and clearly from the things that he [the shooter] stated, he felt threatened by the African American culture” Dr. Fisher said.

And what is the way forward in confronting the psychology of hate amongst ourselves?

“My hope is that we begin to see what feeds hate. In order for us to fully see these issues, we have to open up discussions, we have to walk across party lines, racial lines, and religious lines…This is something endemic not just to our culture, but this is really an international discussion that we have to begin to have as human beings who often don’t want to understand themselves let alone each other” he added.

For more on ways to overcome prejudice and promote diversity, check out our Dual Pathways to a Better America report.

In the aftermath of the Charleston shooting, WebMD conducted a Q&A with Jamie Howard, PhD, a clinical psychologist who studies trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder at the Child Mind Institute, and John Dovidio, PhD, a professor of psychology at Yale University who specializes in social psychology, prejudice and discrimination, racism and stereotyping. The Q&A addresses a range of topics including the potential psychological state of Dylann Roof, making sense of this type of violence, healing from these types of traumatic events, and explaining Roof’s actions to our children.

More Latinos are now graduating with postsecondary degrees in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), but they remain significantly underrepresented in the total number of STEM credentials earned. A new report released on June 17 by Excelencia in Education found that Latinos earned more STEM credentials across all academic levels—including associate, bachelor and graduate degrees—over the last few years. However, only 9 percent of STEM degrees and certificates went to Latinos in 2013. The report lists the top 25 colleges and universities that are graduating Latinos in STEM. APA has been long committed to increasing the recruitment and retention of ethnic minorities within the field of psychological science – not only to correct current underrepresentation, but also to assure greater multicultural competence among all psychologists.

A common misconception is that as people age they become unhappy, but psychologist Laura Carstensen begs to differ. Years ago, Carstensen and her colleagues began a study where they followed a group of people over a 10-year period. They focused on the emotional experiences of participants as they aged, discovering that emotion improves with age. Carstensen explains that the older a person is, the less stressed and more content they become. Older people have realized that their biological clock is running out; therefore, they become more appreciative, invest in more emotionally important parts of their lives, and discover that life gets better if they live every moment to the fullest. Learn more with these 10 tips for positive aging.

What do you think of these stories? What did we leave out?

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