PTSD: Your Condition is Not Your Conclusion

By Maria Anna van Driel 

You have no clue when or how but, somehow you have slid into this odd air bubble filled with millions and millions of thoughts still, a deafening silence is what you hear when focusing on these thoughts.  Dozens of familiar and uncontrolled memories are flashing by still, somehow you do not quite recognize them. Even though you know that these thoughts and images are yours, being your past, it feels as if you hear and view someone else’s memories of which some even look as if they are written by an award-winning scriptwriter of the latest horror movie Netflix is broadcasting.

Against your better judgment, you try to get a grip on yourself but, whatever you do, your emotions and thoughts are one big mess! Where you once felt super excited you now feel numb. You are constantly alert, you lose your focus, and have trouble sleeping, “What the heck is going on, am I going nuts?!” Shame and anxiety start kicking in! “What will my surroundings think of me?  Will they think that I am batshit crazy?”

And so, you crawl into that, metaphorically speaking, ‘dark corner’, keep it all to yourself in silence because you feel that no one will ever understand what you are going through. “How do I explain this vivid effect that seems to have a tremendous impact on my thinking and behavior?” And, after a while, you retreat while trying to make sense of your emotions experiencing a bumpy roller coaster ride.

Do you recognize these, surface scraping, symptoms? If so, it might be that you, like me, are experiencing a form of Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) what, according to many psychologists, is a mental illness and can be treated by you taking a huge amount of medications after they have been categorized you and, labeled you with a grim sounding disorder.

Even though the common thought of PTSD is involving the exposure of the frightening, stressful, and overwhelming experiences like being in a serious accident, being physically assaulted, being involved in a war – either as a civilian or as part of military operations, being involved in a natural disaster, such as a bushfire, flood or cyclone, being sexually assaulted or abused, it also involves the personal experiences of, among others, military personal, police officers, fireman/woman who are working under huge pressure and in unusual situations. Stories no civilian will hear…officially.

There is no doubt that almost everyone who experiences trauma will be emotionally affected, and there are many different ways in which people will respond. For some, the effects can last for years – or longer.  Luckily most people will recover quite quickly with the help of family and friends. Meaning, the symptoms of PTSD do not always have to last forever and can be reduced even without treatment from a therapist.

There was a time when I was in a really dark place

To unpack my story so that you have an idea of who I am and, why I speak with the passion that I speak with… as many know, I am the founder and owner of two scientific magazines with which I try to make science more accessible in a fun way and for all ages.  But I wasn’t always the publisher and editor of The Next Truth.  In my early 20ths, I was an armed, un-uniformed police officer arresting the scumbags. And for the first time in a long time, I didn’t feel like a failure. I actually felt successful and worthy. I felt like I was good enough.

But, as with everything in life, things have a run-up consisting of several little moments that accumulate day after day, week after week, year after year, and, ultimately, affect your behavior, thinking, and thus decisions.  Oh, don’t get me wrong, even though I have witnessed some of the grimmest and gory moments life has to offer, joining the force wasn’t a bad decision. At least, that’s what I realize today.

So, how did I, as a sensitive and empathic kid, end up in an invisible but armed team that was focused on arresting and interrogating, among others, drug dealers, human traffickers, psychopathic killers, (potential) bombers?

To read the full article visit CPTSD Foundation

Suck it Up and Get Over it Princes!

By Maria Anna van Driel,

Let me shock you here for a brief moment! Modern psychology is in the need to restudy and understand the invisible injuries of both PTSD and CPTSD. Because that is exactly what it is…an emotional injury and not a mental illness what has to be suppressed with brain foggy creating medication in the moment one is capable of making a clear distinction between the past and the present. Not to mention this magical antidote, aka forgiveness.

Titled “Spent,” this image by Daniel Sundahl was made around 4 a.m. after a busy night as his partner sat in the ambulance after a call. The repeated exposure to traumatic situations and stress can impact the mental health of first responders. It is time to help the helpers. (Daniel Sundahl,

Say, a police officer has experienced a kidnapping. I mean, their own. He/she has been kept in prison for a certain period of time by a psychopathic criminal, being threatened, being insecure if he/she will survive the situation. Most cops will have these thoughts of ‘Shit, why didn’t I saw this coming? I have been trained for these kind of situations!’

Some therapists will say ‘Hurry, hurry, you have to forgive yourself so that you can move on’. Or what about those people who have experienced sexual abuse as a child or, during their adult years? There are therapist who say, ‘You have to start to forgive, it will give you peace’.

My personal opinion straightforward? F*ck them! If you do not want to forgive the one who has wracked your life, than that is perfectly fine. You should not be forced to do this at all.

What a therapist can do, together with their client, is working towards letting it go. I mean, for the client to start feel comfortable with the fact that it has happened and that it is okay to be angry about it…among others. It is okay not to forgive these sadistic predators…and some people never will.

There are a myriad brilliant therapists who are practicing for years already and their clients are tremendously happy with their listening ear and the treatments provided. They feel comfortable while voicing their minds, experiences and emotions to the therapist. But, unfortunately, when it comes down to 1st responders a huge amount of these therapists are missing the point…big time!

9 out of 10 known and accepted treatments many therapists are familiar with, are not even reaching the first level of PTSD and/or CPTSD 1st responders are dealing with. (regardless if they are retired or still working in the field)

Why? Straightforward, drawing a happy rainbow while bringing up mom not sticking a bandage on one’s knee after a fall on the kindergarten playground, is simply not relating to the mind-set of someone who has experienced, for instance, a shootout, called in a KIA, collected body-parts a psychopathic (serial) killer left behind or have watched a child die. (regardless recently or (…) years ago)

Read the full article on Medium.


I’m an astronomer and I think aliens may be out there – but UFO sightings aren’t persuasive

Many people who say they have seen UFOs are either dog walkers or smokers. Aaron Foster/THeImage Bank/Getty Images

Chris Impey, University of Arizona

If intelligent aliens visit the Earth, it would be one of the most profound events in human history.

Surveys show that nearly half of Americans believe that aliens have visited the Earth, either in the ancient past or recently. That percentage has been increasing. Belief in alien visitation is greater than belief that Bigfoot is a real creature, but less than belief that places can be haunted by spirits.

Scientists dismiss these beliefs as not representing real physical phenomena. They don’t deny the existence of intelligent aliens. But they set a high bar for proof that we’ve been visited by creatures from another star system. As Carl Sagan said, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”

I’m a professor of astronomy who has written extensively on the search for life in the universe. I also teach a free online class on astrobiology. Full disclosure: I have not personally seen a UFO.

Unidentified flying objects

UFO means unidentified flying object. Nothing more, nothing less.

There’s a long history of UFO sightings. Air Force studies of UFOs have been going on since the 1940s. In the United States, “ground zero” for UFOs occurred in 1947 in Roswell, New Mexico. The fact that the Roswell incident was soon explained as the crash landing of a military high-altitude balloon didn’t stem a tide of new sightings. The majority of UFOs appear to people in the United States. It’s curious that Asia and Africa have so few sightings despite their large populations, and even more surprising that the sightings stop at the Canadian and Mexican borders.

Most UFOs have mundane explanations. Over half can be attributed to meteors, fireballs and the planet Venus. Such bright objects are familiar to astronomers but are often not recognized by members of the public. Reports of visits from UFOs inexplicably peaked about six years ago.

Many people who say they have seen UFOs are either dog walkers or smokers. Why? Because they’re outside the most. Sightings concentrate in evening hours, particularly on Fridays, when many people are relaxing with one or more drinks.

A few people, like former NASA employee James Oberg, have the fortitude to track down and find conventional explanations for decades of UFO sightings. Most astronomers find the hypothesis of alien visits implausible, so they concentrate their energy on the exciting scientific search for life beyond the Earth. Most UFO sightings have been in the United States.

Are we alone?

While UFOs continue to swirl in the popular culture, scientists are trying to answer the big question that is raised by UFOs: Are we alone?

Astronomers have discovered over 4,000 exoplanets, or planets orbiting other stars, a number that doubles every two years. Some of these exoplanets are considered habitable, since they are close to the Earth’s mass and at the right distance from their stars to have water on their surfaces. The nearest of these habitable planets are less than 20 light years away, in our cosmic “back yard.” Extrapolating from these results leads to a projection of 300 million habitable worlds in our galaxy. Each of these Earth-like planets is a potential biological experiment, and there have been billions of years since they formed for life to develop and for intelligence and technology to emerge.

Astronomers are very confident there is life beyond the Earth. As astronomer and ace exoplanet-hunter Geoff Marcy, puts it, “The universe is apparently bulging at the seams with the ingredients of biology.” There are many steps in the progression from Earths with suitable conditions for life to intelligent aliens hopping from star to star. Astronomers use the Drake Equation to estimate the number of technological alien civilizations in our galaxy. There are many uncertainties in the Drake Equation, but interpreting it in the light of recent exoplanet discoveries makes it very unlikely that we are the only, or the first, advanced civilization.

This confidence has fueled an active search for intelligent life, which has been unsuccessful so far. So researchers have recast the question “Are we alone?” to “Where are they?”

The absence of evidence for intelligent aliens is called the Fermi Paradox. Even if intelligent aliens do exist, there are a number of reasons why we might not have found them and they might not have found us. Scientists do not discount the idea of aliens. But they aren’t convinced by the evidence to date because it is unreliable, or because there are so many other more mundane explanations.

Modern myth and religion

UFOs are part of the landscape of conspiracy theories, including accounts of abduction by aliens and crop circles created by aliens. I remain skeptical that intelligent beings with vastly superior technology would travel trillion of miles just to press down our wheat.

It’s useful to consider UFOs as a cultural phenomenon. Diana Pasulka, a professor at the University of North Carolina, notes that myths and religions are both means for dealing with unimaginable experiences. To my mind, UFOs have become a kind of new American religion.

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So no, I don’t think belief in UFOs is crazy, because some flying objects are unidentified, and the existence of intelligent aliens is scientifically plausible.

But a study of young adults did find that UFO belief is associated with schizotypal personality, a tendency toward social anxiety, paranoid ideas and transient psychosis. If you believe in UFOs, you might look at what other unconventional beliefs you have.

I’m not signing on to the UFO “religion,” so call me an agnostic. I recall the aphorism popularized by Carl Sagan, “It pays to keep an open mind, but not so open your brains fall out.”

Chris Impey, University Distinguished Professor of Astronomy, University of Arizona

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.


Gay conversion therapy: proposed ban is a positive step but the battle remains to be won

There’s nothing broken that needs to be fixed. Fotosr52/

Stella Coyle, Keele University

Conversion therapy – sometimes known as “reparative therapy” or “gay cure therapy” – claims to alter a person’s sexual orientation from gay to straight. The practice is based on the mistaken idea that gay people suffer a traumatic experience early in life that has damages them and that homosexuality is a “reparative drive” to overcome this early trauma.

In the UK, practitioners are legally allowed to promote and provide conversion therapy. But, hopefully, not for much longer. The UK government has announced plans to ban conversion therapy as part of its LGBT action plan.

Attempts to “cure” homosexuality were not always couched in the language of therapy. In the early 20th century, medical professionals believed that homosexuality was a birth defect. One “treatment” involved replacing a testicle of a homosexual man with one from a heterosexual man. Later methods included lobotomies and chemical castration – a method used on Alan Turing, the Enigma codebreaker.

Homosexuality later came to be seen as a condition that could be “treated” psychologically – although this doesn’t mean that the methods used were any more humane.

In the 1950s and 60s, when homosexuality was still illegal in the UK, the NHS routinely used aversion therapy on men convicted of homosexuality in an attempt to turn them straight. If they volunteered for this treatment, they could avoid a prison sentence. Volunteers – if they can be called that – were shown pictures of naked men and given either electric shocks or drugs that induced vomiting. The aim was to make them respond negatively to their homosexuality and thus to be “cured”.

Not a psychiatric condition

Homosexuality was removed from the American Psychiatric Association’s diagnostic manual in 1987 and from the World Health Organisation’s classification of mental disorders in 1992. Progress in this area has been slow.

In 2015, a memorandum of understanding stating that conversion therapy is unethical and potentially harmful was signed by representatives from the NHS, the Royal College of Psychiatrists and the major counselling and psychotherapy organisations in the UK.

Being gay is not a disease and there is no sound evidence that sexual orientation can be changed by “conversion therapy”. Also, “treating” homosexuality sustains the prejudice and discrimination that gay people already face in society.

Gay people who seek to change their sexuality do so because of internalised homophobia and because of the dangers and pressures arising from this external prejudice and discrimination. An example of the potential harm is seen in a 2002 study
of 202 men, which found that the practice had led 34 of them to attempt suicide either during or after “conversion therapy”.

Co-opting the language of sexual fluidity

These days “conversion therapy” is generally advocated by religious groups, such the Core Issues Trust, a UK organisation that “works with people who seek to change from a ‘gay’ lifestyle to a gender-affirming one”.

In common with National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality in the US (an organisation that advocates the use of conversion therapy in the US), the Core Issues Trust advocates for the right of people to have access to this service if they want it. They use the language of rights, autonomy and client choice, arguing that a ban would deny them a “human right to treatment intended to help them shape their lives as they wish”.

They have also co-opted the language of sexual fluidity as justification for their assertion that the practice works. This misunderstands what is meant by sexual fluidity.

People are born with both a sexual orientation and a degree of sexual flexibility that varies from person to person. Some people are fixedly gay or straight, but others are more fluid and can experience attractions that run outside of their general sexual orientation. Sexual fluidity is the capacity to experience sexual attraction that runs counter to your orientation.

There is now mounting evidence that gay people are born gay, as a clear link has been found between sexual orientation – at least in men – with two regions of the human genome.

Which way now?

After years of campaigning and legal pressure, the UK government is finally going to follow the example of some other European countries and states in Canada, Australia and the US, and ban the practice of “conversion therapy”. It will be interesting to see how the debate develops as the legislation proceeds through parliament.

The NHS and the major psychiatric, counselling and psychotherapy organisations are already opposed to the practice. But if the counselling profession remains unregulated – meaning anyone, including religious groups and individuals, can offer “counselling” – how will the ban be enforced? The battle is not yet won.

Stella Coyle, Teaching Fellow in Law, Keele University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.


The Legend of ‘Lapis Philosophorum’ aka the Philosopher Stone

By Maria Anna van Driel,

The Philosopher’s Stone has intrigued scientists for centuries and even to this day remains a mystery.

The concept of being able to turn metals into gold attracted the attention of many who saw the legend of the stone as a chance to make a fortune. And so, many of the world’s brilliant minds searched for the Philosopher’s Stone over the centuries including Robert Boyle who is considered the father of modern day chemistry.

There are many descriptions of the stones appearance. The most well-known being a red stone but it was also referred to as an orange stone. When the stone is in its solid form it often appears as a transparent and glass-like object in the shape of an egg. But there are many sources that believe the Philosopher’s Stone may not have even been a stone at all.

When searching for the stone, alchemists examined countless substances what has build the base knowledge for fields we know today as chemistry and pharmacology.

When discussing the philosopher’s stone the one name you will not miss is Nicolas Flamel. Flamel was a French scribe and manuscript-seller who lived in Paris during the 14th and 15th century and, in 1382, claimed to have transformed lead into gold after decoding an ancient book of alchemy. We most likely will never know if this was true. However the historical record show that Flamel did come into considerable wealth around the time he made his claim but donated all of his riches to charity.

The medieval kitchen of alchemy aka ‘Physical chemistry’

The commencement of deciphering this ‘key’ is the dismembering of the word ALCHEMY; Al-Khemet means ‘From Egypt’, Khemet means ‘Black’, Khem means ‘chem’ or ‘chemical’

Later in history this ancient Egyptian word Al-Khemet has been translated into ‘the black art through Alchemy’ a term many might know today as the medieval and dangerous ‘black magic’. Even it is being thought by some that a Pagan mystery as such is spawned by the devil’s hand, less is true in this legend of the stone of the ancients.

Click here to read the full article via


Brave Young Women Who are Changing the World With Ones and Zeros

There is a problem in the world and that is… the bravery deficit and it leads to an unequal representation of women and men in STEM and STE(A)M fields.

Listen to the interview of Mrs. Schindler-Kota via You Tube (see below) or, click the ‘PLAY-button’ in ‘THE NEXT TRUTH…ONLINE RADIO’ on the right and listen to her Podcast via the TNT website.

I believe this battle of this ‘stereo-typing’ is a solvable problem but solving this thorny issue requires the efforts of many mentors (including parents) of empowering more young women to get involved in STEM subjects…not only because a balanced number of male and female scientists is providing scientific problems and questions to be viewed from several different angles also because that is one of the fastest areas in which young woman can gain economic independence.

I am of the opinion that it is time for us mentors to take that step forward into the world and voice our thoughts and experiences for young people to realize that this narrow vision of boys being better in any scientific field then girls, is no fact at all.  

I am your host Maria Anna van Driel and you are listening to “The Next Truth; Where Science and Myth Meet”.  This week I am speaking with the Marketing Content Manager of CoderZ, an innovative online learning environment where kids learn how to program real and virtual robots using a 3D robotics simulation, Ashlynn Schindler-Kota, who is a driven leader with experience in education administration, grants management and an Expert in STEM Education.


Young People Science Sept/Oct 2021

The Next Truth is experiencing a, via MagCloud, minor upload problem therefore, feel free to download your free copy of “Young People Science” via

There is a problem in the world and that is… the bravery deficit and it leads to an unequal representation of women and men in STEM and STE(A)M fields.

This battle of this ‘stereo-typing’ is a solvable problem but solving this thorny issue requires the efforts of many mentors (including parents) of empowering more young women to get involved in STEM subjects…not only because a balanced number of male and female scientists is providing scientific problems and questions to be viewed from several different angles also because that is one of the fastest areas in which young woman can gain economic independence.

I am of the opinion that it is time for us mentors to take that step forward into the world and voice our thoughts and experiences for young people to realize that this narrow vision of boys being better in any scientific field then girls, is no fact at all.  

Download your free copy of “The Next Truth” via


Panspermia; Can it Explain the Origin of Life on Earth? — are ‘we’ the aliens we are looking for?

By Maria Anna van Driel

How life originated on Earth is a question that we have pondered over for decades already.

Intriguing Theories and questions like could we be Martians, is a flippant way of asking, are planets isolated islands or can they transfer life? In other words, could life have been transferred from, for instance, Mars to Earth in meteorites? If so, how did these alien bacteria altered life on Earth?

Click here to read the full article via the website of Medium. Photo credit: The Next Truth

By asking questions as such, a variety in scientific theories has pilled-up over time as well as it has reached the realm of many science fiction movies. Nowadays we know that life can survive in space, travel through the Mesosphere (housing meteors and rock fragments) and eventually can enter the Troposphere where it is free to both merge with any biological life form and hitchhiking on any non-biological object that is present on Earth.

But, even though we are trying to solve this mind dazzling puzzle with, among others, modern devices, this question if life can be transferred from one planet to another in such a simple, natural manner, is just an extension of old questions whereby one plausible answer hovers on the border of being science-fiction; the ‘Panspermia Theory’.

Panspermia…does this theory speak of blood thirsty aliens from deep space looking like giant cockroaches trying to merge with the human species? Are they sending killer viruses from a neighbor galaxy in order to establish an invasion of slimy worms slithering the Earth’s surface searching for the most perfect host, which might be YOU?

Okay, relax, it does not, but you catch my drift … right? Life on Earth being supported by life-forms (e.g. bacteria) having an extraterrestrial origin, may not be such a farfetched idea after all. But, before you get all excited and dust off your time machine, break out your favorite third-sided dimensional reality and start collecting moon rocks to find out if it is containing life, let me explain this theory.

Click here to read the full article via the website of Medium


We Are Made of Coded Qu-whatum Stuff?!

By Maria Anna van Driel

Have you ever had this experience? You are having a chat with someone and they are telling you something about a topic they are very interested in or, they know a huge amount about, and it seems that you are following along with ease.  Then, out of the blue, you realize you kind of lost the thread of what they are saying. You are just standing there, lost in time, realizing that you have absolutely no clue what they are talking about.

Click here to read the full article via

I’m a science journalist, editor, magazine owner and radio host who is working, since 2014, with scientists and citizen scientists who are covering a myriad scientific areas. And so, I have been on both sides of this kind of interaction. I have both been the one explaining very complicated material to people and, I have been on the receiving end of lots of very intense scientific discussions.

And, every now and then, this kind of breakdown in communication happens. During these moments, I have noticed something interesting, which is that, when a people stopped understanding, they feel slightly guilty about not following the stuff that is fired at them.  But, if you think about it, this is completely silly. It is the wrong way around because at that point in time, there is literally nothing you can do to understand it better.  

No, it is not that people, who are on the receiving end of the conversation, are not able to look over the edge of a sandbox because they lack the educational background knowledge, it is because they are constantly tripping over the complex and technical terms  that are so liberally strewn about during explaining scientific research.

Sure, I have experience many moments in where I had to interrupt a scientist because I could not follow him/her anymore. But I found that the only way to…um, well, ‘survive’ the complexity given was having the courage to politely stop the person who was explaining, say, “I’m sorry, I don’t understand what you are saying,” and then go back and start off from where I had lost the thread.

And, yes, it does take a bit of courage to do this because you are, sort of, admitting that you don’t know the subject matter.

But this all perfectly fine, in fact, my fears were completely unwarranted. Generally, people respect you if you care about knowing the right information and willing to understanding the topic properly.  So, I am of the opinion that we should never feel bad about not knowing something and, we should never feel bad about asking questions. And, one of these questions is, “What is quantum physics?”

So, let’s briefly explore this amazing scientific field what is, among others, researching those wacky particles which are bouncy and wobbly at the same time.

Click here to read the full article via


The Next Truth Newsletter, August 2021

First of all, please, feel free to download the interactive TNT-Newsletter of August 2021 from or, from my LinkedIn profile and share the PDF with family, friends, colleagues and students.

Secondly, I would like to take this opportunity to express my relativistic charged enthusiasm again concerning a second STE(A)M article of mine being accepted and published on the website of Coderz… “Should we take a second look at how we teach today?”(Part I of III)

I know, I know…after reading it you might experience an uncomfortable, perhaps eerie,  moment for some stepping out this stuffy and cramped tunnel and becoming more transparent but, showing young people how your creative – out-of-the-box – thinking has lead you in solving the problems you encountered during your research, is of most importance. Why? Because, and perhaps you might remember this from your own study time, most young people are immensely overwhelmed by the scope of their future they desperately want with no concept of where to begin. In this they need you, your expertise, experiences and enthusiasm as a role model!

For my other blog articles in where I discuss how, among others, science is not limiting itself to grids, formulas and PowerPoint presentations, please visit:

Science is Boring, Creativity is Stupid!…uh-whaaauh? (Part II of II)
“Science” isn’t a stable or single idea”