We caught up with Vasa, a psychiatrist in Newport Beach, Calif., and the author of the new children's book Saying Thank You, by phone a day after the shootings in San Bernardino. "It's a bit of a hard day out here. I have heard from a few that struggle every day with anxiety, but this type of event contributes to people's fears,'' she said. "It has to do with that feeling of being out of control and that sense of safety, so they are reaching out for more support.'' Vasa, the mother of two children, 9 and 7, received her undergraduate degree from Northwestern University and attended medical school at University of Illinois at Chicago. She completed her psychiatry residency and addiction psychiatry fellowship at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. Vasa hopes her writing will help parents in the quest to "... cultivate gratitude, mindfulness and compassion'' in their kids.
What's on your nightstand?
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. It's fantastic, and I have Rising Strong by Brené Brown. They are an intersection of mental health and a creative life. Although I can write, it's hard to put myself out into the world, and so reading books by other authors on how they manage it is very helpful to me.
Do you think these would appeal to both men and women?
I think our challenges, our fears and vulnerability over putting ourselves out there, is found in both men and women, but as far as some men being likely to pick up and read these books, I just don't know. They might have other ways to address the issues outside of reading.
Is there a particular author that speaks on creativity and facing your fears that might appeal to that male audience?
The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield. It is a book about identifying and working through resistance and all its manifestations. I think it is a good one that is broadly applicable.
Are there questions about the shooting that you're concerned about getting from your kids?
One would be why do people make choices that harm other people, because I don't have an answer to that. My honest answer is that I don't know why people choose to commit acts of violence. I think answering is about balancing, being honest as well as age appropriate while reassuring them that you will protect them
What if they bring a question home centering on prejudice, blaming the shootings on a particular group of people?
That's a difficult one. I'd tell them we can't make assumptions about large groups of people because of actions of people in that group. So when someone commits an act, it's an act they are responsible for individually. I might give them an example they can relate to. My daughter doesn't like to play dolls, so I'd point out that if someone makes an assumption that all girls play dolls, it wouldn't fit her.
Contact Piper Castillo at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @Florida_PBJC.