Articles by Marilyn Murray



What the Soviet Union and Khmer Rouge Share

I toured the Nazi death camps of Dachau in Germany and Terezin in Czechoslovakia in the 1970s and have stood in front of the Lubyanka in Moscow, where thousands were annihilated by the KGB.

Trying to Live Comfortably in a Moscow Shoebox

As I climbed to the fifth floor in an old Moscow building, I wondered if my colleague, Larisa, would be able to navigate these stairs in the next 10 years or so. She was already in her late 60s and not in good health.

Childhood Offenses Instill Defensive Mind-Set

In our classes for those who desire to be healthy, balanced people, participants are asked to identify their most powerful emotions.

Russia's Past Psychological Wounds Still Linger

Tatyana was small, blonde and 60 years ago. Her face was impassive as she stood before our class and related: "My parents were born in the 1930s when millions of people were starving from a horrible famine in Ukraine."

Is Narcissism Always Inevitable in Leadership?

His father was an alcoholic who brutalized him. While his mother smothered him with affection, she also beat him. As a small, sickly child with a damaged arm, he was bullied regularly at school.

How to Raise the Standard for Normal Behavior

It was 44 degrees Celsius in the trusty yard of the Arizona State Prison, a miserably hot day to be working with convicted sex offenders.

How Survival Mode Destroyed the Tsarnaevs

The Tsarnaev family, like many in the former Soviet Union, probably has been stuck in survival mode for generations.

Why I Love Russia (Despite Everything)

Despite living in a run-down building, elevators that smell like urine, being kept up all night by noisy, drunk neighbors and being robbed once on the street, I still love Moscow.

It's True About Russia Being a Nation of Readers

When I first arrived in Russia in 2002, I assumed I was a little above average regarding my cultural literacy.

How Soviet System Left People in Survival Mode

As I listened to clients and students over many years, I realized there are essential survival requirements for every human being.

Pain of World War II Is Passed On to Children

Saturday marks the 70th anniversary of the end of the 200-day nightmare of the Battle of Stalingrad in World War II. This horrific battle was one of the bloodiest in the history of warfare.

When Violence Is So Typical It Becomes Normal

As a specialist in the treatment of trauma, I am often asked about the genesis of violence. Some of the U.S. shootings in recent years have been carried out by people who were bullied at school or were angry with teachers, people in authority or disgruntled employees.

How Stalin Turned Russian Patriots Into Enemies

They arrived early. My hand was nervous as I unlocked my small Moscow apartment. As I opened the door, it framed two elderly men with their daughters. The men's straight backs stood in contrast to their age and their past. One was tall with a gaunt face whose thick glasses made his eyes more hollow and haunting. The other was smaller with larger ears and a face that broke into a familiar smile as he held out a large jar of amber honey. I was startled that he looked so much like my father.

How Self-Sacrifice Has Shaped the Russian Soul

How have Russians endured after 100 years of intense trauma including two major revolutions, two world wars, a civil war and other military conflicts, years of famine and 70 years of Soviet repression that imprisoned and killed millions of its citizens?

How State Surveillance Turned Into Nurturing

As my niece and I entered the battered little elevator on the eighth floor of their old Stalin-era apartment building, she looked down at her 5-month-old daughter and said, "I am worried I don't have her dressed warm enough."

Why Lying Has Become a National Pastime

When I first arrived in Moscow, I soon learned that if I asked if something could be done and I received the answer, "OK, no problem," that did not mean I could expect for the deed to be accomplished.

Using Shame and Humiliation on Schoolchildren

In any group of people, a mention of childhood always evokes memories of school Ч some happy and some difficult. This definitely is the case here in Russia.

When Hopelessness Becomes a Deadly Tyrant

The hospital waiting room is cold and empty except for members of my family. We all are eagerly awaiting the birth of my new great-grandson. It is 3 a.m. in Arizona, and today is my 76th birthday.

How the Party Turned Russians Into Traitors

She was the daughter of a Russian government official who attended a Russian school. She was a faithful Pioneer and Komsomol member and lived the life of a typical Russian teenager except for one thing: She lived in Cuba. During one of our advanced classes, this beautiful woman named Lyudmila told of the conflicts her family experienced as they attempted to remain loyal Soviet citizens while living in a tropical country 9,600 kilometers from home.

When Russian Children Are Allowed to Die

Olga and Sergei sat across from me in deep distress. Sergei's eyes were buried on his shoes as Olga struggled to speak. She shared that their 13-year-old daughter, Maria, had been raped two months earlier. The girl now refused to attend school and rarely left their small house in a village in southern Russia.

My Battle Against Lateness and Chatting in Class

When I was preparing for my first class in Moscow 10 years ago, I was told the schedule would be as follows: We would start at 10 a.m., there would be a 30-≠minute tea break at 11:30, then lunch at 1:30 p.m. for one hour and 15 minutes and end at 4 p.m.

You Shouldn't Count on Russian Avos for Success

She sat in the back row of my classroom with a shawl draped over her head and her dark brown hair was in a tight bun that made her look older than her stated age of 32.

Why я Is the Last Letter in the Russian Alphabet

When I asked a Russian friend what he felt were the most important factors for foreigners to understand about Russian people, culture and country, he smiled, waved his arms and responded, "They cannot understand Russians, who act from their hearts, not from their heads.

How Naivety About Drug Addiction Ruins Lives

In the early 1990s, as Russians were climbing out of the wreckage of the Soviet collapse, they were looking at a landscape without the veil of the Iron Curtain. Many were in shock as chaos, violence and confusion rose from the rubble with a roar.

Can Unhealthy Systems Create Healthy Leaders?

She tugged at strands of her stringy hair as she tried to evaporate into the folds of the leather couch. Her anxious eyes kept glancing around the room as if expecting danger to seep through the walls of my counseling office. She had the thin, haggard look of someone who had never felt safe from the moment she was conceived.

Children Left Alone: A Soviet Legacy Continues

My colleagues and I were enjoying dinner in a Moscow cafe when one of my friends began looking distressed.

Soviet Children's Fear of Being Left Alone

One of the issues that has troubled me most since I began teaching in Russia did not surface in my classes until more than a year had passed.

Violence as a Cultural Norm Must Be Rejected

She was a pretty, bright, articulate young woman who had a graduate degree in social work. She stood near the back of the classroom and her voice was strident as she said: "But this is our culture, we cannot change that. We have to follow our traditions and our family beliefs."

Choosing Joy Over Sorrow, Triumph Over Fear

When riding the metro or walking the streets in Moscow, one sees a variety of faces: stern and harsh, young and cocky, elegant and beautiful, stoic and resigned. Most are masks that cover a vast array of emotions. This reality becomes apparent during our Level I class concerning the treatment of trauma, abuse, neglect and addictions.

Learning to Live Outside Stalin's House of Silence

I lived in a house of silence. My father worked for the KGB, and he was responsible for deciding the fate of many of the men arrested daily Ч whether they deserved short- or long-term gulag sentences, or even something more lethal. He could not share anything about what he experienced every day Ч his stress, his indecisions and eventually his nagging doubts about the Soviet system itself."