Friday December 13, 2019
Home Lead Story How Americans...

How Americans Are Handling Post 9/11 Trauma

Eighteen years ago, more than 60% of Americans watched as the worst terror attack ever to occur on U.S. soil unfolded on television

0
//
empire, state, building, us, 9/11, terrorism, safety
Covered in dust, ash and falling debris on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, New York City Transit's express coach #2185 could have been written off and sent off to scrap. It was decided, however, to rebuild her as a symbol of NYC Transit’s resiliency and a rolling example of the dedication of the agency’s employees. Wikimedia Commons

Eighteen years ago, more than 60% of Americans watched as the worst terror attack ever to occur on U.S. soil unfolded on television — either in real time or in repeated replays.

That up-close view of the murders of almost 3,000 people jolted Americans out of the sense of security they’d enjoyed at least since World War II.

“I think that up until that time, perhaps people were more optimistic or certainly had a sense that it couldn’t happen here. Terrorist attacks were something that happened overseas, but not in the United States on our soil,” says Roxane Cohen Silver, professor of psychological science at the University of California, Irvine.

“The concept of fearing violence on a day-to-day basis just wasn’t part of the existence of most people in the United States.”

Empire State building, US, New York, 9/11, trauma, mental health
TV viewers said the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack was the all-time most memorable moment shared by television viewers during the past 50 years, according to a 2012 study. VOA

Cohen Silver, who studies the impact of collective trauma, says some individuals with no direct connection to the 9/11 attacks exhibited symptoms that experts had previously assumed were the result of direct exposure to trauma.

“Individuals who watched a great deal of television in the first week after 9/11 were more likely to exhibit post-traumatic stress symptomatology and physical health ailments years later,” she says.

Those symptoms often included anxiety and fear, as well as the onset of physical health ailments such as cardiovascular issues.

“We learned from 9/11 that large-scale events could impact people beyond the directly affected communities, that the events that occurred in New York could impact people in Kansas,” Cohen Silver says. “The second message we’ve learned from 9/11 was the important role of the media in transmitting that awareness and that potential anxiety.”

Empire State building, US, New York, 9/11, trauma, mental health
Students and others watch live television coverage of the 9/11 attacks on the UCLA campus in Los Angeles, Sept. 11, 2001.
VOA

In the 18 years since 9/11, the rise of social media and smartphones has resulted in increased access to images of mass violence. In addition, there are no news editors or other middlemen to weed out potentially disturbing content. The speed with which these images reach people has also escalated.

Young Americans born after 9/11 have grown up in a world where acts of mass violence are increasingly commonplace.

More than 230 school shootings have occurred since 1999, when 13 people were killed at Columbine High School near Denver.

Mass attacks continue to occur in places that Americans commonly view as safe spaces, from the 2016 Orlando nightclub attack that killed 49; the 2017 Las Vegas concert shooting where 58 people were killed and hundreds more wounded; to last month’s shooting at a Texas Walmart that left 22 people dead.

ALSO READ: Chennai Experiences Most Cyber Attacks Among Metro Cities

“We’re so consumed with new events, you know, current events, hurricanes, mass violence events. And there are many of these that occur, and they’re all tragic,” says Cohen Silver. “But the psychological effects of September 11, 2019, cannot be directly linked to the 9/11 attacks without considering all of the rest of the things that have occurred.”

While the average American cannot control the violence around them, they can protect their mental health by not inundating themselves with images of the tragedies, which can be psychologically unhealthy.

“I believe that people can be informed without becoming immersed in the media. There’s no obvious benefit to repeated exposure to images and sounds of tragedy,” says Cohen Silver. “And so, once people are informed, I would say to practice caution in the amount of media attention that they engage and the amount of media exposure that they engage in.” (VOA)

Next Story

People Who Find Meaning in Their Lives Are Healthier and Happier: Study

The three-year study examined data from 1,042 adults, ages 21 to 100-plus living in San Diego County

0
People
The presence and search for Meaning in life of People were assessed with interviews, including a meaning in life questionnaire where participants were asked to rate items, such as, "I am seeking a purpose or mission for my life" and "I have discovered a satisfying life purpose". Pixabay

If you see some people around you who are always happier and healthier than others despite not being wealthy, they must have found a Meaning in their lives.

According to researchers, many think about the meaning and purpose in life from a philosophical perspective, but meaning in life is associated with better health, wellness and, perhaps, longevity.

Over the last three decades, meaning in life has emerged as an important question in medical research, especially in the context of an ageing population.

A study by researchers at University of California San Diego’s School of Medicine found that the presence of and search for meaning in life are important for health and well-being, though the relationships differ in adults younger and older than age 60.

“When you find more meaning in life, you become more contented, whereas if you don’t have purpose in life and are searching for it unsuccessfully, you will feel much more stressed out,” said senior author Dilip V Jeste, senior associate dean for the Center of Healthy Aging and Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry and Neurosciences.

The study, publishing in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, found the presence of meaning in life is associated with better physical and mental well-being, while the search for meaning in life may be associated with worse mental well-being and cognitive functioning.

People
If you see some People around you who are always happier and healthier than others despite not being wealthy, they must have found a Meaning in their lives. Pixabay

The results also showed that the presence of meaning in life exhibited an inverted U-shaped relationship, while the search for meaning in life showed a U-shaped relationship with age.

The researchers found that age 60 is when the presence of meaning in life peaks and the search for meaning of life was at its lowest point.

“When you are young, like in your twenties, you are unsure about your career, a life partner and who you are as a person. You are searching for meaning in life,” said Jeste.

“As you start to get into your thirties, forties and fifties, you have more established relationships, maybe you are married and have a family and you’re settled in a career. The search decreases and the meaning in life increases”.

After age 60, things begin to change. People retire from their job and start to lose their identity.

They start to develop health issues and some of their friends and family begin to pass away.

“They start searching for the meaning in life again because the meaning they once had has changed,” said the researchers.

People
When People find more Meaning in life, you become more contented, whereas if you don’t have purpose in life and are searching for it unsuccessfully, you will feel much more stressed out. Pixabay

The three-year study examined data from 1,042 adults, ages 21 to 100-plus living in San Diego County.

The presence and search for meaning in life were assessed with interviews, including a meaning in life questionnaire where participants were asked to rate items, such as, “I am seeking a purpose or mission for my life” and “I have discovered a satisfying life purpose.”

ALSO READ: Here’s Why Apple Pro Display XDR Should get Cleaned With a Special Cloth

“The medical field is beginning to recognize that meaning in life is a clinically relevant and potentially modifiable factor, which can be targeted to enhance the well-being and functioning of patients,” said Awais Aftab, first author of the paper. (IANS)