Because of their degree of violence and complete unexpectedness, the
attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon may have left you with
a number of unsettling reactions. These reactions are shared by people
undergoing sudden trauma (from natural disaster, crime, accidents,
acts of war, etc.) and are normal ways of trying to deal with abnormal
situations. During the next few days and weeks, you may experience
some of these reactions. They will vary in intensity and duration
with each individual. Though your thoughts, feelings, and responses
may be unsettling, it is important to recognize them as natural and
human. You may not be able to prevent these reactions but there are
ways to help yourself and others.
with the event/difficulty thinking about other things. This is our
way of trying to absorb the enormity of the event, little by little,
at a pace we can handle.
- Thinking of
the event over and over, being riveted to television, radio, and
web reports. This is our way of trying to re-establish some sense
of understanding and control.
- Trouble remembering
or concentrating. Our intellectual and emotional energies are focused
on dealing with the shock.
- Guilt. We all
cope in different ways. If you use humor to cope, don't feel guilty
for not being "appropriately sober" in all your responses.
If you use activity to cope, don't feel guilty for not wanting to
spend every moment trying to listen the news. If you use keeping
up with the news to cope, don't feel guilty for being "inappropriately
morbid." Each response is understandable and helps us in different
- Anxiety and
- Numbness, withdrawal
- Desire for
- Feelings of
Ways to Help Yourself
and Others Cope:
- Wanting to
spend time talking and being with other
- Feeling protective
of loved ones
- Sleep disturbances
- Talk with
people. This helps us feel less isolated and anxious. This also
helps us "reality check" our reactions, making us realize
our feelings are normal. It also helps to bring back to reasonable
parameters feelings of vengeance or fear we may be experiencing.
- Give yourself
permission to be distracted.
- Be kind toward
others and tolerant of ways in which their coping needs may differ
- Avoid real
and symbolic violence. If you are feeling overwhelmed by the television
images of the Trade Center collapsing, listen to the radio. Or avoid
news sources altogether for awhile. Periodically, you can ask others
if there is any significant new information you should know. Avoid
entertainment with violent themes or images.
- Structure your
time. Keep your life as normal as possible.
- Help your children
understand in ways that are not overwhelming. For example, young
children might need breaks from the television imagery. You might
reassure children that it is okay for them to not know what to do.
Instead, there are responsible and competent adults who are handling
this by each doing their specialized jobs. Emergency crews are helping
the victims and their families, investigators are working to identify
who is responsible, safety personnel are working to prevent other
- Take care
of yourself physically. Eat nourishing food, try to get enough sleep,
do mild exercise
- Don't demand
that your body perform at high levels. Now may not be the time to
adhere to a rigorous new workout, an austere diet, or a taxing workday.
- Spend time
with people you enjoy, doing things you enjoy.
- Engage in activities
that reaffirm your sense of yourself and others as members of a