Terrorism threatens a society by instilling fear and helplessness in its citizens. It seeks to hold a society or government hostage by fear of destruction and harm.
When terrorist acts occur, people generally look for ways to cope with the acute stress and trauma. Terrorism evokes a fundamental fear of helplessness. The violent actions are random, unprovoked and intentional, and often are targeted at defenseless citizens. Trying to cope with the irrational information that is beyond normal comprehension can set off a chain of psychological events culminating in feelings of fear, helplessness, vulnerability and grief.
Xenophobia — fear or hatred of strangers or foreigners — can be heightened under a terrorist threat and can become a social and psychological danger. The fear generated by terrorism can be exacerbated by a population’s diversity if there is distrust between groups, categories and classification of citizens. It is important to recognize that diversity in a population can be an opportunity for unity and strength. There are members of our diverse society who have experienced past terrorist incidents. The knowledge and experience they have gained from surviving and coping with these incidents can make them a valuable resource on how to cope and how to offer assistance to others.
After a terrorist attack, many people are impacted. People who have experienced the trauma often fall into the following categories:
People who have experienced or witnessed a terrorist attack may go into a state of acute stress reaction. You may feel one or all of these symptoms:
If you are having trouble coping with the terrorist attacks, consider seeking help from a psychologist or other mental health professional. There are many ways to feel traumatized by terrorist incidents. Psychologists and other licensed mental health professionals are trained to help people cope and take positive steps toward managing their feelings and behaviors.
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