“Research on 9/11-related PTSD has challenged the ways in which mental health researchers assess exposure to trauma,” Yuval Neria, of Columbia University’s psychiatry and epidemiology departments, and his colleagues wrote in a new paper published in the September issue of American Psychologist. Those in the mental health field have also borrowed research from other traumatic events to better understand the psychological wounds inflicted by the terrorist attacks. “Despite the fact that the exposure is different, the symptoms and problems are more similar than some people think,” Neria says of PTSD sufferers from natural disasters or combat.
The exception, not the rule
But not everyone who was at the scene of any of the attacks on the morning of September 11 wound up suffering from PTSD or an other severe stress response. In fact, the majority did not. After traumatic events, such as 9/11 or Hurricane Katrina, “people expect the survivors or the victims to have PTSD, but that’s not necessarily the case,” says Dass-Brailsford, who also worked as a psychiatric first responder in the week after Katrina. Even if people experience occasional anxiety or stress having “perfectly normal reactions,” she explains.
A good case how a commonly accepted theory fails to stand in reality