Psychological Problems After 9/11

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Accidents and misfortunes happen all over the world, daily. Some are minor events which shape the attitudes and personalities of only the individuals involved. An example of this would be the teenager who got his first traffic violation for going over the speed limit; he just learned the value of following the law and that every action has a consequence. As you can see this event was minor and just affected him directly. On the other hand, some events are catastrophic and can change millions of lives worldwide; like the attacks to the RMS Lusitania by Germans or the attacks of 9/11. As you read, we are going to recall those events, explore the opinions and thoughts of witnesses and survivors, as well as compare their similarities and differences. We will also compare the psychology effects on the population; not only the people directly involved but also the ones who watched them worldwide. Some of the major psychological problems that are encountered post-disasters are, but not limited to: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), paranoia, anxiety, aggressive behavior, guilt, sense of security was in jeopardy, phobias, depression, levels of patriotism and religion were elevated, among others. PTSD is defined as “an anxiety disorder associated with serious traumatic events and characterized by such symptoms as survivor guilt, reliving the trauma in dreams, numbness and lack of involvement with reality, or recurrent thoughts and images.” (Ciechanowski, 2009). We often mistake PTSD and emotional problems as exclusive for our soldiers, when the reality is that anyone can be affected if expose to a traumatic event. Take note on how you will see evidence of these reactions as part of the aftermath of both tragic incidents. The Lusitania was a grand ship built by the British on 1907, and once described as the fastest and most powerful cruiser in the world. The ship was funded by the British Government, so they could use it in times of war if needed. When World War I began in 1914, the Lusitania was called to pay its debt, was suited for war, and placed on the manifest of ships assisting the British. The Lusitania was warned by the Imperial German Embassy on April 22, 1915 that there was an on-going war, therefore, any ship belonging to Great Britain or her allies were to use the waters at their own risk.

On May 1, 1915 the ship departed New York City on its way to Ireland; most of the passengers were American citizens. It was said that the ship was carrying ammunition to aid the British in the war, but this fact has never been confirmed and many studies argue its accuracy. If this fact was true or not matters little, the rumor was enough.

The Germans utilized this rumor as an excuse to attack the Lusitania. On May 7, the ship was near the cost of Ireland when a U20 German submarine fired a torpedo at the Lusitania causing the ship to sink. As chaos and panic took over the ship, many drowned while others died because of the fire and explosions on board. Of the 1,198 victims involved in this tragic event, 127 were Americans. (The Lusitania Disaster – An Overview).

These events changed the lives of the many survivors to which “the terror of that week, warped their perceptions”. An anonymous daughter of a survivor of the Lusitania explains how the event changed her mother; “…turned life into death; and all those fears, all that anger misdirected itself - right onto her children. Alcoholism, drug addiction, violence, suicide - all this and more stalked my siblings into their graves. My sister retreated into the bosom of religion, allowing her vision of God to buffer the shock. My Mother had none of my flexibility or my sister’s faith. For her, the only way to exorcise personal demons was to visit them upon others.” (Diary of a Lusitania “Survivor”, 2005). This experience turned an otherwise lovely and caring mother into an individual that saw evil and destruction in everything around her.

It also changed the perspective...
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