Mark A. Schuster, M.D., Ph.D., Bradley D. Stein, M.D., M.P.H., Lisa H. Jaycox, Ph.D., Rebecca L. Collins, Ph.D., Grant N. Marshall, Ph.D., Marc N. Elliott, Ph.D., Annie J. Zhou, M.S., David E. Kanouse, Ph.D., Janina L. Morrison, A.B., and Sandra H. Berry, M.A.
Article in the New England Journal of Medicine November 2001
The terrorist attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001, shook the nation. Television coverage was immediate, graphic, and pervasive. Newscasts included remarkable video footage showing two airplanes crashing into the World Trade Center and the aftermath of four airplane crashes. People who are present at a traumatic event often have symptoms of stress, but there is evidence that adults and children need not be present to have stress symptoms, especially if they consider themselves similar to the victims. The events on September 11 were widely described as attacks on America, and most or all Americans may have identified with the victims or perceived the attacks as directed at themselves as well.
The immediate mental health effects of a national catastrophe experienced from afar — especially one that carries the threat of further attacks — have rarely been examined. We surveyed a nationally representative U.S. sample to determine the immediate reactions of adults to the attacks and their perceptions of their children's reactions.
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