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Archive for the 'Psychology of Terrorism and Disaster' Category

April 26, 2006

Death Pumps Up Aggressive Thoughts

Filed under: Asia,Psychology of Terrorism and Disaster — Admin @ 10:48 am

A study was conducted by Tom Pyszczynski, professor, Psychology, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, Abdolhossein Abdollahi, professor, Psychology, Islamic Azad University, Zarand, Iran, Sheldon Solomon, professor, Psychology, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, N.Y., and Jeff Greenberg, professor, Psychology, University of Arizona, Tuscon.

In this study both Iranian students and American students were questioned and were found that thoughts of death increase support for extreme actions. The researchers also analyzed the attitudes of young Americans regarding extreme military interventions in the Middle East. Under neutral conditions the researchers found that both groups showed little support for such extreme, but when reminded them of the inevitability of death they supported extreme measures.

About 40 students from two universities and 127 students at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, N.J., were asked to think about death and then were asked to respond to questions gauging their support for extreme military actions ranging from the use of nuclear and chemical weapons to pre-emptive strikes against countries that may pose a threat to the United States.

Support for extreme measures increased when thoughts of either death or 9/11 in case of Americans were introduced prior to the survey. The scientific findings demonstrate that thoughts of death increase people’s readiness to support extreme violent solutions to global conflicts. In conclusion it was said that the same factors that increased Iranians’ support for martyrdom attacks against Americans increased Americans’ support for extreme military interventions in the Middle East, both of which could cause the loss of thousands of innocent lives. Similarly people in the terrorist groups incite others by talking about previous incidents which has resulted in loss of life. This further helps them to instill hatred for each other.

Source: medindia

October 16, 2005

Managing Traumatic Stress: After Hurricanes Katrina and Rita

The effects of hurricanes like Katrina and Rita will be long-lasting and the resulting trauma can reverberate even with those not directly affected by the disaster.
It is common for people who have experienced traumatic situations to have very strong emotional reactions. Understanding normal responses to these abnormal events can aid you in coping effectively with your feelings, thoughts, and behaviors, and help you along the path to recovery.


Facts & Statistics

Filed under: North America,Psychology of Terrorism and Disaster — Admin @ 7:49 pm

# Most children and teens who experience a disaster or terrorism will recover fully if given proper counseling (NIMH).
# Teachers and school administrators can play a valuable role in helping children and teens cope with a disaster or terrorism (NIMH).
# 63% of Americans say the fear of the threat of terrorism would be reduced by increased knowledge about the mental health effects of terrorism. (National Mental Health Association and NASMDPD Survey)
# Three-fourths of Americans believe public officials could do a better job of explaining the mental health impact of terrorism on the nation. (National Mental Health Association and NASMDPD Survey)


August 23, 2005

Emotions continue to influence Americans’ reaction to 9/11 and the risk of terrorism

Filed under: North America,Psychology of Terrorism and Disaster — Admin @ 4:30 pm

The release of the transcripts of New York City emergency communications from the Sept 11, 2001, terrorist attacks brought back the flood of emotions that Americans experienced during the worst attack in the nation’s history. As a recent Carnegie Mellon University study demonstrates, intense emotions have a powerful effect on how Americans continue to perceive the risk of terrorism and their memories of 9/11. The study was published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied.

The researchers surveyed a national sample of Americans late in 2001, and then again a year later. Each time, they created experiences that accentuated one of the multiple emotions that the attacks evoked: fear, anger or sadness. One year out, the respondents’ emotional reactions to the attacks continued to predict their perception of the risk of terrorism: Those who had their fear heightened were more pessimistic about the likelihood of future attacks and coping with the risk of terrorism, while those who had their anger heightened were more optimistic.

Overall, the respondents in 2002 believed future attacks were less likely than they had the previous year. However, when asked to recall their predictions from 2001, people remembered being more optimistic than they actually had been. That is, they remembered having seen a safer world than they actually had shortly after the attacks – a clear demonstration of hindsight bias. Reliving emotions colored their view of the past. Those who were made angrier remembered being more optimistic, whereas those made more fearful remembered being more pessimistic. Reliving emotions did not, however, reduce hindsight bias.

“The study raises two cautions for citizens thinking about terror or other hot topics. One is that they need to monitor their emotions. If they allow themselves to be angered, they may exaggerate the probability of success in anti-terror programs,” said Baruch Fischhoff, the lead author and the Howard Heinz University Professor of Social and Decision Sciences and Engineering and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon.

“The second caution is that they need to look for historical records when judging the wisdom of past decisions, rather than relying on their own memories,” Fischhoff said.

The research also was conducted by Roxana Gonzalez and Jennifer Lerner, both in Carnegie Mellon’s Department of Social and Decision Sciences, and Deborah Small, now at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. The study was supported by the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Mental Health and the American Psychological Association (Division 9).

Jonathan Potts
Carnegie Mellon University

July 23, 2005

London Attacks Raise Psychological Anticipatory Anxiety Symptoms

Filed under: North America,Psychology of Terrorism and Disaster — Admin @ 10:33 am

LOS ANGELES–(BUSINESS WIRE)–July 22, 2005–Uncertainty concerning future acts of terrorism breeds fear and a new type of anxiety not seen in past disasters — “Anticipatory anxiety,” according to trauma psychologist Robert R. Butterworth, Ph.D. During this period of uncertainty, in a psychological sense, “It’s what we don’t know and fantasize about that can hurt us. The adage, ‘The only fear is fear itself,’ rings true, especially in this case…Fantasy breeds fear.”

Dr. Butterworth adds, “With all the talk and speculation of future terrorist actions involving everything from biological to chemical agents it’s no wonder that the fear of the future can be more unsettling than the trauma and depression resulting from past events.”

Terrorist psychology as a method of societal destabilization is more concerned with the perception of reality rather than reality itself. Thus it’s not surprising that “Anticipatory Anxiety” — fear of what one may fantasize could occur as a result of terrorist actions — can be more psychologically damaging to a society than the actual reality that does unfold, says Dr. Butterworth. This is why people are not riding the metros, canceling vacations, not flying, or afraid of being assembled in large groups.

The trauma psychologist believes that in order to win this psychological battle of fear it’s important for people not to get swept up in unsubstantiated rumors of doom: “Not to panic and give in to hysteria. The reality is that we’re angry and scared but going to work. Children are nervous but going to school. We’re not hiding in our homes but starting to get back on planes and the stock market has stabilized. — Remembering that the psychological goals of the terrorists were not just to topple our buildings but destroy our way of life.”
Psychologist and media commentator, Robert R. Butterworth, Ph.D., has assisted radio, TV, and print media since 1984 find answers and provide insight to enhance understanding of psychological issues on a variety of topics. Dr. Butterworth has conducted extensive surveys focused on children and youth, social, political and trauma issues. His comments, observations and op-ed articles have appeared in most of the major newspapers in the United States and worldwide. He is seen quite often on NBC, CBS, ABC, FOX and CNN network news especially during monumental events such as violence, disasters and youth tragedies and psychological reactions to breaking news and human event stories.

Within hours of the Sept. 11th disaster trauma psychologist and media commentator Robert R. Butterworth, Ph.D., was giving ongoing psychological commentary to a traumatized nation. During those crucial days he was called upon almost daily on MSNBC. He also appeared frequently on CNN, CBS, NBC and Fox Network television conveying psychological hope to our nation. He remarks on this crisis were also quoted in Reuters, The Wall Street Journal, and The Los Angeles Times and the Associated Press.

Appearances also include ABC’s Nightline, and This Week, CNN’s Larry King Live, NBC’s, Oprah, Dateline NBC, and Good Morning America. CBS This Morning, The O’Reilly, Factor, Extra and Entertainment Tonight and many network talk and news programs. He is also featured as a psychology expert in various documentaries seen on Discovery, History, E -Entertainment and the Learning Channel. Dr Butterworth also serves as a psychology expert for public relations organizations and is a past consultant for a national Magazine. In addition Dr Butterworth recently had a cameo spot in a major motion picture, “Kate and Leopold,” with Meg Ryan and Michael Moore’s “Bowling For Columbine.”

Board Certified Traumatic Stress, Diplomate; American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress.
Board Certified Diplomate Fellow in Forensic Sciences; International College of Prescribing Psychologists.
Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist Certification: American Board for the Accreditation and Certification of Psychoanalysis, N.Y.
Psychologist License: State of California.

American Psychological Association / Division of Media Psychology.
California Psychological Association
National Accreditation Association of Psychoanalysis.
International Association of Trauma Counselors.

Biographical Information Included in:
Who’s Who of Emerging Leaders in America.
Who’s Who in the World.
Who’s Who in Science and Industry.

Robert Butterworth (
Robert R. Butterworth, Ph.D.
P.O. Drawer 76477
Los Angeles, CA 90076
Phone : (213) 487-7339
Fax : 213-477-2340

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