Overview of Psychological
Interventions in the Acute
Aftermath of Disaster
Preetika P. Mukherjee and Judith L. Alpert
In recent years, disasters occurring throughout the world have devastated communities and individuals. One common link between natural and humanmade disasters is their potential to affect many people simultaneously. In addition to people directly affected, many others are emotionally through indirect affects to the disaster. Media and indirect interpersonal exposure offer indirect exposure in the aftermath of a disaster (Pfefferbaum et al, 2000). An example of the latter is knowing someone who lost a relative.
Disasters often have traumatic impact on the community and on individuals. Some dimensions of disasters that are more likely to engender psychological morbidity include: disruption of the experience of safety (Fullerton, Ursano, Norwood, & Holloway, 2003), high perceived threat, low controllability lack of predictability, high loss, and injury (American Psychiatric Association, 1994; North et al, 1999; Schuster et al, 2001), and exposure to the dead and mutilated (McCarroll, Fullerton, Ursano, & Hermsen, 1996). However, these dimensions are just one aspect of a large set of variables that collectively determine the mental health outcomes of the affected populations. Some additional factors that might predict negative mental health effects following disaster include: individual vulnerabilities (North et al, 1999, 2002; Norris, Byrne, Diaz, & Kaniasty 2001; Yehuda, 2002), low resilience