Psychological Interventions in Times of Crisis

By Laura Barbanel; Robert J. Sternberg | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 6
New York University and 9/11
Viewing Terrorism Through a Dormitory Window

Kathryn A. Dale and Judith L. Alpert

The NYU community lived through the attack of the World Trade Center
in a manner that no other major university did. We did not need to watch
it from the television; we could look south from our windows through the
crystal clear September air to see the entire tragedy unfold.

– New York University President John Sexton

The terrorist attacks of September 11th, unprecedented on American soil, affected millions of people both in New York City and throughout the fifty states. Because of the extraordinary number of people who lived, worked, and attended school near ground zero, mental health professionals in the New York City area faced a daunting task.

People were at increased risk for post-traumatic stress symptoms and disorder based on their geographic proximity to the World Trade Center (WTC) disaster (Galea et al, 2002, Blanchard et al., 2004, & Schlenger et al., 2002), and, as some studies have shown, on their level of exposure to the disaster (North et al, 1999 & Smith et al., 1999). The literature indicates that the effects of a disaster are most acute when two of the following factors exist: severe and prevalent property damage; financial repercussions to the community; human-made disaster; and injury, threat to, or loss of life (Norris, Byrne, Diaz, & Kaniasty, 2001). The events of September 11th were unquestionably traumatic and will most likely affect the people of New York City and the surrounding areas now and in the future.

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