The Trauma Lines Blog

Association of Traumatic Stress Specialists

Japan: “Psychological impact is just beginning”

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By now we’ve all seen the devastation caused by the simultaneous natural disasters in Japan recently. The physical toll, destruction of property was all abundantly clear. But what also follows these physically-destructive storms is the strong psychological toll that can quickly set in:

The stress from losing homes, loved ones, and livelihoods in the initial disaster is being compounded by worries over the nuclear power plants. Being ripped away from the world you knew can be devastating.

Dr. Steven Berkowitz, of the Penn Center for Youth & Family trauma Response, says in most disasters, a third of the victims become heroes, and a third cope reasonably well.

However, about a third need serious psychological help.

Who is most as risk?

“Over the long term, it is middle-aged women who seem to fare the worst,” says Dr. Berkowitz of a study looking at generational differences in responses to trauma.

“They are taking care of their parents, as well as their families and kids, often their husbands. So, over time, they become stressed and overwhelmed by the myriad responsibilities they have.”

The road is long

Just as we’ve seen in countless past disasters, the road to recovery will be long:

One complication of large-scale disasters like this, he says, is that they go on & on for a long time.

The most-recent example of this was the massive earthquake in Haiti over a year ago. People remain displaced, jobs remain lost, grieving continues and the stresses and memories remain. The event is still so fresh that most of the long-term effects are not quite known. Certainly more to come…


Written by traumalines

March 14, 2011 at 9:09 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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  1. […] As we noted yesterday, the psychological impact of the devastation in Japan is expected to be massive. But is the technique commonly used by trauma responders doing more harm than good? […]

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