The Curmudgeon


Saturday, July 30, 2011

Unfortunately Couched

The journal American Psychologist will publish a report next month on the effect of "trauma tourism", the invasion of New York by mental health professionals in the wake of 9/11. Since the co-author of one article says that researchers "couldn't really tell if people had been helped by the providers", the Independent has signalled its willingness to cater for the Murdoch market by headlining its story Therapy can drive you mad. Someone less constrained by the requirements of responsible journalism might put it that some people's traumas were exacerbated, or at least were not helped, by snake-oil therapists or by forms of therapy which did not suit the recipient; while others took the eminently non-psychotherapeutic view that least said is soonest mended. The therapists themselves had a wonderful time, and doubtless suffered few inhibitions about discussing their emotional reactions with the researchers.

Two of the report's findings are interesting enough to be buried far down the column. First, that those who were personally affected by the attacks tend to have a greater fear of terrorism than those who were not, but that this greater fear does not translate into greater support for bombing other countries. Second, that contrary to the beliefs of some therapists, watching news footage of a calamitous event does not produce the same sort of trauma as actually being there. With footage of made-up events, of course, there are all sorts of problems, particularly for members of the BBFC.

Me at Poetry-24
Soldiers of Fortune


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