The American psyche after 9/11

August 03, 2011

IN THE NEWS: A USA Today article examining the psychological effect of 9/11 cited findings by UC Irvine psychologist Roxane Cohen Silver, who has studied the emotional and physical effects of traumatic exposure for decades.

“Sept. 11 was really the first event in the United States of a national scale that we could explore these effects,” she says. “The impact of 9/11 was not limited to the people who were directly exposed. The spillover was widespread. This is perhaps the first study that’s shown this physical and psychological effect of experiencing something indirectly.”

Her study found an 18 percent increase in doctor-diagnosed physical ailments in the first three years after the attacks among almost 2,000 adults who took online surveys in the aftermath. Of the sample, 63 percent had watched the attacks live on TV; 4.5 percent had been directly exposed.