9/11 Psychological Effects

Table of Content

The attacks on 9/11 rank among the most heinous act in United States history, where about 3,000 people lost their lives and 6,000 were left injured. They were the deadliest terrorist act in world history, and the most devastating foreign attack on United States territory since the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. ​It has become part of the national consciousness in the years since. One major effect from the attacks was the recognition of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in those who lived through it. PTSD is a disorder that affects those who have lived through a traumatic incident that is difficult to recuperate from, which has to do with the science of behavior and mind, psychology.

There are different types of PTSD based of severity of the impact, which afflicts both individuals directly and indirectly present in the trauma. The attacks of 9/11 destroyed buildings and killed thousands of innocent individuals, but they also interrupted individuals’ daily routines as well. They shattered the sense of security that Americans were once found upon. The suffering from this event will continue throughout generations, making a mark in every American. The attacks of 9/11, startled long-lasting suffering, inducing a psychological impact to a vast number of people who were then diagnosed with different levels of PTSD and a danger to our security.

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The 9/11 attacks impacted several individuals whether they were directly present in the attacks or even those who only watched the event unfold through television or an image of the aftermath. The severity of the impact varies their responses, including illnesses such as PTSD. Someone who lost a loved one or acquaintance or an individual who was directly present at the World Trade Center can have a different reaction of those indirectly affected (hearing about it, watching news or media, or seeing images from the attacks). Most people directly exposed to the attacks expressed signs of stress immediately after the event. PTSD is a common response from those coming out of a tragic event. It typically disappears in a few weeks. However, some individuals continue to experience stress or worse, leading to depression, for many years.

The individuals more prominent to have suffered severely from PTSD are officers, firefighters, survivors, and eyewitnesses near the attack. In a study regarding police officers response after the attacks, demonstrated that thirteen percent of officers were diagnosed with PTSD and out of those seventy-three percent of those officers reported depression or anxiety issues. The most common long term conditions exposed in the aftermath of 9/11 are PTSD, depression, anxiety, and substance use problems. Those not directly exposed are more difficult to understand why they were impacted. It could be the fact that one never knows when their last day on earth will be. The gruesome feeling of a death threat can cause one to panic and worry even if it has not occurred in their lives, but they know it can.

An individual’s emotions can respond to a death threat negatively, inducing psychological attitude alterations: PTSD, depression, drug abuse, or anxiety. The emotions result in fear, which is a response to something threatens your safety. The emotion of fear is a warning to the chance that one’s physical self might be harmed, which results in motivating one to protect themselves, affecting the person’s conscience, thoughts, and actions. Although a post-traumatic response has something do with a situation in which fear was the primary emotion involved, The American Psychiatric Association (2000) lists PTSD as an anxiety disorder. The danger is not definite in PTSD, but it is anticipated based on a previous experience. Therefore, where the trauma activated fear, post-traumatic stress may trigger anxiety, anticipating fear. This fear will affect those victims in the attacks; they never expected this tragedy to occur in their homelands, therefore, their safety was damaged. Now, these victims will always be expecting for the worst throughout their lives. The victims will carry this fear due to human nature, but in the other hand, this is a goal for terrorist attacks. They want to induce fear into others and demonstrate what they are capable of doing as a strategy to defeat the “enemy”.

The evolution of the children raised or born during their tragic era impacts their lives… Although some lived far from the twin towers or were too young to experience the tragedy of the attacks, the grief it brought to the people around them… People can experience collective trauma exclusively through the media and report symptoms similar to those directly exposed to the tragedy. It was found that more hours watching 9/11-related television was associated with higher post-traumatic stress symptoms in children under 10 the first year after the attacks. It is hard to compare American children who lived through 9/11 with those who did not, since almost every American child was exposed to images of 9/11 at some point in time. The collection of 9/11-exposures experienced by children often included one in which one or both parents suffered 9/11-related physical or mental health outcomes. This in turn may influence children’s own mental health and behavior.

Although the trauma is a lasting effect, there are ways to treat and come out of it with optimism for self-restoration. In a study that examined the prevalence of resilience among New Yorkers during the 6 months after 9/11, 65% of participants showed resilience (ability to recover). This suggests that more New Yorkers demonstrated resilience during the 6 months after 9/11 than previously believed. Even among those with the highest levels of exposure and probable PTSD, the proportion that were resilient never dropped below 33%. Although the severe effects of 9/11 attacks across emotional, social, and political varieties were remarkably deep, the focus of this review is on the lasting course of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and outcomes of PTSD treatments in ‘highly exposed’ populations. There are many programs working with those established with PTSD, treating them and guiding them to attempt of getting out of the terror. Every individual reacts differently to the threat of death as well as the loss of a beloved one; they way someone responds to these tragedies depends on the person and their sensitivity.

Although many years have passed since the 9/11 events, the impact keeps lingering, not only in the heart, but in the mind and body of many individuals that were present or not. While the psychological impact of 9/11 is impossible to count, health officials in New York and near areas are now beginning to understand the extent of the physical and mental effects of the disaster. The ‘World Trade Center cough,’ respiratory problems, smaller babies, and PTSD are just a few of the issues linked to exposure to the smoke, dust, and toxic fumes that permeated lower Manhattan for a while after the event.

After 9/11, resentment and grief shadowed over Americans, not only from lives lost, but also as nobody expected the threat of life, which psychologically affected people significantly; a major element was the impact of people accumulated with PTSD. Although a lot of information on the 9/11 effects have been released, information is still missing

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9/11 Psychological Effects. (2022, May 16). Retrieved from


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