Ori Wiener-Blotner | SIPA, Class of 2018
“Did you hear what happened in Chelsea?” Thankfully, as far as New York terrorist attacks are concerned, the Chelsea bombing was not a huge deal. No lives were lost, and the attack didn’t disturb much of New York’s nightly routine. Apparently the event didn’t meet the expectations of a New York City terrorist attack and many New Yorkers seemed unphased by the incident.
Regardless, the post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) of such a recent terrorist attack is strangely absent. Several sources attribute the stoic attitude to “post-traumatic growth,” or a learned resilience to recurring traumatic events. There are several problems with this perception. First of all, it is easier to move past an attack that led to no deaths, especially one in which the culprit was at large for less than 48 hours. Additionally, with so few of us having had first-hand experience with the bombing, the entire incident’s limited media coverage failed to grab more than passing attention for many people.
Still, we should be mindful of the way in which we follow such events. According to the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), threats causing PTSD cannot be transferred via electronic media, such as television, or movies. However, this idea has its shortcomings. PTSD remains one of the most controversial diagnoses of the DSM 5, and as most psychologists will tell you, the manual needs to be taken with a grain of salt.
Finally, it is hard to forget the therapeutic red crayon drawing created by children across the United States after 9/11, where media coverage was king. It’s too soon to be sure that PTSD cannot be passed on through media, and we should be mindful of how it comes up internally for each of us later on down the road.