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Michelle Gottlieb Psy.D., MFT, LPCC
Individual, Couple and Family Therapy
Resolving issues from your past that block your future

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Reaction to Tragedy

October 2001


In the wake of the tragedy of September 11th, many people are struggling with their reactions. I want to first stress that having a reaction is normal. You might have experienced a variety of responses. Many people had difficulty sleeping, or were tearful or angry. Some people needed to immediately pitch in and help. Others needed to turn everything off and forget. My reaction had been to not be careful about writing things down, like clients’ appointments!


Usually, after about a month, many of these reactions begin to subside. Life returns to normal. This is a good thing. We need to live our lives. It is important for our children, as well, to see life be normal. It reassures them and makes them feel safe. I am now writing down all of my appointments properly.


However, for some the trauma is ongoing. The reasons for the trauma continuing can be many. One reason may be how they were involved in the tragedy, what they saw, what near miss they had, whom they lost. For others it may be because this trauma has triggered a memory of an earlier, unresolved trauma. These people may be having flashbacks of the tragedy, nightmares, difficulty concentrating, being very anxious or very angry, or being easily startled. The technical term for this is PTSD or post-traumatic stress disorder. This is a treatable condition! Please be aware if you are experiencing any of these symptoms, there is treatment.


I want to encourage anyone who is experiencing any symptoms of PTSD to find a therapist you can trust who has treated PTSD and get to work on taking care of yourself and healing from this trauma. Never forget that there is always hope.


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