Survivors' near-miss experiences on 9/11 linked to post-traumatic stress

Survivors' near-miss experiences on 9/11 linked to post-traumatic stress

“There is a misfortunate to being a fortunate”, says the associate professor of psychology and author of the paper published in the Journal Social Psychology and personality sciences. Near miss experiences—narrowly avoiding a traumatic event—are associated with distress, despite signaling good fortune. For some, near miss experiences call to mind those who, unlike oneself, were directly affected by the event, leading to “survivor guilt” or distress over one’s good fortune. Survivor guilt, in turn, may function as upward false thinking about others’ and its negative outcomes, leading to disturbing thoughts and post-traumatic stress. In the research performed they compared individuals who did or did not report a near miss with respect to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks—that is, almost being directly affected (N = 1,433). Near miss experiences predicted higher levels of re-experiencing symptoms and probable post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as re-experiencing symptoms over the next 3 years. These associations were partially accounted for by survivor guilt. Near misses may be associated with distress in part because they entail reflection on negative outcomes for others.


Photo credit: The New York Times

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