Don’t allow the fear of ‘9/11’ to control you

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On the fifth anniversary of the terrorist attacks in the United States, psychologists at the Australian Psychological Society (APS) advise people not to allow fear to control them simply because the ‘9/11’ date has come around again.

“People who are feeling anxious today are doing so merely because of a date, not because of a particular danger,” said APS President Amanda Gordon. “The discomfort many people are feeling is proof that our minds are powerful controllers of our emotions, and that anxiety can be triggered by events that are not true threats.”

Gordon said terrorists seek to instill fear, in order to limit the lives of people who do not go along with their demands. “It is important to be able to distinguish between what is real, and respond to it, and what is a feeling of misapprehension – that something bad may happen – based on vague signals that have no true substance,” said Gordon. “By remembering the terrible attack on the World Trade Centre and other targets by the date, we unfortunately continue to trigger fear in people with each anniversary.”

Gordon said many people mark a change in their beliefs about their safety from this date, seeing the world from a pre and post ‘9/11’ perspective.

Psychologists can teach people strategies to manage their emotions, by changing their thinking and their behaviour.“This will lead to less inappropriate fear in the community, while allowing people to respond sensibly to real threats to their wellbeing,” said Gordon. “Thus the term ‘9/11’ can remind us with sadness of the deaths of thousands of innocent people, without having to be traumatised and fearful when we hear the date.”

Tips for coping today:

  • Remind yourself that September 11 is just a date
  • If you feel fear today, stop for a minute and be sad at the death of many
  • Be kind to someone today
  • Teach your children to value differences in others.

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Amanda Gordon is available for interview.

For more information contact:

Elaine Grant
Communications Manager
Australian Psychological Society
03 8662 3363