Sept. 11 Eyewitnesses, 1 Year Later


My dog, Jersey, sniffs through a heap of trash and stumbles upon a dead puppy that looks just like him. Soon, he and I discover that the dump we’re walking though is littered with hundreds of lifeless Jerseys lying amid foul-smelling cans, papers, and food.

Beads of sweat run down my back. I shudder, and immediately I realize it was just a bad Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Program at the Bronx Veteran’s Administration Medical Center.

Different biological responses are at play, she says. In one case, people are afraid for their lives; in the other, they are making a judgment about how bad something is.

This is the reason why many TV viewers have been able to work through the memories of 9/11 easier than those who got ashes on them or saw human debris in person.

The terrorist attacks, however, may have caused a chain of events that could have heightened some people’s anxieties, regardless of their degree of exposure. In the past year, many people were laid off from their jobs, suffered medical problems, and worried about their housing situation or their financial resources. Additionally, the constant “high alerts” issued by government officials and the threat of anthrax contamination may have hampered some people’s recovery.

“These people will be affected a lot even though they might have had moderate exposure,” says Erwin R. Parson, PhD, a leading trauma nightmares, and anxiety has roughly doubled since 9/11 to 6,000 calls per month, and the figures are expected to rise in the coming weeks.

In addition, a recent study in TheJournal of the American Medical Association found that more than half a million people around the Big Apple may have developed PTSD, a psychiatric disorder marked by nightmares, flashbacks, or phobias (about buildings, elevators, subways, crowded places, etc), lack of concentration, emotional isolation, and excessive alcohol consumption.