Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier
WebMD

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine
WebMD

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion
    WebMD

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community
    WebMD

    Community

    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Mental Health Center

Font Size
A
A
A

Coping With Psychological Warfare at Home

Learn how to defend yourself from the psychological terror that war brings.

What Is Psychological Terror? continued...

Â

Bulliet says terrorists frequently exploit images of a group of masked individuals exerting total power over their captives to send the message that the act is a collective demonstration of the group's power rather than an individual criminal act.

Â

"You don't have the notion that a certain person has taken a hostage. It's an image of group power, and the force becomes generalized rather than personalized," says Bulliet. "The randomness and the ubiquity of the threat give the impression of vastly greater capacities."

Â

Psychiatrist Ansar Haroun, who served in the U.S. Army Reserves in the first Gulf War and more recently in Afghanistan, says that terrorist groups often resort to psychological warfare because it's the only tactic they have available to them.

Â

"They don't have M-16s, and we have M-16s. They don't have the mighty military power that we have, and they only have access to things like kidnapping," says Haroun, who is also a clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego.

Â

"In psychological warfare, even one beheading can have the psychological impact that might be associated with killing 1,000 of the enemy," Haroun tells WebMD. "You haven't really harmed the enemy very much by killing one person on the other side. But in terms of inspiring fear, anxiety, terror, and making us all feel bad, you've achieved a lot of demoralization."

Why Distant Terrors Trouble Us

When a horrific event happens, experts say it's natural to feel disturbed, even if the act occurred thousands of miles away.

Â

"The human reaction is to put yourself in the situation because most of us have good mental health and have the capacity to empathize," says Haroun. "We put ourselves in the shoes of the unfortunate person."

Â

Witnessing an act of psychological terror can also disrupt our belief system, says Charles Figley, PhD, director of the Florida State University Traumatology Institute.

Â

"We walk around, psychologically, in a bubble, and that bubble represents our belief system and values," says Figley. "Most often we assume incorrectly that other people have the same values and social niceties as we do. When that is violated or challenged, the first response is usually an effort to protect our beliefs and, in other words, to deny that it actually happened."

Today on WebMD

contemplation
Differences between feeling depressed or feeling blue.
lunar eclipse
Signs of mania and depression.
 
man screaming
Causes, symptoms, and therapies.
woman looking into fridge
When food controls you.
 
Woman standing in grass field barefoot, wind blowi
Article
senior man eating a cake
Article
 
Phobias
Slideshow
woman reading medicine warnings
Article
 
depressed young woman
Article
man with arms on table
Article
 
veteran
Article
man cringing and covering ears
Article
 

WebMD Special Sections