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Coping With Psychological Warfare at Home

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

Why Distant Terrors Trouble Us continued...


When confronted with proof of terror, such as pictures of atrocities, Figley says there are a few different ways in which people typically react:


  • Suggest that the perpetrators are not like us in any way, that they are inhumane.

  • Become fearful in the sense that they feel that they are living in an uncaring and unsafe world because the bar of inhumanity has been lowered even further.

  • Believe that it's only a temporary manifestation that can be explained away or deconstructed by specific things that have taken place, such as "if we hadn't done this, then that would not have happened."


"It's uncomfortable believing that the world is less safe, so we have to imagine or construct a scenario that will allow us to feel more safe again and resist change," says Figley.

How to Cope

Experts say the key to coping with psychological terror is to find a healthy balance.


"When people are stressed, there is a temptation to lose touch with reality and to blur the boundary between reality and fantasy," says Haroun.


He says the reality might be that the chance of becoming a victim of terror is very small, but the fantasy is, "Oh my, it's going to happen to me and happen to everyone."


"If you blur that line and start making decisions on false data," says Haroun, "that's going to lead to bad decision making."


He says the first thing is to stay grounded in reality, seek out reliable sources of news and information, and don't rush to make quick judgments based on incomplete or inaccurate information.


"Because we are people, our decision-making skills can be impaired in times of extreme stress, so the trick is to talk to wise people," says Haroun.


That could be a trusted family member, counselor, clergy, or other person who has sound judgment.


The second thing to do is reduce your stress level. The easiest way to do that is to talk about the stress and fear you're feeling with someone else.

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