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Mental Health Center

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America's Resilience

continued...

Kempler makes the same point. "To support other people and to help in whatever way one can help: that, I think, has a lot to do with resilience," he says. "Not feeling helpless, having a meaningful thing you can do, is an important part of resilience"

Another resilience is the ability to share relationships with other people.

"One of the few good things that have come out of this disaster is that everybody is talking more to people they know and love -- even to strangers -- and there is this desire to hug people," Wolin says. Everybody is talking about how important the people they care about are. From this need, a real strength is arising. We can all see that strength working as a resilient process."

Relationships are important for Kempler, too.

"To the extent I have felt anxiety since September 11, it has been reverberating with my World War II experience in the sense of not being in a safe world," he says. "My own illusion of being in a safe world here in America is somewhat shaken as well. It is an illusion that I probably can live without. I am an American so I feel in a much, much better position that when I was a total outcast in Poland. I am shoulder to shoulder with fellow citizens who do not question my right to be here. It is a mixed thing."

Kempler says that children are less likely than adults to be traumatized by the events of Sept. 11.

"So much is made of children's vulnerability, and that is true," he says. "But a point is missed in that often what is traumatic is the sense that our world is coming apart. The world we took for granted is gone. The trauma is this assumption being ripped apart. Then nothing can be trusted. Young children do not as yet have such fully formed impressions of the world. They can certainly be frightened and feel insecure, but it is not quite on the level of 'This is not supposed to be happening.' It is potentially more traumatic for people who have this kind of firm conviction that everything is supposed to be safe."

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