Near- and long-term psychological effects of exposure to terrorist attacks

Susan Brandon, Andrew Silke

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In this chapter we consider the possibility that the survival, recovery, and occasional resilience seen after terrorist incidents or other disasters reflect processes of dissipation, adaptation, habituation, and sensitization that are ubiquitous to biological organisms. We also consider that many instances of human survival--including thriving--are the result of broad cognitive and affective reappraisal processes that mediate the impacts of our interactions with the world and of normative tendencies to seek out others under conditions of stress. We describe the near- and long-term psychological effects of exposure to terrorist attacks and the threats of terrorist attacks here, largely ignoring important differences in location, type of strife, and local and national histories, not because these are not important but because we want to consider the most frequently occurring behaviors and the most general behavioral trends. While there is relatively little empirical analysis of terrorism or terrorists' behaviors--despite the plethora of materials published since 9/11--there is a significant body of scientific investigation on how people respond to trauma. It is that domain of science that we draw on to understand and predict how people are most likely to respond to terrorist attacks.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPsychology of Terrorism
EditorsBruce Bongar, Lisa Brown, Larry Beutler, James Breckenridge, Philip Zimbardo
PublisherOxford Univerity Press; Oxford
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9780195172492
ISBN (Print)9780190242275
Publication statusPublished - 2007


  • terrorism
  • political violence
  • victims of terrorism
  • victims
  • PTSD
  • Anxiety/psychology
  • psychology of terrorism
  • 9/11

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