Friday, July 29, 2011

Secondary Trauma

When I worked at the children's hospital I learned about secondary trauma--the trauma undergone by those who hear about or witness the AFTERMATH of a traumatic situation. Secondary trauma can lead to PTSD symptoms (and PTSD) in those who are subject to it.

I found this to be true as I worked with and witnessed to the various diseases, disasters and deaths that peppered each and every work day. Sleeplessness, flash backs (for a solid year I could taste blood in my mouth every time I thought of a particular day at work), and other symptoms were fairly common for me.

Now I am several years out from these traumas--yet, having had the experience of such tangible and immediate and obviously traumatic situations, I wonder...

Does the mere act of reading/watching the news lead to secondary trauma for the general population--and the attendant possibility of PTSD? Because, I find that if I read news of awful things happening to children, it affects my sleep and my mood. In fact, reading the google newsfeed can make me feel much as I did when I was witnessing the deaths of children day in and day out. I also find that the degree of graphic detail often shared in the news/radio/blog (can't speak to television, don't have one hooked up) can be nauseating.

Methinks that this can't be healthy--for anyone. Do we really need to know the gruesome details? Do we need to have such immediate access to the "train wreck" as it were? What do you think? How do you think this level of detail and connectedness affects/effects you and yours in your day to day life?

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