One out of ten Israelis suffers from post-trauma stress syndrome. Most of them are women. 75% of Israelis harden themselves and avoid the sights of terror attack, to cope with the trauma.

A new Israeli study that examined how the terror attacks from September 2000 to April 2002 affected Israelis, was presented yesterday at a conference at the Medical Center in Tel Aviv. The study, conducted by Prof. Avi Blich, director of the Lev Hasharon psychiatric hospital, together with Prof. Zehava Solomon and Dr. Mark Galkopf, was based on a study conducted among a representative sample of 512 Israelis aged over 18.

A first sampling showed that 16% of respondents were involved in a terror attack, 22% had a friend or relative killed or wounded in a terror attack, 9% were involved in terror and also knew someone else involved.

The answers found that terror attacks affect nearly all Israelis. It also found that around 10% of Israelis suffer from PTSS. People who undergo serious trauma are liable to experience a heavy suppression reaction that causes changes in their mood as well as various physical reactions, such as trembling, making it difficult for them to get back to routine.

This PTSS, the study found, from which half a million Israeli suffer, makes them emotionally handicapped. These people experience the traumatic event over and over, making it hard for them to function or to sleep at night and unable to function as formerly for many years. It was also found that the chances of women suffering from the syndrome are 5-6 times higher than for men. No difference was found in the responses between those involved in terror attacks and those not involved at all. For the sake of comparison, throughout the United States, two months after 9/11, 11.7% of the population developed PTSS.

Prof. Blich said yesterday, “the public in Israel is paying a heavy social price. Dulling the senses safeguards us, but we should realize that we pay a price for our emotional suppression. We become inattentive to what is happening to our society, and obviously even more so to the other side.”

The Effect of Terror on the Israeli Psyche

What do we suffer from?

57% feel despondent
55% avoid public places, don’t get on buses, etc.
50% suffer from sleeping disturbances
37% relive events over and over
27% feel removed, suffer from temporary memory loss, a sense of alienation, etc.
10% suffer from PTSS

How do we deal with it?

82.8% phone their relatives and friends repeatedly
80% get some sort of social support
74.8% have developed the ability to cut themselves off emotionally from events
59.8% are helped by their faith
50.6% use humor
5.3% of Israelis use cigarettes or alcohol

This appeared in Yediot Ahronot on November 20, 2002