Five essential elements / hurricane andrew Paper

Essential Elements Hurricane Andrew In the era of growing threats of terrorist attacks effective interventions for trauma victims have become a necessity. Therefore, Hobfoll et al in their article, “Five Essential Elements of Immediate and Mid-Term Mass Trauma Intervention: Empirical Evidence”, have identified five intervention principles based on empirical support from recent studies. The five principles are – 1) promote sense of safety, 2) promote calming, 3) promote sense of self- and collective efficacy, 4) promote connectedness, and 5) promote hope (Hobfoll et al, 286). In the aftermath of disasters, a sense of shattered protective shield occurs in the minds of young children, parents and caretakers. If a sense of safety can be promoted among this population, then mental disorders can decrease with time and can reduce the possibility of PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder) even in continuous threatening situations. There are a number of medications to induce calming like anti-adrenergic agents and antidepressants. People can be calmed by providing them information on whether their families and friends are safe, and whether there is any impending danger. People should be helped in developing “adaptive cognitive and coping skills.” (Hobfoll et al, 302) The third principle includes self-efficacy which means people should be instilled with the belief that their own actions can lead to positive results. The common people should be allowed to participate in strategy making sessions to build self confidence. The fourth principle is promotion of connectedness which means “sustained attachments to loved ones and social groups in combating stress and trauma.” (Hobfolle et al, 296) Steps should be taken so that people can reunite with their lost family members during post disaster periods. The quantity, quality and frequency of the links between victims of disasters and their social support should be enhanced. The fifth principle is to instill hope because people who can retain positive outlook even after experiencing traumatic situations can enjoy favourable outcomes. Survivors of disasters should be helped to return to their houses and provided with employment opportunities so that they can resume their normal life (Hobfoll et al, 302-304).

The above principles are comprehensive in nature and have the ability to deal with the emotional trauma of all kinds of trauma victims. The need is to design these principles in a package that is suitable to the concerned community. The principles should fit the culture of the community and the type of trauma that the victims are facing. The principles should be examined by applying in pilot programs and their effects on the psychologies of the victims should be tested. The principles are apparently efficient, but their effectiveness depends on their process of application.

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The principles in dealing with surviving victims of disasters can address the problems faced by the victims in the aftermath of the disasters. Although extensive research has been done on how to restore normal behavioral functions among disaster victims, there is no evidence of any accurate method of treating these victims. Therefore these principles are based on empirical support from recent studies. The major drawback of these principles is that they have not been passed through clinical trials. Although the principles are not flawless, they are however best strategies since no other concrete solutions have been found from extensive researches. The principles should be implemented only after considering the local culture and customs, and should be harmonious with the ecological principles.

In his article “Hurricane Andrew’s other legacy”, James Mauro has described the trauma faced by the victims of Hurricane Andrews and how they deal with their mental stress. The article has been written from the perspective of psychologist Charles Gibbs who was an eyewitness of the disastrous events in the 1992 hurricane. Gibbs has described the immediate psychological effects of the victims in the aftermath of the hurricane. He said that the “survivors are suffering a myriad of emotional problems.” (Mauro, 42) There was anxiety, anger and restlessness among the victims which he described as a normal psychological pattern of disaster victims. Children were suffering from nightmares thinking that Andrew is a live man who would attack them again. There was a feeling of anger among the victims because they lost their normal course of life. Then there is the second phase of trauma which takes place after few weeks of the disaster. That is when people grasp the reality of what they went through and begin to “deal with the magnitude of their loss and finding ways to get on with their lives.” (Mauro, 43) The people find it hard to adjust to their disrupted lives and this phase can continue up to 18 months. This second phase is the major concern of therapists (Mauro, 43).

According to a psychologist Sergio Aisenberg the children should be given an outlet to share their traumatic experiences they faced during the disaster. This will help prevent PTSD in some cases. For this purpose efficient counselors are needed. The children should be provided emotional security by convincing them that there are people like parents and grandparents to help them revert to their normal lives. Aisenberg also recommended that family structures be made lenient so that children can sleep with their parents or their demands should be met even if they seem unreasonable. Sometimes children suffer from trauma over losing a small object in the disaster, in such cases Aisenberg recommended parents to try and replace the objects as they will provide the children with the feeling that no loss is permanent. Also, he recommended physical gestures like a hug or a smile to cheer up the children (Mauro, 45, 93).

I feel the above recommendations are very appropriate for traumatic children. Children are the most sensitive group and their sense of loss can be profound. Since they do not have the adult’s ability to deal with the loss created by disaster, therefore they should be encouraged to speak about their feelings. Parents should focus more on them, and family rules should be made less rigid so that the children can sense that life is still bright and happy even after the experiences they have gone through.

References

Hobfoll, Stevan E. et al “Five Essential Elements of Immediate and Mid-Term Mass Trauma Intervention: Empirical Evidence”, Psychiatry, 70.4 (2007) 283-315

Mauro, James “Hurricane Andrew’s other legacy”, Psychology Today, 25.

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