Printer Friendly

Dealing with a distant disaster.

Dealing with a distant disaster

Emotional aftershocks of the massive earthquake that devastated Soviet Armenia in December 1988 struck Armenian teenagers in Los Angeles during the first week after the disaster, according to a report in the July BULLETIN OF THE MENNINGER CLINIC.

Interviews with Armenian-American adolescents, conducted by Viken V. Yacoubian, a graduate psychology student at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, and the late psyciatrist Frederick J. Hacker, uncovered few of the post-traumatic stress reactions of people directly exposed to a disaster. The Los Angeles teenagers did, however, express considerable guilt and remorse over having lived while others died; they strongly identified with the victims and reported a great deal of rage linked to the catastrophe.

At first, many of the teenagers -- students at a private Armenian school where Yacoubian is a teacher and counselor-rushed into hectic disaster-relief activities. They said they could tolerate their grief only by constantly doing something. Students exerted strong pressure on one another to make great sacrifices for the cause. Doubters who questioned the usefulness of specific relief activities "were quickly silenced and severely attacked," the researchers say. Most of the students expressed strong resentment toward teachers and parents who wanted them to maintain regular school hours.

A number of teenagers experienced what the researchers call "participation envy," an envious resentment at being excluded from what was perceived as a unique experience rallying Armenians throughout the world. These students often developed fantasies of being magically transported to Armenia to assist survivors directly.

On the other hand, the researchers note, the students did not express religious doubt or anger at God in the week following the earthquake. They attended more church services and prayer meetings, the investigators say, pointing to a renewed link between national Armenian and religious Christian loyalty.

Yacoubian and Hacker interviewed two groups of students ranging in age from 15 to 18 years. One session, with 25 students, occured five days after the disaster. A second session, with 20 students, took place eight days after the earthquake.
COPYRIGHT 1989 Science Service, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1989, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Behavior
Publication:Science News
Date:Aug 5, 1989
Previous Article:Growing up sad: depression in children attracts scrutiny.
Next Article:Elderly suicides rise in 1980s.

Related Articles
Radio waves may trace distant clustering.
'Virtual office' not yet common. (Business Briefs).
Deep Fire Rising.
Unprofessional conduct among top problem nationally.
Expert preaches tsunami safety.
A hospital in hand ...
The stress of change: working through life: change is good, they say, but our bodies sometimes tell us otherwise. This article explains how changes...

Terms of use | Copyright © 2017 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters