Monday, September 25, 2006

URLs for a class article on the Anniversary Effect

Decided to go ahead and post them here before my son rearranges things on the computer.

It appears that everything else I've been looking at is quoting the same articles as these two sites.

From the first article:

Are there any empirical studies of anniversary

There are few empirical studies of anniversary reactions. In one study, 92 widows and widowers were interviewed on the first anniversary of their spouse's death. Four of the participants reported clinically significant depression that they connected to the anniversary date (Borstein & Clayton, 1972). In a series of studies, Morgan and colleagues examined anniversary reactions in Gulf War veterans two and six years after the end of the Gulf War (Morgan, Hill, Fox, Kingham, & Southwick, 1999; Morgan, Kingham, Nicolaou, & Southwick, 1998). The researchers asked the veterans and their wives to identify the veteran’s worst month of functioning in the past year. When the researchers compared the worst month identified to previously identified dates of traumatic events that occurred during the Gulf War, they found that 38% of participants reported that their worst month coincided with the month in which their trauma occurred (Morgan et al., 1999). Veterans with these anniversary reactions had significantly more PTSD symptoms than veterans who did not have anniversary reactions, and all of the veterans who met criteria for a diagnosis of PTSD had anniversary reactions (Morgan et al, 1999). Finally, one study was done examining patterns of hospital admissions in patients with seasonal mood disorders (Beratis, Gourzis, & Gabriel, 1996). Based on chart reviews, 4 out of 41 patients with multiple hospital admissions over a seven-year period exhibited depressive or manic episodes that coincided with the time of a past traumatic event.

Now here are more unique links: ==>Actually, this page is no long available, so I am going to use the archived version. Someone shared this page with me about four years ago and it is far too good to lose track of.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Five years ago...

I was working as a temporary clerk in an HR office for a contractor on Tinker AFB. It was a short term assignment - I was just helping them get caught up on some paperwork. The head HR person boarded a plane for a business meeting back east.

I was sorting papers when someone came in and said that a plane had hit one of the World Trade Centers. There were speculations about pilot error and equipment problems. I called my dad to see if he had heard about it. He telecommutes from home and often watches the news in the morning as he's working. Only this morning he had something he needed to fully concentrate on, so my call was the first time he heard about it. I didn't want to take too much time, so I told him to check out the news and went back to my papers.

There was a TV in one section of the building. I decided to take a break a few minutes later and watch the news footage for a few moments. After all, we were on an Airforce base, plane crashes were something we took an interest in. I was standing there, listening to the discussion, when the second tower was hit. The temperature of the room dropped as we all realized that this was not an accident. An older guy said it was China. I said it couldn't be. China wasn't that stupid. They knew what we were capable of doing and would never just do an attack to annoy us. They would have picked military strategic targets to keep us from retaliating. I was rather surprised at myself for speaking up like that in a place I hadn't worked even two weeks at and wasn't planning to work much longer at. But my mind was trying to process what the news was showing us.

We talked about the fact that Tinker was number Three on the strategic hit list because that's where the AWACs are stationed, but it didn't really hit us that we could be a target until the Pentagon was attacked. Then, as they say, it became personal. First we made sure the few people we had flying on business were okay and accounted for - as well as family members. After we had some idea about our loved ones, a sort of determined numbness became apparant. A lot of us decided that if we were going to go, then we were going to go down doing our jobs and supporting those who were going to fight these people. But even saying that, many of us were looking at out the windows, as if any moment another plane was going to come straight at us.

I was pretty much okay until I left the air force base, despite expecting another attack. I suddenly felt so helpless and vulnerable as I drove off base. On base, I was part of the fight, even if all I was doing was making sure the paperwork for our reservist personnel was in order and helping them to understand what their insurance would cover if their units were reactivated and called into battle. Off base, I was just a civilian target. I was angry that all the gas stations had hiked up their prices bacause I was so low on gas. But I was able to nurse it until the next morning when I could fill up at a station that had gotten the Governor's message through its head. I had to go to the temp office to pick up my paycheck. The receptionist said, "You're working at Tinker, aren't you? Are you okay?" I shook my head and bit back the tears - and then told her I felt better on base than off. Which probably explains why I was willing to wait five and a half hours to get back on the next day. The security checks were a real pain in the neck. They looked everywhere in our vehicles before letting them on base.

The other HR person I was working with handled the whole thing rather badly. She wanted everyone to stop talking about the tragedy, but she only said it to me, because I wasn't in a position to call her on it. She even said, "If you don't talk about it, it can't hurt you." Which is probably one of the most ignorant and delusional statements I have ever heard from someone, but I didn't challenge her on it. I just held my tongue as she kept snapping at me for stupid stuff, until I was starting to fantasize about strangling her. Didn't affect her, my foot. She acted worse than everyone else in the building. Denial can help in a crisis, but too much of any thing is bad. And her denial fell into that category. Her tactic of denying the attack took place couldn't hold up when part of her job was now dealing with the reality of working on an Airforce base during a time of national crisis. And as a result, she was the most messed up of everyone.

The rest of the time I worked there, until my assignment was ended, I would stare at the two watertowers near us because when the head of HR came back, she told me how she wished they would paint over the base name on them. She felt it called too much attention to the base. I'm sure that she realized on one level she was being a bit ridiculous - as did I. However, that didn't keep me from trying to calculate the damage that would happen if one of those watertowers did get hit.

I thought I had written this summary up before, but I'm not sure where I saved it. So I figured I would repost it today. A friend found a site with audio recording of people's memories of that event. My speakers aren't hooked up right now, so I'll listen to them later. A good article to read is Healing from trauma may be swiftest when it's not all about you.

I didn't listen to any of the in-depth details of the attacks until a year later, because I sensed that my family wasn't ready for it. But on the first anniversary, I needed more facts. I had been polite long enough and I needed to satisfy my curiosity and verify the theories I had. My mother actually got snippy at me when I started this search, but I told her that I had been respecting their feelings and now I had to take care of my own emotional need to know the truth. It wasn't like I was forcing anyone else to join me.

I got the factual details back then. Until this year, I haven't really tried to learn about the victims themselves, because I didn't want to be accused of being morbidly obsessed. But really this is necessary and a healthy thing to do. What's more, it's the right thing to do. 2996 PEOPLE died then - because they had been made into symbolic objects. If I don't want to be a part of that problem, then I need to acknowledge the PEOPLE and not the collective.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

9/11 Tribute - Richard G. Catarelli

Richard G. Catarelli Tribute Image

Richard G. Catarelli, employee of Marsh & McLennan, was a man of great faith and compassion. Prior to September 11th, 2001, he and his daughter Anamarie had just completed training to be youth ministers as a reflection of his devotion and dedication to the youth of the community. A cheerful and loving person, Richard's favorite line was "Keep Smiling" and his role model was the generous and energetic St. Vincent Pallotti.

Marsh and McLennan Companies has a very moving tribute page in his honor, with tributes from his wife and others close to him. It says more about this man than anything a random blogger like myself could ever say.

Other links about Richard:

Please read some of the other tributes written by the Bloggers for 2996.
(and if that isn't working, go here)

2996 - 2006