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  December 19, 2012


In The Name of ALLAH The Almighty

Desensitization to bomb explosions

World famous physicist Albert Einstein shares his worries regarding the explosions in a sentence “‘if there is another life, I would like to be a plumber. I don't want to be a physicist”. Most of us may be surprised by hearing this that why greatest scientist have showed his sadness and guilty of becoming scientist. It’s because of the negative impacts of the reactions used in nuclear reaction like explosions and bombing. We are known as a cricketing nation which shows our involvement in healthy physical activities. But I was surprised when I heard people taking about the explosions (bomb blasting) in the country with the terms and words used in cricket match commentary. A huge blast in one of the busiest city of country was airing on the media and the latest updates were receiving from different sources and the people were confirming the causalities with emotionless words “what is the score of the day”. Being a patriotic citizen and humanity loving person I was surprised and many questions came in mind and one of them was “have we desensitized to explosions as a nation”. But people are unaware and unconscious about the deep psychological effects and we are used to it and not responding to it as abnormal happening. We only tuned on the television set and start watching and listening without any emotions for the victims and do not care for the humanity and no one is made to be blamed for the manmade destruction. The word which suits best for such odd happening is “Desensitization”. According to Longman English dictionary desensitization” To make someone react less strongly to something extinguishes an emotional response to stimuli that formerly induce it” but in a matter of fact to become a desensitize person is not the solution.

Psychological impacts:
Explosions are now so common that we are used to it and carry on with life as usual, but it has deeply affected our conscious /unconscious mind. The impacts of bomb blasting on a society are so deep that it not only damages human beings but destroys the environment and other creatures. Once the explosion was only confined to the battlefields but now the trend has been changed and takes place in the last decade mainly as act of terrorism. According to a study done on bomb blasting all over the world reports that “Our ongoing monitoring of bombings of populated areas paints a grim picture around 10 000 direct civilian deaths and injuries in 63 countries in the past six months”( (Harrison ,2011).
Now it is so common that every day we witness many blast all over the country which in result mounting the death tolls, physical sufferings and damage to the properties of people which do not let the chance to affect the mental health. However, in my daily routine as a nursing student I have observed that while people exhibit significant resilience which could be interpreted as insensitivity but in reality persistent exposures to bomb blasts create an escalating fear and anxiety, fear of going out, mental debilitation, feelings of sorrow, loss of control and sense of personal helplessness and insecurity.

State of war:
After reviewing a thorough literature here I can confidently relate/consider this condition without any hesitation as a state of war because it is having all the characteristic and consequences similar to the war. According to Zoysa (1999), the relations between war and its psychological consequences are complex and it often enforces an alteration in the meaning of life and death through the exposure to various life threatening situations. Normally we encounter many stressors (physical, emotional, and mentally) in our daily lives. These may be physical, psychosocial and/or social. All type of these stressors place a certain demand and involve us to adapt to it. As a consequence when we face difficulty in facing such experience it appears as stress on us. There is strong evidence to suggest that psychological disorders are a likely response to such a violent situation (Institute of Conflict Management, 2009).The intensity of the stress depends upon variety of the factors. Most people experience heavy stressors which are term as crisis in which the stressors are at demand which our out of the source or limit of the person. People are often challenged to developed new coping skills to come through the crisis and readjust. In such cases if people are not able to develop any strategy and fail to gain the control over the abnormal stressors. As a result a person goes into psychological disorders like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and acute stress disorders (Bell, C.C.1994). The effects are long term and the prevalence is increasing day by day. According to a study conducted by Farley (2009) ,“Almost one in five (19%) adults enrolled in the Health Department's WTC Health Registry reported post-traumatic stress symptoms 5 to 6 years after 9/11, roughly 4 times the rate typically found in the general population. Through literature it is evident that after the 9/11 disastrous attacked on World Trade Centre the number of people developed mental illnesses. According to Thompson (2003), “the results have important implications from 1 to 2 years after the 9/11 attacks, a significant number of Americans are still experiencing increased anxiety, loss of control, and concerns about their safety”. In the Pakistan context the effects are similar as reported above as this was the limitation of my paper that I could not found much of literature on it. In one of the study conducted by (Haq, 2009), “the continuous violence and threat to life, there has also been a damaging effect to the psychological health of many people”. This proposes that distress is not progressively dissipating in the general public and the long-term effects are more prevalent than is usually documented.

Media and its role:
While surfing through the literature I found that children are more vulnerable to the direct physical and psychological impacts of bombing and mental health problems are also common among children who have experienced traumatic events. No one can deny from the fact that each and every individual of the nation is struggling against terrorism and society is badly affected in different ways. We are struggling day and night to find a way out but not succeeded yet. The world has become a global village and the advancement in the field of technology and communication has made every home and individual equipped with media and other means. In this perplexing situation I came with the thought that our media is not far behind in showing its negative role upon the society. Most of our news channels are in the race and competition to give coverage to the mishaps as soon as possible and feel proud in doing so. As a result they portray the incomplete information and half picture which create distress, anxiety, safety and security issues, emotional and behavior changes in the public. According to the Ahmad (2010), media violence is especially damaging to young children (under age 8) because they cannot easily differentiate between real life and fantasy. Violent images on television and in movies may seem real to young children and making them less sensitive to violence and towards the violence victims.

After peeling away the truth about the explosions and its psychological impacts upon the society and young generation we can predict our future and its consequences which we are going to face. But it would to too early to assess the full psychological effects of psychological issues such as fallowing wars but from previous researches it guides us what we can do something better over the both short term and long term issues by formulating strategies at different levels (Cardozo et al., 2004; Khalid, 2005; Somasundaram, 2004 ). We as a whole have to think on this national problem to save the future of young generation by creating an environment of peace and fight together to eradicate the terrorism. The people should be loyal to the government and, the government should work for the public and vice versa. The human rights should be protected and never violate at any cost. Traditionally we have shown oneness and unity and the same spirit should be in us in the combating of national problems. As a health care provider I recommend to create counseling centers where people should be encouraged to come and share their fears and insecurities. Literature have also proved such centers are beneficial in different countries where people are facing such issues discussed above but unfortunately in our context we have no such centers to resolve this problem . We only consult a psychiatrist when someone ends into severe mental disorder. As media is fully enjoying the freedom of speech and expression. The PEMRA (Pakistan electronic media and regulation authority) should take some steps to check the fears created by news channels while giving coverage to any event. According to Speckhard (2002), “It is however, very, very seductive to news-workers to appear knowledgeable when you are not,” The journalist and the media persons should be trained so that they can play their role more meritoriously in giving information to the public. I my opinion whenever people are stressed and anxious after watching such news, just simply turn off the TV and amuse yourself in recreational actives and relax .In our context most of the parents are watching news channels with their children and they may have irrational fears after watching a news report because they misunderstand something. In such cases parents need to allow and even encourage children to ask questions and should remove misconceptions.

In conclusion we as a society are the victims and everyone has lost something in different ways .Feeling of insecurity and fear has made his home in our minds. We are going through many psychological problems which need to be bring them under light and treated them timely to prevent it future consequences. But we are busy in our life activities like bees despite of the mishaps which may occur at any time and in any place which may be interpreted as desensitization .But my question is still unsolved and a lot of research need to be done on this social and global issue.

Shams Karim Baigal




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