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Masters of Disaster: Survey taps resilience of post-9/11 New York

In the months after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, rates of stress-related symptoms and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) soared among survivors and emergency workers. Nonetheless, a large majority of people living in and around New York City experienced no more than one stress symptom during the 6 months after the devastating strike. That's a sign of widespread psychological resilience, according to a new survey. Even among people injured in the attack, one-third displayed resilience.

The results "provide the most convincing data to date that resilience is prevalent even following the most pernicious and potentially traumatic levels of exposure," says psychologist George A. Bonanno of Columbia University. Previous resilience research had focused mainly on recovery from personal traumas, such as a spouse's death (SN: 3/2/02, p. 131: Good Grief: Bereaved adjust well without airing emotion).

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