When Trauma Becomes Public

When Trauma Becomes Public

Of course, we all hope that we will make it through this life unscathed. And yet, a part of us also knows it’s impossible. Perhaps, at least we can hope that when life takes a turn for the worse, it won’t become public news. But what happens when it does?

Pam Ramsden from the University of Bradford explains, “Social media has enabled violent stories and graphic images to be watched by the public in unedited horrific detail. Watching these events and feeling the anguish of those directly experiencing them may impact our daily lives” (Ramsden, 2015).

Recruiting 189 participants (with a mean age of 37) Ramsden had them first complete several inventories: a PTSD clinical assessment, a personality questionnaire, a vicarious trauma assessment, and a questionnaire concerning different violent news events on social media and the internet – including the 9/11 Twin Tower attacks, school shooting and suicide bombings.

While 22 percent of the participants were significantly affected by viewing the events – and scored high on measures of PTSD even though none had previous trauma or were present at the traumatic events – the relationship between viewing violent media images and PTSD was clear: those who reported viewing more violent media images of the events had higher levels of PTSD (Ramsden, 2015).

Ramsden concludes, “It’s quite worrying that nearly a quarter of those who viewed the images scored high on clinical measures of PTSD” (Ramsden, 2015).

The takeaway, as Ramsden notes, is that with increased access to social media, and increased broadcasting of violent events, we need to be aware of the risks of viewing these images – and maybe consider pausing before we read about the next traumatic event.

Related Online Continuing Education (CE) Course:

Psychological Effects of Media ExposurePsychological Effects of Media Exposure is a 2-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that explores the psychological effects that media exposure has on both the witnesses and victims of traumatic events.

This course will explore why we are so drawn to traumatic events and how media portrayals of these events influence our thoughts, conclusions, and assumptions about them. It will then discuss how the intersection of trauma and media has evolved to provide a place for celebrity-like attention, political agendas, corporate positioning, and even the repackaging, marketing, and selling of grief.

Lastly, the course will look at the interventions and exercises clinicians can use to help their clients understand the effects of trauma becoming public, how to protect themselves, and most importantly, how to recover from traumatic experience – even when it becomes public. Course #21-23 | 2018 | 44 pages | 15 posttest questions

Course Directions

Our online courses provide instant access to the course materials (PDF download) and CE test. Successful completion of the online CE test (80% required to pass, 3 chances to take) and course evaluation are required to earn a certificate of completion. Click here to learn more. Have a question? Contact us. We’re here to help!

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