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Question
Posted by: Study | 2004/10/06

Trauma

After a traumatic event such as September 11, a study was done at a university. Those who kept a stiff upper lip and carried on with life, coped much better than those who dwelt on the matter of loss and trauma through counselling and treatment.

Is this true?

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Our expert says:
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Study, not quite right. The best studies were done in the UK, after other types of trauma, including a major oil-rig disaster. And they were testing a specific method of post-trauma counselling, CISD ( Critical Incident Stress Debriefing ) which was being heavily marketed and sold, and about which huge and ridiculous claims for magical benefits, were being made. I was always deeply sceptical about this particular method and its claims. These studies found that CISD had no benefits whatsoever, and indeed those who received CISD did rather worse, by a whole range of measure of coping or well-being, even when it was decided at random who would receive CISD and who not.
Thus it's my opinion that CISD "Debriefing" borders on quackery, and should not be used at all. No other short-term treatment has been tested this well, so we can't conclude that it's better to provide no treatment. One of the problems with CISD is that it's enthusiasts ( who would swoop after a bank robbery, etc, when they could persuade the daft bank to pay for them ) insisted on "treating" everybody involved at all in the nasty events. This is not justifiable.
On the other hand, normal counselling, offered to people who themselves feel disturbed by nasty events, can be kind and perhaps helpful, and there's no reason that it does harm, unlike CISD. Many people are excellent supported in bad times by friends, family, and community ; but in the modern world, some people are very isolated and don't have such resources to draw on.

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Our users say:
Posted by: Chelle | 2004/10/06

Perhaps those that went for counselling and treatment were the ones who felt the most traumatised to start off with.
Also, am curious about what the definition of "coping" is in this instance.
Is it long term, short term, and how do we know that those with the stiff upper lip won't fall to pieces if something similar happens?
Just some immediate thoughts I had upon reading your positing.

Reply to Chelle

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