157 PSTD and TV

Based on research by Silver, Roxane C., Holman, A., McIntosh, D.N., Poulin, M., and Gilrivas, V. (2002),  adapted by
Juanita N Baker, Ph.D.

What is Posttraumatic Stress Disorder? PTSD is an anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to a terrifying event, grave physical harm, or threat. Traumatic events may include assaults, natural or human-caused disasters, terrorist attacks, vehicle accidents, physical and sexual abuse, or military combat.

Those suffering from PTSD can have trouble in their jobs, school, or personal relationships, want to isolate themselves from others, and may develop phobias. Many re-experience the ordeal in the form of flashback episodes, memories, nightmares, or frightening thoughts, especially when they are exposed to sights, smells, or sounds that remind them of the trauma.

Psychologist Roxane Silver studied the effects of the 9/11/01 terrorist attacks. She found that the severity of exposure to the event, rather than the degree of loss, predicted people’s level of distress. For example, those seeing the planes crash into the trade center experienced more PTSD symptoms than people who experienced financial losses because of the attacks. Simply watching traumatic events on TV was traumatic to some, especially if watched repeatedly and those with pre-existing mental or physical health difficulties.

Prevent trauma in your family: Limit your and your child’s TV watching of traumatic films and news, especially local TV news violence.


Silver, R.C., Holman, A., McIntosh, D.N., Poulin, M., and Gilrivas, V. (2002). Nationwide Longitudinal Study of Psychological Responses to September 11. Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol. 228, pp. 1235-1244.

For more details see:


American Psychological Association, January 16, 2004

Show More
Back to top button