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Psychological effects of tragedy linger for many

Steer your kids away from TV coverage, psychologist advises

Children should see little or none of the horrific images of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks that the media are likely to show repeatedly next week to commemorate the tragedy's first anniversary, says Portland psychologist James Mol of Providence St. Vincent Medical Center.

'Turn off the TV, make sure kids are out of the room,' says Mol, who has a doctorate in psychology. 'Children will have a lot of exposure that will be damaging to them.

'Kids are more vulnerable to the idea that the world is not as safe as it might seem,' he says. 'For kids, that's a frightening thought.'

Parents, teachers and other adults should spend time talking to kids next week about the attacks, Mol advises. For older kids, 'be very direct that this is a time when people are feeling sad about what happened a year ago.

'Follow the children's lead about how much they want to say,' he says. 'Part of keeping a child safe is the psychological part of feeling safe.'

Many of Mol's clients, children and adults, still are affected by last year's tragedies. 'People are much more concerned about their personal safety or the state of the world,' he says.

In general, people who have adequate psychological or spiritual resources became 'more spiritual or more attentive to personal relationships' after Sept. 11.

People vulnerable to stress and without adequate coping skills felt greater stress, resulting in psychosomatic illnesses or mood disorders, Mol says.

The sour economy, devalued 401(k) plans and news of corporate fraud added to people's sense of insecurity.

'There's a feeling that something bad will happen to us that has lingered,' he says. 'There hasn't been a period of time at all for people to have healing or a sense of safety. We're still in a recovery mode.'

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