The University of Virginia, the gay club Club Q in Colorado Springs, a Walmart supermarket in Chesapeake: mass killings follow one another in the United States, and the whole nation must manage a kind of “collective trauma”, title The Washington Post.
“One of the reasons why these recent episodes of violence have such a strong impact on the mental health of many people, explains the newspaper, is that they took place in places where people normally feel safe, according to Pooja Sharma, a clinical psychologist in Berkeley, Calif. As, in particular, “a club where people go out to spend the evening together and a store where we go to work or do our shopping before the holidays”, specifies this practitioner.
For many Americans, resignation prevails. Sometimes to their own dismay. A Brooklyn therapist says: “A patient just told me: ‘You know, I’m kind of desensitized to it all.’ And he added: ‘I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.’”
Sometimes, however, the event awakens an intimate wound. Ohio social worker Elizabeth Rieger says a gay woman was traumatized by the Club Q shootings because she is already in pain from being “very marginalized in his own family”.
“The scourge of gun violence will no doubt be a topic of conversation around many tables at Thanksgiving celebrations,” this Thursday, note The Washington Post. Talking is important, even on this day of rejoicing, says Texas psychologist Kayla M. Johnson.
“I don’t care if it’s a party or if it spoils the mood. People need to share the fact that they miss a loved one, or that the state of the world makes them angry.”
Use anger and despair
If, however, the subject is too heavy for some, they should feel free to isolate themselves for a moment or to cut themselves off from the flow of information, add experts.
Negative emotions aren’t inherently bad, says Atlanta clinical psychologist Lakeasha Sullivan.
“The other side of despair is anger, justified fury at this situation. These emotions are not to be suppressed, because they can be used constructively.”
“The key, summarizes the newspaper, is not to let those emotions become destructive.”
“Let your emotions run wild, but don’t let them isolate you. Have an action plan to manage them,” advises Arron Muller, social worker in New York State.