The New York Times: A Postwar Picture of Resilience – NYTimes.com

Pace psychology professor Anthony Mancini wrote an Op-ed on post-war resilience that was published in The New York Times in print and online on February 6.

Pace psychology professor Anthony Mancini wrote an Op-ed that was published in The New York Times in print on February 6, 2012, on page A23 of the New York edition with the headline: A Postwar Picture of Resilience.

Here’s what appeared in print and online:

WHEN the United States announced last week that its combat troops in Afghanistan would be withdrawn by mid-2013, there was obvious relief. But it was followed by familiar concerns.

One of the biggest of those concerns is the prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder among the tens of thousands of returning veterans, which according to some media reports runs as high as 35 percent. These reports have incited fears that we will soon face a PTSD epidemic. But are such fears justified?

According to mounting scientific evidence, they are not. In fact, the prevalence of PTSD among veterans of recent wars is about 10 percent — substantially lower than is commonly believed. Indeed, the picture emerging is one of remarkable psychological resilience among the military.

This story of resilience has been ignored, partly because many assume that humans are inherently vulnerable to trauma. That belief makes us receptive to messages, most delivered by the media, that reinforce this perspective.

A growing body of scientific research, though, is telling another story: in short, that a traumatic event does not necessarily sentence a person to PTSD. Although an exact figure cannot be determined, a series of population-based studies has provided estimates that it occurs in just 5 percent to 20 percent of service members deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, with most studies hovering around 10 percent. In a representative study soon to be published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, my colleagues and I examined stress responses among more than 7,000 members of all United States service branches, before and after their deployments. The respondents were not seeking treatment and were representative of the military as a whole. Perhaps most important, their reports were confidential and had no bearing on their military careers.

About 83 percent of respondents showed a pattern of resilience: they exhibited a normal-range ability to cope with stress both before and after deployment. By contrast, fewer than 7 percent showed signs of PTSD following deployment. Surprisingly, these numbers improved among those with multiple deployments, with 84.9 percent showing resilience and only 4 to 5 percent with PTSD. Predictably, those with more severe combat experiences, like witnessing death and injury to others, were at greater risk.

Statistics like these are unlikely to generate headlines for understandable reasons. We do not want to stigmatize those with the disorder. Nor do we want to suggest that war is easily managed or that the problem is not of the utmost importance. Even an estimate of 1 in 10 represents a public health issue of the first magnitude, requiring our full attention and resources.

War exacts immense demands on the human capacity to cope, but a forthright recognition of our capacity for resilience does no disservice to the afflicted.

With these challenges ahead of us, we should remember that PTSD is a treatable condition and that a realistic and informed understanding of our inherent coping abilities can only assist treatment and, perhaps one day, even prevention of this debilitating disorder.

Anthony D. Mancini is an assistant professor of psychology at Pace University.

A version of this op-ed appeared in print on February 6, 2012, on page A23 of the New York edition with the headline: A Postwar Picture of Resilience.

A Postwar Picture of Resilience – NYTimes.com.

Summit on Resilience – Securing Our Future through Public-Private Partnerships, January 11, 2012

High level corporate and government executives from US and abroad converge to address growing concern about gaps in public/private cooperation for rebuilding after mass disasters.

Tom Ridge
 

Little-noticed gaps in rebuilding businesses and communities after disasters to be addressed by international conferees at Pace Jan. 11

Tom Ridge and UN’s Margareta Wahlström to keynote

Key participants available for interviews

WHAT: After the first responders leave, what happens next? High level corporate and government executives from US and abroad converge to address growing concern about gaps in public/private cooperation for rebuilding after mass disasters.

WHEN: This Wednesday, January 11, 9 am-4 PM

WHERE: Pace University downtown Manhattan campus, Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts, Spruce Street entrance (east of City Hall between Park Row and Gold Street). Media admission by press pass.

WHO: Tom Ridge, first US Secretary of Homeland Security; Margareta Wahlström, head of the UN office for Disaster Risk Reduction; CEOs of Verizon and Rudin Management; Vice President of Atlantic Health System; security chiefs for Boeing, Target, Southern California Edison, and Mass. General Hospital; government disaster chiefs from state of Florida, Los Angeles, and NYC, policy and academic experts.

Summit participants are available for media interviews before and during the conference subject to scheduling arrangements.

Organized by Pace, the event has attracted financial sponsorship from two of the organizations sending participants, The Boeing Company and Target Brands Inc.

Margareta Wahlstrom

COMMENTS: “If a dirty bomb went off in lower Manhattan and contaminated everything, responding would require an unprecedented level of cooperation. If it happened tomorrow, we’d basically be starting from nowhere.” — Stephen J. Friedman, President of Pace University

“…Cyber security… and response and recovery after a cataclysmic event… cry out for collaboration at the highest level, and they require [a] commitment from both the private and the public sectors to partner in perpetuity.” – Tom Ridge, keynote speaker

“Air, rail, shipping and highways, all of which are essential to our business and the nation’s economic vitality, could be seriously impacted during a disaster. We have a vested interest in protecting this critical infrastructure and are pleased to be a part of an effort to raise the level of awareness around these issues.” — Dave  Komendat, panelist. (Vice President and Chief Security Officer of The Boeing Company).

Pace media relations: Chris Cory 212-346-1117, cell 917-608-8164, ccory@pace.edu.

Bill Caldwell, 212-346-1597, wcaldwell@pace.edu

Conference website www.pace.edu/resilience

Globe and Mail: “Catastrophic loss, and the resilience of the human psyche

Professor Anthony Mancini was mentioned in a Globe and Mail article regarding the resilience of the human psyche after trauma and loss.

Professor Anthony Mancini was mentioned in a Globe and Mail article regarding the resilience of the human psyche after trauma and loss. From the article:

While anecdotes are perfect ways to transmit the human dimension of catastrophes, they’re hardly scientifically sound ways to measure their impact. An exhaustive review of the research literature by Professor Bonanno and two colleagues (Maren Westphal of Columbia, and Anthony Mancini of Pace University), published last November, shows that although individuals vary in their reactions to natural disasters, resilience is the human norm.

Tokyo, Japan after the earthquake and tsunami (Picture taken from Globe and Mail)