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Violence Overload: After Paris and San Bernardino, Living “In a Different State of Mind”

SILVER SPRING, MD - DECEMBER 04: People participate in a candlelight vigil, held by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, for the victims in recent mass shootings December 4, 2015 at the Muslin Community Center in Silver Spring, Maryland. On Friday the FBI announced that it is investigating the San Bernardino shooting on Wednesday as an act of terrorism. One of the two suspects, Tashfeen Malik, reportedly pledged allegiance to the Islamic State on Facebook on the day of the shooting. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 12/11/15

Jaweed Kaleem at Huffington Postuncovers a widening stream of anxiety—and deeper awareness of our own mortality—in the American psyche:

A few days ago, while driving to a movie near his Fort Worth, Texas, neighborhood, Patrick O’Malley suddenly feared for his life. “This could be risky,” O’Malley remembers telling his wife, thinking of the possibility of dying in a sudden, random mass shooting during the screening of he movie “Spotlight.” It was a particularly unusual feeling for O’Malley, a psychotherapist who has spent 36 years guiding patients with severe anxiety. Now, after a spate of mass violence in the U.S. and around the world, O’Malley had to treat himself. “We didn’t stop from going to the movie, but we were in a different state of mind,” he said. It’s a scene familiar to many Americans, played out over dinner conversations, Facebook statuses, and text messages since this week’s mass shooting that left 17 people dead and 21 wounded in San Bernardino, California, the latest in a string of mass violence in the U.S. Coupled with Friday’s FBI announcement that it was investigating the case as terrorism and that the one of the shooters, Tashfeen Malik, had pledged loyalty to the Islamic State group, fear of being killed in an attack has become pervasive for many Americans. But outside of the talk of reforming gun laws, the psychology of extremism and the battle waging over international terrorism, what effect is this amplified sense of mortality having on people? And what’s the average person to do about it? “With Paris, with Planned Parenthood, with so many of these events, there is his kind of PTSD by proxy of people who aren’t necessarily witnessing the trauma,” said O’Malley. “I’m seeing a preponderance of people dealing with anxiety and panic attacks from simply watching reports of the violence around us.” Americans’ perception of how to measure “what is really danger is a level of destabilization,” O’Malley said. “The physical mechanisms we use to address safety and danger are just upside down right now.”

Read the rest.

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

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