Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics
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John Goering of Clearwater arrived early to
watch the news in the St. Cloud Library about
the terrorist attack Tuesday morning. "This stuff
scares me. I know what's next. We retaliate,"
St. Cloud Times
12 September, 2001
Terrorists strike U.S. psychological core, make citizens feel vulnerable
The United States' image as an untouchable, safe haven was shattered
Tuesday when terrorists struck.
"The United States will never be the same again," said Aubrey Immelman,
political psychologist and associate professor of psychology at the College of
St. Benedict and St. John's University.
Americans likely will see a swing in public opinion, a thirst for blood, people
searching for a leader and someone to blame, he said.
"One of the goals of terrorism is to make everyone feel vulnerable. So to that
extent they've achieved their objectives," Immelman said.
At one time, vulnerable people searching for a leader found Adolf Hitler, he
"There will be a clamor for blood and revenge," Immelman said.
It will be up to President Bush to respond to that public clamor.
"We have to guard against our need to have enemies," Immelman said.
Public opinion on national defense also will change, he said.
The impact and magnitude of the situation has and will continue to hit families.
Even Immelman's wife called from home Tuesday to update him on school
closings and canceled school activities.
"It will pull people together, he said.
That camaraderie allows the "Us vs. Them" mentality to creep in, said
Immelman and other political scientists.
Dr. Chris Jazwinski is a professor of psychology at St. Cloud State
Now, people feel as if they're in a drugged state, Jazwinski said, but new
feelings will set in as the news unfolds.
"People will see that anything is possible," Jazwinski said.
That loss of security can raise anxiety levels and lead to lack of concentration
and trouble at work and home.
With added stress, people often get sick, she said.
"I think people are going to be really confused and wanting to know more,
trying to figure out whether or not we're going to be at war," Jazwinski said.
Page maintained by Aubrey Immelman
Last updated September 14, 2001