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Psychol Sci. 2007 Apr;18(4):334-40.

Is television traumatic? Dreams, stress, and media exposure in the aftermath of September 11, 2001.

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1
Psychology Department, Merrimack College, 315 Turnpike Street, North Andover, MA 01845, USA. ruth.propper@merrimack.edu

Abstract

The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, were traumatic for people living throughout the United States. It has been suggested that people living far from the attacks experienced increased stress because of their exposure to the terrorist events via the media, particularly via television. Following a traumatic or stressful event, individuals may have dreams that reflect that experience. As part of a course on dreaming, individuals recorded their dreams both prior to and following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. On September 12, these same individuals reported their activities and media exposure the previous day. Results revealed (a) changes in dream features following the attacks and (b) a strong relation between exposure to the events on television and changes in dream features after the attacks. Because of the study's within-subjects design, the results provide evidence for a direct association between television viewing and subsequent increases in stress and trauma.

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