According to a new study from researchers at Ben-Gurion University of Negev (BGU), the simple act of viewing terrorist attacks through the television actually predicts an increase in pain intensity as well as in the sensory component of pain.
With the United States’ long history of manufacturing terrorism and the relentless exposure to terrorist incidents on television news networks, one must wonder what the effects on the American people really are.
If there is one positive aspect of the study entitled “Does War Hurt? Effects of Media Exposure After Missile Attacks on Chronic Pain,” published in the online edition of the Journal of Clinical Psychology in Medical Settings, it is that viewing terrorism on TV is not a predictor of anxiety or depression.
“Exposure to media coverage of terrorist missile attacks increases pain levels in people already suffering from chronic pain,” said the study conducted by Professor Golan Shahar, who is affiliated with BGU and Yale University’s Department of Psichatry, and Dr. Sheera F. Lerman of the Ben-Gurion University Department of Psychology with Dr. Zvia Rudich of Soroka University Medical Center.
The researchers studied the levels of anxiety, depression and pain in patients and related this to their level of exposure to the coverage of attacks during Operation Cast Lead in the Negev region of Israel.
For those who are not aware, Operation Cast Lead – also known as the Gaza War or the Gaza Massacre – occurred between December 27, 2008 and January 18, 2009 and resulted in a tragic humanitarian crisis according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Furthermore, Amnesty International called it, “22 days of death and destruction” in their report.
Unfortunately Operation Cast Lead was not the last instance of such brutal attacks. In March of this year, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Israeli strikes on the Gaza strip “state terror” and a “massacre.”
Unsurprisingly, levels of media exposure and stress were strongly correlated, clearly indicating that the level of stress one experiences in relation to terrorist attacks is related to their amount of time watching television coverage of said attacks.
Furthermore, Dr. Shahar points out that the levels of previous emotional distress experienced by patients seems to weaken their ability to cope with future stressful situations.
“Patients’ previous levels of emotional distress may affect their ability to cope with stressful situations, making stressors more prominent and influencing them to seek out more information about the situation,” said Shahar, according to Homeland Security News Wire.
However, the sample size of the study was, by most metrics, incredibly small. So small, in fact, that the results are, in my opinion, far from strong enough to generalize to a significantly larger population.
Indeed, the study assessed a mere 55 patients being treated for chronic pain at a specialty pain clinic. A much larger sample from a pool of patients being treated for more problems at a non-specialty clinic would produce results which could likely more accurately be generalized.
The results were tabulated from self-report questionnaires the patients filled out about their pain levels, depression and anxiety before and after the attacks during Operation Cast Lead.
The research, which was funded by the Israel Science Foundation, indicates that beyond a powerful tool for control, manipulation and fear mongering, media coverage of terrorism may actually in some way increase the levels of pain in individuals who already suffer from chronic pain.
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