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........ published in NEWSLETTER # 55

by Professor S.E. Hobfoll and Professor M.W. de Vries, State University, Kent/OH (U.S.A.)

In the 1990s, the enormity of both the individual and social problems related to trauma have become even more visible and apparent throughout the world. Global communication compels us to directly share the suffering and helplessness of millions of people subjected to social upheaval or disaster. Dramas ranging from incest and violence on city streets to systematic torture, war, and even genocide have become daily venue. Although not new historical developments, their sheer bulk in relation to our capacity to understand challenges the adequacy and scope of our knowledge and ability to respond. National and international relief agencies, instead of cooperating with each other, often clash about even obsolete solutions. This volume (NATO ASI SERIES D80) aims to update and shape conceptual and practical knowledge of stress in communities by contributing insight into community responses under extremely stressful conditions.

The chapter authors of "Extreme Stress and Communities" are among the foremost people in the field of community stress and traumatology. Coming from the fields of psychology, psychiatry, social epidemiology, and sociology, they were often both researchers and clinicians in key roles and were involved in the most well-known community stress events of our time. Senior scholars from around the world speak as both researchers and interventionists from a wealth of hands on experience. Among the events which saw their involvement and from which they learned are the Lockerbie Plane Bombing, Hurricane Andrew, the Armenian Earthquake, the great Australian Bush Fires, the Lebanon Hostage Crisis, the North Sea Oil Disaster, Three-Mile Island, and the wars in the Middle East, Afghanistan, and the former Yugoslavia. These tragic events became living classrooms for how best to handle the psychological impact of extreme stress facing communities.

The volume is unique in that it concentrates on the community level, whereas other volumes focus on the individual - usually limited to psychotherapy and crisis intervention. It begins at this level, but goes on to address how community resources are influenced by extreme stress, how families, groups, and organizations are impacted and can be helped, how prevention efforts may be implemented, and preferred approaches for the prolonged stage of community recovery and restoring of community services and social stability.

The volume begins by applying theoretical issues in the study of stress and coping at the community level. The next section addresses community resources and how these are impacted by extreme stress and can be made more resilient. The third section applies stress theory to the study of different kinds of extreme stress, including natural disasters, technological disasters, and war. The volume then proceeds to the critical area of long-term effects of extreme stress, looking at impact and intervention from a few years to many decades after the event. Finally, prevention and intervention guidelines on the individual, group and family, organizational, and policy level are discussed in depth and specific recommendations are made. Overall, the volume represents a singular contribution to the work on extreme stress and its impact on communities.
Reference books: D19, D54, D80

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