The Psychological Toll of the Japanese Disaster

Japanese disaster survivors

The earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan in February, together with the ongoing nuclear crisis, dealt death and destruction on a massive scale. The disasters also caused distress—fear, confusion, sadness, and a host of other psychological problems for survivors. These effects, experts say, could last for decades.

Survivors must cope with the immediate psychological effects of the disasters, such as grief over the loss of loved ones and homes, disorientation, depression, guilt, and anger. Psychologists tending to those affected, including first responders, have noted a high rate of post-traumatic stress disorder. Sufferers of PTSD experience a sense of helplessness and anxiety long after the traumatic event that caused their troubles is over. Japanese psychologists point out that the emphasis in Japanese culture on restraining one’s emotions may contribute to the high incidence of PTSD, because people do not feel comfortable sharing about their experiences. This can lead to a sense of isolation and an increase in PTSD symptoms.

There is also a concern among some psychologists that Japanese people may respond collectively to the disaster by adopting negative psychological attitudes. Studies done on past nuclear disasters such as Chernobyl indicate that whole generations can accept a sense of hopelessness. In the wake of similar disasters, survivors of nuclear disasters have come to be viewed, both by themselves and others, as “contaminated.” This has led not only to discrimination by others but also to a lower sense of self-esteem in survivors. Thus, the full effects of the Japanese disaster may not be seen for years.

 Image credit: Kyodo via AP Images

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  1. Anonymous says:

    sorry for wat happine

    • Karen JPN says:

      it was so scary when the tsunami was all over the place i thought i was gonna die until the helicopter saved me. If the helicopter was no there i have been dead Praise The LOrd and Thank You Anonymous!! God Loves u!!

  2. dt says:

    that is sad if I were there I would help all those people there.

  3. Dante says:

    S’crazy what happened to them. I have friends over there. I do hope they rebuild quickly. My best wishes go to them.

  4. kelly says:

    i really love japan and if i had enough money, i would go poor for them because one poor person instead of hundreds and milloins is a landslide

  5. KaelonniS says:

    Thats so devastating!

  6. KaelonniS says:

    And depressing!

  7. Karen JPN says:

    Pray For Japan

  8. N/A says:

    When did this happen?