Disaster at Buffalo Creek. Discussion of the Buffalo Creek disaster: the course of psychic trauma


The specific contribution of the psychiatrist to the team study of the human disaster at Buffalo Creek focuses on the course of psychic trauma. The initial violent intrusion by the flood waters was followed by a second phase of the traumatic cycle, the physical dislocation of the survivors, with disruption of their "ground" and "surround." During this long subsequent period the level of trauma did not recede but kept rising, although at a slower pace. Distant effects of the trauma may succeed the more immediate ones. The finite psychic space of the survivors is encroached upon by traumatic memories for an indefinite period of time, leaving fewer resources available for normal effective living. The absorption and merging of traumatic stimuli into a traumatophilia poses still another potential problem. The unprecedented legal decision as to the linear effects of psychic trauma on a succession of connected individuals will need further interdisciplinary clarification.


Rangell, L. | 1976
In: Am J Psychiatry | 133 | 3 | Mar | 313-316
Placement code: 
Yzermans collectie