Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Stress levels rise in rattled Japan: Psychological trauma a third disaster in waiting?

The words "Ganbaro Nippon" -- "Be strong, Japan" -- shine down on the nation's capital nightly from the soaring steel of the landmark Tokyo Tower.

But a society known worldwide for its culture of stoicism has been knocked a bit off balance by the one-two punch of a massive earthquake and a nuclear disaster, according to both ordinary residents and experts. Andrew Grimes, a clinical psychologist working in Japan, said the events and their literal and figurative aftershocks have had "a severe effect on people's sense of security."

"It's uncharted territory to some extent," Grimes said. "But I think the mental health aspect is already with us, and it's going to stay with us for a while."

And Junichi Onodera, the director of a badly damaged hospital in northern Japan, said the disaster's psychological scars will linger longer than the current crises. (read more)