The Psychological Effect of 9-11 on Young Adults

“Despite the heightened security, Marissa could not travel weeks after the event, as the thought of being on a plane evoked great fear in her. As she overcame her anxiety of flying on a trip to Florida, she underwent a personal setback when experiencing a panic attack on the plane due to the presence of a man that she associated with terrorism. Another awkward giggle escapes Marissa as she states that she does not consider herself a judgmental person based on looks, but she could not help feeling scared. It was a first reaction, and a wrong one, and she panicked and had to force herself to fall asleep so she would not think about the risk of another September 11th event happing with her 3000 miles in the air. Marissa does not experience any major anxiety when flying now, but she still experiences minor degrees of anxiety, which she simply blocks out by telling herself that everything will be ok.” (Marissa, personal communication, 2009). These are the views of a 22 years old Adult and go to show the psychological effect of the 9/11 blasts. Many people are being wrongly suspected of being terrorists, this has been one of the biggest changes in the psychology of adults which has taken place since the 9/11 incident.

“The majority of participants reported that the events of 9/11 and the war in Iraq changed the way people define who is a true American. Changes that were typically reported included heightened levels of racial profiling, discrimination, and an “us-versus-them” mentality. With regard to perceptions of increased racial profiling, some individuals shared specific and personal incidents of discrimination. One Asian American woman stated, “I know my fiancé´ looks Middle Eastern, he was getting different looks from other Americans…. Right after it happened, he felt like people were thinking he was a threat.” Other participants described being aware of heightened levels of discrimination but were not directly affected. One participant explained, “A lot of people, not just people from one culture, but people from other cultures seem to be a little bit more suspicious of Muslim people.” (True American, 2009). The changes in the psychology of Marissa after the 9/11 incident are again evident here in the above case. The Adults have become very suspicious; this is one of the biggest psychological changes which have taken since the 9/11 incident. Marissa experienced panic attacks on looking at a person, whom she suspected of being a terrorist middle Asian American woman felt that her fiancé was looked upon by people as a potential threat, all this evidence shows a major change in the psychology of the Adults. There has been a new theory which has come up called the “Us” vs. “Them” theory, “us” refer to the Adults in the United States and “Them” refer to the people who are perceived to be terrorists based on their looks. This theory has given rise to discrimination based on looks.

“Increased corporate security has been one important outcome of 9/11 (Chen & Noriega, 2003; Minehan, 2003; NEHRA leaders reflect, 2006). The issue of employee safety will remain one of major importance for many years in the future because the threat of terrorism is real and businesses continue to target (Schramm & Burke, 2004). Employers have continued during this time to enhance security for their employees both domestically and especially overseas and the intent is to continue to redesign and update these systems (Modeling terrorism risks, 2003; Schramm & Burke, 2004). In the past five years, many companies have instituted formal referenced checking programs and routinely check into the criminal, motor vehicle, social security, and credit histories of job candidates, in addition to their past employment history (NEHRA leaders reflect, 2006). Other measures taken include use of security guards at office entrances and electronic monitoring of computers and phones.” (Bosco et al, 2008.). Another psychological effect, which has taken place is from the security point of view, Americans are just making sure that the same never happens again. “Marissa did not experience any immediately noticeable changes in people. She felt that everyone went on with their normal day-to-day lives. Marissa has noticed long-term effects on people such as anxiety. After high school, she chose to go to college in the city, along with some other friends. She did notice that they were very alert to their surroundings. There is always that fear that anything can happen.” (Marissa, personal communication, 2009). Marissa’s comments confirm the change in the psychology of the Adults, which has taken place after the 9/11 incident, the security concerns in the mind of the Adults have risen to an alarmingly high extent. Being conscious about something is good to a certain extent but being over conscious is never good and the Adults have become over conscious with regard to their safety in America since the 9/11 incident and this is clearly evident from Marissa’s Interview.


What it means to be and feel like a ‘true’ American: perceptions and experiences of second-generation Americans,2008, Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, Vol 14(2), 128-137 Park-Taylor et al.

Bosco, S., & Harvey, D. (2008). Effects of terror attacks on students’ anxiety levels and workplace perceptions–five years later. College Student Journal, 42(3), 895-905. From PsycINFO database.