Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Making Meaning of Existential Perspectives: Pentagon Survivors Share Stories of September 11, 2001

Jeraline C. Shields, Fielding's School of Human & Organizational Development

This study examined the experiences of Pentagon employees who survived the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack on their workplace. Six participants provided individual stories of their human experiences. One-on-one interviews were used to gather data, which was analyzed using thematic analysis. Findings indicated that survivors who did not sustain physical injuries also had not received psychological evaluation or care. Social trauma of that magnitude required my awareness of the impact on participants to revisit elements associated with the experience. Unexpected traumatic experience through survivors’ stories added to literature descriptions and meanings of individual employees in the United States. Trauma experience stories by people of various cultural development uncovered their support systems, coping techniques, and delved into stories which surfaced questions about the psychological and sociological impact of unexpected trauma on human life beyond this study. Patriotism, employee group cohesiveness, family support, and grief, duty, and dedication to the employees who died and were physically injured were responsible for Pentagon employee survivors’ resilience to immediately pick up the pieces after the attack and beyond to continue to carry out the mission of the United States government.

Key Words: terrorism, trauma, resilience, terrorists, psychological aspects, Pentagon

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