Dr Judith Guedalia

Terrorism has many forms

With the advent of the Internet we have made ‘boundri-less' contacts.  We may be sitting in the office, at home or on the ‘road', but we can ‘connect' with faceless friends and foes alike.  There is an intimacy that this ‘ahistorical' (without history) contact permits us, even encourages.  It has many benefits, the closeness of information: "just Google it", the physical contact of touching the computer and ‘speaking' to someone ‘out there'.  Immense amounts of information are right at our fingertips.  We at Nefesh- an international networking organization for orthodox mental health professional have created a wonderful ListServ, a forum for communication between like-minded individuals.  We are ‘networking' day and night (depending where on the globe you reside), asking for referrals to other professionals, consulting on issues and just passing on information that may be of interest to members.  The world has indeed become smaller and closer through the internet. 


But, clearly there are dangers.  Dangers and horror stories that we read about in the news, one such occurred not long ago in Israel.  A teenager who was perceived by others and considered himself an ‘outsider , a loner, a computer ‘junkie', found a ‘contact', a like minded individual, he thought, over cyberspace.  What seems to have occurred though is that the ‘mail', so innocent, so needy, and so desperate for contact, ‘connected' with someone with nefarious motives.  A ‘date' to meet was arranged and the poor young man went unbeknownst to himself and his family, to this first and for him final meeting, his death at the hand of a new form of terrorist.

Just imagine though how easy it is to let someone into your house.  You just open the ‘portal'-door, and there they are.  I don't want to frighten everyone but we must be cognizant of this new threat to our families.   Clearly this is an isolated case, but worldwide more than a few have been reported.

More common is another form of terrorism, for Terrorism takes on many forms.  One of them we here live through daily and those of you in the States experienced fully on 9-11.  The namelessness and facelessness of the enemy not only affects the directly injured victim, but in a ripple effect, creates an environment of fear and suspicion.  This too is the terrorist's goal.  

I am on another List, one of professional in my specific specialty in psychology.  Last year after 8 hours in ER on a Sunday, treating, along with our Trauma team,  over 40 people with acute stress disorder,  who were either wounded by shrapnel or had the blood and innards of others on their person (that does not include family members who were no less traumatized by the proximity of their loved ones ‘escape'), I was tired.  It was less than a week since the ‘shooter' opened up on the same street, killing a few, and wounding and traumatizing scores.  My burn patient (second and third degree burns on face, hands and legs) from the attack in December, just returned to his home in the States.  In the wards lay (among others) from the week before an eighteen year old girl American who was on a student program, with chest and internal injuries who arrived at the hospital with no blood pressure or heartbeat, and possible brain damage.

So when I saw a message from pr (public relations dept. here) about ‘happy' pictures, I was only too glad to try an open them.  Of course the ‘English' wasn't good, many Israeli's English isn't grammatically ‘good', but none the less, happy was happy. 

Wrong again.

‘Happy' was another terrorist ploy.  One that definitely achieved its goal.  Creating havoc on innocent people in their ‘safe' places, reinforcing suspicion, distrust and downright nastiness.

As do most of the people I treat in the ER, I took responsibility for the ‘ill' I caused those around me by the fact that the ‘virus worm' invaded computers of people on the List, and spewed out their saved or sent messages.  By apologizing, for something that was almost totally (because I relied on the hospital firewall) out of my realm of control,   The trauma victims, we see, frequently apologize -‘it was my fault, I shouldn't have gone on that bus' or some such other comment.  Family members of an abusing spouse or children to this too.  ‘I'm sorry he wouldn't have hit me had I cooked his favorite soup' or ‘had I been quieter, Dad wouldn't have pushed me so hard.  NO YOU ARE NOT TO BLAME,  I tell them, we need to get a handle on ‘things', so even when it is irrational, we try to ‘take responsibility for even abuse!

The case of the ‘virus that caused sickness' to other computer's on the ListServ is banal and ‘silly' by comparison.  But the response is one we should all be aware of, because it impacts on how we view other people and their ‘errors', or should we say, other innocent people who were unwittingly taken ‘hostage' by deceit and a destructive personality.  Soothing comments to my ‘apology' were sent back-channel (sent to me privately and not listed on the ListServ for all to see), and the, as it were, ‘nothing personal' but :you-are-responsible-for-what-is-done-to you, ones were sent ‘front channel', out to Everyone on the ListServ, only proves my point.  Terrorism succeeds in turning good, understanding, ‘helping' professionals, into hypervigilant insensitive ones. 

Do continue to use the email, and learn a Musar Heskail, don't blame the victim, offer a kind word, a helping hand, because they blame themselves already.

Tags: Form Of Terrorism | Internet | Self Blame