Wednesday, September 06, 2006


Evan Coyne Maloney has a video memorial up for 9/11, titled "Crystal Morning." (hat tip: The Corner) He writes:
Crystal Morning is dedicated:
-To all the innocents killed on September 11th, 2001,
-To all the people who died while trying to save others,
-To all the people who comforted those who knew they were facing the final moments of their lives,
-To everyone who lost someone dear,
-To New York City,
-To the men and women working to defeat those who attacked us and those who desire to,
-To the two towers whose beauty I did not appreciate until after they were gone, and
-To the hope that this mad world might one day rise above the mentality that caused September 11th.

One of my readers emailed me regarding a recent post on psychological denial:
While I am a conservative, and fully acknowledge the Islamo-fascist evil that brought about 911, and while I think it is of utmost importance to never, ever forget what happened, I really don't want to see any images or hear people talk about the atrocities a whole lot on that day. It still deeply, deeply hurts me. I live in New York City and have been to Ground Zero several times. If there is some sort of remembrance service on the day of the anniversary, maybe I would like to go down there briefly, if I can get get out of work. But that is about all, I think, I can stomach.

Would this also qualify as some sort of denial?

Here is an expanded version of my response:

No, my dear, this is not some sort of denial--it is grief, pure and simple. You are not denying the event and you are experiencing an appropriate emotional affect in response to it. In order to fully face reality, it is not necessary to force yourself to bear additional pain. For some years after the Challenger accident, I could not look at pictures of it; nor could I even talk about it without losing emotional control.

Grief is a normal response of sorrow, emotion, and confusion that comes from losing someone or something important to you, and is a natural part of living. Initially, when dealing with an important loss, there is often a need to deny that it has occurred. This gives the person a brief amount of time to psychologically adjust to a new reality. Grief begins when emotion breaks through that initial denial.

The difference between normal grief and mourning and denial is that in the former, the pain, loss and meaning are acknowledged. You do not want to forget, and it may take months--even years--to slowly work through to an acceptance of the loss.

Those in denial about 9/11 trivialize it, minimize it, and even mock it--not because they are suffering grief from what happened that day, but because 9/11 and any remembrance of it forces them to face a separate, uncomfortable reality or truth about themselves or their world view. In fact, many do not emotionally connect in any way with those who died on that day, and tell themselves things like "America deserved it"; or even think of the victims as "little eichmanns". Very often, their denial takes the form of displacement or distortion. This can easily escalate to full blown projection and paranoia, with the invention of conspiracy theories all designed to protect the lies they have told themselves to escape from reality.

Five years after the attacks of 9/11, we as a nation are only just beginning to appreciate the enormous and nearly unbearable changes that September day heralded.

Don't be ashamed to grieve--don't ever be ashamed to grieve. Take as much time as needed. Just make sure that for the sake of all those who died; for the sake of all those who mourn; and for the sake of all those who now fight to protect us from a ruthless enemy who still wants to kill us, REMEMBER 9/11.

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