With the confluence of the national health care debates and the anniversary of the terrorist attacks, I couldn't help but put the two together and wonder about the psychological impact of the "War on Terror" and its impact on health. While comparisons have been made between the financial costs of a national health care plan and the cost of the wars in the Middle East, there is also the psychological impact. We've read in the news about the problems of post-traumatic stress and rise in the number of suicides among the soldiers returning from their tours of duty, but there has also been a profound psychological impact to the average citizen.
I have previously written about how the stories we believe influence our physiology. From an evolutionary psychology perspective, fear triggers the autonomic system to keep us physically safe. But in the mental realm of thoughts, ideas, "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself" as put best by Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
In Barack Obama's statement in his speech to the Senate on health care reform, "We did not come here not to fear the future, we came shape it" serves as a stark contrast to the previous administration who's fear based policies "shaped" the current "future" we now live. President Obama's speech inspires us to act from compassion rather than from fear. It's a different message.
If you are looking for a way to commemorate the September 11th attacks, I recommend viewing the most excellent documentary series "The Power of Nightmares" by Adam Curtis which is available online episode 1, episode 2, and episode 3. The series examines the role of stories and the media in shaping popular opinion and political action. This series may shed some light on the current political messaging behind the national health care debates.