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Responding to Disaster

A Guide for Mental Health Professionals

Edited by Linda S. Austin, M.D.

  • ISBN 978-0-88048-464-0
  • Item #8464


From earthquakes to the Persian Gulf War to mass murder in a small Texas town, communities are often ill-prepared to deal with the lingering consequences of disasters.

This volume serves as a guide to organizing mental health services when disaster strikes a community. Through firsthand accounts of real-life disasters, experts in disaster response work illustrate how to evaluate disaster impact, organize a clinical response, and train mental health professionals to deal with these unique situations.


Evaluating and Planning a Clinical Response to a Community Disaster. Conceptual framework for evaluating disaster impact: implications for clinical intervention. Nature and treatment of acute stress reactions. Organizing a disaster response program in one's home community. Training mental health professionals to work with families in diverse cultural contexts. Large-group preventive treatment techniques for use after disaster. Clinical response to traumatized children. Interacting with the media after trauma in the community. Case Studies in Community Disaster Response. The 1989 San Francisco Bay Area earthquake. The Armenian earthquake. Forming the libidinal cocoon: the Dallas airplane crashes, the Guadalupe river drownings, and Hurricane Hugo in the Virgin Islands. Function of mobile crisis intervention teams after Hurricane Hugo. Management of a psychiatric inpatient service during and after Hurricane Hugo. Tornado in eastern North Carolina: outreach to school and community. Research findings after a nuclear accident: Three Mile Island.

Linda Austin M.D., has produced a well-organized guide to aid interventions in disaster communities. This often overlooked aspect of psychiatric care should be a part of the armamentarium of all community psychiatrists and part of every community’s disaster response plan. This book should be in every community mental health center’s library and on the reference list of each district branch.—Psychiatric Times

This book fills a long existing void in our field: a comprehensive treatment of psychiatric aspects of disaster. People usually think of the many general medical problems associated with disasters; they frequently ignore the psychiatric sequelae. The book is integrated conceptually, and contains an overall multifactorial model. Its detailed examples of actual disasters, ranging from earthquakes to hurricanes to airplane crashes, make it interesting, readable, and useful for training.—Robert M. A. Hirschfeld, M.D., Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, The University of Texas Medical Branch

This excellent and timely collection of clinical accounts and overview of disaster intervention draws together the experience of a wide range of clinicians who have worked in many disaster settings. Such firsthand and practical descriptions will do much to provide a framework for those who are increasingly faced with the complex and stressful task of providing mental health care in response to such emergencies.—Beverley Raphael, M.D., F.R.C.Psych., From the Foreword

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