Socio-psychological impacts of the modern terrorism



One of the serious social and psychological aftermaths of the terrorist threat is the formation of various mental disorders in the population of countries been exposed to terrorist attacks. The variety of mental impacts of the terrorist threat aftermath is extremely wide - from frustration and mental responses to some serious mental disorders. Long-term emotional tension, uncertainty, fear of death often lead to a decrease in the social functioning of individuals, and as a result, the whole society. At the same time, specific symptoms occur not only in the early stages of experiencing the terrorist threat, but also, often, progress in the delayed period, mainly in the form of affective disorders, psychosomatic pathology, chronic post-stress changes in the personality. The article reviews and analyzes the nature of the response of society as a whole and its individual groups, the impact of professional and national factors on the perception of the terrorist threat in various countries of the world over the past twenty years.

General Information

Keywords: terrorist threat, terrorism and its effects on mental health, secondary victim, mental health disorders caused by terrorism.

Journal rubric: Forensic and Clinical Psychology in Legal Context

Article type: scientific article


For citation: Zakharova N., Baeva A., Sobolev N.A. Socio-psychological impacts of the modern terrorism [Elektronnyi resurs]. Psikhologiya i pravo = Psychology and Law, 2018. Vol. 8, no. 3, pp. 190–205. DOI: 10.17759/psylaw.2018080314. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


  1. Baza sotsiologicheskih dannih VTSIOM [Base of data of sociological polls]. [Jelektronnyj resurs]. URL: Russian.
  2. Bihovets UV. Predstavleniya o terroristicheskom akte I perezhivanie terroristicheskoy ugrozi zhitelyami raznih regionov RF . Avtoref. diss. kan. psihol. nauk. [Ideas about the terrorist act and the experience of the terrorist threat by residents of different regions of the Russian Federation. Ph.D. (Psychology) Thesis]. Moscow, 2008, 27p. Russian.
  3. Bihovets UV, Tarabrina NV. Psihologicheskaya otsenka perezhivaniya terroristicheskoy ugrozi. Metodicheskie rekomendatsii. [Psychological evaluation of terrorist threat experience: Method recommendations]. Moscow: IP RAN, 2010, 84 p.
  4. Galahov S. S. Kriminalnyie vzryivyi. Osnovyi operativno-rozyisknoy deyatelnosti po borbe s prestupleniyami terroristicheskogo haraktera [Criminal explosions. Bases of operational-search activity on fight against crimes of terrorist character]. Moscow: Ekzamen, 2002. 288 p.
  5. Enikolopov S. N., Lebedev S. V., Bobosov E. A. Vliyanie ekstremalnogo sobyitiya na kosvennyih uchastnikov [The effect of extreme events indirect participants]. Psihologicheskiy zhurnal [Psychological journal]. 2004. .Vol. 25 (6). pp. 73—81. Russian.
  6. Enikolopov SN. Terrorizm I agressivnoe povedenie [Terrorism and aggressive behavior]. Natsionalniy psihologicheskiy zhurnal [National psychology magazine]. 2006 (1). pp. 28-32.
  7. Enikolopov, S. N., Mkrtyichyan A. A. Psihologicheskie posledstviya terrorizma [Psychological consequences of terrorism]. Voprosyi psihologii [Questions of psychology]. 2008. Vol. 3, p. 71-80.
  8. Enikolopov S. N., Mkrtchyan A.A. Psihologicheskie posledstviya terrorizma i rol SMI v protsesse ih formirovaniya [Psychological consequences of terrorism and the role of mass media in the process of their formation]. Natsionalnyiy psihologicheskiy zhurnal [National Psychological Journal]. 2010: 2(4). pp. 41-46.
  9. Kekelidze Z.I. Osobennosti formirovaniya psihicheskih rasstroistv pri terroristicheskih aktah [Peculiarities of formation of mental disorders in terrorist acts]. Materiali Pervogo natsionalnogo kongressa po sotsialnoy psihiatrii «Psihicheskoe zdorovie I bezopasnost’ v obschestve» [proceedings of the First national Congress on social psychiatry, "Mental health and security in society" (Moscow, 2-3 December 2004). M., Sscis psychiatry them. V. P. Serbsky]. Moskva, 2004: pp. 63-64.
  10. Kekelidze Z.I., Nasrullaev F.S. Psihicheskie rasstroystva u zalognikov I vtorichnih gertv [Mental disorders in hostages and secondary victims]. Kekelidze Z.I. (eds.). Psihiatria chrezvichaynih situaziy. Rukovodstvo [Psychiatry of emergency situations: guide]. Moscow, 2011: pp. 74-–95.
  11. Nazaretyan A. P. Agressivnaya tolpa, massovaya panika, sluhi: Lektsii po sotsialnoy i politicheskoy psihologii [Aggressive crowd, mass panic, rumors: lectures on social and political psychology]. Saint-Petersbourg.: Piter, 2003, 192 p.
  12. Olshanskiy D. V. Psihologiya terror [Psychology of terror]. Moscow: Akademicheskiy proekt, 2002. 320 p. Russian.
  13. Portnova A. A. Indigennyiy konflikt: neblagopriyatnyiy tip otsrochennogo massovogo reagirovaniya na tyazhelyiy emotsionalnyiy stress [Indigenous conflict: an unfortunate type of delayed mass response to severe emotional stres]. Zhurnal nevrologii i psihiatrii im. S. S. Korsakova [Journal of neurology and psychiatry. S. S. Korsakov]. 2006. Vol. 106(2). pp. 13-16.
  14. Tarabrina N.V., Bihovets U.V. Psihotravmiruyuschee vozdeystvie terroristicheskoy ugrozi [Psychotraumatic impact of the terrorist threat]. Materiali XIV s’ezda Rossiyskogo obschestva psihiatrov [Materials of the XIV Congress of the Russian society of psychiatrists]. Moskva, 15-18.11.2005. Moscow, 2005: pp.158-159.
  15. Yastrebov V.S. Terrorizm i psihicheskoe zdorove (masshtab problemyi, tolerantnost naseleniya, organizatsiya pomoschi). [Terrorism and mental health (the scale of the problem, the tolerance of the population, the aid organization)]. Zhurnal nevrologii i psihiatrii im. S. S. Korsakova [Journal of neurology and psychiatry. S. S. Korsakov]. 2004. Vol.104(6), pp. 4-8.
  16. Yastrebov V.S., Boev B.V. Prognozirovanie vspyishek posttravmaticheskih stressovyih rasstroystv posle masshtabnyih aktov terrorizma [The prediction of outbreaks of posttraumatic stress disorders after large-scale terrorism acts]. Zhurnal nevrologii i psihiatrii im. S. S. Korsakova [Journal of neurology and psychiatry. S. S. Korsakov]. 2007. Vol. 107(2), pp. 35-42. Russian.
  17. Birkelund G.E., Chan T.W., Ugreninov E. et al. Do terrorist attacks affect ethnic discrimination in the labour market? Evidence from two randomized field experiments. British journal of sociology. ePub. 2018. doi: 10.1111/1468-4446.12344.
  18. Chen H., Chung H., Chen T. et al. Brief Report: The emotional distress in a community after the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. Community Mental Health Journal, 2003; Vol. 39(2): 157-165.
  19. Cohen-Louck K., Saka Y. Patterns in response to chronic terrorism threats: A construct of emotional, cognitive, and behavioral responses among Israeli citizens. Stress and Health. Wiley. 2016. doi: 10.1002/smi.2728
  20. DeLisi L.E., Katz C.L., Pellegrino L. et al. Research on psychiatric outcomes and interventions subsequent to disasters: a review of the literature. Psychiatry Res. 2002; 110(3): 201-217. ISSN: 0165-1781
  21. Fenton M.C., Keyes K., Geier T. et al. Psychiatric comorbidity and the persistence of drug use disorders in the United States. Addiction. 2012; Vol. 107(3): 461-687.
  22. Fullerton C.S., Mash H.B.H., Benevides K.N. et al. Distress of Routine Activities and Perceived Safety Associated with Post-Traumatic Stress, Depression, and Alcohol Use: 2002 Washington, DC, Sniper Attacks. Disaster medicine and public health preparedness. 2015; Vol. 9 (5): 509-515.
  23. Galea, S., Ahern, J., Resnick, H. et al. Psychological sequelae of the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York City. New England Journal of Medicine. 2002; Vol. 346 (13): 982-987.
  24. Galea S., Resnick H. Posttraumatic stress disorder in the general population after mass terrorist incidents: Considerations about the nature of exposure. CNS Spectrums. 2005; Vol. 10(2): 107-115.
  25. Gelkopf, M., Solomon, Z., Berger, R. et al. The mental health impact of terrorism in Israel: A repeat cross‐sectional study of Arabs and Jews. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica. 2008; Vol. 117 (5): 369-380.
  26. Gillis J. W. Coping after terrorism. The handbook for US Department of Justice. Washington DC: Office of Justice Program. 2001; Vol. 9: 3-11.
  27. Grieger T.A., Fullerton C.S., Ursano R.J. Posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, and perceived safety 13 months after September 11. Psychiatric Services. 2004; Vol. 55(9): 1061-1063.
  28. Holman, E. A., Garfin, D. R., Silver, R. C. Media’s role in broadcasting acute stress following the Boston Marathon bombings. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the USA. 2014; Vol. 111: 93-98. doi/10.1073/pnas.1316265110
  29. Jacobson M.H., Norman C., Nguyen A. et al. Longitudinal determinants of depression among World Trade Center Health Registry enrollees, 14–15 years after the 9/11 attacks. Journal of Affective Disorders. 2018; Vol. 229: 483–490.
  30. Lindy J. D., Lindy D. C. Counter transference and disaster psychiatry: From Buffalo Creek to 9/11. Psychiatric Clinics of North America. 2004; Vol. 27: 571-587.
  31. Marshall RD, Amsel L, Norris FH et al. Strategies for dissemination of evidence-based treatments: Training clinicians after large-scale disasters. Methods for disaster mental health research. New York: Guilford Press 2006: 226-242.
  32. Padela A.I., Heisler M. (2010). The Association of Perceived Abuse and Discrimination After September 11, 2001, With Psychological Distress, Level of Happiness, and Health Status Among Arab Americans. American Journal of Public Health. Vol. 100(2): 284-291.
  33. Pyszczynski T.A., Greenberg J., Solomon S. In the Wake of 9/11: The Psychology of Terror. American Psychological Association, Washington, DC, 2003. 227 p. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2003, 227 p.
  34. Schlenger W. E., Caddel J. M., Ebert L. et al. Psychological reactions to terrorist attacks: Findings from the National Study of Americans’ Reactions to September 11. Journal of the American Medical Association, 2002; Vol. 288(5): 581-588.
  35. Silver R. C., Holman A., McIntosh D. N. et al.  Nationwide  longitudinal  study  of psychological  responses  to  September 11. Journal of the American Medical Association, 2002; Vol. 288(10): 1235-1244.
  36. Solomon S., Greenberg J., Pyszczynski T. Pride and prejudice: Fear of Death and social behavior. Current directions in psychological science. American Psychological Society. 2000; Vol. 9(6): 200-204.
  37. Stefano C., Orri M., Agostinucci J.M., et al. Early psychological impact of Paris terrorist attacks on healthcare emergency staff: A cross-sectional study. Anxiety and depression worldwide. 2018; Vol. 35(3): 275-282, doi: 10.1002/da.22724
  38. Wesemann, P Zimmermann, M Mahnke, O Butler, S Polk, G Willmund. Burdens on emergency responders after a terrorist attack in Berlin. Oxford University Press (OUP): Occup Med (Lond). 2018 Feb 16; 68(1): 60-63. doi: 10.1093/occmed/kqx172. PMID: 29309698

Information About the Authors

Natalya Zakharova, PhD in Medicine, senior researcher of the Department of urgent psychiatry and the help at emergency situations, Federal State Budgetary Institution "V. Serbsky Federal Medical Research Centre for Psychiatry and Narcology" of the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:

Alana Baeva, PhD in Medicine, senior researcher of the Department of urgent psychiatry and the help at emergency situations, Federal State Budgetary Institution "V. Serbsky Federal Medical Research Centre for Psychiatry and Narcology" of the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation, Moscow, Russia

Nikita A. Sobolev, Psychiatrist of the Department of Emergency Psychiatric and Psychological Aid in Emergencies, FSBI “Federal Medical Research Center for Psychiatry and Narcology Named After V.P. Serbian" Ministry of Health of Russia, Moscow, Russia, e-mail:



Total: 5509
Previous month: 326
Current month: 154


Total: 631
Previous month: 28
Current month: 11