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Palacios, A. Cueli, J. Camacho, J. Clériga, R. Cuevas, P. Ayala, J. Cossoff, L. (1986). The Traumatic Effect of Mass Communication in the Mexico City Earthquake: Crisis Intervention and Preventive Measures. Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 13:279-292.

(1986). International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 13:279-292

The Traumatic Effect of Mass Communication in the Mexico City Earthquake: Crisis Intervention and Preventive Measures

Agustín Palacios, José Cueli, José Camacho, Ramón Clériga, Pablo Cuevas, Jaime Ayala and Linda Cossoff


The mental health professionals response to the population psychological needs and civil disaster planning after the quake on 19 September 1985 is outlined and discussed. The effect of the mass media's sensationalist reporting and massive overflow of transmitted information upon the by then battered ego functioning of the general population, is regarded as a traumatic agent due to its passive link with personal aggressive and destructive fantasies, triggered off by and related to subjective visual imagery, past experiences and internal object projections. Sequenced phases of psychological impact in victim and non-victim populations are described in terms of emotional first impact reactions, intrapsychic processes derived from it, types of discharge, regressive behaviour and reorganization. A crisis intervention method based upon previous experiences in the application of psychoanalytic theory in field work with large populations was instrumented. Description of the method and preliminary findings are reported.

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