Terrorism Fallout: Rise in Psycho-Social Toxicity in Pakistan

Terrorism and over sensationalized media coverage by private TV channels behind the rise in psycho-social toxicity in Pakistan

DESPARDES Report: How and to what extent the fallout of terrorism affect the Pakistani society? Quite a bit, says a roundtable talk recently held in Islamabad.

The general consensus was Pakistan as a nation went through more than two decades of roller coaster and shock & awe due to terrorism — Afghan War in late 70s through post-9/11.

The dialogue organized by Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI) think tank on Wednesday highlighted the rise in pscho-social toxicity in the country — specially post 9/11 due to terrorism and over sensationalized media coverage by private TV channels. The twin effect has been devastating among Pakistanis in general — resulting in stress and other disorders.

Psycho-social toxicity remains unmeasured though, for lack of empirical studies. Still, closest in terms of measure was the subject of discussion.

In economic terms, the country suffered a humongous loss: the figure is north of US$120 billion in media reports, but experts say its more.

However, the collateral damage of psycho-social toxicity– unmeasured — is the effect on the emotional muscle and its growth among individuals as they interact in the community, experts say.

According to them, “Psycho relates to an individual’s feelings, thoughts, emotions and personality, and Social relates to how one lives with others within his or her environment. Culture, values, ethics and norms play a pivotal role in an individual’s social life.”

Typically, Psycho Social support institutions support the psychological and emotional well-being of the community by providing counseling, consultation and crisis intervention. Example: The Veterans Hospital and Support Centers in the US provided Psycho-social support also to the vets–post Vietnam War, and continuing to do so for those who fought Global War on Terror (GWOT) and needed help.

The consensus was: Psycho-social toxicity permeates the society including the media, and that there is need for holistic approach to handle the malaise.

Psycho Social support is offered to people living in vulnerable circumstances to enable them to feel cared for, accepted and a sense of belonging to a social group.

“It is an ongoing process of meeting the emotional, social, mental and spiritual needs, all of which are considered essential elements of a meaningful and positive human development” — “push for economic growth (for Human Development Index (HDI)) is not enough under the circumstances,” says an expert.