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Psychic Wounds Last for Those Touched by 9/11
Date:9/8/2011

By Maureen Salamon
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 7 (HealthDay News) -- John Feal need only look down each morning to remember the devastation of Sept. 11, 2001.

Feal was a construction supervisor who went to help at Ground Zero the day after the terrorist attacks. As he worked among the rubble, 8,000 pounds of steel shifted and Feal lost half his left foot when it was crushed by the weight.

More than a year of physical and mental therapy followed, after which Feal founded an advocacy group for first responders. He also received a New York State Congressional Medal of Honor for Civilians Above and Beyond for his advocacy work and for donating a kidney to a complete stranger.

As the 10th anniversary approaches and the world gets ready to relive the day, Feal appears to be facing the memory calmly.

"I don't know if it's a gift or a curse, but I can block 9/11 out," he said. "Every day I wake up looking at half a foot, but it's a reminder of what I've been through . . . I can embrace it because I accept history. I don't stay in the past at all."

Mental health experts say that almost any reaction to the milestone -- whether flashbacks, anger, overwhelming grief or a sense of resolution -- can be considered normal.

But they also expect that the well-known phenomenon known as "anniversary reaction" -- which tends to reawaken feelings associated with deep bereavement -- will be in full force over the next several days, even among typical Americans whose losses that day were confined to a broader sense of safety and peace.

TV news images of the Twin Towers falling -- already on the air for weeks as networks run retrospectives on the catastrophe -- can easily summon the acute trauma of the event, as can innocuous details like a cloudless, crystal-blue sky or the sound of a jet roaring overhead.

"It's often the result of feeling, once again, the fear or sadness or outrage," said Jeffr
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