Video: Coping with Katrina's aftermath

updated 9/2/2005 7:36:48 PM ET 2005-09-02T23:36:48

New Orleans finds itself in a chaotic state, as the number of dead continues to rise and the need for food, water and other basic items are in great demand.  Beyond the physical destruction of Hurricane Katrina, victims now face severe emotional and psychological repercussions. People are pleading for help to stop their suffering, but when will that suffering end?

"The Abram’s Report" guest host, Lisa Daniels talked to clinical psychologist, Patricia Farrell, to better understand what people, especially children, are currently experiencing emotionally.

LISA DANIELS, ‘ABRAMS REPORT’ GUEST HOST: Doctor, it’s almost with children, when you see those images of those children, its just heart breaking. Their worlds just completely ripped from underneath them.  How are they coping?

PATRICIA FARRELL, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: Can you imagine? Some of them are kind of walking around and seem to be playing, but I have to say the images that they are now taking in and the things that they are being subjected to are going to play out maybe two days to four weeks or even longer. So we have to begin to give them some hope. We have to give them some support. We have to ask the adults to really seem like they have hope. That they know we’re going to go on, we’re going to be fine. They have to reassure them.

DANIELS: So to give them security and security is really what they’re lacking at this point. Does that security, for the meantime, have to come from officials?

FARRELL: I don’t think so. I think it needs to come from people around them with whom they’re familiar. Because don’t forget, you’ve ripped them out of everything, their neighborhoods, their families, everything. These are strangers in a strange land, so you have to communicate, if that’s one word that I heard today.  If you don’t communicate, you increase stress.

DANIELS: We see such different responses from people. There are people acting heroically, there are people acting like they’re in the middle of chaos, and they just are screaming. What accounts for the differences in human nature?

FARRELL: Well, there are some people, you or I, if we were put in a situation like that, we really don’t know how we would react. Sometimes these kinds of situations bring out incredible kinds of abilities in people and other people just find they can’t cope, and that’s normal. You’re going to have a whole range of things like that. Just as you’re going to see wonderful, wonderful, good people. You’re going to see some other people that are going to be opportunists that are going to do terrible things. So, don’t blame all of the good people for these couple of bad apples.

DANIELS: Well, these emotional problems, we’re just discussing them now, but it’s a fight for survival at this point, so I know we’re going to revisit these issues for the months and the years to come.

Watch the 'Abrams Report' for more analysis and interviews on the top legal stories each weeknight at 6 p.m. ET on MSNBC TV.


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