LACT intervened after the terrible attacks in Paris. Leaders have contacted us either because they had employees who died, other survivors or some were bereaved, or because their premises were near the scene of the attacks or because the businesses exposed their employees to treatment. widely publicized and long-lasting news.

We took care of about 400 people in consultation and only about ten needed to continue after an initial interview. The others felt soothed.

Nevertheless, success must remain relative because in general, 9% of people exposed to a traumatic event will develop post-traumatic stress disorder and these have not been seen. It is likely that requests for support will increase in the months that follow.

It is usual for 4 weeks to have trouble coping with your present life as before, your relationship with yourself may be disturbed (you may be overwhelmed by your emotions or not find them legitimate), with others (one can feel offbeat or find them strange or disturbing in their own reactions), finally his way of envisaging his environment is complicated (for example taking the metro is terribly anxiety-provoking, engaging in his work activity is painful, etc. ).

These symptoms do not indicate a psychological problem but a natural disturbance. And our human condition is programmed to cope with even the worst. Obviously the media coverage of the event over time also contributes to making the reactions more intense.

What happens immediately after the shock, whether you are a survivor, bereaved, attacked in the privacy of your geographical territory or affected more indirectly by the nature of the event?

Shock produces disorder and that disorder takes the form of helplessness and confusion. Emotional manifestations can then mingle: very strong sadness, which submerges like a wave, an invading fear that one cannot control, an anger which dominates and which begins to sweat in relationships with others in the form of irritability. or aggressiveness. The state of confusion is strong, it is perhaps even more so if until then one has not been exposed to traumatic situations, and this confusion often takes the search for an attempt at cognitive control: Why am I I on edge? Why this event? Why did I survive? What meaning to life, what meaning has my life?

Irrational guilt sets in, existential doubts set in with a feeling of particularly painful loss of meaning.

Some experience what Paul Watzlawick called this kind of crisis an anguish of seeing this night never end.

What we observe when individual or collective reactions are not appropriate can be translated into three main categories of behavior:

  1. We identify symptoms in ourselves or in another that are considered disabling or disproportionately inappropriate and there we try to act very quickly on them, we strive for example with urgency and insistence to regain the upper hand or we impose advice on someone who goes badly… but it's too fast and it produces greater embrittlement. Whose effects over time can lead to radical decisions of mobility or separation.
  2. Faced with these same symptoms, an opposite reaction would be to wait, to withdraw and therefore to adopt an avoidance behavior , the consequence then is to let the situation rot with the same consequence as before.
  3. Finally, a third equally dysfunctional attempt would consist in not acting too quickly or waiting too long, but in tending to rationalize "spontaneous" symptoms, by reasoning with them, then being confronted with the inefficiency of this process of rationalization and then giving up. ultimately with the same type of effect.

It is clear that the heart has its reasons that reason does not know... So what to do?

Our consultations aim to provide a framework for psychological action that promotes the process of resilience.

The first thing is to be able to tame the trauma : It is a wound that is formed by the brutality of facts that we could not imagine, which surprise us and which are frighteningly violent. They darken the present and of course the future.

It is important to normalize the trauma: It is normal to be bad, only the event is abnormal. This type of event has an immoral aspect. It reveals "the dark side of the force" which is specific to the human condition.

The present after the shock is therefore dark as if one were wearing dark glasses. And as we think about the future with the eyes of the present, the future can only appear dark as well.

Reactions are different from person to person.

On the social level, as last January with the Charly Hebdo attack, a consensus was expressed with the slogan “not afraid” as much this time it is more fear and sadness which seem to dominate.

These reactions can be different, it is necessary to provide answers to the specific reactions. Some need to talk, survivors for example need to go back to work when others need to cocoon… There are no rules in this area.

In general, the more we are shaken, the more we need comfort and this need can take different forms.

What protection to give?

If you can protect, be careful not to overprotect, as this would stifle the precious autonomy needed to cope durably. With the best attentions, the worst effects can be produced. Spot the effects of what you are doing and stop what is not working or not working well.

You can

  • Offer comfort by listening/a benevolent presence
  • Focus on reactions and feelings more than on history and feelings
  • Encourage the return to professional action, work is a factor of health
  • Provide relaxation areas

It is important to observe any change in behavior or attitude that demonstrates a fragility that sets in or even increases over time. Faced with the persistence of symptoms of malaise, you can consult or encourage psychological consultations.

When we have to face the effects of trauma, whether we experience it in our flesh or manage it through our profession or through solidarity, we experience vulnerability.

Taking care of yourself is, it seems, an ethical imperative… Because the first act of strength is to confront your own vulnerability!

The responses we provide to deal with traumatic crisis situations: Follow a process. First in the form of an operational diagnosis with a direction where the challenge of the devices will be specified and therefore the strategy to be implemented to achieve the targeted objective, the most strategic communication to manage the crisis and finally indications on the most appropriate relational attitudes. Then we set up three types of measures: A psychological action unit by telephone, an on-site psychological action office, collective support workshops.