- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 3, 2008

The attacks of September 11 had a more profound effect on Americans than many may realize.

“The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, changed our lives in a number of different ways, not only socially and politically, but also in the way in which we dream,” says a new study by Dr. Ernest Hartmann, a psychiatry professor at Tufts University School of Medicine.

After poring over the accounts of 880 dreams from 44 men and women, Dr. Hartmann has concluded that September 11 prompted us to dream with more intensity, and that the event has emotionally affected all Americans.

With the help of researchers at Newton-Wellesley Hospital in Boston, he systematically analyzed the dreams of 11 men and 33 women, all living in the U.S. and all between the ages of 22 and 70. Each of them supplied clear details from 10 dreams they had before September 11, and 10 dreams they had after the attacks.

Not one of the dreams after the attacks contained the graphic images of jets flying into the World Trade Center towers — images that were repeated in subsequent press coverage.

“There were no ‘exact replay’ dreams picturing the actual events of 9/11 seen repeatedly on TV,” the study stated.

Instead, the dreams contained a variety of very intense images, and though they were not longer in length, they were “more dreamlike or bizarre,” Dr. Hartmann found.

“The more intense imagery is very consistent with findings in people who have experienced trauma of various kinds,” he said.

The study concluded that 9/11 indeed produced trauma — “or, at the very least, emotional arousal in everyone living in the United States.”

The report was published in the Feb. 1 issue of Sleep, an academic journal.

Other medical research has revealed unexpected damage from the attacks.

By measuring levels of a stress hormone in the saliva of 200 pregnant women who survived or were nearby when the World Trade Center towers collapsed, researchers at the Mount Sinai Hospital School of Medicine found that these women passed on “markers” of post-traumatic stress disorder to their unborn babies.

In collaboration with the Columbia University Center for Children’s Health, the researchers also found that the women’s babies generally were born earlier, weighed less and were smaller than infants delivered by other Manhattan women. They attributed the phenomenon to toxic dust and fumes from the site, which included lead and poisonous hydrocarbons.

The government itself, meanwhile, has yet to gauge the aftermath of September 11.

“A multitude of physical and mental health effects have been reported in the years since the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center,” noted a 2004 report from the Government Accountability Office. “But the full health impact of the attack is unknown.”

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