How do we even begin to understand the aftermath of events as malicious, catastrophic, and far-reaching as the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001? How can mental health professionals even begin to meet needs that are at once so intense and pervasive? The sections in this chapter illustrate that neither question can be answered without a shift in our thinking that places the community at the crux of the matter. Community is one of those concepts that semantically has meaning for most people but is difficult to define precisely. Not always, but typically, a community is an entity that has geographic boundaries and shared fate. Communities are composed of built, natural, social, and economic environments that influence one another in complex ways. In introducing this section, I will draw upon past research to illustrate the importance of thinking ecologically and systemically with regard to understanding and alleviating the consequences of large-scale disasters.
Norris, Fran. 2006. "Community and ecological approaches to understanding and alleviating postdisaster distress." In 911: Treatment, research, and public mental health in the wake of a terrorist attack, eds. Yuval Neria, Raz Gross, and Randall Marshall. New York, NY:Cambridge University Press, 141-156.