Reactions to terror attacks in ultra-orthodox Jews: The cost of maintaining strict identity

Yael L.E. Ankri, Eytan Bachar, Arieh Y. Shalev

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Traumatic events can shatter faith and beliefs. The responses of Ultra-Orthodox survivors of deadly terrorist attacks illustrate an effort to reconcile dreadful experiences with deeply embedded beliefs. Qualified clinicians prospectively evaluated self-reported and interviewer-generated posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms and cognitive appraisal in Ultra-Orthodox (n = 20) and non-Ultra-Orthodox (n = 33) survivors of suicide bus-bombing incidents in Jerusalem. Ultra-Orthodox survivors reported higher levels of PTSD symptoms and more personal guilt. Their narratives reflected an unshaken belief in Just Providence, within which being a victim of terror was perceived as a Just retribution for known or unknown wrongdoing. Survivors' reactions to trauma often reflect an effort to reconcile incongruous experiences with previously held beliefs. When treating strict believers, helpers should be sensitive to the identity-preserving function of posttraumatic cognitions.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)190-197
Number of pages8
JournalPsychiatry (New York)
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Yael L.E. Ankri, MA, Eytan Bachar, PhD, and Arieh Y. Shalev, MD, are affiliated with the Department of Psychiatry at Hadassah University Hospital in Jerusalem. The authors wish to thank Dr. Spencer Eth for his careful reading of and comments on this manuscript, and members of the Trauma Center at Hadassah University Hospital, Sara Freedman, Rhonda Adessky, and Tamar Peleg, for data collection and clinical guidance. This study was supported by PHS grant # MH071651 to Arieh Y.Shalev. Address Correspondence to Yael Ankri, Department of Psychiatry, Hadassah University Hospital, Kiriat Hadassah, Ein Kareem, Jerusalem, 91120, Israel. E-mail:


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