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UB experts available to discuss the Paris terror attacks

Experts can discuss topics from refugees to the impact on the psyche

Release Date: November 17, 2015

“Although there commonly is a spike in psychiatric disorders in the immediate aftermath of a terror attack, the population rates return to baseline as fast as two to four months after the attack, which speaks to the general resilience inherent in humans. Psychological resilience inherent in us all helps us effectively cope with the severe stress and adversity, and moving on with our daily lives without much interference.”
Daniel Antonius, assistant professor of psychiatry
University at Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. – University at Buffalo faculty experts are available to discuss different issues that have emerged after the terror attacks in Paris, including ISIS, refugees, the presence of Islam in France and the psyche of not only the people in Paris, but elsewhere in the world.

A partial list of available experts follows. Contact Rachel Stern at 716-645-9069 for additional experts.

ISIS, REFUGEES, UPCOMING U.S. ELECTION

Michelle Benson, PhD, UB Associate Professor of Political Science

Research focuses on international conflict. She lived in France for two years while studying international security.

The terror attacks in Paris have given ammunition to those on the far right who want to limit the number of refugees entering countries, says Benson.

“People are asking if a terrorist could be among the refugees. Of course there could be a terrorist. There is probably a murderer, too. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t help the numerous others trying to escape the exact same type of barbarous acts. We must stay vigilant and stay the course. It is difficult to prevent terrorism,” Benson says.

The ultimate solution, she says, is to destroy ISIS. But that cannot be done with solely bombing.

“That is a hugely long and costly process,” she says. “I just don’t see or know whether that will happen. I don’t see the political will for really defeating ISIS permanently. I see the political will for punishing them more than we are now. But to truly do this, to make sure ISIS doesn’t have a foothold, we need a stable government, and those don’t exist in Syria right now, and there is even a less stable government in Iraq.”

In light of the terror attacks, Benson says the focus could shift from taxes to terrorism in the upcoming U.S. Election.           

ISLAM IN FRANCE

Jeannette Ludwig, PhD, UB French Language Program Director

Teaches the course Islam in France and lived in France several times.

Since World War II, Islam has been the second-most practiced religion in France. But the French would prefer for people to practice, in private, their religion, says Ludwig, and that highlights their sensitivities about religion.

“They have different sensitivities about what it means to be in the public space. For them, a headscarf is understood to be showing off their religion, so they voted that girls couldn’t wear headscarves to school. The folks who live in the suburbs, or the high-rise projects, they look and behave differently and the French don’t like that. It is an oppressive atmosphere for people to live in and they feel marginalized and they are young with no job prospects and they face discrimination. These people can go on the Internet and find open sewers of propaganda and find an outlet for their anger. It’s an avenue saying, ‘Come make something of yourself, be famous for God’, she says.

There’s a large Muslim population in France that has not been treated as kindly as they could, Ludwig says. This tension has existed for some time, she says.

FEAR, ANGER, RESILIENCE, PSYCHE

Daniel Antonius, PhD, UB Assistant Professor of Psychiatry:  

Studies terrorism, violence and aggression.

There is no doubt that a terror attack like this will result in an increase in general distress in the population, and in some cases, symptoms of anxiety and stress that may require treatment, Antonius says.

“Although there commonly is a spike in psychiatric disorders in the immediate aftermath of a terror attack, the population rates return to baseline as fast as two to four months after the attack, which speaks to the general resilience inherent in humans,” he says. “Psychological resilience inherent in us all helps us effectively cope with the severe stress and adversity, and moving on with our daily lives without much interference.

“However, the underlying fear of future terror attacks may linger much longer, which can have significant long-term implications on everything from individuals to economy and politics.”

People are more hesitant to use public transportation, to fly and to occupy places with large crowds, says Antonius. All of that can impact the tourist industry.

“Instilling fear is truly the underlying psychology of terrorism itself and leads to increased motivation for security and protection, or for people to take precautionary measures to reduce the feeling of external threat,” he says. “Anger is another commonly seen emotion in the aftermath of a terror attack. Many people will rather quickly feel a sense of anger towards the perpetrators which is associated with an increased sense of control of one’s environment.”

To find UB faculty experts on other topics – including issues trending in the news – visit UB’s Faculty Experts website.

Media Contact Information

Rachel Stern no longer works for University Communications. To contact UB's media relations staff, call 716-645-6969 or visit our list of current university media contacts. Sorry for the inconvenience.