The Eos Life~Work resource centre
page updated 5 January 2011
Community psychology - projects index
- Psychological effects of Recession (analysis of the UK 1990's Recession )
- Trauma and change in political organisations & international relations
(including Power or Peace forecasts for 2001)
- Political events and psychological climate in the UK 1997-2001
(including Parliament in Transition) .
- Psychological aspects of the peace process in Northern Ireland
- Psychological aspects of the Balkans war
- Psychological aspects of the Millennium (including community readiness, disaster response & scenario planning)
- Aftermath of September 11 - is there a 911 Transition?
- Aftermaths of the Afghan War and hazards of Uranium weapons
- The War on Terrorism and hazards for Iraq
- The Iraq War
- Living with fear & trauma - psychological aspects of global terrorism
- The Israel/Lebanon conflict, 2006 - environmental testing & UN issues
- Current developments in Community Psychology
- Political and peace psychology networks
Our work with individuals and organisations has highlighted many situations where occupational psychology principles can be applied to other areas of life. These include the effects of economic change on the personal life of individuals and their families, human behaviour in non-commercial organisations e.g. in communities and politics, and social reactions to major events e.g. disasters and wars. Understanding some of the underlying processes of human and organisation behaviour may help us to be more resilient in times of change and uncertainty, to anticipate some unseen hazards and to be alert for new opportunities for ourselves and others.
Over the past 14 years these connections have led Dai Williams to investigate wider applications of psychology to society. Understanding human responses to stress and change are common themes in most of our projects. This index below summarises our key interests. Links to reports on this website and other organisations with similar research interests are highlighted in blue. New or updated topics or links have been added or updated within the last 6 months. Contact Eos for notes or reports on other topics listed but not yet available on the site.
Recent papers indicate psychological connections between events in different countries and the behaviour of governments and leaders. When this site was set up in 1999 psychological aspects of political behaviour after elections, disasters and violent conflicts e.g. in Northern Ireland and the Balkans may have important implications for managing current crises, conflicts or government changes in other countries and communities. This has led to observations of traumatised communities around the World up to the current effects of natural disasters in 2010 like earthquakes in Haiti, volcanoes and floods from Pakistan to Australia. Some of these issues are described in the new Handbook of Stressful Transitions across the Lifespan edited by Professor Tom Miller and published by Springer NY 2010, Chapter 27.
The earlier papers on political transitions in the UK Government in 1997-1998 may still be relevant to the Coalition Transition in the new UK Parliament elected in May 2010.
The Power or peace project in February 2001 examined the outlook for psychological climate in the Middle East and USA following the Intifada, US election crisis and new governments in both countries. Transition theory suggested potenial transition crisis periods and opportunities for recovery. It also considered implications of these forecasts for UK government decisions e.g. foreign policy initiatives and choice of election date. Visitors can compare the original forecasts (February 2001) with the subsequent crisis in Palestine and Israel, the terrorist attacks on Sept 11 and the start of the Afghan War. A similar forecast was also made for the potential aftermath of the murders of the Nepal Royal Family in June 2001. The Power or Peace project analysis was relevant to the new governments elected in the USA and Israel in 2009. It may be relevant to many potential political crises in 2011 e.g. in Pakistan, North and South Korea, east and west Africa, the Middle East from Gaza to Iran and in central Asia.
The Psychological Aftermath of the September 11th tragedies in the United States in 2001 is likely to include a national and possibly a global 9-11 transition period. Like earlier Eos transition studies periods of hazards and opportunities were projected for 2002 by applying the phases of change suggested by transition theory. These may be relevant for employers, trauma support groups and community mental health research projects. They included potential hazards in the transition crisis phase likely to have developed from March 2002 onwards, and potentially exciting opportunities for psychological recovery and transformation in the later parts of 2002 and into 2003 as America moves from grief to inspiration.
A closely linked transition period was expected for countries and communities affected by the start of the War on Terrorism initially in Afghanistan, on 7 October 2001, with potential crisis and recovery periods running a few weeks behind the 9-11 transition in the USA. Ongoing tensions in Israel-Palestine and between Pakistan and India escalated severely 6 months later. If there is a new war on Iraq similar post-trauma transition effects may expected in countries throughout the Middle East and related communities around the world, accelerating the global transition period that is probably already in progress. Post-conflict transition psychology is becoming a central theme for Eos studies.
The bombing in Afghanistan raised another community research concern based on past experience of toxic hazards and occupational health monitoring in the oil industry. This was the suspected use of uranium in new guided weapons used widely in Afghanistan and likely to be used in Iraq. Occupational health and safety aspects of Uranium weapons for civilian and military employers, occupational and community health advisers, and governments are investigated in two Eos reports published in January and October 2002.
- Psychological effects of the UK Recession, 1990-94 was compiled in February 1999. It includes several articles and presentations including Part 1 - Recession Fatigue - Psychological effects of economic recession (June 1992) and Part 2 - Reflections and consequences - including seminars and presentations with community and professional groups from 1993-95 and then a reflective review in 1999. Free PDF download.
- Projects with unemployed support groups - CSGU Handbook for Support Group Leaders 1994 - Part 1 (Online edition added October 2005). This short handbook was written by a team of project leaders running self-help groups of unemployed people in Surrey UK. It gives practical advice on setting up a support group with minimum resources but maximising the energy and talents of the group's own members. It also contains warnings for group organisers e.g. not to become over-dependent on external sponsors, and not to get over-involved in ways that could potentially dis-empower group members. These principles were evolved for groups of unemployed people, but they could be worth considering for many other kinds of self-help support groups. Free PDF download.
- Human responses to change - Symposium on transitions in political and business organisations, BPS Occupational Psychology Conference, January 1999. Report from the journal Futures, August 1999.
- Power or peace? Trauma, change and psychological climate in international affairs - 2001. March 2001. This explored the outlooks for change in Israel and the USA following the traumas of the Intifada (September 2000), US Presidential Election chaos (November 2000) and start of new government transitions in both countries early in 2001. It applied methods for tracking and forecasting psychological climate change, developed in earlier studies of the UK Government, into other political and community contexts and their effect on international relations. They provided the basis for a letter
to Prime Minister Sharon in March 2001 published on the IBPP website.
In November 2001 these forecasts were updated in view of the terrorist attacks in USA on Sept 11 and deepening crises in the Middle East. Events during the first 6 months of the new US and Israeli Administrations led to the "downside risk" scenarios forecast in the Power or Peace project in Figure 1 including international terrorist action, government crises and war. The full report (50 pp) is available on request in PDF format for analysts wishing to review the forecasting methods used or to apply them to other major political events or disasters.
- See also Sections 8 and 9 below for aspects of the War on Terrorism.
- Parliament in Transition - full Internet edition (June 2001)
Forecasts for the first year of the post-election transition following the 1997 UK election landslide with crisis and recovery forecasts and transition management suggestions. "Landslide syndrome" (Daily Telegraph) "A survival guide for MPs" (Newsnight producer, Oct 97).
Parliament in Transition: Introduction
Part 1: After the honeymoon first published 7 October 1997
Part 2: From crisis to recovery update published 8 December 1997
Review of the effects of the 1997 UK election landslide . Sept 1998.
- full reprint of the Review edition, ISBN 0 9532083 2 X. Hard copy available from Eos price £6.00.
- The Devolution Transition (1999-2000) - anticipating stages of change in the new UK Assemblies.
- Lords in transition - change management issues for peers and parties. Nov 1999.
- Accidents waiting to happen? - Political events and psychological climate for the UK Government 1998-2000. Origins and analysis of the early Millennium crisis in Government with outlook to September 2000. Internet version includes time charts with anticipated stress levels month to month for the UK Government in 6 policy areas. Printed version also includes copies of several other Eos papers. Published 7 March 2000. Price £20 including postage.(contact Eos for details)
- Link to the CAIN website (Conflict Archive on the INternet) for social and psychological research into conflict and peace processes in Northern Ireland http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/index.html
- Many paths to peace - assessment of the wider peace process in Northern Ireland and opportunities for progress. Sept 1999.
- Community action for peace, mediation, reconciliation and victim support. Ongoing study.
- Outlook for the peace process
- Rising global tension: stress, violence and peace in the Balkans (April 1999)
- Fear and violence in stressed populations (April 1999)
- Balkans aftermath - psychological effects of the post-war transition. (August 1999) - analysis and forecast
- Briefing #1: Community readiness for potential disruption (Oct 99)
- Briefing #2: Community readiness update (Dec 99)
- Briefing #3: The Millennium transition - scenario update (5 Jan 2000)
Update October 2005: These papers became topical again during increased concern about the risk of terrorist attacks in Autumn 2001 following attacks on the US World Trade Centre and other targets on Sept 11th. UK disaster planning procedures may need serious review for community level response. But the impact of hurricane Kristina and tidal surge flooding on the town of New Orleans in September 2005 illustrated the worst case ("buy a gun") scenario described in these Eos briefings. Scenario planning is increasingly important in disaster response planning - from governments to local communities and individual households. An excellent summary of scenario planning techniques is given by Martin Börjesson in his Scenario Planning Resources website at http://www.well.com/~mb/scenario_planning/
Fortunately the Y2K bug threat had far less impact than expected. There were many systems malfunctions and related incidents in January 2000, though fortunately very few are known to have led to loss of life. However many systems and databases are still running with non-compliant software that may result in date malfunctions. Recently (summer 2001) one of these was found to have affected medical records in a UK hospital resulting in mis-diagnosis for 200 patients. There may be other more subtle psychological effects of the Millennium transition running over longer timescales.
Floods and storms in the UK in October-November 2000 presented local communities, businesses and regions with major disruptions not experienced for many years. Many of the Community Readiness issues proposed in these papers for Y2K contengency planning could be applied to severe weather conditions or other major disruptions. They include organizational and community psychology principles. Some of the Y2K Briefings may be relevant to other communities in crisis.
Report written 23 July, 2002 with Appendix updated 27 October. PDF format (web page to follow): Psychological aftermath of September 11th: Is there a 9-11 transition? updated 30 Oct 2002. File size 576 Kb. Some of the main issues are summarised below:
The tragic and horrific events of September 11th in the USA involved four plane crashes, the destruction of the World Trade Centre, the destruction of part of the Pentagon and some 4000 deaths. The horror of these events was seen by millions of people around the world by television reports. It is hard to imagine the scale of the trauma that these events caused.
Trauma and loss is most obvious for those immediately affected by bereavement, fear of bereavement while the extent of casualties was not known and those involved in search and recovery operations. The community response in each area was powerful. The aggrevated grief of unidentified loss is not much talked about.
But these events must have been deeply traumatic for many others closely affected by these events - government, military and other officials expected to provide rapid responses to the tragies despite themselves being traumatised. People in many countries and organisations were directly affected by the loss of relatives friends or colleagues. Governments in many countries faced the imminent prospect of similar attacks.
Humans are astonishingly resilient and resourceful in the first days and weeks after a major trauma or change - as seen in rescue operations in New York. See Human responses to change. Transition psycholgy indicates that people may be affected for many months after a major event. But it goes further in indicating factors that may help people to manage later phases of change, see Transition psychology theory and practice.
The forecasts from the Power or Peace project (above) were updated in November 2001. These indicated the risk of a new transition crisis period developing approximately 6 months after the 9-11 disaster in the US and other countries affected by the Afghan War.
This opened the prospect of a Global Transition period developing through 2002. This possibility was considered in an Email to the CASI newsgroup in December 2001: "Psychological aftermath of Sept 11 - global transition", 14 December 2001 http://www.casi.org.uk/discuss/2001/msg01107.html
On 11th March 2002 - the 6 month potential 9-11 transition crisis point for the US Government - President Bush featured on the front page of the UK Daily Mail with the headline "Let's Nuke them All". Transition theory warns of the immense psychological pressures on managers and political leaders in transition crisis. See also Parliament in Transition (above) for the stages of transition in the first year of the new UK Government after the 1997 General Election.
By June 2002 the forecast recovery period 9 months after the September 11th trauma had not developed in the US Administration. Psychological recovery is highly visible with creative new initiatives, optimism and great synergy (seen in the amazing response in New York, but not in Washington). For the new UK Government its transition recovery period 9-12 months after election was marked by a highly acclaimed budget and then the Northern Ireland Good Friday Peace Agreement.
By contrast, 9 months after the 9-11 trauma US stock market confidence was sliding fast (see the NASDAQ) despite temporary boosts from oil prices in March and May (reflecting increased risks of war in the MIddle East, and in India / Pakistan). A new war - on Iraq - was top of President Bush's agenda. From transition theory these appeared to be indicators of extended crisis in the US Administration and economy.
But transition theory indicates delayed psychological crisis AND recovery for individuals. The same should apply to organisations and communities. An interim progress report on the 9-11 transition was written in July including NASDAQ prices as a possible indicator of psychological climate and confidence in US business. In September I visited New York for a week to meet people involved in community support projects. The City had moved forward remarkably in the 12 months following the disaster. But delayed effects on community mental health were being monitored by several study teams.
While many people in New York appeared to be reaching the recovery phase forecast in November 2001 there are still no positive signs from the US Administration. US stock market confidence remains volatile. But the potential for key political and business leaders reaching a psychological turning point (a "defining moment") is possible at any time. Whether or not the US decides to start a new war on Iraq may be a crucial turning point with 2 main scenarios - recovery or chaos - see latest forecast (3rd October) below.
These forecasts are included in a new Appendix to the report see link above. [Note: these charts may be blurred on screen but should print clearly].
The report also includes a new Appendix with links to trauma support or research organisations and web pages in the US and other countries. Sadly these are needed in Australia and Indonesia following the tragivc Bali bomb incident.
Eos reports mainly concern psychological processes that may be relevant to communities in periods of trauma and change. The phases of the post-war transition period are likely to have similar phases as shown in Balkans Aftermath (see section 5 above). The challenges of social and political reconstruction, together with large groups of displaced refugees would be difficult enough without the famine and drought that were also serious problems before the war. International aid organisations are well aware of these problems. The political turmoil caused by the rapid overthrow of the Taliban may be partly stabilised by the UN peacekeeping force. It may suffer similar problems to some of the Balkans states post-1999 i.e. continuing para-military and criminal organisations. These security problems are recognised by the peacekeeping force. The potential effects of the psychological post-war transition period may offer unexpected hazards and opportunities for this reconstruction period. This will be the subject of another transition forecasting project.
However one dimension of the Aftermath of the war that has not yet be publicly recognised is the potential environmental impact of the new generation of guided weapons used extensively in the bombing campaign. Millions of people witnessed the murder of thousands of people in the World Trade Centre on Television. Over 4,000 people have been killed in the Afghan bombing. Mines and cluster bombs were already a major hazard in Afghanistan. Thousands more have been added.
But potentially far more serious than unexploded cluster bombs are the invisible health and safety hazards caused by using Depleted Uranium (DU) weapons. These could represent an immediate and long lasting hazard to civilians, troops and personnel from expatriate aid and commercial organisations. To date the US and UK Govrnments have denied using any DU weapons in Afghanistan. But on 16 January US Defense Scretary Donald Rumsfeld reported that US forces had found one site with "an elevated level of radioactivity but it appeared to be a result of depleted uranium on some warheads and not from any radiological weapon of mass destruction". Thomas reported that "U.S. forces had found some missiles with depleted uranium warheads in the Kandahar area at the end of December". (Reuters)
Eos investigations indicate that these comments may be only the tip of an iceberg of DU use in guided weapons in Afghanistan and earlier conflicts. The latest Eos report analyses the potential health implications of suspected DU use in Afghanistan. It recommends urgent environmental monitoring to assess potential health and safety risks and immediate precautions while this is in progress. It was published on 31 January 2002. Copies have been sent to UN agencies co-ordinating aid work in Afghanistan. It is now available on the Internet for employers, occupational health advisers and others to enable risk assessments and plans for 7 possible DU scenarios.
- Click here to view or download this report published on 31 January 2002:
Depleted Uranium Weapons 2001-2002 - Mystery Metal Nightmare in Afghanistan?
This page includes links to the Royal Society and UNEP DU reports published March 2002.
In June 2002 a team from UMRC (the Uranium Medical Research Center) in Canada went to Afghanistan to collect medical and environmental samples to test the theory that Uranium weapons may have been used there. Their first samples were taken from seriously ill civilians living near US bombing targets in South East Afghanistan. They showed 100 times higher that normal levels of Uranium contamination.
Also all the first batch of Afghan samples tested contained undepleted, not depleted uranium. This highlighted a fundamentally flawed assumption in military health and environmental research, and in arms control diplomacy, that arms manufacturers have only used depleted uranium (DU) in weapons research and development since the 1970's. For several years undepleted uranium contamination has been assumed to be from natural uranium e.g. in Hungary during the Balkans war in 1999. Previous questions to governments and military have made this same assumption - referring to DU (depleted uranium). Research and policy needs to be reviewed.
Public health conditions in Afghanistan are desparate. The horrific problems of suspected radiological weapons may take 3-5 years to emerge e.g. through birth defects and leuakaemia as in Iraq in the 1990's. Uranium testing could save time and lives in identifing contamination. UN agencies seem unable to act.
Rigorous medical and environmental monitoring is needed in all bombed areas to assess potential uranium contamination, health effects and continuing exposure risks. Further UMRC samples are being tested. See the UMRC website for reports of these field studies at http://www.umrc.net (What's New). These results confirm that there is a Uranium contamination problem in parts of Afghanistan. It's source is not yet known.
If this contamination has come from new guided weapons then this has immediate occupational health implications for employers of expatriates staff or volunteers in Afghanistan. The UMRC website includes a self-assessment questionnaire for personnel who may have been exposed to uranium contamination.
UMRC's Afghan test results may also have grim implications for civilians in Iraq and expatriates who may be assigned to Iraq during or after a new bombing campaign. The same types of weapon will be used plus new ones, see below. Secret use of radiological weapons may not be a legal defence for employers whose staff develop serious health problems following assignments to Afghanistan or to Iraq if there is a new air war.
The first year of the US Administration's War on Terrorism has moved on from Afghanistan through security operations in many other countries. The current phase is President Bush's plans for "regime change" in Iraq.
One aftermath of the Afghan War is of the greatest importance to the people of Iraq, and to all countries that may send troops or civilians to Iraq during and after a new military offensive. It is still not known whether many of the weapons used by the US in Afghanistan contained Uranium. What is certain is that the same weapons will be the basis for a new air war in Iraq, as in the Balkans and Afghanistan.
If these weapon systems do use Uranium based warheads this may add an even greater humanitarian disaster than the one still unfolding from the Gulf War in 1991 and subsequent sanctions. Sadly this has not yet been recognised by any of the governments asked to support the new attack. The use of Uranium based weapons with large explosive warheads would be in flagrant violation of articles 35 and 55 of the 1st Protocol additional to the Geneva Conventions (1949) see http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu3/b/93.htm.
The moral, ethical and legal aspects of this possibility must be debated internationally before new military operations are sanctioned by individual countries and the UN General Assembly. These issues for Iraq, and the unfinished business of suspected Uranium weapons use in the Balkans and Afghanistan are raised in:
- Hazards of Uranium weapons in the proposed war on Iraq (Summary)
plus summary of US Patents data (13 October 2002).
- Full report: web format and PDF file
- Extracts from US Patent records PDF file only.
These documents were combined in the second Eos report Uranium weapons 2001-2003: Hazards of Uranium weapons in Afghanistan and Iraq (11 November 2002). In view of reports of unconventional weapons e.g. white phosphorus used by US forces against Falluja this report is available free in a single PDF file at www.eoslifework.co.uk/pdfs/u25.pdf . The international media and many politicians may not be aware of the development and suspected use of large new uranium weapons in recent conflicts. Some would produce white hot fragments looking like phosphorus but with much larger, hotter explosions as seen in news reports of the bombing in Baghdad (right). Humans exposed to very high temperature uranium weapons are not just burned but may be carbonised as seen in the first Gulf War. Similar weapons have been shown in TV reports of bombing in Lebanon in August 2006 see below.
The report includes a letter sent to Prime Minister Tony Blair on 13 October 2002 warning him about the suspected use of uranium weapons by US forces in Iraq, and of the dangers of Group Think :
"The US Government displays all the symptoms of Group Think in its approach to the war on terrorism and plans for Iraq... You and your colleagues may wish to be aware of the dangers of group think too." letter 13 Oct 2002.
On 2 February the New York Times reported the proposed "Shock and Awe" bombing strategy for attacking Iraq. But UK political parties and the UK media were still unwilling to question the potential health and safety hazards of new weapon systems for UK troops and civilians deployed to the proposed war on Iraq.
The following PowerPoint presentation was added on 7 February 2003 to offer a brief introduction to the latest concerns for MPs, MEPs and media researchers: Last chance to question US Dirty Bombs for Iraq? .
On 12th February the European Parliament Plenary Session in Strasbourg debated a resolution calling for investigations into cluster bombs, depleted uranium ammunition and other Uranium warheads (paragraph 11). It also called for an immediate moratorium on the use of these weapons pending a comprehensive study of their compliance with humanitarian law (paragraph 12). The resolution was passed but no UK reports have been seen yet. An interim copy of the resolution is available in PDF format.
On 26 February a joint briefing was held for UK MPs, Peers and NGOs in Central Hall Westminster with Professor Malcolm Hooper, Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK Gulf Veterans, regarding Hazards of Uranium weapons in the proposed war on Iraq. Discussion included health and safety precautions for local and expatriate civilians including aid and media workers in the event of radiological bombing.
Military operations appeared to start on 20th March 2003 (they had been increasing quietly over 6 months against targets in desert locations). A major bomb and missile attack on Baghdad and other areas started on 21 March. Over 1000 guided weapons were reported in the first 24 hours of which 300+ were targeted on Baghdad. On 22 March updated warnings about the potential hazards of the Shock & Awe air attack strategy were sent to several UN agencies and to the UK Government.
At the end of March the UNEP PCAU (Post Conflict Assessment Unit) announced plans for environmental assessments in Iraq. These should have included monitoring for suspected use of uranium weapons. But UNEP teams were kept at arms length from Iraq for nearly 2 years. They trained Iraqi personnel to carry out some environmental monitoring programmes. These have no provisions for uranium testing.
There were important occupational health implications for employers with staff returning from Iraq combat zones. The MOD were responsible for health follow up for regular troops. Other employers and private doctors (GP's) needed to be aware of possible physical and psychological consequences of direct or indirect exposure to current combat conditions for aid workers, media teams, part-time troops and other logistic support. Health data from Iraq has been very limited due to ongoing chaos since the war. Health data for US troops repatriated sick was published until August 2003 and then became very vague. A number of US troops working in clearing contaminated bomb targets in Baghdad became sick with a mystery pneumonia. At least one died of renal failure. Other post conflict health data for troops and civilians has been very hard to locate.
Traumatic exposures during combat assignments are known to cause PTSD. Significant progress has been made with psychological treatments for PTSD e.g. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and EMDR. The same traumas are likely to cause transition periods for personnel involved and possibly for close relatives. There could be scope for valuable cooperation between occupational psychologists and clinical practitioners (psychiatrists and psychotherapists) in post-conflict / post-trauma support programmes. Ethical dilemmas arising from the political context of the war in Iraq and growing international disquiet about US and UK intensions may cause additional stress for some troops - similar to those faced by Vietnam War veterans.
Slow onset medical problems may arise in post-conflict environments from use of chemical, radiological or biological weapons in addition to endemic hazards for the region. Careful Occupational Health monitoring is needed for at a least a year after military or civilian personnel are assigned to combat zones. Networking between medical and other post-conflict support services would be helpful to increase early recognition of unusual problems by pooling observations and epidemiological data. Many of the trauma support organisations listed in the Professional Networking page may become involved for troops and personnel returning to their home countries or for international aid. New networks are also developing.
Similar services on a vast scale will be needed for civilian populations and refugees from the Balkans, Afghanistan, Iraq, the Lebanon, Palestinian communities and Israel.
The conduct of recent wars at strategic levels in governments, and their psychological effects on civilians, aid and other international workers including media teams, on military personnel in combat and their families are complex issues. The effects of chronic stress and trauma on the quality of government decisions have been considered in several earlier papers e.g. section 5 above, Psychological aspects of the Balkans War.
Other psychological processes like Groupthink proposed by Yale Psychologist Irving Janis in 1977 may also be relevant to understanding strategic errors. In 2003 I wrote: "Many aspects of cross-cultural community and international relations will be important to stabilise a potentially very unstable period over the next 2 years." Sadly such interventions did not occur, or were over-shadowed by the strategy of using overwhelming force to pacify Iraqi communities. To date (2006) this has failed. The Iraq War trauma is adding to unresolved consequences of the Afghan war trauma and extends the crisis phase of the potential Global Transition response to the 9-11 disasters. In theory great healing resources can be liberated when communities are in conflict. Community and peace psychology initiatives are as important in 2006 as they were in 2003, see links below.
By 10 April 2003 and after 3 weeks of air bombardments and land attacks Coalition forces entered Baghdad in force. The Shock and Awe attacks were fulfilled after about 14 days, rather than 2 as suggested in early February. Over 10,000 guided bombs and 700+ missiles were reported (later updated to 19,000+ by mid-April). On 6 April the United Nations Environment Programme announced recommendations for studies of the use of Depleted Uranium weapons in Iraq. These are vitally important and welcome but will require at least 5 essential conditions to be effective, plus similar projects by WHO and NGO's. These had major community health implications in Iraq, and occupational health and safety issues for governments and other organisations sending international staff to Iraq into a potentially highly contaminated post-conflict environment. These were proposed in Key issues for UN uranium testing in Iraq (10 April 2003).
Footnote: in February 2006 Dr Chris Busby published data from the UK AWE which showed a 5x increase in airborne uranium dust in Berkshire, UK within 10 days of major bombing operations in Iraq. The issue of suspected uranium weapons and their potential health effects for civilians and troops remains a major issue in 2006, increased by events in Lebanon see 12 below.
Eos community psychology projects have mostly grown from applying established work psychology principles e.g. managing stress and change to wider situations such as effects in governments, or in more extreme situations such as mass trauma from wars and major terrorist attacks. Opportunities for direct research in these areas are rarely available. But a number of existing psychological tools (processes, models or techniques) may be useful to managers, analysts and strategic advisers involved in disaster planning and response, or to occupational health, counsellors, therapists, occupational psychologists and other professional practitioners.
Eos discussion papers about Psychological aspects of the Balkans war and the Aftermath of September 11 began to explore the effects of extreme trauma on individuals and in working organisations, as well as on senior politicians.
In 2004 Dai Williams was invited to contribute to a symposium on the effects of global terrorism on staff and passengers in the airline industry. This was a joint presentation with two experienced airline industry managers and the author of two books on travel safety for women at the IATA AVSEC 2004 aviation security conference, 3 November 2004 in Vancouver. Key issues covered by all the presenters are available in the overheads Remembering the Passengers and Staff (PDF file). Full text is included in Managing stress, trauma and change in the airline industry: some human and psychological factors (PDF file) NB These files include Internet links to other Aviation Security resources on pages 20-21.
The IATA AVSEC 2005 conference was held in Geneva from 25-27 October 2005. see programe at http://www.iata.org/ps/events/aw2005.htm.
Some of the issues discussed at the AVSEC conference in Vancouver in 2004 were illustrated tragically in London in July 2005.A Canadian airport operations manager warned of the hazards of hypervigilance leading to a major over-reaction by chronically stressed management and emergency services. This may have been a key factor when a civilian was mistaken for a terrorist, chased and shot soon after the July 7 terrorist bombings in London.
Airline and airport logistics are very complex and time critical - shown to be severely vulnerable to hypervigilance by security services or governments. The joint presentation to AVSEC (link above) highlighted some of these hazards. UK airports experienced major disruption on 11th August 2006 from a terrorist threat that had been under surveillance for some time. (Update: three people were convicted for this conspiracy in September 2008 but whether there was an immediate threat to aircraft remains unclear. The security response coincided with the UN HRC debate about the war in Lebanon, see below).
The very rapid escalation of the conflict between the Hizballah militia in Lebanon and Israel may be another grim warning about the hazards of impaired decision making under severe stress, and possibly in periods of transition crisis. Hizballah totally underestimated the scale of retaliation by Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) with devastating consequences for Lebanon. The destruction of communities and infrastructure across Lebanon led to rapid international reactions in the UN and in September 2008 to a call for reparation payments.
In October 2006 some important political psychology issues were emerging. "When events stabilise there may be deep reflection in both countries about how such a disaster could develop so fast. Were key decision makers in both communities coping only with chronic stress, with external manipulation from respective allies or with delayed transition crisis behaviour from major changes that may have occurred in the previous 6-9 months?" Apart from the normal political analyses of these events it may be relevant to consider possible psychological dimensions as well as described in Fear and Violence in stressed populations, Human responses to change and the Power or Peace Project.
Within the first year there were major internal political conflicts in both Israel and Lebanon. Some of these have taken nearly two years to stabilise, but with positive reconstruction in both countries.
International calls for an immediate ceasefire in July were strangely blocked by the USA with UK Government support. The USA used this delay to fly 500 more guided weapons to Israel via the UK. Meanwhile both the IDF and Hizballah targetted civilian communities with missiles or bombs in direct contravention of the Geneva Conventions. These led to calls for war crimes investigations from several countries and from international organisations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
Modern mobile and internet communications enabled rapid international responses. TV reports and photographs included strange new bombs and missiles, and casualties with extreme or bizarre injuries - some carbonised by extreme heat, others killed with no visible injuries. These reports strongly indicate the use of new illegal weapons that may contravene the Geneva Conventions.
Attacks on civilians and suspected use of illegal weapons were debated by the UN Human Rights Council on 11th August 2006. They voted to send an Inquiry Commission to investigate suspected war crimes. Since the new weapons are mostly the same as those used by US forces in Afghanistan and Iraq I have written a briefing note for communities in Lebanon, UN personnel, NGOs and media, similar to the UN issues for Iraq written in April 2003. This briefing note UN priorities for investigating uranium and other suspected illegal weapons in the Israel/Lebanon conflict, 30 August 2006 is 10 pages, available as a PDF download file at www.eoslifework.co.uk/pdfs/u26leb806.pdf .
In September 2006 I visited Lebanon for several days to see the situation first hand and to meet people involved in assessing the effects of the war and concerned about post-conflict recovery. I visited communities in southern Lebanon and in Beirut, heard accounts of the conflict and witnessed the effects of the four week conflict on rural and urban communities and on essential infrastructure - roads, bridges, power stations, radio masts. I met local citizens, army and peacekeeping forces, environmental scientists, medical and media personnel and a UN representative. I revisited southern Lebanon again briefly in November 2006 with UNEP personnel to retest contamination in Khiam.
In autumn 2006 the post-conflict situation in Lebanon and neighbouring countries - northern Israel and Syria - was likely to go through a post-conflict transition period for at least 12 months. This was expected to involve an initial high energy period for reconstruction during the first 3-4 months. I was amazed how much had been done in the first 5-6 weeks to clear debris and re-open transport links and how resilient most people appeared to be. Individuals, families, communities and organisations were likely to experience other phases of transition during the next year, see Human responses to Change and section 5 above regarding the post-war period after the 1999 Balkans War. This model suggested periods of crisis in months 5-7 (January to March 2007) followed by opportunities for recovery and growth periods from March 2007 onwards. This pattern was expected to occur in many parts of Lebanon and Israel, and possibly in parts of Syria or other Middle East countries that were disturbed by the conflict.
Update in October 2007: internal affairs in Lebanon developed into a major stand-off between the Government and opposition including major protests in Beirut from January 2007 onwards. Unfortunately the hoped for recovery period (i.e. opportunities for positive peacemaking between different factions within the country) has not yet occurred. In effect the country has been stuck in an extended crisis period with additional internal conflicts developing in the north of the country. Lebanon is subject to powerful political pressures from many governments and other organisations. However detailed transition analysis needs to be done by local analysts or researchers with first hand knowledge of the complex social, religious and political groupings involved in the country.
Update in September 2008: political deadlock between major power blocks in Lebanon began to resolve in Summer 2008 after another crisis period in Beirut and in the north. There have also been ongoing tensions in Israel and with Iran and Syria, but with significant improvements in July and August. Leadership changes in 2008 are likely to cause new transition periods with hazards and opportunities in 2009.
The primary reason for my visits in 2006 were to follow up my concerns about suspected illegal weapons used during the conflict and to endorse the need for urgent investigations by UN agencies - particularly the UNEP and UN HRC Inquiry Commission who both sent teams to Lebanon from about 23 September, see UN priorities report above. My observations in Lebanon, assisted by access to extensive photographic reports, were given in my second Lebanon report Eos weapons study in Lebanon, September 2006 - interim report published 19th October and sent to UN contacts in Lebanon. Both reports and earlier warnings to the UK Government in July were combined in Uranium Weapons 2006 - Suspected use of uranium weapons in the Israel / Lebanon conflict, 2006. Available in PDF format at www.eoslifework.co.uk/pdfs/Uweapons2006.pdf
Samples collected during my first visit showed evidence of unnatural uranium in recently bombed locations (refer The Independent, Nov 2006). Test results from UK laboratories were reported by Dr Chris Busby at www.llrc.org . UNEP's first results were different so I made a return visit in November taking samples with them. Eos and UNEP samples both showed higher than normal uranium levels. Despite these results the official UNEP report published in Feb 2007 claimed there was no evidence that uranium weapons had been used in Lebanon. The implications of reporting environmental contamination from new weapons has been too controversial for UNEP, the IAEA, Lebanese authorities or the UK media (except Robert Fisk) to report. But independent investigations continue and have been reported in press and TV in the Middle East and by Rai News24 in Italy.
The evidence of unconventional weapons used in Lebanon has serious implications for civilians, troops and peacekeeping forces in Iraq and Afghanistan where similar guided weapons are in ongoing use. The human and environmental hazards of a new 'shock and awe' bombing attack on Iran using the same systems were advised to the UK Government in July 2006 and still apply, see U weapons 2006 page 8.
United Nations agencies provide various kinds of specialist advice and support to countries around the World. The UN Institute for Disarmament Research - UNIDIR - produces a quarterly journal - Disarmament Forum. Issue 3, Oct 2008, includes recent aricles on Uranium weapons at http://www.unidir.ch/bdd/fiche-periodique.php?ref_periodique=1020-7287-2008-3-en including my assessment Under the radar ... at http://www.unidir.ch/bdd/fiche-article.php?ref_article=2759. These raise serious health and safety issues for civilians, aid workers and troops in recent conflict zones, and serious arms control issues.
In the last six years there has been increasing awareness of the social and psychological effects of work on families and communities in the UK. For further information see our Professional Networking and Life Work Boundaries pages. Government initiatives seem to have quite short lives so some central projects and web pages have been closed. Many life-work issues continue unchanged. But priorities change as communities experience new pressures or changes e.g. threats of terrorism, polarisation of ethnic and religious communities and arrival of new ethnic groups as international labour migration increases.
The theme of an a wider field of "Community Psychology" embracing many specific theories and techniques does not appear to be much discussed in the UK - at least from a work psychology perspective. It may be better recognised in clinical / mental health areas.
Terrorist incidents in the USA, Bali, Moscow, Madrid, London, India and Turkey bring the issues of psychology response and support for traumatised communities to both developing and developed countries. Natural disasters like the Tsunami in 2004, hurricanes, floods and earthquakes in 2005 bring similar challenges of mass trauma and economic disruption. Trauma Support resources in Appendix 2 of the 9-11 report (see 7 above) and in the professional networking page are becoming increasingly important. The ISTSS and ESTSS trauma support networks are providing valuable interdisciplinary contacts for exchanging research and best practice advice.
I look forward to developing links with practitoners and researchers from all branches of psychology, and with other disciplines working in these areas of peace and community psychology.
The International Society of Political Psychology (ISPP) provides multidisciplinary networking, events, the Journal of Political Psychology and an Internet discussion group. Website at: http://ispp.org/index.html
The International Bulletin of Political Psychology (IBPP) is a weekly Internet publication available on its website at http://www.pr.erau.edu/~security/ and available by Email subscription.
The International Conflict Resolution Centre at the University of Melbourne, Australia covers a range of research projects and has links to other peace and conflict resolution Internet sites. Website at http://www.psych.unimelb.edu.au/icrc
The Centre for the Study of Conflict in Northern Ireland hosts the CAIN research archives (see above). Centre website at http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/csc/index.html
The Department of Peace Studies at Bradford University, UK includes a Centre for Conflict Resolution. Website at http://www.brad.ac.uk/acad/peace.html
The Centre for Conflict Resolution at the University of Cape Town, South Africa has a wide range of projects with communities and government organisations at practical and strategic level. It has a comprehensive website at: http://ccrweb.ccr.uct.ac.za
For other network links in the fields of work, occupational health and organisational psychology see the Professional Networking page.
If any of these issues interest you are welcome to contact Eos by Email if you have news, recommended links or similar interests in these subjects.
page updated 5 January 2011
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