How scientists say we should cope with the Paris attacks
How do you react to something as horrific as the Paris attacks? Scientists from all over The Netherlands, including Tilburg, give their opinion in the media, and tell you what you can do to not get overwhelmed with fear.Jan Jaap de Ruiter, Tilburg University
On the website of local news station Omroep Brabant and on Univers online, arabist Jan Jaap de Ruiter reacted to the attacks. “ISIS’ goal was to sow terror, so that people get worried. They want us to be scared to walk in the street, and always look around us to see if something will happen. The answer to this is: don’t be scared. Keep on standing for our values of freedom of speech and democracy and don’t make any concessions. If we get scared and start acting out of fear, they get what they want.” The same claim comes from terrorism expert Jelle van Buuren from the University of Leiden. On the weblog TPO, he says: “terrorists do not care about the dead, they care about the living who see it. It is all about fear”.Sander Koole, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
De Ruiter’s advice could create a challenge, though. In an interview with daily NRC, professor in Clinical Psychology Sander Koole says that you have no influence on whether you get scared or not. It is a primarily biological process. “But the duration of that fear, is something you can influence. There’s learning and flexibility in how you cope with fear”. He names three defense mechanisms. The conscious defense, that directly reduces risk, causes you to run when you hear a loud bang. The other two defenses are more pleasant. One is using cultural symbols, like posting the French flag on Facebook, or, better even, having a drink on a terrace to show that your way of living is not compromised. The French take this to heart, as the hashtag #jesuisenterrasse shows. Koole tells NRC: “research shows that people do these kinds of things more often when there is a latent thread”. The last way to indirectly defend yourself is social and physical contact. Hugging, basically. Koole: “This is not driven by ideology, values, or culture – you just feel better with other people”.Beatrice de Graaf, Utrecht University
One thing we should definitely nót do, is get fixated on the link between the refugee situation and the attacks in Paris, said Beatrice de Graaf in talk show Pauw. “The enemy does not come from outside, but is among us,” she said. This might sound alarming, but what De Graaf also said is that the Dutch policy is approaching the issue of terrorism from within, something the French government has failed to do until now. One of the key moments of the talk show was when the host, Jeroen Pauw, said that one of the terrorists in Paris was probably a refugee, who arrived in Europe through Greece. De Graaf shook her head violently and said: “A passport has been found that might indicate that. That is something completely different”.