[Over the last 30 days in Nepal, 75 4.5M+ and 150 2.5M+ earthquakes have occurred. See the current status at earthquake.usgs.gov. —C.M.H.]
The effects of the continuing instability in Nepal are perhaps more tragic and deeply-scarring than the physical devastation that blights the landscape. “There is already evidence that the quakes are impacting on mental health,” says Dr Sonya Martin, psychiatrist for the Ciwec hospital and travel medicine centre in Kathmandu. “The quakes have incited widespread fear and uncertainty about what the future will bring.”
Research suggests that the long-term emotional consequences of a disaster are related to feelings of powerlessness and lack of control over forces bigger than oneself. The fragile veneer of forced normalcy that had settled on the strange new “post-disaster” Nepal, the world of tents and meal hand-outs, was cracked open after an aftershock as big as the one on Tuesday, and the continuing tremors mean that victims are constantly revisited by their indiscriminate attacker. Rather than subsiding with time, the extreme stress response is being prolonged over days and weeks.
Science also unfortunately holds little comfort for those looking for certainty and rationality…