Ever since his service in the Yom Kippur War in 1973, Israeli Yuval Neria has been interested in the impact of extreme trauma on mental health. He became an expert on post-traumatic stress disorder and was recruited to Columbia University’s department of clinical psychology shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Since then, he has been working with and studying those most directly affected by the events in New York City: friends and family of those who were killed in the World Trade Center, and the first responders who worked in the wreckage.
On the eve of Tisha B’Av, the day of mourning that commemorates the destruction of the first and second Temples and other catastrophic events in Jewish history, Vox Tablet host Sara Ivry spoke to Neria about his own wartime experiences and what his research has taught him about treating trauma. Neria was awarded a Medal of Valor for his service, and in 1986 he published the novel Esh, Hebrew for “fire,” a fictionalized account of his time in combat. He and Ivry discussed the psychological benefits and risks of revisiting traumatic events year after year, as Jews do with the ritual reading of the Book of Lamentations. [Running time: 20:00.]