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Disasters are destructive events affecting communities and can be considered collective traumatic events. A pattern of community response was observed in early studies and has been frequently described since. It includes shock and disorientation at impact, high energy “recoil” directed toward immediate needs, leading to cohesion and a “honeymoon” of altruistic cooperation, followed by conflict, discord, and “disillusionment,” and eventually reestablishment of stable community life.

Community disasters traumatically injure the fabric of normal life, initiating a social process with characteristic features, regardless of the precipitating event. To understand it, a convergence of systems theory, social psychology, attachment theory, and neuropsychology of trauma is required. This entry reviews the nature of communities, the stages of community response to and recovery from disasters, and strategies for effective professional ...

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