BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The terrorist attacks in Paris put people across the world on edge, and here in the United States, the following weeks have brought more violence, with mass shootings in Colorado and California.
"These kind of events traumatize everybody, especially when they're mass attacks, we take them personally, and they are personal attacks, in a way," said Dr. Steven Dubovsky, chair of UB's department of Psychiatry. "The way in which we react to them is kind of conditioned by where we are psychologically and where our society is."
Dubovsky says many of us react as though we're in danger as well.
"Just about everybody seems to have a need for some sort of immediate closure, an immediate fix so everything's okay, and so we don't have to do anything more about this or think about it anymore."
He says that tends to include wanting to know the perpetrator's motivation, thinking that if we can understand it, we'll feel more in control. There's also the feeling that we need to do something right away, like pass legislation.
"To my mind, there is a pervasive feeling, in our culture in particular of entitlement, to simple solutions, simple answers, where we don't have to exert ourselves any more than the minimal amount in order to fix a complicated problem."
Dubovsky also thinks we've become desensitized to this worldwide, with a high tolerance for seeing violence.
"The excuse for this is we have to understand it, we want to know what people are going through. What do you have to understand? It's horrible for somebody to be murdered. We're all contributing to this by being fascinated by ghastly violence at the same time that we don't pay attention to everyday violence."
Since these incidents have been so prevalent recently, he says parents shouldn't wait for their children to approach them about what's happened.
"I think what we should tell our children is, 'We want to be careful, but we're your parents, we will protect you, we will take care of you, we will be sure that you are safe.'"
Dubovsky also says parents should combine that with information about what a good world it is, and positive things people are doing.
As for general advice when violent incidents happen:
"I think we should talk to each other about how to feel safer and what we should do in our community to feel like we're more in control of things. The more passive we are, the more helpless we feel, the more we feel like we're in danger."