Psychologist Behind New PTSD Study Observes Symptoms In Residents of Violence-Prone Chicago

Chicago is America's third largest city, but its murder rate is worse than the two biggest cities, New York and Los Angeles, combined. Chicago saw a 50 percent increase in murders in just one year, from 486 in 2015 to 762 in 2016.


Tio Hardiman, co-founder of Violence Interrupters, a Chicago-based advocacy group, called 2016 "the year of the renegade."

"You have so many guys out here that are trying to prove a point, that killing people in Chicago is just totally out of control," Hardiman told Al Jazeera.

Chicago City Council candidate and grassroots activist Zerlina Smith agreed.

"Someone could be on the side of your house dead at anytime; it's scary," she said. "And when you get out of your car or you walk from the bus stop [you ask yourself if you] will you be the next victim."

The death toll in Chicago is equal to that of a war zone and recent studies have found residents showing signs of PTSD as a result of the trauma. Northwestern University recruited 72 women from a federally qualified Chicago health center to better understand the phenomenon. What they found was startling.

"More than half of the women reported experiencing a traumatic event that was often violent or sexual in nature," researchers reported, including one woman who "reported watching her son shot more than 10 times" before he died.

Inger E. Burnett-Zeigler, a clinical psychologist who worked on the study, observed gruesome accounts of traumatic experiences "coming up time and time again."
Overcome by emotion, several women found completing their stories to be daunting. 

"Those intense emotions sparked by thinking about the traumatic event are a telltale sign of PTSD," "Chicago Tonight" Kristen Thometz producer said

Chicago did not go one week in the past year without a fatal shooting; the longest time without a murder was just four days.

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