Are tragedies worse when we feel responsible — or when we don’t?
“We want to believe that if we follow the rules, nobody should get hurt,” says psychologist Ed Hickling, coauthor of Overcoming the Trauma of Your Motor Vehicle Accident. “But all it may take is someone stepping out in front of you, and your ideas of safety and control are shattered.”
Hickling has found that drivers who didn’t feel responsible for a crash are at greater risk of developing posttraumatic stress disorder than those who did feel at fault. Someone who falls asleep at the wheel knows what they can do to prevent future accidents. Innocent drivers, Hickling says, realize they’re at the mercy of the universe.
That’s one reason drivers such as El Sawi wrack their brains for answers. “We want to make sense of things that don’t make any sense,” says Hickling.
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