Psychologist Kerem Gümüş: “Primary needs; to be understood!”

Psychologist Kerem Gümüş: “Primary needs; to be understood!”
Date: 13.2.2023 15:00

Psychologist Kerem Gümüş explained how earthquake victims should be treated…

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Psychologist Kerem Gümüş made very specific evaluations about the traumas caused by the earthquake disaster in our country on human psychology. Kerem Gümüş, who made evaluations on topics such as earthquake psychology and psychological first aid, said, “Let's try not to give motivation to people affected by the earthquake. The primary need of the individual is not motivation. Primary need is to be understood, not to feel alone.” 
We are going through a great catastrophe as a country. A relative or friend of all of us is in the earthquake zone. Physical damage is generally discussed in disasters such as earthquakes, but we know that disasters also have psychological and sociological effects. Psychologist Kerem Gümüş made statements to the Milli Gazete that he evaluated the psychological dimensions of the earthquake and gave important information about psychological first aid. 


Kerem Gümüş said that the process should be divided into two as those who experienced the earthquake and those who witnessed the earthquake, and that now He told us what we should do, who witnessed the earthquake. Gümüş said, “It is necessary to divide the process into two; those who experienced the earthquake and those who witnessed it. We can evaluate those who experienced the earthquake in a mourning process, but this mourning process is not a mourning process after the death of a person. This mourning process is one of the most severe processes that can be felt, because while a person who lost a loved one can get help from his/her spouse, friend or relative, he/she cannot get help from someone if he/she has lived through this grieving process. This is a serious trauma. Earthquakes don't just destroy homes. It has effects that shake up our entire lives. This is a process seen by those who have experienced the earthquake, and this process continues because there is a serious uncertainty. The successive earthquakes continue. This uncertainty also keeps anxiety, panic, worry, fear and sadness fresh. Both in the earthquake zone and in non-seismic areas and in us. Since we have witnessed these processes and what we can do is limited, we are going through the process we call secondary trauma.” 


Explaining what secondary trauma is, Psychologist Kerem Gümüş said, “In secondary trauma, symptoms similar to trauma are seen. Secondary trauma means the trauma of those who witnessed the event or watched the event through the written and visual media, not those who were exposed to the traumatic event. So trauma is the earthquake of the soul. It leaves damage to the soul. Unless intervened, those damages continue to live in the soul. It's too early to talk about intervention and spiritual healing. The process that needs to be controlled here is us who have experienced a little more secondary trauma. At this point, we need to meet our needs to protect our own mental and physical health in order to be healthier and more compassionate to people who have experienced earthquakes. We need to try not to stop the flow of life as much as possible and not to show any disruptions in the routines of life.” 


Physical first aid is a type of intervention that every person should know and is of vital importance. Mental health is just as important as a person's physical health. At this point, we need to learn psychological first aid as well as physical first aid. While explaining what psychological first aid is and who can do it, Kerem Gümüş emphasized that the primary needs of earthquake victims is to be understood. Gümüş said, “Psychological first aid is an early psychosocial intervention approach performed during or after natural disasters or similar crises. This intervention approach is not a therapy. Anyone who has received their education from the right places can do it. In this crisis situation, it can be applied to everyone, from children to adults. The important thing here is the fact. It is to make that person feel that they are not alone. First, you need a physical examination. Physical wounds need to be healed. Spiritual help should not be rushed. It is important to learn the principles of psychological first aid well and most importantly, we need to control our individual feelings of inadequacy, helplessness, guilt and anger in this process.” 


Kerem Gümüş said, “Psychological help is achieved by giving one-to-one to the other party, but this is also an individual help by controlling the emotions and similar feelings I have mentioned, protecting one's own health and at the same time avoiding explanations, posts and social media posts that will lead to chaos. This way you can be helpful without going there. The important thing is the intervention, and this is a form of intervention. At the same time, everyone can be helpful to help earthquake victims by participating in financial support organizations, donations and, if none of them are able, even by praying. In this sense, the size and smallness of the aid should not affect people negatively. Help is help. Listen as the victim tells his story. Never give advice. We should not use sentences as ‘It could have been worse’, ‘You will be fine; never mind’, ‘These days will pass’, ‘If fate wrote it like that’. Let's try not to give motivation. The primary need of the individual is not motivation. His primary need is to be understood, not to feel alone, and if the person is not telling his story, do not force him to tell.” 


Emphasizing that professional search and rescue teams are trained and conscious about psychological first aid, Kerem Gümüş explained how citizens and members of the media should behave towards people who were pulled out from under the rubble: “The basis of psychological first aid is to have a direct impact on one's health. That's why first aid is so valuable. At that time, the rescuers act silently, calmly and cautiously at this step, but the people around who see the rescue can applaud with enthusiasm and similar actions. Such movements should not exist. Such movements may cause an unexpected crisis in earthquake victims. can take it out. For this reason, it is inconvenient to publish photographs, hold flashes, and try to make interviews after the earthquake victim is pulled out of that wreckage, and these movements can cause life-threatening distress.” 


It seems that it will take a long time for the wounds of this disaster to heal. Kerem Gümüş, while giving advice to get through this process in a healthy and easy way, stated that we should not forget that everyone's way of coping with events is different. Kerem Gümüş said, “The process of mourning is one of the deepest concepts that hurt us. It is too early to talk about the healing process, but the pain of our soul is also a factor in the healing process. If there are situations such as the sudden desire to cry, waking up at night, not being able to sleep, not being able to enjoy what you eat, feeling bad and sad, feeling unhappy, helpless, inadequate, guilty, I request you not to tire yourself by trying to be good and strong. No one has to stand strong in this process. Crying spells, insomnia behaviors are signs of strength because it's the body's bodily response to stress in this process. We see being strong as standing upright, not crying, ignoring, but being stoic with pain is also being strong. This process, the pain process, the mourning process. We're all hurting. By establishing unity and solidarity, we will all carry this pain and try to remove it. Trying to do your best without saying big or small is valuable in this process. We must put criticism and critical approach on the shelf and be aware that everyone's process of dealing with pain can be different. Criticisms such as “There is debris in the middle, look at what they are doing, they are travelling, doing sports” should not be made. Social media and fake news should be kept away. For children, the process should be explained in accordance with their age and activities such as games, fairy tales and pictures should be done. Social isolation should be avoided. Do not isolate yourself from society and the environment during this process. Finally, we are sending our get well soon wishes to everyone. We wish a speedy recovery to the injured.”


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