In July, Ann Crawley led a group of teenagers and children on a successful diving trip aboard the 75-foot Conception.
Last week, she woke up to a flood of messages from friends and family informing her that the diving boat had gone up in flames off the coast of Santa Barbara, killing 33 passengers and a crew member who were asleep below deck.
For Crawley, a former crew member of the Conception and an accomplished diver, California’s worst maritime disaster in modern history is deeply personal.
“It really does set in motion a very basic and probably evolutionary tendency to seek other people out when we feel stress,” said Anthony Mancini, a psychology professor at Pace University.
Mancini said that after the initial shock, most people show resilience. And in some cases, the traumatic event can even have a positive impact in the long run. He studied survivors of the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting and found that people who said they had experienced anxiety and depression in the months leading up to the shooting showed a marked improvement in their symptoms several months afterward, despite the trauma they experienced.
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