Helping Journalists Beat Post-Traumatic Stress

Dr. Anthony Feinstein

hide captionDr. Anthony Feinstein is a Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto.

It's an old, wry joke among journalists — especially those who cover armed conflict: "I'm the guy running toward the gunfire when everyone else is running away."

With such a high-stakes, high-stress lifestyle, it's no wonder many journalists return from war zones with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. Dr. Anthony Feinstein is one of those working to help them overcome the emotional aftereffects of covering conflict.

After conducting extensive interviews, Feinstein estimates that up to 12 percent of all journalists have PTSD. For correspondents who have covered covered five or more conflicts, the number jumps to 29 percent.

Feinstein served as a medical officer in the Angolan and Namibian wars and is the author of the 2006 book Journalists Under Fire: The Psychological Hazards Of Covering War.

He maintains a Web site that offers journalists a tool for self-assessment; the project receives funding from veteran journalist Chris Cramer and his International News Safety Institute.

Feinstein joins Fresh Air to discuss what motivates some journalists to take dangerous assignments and how many are dealing with the emotional effects of their work.

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