Cover image for Invisible trauma : the psychosocial effects of invisible environmental contaminants
Invisible trauma : the psychosocial effects of invisible environmental contaminants
Vyner, Henry M.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Lexington, Mass. : Lexington Books, [1988]

Physical Description:
x, 222 pages ; 24 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Format :

On Order

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

Both books share a common subject (people's response to pollution), and foreword contributor (Adeline G. Levine, who wrote extensively on Love Canal), but they differ in perspective. Edelstein's book is less theoretical than Vyner's. Based on his own and other studies, Edelstein identifies specific human responses to recognized (as opposed to Vyner's invisible) threats. These responses include acute concern for health, feelings of loss of control over life, changed relationships with home and community, and loss of trust in government. Referring to other cases for confirmation, Edelstein concentrates on Legler, N.J., where he interviewed residents and government officials after toxic contamination from a garbage landfill was found. The result is an accessible work suited for most public libraries. Vyner has studied the dilemmas faced by victims of such invisible threats as toxic waste, radiation, and food contamination. He focuses on the period when these threats are invisible, as when exposure, cause, significance, and action required are still uncertain or ambiguous. He discusses the medieval Plague, Love Canal, atomic bomb tests, PBB contamination of cattle feed in Michigan, and other cases to show what ``adaptational dilemmas'' the victims faced and what ``belief systems'' they created. With such terms as ``etiological uncertainty'' and ``anatomical paradigm,'' the work appears to be addressed primarily to the medical, psychological, and sociological communities. Daniel LaRossa, Connetquot P.L., Bohemia, N.Y. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

An examination, analysis, and assessment of several different "invisible environmental contaminants" seen from the point of view of the "victims" and their psychological well-being. The database for the essay consists mainly of three case studies: Love Canal (a New York disposal site for chemical wastes), Michigan polybrominated biphenyls (fire retardants used in plastic molded parts), and veteran of atomic exposure (a military man radiated in nuclear weapons testing). Vyner discusses how uncertainty permeates victim reactions and leads to new belief systems as a coping strategy. According to his analysis, physicicans exacerbate rather than ameliorate victim uncertainties and anxieties regarding their contamination: the victim is blamed twice--once for becoming contaminated and second for complaining about it. Two other contemporary books come to mind for comparison: The Three Mile Island Nuclear Accident, ed. by T.H. Moss and D.L. Sills; the other, Mary Douglas and Aaron Wildavsky's Risk and Culture (1982) provides an analysis of the political factors inherent in techological and environmental dangers. For undergraduates in the social and behavioral sciences. -E. Palola, SUNY Empire State College