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On My Mind
June 2002

It's Because They Didn't Know Our Names

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2002;156(6):531. doi:10.1001/archpedi.156.6.531

"I know why it happened," said 5-year-old Hannah, explaining the terrorist attacks. "It's because they didn't know our names."

SINCE THE terrorist attacks, I find myself focusing more on the hidden agenda and working in the metaphors of children's communication, seeking to understand their perceptions about the terrorist attacks as well as my own.

Elena, 16 years old and the first patient of the day, presents with "pounding heartbeat." As we talk, it becomes clear that her palpitations likely express her anxiety about the terrorist attacks. Her worried father thinks her palpitations occurred because she didn't eat breakfast. As we talk about the feelings around the attacks, she visibly relaxes and her father listens intently. The cardiac workup is negative and the palpitations do not recur.