Oct. 18, 2010 Now that the 33 Chilean miners have been returned to the Earth's surface safe and sound, what challenges await them? Mark Salzer, director of the Temple University Collaborative on Community Integration, says that a main issue will be re-establishing their relationships and roles in their families.
"Gaps arose in their absence and will have to be readjusted with their presence," he said. "So, they will need to re-establish normalcy in their relationships.
He says there could also be continued post-traumatic stress from prolonged exposure to this life threatening situation, but that the overwhelming majority of them should come through this incident with minimal long-term psychological effects.
"Maintaining a long-term connection among these miners will help alleviate the sense of isolation along with the availability of cognitive-behavioral therapy for possible PTSD is important, along with the support of family," he said.
As for the fame that awaits them -- book deals, movie offers, talk show appearances, and meetings with high ranking officials -- Salzer said it could be a wonderful event that could act as a counterbalance to the negative life-changing event of being trapped in the mine.
"But, the requests will almost certainly disrupt their ability to return to normalcy right away, which, while the fame will be wonderful, will also maintain a certain level of stress," he said. "And when that fame goes away, it could create a vacuum for some. They might experience a certain degree of emptiness and depression when the excitement and energy fades and they return to their routines."
Overall, Salzer said that as with anyone achieving sudden fame, it's important to ensure the miners recognize the fame as temporary, and that the return to their families and their communities, and regaining their lives, should be equally satisfying.
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