‘Seared in our memories'

I appreciated the numerous articles the September Monitor devoted to 9/11. Like many of my psychology teacher colleagues, I planned to introduce the topic of "flashbulb memory" around the 10th anniversary of 9/11. In addition to investigating my students' memories of 9/11, I decided to try to determine what effect the events had on their lives through a short survey I gave to all 47 of them and their parents.

The students' mean age on Sept. 11, 2001 was 9.48 years. Their parents' mean age was 36.84. Both groups were asked to indicate the clarity of their memories on a six-point scale, from "none at all" to "very clear." The students averaged 4.42 while their parents averaged 5.7, a statistically significant difference (p< .05). Thirty-five percent of the students indicated they were too young to understand what was happening, but 13 percent noted that they looked to their parents and others for understanding.

Students and parents were asked, "What effect, if any, has 9/11 had on your quality of life, attitudes, or opinions?" The most frequent response (26 percent) from students was that 9/11 had no long-term effect on their lives; 17 percent expressed a fear of (or anger toward) terrorists and flying, and 15 percent expressed an appreciation for life and/or country. Fifteen percent of my students indicated that 9/11 events made them aware that anything can happen at any time.

Compared with 26 percent of the students, not one parent indicated that 9/11 had no long-term effect on their lives. Rather, the majority (54 percent) of parents listed fear of (or anger toward) terrorists and flying as 9/11's long-term impact on their lives. Six percent referred to an appreciation of life or country and 8.5 percent referred to the realization that anything can happen at any time.

Students and parents were invited to include additional comments. A very poignant comment about the long term effect of 9/11 came from a student. The pregnant, surrogate mother of her younger twin brothers was in the Pentagon on September 11, 2001: "I don't take my brothers for granted. Every time they get on my nerves, I think they might not have been here."

Elizabeth Jacobs, PhD
Glendale Community College NorthPhoenix, Ariz.

In honor of Otto Selz

Thank you for your thoughtful review of the life and work of Otto Selz in your September issue. We agree with your assessment that Selz was a visionary thinker and avid researcher who preceded much of what later became known as cognitive science. However, we feel that one of the most amazing observations with respect to Selz is that he was not only a forerunner to cognitive science, but he also had a documented influence on modern educational psychology (through Prins) and philosophy (through Popper) – both of these influences are as little recognized as the impact he had on cognitive psychology which you describe in your article.

At the University of Mannheim, where he was head of the psychology department and also served as president for a year, Selz is well remembered. We commemorate his work and his life in several ways. Today, the road encircling the university, which is housed in a baroque palace, is named after Selz.

Moreover, an interdisciplinary research institute for applied psychology, named the Otto-Selz-Institute, is a modern, Mannheim-based research laboratory and a psychological outpatient treatment unit. This institute also maintains the Otto-Selz Archive where we document his life and work and secure his last library and his writings, which are accessible by appointment. This year, on June 27, we had the opportunity to lay a commemorative plaque at the site where Selz taught and lived.

Prof. Dr. Georg W. Alpers
Otto-Selz-Institute at the
University of Mannheim
Prof. Dr. Hans-Wolfgang Arndt
University of Mannheim


Please send letters to Sara Martin, Monitor Editor. Letters should be no more than 250 words and may be edited for space and clarity.