Domestic Terrorism

When Terror Attacks Become 'Part Of Life,' Many Can Succumb To Fatigue

"Terrorism fatigue" can refer to the tuning out or acceptance of near-regular terror attacks.

When Terror Attacks Become 'Part Of Life,' Many Can Succumb To Fatigue
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The deadly terrorist attack in Manhattan has prompted many shocked and devastated reactions. But the attack didn't seem to cause as much panic and fear as previous attacks: one New Yorker told Time that terror attacks were "a part of life."

That might reflect a changing public attitude toward terrorism. Despite the horrific nature of the Manhattan attack, terrorism may not inspire as strong a reaction in some people as it once did.

People attend an annual Halloween parade in New York City after a man driving a rental truck struck and killed eight people.

New Yorkers Celebrate Halloween Despite Deadly Terror Attack

Families still took their children trick-or-treating in lower Manhattan. And costumed New Yorkers flooded the streets for an annual Halloween parade.


In a Pew Research Center survey conducted after the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013, 75 percent of Americans surveyed agreed that "occasional acts of terrorism in the U.S. will be part of life in the future."

Some experts refer to this phenomenon, the tuning out and acceptance of near-regular tragedies, as "terrorism fatigue."

Last summer, an expert told USA Today people with terrorism fatigue "have trouble connecting with yet more victims, and they, to a large extent, tune it out. They become cold."

And that numbness might spread into politics — a former head of the National Counterterrorism Center told the Senate in 2013 that terrorism fatigue could lead to "political finger pointing" and "bureaucratic sluggishness" when responding to threats.

That testimony gave two possible solutions to terrorism fatigue: public discussions about terrorism and continuous vigilance.