The psychology behind the thought of nuclear war

KUSA - If you've read, watched or listened to the news lately, you've probably heard -- at least in part -- about North Korea and nuclear war.

If you haven't, here's the skinny:

  • North Korea announced Thursday a detailed plan to launch a salvo of ballistic missiles toward the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam, a major military hub and home to U.S. bombers, a move that if carried out would be its most provocative missile launch to date.
  • The announcement warned the North is preparing a plan to fire four of its Hwasong-12 missiles over Japan and into waters around the tiny island, which hosts 7,000 U.S. military personnel on two main bases and has a population of 160,000
  • In response, President Donald Trump said North Korea "better get their act together or they are going to be in trouble like few nations have ever been in trouble."
  • It's the latest warning since he said earlier this week that North Korea faces "retaliation with fire and fury unlike any the world has seen before."

President Trump: Maybe my 'fire and fury' threats against North Korea weren't tough enough

U.S. would likely try to intercept North Korean missiles launched toward Guam

The thought of actual nuclear warfare is scary, but psychologist Dr. Max Wachtel says there are factors that are making things worse.

"You see these awful headlines that's terrifying and freaks everybody out," Wachtel said."The most rational of thinkers will read a headline and think they'll have to hide under a bed because the world is going to explode soon."

The best thing to do is look at the situation with a level head. Educate yourself and go beyond the headline.

"What is the likelihood of us getting into nuclear war? It's actually probably really low, but it could happen. So in our minds, we fill in the blanks because we aren't aware of all of the top secret stuff going on behind the scenes," Wachtel said.  

What's the takeaway here?

"It's really easy to attack the messenger," Wachtel said. 

Find a trusted source of news (likely not whatever meme you brother-in-law posted on Facebook) and do your due diligence to share information you know has been verified. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.  

© 2017 KUSA-TV


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