Monday, July 9, 2018


I monitored war and terrorism at the CIA. Here are tips for coping with disturbing news.

Many Americans are politically active now for the first time in their lives and feeling overloaded by the deluge of “Breaking News” and negative information. Even for experienced political hands, the barrage we face each day has reached a level similar to what I experienced as an intelligence analyst at the CIA.

I served in the Directorate of Intelligence for 10 years, processing multiple streams of intelligence to provide senior U.S. government officials with assessments on fast-moving events around the globe. Most of my days were high-stress and filled with disturbing content, particularly as a military analyst, from following subjects like foreign authoritarian regimes, terrorist groups, and wars.

Based on my experience at the CIA, I can tell you there are several risks to being regularly overloaded with disturbing or negative content. First, some people may become complacent, because that starts to seem normal. Complacency makes it nearly impossible for a person to know what information or events matter and what doesn’t. Second, some may feel paralyzed by the sheer amount of negative information. That is, they are so overwhelmed by it, they can't figure out what to do or how to move forward.

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