American Muslim Physicians' Experiences Since 9/11: Cultural Trauma and the Formation of Islamic Identity

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The September 11, 2001 attacks, a defining moment for many Americans, have had a traumatic effect on their collective wellbeing. The attacks fit Alexander's definition of “cultural trauma.” Using his conceptual framework, we explore how 9/11 and the ensuing discourse and events have affected one particular segment of the American public: American Muslim physicians (AMPs). We examine how these traumatic events have shaped their individual and collective response and changed their sense of collective identity. A semistructured individual interview protocol was used to collect data from 62 AMPs. A grounded thematic analysis guided the processing of qualitative interview data. The results show that the mistreatment and prejudice faced by many AMPs have left an indelible impression on their memories and sense of identity. Despite the initial negative response, September 11 led to other positive changes in their religious identity and facilitated adaptive action. The study implications are discussed.

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