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Traumatic Effect of Beirut Port Explosion on Lebanese People's Experiences

35 Pages Posted: 23 Sep 2021

See all articles by Myriam El Khoury Malhame

Myriam El Khoury Malhame

Lebanese American University - Social Sciences Department

Dunia A. Harajli

Lebanese American University - Information technology and Operation Management Department

Dorota Reykowska


Rafal Ohme

WSB University, Torun



Background: Mental distress and decreased functionality are highly prevalent after collective traumas. Investigating the needs and vulnerabilities are necessary to subsequently guide short and long term targeted interventions. We aim to identify a clustered-dimensional approach to people’s experiences after the apocalyptic Beirut Port explosion, with potentially higher behavioral intention indication than traditional categorical psychopathological assessments.

Methods: This cross-sectional internet based study was conducted on November 2020, 4 months after August 4th trauma.  It included 1323 Lebanese adult residents and expatriates. Emotions and attitudes following the blast were assessed using iCode software, measuring explicit answers and implicit reaction-time to 61 presented statements. Factor and cluster analysis subsequently differentiated respondents.

Outcomes: General explicit responses reveal alarming levels of distress and generalized fears (75-80%). Implicit measurements suggest high confidence in describing negative emotions (only 20-30% distortion) but low confidence in anticipating additional adversities (50-60 %). Multi-factorial cluster analysis indicates significant differences on 9 tested dimensions for 3 distinctive groups. High emotional distress and intrusive thoughts were most intense in the group with highest job worries and media reliance. Those with highest faith and community resilience had lowest negative emotions and avoidance. The third cluster was mostly marked by country dissatisfaction.

Interpretation: These findings suggest that integrating implicit responses helps profile people’s experiences after a collective trauma, and provides insight onto their hard-wired attitudes and beliefs beyond demographics factors taken alone and classical psychopathology. The study provides suggestions for targeted outreach mental and human assistance. 

Funding: None.

Declaration of Interest: Dr Rafal Ohme is the founder and chairman of NEUROHM. Authors report no other conflicts of interest.

Ethical Approval: This study was approved with ethical approval of the institutional review board IRB at the Lebanese American University (LAU) [tracking number LAU.SAS.MM12.16/Oct/2020].

Keywords: Collective trauma, Beirut Port Explosion, mental distress, spirituality, PTSD.

Suggested Citation

El Khoury Malhame, Myriam and Harajli, Dunia A. and Reykowska, Dorota and Ohme, Rafal, Traumatic Effect of Beirut Port Explosion on Lebanese People's Experiences. Available at SSRN: or

Myriam El Khoury Malhame (Contact Author)

Lebanese American University - Social Sciences Department ( email )


Dunia A. Harajli

Lebanese American University - Information technology and Operation Management Department

P.O.Box 36
Chouran-Beirut 1102 2801

Dorota Reykowska

NEUROHM ( email )


Rafal Ohme

WSB University, Torun ( email )


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