When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Dottoré!

A 9/11 Memory, When Reality Takes Over

"Can't you see it's a movie? It's all fiction. Stop crying.”

A 9/11 Memory, When Reality Takes Over
Mariateresa Fichele

In 2001, I was a young resident in psychiatry, and that afternoon of September 11 I was on duty in the Naples hospital ward, tired and hungry.

After finishing their meals, the patients were in the lounge watching television as usual, and I was about to leave. One of them came to me in tears and clung to my arm.

“Dottoré, Dottoré, have you seen how many people have died? They're attacking New York.”


I took a quick glance at the TV and saw skyscrapers on fire. Annoyed, I grabbed the patient: "Can't you see it's a movie? It's all fiction. Stop crying.”

I left him there and went away.

When you can't change the channel

I was busy with various errands, and that afternoon passed like many others, completely unaware of what was happening around me.

I returned home at dinnertime, and remember the moment perfectly. My parents were sitting around the table, and didn't even look at me. They were staring at the television, which was showing the same images I had seen that afternoon.

"That movie again!" I thought, "Don’t they have anything better to show on TV today?!"

Only at that point did they turn toward me, and I found out what had happened. Still, somehow, my mind strayed from the gravity of the facts. My thoughts instead returned immediately to that patient. I thought of the condescension with which I'd addressed him, how I had left him there in tears to process such a devastating event.

And I cried ... because along with the towers, the underlying sense of superiority with which I thought I could approach this work had definitively collapsed.

I had been the crazy one, unable to connect to reality and listen to the pain of others. We are the crazy ones, deluding ourselves into believing that all our certainties can't crumble at any moment.

____________________________

Learn more about Worldcrunch's exclusive Dottoré! series here.

Support Worldcrunch
We are grateful for reader support to continue our unique mission of delivering in English the best international journalism, regardless of language or geography. Click here to contribute whatever you can. Merci!
Dottoré!

Sowing The Seeds Of Paranoia

"They must be dumping garbage — good, it makes for good fertilizer!"

"Slowly, we were the only ones left"

Mariateresa Fichele

"Dottoré, I know a lot of flags, and let me tell you why. I grew up in the province of Caserta, and — like everybody in those days — my parents owned a piece of land, and they would take me with them to farm it.

I remember there were other kids in the fields around us. But then, slowly, we were the only ones left because everybody was selling the land, making a lot of money off of it too.

Papà wouldn't listen to reason and he kept the land. But in the meantime, instead of farmers, trucks began to arrive. Many many trucks, unloading thousands of barrels and burying them into the ground.

Keep reading...Show less
Support Worldcrunch
We are grateful for reader support to continue our unique mission of delivering in English the best international journalism, regardless of language or geography. Click here to contribute whatever you can. Merci!
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS

Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

Watch VideoShow less
MOST READ