July 22 memorials more important

Utøya july 22The Labour Party invites media to Utøya together with EU Secretary of State Federica Mogherini and Labour leader Jonas Gahr Støre. Photo: Lise Åserud / NTB scanpix

Psychologist: The July 22 memorials become more important in the coming years

As the July 22 markings are getting less in numbers and scale, the monuments grow in importance, says psychologist Atle Dyregrov.


Prior to last year’s five-year markings, the support group stated that they were going to tone down the markings on Utøya and in the Government quarter leading up to the decade markings in 2021.

According to Moss Avis, Rygge is one of several municipalities that have decided on a simple flower ceremony instead of a larger marking this year. Østre Toten, Bærum and Eidsvoll have, according to Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development, announced the same.

As this trend continues, Dyregrov, at the Center for Crisis Psychology, believes that it becomes more important with national memorials.

-Memorials have always had a very special meaning to humans. A few years ago, a Viking grave was discovered in Sweden where there were no skeletons, but is instead believed to have been a memorial for people lost at sea, the researcher says, and elaborates:

-It is important for us to have a place to visit to honour the dead. When such collective events occur, the memorial sites achieve a very strong symbolic meaning to people.

Still much attention

Breivik with new, right-wing message

Anders Behring Breivik makes Nazi salute. Photo: Lise Åserud / NTB scanpix

He points out that, in addition to those directly affected, there are many others who are affected to a greater or lesser extent by what occurred at Utøya and in the Government quarter on July 22 six years ago.

He points out that the Danish magazine Videnskap.dk mentioned Monday a research report from the University of Copenhagen. The researchers has investigated whether the terrorist attack could have been a contributing factor to the fact that 2,736 more diagnoses were made at psychiatric hospitals in Denmark than were expected.

– It is, of course, natural that public attention fades after a while. That’s why I’m a little surprised at how much attention it receives today. In Poland, as an example, they also commemorate this day, he says.

Therefore, he believes that having national memorials, and as close as possible to where it happened, will be important in the future.

– This is a very special event, and with regard to memorabilia, people have very different needs. Some use the grave of the one they lost as their most important memorial, many will seek public places on anniversaries, not in the least because it has a value to gather and meet with others.

– The memorials, even for those who are not directly affected, become places where one can reflect and perform simple ritual actions. These can often express more than mere words can achieve, says the professor.

Inflamed discussion

Dyregrov is a professor and professional leader of the Center for Crisis Psychology at the University of Bergen. He was even a participant in the gatherings arranged by the Directorate of Health for the dependents in the first couple of years after the terrorist attack

Six years later, he still has contact with some of the survivors and dependants in his practice.

In his office, they can see one of the over 900 iron roses that were made by survivors, relatives and smiths from around the world to reminiscence the victims of the terror. But they still can not see the roses that are to be a part of the memorial in Oslo.

Nor can they see the planned memorials on the Utøya quay or in the Government quarter.

Long overdue

– It’s extra painful when there is a discussion and battle about where it is to be and what will be its design. For example, it is a pity that there was, and in part still is, a conflict surrounding the memorial at Utøya. Here the society and the needs of survivors and dependants are in conflict with the interests of local residents, he says.

He points out, however, that it is common that such things takes time and gets inflamed. He refers to the work on the memorial in New York after 9/11 as an example.

– One never manages to please everybody, and therefore have to cut through, he says, adding that he is positive towards that memorials will be placed at the Utøya quay and in the Government quarter.

– But I think it would be good to have a memorial that was already in place. Six years is a long period of time, he says.


© NTB Scanpix / Norway Today