How will movie massacre victims cope with trauma?

This is a rush transcript from "The Five," July 20, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: This morning, we woke up to news of a tragedy that reminds us of all the ways that we are united, as one American family. What matters at the end of the day is not the small things. It's not the trivial things, which so often consume us and our daily lives. Ultimately, it's how we choose to treat one another and how we love one another.

MITT ROMNEY, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Our hearts break with a sadness of this unspeakable tragedy. Ann and I join the president and first lady and all Americans in offering our deepest condolences for those whose lives were shattered in a few moments, a few moments of evil in Colorado.

This is a time for each of us to look in our hearts and remember how much we love one another. And how much we love and how much we care for our great country. There is so much love and goodness in the heart of America.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

BOB BECKEL, CO-HOST: Welcome back to "The Five."

That was President Obama and Romney almost there earlier today.

Let's bring in Dr. Dale Archer, psychiatrist from New Orleans.

Doctor, thank you for joining us.

You're -- you have done a lot of work in post traumatic stress disorder. And I understand your sense here is that what we have to worry about is not just obviously the victims and their family, the people in the theater. But as the city of Aurora is also going to feel the kind of stress that those people in the theater, maybe not as extreme as they are, but you expect the citizens are going to feel that way?

DR. DALE ARCHER, PSYCHIATRIST: Well, the thing about post-traumatic stress disorder we know about one in five, about 20 percent of individuals that are exposed to a direct traumatic stress will develop this disorder. Now, of course, this is going to be varying in degrees of severity. But the number one risk factor is how close to the event you were and how much stress you were exposed to.

So, for example, if you were one of the wounded victims or one of the people that was there and saw the shooting, you would be at extremely high risk. On the other hand, if you heard about it from outside or you saw people running outside or you're a first responder going in, you are going to have a less likelihood of developing the conditions. So, it's related to the amount of stress you experience with a direct event.

So, I think that the individuals that were involved, they are going to need to get involved in some counseling very, very soon.

BECKEL: Andrea?

ANDREA TANTAROS, CO-HOST: Hi, Doctor. It's Andrea Tantaros.

How do you even begin to treat someone who was in the theater, someone so close to this? How would you go about this? Something so serious as this?

ARCHER: It's very serious. Post traumatic stress disorder starts out with nightmares, flashbacks and actually reliving the event. And this happens over and over and over and over in your mind.

If you let it go on, it can become chronic and become hard if not impossible to treat. The key -- this is crucially important -- is to get involved in treatment immediately. I mean, the sooner the better. I'm talking about tonight or tomorrow.

The sooner these people can start seeing a professional, who's trying to deal with this, the better they will do. Because what you are doing, you have to uncouple the event from the emotions that goes with the event. That sounds hard to do but that's how the therapy works in these conditions. Earlier the better.

BECKEL: Kimberly -- I'm sorry, Doc. Kimberly, you have a question?

KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE, CO-HOST: Yes. I just had a question for Dr. Archer regarding, you know, the suspect. Right now, we have been discussing about whether or not he had history of psychological or psychiatric problems.

Mostly we just know he in fact decided to drop out of medical school. But other than that, it doesn't appear to be history of violent act or criminal record or any condition that he has disturbed mentality to do an event like this.

ARCHER: Well, I've got to tell you. I'll be surprised if there isn't some psychiatric warning signs that are going to come to light here. Psychosis, especially schizophrenia, can be a sudden on set. It can occur typically in the late teens or early 20s.

So it could be he was totally normal throughout his life. But, look, something took place a month ago for him to drop out of school. And I suspect at that point he was starting to have some problems, perhaps hallucinations, perhaps delusions -- we don't know yet.

But again, I'm going to be surprised if there isn't something there.

BECKEL: Dana had some question for you, Doc.

DANA PERINO, CO-HOST: Yes, Doctor, I just want to ask you for -- outside of the people that were -- that witness the event, children or teens that are learning news of the event that might be worried to go to a crowded place or going to a movie theater, how do you help them deal with it if you're mom and dad at home watching the news tonight?

ARCHER: Well, that's a very good question. Obviously, what you have to do is talk to your kids, as you should always do.

You're watching the news as a family and this comes on. Kids are going, wow, mom, I'm scared to go to movie. And you talk to them, look this was a sick person, he was disturbed. You explain what happened and kids understand a lot more than we think they do.

So if you are honest with your kids and you tell them, this is one event that's happened in the last 20 years in a movie theater, then they are probably going to be OK. But honesty in talking to them.

BECKEL: Dr. Archer in New Orleans, thank you for joining us.

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