ON ANY TRIP OR EXPEDITION, YOUR SITUATION CAN CHANGE FOR THE WORSE. QUICKLY MOVING INTO THE UNKNOWN CAN CAUSE TREMENDOUS PSYCHOLOGICAL AND EMOTIONAL STRESS, KNOWN AS “PSYCHOGENIC SHOCK.” UNDERSTANDING THIS WILL HELP YOU DEAL WITH IT BETTER AND REDUCE ITS IMPACT.
Your response to disaster situations
Your psychological response to a survival situation is crucial. If you break down psychologically, your chances of overcoming a situation will be compromised.
It’s useful to examine how people are likely to react in a survival situation. You can use this knowledge to prepare mentally for such eventualities. Normal psychological reactions to disaster tend to occur in a set pattern (see below). Contrary to popular belief, people don’t normally panic, although it can be contagious if someone does.
Pre-impact period: This is divided into two stages:
- Threat: danger exists but, although obvious to those who recognize it, those who will not accept it respond with denial and under-activity.
- Warning: threat of danger is now apparent to all; response is now likely to be over-activity.
Impact Period: This is the life-threatening stage. Statistically, individuals behave in one of three ways:
- 10–20 percent of people are calm and retain full awareness.
- Up to 75 percent of people are stunned, bewildered, and unable to react rationally.
- 10–25 percent exhibit extreme behavior, such as screaming.
This follows on directly from the impact period; for example, victims may have escaped a sinking ship and are in liferafts. It can be between three hours and three days. Most often, it is characterized by a gradual return to normal reasoning abilities, awareness, and emotional expression.
If the recoil period is not fully successful, individuals may develop psychiatric disorders. The full impact of the incident becomes apparent and a range of emotions—guilt, depression, anxiety, and aimlessness—may develop. These are often called Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD).
Paul has had an interest in the outdoors since he was a young kid. Walking, tracking and exploring the wilderness around him, from disused overgrown railway lines to the vast wilderness of the UK national parks. Over the last few years Paul has honed his skills into specific areas of bushcraft and survival. He is an expert in map reading, shelter building and knots, traps and fishing.