I have been doing some research, for about 8 months now, into the phases of a crisis and what the common emotional and physical stress factors are for us humans. What I have found is that there are all different definitions, descriptions and how-to’s out there and they seem to depend on what the source is: From medical and physiological personnel to S & R and survivors.
There also seems to be quite a bit of miss-information about people and panic. Basically the panic we often read about in books and see in movies is exaggerated. Most humans don’t really go into a panic ridden haze and go nuts or act irrationally, putting ourselves and others in danger. Yes, a small percentage do panic in this fashion, but we rarely have mass hysteria. September 11, 2001 is a perfect example of this truth.
To top it off, the more “expert” the source, the more “fine lines” seem to separate the phases and the more complex the description. So here is my layperson explanation and you can take it for what it is – one individual’s opinion, nothing more.
Here are what I see as the Three Crisis Reaction Phases that we humans go through when confronted with a crisis.
- Shock – The deer caught in the headlights. We are immobile and non-responsive.
- Denial – This is all a bad dream and I’ll wake up and everything will be honky dory. We are still not actually doing anything to help ourselves but we are aware of our surroundings.
- Action – We accept what has just happened and start to actually DO something – Like assess injuries, who is around us, where our loved ones might be and what course of action to take to meet up and be safe.
- The quicker we get to actually DOING something to help ourselves the better our survival chances are.
- The more detailed pre-planning and pre-warning we have and do the better chance of survival we have.
- The more we practice this worst case scenario the quicker we act instead of react.
“I am prepared for the worst but hope for the best” Benjamin Disraeli (British Prime Minister & novelist 1804-1881)