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Disaster Management – Psychological Perspectives

Dr.V.D.Swaminathan, Professor of Psychology, & Director University Center for International Relations University of Madras

Meaning of Disaster

• •

A great or sudden misfortune A complete failure (Concise Oxford Dictionary)

Theoretical Paradigm S–O–R in which S = Stimulus (Disaster) O = Organism (Human being) R = Response (Consequence) .

tsunami. cyclone or any such weather related.) • Manmade Disaster (terrorism) .Types of Disaster • Natural Disaster (earth quake. avalanche. etc.

Phases of Preparation for Disaster Management • Pre Disaster Phase • Disaster Phase • Post Disaster Phase .

Pre Disaster Phase • • • • • Prevention – primary. secondary & teritiary Identify risk factors Revised Social Ecological Model Micro level factors (endogenous) Meso. Macro and Mega level factors (exogenous) .

Organism or Individual Related Factors (Micro level – Endogenous) (a) Age (maturity) (b) Basic personality (c) Belief system (d) Clinical status (e) General intelligence (f) Life style (g) Perception and so on .

temperament and character that determines one’s unique adjustment to environment” (Eysenck.Definition “ a more or less stable enduring organization of one’s physique. 1983) .Personality . intellect.

) Low .High (vs.) Low (iii) Neuroticism -.) Low (iv) Psychoticism – High (vs.Dimensions of Personality (i) Intelligence -.High (vs.) Low (ii) Extraversion – High (vs.

avoidance of certain risks) • Attitude (true education not money based) • Action (cohesion. coordination etc. cooperation.Meso level Factors (Family) • Awareness (being mentally prepared. if possible.) .

. avoidance of unhealthy conflicts which arise mainly because of cut throat competition and certain other antihuman practices) • Mega level – making the best & optimal use of technological power.Macro & Mega Level Factors . organization where one is employed (training in first aid. Macro level – educational institution.

During Disaster • • • • • High vigilance Presence of mind Clear communication Resource mobilization Protection of lives rather than material valuables .

Positive – triggering of resources from within to meet challenges and be proactive Negative – depletion of resources causing problems and be reactive .Consequences of a Disaster Post-disaster personality is a mere extension and exaggeration of pre-disaster personality.

they tend to suffer from post traumatic syndrome. from acute phase. if they move on to chronic phase. but generally the symptoms generally appear soon after the trauma or disaster. In some cases.Post traumatic Syndrome • Psychological effects of the disaster may persist for many months. there could be an “incubation” period. .

Some of the Important Symptoms • • • • • Difficulty in falling or staying asleep Irritability or outbursts of anger Difficulty in concentration Hyper vigilance Exaggerated startle response almost similar to panic attack .

3. 11. 10. 5. Palpitations (tachy cardia) Sweating Sensations of shortness of breath Trembling Feeling of choking Chest pain Nausea or abdominal distress Feeling dizzy Derealization Going crazy/fear of losing control Fear of dying Paresthesia (numbness) . 6. It is a discrete period of intense fear or discomfort in which four or more of the following symptoms the individuals will develop abruptly and reach a peak within ten minutes. 7. 12. 2. 8. 9.Panic Attack • 1. 4.

altruistic phase.Other Possible Maladaptive Responses • • • • • • Agora Phobia Any other specific fear Obsessive-compulsive disorder Generalized anxiety disorder Major disorders (Psychoses) Counter disaster syndrome – isolation phase marked by passivity. denial &repression. euphoric phase and ambivalent phase .

Purpose of Psychological Preparation Prevention (strengthening of self) 1. Secondary-reduction of duration of disorders 3. Primary – before the occurrence of problem 2. Tertiary – reduction of impairment .

thereby their psycho spiritual aspects are strengthened • .Tips for Building A Healthy Personality • With the help of a psychologist (not a psychiatrist). make an objective assessment of individuals/students on important parameters of personality Train individuals/students in the art and science of relaxation.

Tips (contd.) • Help individuals/students develop healthy belief system which nurtures strong will power and determination to lead long and healthy life.. This will also imply that individuals will not become victims of rumors • Enable individuals/students to develop social skills which very much include communication skills .

) • Nurture a well knit value system in every individual student with particular reference to morality • Give training in first aid with a special focus on sharpening one’s presence of mind.. • Let every student develop a civilized sense of humor which acts as an antidote to depression and so many other psychological problems • Impart training in time management .Tips (contd.

) • Through appropriate models (generally video or sometimes live) show the students as to how they need to be alert whenever any disaster occurs. perhaps. • Mock training can also be attempted to make students get the “feel” of helping the victims. feed back can also be given to make them perfect in their behavior while experiencing any crisis situation. .Tips (contd..

Acknowledgment .