Our expert says:
I know personally some of the Australian shrinks who would be involved in his sort of disaster, as well as others in this field.
Generally, as you suggest, most of us are remarkably resilient on such occasions, and concentrate on surviving and saving what you can of your belongings. The more there is a sense of community spirit and sharing the problems and solutions, the better.
How we anticipate we MIGHT handle such events is unreliable - some of us certain we would crumble turn out to be heroes, an som of those confidence of their abilities, dont cope at all. Those who are sure they would and should cope, usually handle it very badly if faced with a situation where they can't cope.
There will surely be some PTSD, but probably not as much as you might expect. Where there was unpleasant problems and inconvenience but not direct and real threat to life, there are less lasting psychological problems ; similar where there are opportunities to effectively do SOMETHING about it all or to help others.
Why do people stay when maybwe they ought to go to greater safety ? Human nature. We don't like warnings, and aren't convinced they should applu to US rather than those guys further up the road. And of course there can be realistic concerns, both a lack of knowing where to go and where you could stay, and a concern that someone might rob and loot your home or business while you were away. Also, faced with sudden and unexpected danger, some of us tend to freeze, to not want to admit how serious the risk is, and to try to pretend its not going to happen HERE.
Not insanity and not a death wish.
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