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#213620 - 12/25/10 06:19 PM Case studies & survival psychology
dougwalkabout Offline
Crazy Canuck
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/03/07
Posts: 2642
Loc: Alberta, Canada
An interesting article about people who survived despite the odds, and some of their thought processes. Very much along the lines of what we discuss in this forum.


#213624 - 12/25/10 10:15 PM Re: Case studies & survival psychology [Re: dougwalkabout]
dweste Offline

Registered: 02/16/08
Posts: 2463
Loc: Central California
The question remains, how many, if any, who had the same thoughts and mustered the same will did not make it?

Still better to keep the positive, of course.

#213630 - 12/26/10 12:24 AM Re: Case studies & survival psychology [Re: dougwalkabout]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 6223
Loc: southern Cal
This is a fairly simplistic and superficial article. There are numerous instances where the will to survived overcame the odds; An Arizona sheriff once commented to me that egotistical people seemed to survive at a better than average rate. This came home to me with a vengeance when, on a survival situation of my own, I was determined that when the search party reached me, I would be able to offer them a cup of warm coffee and show them that I was OK. As it turned out, there was no search party, but I was still OK enough to drag my sorry butt back to the car.

There are many instances of statistical outliers to the "Rule of Three" - Here is a quote from a 1959 publication:

"A prospector in the deserts of northwestern Arizona traveled 150 miles in eight days without water in temperatures sometimes over 120F. He lost 25 per cent of his weight - nearly twice the dehydration normally considered fatal at that temperature. He lived by the grace of God and his will to survive(emphasis added). I believe this event occurred sometime in the late nineteenth century.

The Rule of Three is reasonably valid, especially for planning purposes. Certainly, as its length is exceeded, the odds of survival become dimmer -this is definitely true in my experience. I don't know of any situation where someone halts a search simply because the person has been missing for the allotted seventy-two hours. Usually the operation continues because they just might be alive and,even if not, you want to find the body and bring closure; typically searches continue for weeks after the event.
Geezer in Chief

#213635 - 12/26/10 05:22 AM Re: Case studies & survival psychology [Re: dougwalkabout]
tomfaranda Offline

Registered: 02/14/08
Posts: 301
Loc: Croton on Hudson, NY
Good article - good survey.

#213641 - 12/26/10 04:54 PM Re: Case studies & survival psychology [Re: dougwalkabout]
Montanero Offline

Registered: 10/14/08
Posts: 1236
Loc: North Carolina
The will is not everything, but it does count for a great deal. Without it, you will not survive. Some stories of survival which have not been mentioned are the stories of Prisoners Of War (POWs). Some have survived not only the elements but brutality most of us can't truly comprehend. You will find that the will is important, but as the author of the book "Deep Survival" states, having a purpose matters a great deal as well.

The "rule of threes" is not useless. Humans have not changed physically over the thousands of years, only our knowledge has. The "rule of threes" is very good for teaching basic survival and planning. You can't stop there though. As is taught in all of the military survival schools, it is important to never give up. Never stop trying. There is always a chance, unless you quit. Take every morsel of food, every drop of water; it will all help. Training helps, and having some good equipment helps, but if you stop trying, it is all useless.

Military survival training is certainly there to teach skills; but it is more about placing the student in a stressful situation as an inoculation. If you have been in it before, even in training, when it happens to you, the stress of it is not overpowering. You have confidence and the emotional strength to not let the stress of the circumstances kill you.

#213645 - 12/26/10 08:47 PM Re: Case studies & survival psychology [Re: dougwalkabout]
Teslinhiker Offline

Registered: 12/14/09
Posts: 1329
One of the great survival stories where the person overcame tremendous odds is the story of Hugh Glass. In 1822, Glass was attacked by a grizzly and left for dead by his fellow men in the expedition.

(From the Wikipedia article)

Despite his injuries, Glass regained consciousness. He did so only to find himself abandoned, without weapons or equipment, suffering from a broken leg, the cuts on his back exposing bare ribs, and all his wounds festering. Glass lay mutilated and alone, more than 200 mi (320 km) from the nearest settlement at Fort Kiowa on the Missouri.

In one of the more remarkable treks known to history, Glass set his own leg, wrapped himself in the bear hide his companions had placed over him as a shroud, and began crawling. To prevent gangrene, Glass laid his wounded back on a rotting log and let the maggots eat the dead flesh.
Deciding that following the Grand River would be too dangerous because of hostile Native Americans, Glass crawled overland south toward the Cheyenne River. It took him six weeks to reach it.

Glass survived mostly on wild berries and roots. On one occasion he was able to drive two wolves from a downed bison calf, and feast on the meat. Reaching the Cheyenne, he fashioned a crude raft and floated down the river, navigating using the prominent Thunder Butte landmark. Aided by friendly natives who sewed a bear hide to his back to cover the exposed wounds, Glass eventually reached the safety of Fort Kiowa.

I have the book "Hugh Glass" and it is a great read. If you ever see this book in a secondhand bookstore, it is well worth the purchase.
Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books.

John Lubbock

#213698 - 12/27/10 04:07 PM Re: Case studies & survival psychology [Re: dougwalkabout]
BruceZed Offline

Registered: 01/06/08
Posts: 291
Loc: Canada
Survival Psychology is often an underrated factor in our overall chances of surviving.

Often it is poorly taught, and or not emphasized by many survival instructors or authors. This is because teaching it is an ongoing process involving both the individual and the instructor. It involves understanding basic psychology, the teaching process used, and style of practical training conducted.

Remember that in times of crisis (like in combat) we are lowered to the base level of our training, not raised to some higher level of understanding or ability. If we cannot practice it before hand our chances of doing it under pressure are very slim.

Our "Survival Mindset" is created through our basic psychological outlook on life, confidence, knowledge, training, environmental factors, injuries, group dynamics, and how at home we are in the environment we because stuck or stranded in.

Unfortunately not all these factors can be controlled. If we have the will to live and are driven to survive our "Survival Mindset" will give us a much better chance of surviving whatever we get thrown up against.
Bruce Zawalsky
Chief Instructor
Boreal Wilderness Institute

#213726 - 12/28/10 04:01 AM Re: Case studies & survival psychology [Re: dougwalkabout]
dweste Offline

Registered: 02/16/08
Posts: 2463
Loc: Central California
Are there any statistically valid studies on:

How many survivor's stories include the line,"I had given up hope ...."

How many survivor's stories include the line,"Just as I was giving up hope ...."

How many survivor's stories include the line,"I never gave up hope ...."

How do you correct the statistics for those who never gave up hope but did not survive?

How do you correct the statistics to remove your own bias about the attitudes, if any, necessary to survive?

Edited by dweste (12/28/10 04:02 AM)

#213733 - 12/28/10 10:15 AM Re: Case studies & survival psychology [Re: dweste]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 6223
Loc: southern Cal
I doubt that there is any way to control for the many variables that exist, but it is safe to say that attitude and mind set are really significant in surviving.

I have seen people who were unbelievably passive in survival situations, totally at the mercy of circumstances, and very fortunate that outside assistance arrived. Of course, you never hear of those who self rescue in almost identical situations (for that matter, what constitutes "identical situations"?). We are not dealing with lab rats here.....
Geezer in Chief

#213735 - 12/28/10 10:32 AM Re: Case studies & survival psychology [Re: hikermor]
dweste Offline

Registered: 02/16/08
Posts: 2463
Loc: Central California
Originally Posted By: hikermor
... it is safe to say that attitude and mind set are really significant in surviving.


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