January 12, 2017
Disaster Mental Health Services
There were a few concepts that I found interesting in these
chapters. The first one was that “no one who sees a disaster is untouched
by it”. Simply seeing a disaster can provoke deep emotional responses. Even
when spared from any personal loss, one can naturally feel emotions of guilt
and sadness. Our text stated that everyone who even just sees a disaster is in
some sense a victim. I can attest to mine, and my children’s reactions during
The second concept “most people pull together and
function during and after a disaster. But their effectiveness is diminished”.
In the early phases, the “heroic” and “honeymoon” phases,
there is a lot of altruism and energy. As fatigue sets in, so does frustration
and disillusionment. Stress and fatigue can also cause short-term memory loss,
confusion, and difficulty in their decision-making.
The third was “Disaster survivors may reject disaster
assistance of all types”. Because of the early altruism, there may be the
thought that others may be worse off than they are. They often underestimate the
impact on them financially, the actually amount of loss that they have had, and
overestimate their ability to actually to handle it o their own. Pride can also
be an issue. People want to think of themselves as self-reliant, and not use
the resources of help available.
“Individuals experience disasters in their own, unique
way”. How disasters effect people depends on many different things, things
such as prior experiences with disaster, religious beliefs, and socio norms.
There are “risk factors” to be considered in
assessing the survivor’s traumatic stress reactions. Things such as sever
personal injuries, death or injuries to a loved one, major damage to one’s
home, or worrying about the safety of loved ones.
Each community has its own demographic. When disaster
programmers are reviewing the different groups affected, consideration should
also be given to special groups in that location as well. Age, gender, cultural
groups, socioeconomic groups, and people with serious mental illnesses classify
the different groups being looked at.
Integrative Crisis Intervention and Disaster Mental Health
This chapter begins by the differentiation of the different
concepts, starting with critical incidents. A critical incident is a stressful event,
having the potential to overwhelm. These incidents can be emergencies, disasters,
and even catastrophes.
A psychological crisis is the response to a critical
incident. An individual’s psychological balance has been disrupted, and their
usual coping mechanisms have failed. Symptoms of a psychological crisis can
have many forms. People may show signs of shock, panic, depression, and erratic
Crisis intervention, or emotional first aid, is the provision
of acute emergency psychological care. The goal is for stabilization, reduction
of impairment, and to restore the adaptive independence of the individual.
In order to understand terrorism as a form of critical
incident, we first must define it. From a law enforcement viewpoint, terrorism
may be defined as any premeditated use of force. From a military view, it is
the waging of war against civilians. From a psychological view, it is warfare
without moral or ethical restraints. It is a tool being used to break down
resistance and will.
Terrorism is not only responsible for physical casualties
but also psychological toxicity or casualties, the mental damage caused by
terrorism. It ruins a person’s sense of safety, justice, fairness, as well as
order and meaning.
Terrorism and total war, are the concept of unrestricted,
anything goes in warfare. It is the deadly extreme, demoralization and with no
limits or boundaries. In total warfare, it is the realization of “mutually
assured destruction”, especially when fought on religious grounds, and martyrdom
is the virtue desired.
During periods of crisis, individuals begin to have trouble
coping with the situation.
Decompensation is when there is a breakdown of the psychological
equilibrium. There are symptoms of distress, functional impairment, as well as
maladaptive patterns of behavior.
The crisis triad is very common, and is defined as three co
varying reactions to a crisis. These include impulsive behavior, diminished
insight, or the ability to understand the consequences of their actions, and
also an heightened feeling of helplessness.
Other crisis syndromes include panic attacks, depression,
and hypomania. Although similar in appearance, hypomania represents a distinct
period of several days. The individual exhibits an inflated sense of self,
rapid speaking, a decreased need of sleep, or even paranoid ideations. Other episodes
could include extreme impulsiveness, either in gambling, buying, or sexual
behavior. Self-medicating, with alcohol or other depressants, is usually seen
Everly, G. S., & Mitchell, J. T. (2008). Integrative
crisis intervention and disaster mental health. Columbia, MD: Chevron
Myers, D., & Wee, D. F. (2005). Disaster mental health
services. New York, NY: Routledge.