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Crisis Stress: Part 3 – Psychological and Cognitive Effects

By Dr. Robert Chandler:

There is considerable evidence of psychological and cognitive performance changes when we are under crisis stress. When we confront a dangerous, threatening or critical situation we have a rapid physical response before we even fully comprehend or understand what is happening. However, we also begin the emotional and cognitive processes of appraisal and assessment of the situation.

Not everyone reacts to situations in the same way, nor to the same degree, and not at the precise same sequence. For most of us, we start with high levels of uncertainty and ambiguity (e.g. we initially hear “firecrackers” rather than “gunshots”). We struggle to grasp to understand (make meaningful) what is happening and define it. Is this a danger? Is the danger real? Have I been in this situation before? If so, how did I cope? If not, what should I do? Is help available? What are others doing? Is there a vulnerable person who needs my help? Should I act? The first major psychological aspect of experiencing crises is coping with uncertainty, ambiguity and behavioral actions.

This excerpt from “Crisis Stress: Part 3 – Psychological and Cognitive Effects” is published with permission from Firestorm. Read the full post via Firestorm here.

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