Skip to content

    Health & Balance

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Crisis! How Would You Respond?

    Four experts explore what it takes to survive a crisis – and offer tips on how to prepare.
    By
    WebMD Feature
    Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

    From man-made catastrophes like 9-11; to the natural devastation seen in earthquakes, tsunamis and, of course, hurricane Katrina; to disasters of fate like plane crashes and wild fires -- chances appear alarmingly high that somewhere, sometime, somehow, your life may be touched by a crisis.

    How would you react if it happened? Do you have what it takes to not only survive disaster but perhaps even lead others out of danger?

    Recommended Related to Mind, Body, Spirit

    Accept Your Flaws

    By Julie Taylor Millions of self-help books are sold in this country each year, offering advice on how to be thinner, smarter, richer, more successful... the list goes on and on. Sadly, many of us spend an inordinate amount of time trying to fix ourselves in one way or another. Why do we focus on the negative instead of the positive? “Most of us have been taught that we [have to] be perfect to be good enough,” says psychotherapist Dorothy Martin-Neville, Ph.D., founder of the Institute of Healing...

    Read the Accept Your Flaws article > >

    If you're pretty sure you'd do OK, you're not alone. Disaster expert Anie Kalayjian says research shows most folks believe they have what it takes to survive a crisis.

    "We often fantasize about what we would do or how we would act, and we often feel positive about our ability to handle a crisis when it occurs, says Kalayjian, a professor at Fordham University and founder of MeaningfulWorld.com.

    Unfortunately, Kalayjian says, research shows people often don't react as well as they think they will.

    "In at least one study, where people were asked to write down how they would react in a fire, follow-up showed that when a fire actually did occur, hardly anyone did what they thought they would do," says Kalayjian.

    Most, she says, panicked and were far more excitable than they predicted.

    Lehigh University psychologist Nick Ladany, PhD, says he's not surprised. "It can be very difficult to predict how we will react in a crisis situation. We would all like to think of ourselves as that Hollywood hero or heroine who saves the day, but in reality that's more often the exception than the rule."

    The Crisis Personality: Who Survives Best

    Experts say the ability to live in the moment -- and react based strictly on what is present -- is among the most important factors in handling a crisis of any type.

    "Being in the moment does not mean being unaware of the consequences of any actions you take; it means you do not have a prejudgment about those consequences," says Kalayjian.

    This, she says, keeps you from panicking over what could happen, and keeps a person focused on what is happening.

    Likewise, Al Siebert, PhD, says the best survivors are the ones who are able to "read" the new reality rapidly, focus on problem solving, and take practical action -- all within the moment.

    1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

    Today on WebMD

    woman in yoga class
    6 health benefits of yoga.
    beautiful girl lying down of grass
    10 relaxation techniques to try.
     
    mature woman with glass of water
    Do you really need to drink 8 glasses of water a day?
    coffee beans in shape of mug
    Get the facts.
     
    Take your medication
    Slideshow
    Hand appearing to hold the sun
    Article
     
    Hungover man
    Slideshow
    Welcome mat and wellington boots
    Slideshow
     
    Woman worn out on couch
    Article
    Happy and sad faces
    Quiz
     
    Fingertip with string tied in a bow
    Article
    laughing family
    Quiz