Panic and Disasters
- Part I
“Panic: Myth of Reality?” by Lee Clarke
“Disaster Beliefs and Institutional Interests: Recycling Disaster Myths on the Aftermath of 9-11” by Kathleen Tierney
-How do people react to disasters?
People become scared and “freak out!”
-4 distinctions to be made in analyzing the way people respond to a disaster:
What is fear?
Fear is an emotion.
It is controllable.
When one is full of fear, he or she is capable of regulating their actions.
When the feeling of fear becomes too overwhelming, panic may set in.
What is panic?
Panic is an individual experience, it can be internal and/or personal.
It is an unreasoned reaction to fear which
may cause the loss of control over one’s actions.
When one doesn’t know how to manage their fear, he or she
begins to panic.
In the article by Lee Clarke, panic is defined as “excessive feeling of alarm or fear… leading to extravagant and
injudicious efforts to secure safety.”
Differences between fear and panic:
Fear and panic are both occur within individuals, but can spread to a group of people.
Fear is a controllable
emotion; there are ways in which people cope with their fears.
In panic, actions are not justified, and the
morality of these actions is greatly affected.
These immoral actions include saving oneself by pushing others
aside and being selfish.
Panic is instantaneous and impulsive, while fear is a presence or something that invokes emotions.
Differences between individual panic and group panic:
Individual panic is easier to control than group panic. If one person is having a panic attack, others can calm
him or her down and do things to help control the panicking person’s actions and emotions.
Group panic, on the other hand, involves immense reaction to a disaster.
In movies, this panic is portrayed as
selfish, unjust actions, and overreaction, however studies show this is untrue.
When panic erupts in groups,
selfishness is not evident.
Many first instincts are to help others—family, friends, and even strangers.
The media and the government view panic in the way it is shown in disaster movies.
Lee Clarke writes “In Hollywood’s depictions, panic strips away people’s veneer of social responsibility to
reveal raw selfishness.”
Disaster movies create an image of panic and chaos which the media and government by into.
The truth is, PEOPLE RARELY PANIC IN DISASTROUS SITUATIONS.
Those involved in disasters are definitely in fear for their lives, however they do not see themselves more
worthy of survival than anyone else.
“The more consistent pattern is that people bind together in the aftermath of disasters, working together to
restore their physical environment and their culture to recognizable shapes” (Clarke 3).