Psychology of Survival

Survival is very much a state of mind – positive thinking, visualisation, the determination to get through….But this is no pop psychological idea, or New Wave mantra – nor the sort of thing sports coaches talk about during breaks between training sessions, but comes from our evolution as animals, into the planet’s dominant species.

For hundreds of thousands of years, humans have used superior intelligenceto survive, then dominate, so this section is more important than anything else.

In a survival situation, everything not directly related to survival must be regarded as a highly dangerous distraction: starting with Ego…All scruples, qualms, religious objections, and all other forms of what in a survival situation become irrational behaviours must be set aside.Logic rules.

It is therefore very important to identify a survival situation as early as possible – as being circumstances in which without taking proper actions, you are likely to die.This is not always obvious, and many people would rather ignore disastrous possibilities even when they have become obvious….

However, surprising as this might sound, good manners, politeness and civility will go a long way towards getting you through, particularly if in a group.Some people cannot control themselves and will become aggressive and unreasonable; while others become like sheep and prepare to die.We all have both types potentially within us – to some extent.But both types are being unreasonable and must be made to change – by force if necessary. To survive, you need every member of the group pulling their full weight.

Once in a survival situation, each person must generate from within themselves,the resolution and utter determination to survive, without being distracted by fear, doubt, self-pity, hunger or exhaustion.Everything else follows on from this determination.We’ve been bred to do this, and it come naturally.

All resources including personal energies and emotions, must be conserved.It’s difficult to give generic advice as to how a group of people should organise themselves: appointing a leader and so on, as everybody is different.With my military background, my view is that agreeing a leader is vital, although that does not have to be the person most senior, nor the person who is most knowledgeable about the environment or circumstances.

Effective leadership is an enormous subject (for another day), but its founding principle is that of service to the team – not being the boss or ordering people around…

1 thought on “Psychology of Survival”

  1. Hi there Hugh

    I am a producer at the BBC’s natural History Unit and I would love to be able to talk to you about your Psychology of Survival piece if possible.

    Would you be able to email me with a number I can reach you on please?

    Many thanks


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