Blog about Underwater Life and Scuba Diving

Underwater Psychology

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Two decades ago diver’s equipment required much attention from diver and a good physical preparation.

Most divers were combat swimmers and professional divers – trained, cold-blooded and mentally strong guys. There were also amateur diving clubs which were using domestic and often home-made equipment. These “Fans” of scuba diving were people of different professions; they had also been tempered and mentally prepared for any stressful situation.
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With advent of comfortable equipment and the rapid development of this industry, scuba diving became accessible to all. A huge number of diving – centers in different countries inviting tourists for diving now days, also many diving   schools are available for training certified beginners. Thus the quantity of scuba diving fan had growth a lot. Earlier the underwater Elite was chosen among mentally stable and cold-blooded young men, now anyone can become a diver, including the nervous and cowardly guys ( the only requirement is money ),who are prone to depression and stress. Of course, diving schools in the recruitment  of students are guided not by security considerations, but primarily by commercial interests.

And it’s quite natural that now days  the number of accidents has risen a lot during dives. Vast majority of accidents occurs because of psychological reasons, the «natural selection» starts already at the stage of training: 5 – 15% of deaths registered during the initial course in the pool and the sea ( this numbers are showing the estimate results if these guys would appear in same situation not during the training tests ). In general the percentage of accident is largely determined by mental and physical reactions to stress by diver. Some are able to face with problem, to suppress the panic and stay cold blooded in order to find the right way out of any situation that might be lethal for others.

There are three human stress reactions which are dangerous for diver’s life:

panic – the most common psychological reaction;
fatigue – Physical reaction to stress;
sudden fatal syndrome – stress reaction of the heart.

The first will suppress the power, intellect and composure. Knowledge and experience play an important role.

Fatality: It entirely depends from physical training of the diver, their equipment, as well as other characteristics of the environment.

Stop the heart under the influence of stress threatens especially to people with various heart diseases.

Panic

Panic is an Inadequate mental reaction to real or perceived threat, causing  lost of control and  ability to think logically. In such situation people focus all their attention to fears and forgetting about the rest, which leads them to make wrong decisions.
Generally our stress reflexes expressed with a desperate dilemma – fight or flee. If we find two robbers in a dark gateway, the fear and panic will make one of us to run away, and others – to rush  on the enemy. The same reflexes  exist under the water. For example, If the mask of a novice diver suddenly breaks down he rushes up to the surface, forgetting about barotraumas and decompression sickness. But do not worry in fact such situation never occurred ( it’s just an example ).Another example of aggressive reflex: If such person appeared in the open sea because of the current, he will actively swim against the current to the shore and eventually will sink from exhaustion.

Any stressful situation cause initiation of the sympathetic nervous system and release of adrenaline into the blood which stimulates the heart and increase respiration. A person feels a strong frequent heartbeat, breathing quickly and randomly – as a result person start to suffocate, air resistance in the pulmonary machine makes a shortage of air unbearable; weak heart could not withstand with handling and simply stops. Thus the panic leads to disaster not only because  for the loss of self control, but also because of physiological changes in the body. There is no coincidence that most often cause of death perished under the water is panic ( 80% of all deaths ). In addition I would like to read my another blog post

Two Underwater Stories

It’s two stories ( happened in real time ) , showing how can panic lead to death and how staying cold-blooded saves a life.

Factors affecting which can lead to a death of diver can be divided into four main groups:

1. Individual characteristics and physical condition:

irrational fears – phobias;
nervous and fidgety nature;
inexperience and lack of self confidence;
nausea and vomiting;
physical fatigue;
dizziness;
the influence of alcohol or drugs;
not prepared physically;
injuries and illnesses;
hypothermia.

2. Social factors:

loss of a partner (or group) under the water;
loneliness;
lack of insurance on the surface.

3. Problems with equipment:

4. Dangers of the underwater world:

fast currents;
troubled, cold and dark water;
large and dangerous marine animals;
high-risk area: caves, shipwrecks.


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