If tomorrow is the end of the world

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If tomorrow is the end of the world
If tomorrow is the end of the world

Tell people that tomorrow is the apocalypse, and they will arrange it today. Panic, general appeal to God, suicide and unprecedented heroism. How will humanity behave if it finds out that the end of the world is coming soon?

end of the world

Nobody knows this. Because the apocalypse hasn't happened yet. But you can still predict something. After all, what is the end of the world? Emergency. Only on a global scale.

In any emergency, people tend to fall into two categories. Some are driven by rational thoughts, others by instincts. The former remain calm, the latter panic. Some help, others hinder. The latter contribute not only to the death of other people, but also to their own. The reason for this is fear.

"Where are you going?" - once asked a wanderer, having met the Plague. “To Baghdad. I need to kill five thousand people there,”replied the Plague. A few days later, the stranger again met the Plague: "You said that you would kill five thousand, but you killed fifty thousand people." “No,” Plague objected. "I only ruined five thousand, the rest died of fear." Remember the parable? Fear mows people down no less than its cause. This is well known to rescuers and, in general, to all those who work with people in emergency situations.

It is panic and fear, as experts say, that lead to the fact that people commit rash acts, the outcome of which is the same - death. The famous French physician Alain Bombard came to the conclusion that up to 90% (!) Of people after a catastrophe on a ship die in the first three days. When there can be no question of death due to lack of food and water. Just because of the panic.


The most contagious feeling

And the most mysterious. No one has yet managed to investigate the phenomenon of panic. Mass panic occurs unexpectedly, spontaneously and rarely. But the conditions for its appearance are known. First of all, this is an aggravation of a situation. Everyone is waiting for gifts from the tsar on May 18, 1896 at the Khodynskoye field. The crowd is agitated and growing. And then someone shouts: "There won't be enough gifts for everyone!" The case is ready - panic, and as a result, 1379 trampled.

Physiological conditions also play a significant role - exhaustion, fatigue, tense expectation, hunger, alcoholic and drug intoxication, etc. As well as mental - surprise, strong psychological excitement, fear. And, of course, ideological - the lack of a correct policy, lack of cohesion of people and their motivation.


Panic is a complex conglomeration of emotions and drives. Its stronghold is based on the phenomenon of infection, suggestion and imitation. Infection is based on the community of interests of a group of people exposed to this feeling. This can be, for example, love for an actor or singer among the audience who came to his concert. Suggestion is something other than a purposeful impact on a person or group. Bypassing consciousness, rational arguments and arguments.

Alas, most people are subject to similar reactions. Even professionals. Not to mention mere mortals. According to the American Psychological Association, during World War II, only 25% of personnel acted adequately during combat. “In a moment of great nervous tension, under the threat of attack, the operator's ability to reason was impaired,” writes the famous Russian psychologist, founder of the so-called space psychology Vladimir Lebedev. - As a result, a lot of major mistakes arose that the designer could neither foresee nor explain … The state of mental instability, bordering on neurosis, arises as a result of asthenization of the nervous system caused by a violation of the work and rest regime, various shocks that traumatize the psyche, etc. Mental instability in conditions of a threat to life is especially clearly revealed in an emergency. Two forms of such reactions are clearly distinguished: a state of agitation and a short-term stupor."

The person becomes fussy and is able to perform only simple actions, “on the machine”. Thought processes are slowed down, the ability for logic - even more so.There is a feeling of emptiness in the head and lack of thoughts. A short-term stupor is possible - freezing in place in the position in which the person was at the time of receiving the news of a natural disaster (or an accident, for example).

“Thus, for the state of agitation in an accident, the most typical is inadequacy of perception of the surrounding reality, in particular, a violation of the assessment of time intervals, which makes it difficult to understand the situation as a whole,” concludes Vladimir Lebedev.



Another human companion in any emergency. Loss of food, water, shelter for a long time - all this is deprivation. Even a lack of impressions from the external environment and tightness (for example, if, as a result of a giant asteroid falling to Earth or a nuclear war, people hide in bunkers) will lead to very serious consequences, such as neuroses. This is at least. To psychosis - as a maximum. A number of studies have shown that in people who have been in group isolation for at least three years, psychopathic and schizoid manifestations, impulsiveness, a tendency to conflict and non-observance of moral norms begin to prevail.

If only a few people remain alive, something worse than the zombie from the movie "Resident Evil" awaits them. Loneliness is one of the worst problems for social animals like Homo sapiens, the outcome of which is still the same - neurosis.

Who is in that much

However, the end of the world is not an emergency. The scale is not the same. So it is very difficult to fully predict the behavior of humanity.

- In case of news of the imminent apocalypse, several types of reactions can be assumed, - says Mikhail Reshetnikov, rector of the East European Institute of Psychoanalysis, Doctor of Psychology, Professor, Honored Scientist of the Russian Federation, renowned specialist in the field of psychology of mass behavior in conditions of environmental, technogenic and social crises Mikhail Reshetnikov …

- Part of the population will hope to the end that this will not happen, and will live as usual, convincing themselves and others that this is another mistake of scientists, another divination of the apocalypse. The other part - those who do not even doubt that this will happen - will also live as usual to the end, fulfilling their official and family duties. Still others will believe in evil fate and will try to complete their earthly affairs with dignity, leaving all other problems and turning exclusively to the problems of family, children, friends, old debts, etc. The fourth will provoke mass hysteria, and the fifth will resist this hysteria. Another part of people will suddenly turn to God, while others will curse faith in whatever. There will also be those who will blame the whole of humanity for everything, gloating, they say, this is what he needs. Another group is those who, by virtue of their evil and criminal inclinations restrained by culture and society, will believe that now everything is allowed, and will give vent to all base impulses, including theft, murder, violence, etc. The rest will decide that the rest of the days you need to spend extremely fun and will indulge in entertainment - a kind of feast during the plague. And, finally, there will be another group that, unable to withstand expectations, will create a kind of suicide epidemic. I may not have listed all the categories, but I think the main ones.


Where there is no beginning, there is no end

“Only those people who live in linear time can survive the end of the world, that is, mainly representatives of Western civilizations, for whom time once began and therefore must end sometime,” says the famous St. Petersburg psychoanalyst Dmitry Olshansky.

- Their story moves from the past to the future, and sooner or later it will come to its end. Whereas for most Eastern cultures, where time is cyclical, no end of time can come, therefore, people are not afraid of such phenomena.For example, in Indian culture, time moves in a circle, it has no beginning or end, so there can be no end of the world. God Shiva destroys the universe every moment, and God Brahma continuously creates it, therefore the end of the world occurs continuously, just like its creation. For any Hindu, the end of the world is a completely ordinary event, an integral part of the very passage of time.


In Judeo-Christian culture, the end of the world is not only possible, but also logically necessary. Representatives of these cultures live in a world created by God Yahweh, who set a certain limit for him. So, the Jews are waiting for the coming of the Messiah (and they are counting from the day of the creation of the world), Christians - the second coming of Jesus (and the chronology is measured from the day of the first birth of their deity). All these cultures live in anticipation of the end of the world, so it should not be a surprise.

As Bulgakovsky Woland says: “Man is mortal, but that would be half the trouble. The bad news is that he is sometimes suddenly mortal, that's the trick! " Therefore, if suddenly people find out the exact date of the end of the world, their death will not be sudden, but will become quite planned, which will allow them to manage time for sure, and not at random, not relying on faith and speculation. In theory, this should stabilize people: they can plan and act with confidence and use their time as efficiently as possible. For example, the director of the film "The New Testament" believes that knowing the exact date of death will rid people of religion, which is based on the fear of death.

Many films have been shot on the theme of the end of the world, in which the behavior of people in the last days or minutes before the end of the world is very stereotyped. For example, it is believed that obsessive neurotics will run to do what they have postponed all their lives: drink all the money, confess their love to a girl, commit crimes they dreamed of, wallow in debauchery, visit those with whom they have not seen for years, and ask for forgiveness. from those before whom they feel guilt. That is, a neurotic who avoids his desire all his life, in the last minutes before the end of the world must, they say, gather his will into a fist, understand that there is still nothing to lose, and finally do what he wants. Although real experience shows that even in the last minutes of life, obsessive subjects will prefer to enjoy non-fulfillment than to follow their desires.

Another stereotypical example is hysterical subjects who prefer to ignore what is happening, not notice any catastrophe and, contrary to expectations, continue to lead an emphatically everyday, deliberately routine lifestyle. “Everyone expects me to panic,” they argue, “but no, in spite of all expectations, I will continue to do my manicure, although there are a couple of minutes left until the end of the world.” There is no need to talk about the fear of the end of the world, here, rather, there is a desire not to conform to stereotypes and to be an original individual against the background of the majority, which is often demonstrated by hysterical subjects.

The third option is panic, which is associated with the fear of death and loss of oneself. Like any fear, it is a narcissistic fear of losing your identity, of ceasing to be yourself. As you know, death is not so terrible as its inevitability. Therefore, if the unknown of death can instill anxiety in a person, then the knowledge of death instills in him panic. Panic in front of an inevitable fact dictated by the principle of reality. That is, in this case we see a conflict of a psychotic nature, a conflict between I and reality. Which brings us to a more general question about psychic reality as such and the compromises that I make in dialogue with the outside world. That is, this is one of the key questions of psychoanalysis in dealing with psychoses.

Our experts:

Mikhail Reshetnikov, Rector of the East European Institute of Psychoanalysis, Doctor of Psychology, Professor, Honored Scientist of the Russian Federation, renowned specialist in the field of psychology of mass behavior in conditions of environmental, technogenic and social crises;

Dmitry Olshansky, psychoanalyst

The most likely scenarios for the apocalypse:

  • Nuclear, chemical or biological warfare
  • A worldwide pandemic caused by highly pathogenic viruses and genetic diseases
  • Mass starvation associated with planetary overpopulation
  • Consequences caused by global warming or cooling, as well as massive deforestation or environmental pollution
  • Strong weakening of the Earth's magnetic field (and, as a result, loss of atmosphere and protection from solar radiation)
  • The eruption of a huge volcano or several over a long period of time
  • Collision of the Earth with a giant asteroid or planet
  • A flash of gamma rays near the solar system
  • Human evolution into man-made modified robots
  • Approaching the Earth with a black hole
  • Alien invasion
  • In the long term: the approach of the solar system with the star Gliese 710 (in 1.4 million years); the rapprochement of the Andromeda Galaxy with our Galaxy (after 3 billion years); death of the Sun (turning it into a red dwarf) - in 5 billion years; thermal death of the Universe or its collapse as a result of the Big Compression (or the next Big Bang).

5 places where you can wait out the end of the world:

- State of Utah, USA. It is here that the Mormon community lives, which approached the matter of preparation for the Day of Judgment with all responsibility. They always have at least an annual supply of provisions at hand, and even a vegetable garden "in reserve".

- Pyongyang, North Korea. These guys have done everything to prepare for a nuclear war. And above all, they built a subway, which can serve as an excellent bunker in the event of an air attack.


- Outlying Islands. Such as Pitcairn in the South Pacific. Where there is no air or seaport. But the excellent climate and fertile soil - bananas, papaya, breadfruit, nuts, oranges, beans and sweet potatoes grow here. A lot of tasty fish and lobsters are splashing in the waves.

- Bunker in Cheyenne Mountain (Colorado, USA). There are many bunkers in the world: from the German Doomsday refuge to the Cold War bunker in the United States. The Cheyenne bunker is notable for its high equipment. It will withstand the explosion of a multi-megaton bomb that exploded a few kilometers from the shelter. It has six diesel generators, its own water supply and filtration system. And the bunker has also been switched to the so-called "hot storage" mode, so it can be started up just a few hours after the end of the world.


- The World Seed Vault on Svalbard. The bunker tunnel located in the mountain (120 meters deep and 130 meters above sea level) contains seed samples of all major crops on the planet. The store is equipped with explosion-proof doors and airlock chambers. Refrigerating chambers and permafrost are responsible for the safety of seeds.

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