The behavior of people during the war, as exemplified by the terrorist attack in Beslan, the war in Afghanistan, the earthquake in Armenia, etc.
In his book "Psychic Trauma", the rector of the East European Institute of Psychoanalysis, Doctor of Psychology, Professor, Honored Scientist of the Russian Federation, a well-known specialist in the field of psychology of mass behavior in conditions of environmental, technogenic and social crises Mikhail Reshetnikov talks about a generalized experience (his and his colleagues) the study of states, mental and behavioral reactions, obtained in the course of many years of research carried out during and after military operations, accompanied by significant losses. We are talking about the operation in Afghanistan (1986), the Chernobyl disaster (1986), the Spitak earthquake in Armenia (1988), the crash of two passenger trains as a result of a gas explosion near Ufa (1989), the rescue of the crew of the Komsomolets submarine (1989), the seizure hostages in Beslan (2004). Of course, the vast world experience of observing PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) is also extremely valuable, but these observations, as a rule, concerned people who experienced stress with a vital threat in everyday life, or these were isolated cases of observing civilians during armed conflicts or man-made disasters, but not massive research.
As a result of this generalized experience in the dynamics of the state of the victims, it was possible to distinguish the following stages:
1. Stage of vital reactions. It does not last very long - from a few seconds to 5-15 minutes. The stage ends with a short-term numbness. The victim's behavior is almost exclusively aimed at preserving his own life. As a result, this stage is characterized by a narrowing of consciousness, a reduction in moral restrictions, a violation of the perception of time and the strength of external and internal stimuli (many people know that people who have just received a serious bodily injury often do not experience anything and even try to leave or start some their usual duties - NS). For a while, a person can completely forget about loved ones and their salvation, saving only his own life. If it is found that there is no serious harm to health, the victims again rush to the epicenter of the tragedy (to the place of explosion, earthquake, shell hit, etc.) in order to save first their loved ones, and then everyone else.
2. The stage of acute psychoemotional shock with the phenomena of supermobilization. This stage is longer than the first and already lasts from three to five hours. It is characterized by general mental stress, the ultimate mobilization of psychophysiological resources, an exacerbation of perception, an increase in the speed of thought processes, the appearance of reckless courage (this is especially characteristic when it comes to saving loved ones). At the same time, the critical assessment of what is happening decreases, but the actions do not lose their expediency. The person experiences despair, which is accompanied by dizziness, headache, palpitations, dry mouth, thirst, and shortness of breath. At this stage, in contrast to the first, on the contrary, there is an imperative to save relatives and friends at all costs. The sense of morality, professional and professional duty is sharpened (among doctors and rescuers). It is during this period that the manifestation of panic is most likely, which, as you know, is capable of instantly infecting others, which greatly complicates the conduct of rescue operations.
3. The stage of psychophysiological demobilization lasts up to three days.“In the vast majority of cases, the onset of this stage was associated with an understanding of the scale of the tragedy (“stress of awareness”) and contacts with people who were seriously injured and the bodies of the dead, as well as the arrival of rescue and medical teams,” writes Mikhail Reshetnikov. During this period, a person's well-being and emotional state deteriorate sharply. A person feels confusion (up to a kind of prostration), individual panic attacks, a decrease in moral behavior, and a lack of desire to do something are possible. Pronounced depressive tendencies, impaired attention and memory are also characteristic (in most cases, the victims cannot remember what and how they did during the tragedy, but over time, memory gaps are restored). On the part of physiology, sweating, pallor, tremors of the limbs, complete lack of appetite, sudden weakness, slowing down and difficulty in breathing, up to attacks of suffocation, are observed. There may be nausea, heaviness in the head, discomfort in the gastrointestinal tract. Experts also say that during this period, the likelihood of antisocial behavior is high.
4. Permission stage - from three to 12 days. The behavior, psychoemotional state and well-being of a person during this period strongly depend on how traumatic the tragic events turned out to be for him (whether loved ones died, whether serious injuries and injuries were received, etc.). Objective data indicate that the vast majority of the surveyed people remained in a low mood, people did not want unnecessary contacts with others, there was a violation of facial expressions, a decrease in the intonation coloring of speech, and slowness of actions. Disorders of sleep, appetite and all kinds of psychosomatic manifestations were also observed (mainly on the part of the cardiovascular and endocrine systems, as well as the gastrointestinal tract). By the end of this stage, most of the victims had a desire to speak out. It is interesting that people wanted to talk about what happened mainly only to those who were not a direct eyewitness to the tragedy. “This phenomenon, which is part of the system of natural mechanisms of psychological defense (“rejection of memories by verbalizing them”), in a number of cases brought significant relief to the victims. At the same time, dreams were restored, which, as a rule, were absent in previous periods, including those of alarming and nightmarish content, which in various versions transformed the impressions of tragic events,”writes Reshetnikov.
5. Stage of recovery. As the researcher notes, in most cases it begins at the end of the second week after the received trauma. During this period, the victim begins to communicate more actively with relatives, relatives, friends, the emotional coloring of speech is normalized, and facial expressions are stabilized. For the first time, a joke can be heard from the victim, dreams are restored. But on the part of physiology, positive dynamics have not yet been observed.
6. Stage of delayed reactions. A month after the tragedy, 12-22% of the victims had persistent sleep disturbances, accompanied by recurring nightmares, unmotivated fears, obsessions, delusions and hallucinations. In 75% of people, signs of astheno-neurotic reactions were observed in combination with psychosomatic disorders of the gastrointestinal tract, cardiovascular and endocrine systems. In parallel with this, external and internal conflicts are growing.
Mikhail Reshetnikov makes a reservation regarding the death of children: “It should be recognized that the severity and dynamics of the condition of the victims may be significantly different. When a person loses his parents, the world becomes empty, but, nevertheless, no matter how bitter it is, it corresponds to everyday ideas and the natural course of events. When children die, all the colors of the world fade for many years and decades, and sometimes forever."