Urgent Evoke

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I thought the secret of Crisis Communication that seemed most important and surprising was “How do people react in a pandemic?”

Peter Sandman’s explanation was particularly of interest to me. Yesterday I found out at the hospital that I had contracted Malaria and I began taking medication last night. This morning I looked up the drug information
online for the specific drug I was taking. Some of the warnings really scared
me- it was possible to die from this medication. This risk (I found out later)
happened to only 2-6 people in a million. I’m sure I overreacted at first-
freaking out, thinking I possessed the ‘skin rash’ that was mentioned. However,
as Sandman said, this initial reaction protects us so we can more easily cope.
Now that I have calmed down, I can think more rationally. If, however, I do
possess a warning symptom, at least I have educated myself so I know how to
react in that situation.

When he wrote of denial vs. panic, a couple of questions arose in me. He says that denial is not useful- but it is still better than panic because panic causes harm while denial doesn’t. I’m not so sure this is true.
Wouldn’t it be possible that if you are in denial and you do not take necessary
precautions that you could, potentially, expose yourself to harm? If you don’t
protect yourself, you leave yourself at risk, don’t you?

Then he writes that we don’t want denial if we don’t have to have it. We want the ‘5 bulwarks against denial’ and that fear is actually the solution- which is what I was trying to get at above. If you’re in denial, you
are not afraid. Therefore if you are in denial, you can also cause yourself
harm (even if it isn’t as harmful as panic).

The conclusion I got from all this is that in a pandemic, journalists and people in the media need to work the general population into a healthy level of fear where they know it’s okay to be afraid, and they can make
rational decisions on which precautions are necessary for their health. We want
to achieve a bit of fear- not panic or denial as reactions to possible risks. It’s
the job of the media to keep people at ease while providing them with the
necessary information they need to make proper decisions to keep themselves
safe and healthy. Is this what everyone else got from this secret?

Views: 26

Comment by A.V.Koshy on April 30, 2010 at 9:52am
good post
Comment by Calida DeBello on May 1, 2010 at 6:15pm
This is great information, Teresa – even better because it comes from your own personal experience. Finding that "healthy level of fear" seems to be hard to do, but maybe newspeople sabotage their own efforts because they tend to go over the top? And politicians tend to underplay the fear? There's a role here for citizens to help each other find the balance, I think. Great post!
Comment by Teresa R on May 2, 2010 at 7:19am
Thank you! Very true.
Comment by Jeremy Laird Hogg on May 2, 2010 at 5:48pm
Neat share. Like the concept of healthy fear.

Have a blog on why denial is bad at its POSITIVE correlation with self-esteem. Check it out if you're interested
Comment by Paul Holze on May 6, 2010 at 6:48pm
I liked the same thing Calida mentioned...finding that healthy level
Comment by Jean Frankly on May 8, 2010 at 11:35am
This reminds me of when a doctor told me of a condition I had. I wasn't familiar with the term and checked out a medical health site for more info. In the first paragraph, the article stated this condition wasn't connected to the big C (cancer). Common fears need to be addressed upfront. It puts things into perspective, as you inform yourself of health risks.


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