The Psychology of Survival

primitive survivors psychology of survival

Is the urge to survive calamities and other disasters inherent in human beings or do we develop them over time? What is the science behind the preparations we make when the SHTF? Non-preppers might think you’re insane for being prepared for an electromagnetic pulse or an asteroid strike, but you aren’t! In fact, it makes you an even more developed person for not being too reliant on your fight or flight instinct.

Read on to know more about the psychology of survival and how you can avoid stress in SHTF situations!

The Flight or Fight Instinct

This instinct has been debated by many for years now. Some believe that it is coded into our DNA, while others argue it is a nurture aspect of the human being. They point to parents that put themselves into life-threatening situations to save a child or loved one. Even strangers will rush in front of a train to save the life of another stranger.

Some also analyze the flight or fight instinct in the lens of evolution. Over time, as immediate threats lessened such as predators that freely roamed, humans learn to dominate over these wild animals, and they learned how to create weapons, making it the survival of the fittest.

Once nature realized that humans did not need to respond as often physically to threats the body and mind changed, to less muscle and more intelligence. Humans learned to plan for calamities and to put systems in place to protect themselves and each other.

That said, survival entails planning ahead as well, and not just our reactionary behavior. The flight or fight will help us run from predators, but it will not provide us with shelter and water.


When switched on all the time, the flight-or-fight instinct can cause you further stress. Your brain does this in an SHTF event or any situation thinking it will help you survive the danger, but it is only leaving you more desperate and scared.Β 

Here are signs that you are stressed in a crisis:

  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Angry outbursts
  • Low energy level
  • Constant worrying
  • Thoughts about death or suicideΒ 
  • Trouble getting along with others


These are just some of the things you may experience when you rely too much on your instincts instead of planning. Do you think you’ll be able to survive an apocalypse with your indecisive attitude and clouded judgment? Will you be able to help your family in a hurricane when you are too stressed to even communicate properly?

Don’t get me wrong. Any SHTF event will most likely lead to stress, but with the right survival mindset and attitude, you will surely be more sane, rational, and efficient whatever the situation is.

How to Stay Rational in a Crisis

Having the will to survive is more important than any tool you have. Trust your fight or flight instinct but do not heavily rely on it. And we’re saying this not because it seems right, but because it is theoretically accurate!

Here are some ways you can stay focused and relaxed in the face of a life-threatening situation:

  • Assessment – An immediate and accurate critical assessment of your situation will be the best tool you have at your disposal to ensure survival. Use your observation to establish facts about what is going on.
  • Will power – Have the will to survive. This will fight off your stress and will make you take advantage of the survival skills and knowledge you acquired.
  • Practice – If you want the best chance of remaining calm in an emergency situation, practice what you would do if an emergency should occur. Run drills with your family and enact different scenarios each time.
  • Prepare Mentally and Physically – It’s not just about the tools or your bugout bag! It’s about preparing your will power to avoid depression, fear, carelessness, and loss of confidence. Discuss a specific plan with your family! It’s the best way to prepare yourself to remain calm in an emergency.
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