Saturday, January 22, 2011

Normalcy Bias... Will You Act, or Stand Helplessly in Denial?

I read a blog tonight titled “Understanding the Normalcy Bias Could Save Your Life.” It really got me thinking. I couldn't help thinking about a disaster I once found myself in, as well as a disaster I once watched a loved one struggle to survive. I realized that, in these instances which came to mind, we both may have experienced the "normalcy bias" phenomenon that I had just read about.

In my situation, I was in complete denial about what I was going through; it took some time before things got bad enough that they also became obvious enough for me to finally admit the reality of the situation to myself (and keep admitting it); this had to happen before I could get into action (and keep acting).

I think it is natural to look at disasters and think “this can’t be happening. Things like this happen to other people… this can’t be happening to me… I must be imagining it.”

Looking at the disasters I recalled today...there was something that each disaster had in common. In each instance, there seemed to be a state of denial which kept the person(s) in danger from responding appropriately... IE. from getting OUT of the dangerous situation. It was as if the denial completely overruled all ability to reason and judge - until the last possible moment of survival was at hand... until the only thing that could be done was to hope to get out to save one's life, having to leave all else behind which may have been preserved if the one in danger had acted sooner.

It is hard. It is painful... to think of the losses which we can do nothing about; but it gets easier when we remember to focus only on what is preserved, on what survives... on lessons learned, and on what we can do something about. Ultimately, what matters most is that, that which is most precious... which can't replaced... life...  is preserved. The rest can eventually be restored or built back up. This is comforting to me and gives me a feeling of peace. :)

Looking at our nation today and the things which could shortly come to pass... I’m thankful to be made aware of the normalcy bias and hope that as a nation we will all be ready for the catastrophes that come our way (be they natural, financial or otherwise), by admitting what is happening so we can ACT and do what we can to make things better. We can not prevent everything from happening... but think of how much better off we can be if we admit what could happen or is happening and prepare/do something about it...

PS I still love and believe in our nation, despite it's problems...


  1. You sure know how to force someone to sit up and think :) Sometimes the denial is the surviving the pain is the escape mechanism.

    As to our country... I fear we have not learned from our past mistakes.
    Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

  2. Fascinating read about the normalcy bias. Never thought about it in those terms before, but can definitely see it.

    As for me, in a way I think I've trained myself to deal with possible emergencies on the horizon through, of all things, a role-playing game years ago where you took on and played the part of a character who would constantly be confronted by fantastical life or death challenges. Once in the real world, however, I needed to be rescued by two strangers. I mistakenly thought the white steam rising from the hood of my car was caused by a water pump overheating ... Well no, the car was on fire!

    As for our nation, I think it will take a miracle.

  3. Hi Corine, Thanks for coming to my blog. I hope you come back often. I am enjoying yours...

    Interesting blog post on the Normalcy Bias... I'm not sure 'anything' in life is 'normal' .... I guess the times of just plain ole days --with no big ups and downs would be considered normal... BUT--life is full of ups and downs. The important I think is how we handle the mountain-top experiences and the bottom of the pit expeiences. It's all about attitude and our choices....

    Come back anytime.
    P.S. We do have one thing in common. I love Genealogy and have spent all weekend researching more of my Family History.

  4. I agree with Jules, I'm afraid the nation as a whole has not learned from past mistakes.

    Sometimes the not knowing we're in danger is the biggest danger of all, isn't it?

    Cathy @ Country Cathy

  5. Corine, Interesting read...I think individuals do whatever is necessary when they are in a situation to get through. When I hear the word 'normal' it's all relative. What is normal for one person is certainly not normal for another...
    As far as our nation...there will NEVER be 'normalcy' again. We are in such a state, I'm certain god was to wave his arm over the world and declare 'Do-Over!!!'

  6. It was fun going through your blog and seeing what you share.I read 3 out of the previous five comments blogs.It becomes a small world. Liked the river experience, I have swam a lot in them, and kayak a lot.The sailing sounds wonderful, I sailed on ice a few years back.

    In todays post it is how we percieve these bumpy roads and then look at how we repaired what was needed to understand life deals some lessons we don't always want to learn from. Thanks for stopping by and hope to see you again.


There is a ripple effect in all that we do; what you do touches me, what I do touches you...

THANK YOU for your comments; you add so much insight and brighten my day! :)