Chilean Miners Will Have New Adjustments After Their Rescue

I’ve felt compelled to follow the ordeal of the trapped Chilean miners and wrote about them in a previous post. I have no clue if other groups of people would fare so well but miners, maybe because they work in groups underground in close quarters, might be better suited for this strange captivity.  Maybe it is cultural, religious or they are just very special people.  Whatever the reasons, they seem to have adapted. Shortly, new adaptation will be required.

This is what I learned about the psychological aspects of the miners’ entrapment.

1. They organized themselves and accepted a trusted, older, established organizational leader who had been their shift leader.

2. They have assigned an older man to be their spiritual leader, although we don’t know much about him. They pray and this man also provides counseling and guidance.

3. The men work in teams and have jobs to do, whether it is hauling debris or exercising.

4. They have organized their space into showering, eating, sleeping and smoking.

They are organized, have structure, and are busy with useful tasks.

As usual, my interest is whether psychology can help.  NASA sent a psychologist, Albert “Al” Holland to Chile. In NASA, his job had been to analyze the astronauts’ personality traits and decide if they were suitable to make long-duration flight. He has worked with American and Russian astronauts who had to exist in close quarters for long, stressful periods.  He has studied submarine life and also worked on the people’s reintegration to regular life and relationships with their families. That is more to the point – the miners have been concentrating on surviving their confinement.  They cannot have much of an idea about the hullabaloo that awaits them on the surface.

What is next?

They will come out and find out that time has not stopped.  While they worked on staying alive underground, much has happened above ground.    The men will come out of their hole to find out that they are heroes; the world has been rooting for them. One miner’s wife had a baby who is named Esperanza (Hope).

Other events also occurred. A miner’s wife found out that her husband had a mistress when that woman showed up at the site. Once they emerge, the miners will be photographed, followed, and interviewed. Some will emerge as the “faces and voices” of the ordeal. People will offer them money in order to write books and film movies.  They will have different reactions and different agendas.  They will no longer be a team with one goal.  The gratefulness that they feel upon rescue will be mixed with feelings of being overwhelmed and confused.  And, when the excitement dies down, and no one cares to interview them any longer, they will still have to cope with dreams and memories of darkness and fear.  Ordinary people who are thrust into the spotlight don’t do very well when the noise quiets down.  They have trouble knowing how to think about themselves. I hope psychologist Al Holland sticks around – his most important job might be just beginning.


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One Response to “Chilean Miners Will Have New Adjustments After Their Rescue”

  1. October 12th, 2010 3:18 pm

    Excellent post and analysis. I can’t stop reading about this story. I too hope they are not abandoned once the world has moved on to the next big thing.