Published Online: 30 JAN 2010
Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. All rights reserved.
Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology
How to Cite
Reyes, G. 2010. Disaster Psychology. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1–2.
- Published Online: 30 JAN 2010
Disasters severely disrupt or destroy environments on which people depend for their survival, and they may thus have extensive social and psychological consequences. The origin of a disaster may lie in natural phenomena such as heat, wind, precipitation, fire, tides, and seismic activity (e.g., droughts, famines, tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, blizzards, wildfires, tsunamis, and earthquakes). Disasters may also be brought about by unusually rapid changes in the prevalence and distribution of life forms, leading to infestations of destructive species and epidemics of infectious disease. Human activities may also cause massive destruction, whether inadvertently or by intent. Technological failures are an increasingly worrisome cause of death and destruction, most notably perhaps in the category of failures of transportation conveyances (e.g., aircraft, ships, trains), but failures of architectural structures can also be massively destructive (e.g., dams, levies, pipelines, and large buildings). Manufacturing that involves explosive or toxic substances also requires technological safeguards that may fail (e.g., chemical plants, oil refineries, and nuclear power plants), and major failures can lead to long-term environmental damage and the injury or death of workers or others living nearby.