Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Having experienced dozens of quakes ranging from tremblors to lethal, i'd like to add to the psychological understanding of the effect of quakes.

Most people believe reality is real, as exemplified by the firmness underfoot.  When the firmness underfoot melts away, so does the perception of reality.

In the SF bay area, small quakes are omnipresent, with little effect other than subconsciously.  But all of the big quakes, say greater than 5.8, cause little studied psychological effects.  But it's in the big ones where it finally becomes obvious.

After the '89 jolt, the typical total quiet of the water and weather took hold.  There were huge, drunken parties in the streets everywhere i went.  Kind of a celebration of survival.

After the first exhilaration wore off, the level of general depression was astounding.  My amateur analysis was simply that most people can't handle their basis of reality being destroyed.  (In a real earthquake, that's what happens, as there is no longer a ground to stand on.)  i noticed that other natural disasters had less mood swing attached.

It's one thing when your house shakes a bit.  It's quite another when your base of reality no longer exists.  and you don't forget, as you've seen everything happen in slow motion.

Aside:  i was in the parking lot tailgating at Candlestick Park in '89.  i happened to have turned away from the stadium when the quake hit.  i watched in awe as thirty rows of car roofs swelled and ebbed like the giant waves at Mavericks.  i knew instantaneously what was happening, and rode the wave just as if i was surfing. When it was over, i continued the tailgate party like everyone else.  It took about 10 minutes to digest what had just happened, and i started to wonder about where my son might be.  It took the first white faces descending from the upper deck of the stadium to bring me back to reality, and i split quickly.  on the drive home through back streets of SF i realized how huge the damage as going to be.  (It was 7.1 if i recall.)

When i realize it would take less than a 6.0 to devastate anywhere in Europe, where we just normally ride through a 5.8 or even 6.0, i get concerned.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

by Crazy Horse on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 04:05:12 PM EST
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