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Panic

  • By: Jacqueline S. Smith & Patric R. Spence
  • In: Encyclopedia of Disaster Relief
  • Edited by: K. Bradley Penuel & Matt Statler
  • Subject:Public Health (general), Public Policy (general)

Panic is an intense and sudden feeling of fear in reaction to a perceived danger. This fear is usually accompanied by immediate flight to escape the perceived threat, whether real or illusory. Panic is commonly understood as the natural response to disasters and life-threatening situations, but this assumption has been contested by numerous disaster researchers who have found little evidence of panic in studies of disastrous events. The calm and orderly evacuation of the World Trade Center towers on September 11, 2001, provides a clear example of how people are able to respond effectively in the face of a crisis.

Panic is often associated with impulsive, irrational behavior and reckless action, caused by an inability to think rationally and react logically to a situation due ...

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