Mental mobilization processes in critical incident stress situations

Int J Emerg Ment Health. Spring 2000;2(2):73-81.


In this article, the psychological emergency mobilization process that takes place in threat situations is postulated. Mental mobilization is the increased mental capability of the mind in critical situations to process incoming and stored information to enable adaptive survival responses. The processes that are mobilized in the service of survival are enhanced sensory awareness, focused attention, rapid processing of incoming data, and use of previous experience, enhanced memory, altered time perception, and temporary deactivation of emotional reactions. From a clinical standpoint, it is important that the survival value of these processes is understood, as survivors can be helped to feel a sense of accomplishment and empowerment when they are taken through a critical situation in a detailed way and discover that they have been able to function well and survive by use of their stored "experience," rapid processing of information or other aspects of their mental mobilization.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Cognition*
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events*
  • Perception*
  • Survival / psychology