News / Americas

    Trapped Chilean Miners Face Psychological, Physical Challenges

    Chilean officials say it could take months to rescue 33 miners who have already spent three weeks trapped more than 600-meters underground in the north of the country.  Reaching the miners and keeping them alive and healthy are top concerns.  But tending to the miners' psychological needs and emotional well-being is also critical.

    In a demonstration of stoicism and defiance in the face of extreme hardship and peril, the trapped miners fervently sang Chile's national anthem after communications were established between their shelter and rescuers above.

    Optimism counts


    University College London senior lecturer in psychology James Thompson says maintaining a positive mental outlook is critical in times of extreme hardship and mortal peril.

    "The psychological [aspect] is important, because it maintains all the things which improve one's probability of survival, even when those probabilities are very low," said Thompson.

    Confined to a small chamber, the miners are enduring extremely close quarters with one another.  Chilean officials have reached out to a host of experts on cramped living conditions, from submarine officers to NASA experts, for advice.

    Team spirit

    Thompson says confinement in a crowded small space will tax the miners' psyches, but does provide one benefit, as well.

    "The fact that they are in a group of knowledgeable persons is a great help.  Individuals can fail, and others can comfort them.  This is a cooperative group, and that helps mitigate some of the enormous damage of this dreadful event," Thompson said.

    Chilean officials did not initially tell the miners exactly how long it could take to drill an escape tunnel.  

    Thompson says the miners are undoubtedly aware that rescue will not be quick.  He says officials are right not to promise any overly-optimistic timeframes for rescue that would inevitably lead to disappointment.  Instead, they should stress all that is being done to secure the miners' rescue.

    Staying occupied

    Thompson adds the miners themselves should be made to feel that they play a role in their own fate, and should be given tasks to keep busy and remain engaged.

    "You have got to get them involved.  You have to make them the rescue team downstairs, and then the discussions they will have and the feelings they will have will be much more positive," Thompson explained.

    Maintaining miners' spirits may be a prime goal of the rescue operation, but Chilean President Sebastian Pinera told the trapped men that their fight for survival has provided an emotional lift to the entire nation.

    The president told the miners they are enduring hell, but that their struggle has resurrected the nation's spirit and provided an example of courage for all to follow.

    And that spirit and courage, above ground and below, faces a monumental challenge in the weeks and months to come.

    You May Like

    UN Observes International Day of Peacekeepers

    The U.N. honors 3,400 peacekeepers killed since first mission in 1948

    Video Rolling Thunder Tribute to US Military Turns into a Trump Rally

    Half-million motorcycles are expected to rumble Sunday afternoon from Pentagon to Vietnam War Memorial for rally in event group calls Ride for Freedom

    The Struggle With Painkillers: Treating Pain Without Feeding Addiction

    'Wonder drug' pain medications have turned out to be major problem: not only do they run high risk of addicting the user, but they can actually make patients' chronic pain worse, US CDC says

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora

    More Americas News

    Hundreds of Thousands of Brazilians Hold Gay Rights Parade

    Gay rights advocates in Brazil are pushing the congress to pass a law allowing Brazilians to legally identify themselves as the gender of their choice

    Haiti Braces for Trouble as Election Panel Report Is Due

    Haitians are preparing for trouble as electoral verification commission is due to deliver results of its monthlong review of last year's contested presidential and legislative elections

    Brazil Launches Manhunt for Alleged Gang Rapists

    Police identifies four of 30 suspects who gang raped teenager and posted video online

    'El Chapo' Lawyers Split on Extradition Case

    Lawyers can't agree on staving off extradition to US

    Colombia Rebels Release Three Journalists

    All three, including a Spanish correspondent working on a story about coca growers, were released Friday

    WHO Dismisses Changing Summer Olympics for Zika

    WHO says canceling or postponing the Olympics will not alter the international spread of Zika virus