Extreme events, such as environmental disasters, have a significant effect on the identity and social cohesion of the community since most of these occurrences are not fully avoidable and hence costly to avoid. Since such situations are prominent in society, they form the major parts of public and political discussions to minimize their consequences. Thus, post-disaster dynamics is targeted to strengthen socio-ecological systems and decreasing vulnerability to minimize adverse effects (Lidskog, 2018, p. 3). It helps in establishing ways in which a community can be resilient and well-prepared to face a disaster. Communities respond to emergencies differently, and such response can take a therapeutic or corrosive direction depending on their preparedness. Since crises are threats to fundamental community structures and values, local implications of a disaster may lead the community to respond in a therapeutic or corrosive way.
The therapeutic and corrosive communities depend on responses of a particular society, whereby it may adopt a certain disaster management approach mechanism. However, the decision between the two is influenced by the local context. The choice of a response mechanism during extreme events is aimed to weaken the consequences, where a strong social structure of the community is important (Lidskog, 2018, p. 2). Despite therapeutic and corrosive responses being development ways that the community may take after a disaster, the first is preferred since it is characterized by cohesion, lack of conflicts, and shared values compared to the second one, where the community lacks a common understanding of the situation.
When a disaster strikes a community, people respond to the situation depending on their knowledge for them to rescue and protect themselves and their property. Therefore, the therapeutic and corrosive communities are different since they depend on the knowledge people have in managing the disaster (Miller & Wesley, 2016, p. 69). Characteristics of a therapeutic community are different from those of a corrosive one. The former is characterized by social cohesion after a disaster as people use available resources to help those affected (Lidskog, 2018, p. 7). A therapeutic community will rescue its people and organize itself to create social bonds that in turn bring positive emotions to the community after the disaster. It makes it possible for all individuals, including those vulnerable, to respond innovatively and creatively, fostering human responsibility and creativity. On the other hand, a corrosive community is characterized by misunderstandings between people and the authorities since all have different views on the disaster. Therefore, it becomes impossible for the community to come together and manage the situation (Miller & Wesley, 2016, p. 71). A corrosive community is characterized by poor social relationships, as well as situations of fear, confusion, and anger, heightening pressure and creating a contaminated community life. Therapeutic and corrosive communities have different outputs and are opposite, despite them being possible disaster responses.
A disaster offers the best opportunity for people to come together and support each other through generosity, altruism, and other meaningful work instead of separating themselves. It requires leadership principles that are aimed at achieving cohesion and strengthening community relations. A therapeutic community is governed by the key principles that ensure and encourage desirable behavior among people (Miller & Wesley, 2016, p. 69). These are crucial in establishing an integrated community that can stick together all the time, even in times of a disaster. The principles include the rule of law, collectiveness, relatively free society, pressure, and judgment.
The rule of law promotes safety and equality by ensuring that all act under the law. A relatively free society ensures that all have the freedom of making individual choices and decisions. A collective principle brings the community together and encourages the habit of influencing one another positively. Pressure is an external or internal force that triggers ideas and creativity, making it possible to handle difficult situations (Miller & Wesley, 2016, p. 72). The judgmental principle enables people to think and solve their problems and manage their behaviors. The leadership that follows the principles of a therapeutic community can achieve more, preventing people from following a corrosive way of development.
Humans respond in different ways in the face of a disaster, and it may be through panic or shock. People get scared when they are hit by an extreme event, which may affect how they associate with others. Such disasters as earthquakes instill stress in people due to deaths, injuries, displacements, and the loss of properties (Miller & Wesley, 2016, p. 70). Therefore, the issues of the disaster should be handled with care to prevent the increase of panic. Additionally, such situation causes emotional trauma to the affected. It may have a long-lasting impact on their lives since people are more fragile when in shock and can fail to cope with the situation (Lidskog, 2018, p. 8). A human paralysis response behavior is risky, and the community needs to adopt a therapeutic response to take good care of the affected. Among those likely to succumb to paralysis behaviors, there are victims and witnesses of the disaster. There is a possibility of them perishing in the face of danger due to panic and shock (Lidskog, 2018, p. 2). To assist those that are more likely to succumb to a paralysis behavior after a disaster, the community needs to find ways that will change their mind set and enable them to take effective actions. For this purpose, it should first understand the context of victims’ decision making to make it easier to address mind-set challenges associated with shock and trauma. Hence, it can make victims understand the importance of responsible decision-making. Therapeutic aid assists them in defining the value of their actions and communicating when in need of help. That is why it is important to have a therapeutic community since it can take care of such people until they achieve a full survival response.
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Making a community hold a therapeutic course is important in ensuring that it can handle similar situations in the future. It decreases vulnerability as it increases the mechanism of responses of society during periods of adverse effects of extreme events. Resilient societies are crucial in handling disaster situations that cannot be fully prevented or predicted, and it helps in preventing corrosive effects on the community. Victims of extreme events are vulnerable to falling into shock and panic. Therefore, developing a therapeutic community promotes social cohesion, making it possible to take care of people fully. It is always prepared to handle extreme events and reduce future risks of such cases to its members.