This two-rater study sought to identify psychological defense mechanisms in the climbers of the 1996 Mount Everest climbing disaster through two sources documenting the event, a biographical interview documentary titled “Storm Over Everest,” (Breashears, 2008) and a written autobiography titled “Into Thin Air” (Krakauer, 1997). The two raters’ objectives were to locate and identify defense mechanisms in the material through verbal excerpts or descriptions of behaviors. Once the researchers coded the data and reached consensus, the defense mechanisms were ordered using Vaillant’s (1993) hierarchy of defense mechanisms. The current study identified high levels of psychotic defenses (i.e., Psychotic Denial) in the 1996 Mount Everest climbers prior to the storm and disaster striking. The climbers who continued to use denial after the storm hit were negatively impacted, while the climbers who used more adaptive defenses were positively impacted. This study’s results suggest that the 1996 Mount Everest climbers’ defense mechanisms became more flexibly adaptive once the climbers were caught in the storm. This in turn suggests that the more adaptive a person’s unconscious defense mechanisms, the more likely he or she may be able to adjust to the internal and external environment.
|Commitee:||John, Andrew, McDermott, Virginia|
|School:||Saint Mary's University of Minnesota|
|School Location:||United States -- Minnesota|
|Source:||DAI-B 78/07(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Keywords:||Defense mechanism, Mount Everest 1996, Psychoanalytic|
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