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Psychology and Natural Disasters: Earthquake and Tsunami in Chile on February 27, 2010

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Abstract

This special issue of Terapia Psicológica is an attempt to organize preliminary information collected by researchers on the psychological consequences of the natural disaster occurred in the south central zone of Chile on February 27, 2010. This issue is also focused on the types of psychological interventions that have been conducted in the affected zones, also emphasizing the need to define intervention strategies for middle- and long-term effects of this phenomenon. Finally, some intervention strategies applied in other countries are reviewed.
Copyright 2010 by Sociedad Chilena de Psicología Clínica
ISSN 0716-6184 (impresa) · ISSN 0718-4808 (en línea)
TERAPIA PSICOLÓGICA
2010, Vol. 28, Nº2. 143-143
Psychology and Natural Disasters: Earthquake and Tsunami in
Chile on February 27, 2010
Psicología y Desastres Naturales: Terremoto y Tsunami:
Del 27 de Febrero de 2010 en Chile
Edgar H. Vogel
Universidad de Talca, Chile
Pablo Vera-Villarroel
Universidad de Santiago de Chile, USACH
Resumen
Esta edición especial de Terapia Psicológica surge como un intento por sistematizar la información prelimi-
nar recolectada por investigadores acerca de las consecuencias psicológicas del desastre natural ocurrido
en la zona centro sur de Chile el 27 de Febrero de 2010. Esta edición también se focaliza en las formas de
intervención psicológica que se han aplicado en la distintas zonas devastadas, enfatizándose, además, la
necesidad de concebir intervenciones para los efectos de mediano y largo plazo de este fenómeno. Por
último, se revisan estrategias utilizadas en otros países para abordar desastres naturales.
Abstract
This special issue of Terapia Psicológica is an attempt to organize preliminary information collected by
researchers on the psychological consequences of the natural disaster occurred in the south central zone
of Chile on February 27, 2010. This issue is also focused on the types of psychological interventions that
have been conducted in the affected zones, also emphasizing the need to dene intervention strategies for
middle- and long-term effects of this phenomenon. Finally, some intervention strategies applied in other
countries are reviewed.
Correspondencia: Dr. Edgar Vogel email; evogel@utalca.cl and Dr. Pablo Vera-Villarroel email: pablo.vera@usach.cl
Libro 1.indb 143 21-12-10 12:00
144
Edgar H. VogEl y Pablo VEra-VillarroEl
TERAPIA PSICOLÓGICA 2010, Vol. 28, Nº2. 143-145
Among the many economic, social, and political impacts
of the catastrophe that occurred on February 27, 2010,
in Chile, there is the obvious need for a contribution of
psychology as a profession in its multiple elds of action
(García & Mardones, 2010). This situation certainly implies
a social responsibility, because the demand, both explicit
and implicit, for professional psychological services has
increased suddenly in the affected zones and will most
probablly continue increasing progressively in the middle
term. In order to satisfy these demandas, psychologists
must face the challenge of providing concrete, informed,
and scientically valid solutions in the face of a unique and
unrepeatable traumatic event, but powerful because of its
intensity and the number of settings in which the lives of
people have been affected.
The papers included in this issue represent a rst sample
of the way in which the specialists have reacted to these
demands. Most of the articles were written by professionals
and researchers who live and work in the devastated zones,
and they reect the strategy that has been followed in the
rst post-earthquake months.
Two of the papers contain reviews, analyses, and pro-
posals by distinguished foreign psychologists (Echeburúa,
2010; Pineda & López-López, 2010) who describe strategies
for psychological interventions in the context of disasters.
This is an instance of the direct and immediate support
provided by various foreign psychologists and associations
to Chilean psychologists. Specically, Dr. Wilson López,
chairman of the ABA Colombia; Dr. Francisco Santolaya,
Dean of the Colegio Ocial de Psicólogos de España; and
Dr. Enrique Echeburúa, of the Universidad del País Vasco.
The reviews made by Cova & Rincon (2010) point out
the importance of prevention and the approach methods and
strategies, as well as important contributions in disasters.
Six papers present empirical primary in situ informa-
tion. Leiva & Quintana (2010) report on a particularly high
incidence of panic atacks in people who suffered the loss
of goods, and they emphasize the need to create quantita-
tive impact indicators that consider multiple factors. One
conclusion that comes from this rst report is that although
psychologists have contributed signicantly to attenuate
the consequences of the trauma, those efforts have not been
sufciently systematic and informed. We think that there is a
need to formalize a specic professional and research line that
we may call “psychology of trauma due to natural disasters.”
This lack of systematization of intervention procedures
and strategies is put in evidence in the exploratory map
of the interventions discussed by Méndez, Leiva, Bustos,
Ramos & Moyano-Díaz (2010), who conclude that the
interventions made had a rather supercial character in the
form of group workshops and were the results of individual
initiatives rather than of collective efforts guided by standar-
dized procedures. In that sense, it is particularly important
to pay attention to the ways in which these problems have
been approached in the face of similar disasters in other
parts of the world. On the other hand, Loubat, Fernández &
Morales (2010) as well as Magaña, Silva-Nadales & Rovira
(2010) describe the results of post-earthquake interventions
focused on certain risk groups in the town of Peralillo
and in the city of Concepción, respectively. Jiménez &
Cubillos (2010) present an interesting hypothesis of how
an organizational intervention that took place before the
earthquake may have become a protective factor against
the negative labor effects of stress. Finally, Ortiz & Manzo
(2010) describes in systematic form the activities done by
Chilean Society of Clinical Psychology in the south and
center zone of Chile. Inside this, it´s presents coordination
of trainings to psychologists and health´s equipments who
worked in area, preparation of written material that was
delivered to the people in Santiago city and the work with
Investigation Police in the diffusion of information to public
in the Talcahuano zero zone.
Finally, it is important to mention that in spite of the
drama associated with these events, this natural experiment
that occurred in Chile offers us multiple opportunities to
investigate, not only the negative consequences of the
phenomenon but also remarkable aspects of resilience,
spontaneous social organization, and other psychological
concepts associated to positive psychology.
We hope that this first analysis will stimulate our
scientists to assume the responsibility that we have as
professionals and researchers of psychology, as well as
reinforce the collective efforts to share data and qualitative
and quantitative information that will allow us to advance
in the consolidation of a Psychology of natural disasters.
We want to point out that in spite of the little systema-
tization and of not being adequately prepared, Chilean ps-
ychologists responded very well in the face of this disaster.
Like never before, in Chile we could observe the cons-
tant activity of many psychologists and psychological or-
ganizations in the immediate and middle-term intervention
in the community and its victims. Even more noteworthy is
that groups of researchers made an immediate data search
and carried out research that will serve for the advancement
of the Chilean as well as the international discipline.
Naturally, the data presented here are just a starting
point to carry out research and technological transfer in
this eld. Psychology has much to say, and there is a fertile
ground to make contributions that surely will enhance the
relevance and positioning of our profession in these special
circumstances.
References
Cova, F., & Rincón, P. (2010). El terremoto y tsunami del 27-F y sus efectos
en la salud mental. Terapia Psicológica. 28, 183-189.
Echeburúa, E. (2010). The challenge of posttraumatic stress disorder pre-
vention: How to survive a disaster? Terapia Psicológica 28, 151-158.
Libro 1.indb 144 21-12-10 12:00
145
PsycHology and natural disastErs: EartHquakE and tsunami in cHilE on FEbruary 27, 2010
TERAPIA PSICOLÓGICA 2010, Vol. 28, Nº2. 143-145
García, F., & Mardones, R. (2010). Prevención de trastorno de estrés pos-
traumático en supervivientes del terremoto de Chile de febrero de 2010:
Una propuesta de intervención narrativa. Terapia Psicológica 28, 85-93
Jiménez, A. E., & Cubillos, R.A. (2010). Estrés percibido y satisfacción
laboral después del terremoto ocurrido el 27 de Febrero de 2010 en la
zona centro-sur de Chile. Terapia Psicológica. 28, 191-196
Leiva, M.C., & Quintana, G.R. (2010). Factores ambientales y psicoso-
ciales vinculados a síntomas de ataque de pánico después del terremoto
y tsunami del 27 de Febrero de 2010 en la zona central de Chile. Terapia
Psicológica. 28, 165-171.
Loubat, M., Fernández, A.M., & Morales, M. (2010). La experiencia de
Peralillo: Una intervención psicológica para el estado de emergencia.
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Magaña, I., Silva-Nadales, S., & Rovira R.(2010). Catástrofe, subjetividad
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el terremoto.Terapia Psicológica. 28, 173-181.
Méndez, M.D., Leiva, M.C., Bustos, C.B., Ramos, N.A., & Moyano-Díaz,
E. (2010). Mapa exploratorio de intervenciones psicosociales frente al
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Terapia Psicológica. 28, 197-206.
Ortiz, J., & Manzo, C. (2010). Abordajes frente al terremoto y tsunami
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Psicología Clínica (SCPC). Terapia Psicológica. 28, 213-216.
Pineda, C., & López-López, W. ( 2010). Atención psicológica post-
desastres: Más que un “Guarde la Calma”. Una revisión de los
modelos de las estrategias de intervención. Terapia Psicológica.
28, 159-164.
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Libro 1.indb 146 21-12-10 12:00
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