"How Panic Doomed Air France Flight 447"
I just read with interest Jeff Wise's piece entitled, "How Panic Doomed Air France Flight 447." Jeff Wise spent time studying the tragic scenario and suggests the inability to mentally function in panic helped cause the crash. The piece immediately connected me to my own experience outlined in the post "horrific fire as a child" and the excellent work of the Third Man Factor.
Jeff states in the article, "As the severity of their predicament became more and more apparent, the pilots were unable to reason through the cause of their situation. Despite boldfaced clues to the nature of their problem-including a stall warning alarm that blared 76 times- they were simply baffled. As Robert puts it, " after the captain had hurried back to the cockpit, "we totally lost control of the plane. We don't understand it at all. We've tried everything." Wise goes on to say, "Psychologists who study performance under pressure are well aware of the phenomena of "brain-freeze", the inability of the human mind to engage in complex reasoning in the grip of intense fear. It appears that the arousal of the amygdala causes a partial shutdown of the frontal cortex, so that it becomes possible to engage only in instinctive or well learned behaviour."
The experience of the pilots in the grip of panic seemed to shut down their thinking according to the article, rather than awaken it. They were unable to realize even the most simple of problems which turned out to be that one of the pilots had the stick pulled back the whole time. Their thinking was closing off, leaving only "instinctive and well learned behaviour' in its wake.
This is what is interesting to Third Man readers. Third Man experiences highlight a companion or presence that gives them fresh and vital information leading to survival. Yet, these researchers suggest that this would go counter to what the brain is actually in the process of doing. It cannot handle complex reasoning, as information leading to eventual survival must entail.
We, as Third Man readers, seem to fall into a few camps. There is the camp that suggests the brain somehow rallies, creates a companion, and give the perfect way out of the situation. It is all chemicals and pathways. And then there are those that believe Third Man episodes are indeed what they appear to be, supernatural or mystical encounters. The article makes me wonder. If the brain shuts down allowing for only instinctive and well learned behaviour, as the article suggests, where is the fresh and intuitively correct information leading to survival really coming from?
The take away for me is that there is something more than chemicals at work.