Post disaster personality types.note: edited/updated July 2019

Have you ever given much thought to the type of people there will be after an emergency or disaster occurs?

I have, and better yet over the last 40 years through my work as a first responder I have seen them first hand. I’ve also worked with them.

And even better yet, have you ever thought much about what label to put on people after a “grid-down” event? Yup, right again, I have. And that is the point of this series of posts – What kind of people will there be after “grid-down.”

Maybe a more fair question would be…How people act now influences how they will act after grid-down?

Based on what I’ve seen firsthand I have put a lot of thought into this unique phenomena and how it might affect survival. I mean, come on, the biggest threat you will face after a “grid-down” will be violence. But violence will come from people. So you have to understand people to understand the violence part.

I believe the “types” of people will breakdown into a short list of categories:

  • sheep,
  • shepherds,
  • predators (wolves),
  • sheepdogs,
  • owners/masters,
  • herding dogs.

The trick is trying to figure out which category people fit into and who is the most dangerous. Based on that challenge I did a little reflection on my experience with emergencies and disasters and how people acted during them. Then I compared it back to what I knew of them before the emergency or disaster. That way I think we can make some general assumptions of what people are like now and project/guesstimate what kind of people they may become, or how they will act, after grid-down.

Let me describe what I think are the personality attributes of people after grid-down:

Sheep – These are the folks are easily identified, they are the folks who are basically lost, unprepared, and having no clue what to do.  Or they may be folks that are prepared in many ways but not prone to be leaders. Either way, they Most people are sheep.will be seeking assistance, direction, and leadership. They will start out benignly and humbly requesting help of any kind and will wait for someone to take care of them and their family. They will not be able to take care of themselves and will panic easily. They will also be easily manipulated and controlled. They will have a breaking point. But by then, most will be mostly useless (unless constantly led) and of little threat or danger. A small percentage of this group will become dangerous and must be considered as such in direct proportion to their capability to be so. Example: access to weapons. Their greatest weakness will be Normalcy Bias.  Many will be useful, they will be good people who just didn’t have it together in terms of preparedness…or unable to be leaders in their own right..  These sheep can become productive resources in the right group setting with strong and constant leadership.

Predators / Wolves will prey upon sheep.

Predators want one thing…

Predators (wolves) – These folks are also easy to spot. They will typically be armed and demanding. They will prey on anyone that they can dominate or overwhelm by surprise, numbers, or superior power. They will have no scruples, morals, or ethical base. They will simply feel entitled to what others have that they themselves lack, or simply want. They will have no reservation to humiliate, hurt, maim, or kill. At first they will act fairly independently but will quickly form packs/tribes with a clear hierarchy that is strictly and violently enforced. Some wolves will have true predatory skills while others will be purely “posers” and “wannabes” trying to act the part. The later will be quickly crushed, and survivors probably assimilated, by the true predators. All predators will be dangerous regardless of their current weapon status. If lacking weapons they will use cunning, deception, and subterfuge to gain any weaponry they may need or want. Or lacking that level of finesse…they will simply take weaponry by any means available. For the most part their greatest weakness will be their Competency Bias. That will not be true for the upper level predators that will have skills, experience and intelligence. Hence, they will actually be competent…and deadly.

Sheep dog guarding and defending the flock of sheep.

Sheep Dog

Sheepdogs – These are folks who will be prepared for emergencies and disasters. Although their level of preparedness will probably vary widely from minimal preparations to multiple-years worth of supplies and appropriate gear.  Some may only have their skills vs. supplies & gear but will quickly assume the role of sheepdog because of inherent desire and skills. These folks will be honest of heart and have a true desire to help and protect the sheep. The “help” may manifest itself in feeding, medical assistance, or protection. While sheepdogs may be reluctant to share their supply of food, they will always step up when sheep need to be protected. Sheepdogs have been known to attack large packs of predators even when highly out numbered and have given their lives to

Sheep dogs don't tolerate predators.

Sheep dogs don’t tolerate predators.

protect the lives of their flock. Sheepdogs will be neighbors and community members that have a strong sense of family and duty. They will most likely be Christians and feel a God-given calling to help take care of people. Sheepdogs will be highly drawn to shepherds and allow themselves to be led by those shepherds that they trust. Sheepdogs will be naturally opposed to owner/masters and will rebel against them. Sheepdogs will generally be tolerant of herding dogs to a point. Sheepdogs will tend to feel that they can change a herding dog into a sheepdog with enough work and being a good example.  However, should a herding dog show too much aggression a sheepdog will not hesitate to attack a herding dog to defend the flock or the shepherd.

Herding dogs are controlled predators NOT sheep dogs.

Herding Dog

Herding Dogs – While superficially herding dogs might be appear to be sheepdogs, there is a significant difference. Sheepdogs live, eat, and sleep with the sheep; they are part of the flock.  Herding dogs work for the sheep’s owner/master and respond to their master’s commands. Those commands are given for a specific intention…to strictly to control the flock of sheep. The herding dogs circle the sheep and move them by acting much as a predator would; which in-turn makes the sheep respond to the non-verbal body language of the herding dog (i.e. threat of violence). A herding dog is actually a predator who is so highly trained that they won’t kill sheep (normally) but will not hesitate to “nip” (i.e. light bite) the back legs of the sheep. Herding dogs are also known for a game called “sheep tag.”  Herding dogs will run among the sheep biting them and then run

Herding dogs are controlled predators NOT sheep dogs.

Sheep Tag

off.  To them, sheep are little more than “chew toys.” Herding dogs are not known for protecting a flock, they are there to control the flocks movement and behavior. And they don’t respond to the needs of the flock and rarely repel approaching predators on their own. They only respond to commands given to them by their master/owner.  Herding dogs will view sheepdogs with contempt and disgust. Herding dogs will see sheepdogs as beneath them in status. Herding dogs will view sheepdogs as lacking skills & intelligence and not living up to their potential. Herding dogs and sheepdogs will be natural opposites and will have open conflict with one another. Herding dogs may/can change allegiance from a flock to a violent pack of predators.  Should an owner/master not provide enough incentive (or strong enough leadership), a herding dog could be easily persuaded to join a predator pack who promises greater rewards. Should the right set of circumstances present itself, a herding dog could betray an entire flock to a predator pack. A herding dog sees sheep as just another animal, beneath them in status and not truly worthy of anything other than to be controlled.  They have virtually no allegiance to the sheep other than as a means to gain rewards from the owner/master.

Shepherd watching over his flock.Shepherds – These folks will be few and far between.  They are of high moral and ethical character. They will be leaders of sheep. They will also be the leaders of sheepdogs. They will have the ability to change some herding dogs into sheepdogs, but that will rarely occur due to the natural instincts of herding dogs. Shepherds will understand predators and not hate them. Shepherds will protect the flock from predators to the point of freely giving their lives. Shepherds will naturally draw sheepdogs to them. Sheepdogs will see the leadership and “goodness” in a shepherd and want to serve him while following their The Good Shepherdinstinct of protecting the flock. The sheepdog will see that a shepherd frees them up to concentrate on what they do best – protection. Shepherds will “serve” their flock. The will make decisions that in the best interest of the flock and not for the gain of the shepherd himself…or for the benefit of sheepdogs. Shepherds will be those folks who will gain close-knit followings of sheep and sheepdogs who are committed to not just surviving, but thriving.  Some herding dogs will be drawn to shepherds but will rebel against the nature of the shepherd’s leadership, preferring to control the sheep vs. lead the sheep. For those of us that are believers, we have a great example in The Good Shepherd

Owner/masters – These folks will be those that have a sense of entitlement to leadership. They will feel it is their right, even their duty, to lead sheep. They will voice that they are doing their best to protect the sheep from harm and danger but their true intentions will simply be to control and manipulate. They will make decisions primarily serving their own gain. And any benefit to the flock will be secondary, even accidental. However, the owner/master will take great efforts to make the appearance of what they do is completely for the benefit of the flock. When pushed they will be ruthless with all members of the flock. They will have no trouble sacrificing flock members for their own gain or protection. They will be “pretty boys” and the like. They will use flowery speeches and quote learned men; they may even use scripture verses to justify what they do. But all that they do will be for their own benefit. Owner/masters will readily identify herding dogs and elevate the perceived status of herding dogs to control the flock…ruthlessly if they have to. They will reward herding dogs with special privileges such as food, liberties, and sexual partners. They will provide them with higher quality food, tools, weapons, and living accommodations. Additionally, the owner/master will provide a sense of “purpose” to the herding dogs. They will touch the herding dogs’ sense of duty and work ethic. They will manipulate the herding dog to think they are as noble as a sheepdog…maybe even superior.

An owner/master will naturally not like sheepdogs; they will see them as competition for leadership. They will see in sheepdogs everything that they, as owner/masters, are not. They will try and change sheepdogs into herding dogs. If that is not possible they will try and ostracize them. Should that fail, the owner/master will use whatever means necessary to remove the sheepdogs from the flock. And that will include an owner/master killing the sheepdog should the sheepdog be seen as a big enough threat by the owner/master.

So there are the basics of how I see people will fall into the basic post-disaster caste system. I have seen it on smaller-scale disasters (i.e. hurricanes, floods, wildfires, etc.) over the last 40 years or so and I have no reason to believe anything different would happen after a major “grid-down” experience. Actually, I think the likelihood of this caste system occurring increases in direction proportion to the scale of the disaster.Mob1

So what do you do with this information? Where is the value? What does it all mean?

It makes the difference between life and death in all probability. Yeah, that dramatic.

I wrote a series on Situational Awareness (SA) and this information on post-disaster types of people is directly related to good SA. If you don’t know what kind of people to expect then you are likely to get sucked into a bad situation or worse.  In the next post I will cover how to identify the different post-disaster personalities


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4 thoughts on “POST-DISASTER PERSONALITIES : Part 1 – Who are they?

  1. Pingback: POST-DISASTER PERSONALITIES : Part 4 – Warning & Summary | A.H. Trimble - Emergency preparedness information for disasters and grid-down

  2. Pingback: POST-DISASTER PERSONALITIES : Part 2 – How to Identify Them In Today’s World | A.H. Trimble - Emergency preparedness information for disasters and grid-down

  3. Good work here. Nothing new just a new way of conveying the idea.

    That last photo was where, Chicago, Baltimore, DC, Memphis? It surly was not Dearbornastan, that’s a different pack/variety of animals. Keep your distance from these critters they are all dangerous. I know as I’ve been to “shit hole countries” where they all originally hailed from.


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