The Dive Psychology Iceberg

It’s the beginning of a new year and a new decade. I’ve had the iceberg metaphor in mind since the end of December. Fueled by the excitement of what is there to explore and the frustration of communicating it sometimes. This post is simply a wander through some of that and a reflection on dive psychology.

The iceberg dive

How deep does it go? Where are it’s twists and turns leading? What will we find if we continue to explore? In the same way that we can explore a dive site and see something different every time, there is always more to discover in the emerging world of dive psychology.

There are more things in mind, in the imagination, than “you” can keep track of – thoughts, memories, images, angers, delights, rise unbidden. The depths of the mind are unconscious, are our inner wilderness areas, …

Gary Snyder – The practice of the wild

The ocean and the human mind have much in common. We research them as a science and as the individuals who occupy them. Dive psychology is where we think about the human in the water; the mind under the surface in both senses. As a scientific discipline it has barely begun. Consider that modern psychology is loosely stated to stretch back only a 100 years, and scuba diving even less. The studies are only really a handful still and, unlike hyperbaric medicine, there are as yet no societies or journals dedicated purely to this nascent discipline.

Yet it is intriguing. And it is useful.

Touch on the topics and learn about their applications by exploring the website. So far we have swum around topics like diver panic and anxiety, the therapeutic value of scuba diving and the way our brains work underwater. Plunge deeper into dive psychology by joining one of the courses. Or stay connected to discover future dives.

Dive Psychology

This is all very interesting, but what about when we get stuck as divers? Unable to get past some anxiety, or struggle with the after effects of a bad dive?

Psychologists know how to help people with these issue. Understanding and overcoming the psychological impact of a traumatic event may seem insurmountable, but there are clear routes out. Panic and phobias were the place we started, and addressing them is relatively routine. But underwater? The psychological rules still apply, but the physics of depths changes things a little. The societal rules are the same, but the culture of the dive community needs to be understood. The biology of the human is the same, but the rescue and treatment of an injured diver is distinct from any other type of emergency. Few psychologists would know what a hyperbaric chamber is, or have a sense of safety and risk for any given dive. And only a diver knows what it feels like to breathe underwater, encountering the fears and sensations that we do.

For dive-related health concerns we seek dive medics, doctors who specialism in dive medicine … because it requires knowledge of conditions and procedures that are impacted differently underwater. It’s the same for behavioural, mental or emotional issues, but there are even less dive psychologists than there are dive medics. That is a whole other iceberg.