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Psychological Factors for Mars Settlement. William Johns MD November 2004. Relevance to Mission?. Likely the most critical aspect Often left aside due to its ambiguous nature and difficulty in answering the questions Safety of Mission/Settlement Depends upon it

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Psychological factors for mars settlement l.jpg

Psychological Factors for Mars Settlement

William Johns MD

November 2004


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Relevance to Mission?

  • Likely the most critical aspect

  • Often left aside due to its ambiguous nature and difficulty in answering the questions

  • Safety of Mission/Settlement Depends upon it

  • Some don’t believe in the process of group dynamics, its relevance, etc--- Question is “Then why are you in the process?”


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Man vs. Machine

  • A group of individuals are capable of creative solutions, motivation, and support far greater than the sum of their individual parts

  • So what’s the catch?

  • Invest in relationships or be replaced by something that isn’t concerned with your well-being

  • Humans are capable of far more, although we are much more fragile—this may be the irony of our existence; hence emotions, feelings, hope, art


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Group of Lone Wolfs vs. the Wolf Pack

  • Often times we humans romanticize the lone wolf i.e. James Dean, Survivor

  • In Nature, the loan wolf isn’t there by choice, the pack left it to die

  • We as humans are actually hard wired to be in relationships; exceptions may be autism

  • Keeping with the animal metaphor, getting doctors to work together often times is like herding cats


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Why all of the Shock Value in This Presentation

  • I did this because often times people acknowledge or say they acknowledge the importance of psychological well-being, group process, sound mind, body, and spirit

  • But

  • In interpersonal relationships actions are required not just cognitions or awareness

  • Remember Sir Isaac Newton


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Remembering Sir Isaac Newton

  • Taken from the third of Sir Isaac Newton's laws of physics: every action has an equal and opposite reaction

  • If you believe that in human relationships the sum is greater than the individual parts then,

  • We are both capable of incredible successes and failures


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Examples

  • The First Human Mars Settlement

  • 9/11

  • The emotions you are all feeling upon reading the above

  • Character evolves out of living through both and persevering, living in reality vs. fantasy, and experiencing all of the emotions that go along with that


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Psychological Factors Related to a Mars Settlement

  • Effects of living in a limited space enclosed environment and ways to improve its desirability

  • Group psychology for the initial settlers

  • Effects  of isolation due to distance and limited transport capacity from earth and how to reduce

  • Selection of candidates for initial settlers

  • Raising children

  • Other topics appropriate to settlement psychology


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Effects of living in a limited space enclosed environment and ways to improve its desirability

  • Sensory deprivation has been found to uncover or unmask psychiatric illness

  • Much experimentation has been done with sensory deprivation tank studies

  • Although difficult to appreciate without having been there, sensory deprivation can/will effect autonomic nervous system both acute and chronically

  • Examples can include cardiovascular effects, mental, the entire mind/body connection


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Living In Close Quarters

  • Best experiment is the actual trip

  • Many similar (or felt to be) environments have been looked at:

  • Previous space missions

  • Arctic/ Sub arctic expeditions

  • Being trapped in Ice fishing vessels (1.5yrs)

  • Submariners


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Possible Negative Effects of Living In Close Quarters

  • Irritability

  • Anhedonia (the inability to find enjoyment)

  • Social Withdrawal

  • Sleep architectural changes

  • Loneliness

  • Lack of positive morale

  • Interpersonal Insensitivity


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Problems With Selecting Candidates for In Space Missions

  • Many people, organizations don’t look at psychological issues on many fronts:

  • Too much focus is placed on the individual in pre-screening and in pre and post mission counseling

  • Although the individual is important, group dynamics with the actual members are at least if not more important


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What is Known About Long-Duration Missions

  • Problems will occur, that’s not the problem

  • Problem is how well the group handles and resolves them, and works to prevent future similar occurrences or at least makes progress on the change process

  • Much can be directly observed over time if future mission inhabitants work/live together


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Individual Factors To Be Considered

  • This is not an ego thing, the wrong members in space can be dangerous (or more dangerous).

  • Characteristics suggestive of a successful candidate:

  • Healthy physically, stabile from a psychiatric standpoint, interpersonally sensitive, able to work in a group setting, flexibility in approach to problem solving


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Group Factors to be Considered

  • How long is the mission (how long could it be)?

  • How to deal with loss –both in flight vs. loved ones at home

  • Even though you may be around people on the mission, do they contribute to or can they contribute to one’s sense of family


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Group Factors to be Considered

  • Psychological and physical parameters need to be monitored pre, during, and post mission

  • This should occur on an individual as well as on a group level

  • Its common and important to have ones privacy, yet active problem solving in a supportive milieu need occur

  • This puts a whole new spin on “you can run, but you can not hide!”


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Other Factors Relating to Group Function

  • Cultural Similarities or Differences

  • If multi-cultural, are members truly able to work with the differences:

  • Hygiene is a factor, culture or otherwise, food, problem solving, tradition, dominate chain of command vs. supportive leadership

  • Handling of “scape-goating,” marginalization, group cohesion, morale


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Designs With Couples

  • This can be adaptive in the sense that successful partners tend to work through difficulties by supporting the other through difficult times

  • Realize that I said successful partners

  • Space divorce is likely problematic

  • Also, anything that is difficult to work through on land will likely be as hard or harder to work through in close living environments

  • I can see having a doctor on board, but attorneys?

  • If you are an attorney, I’m not apologizing but I realize paybacks can be hell


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Best Predictors of Success

  • Previous Successes In the Individual

  • Previous Successes In the Actual Group

  • Healthy Mind, Body—needs to be determined, can’t just be our own opinions

  • As an aside I have been asked to see many “problem kids with completely normal parents.” In any relationship it is rarely a 100% to 0% relationship. I’ve seen 80/20 to a 50/50 assignment 95%of the time.


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Other Factors Predictive of Success

  • Leadership that is able to encourage growth and sustenance of a positive morale with encouragement

  • Interpersonally sensitive leadership style—this is not too difficult when all is well

  • Being consistent yet flexible, and being able to maintain group cohesiveness

  • It is difficult to go from chaos to flexibility without having first established structure.

  • Structure without flexibility can turn to dogma


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Other Factors Predictive of Success cont.

  • Interpersonal Skills Training

  • Supportive partnerships both in-space mission and from earth

  • Group cohesiveness

  • Unfortunately for the ground controllers, this has usually meant that the in space crew gets together to bash the ground control. Compatibility from a distance may be another issue to be considered


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Other Factors Predictive of Success cont.

  • Being able to treat medical conditions from the site and from a distance

  • Limits to monotony, and simple repetitive task completion


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Ever Wonder Why Telemarketers Have Short Careers?

  • Repetitive Tasks

  • Interpersonally insensitive from either side

  • Lack of true human relationships

  • No prior relationship with their clients

  • Limited pre, during, and post telemarketing job support, and/or interpersonal problem solving skills training

  • Focus is on technicalities of marketing plan, and making a sale, not on psychological and/or social well-being

  • Attitude from above is “There is an ass for every seat”


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Improving Livability

  • Means to exercise

  • Having Space (but not too much)

  • Partnerships, possibly animals, earthlings tend to live longer when in relationships (healthy ones), have pets, have healthy lifestyles, and love what they do

  • Hostility tends to shorten life span and has been correlated with decreased heart rate variability (hrv) which likely would be a good variable to monitor and do research on before, during, and after the mission


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Improving Livability cont.

  • Finding empathic crew-members is key—this is difficult to teach

  • Empathy has been the only consistent variable on how effective therapists are in counseling regardless of their approach

  • This is why a high school coach can be as effective as a therapist for many

  • I do believe some therapists are talented similar to artists

  • By the way, Freud was actually a neurologist


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Group Psychology for the Initial Settlers

  • Many basic principles of group psychology will be similar regardless of setting

  • I can give a lecture with applicable details at a later time if interested

  • For a more in-depth view on the matter, please refer to Yalom

  • BTW he also writes psychological suspense novels


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Group Psychology for the Initial Settlers cont.

  • Often times the focus is on individual pre-selection criteria

  • Again with group function, some aspects are unique to a given group, and others are not. This would need to be monitored: pre, during, and post.

  • Increased duration generally correlates with increased dysfunction, although this can largely be prevented and dealt with if anticipated


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Group Psychology for the Initial Settlers cont.

  • The most difficult period for individuals is after the mission as the adjustment to a different way of life must occur

  • Ever notice that those who lament over their Glory Days tend to drink a lot of beer?


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Support for After the Mission

  • Support groups for space travelers would likely need to occur similar to post war trauma groups

  • These would need to be specific to the mission

  • For example the PTSD, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, clinics at the Veterans Hospitals tend to not mix soldiers together from different wars

  • Hence the importance of a shared human experience. This is also fundamental to the healing process.


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Handling Trauma as a Group

  • Critical Incident Stress Debriefing is commonly employed although has mixed data on efficacy

  • Medical/Psychiatric counsel and means would need to be dealt with

  • Entire protocols would need to be developed, both evidence based, and thereafter based upon what ever works

  • Issues of law, confinement, governance, are going to occur based upon length of time, numbers involved, etc

  • Submarines actually have containment cells—this is not fun to talk about or consider, although it would be foolish not to look at all of the possibilities


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Raising Children

  • Not only a concern for the given parents, but to anyone living in the extended family

  • This is something that should be encouraged and dealt with, question of when

  • If sustenance is a goal, then we should be able to procreate without having to ship in kids from earth

  • This gives a whole new meaning to “Are we there yet?”


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Raising Children cont.

  • Actually there would be less earth to Mars adjustment if they were born on mars, and less infusion of diseases. It would be more problematic going from Mars to Earth. An exchange student program would likely be beneficial for kids adjusting to either environment

  • Warning, this is not politically correct, but IQ does matter

  • Smart kids and parents increase the probability of their having similar offspring

  • In Singapore their country went from third world to first because Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew encouraged smart men to marry smart women. This made him quite unpopular for a time, but Singapore went from third world to first by bucking the regression to the mean trend


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Change

  • Often times adults require significant amounts of stress to change

  • Benefits of children is that they are quite adaptive and can change in minutes to days whereas many times adults change in months to years.

  • We can teach them much, but can also learn from them as well

  • The point is that children should be valued as much or more than us as they will likely be our future and could ensure the success of the mission and/or settlement


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Change Continued

  • Freud did not believe that individuals that are post-45 were good candidates for therapy

  • He believed they could change but that it was financially unrealistic

  • All adults may need to be screened more carefully as it may be more difficult for them to adapt


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Wisdom and IQ

  • IQ is felt to peak at roughly age 35

  • Wisdom can more than make up for the losses thereafter

  • All ages should therefore be considered as this is how we evolved in society, by giving and giving back as families to one another across generations


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Generating a Narrative

  • One of the best if not the best predictors of healthy psychological functioning and stability comes from those who can put together a balanced narrative of their lives

  • By understanding ones background and life story, by placing feelings and emotions with their actual events, and by processing this with grief as well as happiness, one comes to appreciate their integrated self. One can then begin to appreciate and address interpersonal functioning on a dyadic and group level

  • When to start?-all we have is now


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The Mars Settlement

Constructing a Narrative

The Beginning


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Bibliography

  • Reviewed roughly 300+ articles, letters, reviews, and analyses

  • Will generate an exacting, detailed paper with complete references if interested, or if felt to be helpful and/or applicable to the mission

  • My apologies for limited involvement thus far

  • Thanks for allowing me to present this to you

  • Email: [email protected]


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