Personality Change after a life altering event?
February 2, 2010 6:55 AM Subscribe
Has anyone ever experienced a personality change after a life-endangering experience?
posted by dortmunder to Grab Bag (27 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Long story short, a little over a week ago the apartment building I was living in caught fire in the middle of the night. I woke up in plenty of time to grab some necessary items and get out, but the fire department wasn’t there yet, and one of my upstairs neighbors was not coming out of her apartment because she couldn’t find her cats. In order to get her to leave, I told her I’d look for her cats, even though I could see the back of her apartment was engulfed in flames and the front was filled with smoke. So, knowing I wouldn’t find a cat unless it jumped on my head, I ran in to get her to run out. It was a rather harrowing experience, and I didn’t get very far because I was afraid to lose sight of the door. Needless to say, I didn't find the cats.
Afterward, I found myself with this take charge disposition, doing everything from being the point of contact for the Red Cross to trying to make sure the leasing agents didn’t try to strong arm people into signing lease extensions while their possessions were still smoldering. The entire experience was very intense, and afterward I found myself acting differently than I usually do. I talked more. I was more assertive. I hit on strangers. I argued with my boss. I drank during the middle of the day. I don’t do these things. That’s not who I am. Generally, I’m very reserved, and I experience a lot of anxiety in situations I know are not really threatening at all, like say, asking women out on dates.
I have several questions about this experience:
1) Has anything similar happened to you? How long did it take to get back to normal?
2) Is there a name for this sort of thing?
3) How is it possible that I get horribly, terribly anxious at the thought of asking someone out or going to a party full of strangers, but I didn’t think twice about walking into a fire?