Psychological aspects

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A stay under water is instinctively classified by the human psyche as a dangerous situation. Even if you may not be aware of this directly, you should be aware of the psychological aspects of diving and its possible consequences.

Basic knowledge for Open Water Diver* (OWD*)

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Almost all diving incidents involve fear and panic. So it's amazing that there is no underwater hand signal for I am scared!. This probably has something to do with the macho image, which unfortunately still adheres to diving. An experienced diving instructor or buddy can only recognize fear from the behavior or the fixed gaze of his diving partner.

Anxiety is an emotional state, an innate, instinctive reaction to external influences that cannot be assessed immediately. It is perfectly normal and protects against rash actions. Anxiety always arises when a situation is new and unknown. This is often the case during the first dives and when incidents occur. It starts with restlessness, stress, fear and, in the worst case, ends in panic.

The fear must not be concealed, dubbed or denied, only in this way can the diving instructor or the diving partner prepare for possible problems. Absolute honesty is required. First measures should be: Calm down, concentrate on breathing, notify diving partners, recognize triggers of fear and seek hand contact.


If an emerging fear cannot be overcome under water, it leads to panic. Panic is a irrational escape from the supposed danger projected by the brain. Logical actions, such as dropping the weight belt or inflating the BCD are no longer possible. Accident investigations show that almost all fatally injured divers have panicked to the fatal end.

The first measures must are identical to upcoming fear. Concentrate on breathing, notify diving partners, identify triggers for panic and seek hand contact. The best way, to avoid panic is next to a trustworthy dive buddy, a good dive planning and much experience under often changing conditions. This is the only way to push the panic limit further.

Peer pressure

Diving is a sport with each other and not against each other. This requires absolute honesty from all group members. The problem is that most people don't like to admit weaknesses, especially not to other people who are also diving partners. The task within the group should be to recognize weaknesses of a partner and to encourage them to overcome them with partner help. It is important to avoid that a group member feels pressured and takes risks that can endanger him and the group. The macho sentence You don't dare?! should actually be punished with a diving ban.

When diving, the principle applies: The weakest determines the dive! So do not be persuaded by the group or group members to go on dives that you do not feel comfortable with, are concerned or afraid of. Express your concerns at the briefing and skip the dive if, contrary to expectations, your group members do not respond to you accordingly. Do a dive only if you feel absolutely safe and comfortable.