Essay on Psychological Elements Throughout David Cicotello Case

Psychology is jarringly relevant everywhere, even in a remote slot canyon in southern Utah, where David Cicotello was left stranded on a ledge for six days after his brother fell while rappelling down the canyon. For example, when Cicotello’s brother fell, he was left in an incredibly intense, dangerous, and emotional situation. In his own words, he had three choices: freeze, fight, or flight. In order to survive, Cicotello’s sympathetic nervous system activated as he settled on the “fight” response. His body would decrease salivation, increase heart rate, decrease digestive function, and inhibit bladder contraction as a response to the stress, which would ultimately help him survive with so little for so long. There were many other psychological elements present in Cicotello’s journey, as he faced stressors of many kinds before and after being rescued.   

On the ledge, Cicotello faced not only physical challenges, but also multiple psychological ones. For example, Cicotello only ever took brief naps, which he described as “intermittent and stressful,” and he never was able to reach REM sleep. This is bad because, without REM sleep, the body does not get rest and the mind does not have a chance to process what memories it had formed during the day. Additionally, Cicotello had very little food and water. Though did a very good job of rationing it to last him for the six days, he acknowledged that this was difficult, and he found himself wanting to guzzle his sweet tea. This is because of a combination of the drive reduction and cognitive dissonance theories. The drive reduction theory says that a need, such as Cicotello’s need for water, leads to a drive, or his thirst. In a normal situation, this need would be fulfilled by drinking water. However, Cicatello could not drink, and this led to a disruption in homeostasis. Because of this imbalance, Cicatello also bore the psychological burden of cognitive dissonance on top of the physical dehydration.    

When he returned home, psychology was ubiquitous in Cicotello’s recovery. Cicotello’s doctor, likely a psychiatrist, because he or she was able to prescribe medicine dealing with a mental health issue, prescribed him medication to help him deal with his grief. Cicotello also mentioned that his therapist recommended him to write to his brother to help him work through his grief, which aligns with the advice of many counseling psychologists, who focus on helping people work through mental illness and trauma. Cicotello’s preist was also a great help to him during his recovery. Spirituality is a good way to find comfort during hard times, and rituals like praying are healthy coping strategies. Cicotello’s diverse team of people helping him after such a traumatizing event each brought different advantages, which helped him feel normal faster. This is in accordance with the eclectic view, or the idea that there is no one correct perspective in psychology.    

To conclude, there were many psychological elements present in Cicotello’s life, including stressors while on the ledge and coping mechanisms after he was rescued. Psychology is prominent throughout our lives, but especially in stressful situations like Cicotello’s.



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