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Dangerous psychology- Diving beyond one's training

Discussion in 'Basic Scuba Discussions' started by tstormdiver, Nov 20, 2012.

  1. tstormdiver

    tstormdiver Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: Kentucky
    This thread is being started as I am trying to understand what goes through the minds of people, when they decide they are going to go beyond their level, without appropriate training.

    There is a current thread right now that has the general cave & diving community in general, advising against doing a cave dive (though very short) vs a diver who wants to make this dive & sees the cave diving community as elitist & the training as an inconvenience & overly expensive.

    Also I recently became aware of some divers that made some 200+ft bounce dives on air, in Mexico, with single cylinders & no training. Only 1 of those (open water) divers had more than 100 dives. They claimed that they planned it out by placing 32% deco bottles at 40 ft. At that depth,... not sure what what good that would have done at that PO2. That they came back unscathed has made them think that type of diving is "no big deal". Never mind that a little over a year ago, that same type of dive killed 1, paralyzed another & injured yet another.

    What I am struggling to understand is,..... what is actually going through their heads to want make or actually participate in such potentially dangerous dives. Especially when the pioneering of those dives has been done, the mistakes have been made & the loss of life has taken place. I am not talking minor excursions (though it usually leads to bigger excursions), I'm talking about inexperienced divers going massively beyond their training & into what is considered technical levels. Is it:
    -Peer pressure?
    -Forbidden fruit?
    -Thinking they are above the facts? (might fall in the bravado part)
    -Perhaps something I have not thought of?

    Now to set the record straight,... No, I am not perfect. Yes, I did 1 time go beyond my training by entering into Vortex's cave. I got enormously lucky & survived. The good point is, it rattled me enough to seek the proper training, to go further safely. What went through my head? First was curiosity. I just wanted to know. Next & the biggest was ignorance. If I had only known what could go wrong. If someone would have spoken to me, encouraged me as to why not to go, with examples, I would have certainly heeded. I did cave in to peer pressure. My buddy kept nudging me with hints & with reassurances that he had done that dive many times,... but when the doo doo flew, he abandoned me, freaked out. What I did was wrong, I learned my lesson well. I am much more cautious,.... maybe even too cautious at times.

    So in light of many saying that diving that far beyond their level of training, is a bad idea, why do some think they can beat the odds & ignore the advice?
  2. Wookie

    Wookie Secret Field Agent ScubaBoard Business Sponsor

    Tammy, I think that if you come to a full understanding of your conundrum, you will unlock man's psyche. All of the items you mention play a roll in making the choice to dive, drive, skydive, ride motorcycles, etc. beyond our limits. If we don't push ourselves, how will we know what can be accomplished? No record was ever set while sitting on a couch watching other folks push their own luck. Someone had to be first and someone had to develop training protocols for those who came after. Maybe those who reject training are trying to get a little bit of "coming first"...
  3. fjpatrum

    fjpatrum Loggerhead Turtle

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: DC area
    My question becomes: "What defines training and who gets to define it?" Is training just reading as much as possible or is it an absolute must that you find a paid instructor or more experienced mentor to learn?

    I tend to be one of those people who pushes the limits slightly but not in such exaggerated ways that will really put my chances of survival at even close to even. I learned rock climbing by leading my very first climb on a 5.8 pitch in the rain. Not typical but probably not life threatening. I just did my first dry suit dives this past weekend without finishing the course. (I did read the manual and have some mentors available though.) I won't ever be doing real caves or bounce dives (with or without training) though, because I have no need to push the envelope that much. I'm somewhere in the middle, mindset wise, of those who want an instructor holding their hand through every step and those who go out and try the most advanced dives after getting their OW card.

    Your example of the bounce divers shows my point. The divers said they planned the dive. They apparently considered the need for deco bottles and even used them (???) and completed the dive successfully. Yes, people will always disagree on the safety of such dives but clearly the divers performing them considered the dive and planned accordingly. What extra training is required for something like that? Does the number of previous dives really matter as long as the dive was planned and then dived according to the plan? (Yes I recognize the possibility of emergencies and survival of them changes with dives like this.)

    The mentality isn't necessarily about being a pioneer. If that was the case no one would ever repeat any dive, anywhere. Or climb any mountain that has already been climbed. It's about experiencing something you haven't. (Or about experiencing something that others haven't, if it's motivated more by ego than spiritual growth.) Just because you don't have that ego or spirit doesn't mean there's anything wrong with it. Someone has to have that spirit/ego to push us all to the next level.

    Also consider that the "odds" aren't really as bad as people think, statistically. More people survive those dives than die. Hence, the odds are actually in the diver's favor, even with the least amount of training.
  4. Superlyte27

    Superlyte27 Cave Instructor

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: Florida
    Bentley Hamm and JamesK like this.
  5. drbill

    drbill The Lorax for the Kelp Forest Scuba Legend

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: Santa Catalina Island, CA
    Of course these kinds of things happened during the early days of diving. I know plenty of people who broke the standards of "their training" (if indeed they had any back then). Today we know a lot more about diving and dive safety. Far more prudent to get adequate training for dives that involve hard or soft ceilings. I don't penetrate wrecks or caves myself and have no plans to, but I have done a lot of deep air diving (to a maximum depth of 200 ft).

    Why did I do it? As a scientist, I was curious about the effects of narcosis on my body. I wanted to see at what point I would feel my judgment was compromised. Over a period of two years, beginning with a series of progressively deeper dives over two months, I reached 200 ft for the first time and found that I was not overly affected by narcosis at that depth. I could easily locate, frame and follow subjects I was videotaping. As a videographer, I went to these depths to film for an episode I call "deep ecology."

    When I no longer needed to film at depth and had satisfied my scientific curiosity about narcosis, I stopped such dives and became a rather shallow fellow. Today I can get narced out of my gourd at depths within or close to the recreational limit.
  6. DA Aquamaster

    DA Aquamaster Directional Toast ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: NC
    The other factor that needs to be included is also experience. Training is fine, but it's largely useless without sufficient prior experience to fully benefit from the training, and then sufficient experience after the training to fully integrate what was learned in the training. And finally there is the need for progressive experience after the training to help you generalize what you learned in the training environment to the different real world environments that may be significantly different that what you trained in.

    I think the train starts to go off the rails when a diver thinks the training itself means anything and takes possession of a C-card as being the same thing as having the skills, knowledge and experience to properly and accurately assess the risks and his or her abilities prior to deciding whether he or she can safely do the dive.
  7. Jim Lapenta

    Jim Lapenta Dive Shop

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Canonsburg, Pa
    I think Frank has hit on some of it. From my observations there seem to be a few things at work here. And I know that some of my opinions are likely to piss some people off but too bad. It's what I see. Number one is this:

    No one has told them that that this is an extreme sport and people die doing it. The agencies try to insure that instructors make this all about fun, sun, safe, easy to do, anyone can do it, and put nothing in the materials that illustrate just how dangerous certain aspects of it are and what the actual outcomes can be.

    They say don't go into overheads and put an exclamation point at the end. Big friggin whoop! What they do not do is put a picture of a corpse just brought out of a cave or wreck to accompany it. They also do not prohibit OW instructors with no overhead training from taking divers into say the Ballroom at Ginnie or a swim through in Cozumel.

    Both of which say to the new diver the overhead rule is BS and it is just a suggestion that you really don't need to pay attention to. Just like leading divers single file on checkout swims says that the buddy system is horsecrap as well.

    Next is the failure of instructors to effectively communicate the dangers by telling the agencies to go to hell and showing pictures of dead divers who pushed too far too fast. They don't want to discourage people from taking up the sport so best not to scare anyone. When in fact that is exactly what should be done to some people.

    These two issues IMO demonstrate nothing more than greed.

    The next thing I see is, and this is very sexist, is that the majority of divers pushing the envelope are men. We have this innate need to show how big are cahoneys are to anyone that will look. Until something happens that makes them retreat up into the chest area and we wake up. For me it happened on dive number thirteen when I mistakenly trusted a DM to do the right thing and ended up out of air due to a faulty pressure gauge at 20 feet. Luckily the instructor was close enough as the DM was friggin useless.

    Many divers want to be cool. Challenging death gives them a rush. They forget that in the end death always wins. I've cheated death a number of times in different ways. But after one of those I made the decision that if it were to happen again it would be as the result of coming out of an accident alive. Not because I got lucky when doing something stupid.

    Ego is another thing that I seriously believe drives a few people to their deaths. Ten feet tall and bullet proof is the saying. Twenty and some thirty something young males filled with testosterone think they are immortal and have to prove it to others like them.

    And it's women also. The bounce dives in Mexico were for bragging rights and nothing more. And when someone dies doing something like that I have zero sympathy for them. Who my concern is for is the people they take resources away from who might need them due to an accident. When someone dies doing something stupid the rule should be - too bad. No recovery, no resources wasted on finding them, and bill their estate for any costs associated with any efforts.

    Then there is the subset of humans who are just not all there in common sense and intelligence. You can't tell them anything. They refuse to listen to reason and experience and are going to do whatever they want. Darwin takes care of them in some cases.

    And lastly what I see is those who are just cheap b#$$rds and will try to do everything as cheaply as possible. I don't like to spend a lot of money. I don't have a lot to spend anyway. But one goal I had was to to the Doria when I turned fifty. The plan was to get the training in a sensible manner over set time and make the dive. Well I'll be 53 in a couple months and still have not done it. It is kinda still on the list but things happened that made the funds for the training out of reach. And so rather than try to take shortcuts I had to adjust my goals and change them. I could likely have found bargain basement training to do it and maybe got there, but I have specific instructors and training in mind now that until I can afford them I'm not going to deviate from my path.

    That to me takes discipline. And having that is something society in general seriously lacks.
    New Scuba Guy, -hh, fdennis and 19 others like this.
  8. redacted

    redacted Guest

    For me, it was mostly an issue of not wasting time and money on mostly unnecessary and sometimes lacking training. After OW and my first trip[ to Cozumel, I had gone to a depth of over 60 ft and done a night dive. Oh, and I had not taken a drift diver course. I had a bit of experience operating in other environments at night so doing it UW was a rather tiny step. And 80 ft of gin clear water is not much of a push from 60 ft of 15 ft vis. And I had ridden on a tour bus before so the drift diving was another easy transition. Oh, in the same environments I learned to operate at night, I also developed some skills in navigation, both map and compass; so that was another easy transition.

    When I did seek a rescue course as I started to get into solo diving, the LDS insisted I need to take AOW and CPR as a prerequisite and O2 provider as part of the course; for an additional fee, of course. So the LDS earned none of my $$$ for their support and I continued with little steps. I did take a nitrox course once the AOW prerequisite was dropped. And I also ultimately took a solo course from SDI who credited me with AOW equivalent based on experience.

    If we were all strictly limited by the bounds of our training, how would we ever advance beyond established limits? Maybe I'm one of those cheap Ba$$tards. Or maybe I just don't like to throw $$ away. I would much rather spend it diving that on unnecessary training.

    If I ever want to branch out into an area that I think requires more training, then I will consider more training. Right now, I don't see that happening.
  9. beaverdivers

    beaverdivers ScubaBoard Business Sponsor ScubaBoard Business Sponsor

    Don't forget those classic Romeo and Juliet dives.
  10. flots am

    flots am Solo Diver

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Wherever you go in life, that's where you are.
    Training decreases the likelihood of you dying or being injured. There are no SCUBA Police (except in France) and you are welcome to do anything you want with or without training.

    However I will say that training makes the dives easier and safer and that, for example, I would much rather encounter a fully panicked diver after taking Stress & Rescue, than before.

    There are things that just don't go as well without training. For example, I don't think I ever had a better appreciation of "buddy distance" until my deco instructor sent me into the current for a few minutes around 100', then while I was sucking air like a shop-vac signalled that I was out of air.

    This is stuff that's much more useful (and safer) in a training environment than it would be if the first time it happened, it was real.

    Last edited: Nov 20, 2012
    marzum01 and beachleboe like this.

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