Survival Mentality: The Psychology of Staying Alive

Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very good! I've always been fascinated with stories of survival and have wondered how I would fair in such situations. Dr. Zarse's course gave me some great things to think about and practice. The highlights for me were her case studies. Still, I wished she had had even more case studies about "regular" people who didn't already have specialized (e.g., military, law enforcement, and fire) training. Additional regular-people case studies would have supported her assertions that most people have skills and qualities they can draw from in a crisis. There were also some times when I wanted more explanation about how to develop specific qualities and skills, rather than just hearing Dr. Zarse say over and over that those qualities and skills are important. Still, I would definitely recommend this course.
Date published: 2020-12-24
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Survival Mentality and other current courses Audio versions appear to no longer be available from the teaching company, only through Audible for a monthly fee. The video courses rarely get watched as I listen in my car while driving . If the courses are not available from you in audio then I will need to stop getting courses from you. Over the years I have purchased 300-400 courses from you but this may be coming to an end,
Date published: 2020-12-20
Rated 1 out of 5 by from I bought this this week, and it is the only Great Course that I have been completely unsatisfied with. Wish I could get my money back. Will not finish the course. It is mostly a waste of time.
Date published: 2020-12-19
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not what I hoped for Too much story telling about trained individuals successfully dealing with critical situations and no practical instructions for an average person. I hoped for: pay attention to this and that, practice this and that, make sure you have with you this and that etc., but unfortunately this course didn't teach me how to behave and what to do in critical situations.
Date published: 2020-12-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Mind Over Crisis, You Can Handle It! This course wasn't at all what I was so much better! it's one thing to give you situations and tell you how to handle them, but this course truly gave you exactly what the title said, a survival mentality. This mentality will carry me through many every day situations, not just one that is life and death.
Date published: 2020-11-25
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Refresher on an Important Topc I bought the course because it is a topic of interest and it was on sale. I have an extensive background in special operations, so much of it was familiar, but still a great refresher. I would certainly recommend this to a novice in the field, and even old hands will find the refresher useful. I would have liked to have seen more scientific insights on the chemical reactions in our body to stress and how they impact our vision, thoughts, etc.
Date published: 2020-09-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Advice for All - If You Can Take It This is a worthwhile course for everyone - short, well-organized, with a clear and focused presentation, on a fascinating topic that may literally, for some, be lifesaving. Professor Zarse brings both academic expertise and relevant personal experience, and speaks with a forceful and enthusiastic tone which is appropriate given her topic. It is as if she is trying to be sure you are taking her seriously. She grants that the events she is preparing us for may well never happen to most of us, but if an emergency or life-threatening situation is indeed before us, it would be extremely helpful to follow the advice she provides. Perhaps the key to her recommendations is to maintain what she calls an inner locus of control - thinking and believing "I can deal with this" and determining what is the best course of action to take, rather than to give in to fate and the attitude of "I'm overwhelmed" and "there's nothing I can do." The one missing piece - which may not exist - is a proven plan for how to actually maintain an internal locus of control in the face of an extreme or life-threatening emergency. It's crucial to be aware of all that is taught here, which is why this course has my highest recommendation. Putting it into practice, however, may require inherent personality characteristics that are more developed than learned. But learning is certainly a crucial step. The video was helpful in allowing our professor's communicative facial expressions to have a motivating effect, but the audio would be almost as good. And the Course Guidebook is concise and well-done. So, again - my highest recommendation for everyone, with the caveat that once you have processed the information you must still prepare yourself by yourself.
Date published: 2020-09-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Lots to reflect on Another reviewer said the course was not relevant to normal people. I was in two very bad situations and looking back I now see how my skills saved me. The first was escaping a stalker. I trusted my gut and ran when I was out of view. I did not look back until I could do it through shop windows that made me invisible to him. The second I was attacked in Italy and the man tried to shove me into his car. I screamed at the top of my lungs and scratched him as I had used that in fights I had gotten into young, yes I fought dirty. He dropped me in shock and I ran. I had his skin under my nails later. I am wondering how preventing young kids from fighting and protecting them from bullies will strengthen them for later life. Due to my experiences all my kids did years of martial arts, but I had to use my wits. At the time I was just angry and fear did not kick in until I was safe. I am very situationally aware and this does not take special skills. What I did look at was maintaining long-term fitness through things like hiking and yoga not just for health, but for potential survival. I am also looking at taking CCW classes. This is not just for professionals and elites. My two bad situations were before I started to exercise in my mid 20's and I am more fit today in my 50's
Date published: 2020-09-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great stories! Interesting material and compelling stories. Applies to survival and to everyday life.
Date published: 2020-09-09
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Not for everyperson This course should be titled "Survival Mentality for 'Cops,' Military Personnel, and Elite Athletes." Nearly every example of situation, training, and response comes from someone who's in one (or often more--it gets old when the "by the way, he was also a division 1 soccer player" gets dropped time and time again). Of course these folks have specialized training to work with as they face hostage situations, etc. While dependent-clause nods to the rest of us are made (flute players know how to control their breath!), the contexts are usually things the rest of us will never see--being shot at by a robbery subject and recalling specific ballistics training. Sure, I understand the internal locus of control thing, and I have that--but that wouldn't have helped me in essentially ANY of the situations presented. I was hoping for practical help with particular kinds of everyday survival situations (as the cover seems to promise). Also, the teacher's voice seemed extremely irritating to me--deliberate tough-girl pose that was mannered and arch at the same time.
Date published: 2020-09-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Everyone needs this I give it a five due to the material being what everyone needs. It is a great course - the material is material that you can gain over a life experience so I would suggest that if you are older and have been there and done that to use this as a refresher - if you are young, dive into it.
Date published: 2020-08-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Should be required in jr high. Amazing! Useful information that makes a difference 5 seconds after learning. The instructor is absolutely amazing!
Date published: 2020-08-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Worth purchasing This course was engaging and easy to watch/listen. I liked the fact that the lecturer stayed put and the camera didn't jump about. I felt the lectures were well focussed and informative and I intend to revisit this course every couple of years. I'm a person who reads my printout of "what to do in an air crash" and "what to do in a hotel fire" before going on holiday not because I expect the plane to crash or the hotel to catch on fire but to remind myself of what to do if either event occurs. This upsets some of my friends who don't like to think of these things. Watching this course reinforced my view that our life skills we already have can help us in an emergency and any increase in our knowledge may prove valuable in a life or death situation. A fact borne out in a recent news item where a child survived being washed out to sea because he remembered the advice he saw on a TV program to lie on your back and act like a starfish and didn't panic.
Date published: 2020-08-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Thought provoking Interesting with many excellent illustrations. Preparation and training proves to be much more important than rising to the occasion.
Date published: 2020-08-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Ponder your proximity and potentials. This course lead me to think deeply about how “threats” and “external input” have been allowed prioritization over individual control and personal responsibility. Of much use whether awake or, likely, dreaming of options. I recommend this course!
Date published: 2020-08-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Gruesome WARNING: This course contains graphic descriptions and images of violence. These are necessary as illustrations to convey the course material. This course material is VERY difficult to deal with. This course has only 12 lectures instead of the more normal 24 lectures. Dr. Zarse, a forensic psychologist who has worked with law enforcement agencies including the Bureau of Prisons, brings her experience to bear on how to prepare for the worst life-threatening experiences including shoot-outs and extreme natural disasters. She discusses how to prepare for such events and how to manage oneself during such events. I just hope that this course proves to be needless for me. Dr. Zarse is serious and somber but effective. She uses excellent illustrations, including personal experiences, frequently and effectively. I used the video version of this course. It would not have been as effective to use only audio.
Date published: 2020-07-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Didn’t expect it to be this great She has reaffirmed all that I have been taught, but never put into practice. Now, after listening to her lectures and correlating then with my profession, my perspective has changed. Don’t give up means just that! Don’t!
Date published: 2020-07-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent course Wonderfully clear and insightful presentation of key elements of surviving traumatic events
Date published: 2020-07-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful Resource!! I have often thought about a course like this and if this could be new "Great Couse" and here it is. Wonderful resource and a very useful tool for any family especially in these trying times!
Date published: 2020-07-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing Course! Take this course! I am serious - take this course, you will not regret it. Not only is the information relevant and interesting, but the content delivery by Dr. Zarse is very well done. Dr. Zarse teaches in a way that is relateable to professionals in the field of psychology/law enforcement and also to people who are simply curious about the topic. I would love to listen to more psychology courses from this professor. 10/10 would recommend taking this course.
Date published: 2020-07-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Course! Professor Zarse is a very engaging instructor; to the point, well spoken and extremely knowledgeable on the subject matter. I have enjoyed this course tremendously and learned many valuable things about myself, and how my own past experiences can help in current crisis situations. She tells great stories which put a practical application to survival, rather than just theory. This course couldn't have come at a better time, given the current state of the world.
Date published: 2020-07-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from YES, I NEED TO SURVIVE The lecturer was excellent in her delivery. While many of the how-to survival examples she gave focused on the training individuals already had in their background that helped them, e.g., being a swimmer, a firefighter, a policeman, etc., in the beginning, I kept wondering how someone like myself without any specialty background training could relate to this course. What could I use that would help me? Nevertheless, I hung in, and it was worth it; especially, when I arrived at Lecture 6 and from there on. I came away understanding that while I had no expert training background in anything, my picturing dangerous situations ahead of time and imagining ideas on what I could do would ensure my survival. The possible scenarios I played out in my head and what I would do were all the more successful because of listening to everything the course supplied.
Date published: 2020-07-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of the best courses on survival This was an outstanding course. Delivery was excellent and kept my attention throughout. The topics/discussion were on point and I particularly enjoyed the personal stories. I highly recommend this course for anyone interested in attaining a basic survival mentality.
Date published: 2020-06-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outstanding Course! I cannot say enough good things about this course and instructor. Professor Nancy Zarse is a star in every sense of the word, and the thought and work she put into developing and delivering this course are very evident. It is one of the best and most useful courses I have ever taken and I recommend it most highly. The life lessons put forward in the course go far beyond survival.
Date published: 2020-06-21
  • y_2021, m_4, d_19, h_17
  • bvseo_bulk, prod_bvrr, vn_bulk_3.0.14
  • cp_2, bvpage2n
  • co_hasreviews, tv_1, tr_32
  • loc_en_CA, sid_2650, prod, sort_[SortEntry(order=SUBMISSION_TIME, direction=DESCENDING)]
  • clientName_teachco
  • bvseo_sdk, p_sdk, 3.2.1
  • CLOUD, getReviews, 6.52ms
Survival Mentality: The Psychology of Staying Alive
Course Trailer
What It Means to Survive
1: What It Means to Survive

Surviving a crisis requires successfully navigating both the event itself and the elements you bring with you to the event. Learn why the specific words you use during the crisis—whether thought or spoken—can make a significant difference in your survival.

25 min
Developing an Internal Locus of Control
2: Developing an Internal Locus of Control

Discover why having an internal locus of control will help you in a crisis—as well as, at work, in relationships, and even with your health. You’ll be better able to adapt your coping strategies to the crisis at hand, learn new strategies as necessary, and anticipate and prepare for problems.

37 min
Listening to Your Instincts
3: Listening to Your Instincts

Your instincts exist for only one purpose: to help you survive. And yet, we disregard our instincts over and over. Understand how you can better recognize and use your instincts, while always distinguishing between instinct, impulse, and feelings.

28 min
Listening to Your Intuitions
4: Listening to Your Intuitions

Your intuitions occur without conscious thought or choice. But unlike instinct, your intuitions are the result of all your life experiences, forming a set of expectations about the world, within a region of the brain that acts without conscious thought. Learn how to strengthen your intuition so you can better trust it in a crisis.

26 min
Managing Your Emotions under Threat
5: Managing Your Emotions under Threat

The ability to manage your emotions is absolutely crucial in an emergency; the higher your emotional arousal, the worse your judgment. Professor Zarse presents several strategies that can help you to best manage your emotions in a crisis and allow you to focus on making appropriate decisions under extreme pressure—potentially life-or-death decisions.

37 min
How Everyday Experience Prepares You for Crisis
6: How Everyday Experience Prepares You for Crisis

While you might not realize it, each of us has training and experience that we can bring to bear in a critical incident. Learn to identify your skills and abilities that will help you survive in an emergency. Consider the skills you can develop now to be better prepared for a future challenge.

30 min
Making Decisions under Pressure
7: Making Decisions under Pressure

How do you make rapid, accurate decisions in stressful situations when the stakes couldn’t be higher? Explore the differences between natural, recognition-primed, and pre-playing decision-making, and discover why a psychologically safe environment leads to richer learning and to making the best possible decisions during a crisis.

28 min
Developing Situational Awareness
8: Developing Situational Awareness

You are already constantly collecting information about your surroundings, both consciously and unconsciously. Master the OODA loop to improve your situational awareness—observe, orient, decide, and act. Originally developed for use in the military, this protocol can increase your chances of surviving a critical incident.

28 min
Perseverance toward a Positive Outcome
9: Perseverance toward a Positive Outcome

In critical incidents, perseverance often makes the difference between those who survive and those who don’t. Explore the factors that contribute to perseverance, from grit to attention control to self-confidence. Learn how to improve your mental conditioning and why it might be your most important survival preparation.

31 min
Protective Factors That Increase Your Odds
10: Protective Factors That Increase Your Odds

A variety of surprising factors can work in your favor when you find yourself in a crisis—surprising only because we don’t tend to think of them as survival tools. See how community involvement and a robust social network can help you navigate emergencies as they insulate you against stress and trauma.

22 min
Resilience in the Aftermath of Trauma
11: Resilience in the Aftermath of Trauma

What happens after you live through an emergency in which your life was on the line? While physical injuries are obvious, unseen psychological injuries can be devastating. But what about people who not only survive a crisis, but thrive? Learn about the inspiring experience of post-traumatic growth, and what those survivors have in common.

27 min
We Survive Together: The Power of Community
12: We Survive Together: The Power of Community

Not all life-or-death situations are experienced at an individual level; some occur at a community or national level. Learn how leadership, preparedness, and relationships can make the difference in whether or not a community, or an entire country, survives an existential or real-life crisis and thrives in the aftermath.

33 min
Nancy Zarse

Join me as we learn what it means to have a survival mentality, and how you can develop yours to be as prepared as possible when it matters most.


The Chicago School of Professional Psychology


The Chicago School of Professional Psychology

About Nancy Zarse

Nancy Zarse is a Professor of Forensic Psychology at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, where she also received her PsyD. She is the lead faculty for such classes as Violence and Risk Assessment, Psychology of Terrorism, and Hostage Negotiation. She also developed a course on Israel, focusing on terrorism, trauma, and resilience, culminating in a 10-day study abroad trip, which she has led for eight years.


Professor Zarse specializes in the prevention, identification, assessment, and management of risk of violence. She serves as an industry expert on violence prevention for global corporations, national companies, and school districts. Professor Zarse worked as a consultant to the FBI’s Countering Violent Extremism program with secret clearance. She operated as one of three experts on a team awarded a sizable grant for countering violent extremism by the Department of Homeland Security. She is a member of the FBI’s Terrorism Liaison Officer Committee (law enforcement counterterrorism) and was appointed Sector Chief of Academia for the FBI’s InfraGard (private sector counterterrorism).


Professor Zarse worked as a forensic psychologist at several high-profile prisons, with previous positions including chief psychologist at two federal prisons and director of inmate administration at the United States Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, the maximum security military prison. Her responsibilities included performing psychological evaluations, assessing risk of violence, providing individual and group therapy, leading hostage negotiation teams, providing staff training, and conducting violation hearings for maximum security military prisoners.


Professor Zarse consults with and provides training to law enforcement agencies—such as the FBI, Los Alamos National Laboratory, US Army Military Police, police departments, and crisis negotiation associations—as well as schools, law firms, corporations, and legal agencies. She also sits on the board of directors for the Illinois Crisis Negotiators Association. Professor Zarse presents at national and international forums on assessing risk of violence, mental illness, terrorism, school and workplace violence, survival mindset, PTSD, dealing with trauma, resilience, hostage negotiation, interdisciplinary collaboration, suicide risk assessment, and stress management.


Professor Zarse has published articles on such topics as hostage negotiation, work stress, police values, police-citizen interactions, offenders, and political assassinations. She has provided expert commentary in media interviews, including on CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, and Fox as well as in Forbes magazine, The Washington Post, and the Chicago Tribune. She also has been featured in documentaries, such as White Supremacy: Going Under, and in the E! Investigates episodes “Kidnapping of Jaycee Dugard” and “Crime on Campus.”


From The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, Professor Zarse twice received both the Distinguished Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching and the Distinguished Faculty Award for Excellence in Public Service, in addition to the Distinguished Alumni Award. She was also twice selected as a Carnegie Scholar. 

Also By This Professor