August 30, 2019, The Ryder expedition.
I have just scrapped my hypothesis. My theories are wrong. The paper I have been working on since 1991 will never be published. I am devastated. I don’t know where I stand. I have studied expedition psychology all these years. To what use now when all my findings are contradicted by this cruise? I mapped the psychology stages all these years. I thought I found the basic stages. Weaker on some cruises but stronger on some. But you can always find phases that in their pure exaggeration can be described as:
- Phase one – the bonding phase
At the start of an expedition, we have the bonding phase. All these new relations to be sorted out. It´s the friendly phase. Everybody is open. Offering their help. To work together. To share data. To help. To share space. This phase lasts for up to 30 days. At the end of the bonding phase, ambition in friendliness is gradually decreasing. The smiles drop down. Sharing is less. Help is not offered. Openness is gone.
- Phase two – the conflict phase
After the friendly phase, things start to dramatically change. Positioning stars. Ownership of space, data, manpower, etc. is increasingly important. Hierarchies build. Groups of allies form. People have worked day and night so far and tiredness creeps in. Hostile manoeuvres are noticed. Obstruction and contradicting plans and ideas. My project before their project. Tension builds. Conversations fade out.
This phase goes on for up to 5-10 days. It’s building up to war onboard.
- Phase three – the crash
When the war breaks out it´s not reversible. War starts in one place but soon it spreads. Full frontal. Everywhere, cells of aggression fire up. And then suddenly, when the “truth” has been told, calmness comes suddenly, as suddenly as when the war started. Phase three is short in time, a day normally.
- Phase four – reconstruction.
The war has caused damages and losses. Alliances were broken. Hierarchies too. Back to phase one really. Rebuilding the structures. Friends again? Openness is back. Sharing work. There is space again. Stabilisation. Rock solid. Nothing can turn the new order, the new society over. We have a reliable peace onboard. This peace can last forever. Expedition can go on forever. We are unbeatable.
- Phase five – the disconnection phase
We are soon coming home. Soon we will leave the ship. Contacts with the world increases. Interest in home becomes part of the day. Plans for coming home comes to life again. Things buried deep after having been outside the living world emerges to the surface. The urge for news from home. Minds drift away to what’s to the future beyond this. And when we get to land it all breaks up. Groups will meet further to finish the job. Write the papers, do the graphs, sort the data. Never will all meet again. Some will meet. Perhaps on a new cruise. And start at phase one again.
The best cruise ever
But this does not fit into my previous data set. The last cruise in 2015 did not follow the pattern fully either. Where did I go wrong? What did I misinterpret and miss? I was so eager to follow my curves. But my paper is now gone. This cruise did not follow the phases, nor 2015. Can it be Greenland? We never left phase one, or did we move directly to phase three? A new group of people, a new cruise all in phase one or three or whatever. I do not understand. To solve this, I need more data. More expeditions. But time is running out. A 25 year paper that never will be finished? We only had phase one and three – and it´s so pleasant. The best cruise ever we always say, but this time it’s true again.
Text av: Ulf Hedman