Who are preppers?

So who are preppers anyway?

Preppers are people who practice self sufficiency ready for government not saving them in a disaster.

The boundary between condoned and pathological prepping shifted with Brexit, when remainers went public with their food and medicine stockpiles, and again with Covid, when government told the public to stock up and hunker down. Other shocks have encouraged prepping, like World war II, the 2008 bank collapse and the 2011 riots.

They are not necessarily into survivalism as they may not be adventurous, nor into bushcraft as they may not be outdoorsmen or even outdoorsy. Food preservation is perhaps a sub-culture of prepping, with some into canning, pickling, dehydration and vacuum packing, whilst others just stockpile MREs and tins.

Academics have variously claimed preppers are men with rugged individualistic personality, a masculinity crisis and a bunker mentality. They certainly seem to obsess over preps and value what is valuable in a disaster even though it looks worthless in the present. Preppers are dismissed as waiting for a future that probably will not happen. Some are crafters who like adapting preps. Many are sceptical of bunkers as they are a big fixed investment that does not suit many scenarios. There may be a hierarchy of peppers from archair preppers through gear junkies to those who espouse redundancy and survival skills training. Ultimately preppers see capitalism and government failing when infrastructure collapses, so seek self sufficiency ready to usher in a type of pure, but only family-wide, communism in their own home on the basis of ‘to each according to their preparedness’. It has been suggested that preppers are ridiculed for challenging the assumption that capitalism will endure so there is nothing to prepare for.

A common thread is preppers do not trust government. It has been claimed that insufficiency of the welfare state drives some people to become preppers in reacting to previous or existing personal crises, often accompanied by hypervigilance following illness. Perhaps trauma often triggers it. It has been suggested that some arrive at prepping from a nihilistic delusion caused by PTSD.

One suspects preppers are more likely to be high on conscientiousness, low on agreeableness, high on neurotism, low on openness and low on extroversion, none of which are disorders, but preppers probably sit on that side of those personality continuums. In that case it would make sense that people with such brain chemistry have the discipline and organisation to prep, to not trust the government or blindly go along with whatever they say, and to be more comfortable with solitude, whilst disagreeableness would explain some of the preponderance of men in the prepper community. If it is right then preppers tend to be the persistent, resourceful, proactive skilful trustworthy guys you need in a crisis, although they would not be big on empathy or altruism, so maybe not the best relationship builders for prepping communities. However, those who are tend to be too loud when it comes to opsec.

The problem would be with neuroticism, as those who worry enough to prep would presumably also tend to be moody, anxious and insecure, and so less mentally resilient and less willing to fight the necessary battles when SHTF. Perhaps surprisingly, creatives who like hobbies and making stuff tend to be liberals, whereas one could be forgiven for thinking preppers tend towards conservatism. Another mystery is that those high on conscientiousness that helps them be preppers tend to be slightly higher on agreeableness (and so more likely to trust government) and lower on neurotism (and so less likely to fear doomsday or to be depressed).

It seems then that there cannot be a typical prepper, but one thing for sure is that prepping needs a mix of personalities, certainly to include creativity, persistence, planning, tact, calm, confidence and cheerfulness.

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