Who, What, Why: How long will the miners' euphoria last?

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Image caption, Luis Urzua, the last Chilean miner to be rescued, displayed his joy on reaching the surface

Chile's rescued miners have surfaced on a wave of euphoria and hope for the future. But is it really possible to sustain this optimism?

For 69 days they had visualised their triumphant exit and, when it came, the reaction was understandably ecstatic.

But the Chile miners may soon find - as have so many others escaping from traumatic situations before them - that their hopes for the future and idealised visions of life beyond incarceration may be hard to live up to.

Dr James Thompson, a clinical psychologist at University College London, warns that the elation of escape is difficult to maintain for anyone in such a situation.

"They've kept themselves going with an idealised view of what freedom is about," he says.

"They're going to be very kind and loving to their families, they're going to appreciate the ordinary things of life, they're going to be different from the way they've been before.

"But after a week or two they begin to confront the usual challenges of life - family squabbles, things they have to get done. The thing to do would be to concentrate on the bonds with their families and to avoid, if they can, all the questions and the pushing and shoving they're going to get from us in the outside world."

There is little doubt that plans for a life beyond the walls of the mine were an important coping mechanism for the miners.

In a video call while underground, one of the men, Esteban Rojas, who had married his wife in a civil ceremony 25 years previously, pledged to give her a church wedding "once and for all".

Another, Ariel Ticona, said he wanted to name his daughter Esperanza - Spanish for hope. Edison Pena described longing to see the sun.

Chile's president, Sebastian Pinera, said that the "miners are not the same people who got trapped", adding that by overcoming their ordeal they had transformed the entire nation, too.

But these expectations can exert pressures of their own.

"Most people caught up in danger, even a deep hole in the ground, think of their loved ones and try to assuage their grief and anguish," wrote Brian Keenan, who spent four-and-a-half years as a hostage in Beirut, in an article for the Daily Telegraph.

"Hope is what you hold onto. It is a rope that will haul someone up." But he warned that any "initial euphoria will be hard to sustain".

Another former hostage, Terry Waite, has argued that one of the most important tasks for anyone in such a situation is to "somehow discipline your imagination".

The miners may be heroes now, but may find it difficult to cope when the public's interest fades - as Natascha Kampusch, who was kept captive by a kidnapper in Austria for eight years, has observed.

"I knew, when I was in the dungeon, that the story would make me famous, but I thought it would be a more positive experience, like winning the Olympics," she told the Guardian. "You're in the media once, people admire you, and then it's over and done with."

Dr Lesley Perman-Kerr, a a chartered psychologist who has counselled ex-hostages and victims of post-traumatic stress disorder, says there are physiological reasons, too, why elation can be damaging.

She says waves of adrenaline can affect the hippocampus, the part of the brain which processes memory, which in turn slows down mental functions.

This, she says, can take about a month to repair - but requires a peaceful, relaxed environment, something on which not all trauma survivors can depend.

"Often people can have quite a crash, psychologically speaking, in these situations," she says.

"Idealism sustains you - you're going to have this great life and do these wonderful things when it's all over. So they become very disappointed with their lives because these things don't happen.

"What's definitely in the miners' favour is that there are so many of them - they seem like quite a cohesive group and each of them will have other people who understand what they went through."