Survival Expert James Mandeville
Many years experience in difficult terrain, notably the Amazon, the African bush and climbing in various mountain regions including the Drakensburg Mountains and the Andes; in all these places my survival knowledge has proved to be invaluable.
About the Survival Expert website
My mission is to pass on my survival knowledge through my writing to help and encourage others. However much you think you know about survival there is always more to learn, so you should read everything you can on the subject, I hope the free articles on this site are an inspiration and education to those interested in survival.
My interest in survival
It's no cliché to claim I have been interested in the challenge of survival for most of my life. My grandparents raised me and what a treasure they were. James, my Grandfather (I was named after him), was my hero. Many years a soldier serving in Africa and India with the 93rd Sutherland Highlanders, his store of knowledge, not to mention the thrilling tales he could tell, definitely instilled in me a thirst for adventure and a curiosity about how things worked and a desire to visit foreign lands.
Isobel, my Grandmother, seemingly knew everything about the local plants, what could be eaten and how they could be used for healing. Living as we did on a small Hebridean island I grew up being resourceful. Everyone had to make do with what they had and being resourceful is so deeply ingrained in my psyche that I often look around at the trappings of modern life and wonder if we really need most of the things we regard as everyday necessities.
Out in nature, in the wilderness or in forest, I am constantly overawed at how almost everything we need to survive — live — is provided for us if only one knows where to look and what to do. Whether you believe in The Creation or in evolution, mankind was designed to live in harmony with this world, our problem for the greater part is that we have forgotten how to harness what is around us. We have grown soft and dependent upon easy sources of food, water and shelter. In a survival situation one is jerked back to a harsh reality because we no longer know how to survive; we have lost the skills even our Great Grandparents had. Stripped of our level of comfort and artificial support systems it is easy to panic, despair and ultimately to just sit down and die — tragically, because often, survival is possible if only one has the right knowledge and the will to survive. My upbringing was a good grounding for what unfolded in the life that lay ahead of me.
My Grandfather, James, was fond of saying that life didn't come with an instruction book. "Survival" is a vast subject ranging from just getting through a normal day to pitting oneself against everything nature can throw at one in an extreme situation.
Am I a survival expert? Well, I've survived a long time so that counts for something and I know more about the subject than most, so that is a factor too! Of course, no one knows everything and we are all on a constant learning curve. It is absolutely true that the more you know about survival the better chance one has of doing the right thing if faced with a threatening situation. A true survivor should learn everything he or she can about survival because there is no substitute for practical experience. Trying out survival skills is essential so one knows how to use them if the need arises. Survival knowledge must be on the backbone because there is rarely time to sit down and read a survival guide if you are in the middle of the real thing!
I refined my extreme survival skills in the jungles of Belize and in Brunei, in the Namib Desert and in the mountains of Kenya and South Africa. I developed these survival skills in Europe, the African bush, the Scandinavian Arctic, in the Caribbean and through everyday life experience. I have survived drought and flooding, injury, getting lost in the jungle, an attack by starving lions, cerebral malaria and a tropical cyclone. So I guess I've had my fair share of survival experiences — time will tell!
We all learn from each other, and every person's life experience is just as valuable as the next person's life experience. I created Survival Expert to share my knowledge as a psychologist, survival expert and a fellow human being. We no longer live in tribes where survival knowledge is passed down through the generations. In modern times, we commit our knowledge to books and I think it important that survival knowledge is not lost just because we (in the West) live in soft times of plenty. I wrote survival books initially to help military personnel who had not undergone elite survival training to understand what they will experience both physically and psychologically in a survival situation and in the aftermath of a disaster. This concept was expanded to include survival in civilian situations, initially for the families of those serving but of course for anyone interested in learning survival skills. People with the best chance of surviving anything are those who know their own psychology is in order and have an in–depth knowledge of how to survive anywhere; I firmly believe this to be true.
We carry the same personal psychology with us into a survival situation that we had before life suddenly turned upside down. Few people really know themselves unless they have considerable life experience, have put themselves to the test or been tested by life, and ideally have undergone therapy to deal with the psychological baggage that we all carry with us. From my many years as a survival instructor I know that the person who will win through any challenge, however demanding, is the one in control of his or her own psychology. However knowledgeable, tough or fit you are, unless you understand how you are most likely to think and react in a survival situation, you are at an enormous disadvantage should the worst happen to you.
Unless you practice survival skills such knowledge is passive and you may end up trying out things for the first time when disaster happens for real. The first few choices you make will probably mean the difference between life and death so you need to focus and think carefully before deciding on a course of action. The more skilled you are in basic survival, the greater your chances of actually surviving.