Diseases COVID19: the emotional epidemic

COVID19: the emotional epidemic

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Beyond the terrible effects on our health, the coronavirus epidemic brings us psychological and social consequences. Fortunately, fear is not the only emotion that can rule us.

The whole world has been upset by the epidemic of COVID19, the coronavirus. More, the “developed” countries, but, in reality, the whole world. That is why it is worth reflecting a bit on some topics less taken into account by the media, the talkative community, the commentators and even the experts: the issues and issues of mental health and emotions in the case of epidemics. Because every biological epidemic also entails an “emotional epidemic” and a “social epidemic”.

The whole world has been upset by the epidemic of COVID19, the coronavirus. More, the “developed” countries, but, in reality, the whole world. That is why it is worth reflecting a bit on some topics less taken into account by the media, the talkative community, the commentators and even the experts: the issues and issues of mental health and emotions in the case of epidemics. Because every biological epidemic also entails an “emotional epidemic” and a “social epidemic”.

Apparently, and from what we know so far, the disease that gives rise to its name as an epidemic (the coronavirus disease-2019), is a relatively mild disease that manifests itself by cough, fever, general malaise and respiratory difficulties, and that only if there are other previous or concurrent pathologies can it be serious.

Yet perhaps as never in history, its global psychological and social repercussions seem greater (or, at least, better known) than ever. We come neurologically prepared for emotional communication: our brains and our psychology work by facilitating this massive transmission. And the existence of computerized social networks, the web, has only exponentially multiplied those emotional communication capacities of the species.

THE CORONAVIRUS WILL CHANGE THE WORLD VIEW

That is why the coronavirus crisis, apart from having made us aware of the reality of China as the first world power, forces us to rethink the planet and humanity as global, as a unitary whole.

Many thinkers these days have pondered this apparent paradox: less biohazard but greater social danger, even with the danger of a widespread economic recession. David Trueba, for example, proposed to fantasize about a global dystopia:

Imagine that the epidemic spread and that Europeans and North Americans wanted to flee from it, taking advantage of the apparent vulnerability of COVID-19 to heat, trying to enter the countries of the south. And if they then deny us entry, as we have been doing with them for decades? What if they put walls, concertinas, police, armies, howitzers, shots, concentration camps? What would become of us and our possessions, weapons, wealth, consumer goods, relationships, memories, history? With the aggravating factor, on top of that, they, to a large extent, flee from a social epidemic, not precisely biological, but directly caused by our “developed” countries: the weapons with which they kill and kill themselves, the weapons from which they flee. They are manufactured in our countries and contribute to our “well-being”.

But there is another difference between these epidemic and previous epidemics: that we can approach it with a different emotional and psychosocial perspective. Indeed, what contributes the most to the seriousness of this epidemic, what makes it a social crisis, is the emotional repercussion of it and how that emotional repercussion has invaded even those incorporeal but dominant entities that are “the markets” ( after all, organizations and human beings dedicated to finances and speculations related to them).

FEAR AND OTHER EMOTIONS DURING THE CORONAVIRUS EPIDEMIC

And, when it comes to emotions, today, as in previous epidemics, we tend to focus on fear, really one of the basic, genetically pre-programmed human emotions of the species. But today we know a little more about this topic, both from psychological and anthropological advances and from neuroscientific discoveries.

Today we know, for example, that there are at least six other different emotional systems of fear, and that in any situation of catastrophe, stress or grief all of them are set in motion. Let’s see them for COVID-19:

  1. Fear. We have been able to observe the start of fear and sometimes panic.
  2. Ira. But also anger (of some politicians towards others, of some citizens towards politicians or health workers, and of some citizens towards others, as can be seen in computerized social networks).
  3. Solidarity. We have been able to see outstanding flashes of the emotional system of solidarity, care and attachment (expansion of solidarity, attention to solidarity, dedication of health care professionals and other public workers).
  4. Possibly, we will see more and more sadness (because of what we lose, because of our previous mistakes, because of the “feet of clay” and the extreme vulnerability of part of our world).
  5. Wish. We will also be able to see (and enjoy) the delights of desire (after all, after every catastrophe or not very deadly social lockdown, nine months later there have been more births).
  6. Every day we see in action the emotional system of inquiry, the interest in knowledge (in scientific research, in the desire to know about the disease, the epidemic and the world in which it developed, what China really is like, how it is the world that surrounds us).
  7. We have even seen the emotional system of joy and play develop (humor regarding our situation, use of humor to expand solidarity as in numerous videos and communications on the web, possibilities for other forms of play and joy).

DEM: MASSIVE EMOTIONAL DIFFUSIONS

All of these massive emotional spreads are happening, and more than in other epidemics. In addition, we have more means, both conceptual and communication, to take this fact into account. It is therefore not useful to use stigmatizing terms such as “mass hysteria” and “social psychosis”.

We have to approach them as “massive emotional diffusions” (DEM), what we have called and studied as DEM, a subject in which precisely in Mediterranean countries we have a certain experience and renovating contributions based on phenomena of this type experienced in Barcelona and in another cities.

Using this other perspective can mean the possibility of preserving and developing mental health even in a crisis situation, such as the one we are undoubtedly experiencing.

For example, we must consider that the phrase “letting oneself be carried away by emotions” is not scientifically applicable in these cases at a social level, repeating over and over again that the population “is letting themselves be carried away by emotions”: it will be due to emotions “Unattached” (fear, anger) instead of by the binding.

Or not even that: the real problem is getting carried away by the manipulation of emotions. In reality, we all get carried away by emotions and more on a social level.

BOOST SOLIDARITY EMOTIONS IN THE FACE OF THE CORONAVIRUS

We are going to see some consequences. To guide the social response to the epidemic, communications, knowledge, and data are not enough. Cognitions are not enough. It is not enough to attack and criticize the “emotionality” (of others). This would be a first consequence.

We have to complement the use of cognitions, information, knowledge and data, with the use of bonding emotions, solidarity such as: attachment-care (the basis of solidarity), interest, desire, sadness for previous mistakes, joy and humor.

Perhaps that is more difficult than disseminating data and knowledge alone, but it is also more realistic, more effective, and more grounded in current scientific perspectives. This is well known, in a negative sense, by the habitual manipulators of public opinion and publicity in the mass media.

Bond in that regard, and not just out of fear. It is a good time to get closer to films (like HUMANA), games, books and audiovisuals that stimulate solidarity.

MindFixes Staffhttp://mindfixes.com
MindFixes is dedicated to promoting mental health, preventing mental disorders and advocating, educating, and serving all people with mental and substance use conditions. MindFixes is determined to persevere, learn, grow, love and laugh through our wellness journey and we invite all to join.

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