Our psychological responses towards the COVID-19 pandemic

by Pooja Mukherjee
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This is the first global pandemic that we are facing. What we are fighting may seem new to all of us, but history proves to us that humanity has been challenged time and again and we have come out of it victorious, in one way or the other. The Spanish flu of 1918 and the cholera pandemic had created a significant impact during its time, both on the economy of largely populated countries, and the psychological behaviors of millions who lived through it. 

Coming back to 2020, the breakout of the global pandemic had mixed reactions at first. While cross-cultural blaming was at the peak during the initial days, we have slowly accepted the fact the spread of the pandemic depends on our actions. Just like the last Spanish flu pandemic, countries are on the verge of holding each other responsible for something which, at the end of the day, is not in our hands. We have to accept the fact that a virus is attacking humanity at a staggering pace, and we can only fight it with cooperation and empathy towards each other. 

But with different people come from varied opinions. While researchers are trying to figure out scientific inventions to fight the pandemic, we are still coping with the fear of the unknown. It has developed a social stigma against patients of COVID-19, as well as the public health workers who are acting upon their oath to serve people and doing their duty at the forefront of the resistance. While the development of vaccinations and testing-kits are undergoing full-force, the alternative psychology towards fighting the pandemic is worrying, to say the least.

A stark example of the lack of awareness about the pandemic was U.S President Donald Trump’s remark of injecting a form of medicinal disinfectant inside COVID-19 patients, to kill the virus apparently. While the idea seems fantastical, it highlights how the president of a superpower country still hasn’t grasped the gravity of the situation. 

The same president also observed that the pandemic will go away on its own, “like a miracle,” during the hot summers. The United States of America has already crossed the 1 million mark of the total number of coronavirus cases, and with a death toll of more than 72,000, we can come to the conclusion that their approach towards fighting the virus is baffling, to say the least.

Moreover, the individual psychology towards assessing a pandemic has made us realize that we are not united in essence or logic while fighting COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC believes that how different people, belonging to varied cultures, countries, race or age, behave differently while responding to a global pandemic. There are different aspects of positive psychology which are coming up as a coping mechanism amidst the unknown repercussions of the pandemic, but most of the time, they are not backed by logical explanations. 

We can observe how some people are supporting the theory of “herd immunity”, hoping that if the virus spreads to at least 50% of the global population, the acquired immunity would restrict the spread of COVID-19. But this seems like an unconventional and morbid solution to our problems. 

If we look at the bigger picture, then losing lives to save the planet may seem like a brave decision to take, but the underlying mental effects of losing your loved ones to the pandemic can create psychological challenges for generations to come. Anxiety, PTSD, depression and distress are common emotional ailments which are delving into our consciousness with each passing day.

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Another psychological reaction towards the pandemic takes a realistic approach, but one cannot miss the stark nihilism in the undertones of the argument. The human kind is slowly accepting its fate, and coming to the conclusion, that maybe it was meant to be, and that the dire situation we are in is a result of God’s wrath. The millennial generation is especially under the impression that if death is evident for all, then the virus shouldn’t make a difference as such. 

Amidst the psychological approaches towards tackling the virus, one thing is clearly evident. We are hopeful to see the end, we are accepting it as a phase in our lives, and our inner belief in some sort of higher power is keeping the hope alive. Till next time.

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