Psychology | Collective trauma due to COVID-19 pandemic

by Pooja Mukherjee
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The global pandemic has challenged us to our core. It has almost become next to impossible to define what we once knew as happiness. Is happiness the time we are getting to spend with our family during this lockdown? Or was it the time we spent with our friends in the dimly-lit restaurants during winter-evenings, sipping on a hot cup of coffee and worrying about our future?

The future, as we know it, will never be the same. Humankind will take time to get back on track, but will it be able to regain the lost human-touch? Aren’t we all changed emotionally? Aren’t we seeing the world from a different perspective now? 

Psychologists believe that we, as a collective, will now be more inclined towards the bigger picture in life. Developmental psychology provides the idea of terror-management theory or TMT, which focuses upon man’s tendency to reflect on the worldliness of things, to instill self-esteem and self-worth in oneself, as a coping mechanism during times which seem out of control. 

Being hopeful is an innate human quality. We all believe in the power of the unseen, and that a miracle is always just around the corner. We look forward to living a better life, but we often forget that living in the present is the best we can do. 

The COVID-19 is not going to leave us soon. According to the latest reports by the World Health Organization, we need to learn to live with this pandemic, just like we have accepted HIV in our lives. The stigma attached to transmitted diseases can be well understood now as we distance ourselves from the survivors of COVID-19, healthcare personnel, frontline workers, and nurses. We have to accept the virus as a part of our lives and learn to let go of the stigma attached to it.

After weeks of lockdown across countries, we are soon to resume our daily lives as the restrictions are getting lifted in phases. While social distancing is the need of the hour, emotional connectivity is what will bind us together. We are currently in the stage of collective trauma, also known as communal trauma, which is shared by a group of people after they face common adversity. In such situations that affect everyone at once, communal trauma brings people together who support each other emotionally. Sharing a trauma provides community support and a prevalent hope among masses that we will get through this. 

While individual trauma compels us to suffer in isolation and distress, traumatic events witnessed by an entire society can stir up shared sentiments, often resulting in a shift in human psychology. While we can be hopeful of the changes the pandemic is going to bring in terms of healthcare, mental health awareness, hygiene, and a healthier environment, we cannot help but think about the number of lives we may lose in this fight. 

Read more: The concept of Life & Death in 2020: Redefined.

As we have been accepting our new form of lives in the past few months, we can be hopeful for a number of things.

  • The global pandemic brought families together once again. 
  • We have been more vocal towards talking about mental health issues and emotional well-being. 
  • We have finally understood the value of life other than materialistic elements of society. 
  • As a community, we are sharing a collective sentiment of support towards one another. 
  • Humans have been more inclined towards finding and redefining their true selves during this period of lockdown. 

Hope is all we have, and it should be the essence of our lives if we plan to evolve with the changes in the world. Happiness is personal, but sharing it with people is the need of the hour.

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