(By Dr.Nelson Joseph Kattikat)
Corona, the pandemic which has swept the whole world affecting all most all countries without discriminating the developed nations from the developing ones, has reinstated the fact that all these socio-religious classification are meaningless. It has even nullified the segregation of nations as developed and developing as even countries considered to be having very high Gross Domestic Product and Human development index, with superior health facilities are struggling to bring their mortality rates due to Corona under control, more than developing countries.
When people got isolated massively and countries went on
“lock down” for the first time in our history, we came to know that we as humans who are gregarious in nature have been created to live as social beings, rather than to live in isolation, as indicated by Harry Harlow’s attachment theory and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
A significant trend noticed in the general population after the pandemic has struck us, is the shift towards spiritualism, increase in existential anxiety and search for meaning or purpose of life rather than blind religiosity as more and more people have started to realize that the essence of all religions is one i.e the only true religion consist of having a good heart. However, some turned to astronomy, occult practices and faith healings.
All of us including students, the working population and those who are waiting for retirement who were in the habit of whining that we are always running short of time due to our busy lifestyle and those of us who bragged that had we got a few days off this hectic schedule, we would have accomplished much more, have started to realize that it is not about not having time, because we now have excess free time, but doing nothing. The urge for creativity and productivity is dependent on social recognition, making time based on our priorities and social interactions, which proved the “social facilitation” effect on human behavior is true. During these days of being in quarantine, our creativity and productivity has reduced, making us wish for things to things to go back to normal as early as possible to end this uncertainty about future. Regarding vegetative functions, our body has started exhibiting stress reactions resulting in hypersomnia, decreased appetite and change in eating and bowel habits. We also got a chance to understand the individual differences that exist in stress appraisal and stress reactions.Eventhough everyone is facing the same stressor-corona- the reaction towards it was different. Some showed denial (nothing will happen), while a few were in anxious phobic mood(we are all going to die, this is end of the world, god is punishing us).
The loneliness arising as a result of quarantine has raised in us the need for affiliation, creating an increased desire to socialize and attend gatherings. Along with this comes uncertainty about the future which is like a fog of breath on a windowpane as nothing is certain at this point and the future seems bleak as noone is sure about whether they are susceptible to develop the disease or regarding when our lives are going to go back to normal as there are high chances for poverty to occur as a result of layoffs due to economic decelaration.Emptiness in the streets has started to engulf human psych too and it proliferates like a virus within ourself.Many are showing signs of depression(20%),manifested through sadness, crying spells,suicide ideation,attempts,feeling of hopelessness etc.The anxiety in population has increased to such an extent, specially Post traumatic stress disorder(PTSD),and are unable to come out of home to meet their very essential life demands.
The media, especially social media is to a large extent responsible for this anxiety, as what consumes your mind controls your life and it is projecting onto us all sorts of threats regarding the virus 24×7 thereby tampering with our mental health creating hyper vigilance somatoform illnesses, ruminations and negative emotions like fear sadness and anger. Although many are making use of escapism as a defense mechanism to deal with these maladaptive emotions, another way to deal with them constructively apart from active coping strategy is through humour which is commonly made us of in social media as we have reached a point where people have started to troll just anything related to the virus. Those who were in denial including prominent figures holding power in our society such as Boris Johnson, Donald trump etc who initially pretended like everything is under control have broken down in front of the media, regretting their earlier stand to later take active measures to prevent contagion. On other hand, a few right since the beginning have shown altruistic tendencies(I am ready to die for my country as a martyr to save the world) which is especially applicable to health care sector and the low enforcement personnel.
Materialistic possessions like branded stuff has lost its value due to, as now, it have no utility. But our craving for possession of mese commodities has increased, due to fear of impending shortage of mese commodities .Even during the crisis of death and life, our self-centered nature is forcing us hoard essentials without any concern for the basic needs of our fellow beings, despite being aware that everybody is going through the same predicament. States have prevented transport of even essential commodities. some states(eg.Karnataka) have closed their roads to enter Kerala with sand piles, this leads to chaos in neighboring boarder districts in kerala,as it prevents them from having access to nearby health service in Mangalore.
Another concern which is bothering the people worldwide is the change in attitude towards foreigners, from a welcoming one to something that is full of hatred and is filled with prejudice and stereotypes. This is especially more towards the Chinese as the virus originated in Wuhan, as a result of which many of them had to face violence, personal attacks and discrimination rather than isolation. Some people lost their wisdom to differentiate between discrimination from corona isolation.
Despite all these, most of us have developed the insight that nothing stands in front of nature’s fury as it is capable of leaving us helpless, vulnerable and clueless. Unseen nature is powerful than that have seen, like unconscious mind to conscious mind..From this, we have realized that all of us have to stick together as one to eradicate the virus from mother earth so as to prevent the extinction of mankind and ensure survival of the human species. We have also come to a consensus that we as humanity is dependent on the nature. From the massive decline in pollution seen as a consequence of quarantine, we have realized that technology owes ecology an apology, as once destroyed, nature’s beauty cannot be repurchased at any price.
Though, now the sky is pitch dark without stars or the moon.. Let’s hope that the dawn will come, filled with new hopes
Thanks to Radika Manoj and jayasree (My psychology students)