Why do I bother?
The following is my response to an article in the FT on 2020-12-26. Tough if you don’t have access. I felt compelled to respond, but I’m not sure why – as it’s none of my business to educate the masses of mainly stupid people! So I’ve been wondering, “Why do I bother?”. I’ll think about it. But I’m not desperate for an answer. I previously wrote on the bio-psychosocial model from a ‘recovery perspective’.
The COVID pandemic ought to be viewed using the bio-psychosocial model. In tight summary – this means ‘flesh and blood’, individual and groups psychologies, and social effects, as they impact on individuals. In the backdrop is the ‘legal’ i.e. restrictions on liberty which then impact on social functioning which then have psychological effects. And psychosocial impacts can then cause destabilisation of the ‘brain’ in which the mind resides. Hang on – I’m not even going into the zillions of theories about neurotransmitters. It’s not necessary. And in reality the human being is double-aspect monistic interactionism – but I’m not going deep into the philosophy of that.
One does not need to be a psychiatrist (medical doctor) or a psychologist (not normally a medical doctor), to understand the basics of the above.
COVID is a serious shock to the psychosocial order of things e.g. confinement, loss of liberties, loss of or reductions of family/social contacts, bereavements, financial pressures, domestic disputes/abuse/violence. Any average person can appreciate these things even if they don’t suffer one or more of them.
It has biological ramifications too e.g. reduced levels of physical activity, changes in diet, changes (usually increased) levels of alcohol consumption, poorer access to health care (which is of a lower standard). Some people would have suffered and survived the horror of actual infection with COVID. Some of them would never be 100% for months or years – as long COVID-19 sets in. In addition, there is emerging evidence that COVID, has triggered the resurgence of or exacerbation of pre-existing conditions.
There may be a few positives arising from the impact of COVID for some people. But overall, for most people, the negatives well outweigh the positives.
The COVID pandemic will have been a serious set of negative life events (and this is a proper term arising from research over the last 50 years – Google is your friend) in the main bio-psychosocial domains.
The pandemic is not nearly as bad as other more serious plagues in the past, costing tens of millions of lives. But context is everything. The social fabric encasing our biological and psychological existence today is very very different to 50 or 100 years ago. We’ve taken many things for granted. Therefore, the shock to individuals is contextually far worse. A simple thing like the internet and the social media, puts almost everybody in real-time contact with the news nationally and globally. Hence shocks are very quickly received and may be magnified at times through false reporting.
Younger people are naturally far more active than older people (in general). I infer from that assumption that they are likely to feel the bio-psychosocial impacts of COVID more severely. Whilst generally again, younger folk are more resilient to physical illnesses, I don’t think the same resilience is to be expected to abnormal psychosocial stress. I can’t go into every nook and cranny of all this – else I’ll exhaust my text limit quite easily.
So – in summary we have a biological agent triggering shockwaves into the social and psychological domains of human existence. Contextually it is quite serious compared to other pandemics. Now mental health services, having been decimated in the UK over the last 20 years, will expectedly struggle to cope. Do I have solutions? Yes – but I’m not paid as a government adviser. I am actually – NOBODY i.e. not an academic.
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