December 4, 2020

Life after the virus … phobia or learning



There is no common norm nor will the whole society come out in the same conditions of the coronavirus crisis, neither economically, nor socially nor mentally. There are many factors at play though Social Psychology points to a specific one as one of the keys that will determine the “postcovid era” for each human being: resilience.

Be the adaptability of each person which will make a difference throughout the entire journey between the current crisis and recovery, a challenge that will probably become especially complicated for traditionally open societies such as Malaga, used to living on the streets, giving hugs.

Y that level of resilience will also depend on whether the return to the “old normality” and the abandonment of anticovid protocols materialize in a cautionary tale and not in a new fear or even a phobia.

“In difficult or borderline situations each person will behave offering the best and the worst of themselves. It will depend on your character, your life experience and your personal growth or level of consciousness regarding yourself and what happens in your life “, explains María del Pilar Moreno, Professor at the Department of Social Psychology, Social Anthropology, Social Work and Social Services at the University of Malaga. “The reality to accept is not the same for some and for othersBut whatever it is, if we learn from what we are experiencing, this experience can strengthen us. ”

In this sense, las new customs as the mandatory use of the mask, continuous hand washing, interpersonal distance, the reduction of all social life as much as possible … they may be part of the future of citizens as a bad memory, as a certain learning or, as a phobia which is already beginning to show its first masked signs, adds this psychologist, in behaviors considered “normal” of people who seek to protect themselves from virusFor example, the refusal to contact health personnel outside the healthcare setting.

The question is whether these behaviors will cease to be carried out when we are not in a situation of current risk or will they be established “, elucubra Moreno. “It will depend on the degree of the phobic behaviors, but it is likely that many people need psychological assistance to regain normalcy.”

So when it’s all over the most resilient people, with a greater capacity to adapt to traumatic circumstances, will quickly regain abandoned habits during the pandemic. On the contrary, those that lack this possibility of acclimatization, possibly have certain consequences of this crisis that they will have to face later.

Well-being cut off

Despite the fact that the position of the population towards the coronavirus it moves between the extremes of the “obsessive” attitude and the “denialist”, there is an aspect that is generalized, according to María del Pilar: feeling of sadness in the face of a situation that continues to drag on.

“There is no doubt that the spread of a disease, the pressure of the media, the reduction of freedoms, the fear of contagion, the change in our routines … are causing a generalized feeling of sadness and, in some cases, depression“, describes the professor at the Faculty of Psychology of the University of Malaga.

A matter as “simple as” having a conversation in which the mask limits facial expressions, gestures, grimaces … and makes it difficult to listen greatly affects the way of relating and, therefore, to the social support that human beings require to keep their own well-being intact.

“It is so important to have people who help us materially if necessary, such as that they give us emotional support – love and care, especially- “Moreno continues. “In general we are prioritizing physical health over psychological health but we cannot forget the importance of physical contact and emotional support … “. So much so that this emotional part sometimes prevails over fear of contagion. By way of explanation, a personal experience:” The first day that we were able to go out after the first lockdownMy mother (79 years old) told me: My daughter, give me a hug, even if it infects me “, recalls Pilar.

Another confinement?

Eight months ago, when the pandemic broke out, there was talk of a “unprecedented” situation that would affect all social strata, all unions and at all levels. Mental health would not be, far from it, without problems.

In fact, the member in Malaga of the Society of Specialists in Clinical Psychology (SEPCA), Maria Muñoz, already alerted in April that the psychological effects of the coronavirus “had not yet come forward” and demanded a shielding of the public health system to guarantee their treatment and prevent their own suffering due to the harshness of the situation from leading to a mental disorder.

There are people who are living experiences of fear, worry, insecurity, loneliness… deprived of their social and family support and still at home. All those problems derived from confinement are those that are about to reach health “, predicted then María Muñoz asked by Malaga Opinion.

Now with the shadow of a second lockdown planning after the decision of some European neighbors such as France, citizens will have to accommodate it, should it occur, with the knowledge that it will probably not be the short-term solution.

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