The current pandemic is leaving many of us anxious and worried. Uncertainty and the unknown shake our basic life routines, we loose our life structures, leaving us feeling confused and lost. Confusion and loss can create a negative imagination and this is fear. The fear of contagion and the virus can impact on our psychological responses.
Right now, we know Covid-19 has separated us, divides families, jobs, and cities; stripping our existence as social human being. Our lives has been disrupted in body, mind and spirit.
Coronavirus has occupied our thinking, in news, radio, tv and social media, with frighting death statistics and daily updates. This constant exposure of news can result in heightened anxiety with an immediate effect on our mental health. The constant feeling of threat can deeply effect our psychology response. The fear of contagion may lead us to become over-anxious and less accepting of the 'normal' such as being tactile, hugging or visiting others. Our moral judgement becomes harsher and our social attitudes more conservative during these times. Outcries on social media and news outlets show that people are more ready to judge and condemn behaviour that until yesterday was 'normal' - it is amazing how quickly the jump to the new moralising behaviour becomes.
Sadly, researchers have found that stigma has worsened the suffering from every major infectious disease epidemic in our human history, and no doubt, it will certainly play a role in current Covid-19 pandemic. Remember when AIDS and HIV occurred among us, who were the group of people we judged and discriminated against?
Stigma is an evolutionary response that our mindset has ingrained to our physical response: we will distance ourselves from others who could infect us. This whole suite of response is called 'parasite avoidance' , defensive strategies to prevent ourselves from contracting infection disease (reducing infection risk). The reactions are what make us feel threatened by signals of sickness, such as coughing, vomiting or sneezing; whether or not these signals indicate an actual threat to our own health.
Since humans are social beings that have evolved to live in big groups, 'parasite avoidance' modifies our interaction with people when infections occur to minimise the spread of the disease, resulting spontaneous social distancing.
The response could be quite harsh!.