(ORDO NEWS) — In the British horror film 28 Days Later, an epidemic of a highly contagious virus turns people into aggressive killers, and the main character tries to survive in a post-apocalyptic world. What kind of world will we see after the quarantine is lifted and how will our life change? Let’s try to figure it out.
Man is a thing
Sociologists call the modern Western world a consumer society, and psychologists call the world of narcissism. And it’s not only about excessive narcissism, although this is also about. Just narcissism plays the role of protection against total “worthlessness”, which is often called an inferiority complex by the people. The opinion of others about himself is extremely important for a narcissist; he sees himself only through the mirror of the outside world. Feeling his inner total inferiority, he desperately tries to resist it, “inflating” his ego in front of others, just like a peacock opens its tail in front of a female. Narcissistic personalities are constantly preoccupied with the issue of constantly evaluating and devaluing themselves and others.
As a result, narcissists are doomed to endless and exhausting comparisons of themselves with others, they are constantly competing with an invisible rival. There is a constant ranking process: which school will be the best for my son? Which doctor is the most reputable? Where is the trendiest restaurant located? What is the coolest phone model? In which country is it customary to rest now? Such people are not concerned with the practical benefits of this or that service and thing, not with personal preferences, but with prestige. These are the weirdoes who go into debt to buy the latest iPhone while eating instant noodles, or those who travel for a fancy social media avatar, not because they want to see the world. Agree, a very recognizable image in modern society. And common.
It is vital for pathological narcissists to have someone (one person or many) to constantly fuel their inflated egos, endlessly admiring them. All other relationships between people for such individuals simply fade, they are not able to love in the full sense of the word, accept another and just enjoy life. The narcissist’s love is superficial, as is friendship. It only exists as long as the other person puts the narcissist above himself. Narcissists evaluate the whole world through the prism of its functionality: needed / not needed, useful / not useful, successful / unsuccessful, beautiful / ugly, and so on.
A narcissistic society has the same characteristics: it evaluates people and phenomena exclusively from the point of view of functionality, usefulness or harmfulness. A huge share of time and effort is taken by the demonstration of unnecessary, in fact, things and attempts to reach some unknown heights. All this in an atmosphere of constant rivalry, an endless race to the drum roll of incessant alarm.
Man is not a thing
Forced isolation has largely stopped this cycle, and the rapid loss of income (and even work) for a huge number of people will invariably lower their aspirations. There is a chance that again not the goods and services advertised by marketers will come to the fore, but things that are really necessary for a person. The same applies to relationships between people: in an atmosphere of general trouble, it is not the spirit of competition that develops, but mutual assistance and support. A person begins to realize himself not through the endless inflation of his own ego, but through helping others.
This is also facilitated by the immediate consequences of the pandemic – illness and death, which also develop in people a sympathetic attitude towards each other. A person is deprived of the narcissistic illusion of his own immortality (with our minds we all understand that we will die, but only a few who, as a rule, have already faced serious illnesses in life) really accept this thought and uniqueness, because for the virus, one way or another, everyone is equal. There will be, of course, those who will begin to get hung up on conspiracy theories and blaming everyone and everything for their troubles, but I want to believe that they will be an absolute minority.
There is also hope that our society will finally begin to enjoy the process (communication, work, life as such), and not from the final result, which, moreover, many people do not even achieve. Let’s say that by the beginning of the pandemic, a person made some progress in his career or, for example, saved up money. Quarantine and the subsequent economic crisis can destroy all this overnight – only eternal values remain inviolable: family, friendship, simple pleasures and joys of life. Therefore, after such shocks, many begin to appreciate just this, and not strive for eternal hoarding and consumption.
And also a crisis is always a hope for spiritual growth. And not only spiritual. After the Great Patriotic War, the country lay in ruins, but people were happy: they won! They built a world out of dust, new factories and factories were opened, the country increased the rate of production. People tried to have time to live and enjoy life, as they well realized its value – as well as human relations. Such an understanding of life was sometimes lacking in contemporaries, and there is a hope that the pandemic will correct this. However, not immediately. At first, the world will face a serious economic crisis and a wave of divorces.
Hole = hole
Being under the same roof with family members 24 hours a day, seven days a week is a test for most marriages. At this time, past conflicts are exacerbated, and if the spouses still have not learned how to solve them effectively, they may deepen up to a complete break in relations. In “recovered” China, by the way, there is already an increase in the number of divorces. At the same time, the crisis, on the contrary, can strengthen some family unions, because in such times the need for each other and mutual support is exacerbated.
But to achieve “happily ever after” – you need to work hard on yourself, and both of them. This, unfortunately, is practiced by a few. It is not surprising that during the period of isolation, psychologists also record a wave of domestic violence. What was a crack in a relationship can become a global rift that cannot be “patched up”. But this is also a plus, since what should have disintegrated will disintegrate. Such “amputation” is unpleasant, but heals human relations – both between people and with oneself. True, in order not to fall back into the cycle of sick bonds, a long and difficult work on oneself is necessary – as a rule, also with a specialist. But that is another story.
Overeating and alcoholism
These are pros, but there are also cons. We have already written about them in the article “Loneliness on the Net: the psychological consequences of self-isolation.” After all, one of the components of quarantine is social deprivation. Numerous studies show that people who have experienced self-isolation are not only stressed, but also experience a host of other unpleasant feelings: irritation, anger, boredom, low mood. Unfortunately, many – especially those who are predisposed – can develop real depression, increase general anxiety and self-doubt, which may not go away after all restrictions are lifted.
And one of the most damaging effects that research has reported is alcoholism. Many people are unable to handle additional stress and do not know how to deal with it. They see a way out only in alcohol and other psychotropic substances. True, we are talking primarily about those who, again, already have a predisposition to this type of stress relief. Quarantine will likely only exacerbate this trend. And a similar picture can be seen today. By the way, increasing alcoholism in families is another “reason” for the increase in the number of cases of domestic violence. Thankfully, a number of people are noticing this unhealthy pattern and are addressing their alcohol abuse. They can’t go to face-to-face meetings so they’re having to read Books about alcoholism, fill out journals, and attend virtual meetings.
Another unexpected consequence of quarantine is overeating, which was also talked about during the quarantine period. And this problem can go far beyond it. The fact is that our body not only gets used to a certain type of food, but also to its quantity. This addiction is similar in its mechanism of action to the narcotic. This is especially true for certain foods: for example, those that contain sugar. Long-term and excessive use (also in combination with a lack of physical activity) of harmful products can cause not only obesity, but also “chronic” addiction to them. Therefore, the “abuse” can continue after the quarantine.
However, being in isolation in one way or another brings out any unresolved problems and intrapersonal conflicts into the light of day. Therefore, after the quarantine is lifted, an increase in mental disorders and the number of visits to a psychologist in healthy people is possible. True, the services of such specialists are not cheap, so it is possible that many during the crisis will seek comfort not from psychologists, but from fortune-tellers and charlatans who offer their services at a “reasonable” price.
Back to the Middle Ages
By the way, about the charlatans. Global quarantine quickly sent us somewhere in the XIII century. In terms of thinking. A huge number of people – if not from the overwhelming majority – instantly flew the flair of critical thinking, and they abruptly went into regression. Hence such a flourishing of conspiracy theories: ideas about mass chipping of the population and that there is no virus. Hence the initial surge of racism towards the Chinese (we wrote about this in the article “The Yellow Threat”: Sinophobia and Coronavirus “) and aggression towards the first cases. So, in early April, the Russian media told stories about how Muscovites in the villages were literally greeted with pitchforks. Here is what Komsomolskaya Pravda wrote with reference to the correspondent of the Russia Today TV channel: “News from the Tver region. Muscovites bought a couple of houses there long ago. And now an aunt from Moscow arrived there. On a quarantine vacation. The roof rack is full of junk. As soon as it began to unload, the local people gathered. And they told my aunt to bring it back. Like, if you were hanging out somewhere in Italy or just caught the coronavirus in the capital, then you will have time to get to Moscow – they will be cured there. And we have nowhere to go – the regional hospital is completely helpless. So get out of here, don’t infect us.”
People were so embittered that when an infected person appeared at their entrance they demanded to “evict the coronavirus” or “bang the door for him.” Outbreaks of hatred subsided only when the “coronavirus” began to be identified in every region of the country.
So the regression occurred not only at the mental level, instantly “rolling back” people to magical thinking, but also at the psychological level – when conflicts began to be resolved with the help of a pitchfork and “hammering the doors”.
To what extent this trend can sprout into our reality after the quarantine is lifted is difficult to say. Aggression is likely to go away (unless, of course, the economic crisis spills over into mass unrest), and, as we said above, mutual aid may take its place. But the inclination to magical thinking can not only remain, but also flourish in a violent color. The way out of regression is long and thorny, and the crisis in the economy is a fertile field for further rooting of conspiracy theories. After all, from now on there will be time to analyze and comprehend: someone will do it within the framework of science and common sense, and someone – within the framework of everyday magic. There are fears to believe that the latter may be the majority. And some may even develop real paranoid delusions.
Obsessive hand washing
Despite the fact that quarantine will exacerbate a person’s psychological problems, this deviation should be said separately. One of the most striking manifestations of obsessive-compulsive disorder, which is popularly called obsessive-compulsive disorder, is often the constant washing of hands and a fanatical fear of microbes and viruses. But just the advice to wash your hands, not to contact anyone and to clean the apartment more often are distributed today from all the irons.
And they are absolutely adequate, but precisely for the current situation. Our brain is designed in such a way that it often “remembers” what it is used to doing, even if these actions are not only irrational, but can also harm its owner. Therefore, obsessive-compulsive disorder and fear of infection can develop even in those who have never been particularly prone to this kind of psychological deviations. The saddest thing is that Russia, like the CIS, all countries of Africa, South America and partly Europe, according to experts, has a larger percentage of the population with this type of neurosis. The reasons for this are complex and vague: scientists name various factors – from the level of education to gender and age differences.
We can only hope for the humor inherent in our citizens and some frivolity, which can play a bad role in containing the coronavirus, but a good one in the psychological consequences of quarantine.
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