Irrational behavior during COVID-19 pandemic: a rational explanation

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Irrational behavior during COVID-19 pandemic: a rational explanation

Irrational behavior during COVID-19 pandemic: a rational explanation

Irrational behavior during COVID-19 pandemic: a rational explanation

So many countries in the world are going through the second or third peak of COVOD-19. In some cases, the daily number of cases and the mortality is going beyond the second peak. For example in the USA daily new number of cases and daily mortality is much higher than what it was a few months ago in the last peak. Daily new cases in the UK is also higher than the last peak in April 2020.

So it's obvious the risk of COVOD-19 has not gone away. But we all have witnessed a new phenomenon, so many people in so many countries have shown complete indifference to the current situation. IN the present Christmas vacation although there was a clear order in the USA to stay at home and to avoid travel, there was widespread news of airports clogged with passengers traveling for Thanksgiving and flights are full throughout Christmas vacation.

People have shown complete disregard for social distancing and people have partied in big crowds, many have argued in many countries about their right of not wearing the mass.

This behavior of apathy or indifference during a crisis has been called Psychic numbing by psychologists. Psychic numbing is a psychological phenomenon that causes us to feel indifferent to the suffering of large numbers of people. The quote attributed to Joseph Stalin “One death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic” is an illustration of psychic numbing.

The importance of any information is dependent on the feeling with which we analyze that information. If there is a single death especially of someone known to us there is huge emotion involved with the news. Once we keep hearing of regular deaths in large numbers then another death does not create a negative feeling so information related to death is not given importance.

Similarly in the case of climate change we just do not bother about it. We all have experienced the changes like the summer heat and flood due to climate change but it does not affect us on an emotional level due to psychic numbing.

This behavior change is important to control COVID-19 and to stop the spread of the disease.

Dr. Rakesh Rai. MS, FRCS, MD, CCT, ASTS Fellow(USA).

www.myvirtualhospital.com