After this coronavirus lockdown do you feel spooked? Are you afraid to go out and mix with people or go out shopping, thinking you might catch the virus? Are you anxious and fearful of the world around you? If you feel unaffected, then you have done well. But there are a lot of people who think differently about the world around them. It is because their thinking and perceptions are affected, and thus their mental health.
There are various types of thinking involved. We have emotional thinking, philosophical thinking, scientific thinking, bureaucratic thinking, political thinking, intuitive thinking, rational thinking, wishful thinking etc.
Each type of thinking can lead an individual into different directions and jump to different conclusions. But if you are interested in improving your mental health, rational thinking is the way to clear up confusion and chaos in your mind. Rational thought takes into consideration all other types of thinking.
First, let us consider emotional thinking. Here you are doing what your heart says. There is no rhyme or reason involved. You will not be open to any sensible argument or suggestion. If you go along this path, please be prepared for heartaches and tears.
Then there is philosophical thinking. Here you are involved in trying to find the reason for your being in this world and how you can organise and live your life according to some principles established for you to follow. It can be a path to creating a delusion.
In scientific thinking, we are concerned with understanding the nature of things and our physical world and how the forces of nature affect us physically and mentally. There are a lot of people who claim to be scientists but are in fact pseudo-scientists. They hide behind science and use science as an ego-boosting exercise. So any scientist who ignores the mental side of their being is likely to have little insight into their mind. When one has little or no self-knowledge, one can quickly to turn into a bureaucrat. We see this in evidence everywhere in the world.
Of course, the most potent and influential thinking is legal thinking, which is bureaucratic thinking. It has a powerful conditioning effect on the individual. Since we need the rule of law to run any society, we formulate rules and regulations for ourselves to avoid chaos. Hence where there is a traffic junction, for instance, we put a STOP sign. Where we see some danger on the road, we put a speed limit sign. All this is to help us use our commonsense. So if one is at a traffic junction, one should look to the left and right before entering. Also, if there is a speed limit of 100km per hour, it does not mean that one has to drive at 100km per hour. One has to consider the road conditions at whatever speed one can drive. Again one can see that we have to use our commonsense in whatever we do.
However, this legal thinking has one major drawback. That is, when we apply the law in any situation, only the letter of the law is followed. There are no considerations for the use of any morals, commonsense or ethical principles. It is simplistic thinking which limits one’s intelligence. Hence when we come to a STOP sign, it means literally full stop even if there is no traffic. The vehicle must not be moving, and if you are driving slightly above the 100km per hour speed limit sign means that you are breaking the law. You will get penalised. We call this bureaucratic thinking.
The reason for this type of bureaucratic thinking in law where only the letter of the law and not the spirit, is applied is to avoid any arguments or confusion. It protects the people administering the code from any prosecution. All they have to do is to stick to the letter of the law, and no one will blame them if anything goes wrong. It also induces in some people authoritarian and bullying type of behaviour because they feel empowered by being able to enforce the law. So does it mean that if one sticks to the letter of the law one cannot go wrong?
Let us see what the coronavirus crisis did to the medical profession. Once upon a time, there was a direct doctor-patient relationship. The need for any euthanasia laws, for instance, did not arise because the doctor did what was clinically best for the patient. Now with consumerism and the litigation laws prevailing, the medical thinking has changed. The doctors have become bureaucratic thinkers. They are conditioned to think that they have to save lives no matter what the cost even if they see a patient in pain starving to death with a terminal illness.
So when the coronavirus hit the scene, it spooked the doctors by the way it spread and caused deaths. They feared the hospitals and the health systems would not be able to cope with the resources they had. So they advised governments to go into lockdown. The governments also got spooked. Faced with the choice between saving human lives and damaging the economy, they saw no alternative but to go into lockdown. It would have been political suicide if they did not take action. Do you think this was a rational decision? Remember, the damage to the economy will have far greater significant consequences for society than all the lives saved from Covid-19. There will be long term physical and mental health consequences in terms of poverty, crime and violence and suicides.
With the lockdown came more rules and regulation. Bureaucratic controls are applied, and businesses close. People become unemployed. The media gets a field day reporting on the progress of the virus. Every day, 24 hours a day, on the radio, TV and in the newspapers one can only hear about the virus. It now seems everyone is spooked. Covid-19 has become the bogeyman of the 21st century. Not willing to admit its overreaction, the medical profession keeps justifying its action by implying that this virus is unlike the influenza virus. All their research seems to be directed at validating their bureaucratic thinking. Many people who died of other causes but tested positive for coronavirus become included in their statistics.
Spooked politicians also justify their actions by using the virus as a bogeyman. They now have found a way of controlling the population. The bureaucrats having vandalised the economy, are proudly pointing out how successful they have been in protecting you. They are already taking credit for starting to rebuild the economy. Yes, one can never win against bureaucracy. In the meantime, you are warned that if you do not follow their directions, the bogeyman will get you.
So let us look at this bogeyman. It is the Covid-19 virus infection. There is no known cure for any virus infection. Like the influenza virus, it kills people. All virus infections tend to spread, so one has to expect this virus to spread. All the measures we have taken only slow down the virus. They do not eliminate or kill the virus. Like any virus, this Covid-19 will affect people with a weak immune system. The elderly and people with co-morbidities are more affected than the young. When we return to some normality in socialising, this flattened curve of infection is sure to rise. Like the influenza virus, it will come and go.
Does it then mean that the country has to go into lockdown again when the curve of infection rises? If someone is found Covid-19 positive in a workplace, does it mean we have to close down the whole place? If one child is found Covid-19 positive in a classroom, do we close down the entire school? If someone who is feeling perfectly healthy and who has a Covid-19 App on his mobile receives a message that he was near a Covid-19 positive person. He is advised to get tested for the virus. What must he do? Are we not going to create anxiety in that person until he gets the test done? Is this not like asking a person to point a bone at oneself? Is this the way to go about improving the mental health of society? Is this the way to the future?
Surely we have to accept the fact that we have to take risks all the time in our daily living. When we are crossing the road, we are taking a risk. When we are driving a car, we are taking a risk. Also when we are travelling on a bus or plane, we are taking a risk. Then why have we turned this coronavirus into a bogeyman? Since the medical profession is the guardian of the physical and mental health of people, should it not be involved in protecting us from this bogeyman instead of joining with the politicians into promoting one?
Fear is the worst enemy of man. It creates negative feelings and thus leads to adverse action. We have to confront it, not embrace it. The medical profession should be educating the public about the virus, not helping to create a bogeyman to look under their beds. Also, do not the media carry any responsibility in all this?
There will be more viruses to come to infect society in the future. Are we going to go into lockdown each time? Remember, a spooked mind is a mind that is suffering from a disorder of perception. How can one expect it to think rationally?