Sunday, January 31, 2021

Is Our Psyche Being Damaged By This Pandemic?



1a chronic infectious disease caused by a mycobacterium (Mycobacterium leprae) affecting especially the skin and peripheral nerves and characterized by the formation of nodules or macules that enlarge and spread accompanied by loss of sensation with eventual paralysis, wasting of muscle, and production of deformities

 called also Hansen's disease


“Unclean! Unclean!”

We all know about lepers in the Bible. They had to live outside the regular community, call out “Unclean!” to passers-by, wear torn clothes and cover the lower part of their faces (Lv 14:35). Contact with a leper made one unclean and unable to attend any religious service.

The quotation above was the opening line excerpted from Famous Lepers of the Bible by Patricia Kasten written in The Compass, October 7, 2016. I used Ms. Kasten's opening to illustrate how someone who was diagnosed with leprosy had to live during that time. 

I liken what was happening then to what is happening now to some degree. I raise the question, is our psyche be damaged by this Covid-19/coronavirus pandemic? I raise that question because since we learned of the deadly virus nearly a year ago in the late winter of 2020 we have either contracted the virus or have been doing everything in our power not to contract the virus. We are never sure if we have it or if someone we have come in contact with has it. The constant safety guidelines that we must follow such as social distancing,  the wearing of a face covering, the frequent washing of our hands, staying home as much as possible, and not being able to eat in a restaurant or shop freely keeps all of us feeling as if we have the disease or the people we are around have it even when neither may be true. You nor the people that you are interacting with may have Covid-19 and yet we are made to feel as we or they do. We just don't know, so we almost automatically default to everyone must have it and keep our distance from everyone. The mask seemingly screams "Unclean! Unclean! whether you have the coronavirus or not. When we do make our way out of the house, we make sure that as soon as we return home, that we strip, place the clothes that we have worn in the laundry and immediately take a shower as if indeed contact with anyone has made us unclean.  Even if you don't have Covid-19 and have never tested positive, you almost can't help but feel as if you have it based on how we have to interact with each other. 

Which brings me to my question. What is all of this social distancing and everything else that we have to do to hopefully remain coronavirus-free doing to our psyche?  What is the constant feeling of either I have a virus or someone thinks I have a virus doing to us? Think about it. On a daily basis, we either act as if we have it or as if whomever we are going to come into contact with has it. What is that doing to our minds? What is that doing to our spirits? Not for nothing, what is it doing to our bodies? (they are all connected, you know). 

Personally, I hate this feeling of someone thinking that I have a contagious disease that I don't have and me having to think that someone else has a disease that they do not. I hate this assumption that I am going to catch this deadly disease from family members, friends, co-workers, or even strangers on the street if I do not have a face covering over my mouth and nose and wash my hands every five minutes. Yet, by now, we all have suffered a loss or losses of people that we know and love to this killer virus. As of this writing, according to The New York Times, we have had 439 thousand deaths in the United States and 2.22 million worldwide with 103 million cases worldwide. Again, I ask, what is this doing to our psyche? 

Even when we gain control of Covid-19, what has this done to our trust of what was prior to Covid-19 taken for granted such as eating in a restaurant, flying on an airplane, or staying in a hotel? Yes, we always have known that when you stay in a hotel that someone else had slept in the same bed that you were sleeping in or showered in the same shower, and yet as we move forward will we always be questioning now if the beds or showers were sanitized enough for me not to catch the virus if by chance the person before me did have it? (remember, we are assuming everyone has it). 

These are just some thoughts that come to mind that I thought I'd share. I believe it is something to critically think about. Please stay safe. 

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