It has been interesting for me over my decades of work at the Smart Therapy Centre observing how anxiety themes change according to social and political context.
In the ‘AIDS’ era anxious people suddenly stopped being afraid of everyday germs and instead focussed their undivided attention on HIV.
Then in the ‘terrorist’ era many anxious people I saw in my work became terrified to get on planes in case they were (unbeknown to themselves!) a ‘terrorist’ and what if… they inadvertently, opened the aeroplane door while flying and sucked out all the passengers!
Then came the ‘paedophilia’ era with royal commissions into various institutions. During this time, many men and women became frightened to ever kiss, cuddle or play with their children in the local park or even their homes, just in case … they were a child molester, but they just didn’t know it!
At present many people are scared and in a panic about the new Corona virus. Of course, while we do need to be alert and sensible about contagion risk (hand & sneezing hygiene, voluntary self- quarantine etc.) and the mortality rate (between 1-2%), we also need to be calm and cooperative with other members of society.
By far the main people at risk are older people (above 65 years), smokers and people with compromised and damaged lungs. This is because Corona Virus can lead to an atypical form of pneumonia in ill and elderly people. Younger and healthier people are far less likely to develop pneumonia and often recover very quickly without incident.
In this context, putting aside anxious and often unfounded individual fears about Corona virus and instead adopting ‘civil society’ behaviours will be highly beneficial to those who most need our help.
As a society we need to protect and care for our vulnerable older and compromised citizens, rather than focus on anxiety-driven individual fears (leading to cleaning out supermarket shelves of vital supplies) when the risk of actual danger is often very low.