Friday, February 11, 2022

Manufacturing a Mental Health Crisis

The general hysteria about the coronavirus pandemic was such that no one apparently thought of the cost of the lockdowns, the shutdowns, the mask mandates and the social distancing.

Our intrepid leaders, motivated by what they considered to be a thoroughly virtuous effort to protect people from the virus, deprived far too many people of far too many of their social connections.

When it came to children, the consequences have been catastrophic. Lost opportunities for learning, lost socialization, lost emotional maturation-- in many cases these losses cannot be recovered. It’s a nightmare, due to the appalling stupidity of those who are making these ridiculous rules-- and who seem to have gotten drunk on their own power.

We are not intrinsically opposed to power, but we note that the bureaucrats and politicians and public health experts running the pandemic response seemed only to understand the uses of power when it involved shutting their nations and their nations’ economies and their nations’ schools down. When it came to exercising power in order to build something, their minds seem to have drawn a blank.

As we have noted, and as George Will expounded in a recent column, our public health officials and our political class seems not to be able to calculate risk. They are so simple minded that they have decided that the only acceptable risk is none. I have also remarked on previous occasions about how damaging this failure to balance risk versus reward has been.

Unfortunately, when you remove all risk you damage nations, economies and children’s minds.

Will said this:

Putting masks on 5-year-olds — teaching them that life is more hazardous than it really is, and to regard other human beings as vectors of disease, like biting insects — is not an optional arrow that public health officialdom should feel free to pluck from its quiver. Besides, the idea that health and longevity are values superior to all others is crude biological materialism. Jeffrey H. Anderson of the American Main Street Initiative, writing in the Claremont Review of Books, sys doctors naturally “focus on the body in lieu of higher concerns.”

This, however, is transforming risk aversion into a supreme virtue. Anderson says an “impoverished understanding of human existence” is embedded in the celebration of masking as social solidarity. For progressive celebrators, “the risk of stifling, enervating, or devitalizing human society is not even part of their calculation.”

For some public health obsessives, a virus serves the purpose that carbon serves for the most excitable environmentalists: It is an excuse for the minute supervision of life’s quotidian activities — progressivism’s constant impulse. Remember the jest: Progressives do not care what people do as long as it is mandatory.

As for which group of people is more risk averse, I will not repeat what I have remarked on numerous occasions. And, we add, to keep up with current events, that a mandate requiring truck drivers to wear masks in their cabs while driving across the country was, for Canadian drives, a step too far into risk aversion. As for how the bastard son of Fidel Castro fits into our risk aversion categories, I will leave it to your imagination.

As has Tyler Durden of the Zero Hedge blog, I have occasionally remarked on the fact that the lockdown regime and the social distancing had produced a mental health crisis. If  you want to make people depressed and anxious, one good way to do so is to detach them from other people. Social disconnection, whatever miniscule impact it had on virus transmission, had a decisive impact on mental health. It produced an epidemic of mental illness.

Zero Hedge reports:

At this point, the fact that the COVID pandemic has spurred an unprecedented mental health crisis shouldn't come as a surprise to anybody. 

Aside from the obvious physical impacts of the pandemic, mental health professionals have told CNBC that many people have continued to struggle with the immense emotional and societal changes even as some of the restrictions on business and movement have started to ease. Because of this, many fear that the psychological impact from the pandemic could last a generation.

Even as mask requirements are beginning to disappear, millions of Americans are having a difficult time adjusting to the "new normal".

As for those who tout the virtue of resilience, when talking about a six year old child making up for learning loss or when referring to people whose daily routines and inter-office interactions have broken down, they do not understand resilience. As the last paragraph remarks, getting back to the old routines is very difficult.

Psychologist Valentine Raiteri observes that his patients are feeling disconnected. They are suffering from a malaise. And he notes the obvious, therapy might explain why you are feeling what you are feeling and why you are feeling depressed and anxious, but these bromides are largely ineffective. You may have a perfect understanding of why social disconnection is making you crazy, but the only real solution is social connection. If you have lost the habit of connecting, you will need some time and some considerable effort to regain it.

Raiteri added that many of his patients are still working remotely and many are struggling with feelings of isolation. They are "disconnected and lost, and they just have this kind of malaise."

"That is really hard for me to do anything about," he said, noting: "I can’t make the pressures disappear. I can always treat the illness that it provokes."

As for the generalized increase of mental illness, the numbers are frightening.

Many studies have found that mental health has deteriorated by a substantial degree.

It found that mental health dramatically declined in that year, with an estimated 53 million additional cases of major depressive disorders and 76 million additional cases of anxiety disorders seen globally. Women and younger people were found to be affected more than men and older adults.

Raiteri explained that his patients' depression has largely been driven by the loss of social connection.

"There’s definitely a huge mental health impact from a long period of uncertainty and change that’s left people very isolated and not sure how to connect. Just being out in public and interacting in a very casual way with strangers or mild acquaintances, that’s very regulating, and norm-creating and reality affirming."

Yes, indeed, the solution lies in getting out, getting around and getting along-- developing what psychologist Matt Granovetter called weak social ties. Dare we say that therapy has never really been designed to enhance weak social ties, so therapists are somewhat at a loss when it comes to counseling their patients who need to make an effort to develop theirs.

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