Dec 22, 2021Liked by J.D. Haltigan

I am a special eduction teacher and in the spring of 2020 as I sat at home watching my students struggle learning via computer I developed a hypothesis that I have seen come to fruition. I told my husband that people we know and people we don’t know and might have gone the rest of our lives interacting with in normal circumstances had begun to exhibit a level of fear and paranoia that was shocking. My theory was that this instability (for lack of a better word) had always been there and we might never have seen it, but for the trigger of Covid. It was now oozing from their pores, making them completely unstable and hysterical. A dear friend mentioned in casual conversation he had been tested 25+ times (that’s just nuts). We were saddened but not really surprised because his neurosis had been evident for a while. My husband said “that’s pure fear and hysteria.” That’s what has been so difficult, to watch people we love and care about descend into a kind of madness that we are helpless to bring them out of, because they refuse any logic and reason. Thank you for this essay. It is comforting to know I wasn’t alone all this time.

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Dec 25, 2021Liked by J.D. Haltigan

You've just described mass formation.

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at scale, diathesis-stress processes are not inconsistent with a mass formation type phenomena. The former is a mechanistic model of individual behavior, so important to retain the distinction.

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I've found in my clinical practice that the less emotionally resilient patients who have succumbed to this pandemic of fear largely share one additional trait--lack of curiosity. They ask no questions and have no interest in pursuing answers. Curiosity inoculates against this type of hysteria.

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I would add that a person's experience in mining (in psychotherapy or otherwise) the dark (traumatic?) places in their psyche and their family and society are better prepared not to be unduly unsettled by a certain level of crazy--it's not surprising, much less shocking. It's expected, in a way. Those unprepared to question their history and psychological orientation are similarly unprepared to question fear-based narratives.

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Dec 11, 2021Liked by J.D. Haltigan

Interesting. I wonder though how this plays out in the non-Western world (or the not-so-Westernized world). I live in a country whose chief pandemic rules-implementing officers are exclusively male and, if it were entirely up to them, they'd apply a Jacinda Ardern approach as of yesterday, much to the dismay of the 50%+ of the population that does not believe in a zero-tolerance approach (figures based on the current vaccination rate). But it is a country that has actually battled a dictatorship in the past so that might be a factor. So, are hardline approaches the rule in the rest of the world? Not talking about China, of course.

To me, the current situation is one more illustration of the terror management theory which postulates that, in order to cope with our fear of death, we resort to... well, a range of extreme behaviors, including various forms of authoritarianism. The current situation in the West looks to me like Milgram & Zimbardo on steroids. It brings back memories of the dictatorship in my country. It brings back zero memories for most people in the West though... I wonder how this fits into the differential susceptibility approach, which I seem to prefer over the diathesis-stress approach.

Also, the zero-tolerance philosophy of the West goes hand in hand with the celebration of comfort above anything else. Oh, and the cult of technology, with people inquiring about new types and doses of vaccine as if trying to choose between the newest smartphone models. This is one of the most bizarre things my semi-Westernized eyes have ever seen...

While I do see your point about political party affiliation and political ideology, I am tempted to believe that the clinical symptoms associated with political leanings may have more to do with a combination of situational as well as dispositional factors. And by situational factors I am referring to long-duree factors that involve historical processes going back at least a decade, if not even more.

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Dec 12, 2021Liked by J.D. Haltigan

"people inquiring about new types and doses of vaccine as if trying to choose between the newest smartphone models. This is one of the most bizarre things my semi-Westernized eyes have ever seen..."

For real! In my country the vaccine choice has even been poloticized to the highest degree when the PM order Sputnik in January 2021 and had to resign over it, being accused of playing into the Russians' "hybrid warfare" lol.

All the "good people" would never touch Sputnik y'know... instead they choose Pfizer, the "Mercedes among the vaccines".

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I am a lifelong GAD sufferer, periodic MDD and OCD sufferer. No stranger to therapy and no stranger to reading reams of material about the above mentioned afflictions. My post graduate degree is in Linguistics and I have been a professional musician throughout my working life. During the pandemic years (unbelievable as it seems, we're entering Year III), I have consistently found that there are two groups of people impervious to virus panic: trades people (plumbers, electricians, carpenters, construction workers - anyone who has been consistently going out to make a living) and people who are voracious readers (voracious reading includes self-motivated reading of scientific journals) I would include myself in the latter category. Early on in the epidemic (I refuse to use the abused and degraded word "pandemic"), I came across the writing of Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben and later Stanford's Prof. John Ioannidis and there was no looking back for me. I am 68, not vaccinated, have never put a mask on my face (other than in medical settings when forced to) and I have zero fear of the virus - despite lifelong and pervasive anxiety in many other areas of life. God knows I have battled many irrational fears but the Covid hysteria is utterly alien to me

Feel free to check out my Stack: georgegrosman.substack.com

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Nicely put; my comment above is simpatico with yours.

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Feb 16, 2022·edited Feb 16, 2022

Brilliant as usual, Dr. Haltigan...

An inference I have also heard commonly adduced is that people who have experienced larger prior traumas will tend to see covid in perspective. I suspect there is a recalibration of the mind that happens when people have experienced a prior serious bout of PTSD, whether induced by war or sexual assault or some other genesis, and that this new baseline finds little patience with comparably slight risks to well-being.

I think there is also an elite managerial class hubris at play, of the Steven Pinker / Sam Harris sort. I.e. certain minds seem to have arrived at the conclusion that humanity now lives in a Star Trek era, wherein a highly contagious airborne pathogen may be fine-grained through the population in real time with assiduous contact-tracing in a nation of 330 million people and 100 points of entry (and which pathogen has a 1- to 2-week dormancy period.)

Anyone with a modicum of real intelligence and commonsense sees how farcical such a view is --this side of a totalitarian state -- and even then its likely failure.

A similar utopian view subscribes mass vaxing mandates to somehow paint the public the way one might complete mowing one's lawn by crisscrossing neatly contiguous rectilinear paths.

Indeed, many of a technocratic statist bent sincerely believe that EVERY problem humanity faces has a correlative policy solution at the level of the state -- and moreover a dramatically efficacious one. This is highly dangerous thinking, and fails to observe the "precautionary principle" from the other side...

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> ...to the degree that a society’s ruling class is comprised of and influenced by a polity...

Also, I'd point out that the most striking single demographic variable that differs between the ruling class (of both parties) and the general population is also the same single variable that best predicts risk of severe COVID morbidity/mortality. It's striking how this particular crisis, out of many others of arguably similar severity, managed to attract so much attention from on high.

> Armed with this insight, what is a balanced, sensible, and reasonable societal risk analysis and response....The answer is a response that focuses on the population—the vast majority of whom will face minimal risk from the virus—and that minimizes unintended harms associated with unfocused or ineffective control efforts.

I still wait in vain to hear anything that remotely resembles the words "cost-benefit tradeoff" coming from national political leadership, Dr. Fauci, or our late NIH Director, Dr. Collins. What you describe sounds like the Great Barrington Declaration, which I gather Drs. Fauci and Collins were not big fans of.

Miscellaneous: I work in (molecular) aging, and "resilience" is a hot topic right now. I had never heard of "diathesis", though, thanks for giving me a pointer to a new (to me) literature (which may have been thinking about this problem longer than my field and therefore may have better tools for thinking about it).

I really hate that the term "natural immunity" is being used in this way. It confuses the difference between innate and adaptive immunity. Some of the public thinks "natural immunity" means diet and exercise, and some think it means (if they knew these terms) that your body has stored memory B cells targeting previously encountered COVID antigens.

An amusing possibility many people don't seem to be thinking about right now is related to this. Infection or a traditional vaccine would be expected to produce more "polyclonal" antibodies -- against multiple epitopes from multiple proteins -- than mRNA vaccines that only express spike protein. The higher effectiveness of mRNA vaccines against alpha show that the targeted approach is more precise ("better") if the target is known and stable. It is also seemingly faster to develop. But what we may eventually find is that the "polyclonal" approach will be more robust to viral variation because it has more possible epitopes to target, such that multiple viral mutations would be required to fully evade immunity. If this happens, no points for guessing whether the response will be A) an admission that there is a tradeoff between the two approaches and that there is possibly even a reason that the immune system functions as it does, or B) a demand for a new course of mRNA vaccination for each sufficiently new variant.

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I recently re-read a part of The Farmington Longitudinal Study on “Emotional Contagion”. They focused this section on “The Contagion of Happiness” and discovered that happy people impact friends and neighbors some 3 people away. That is good to know for those whose joy knows no bounds for they are a blessing far and wide. But the sad sack, misery loving narcissists, all who interact with them can suffer.

This idea is supported by research on what is called, Mirror Neurons that respond automatically to what they observe others doing. The Tic Toc manipulators do not have to work very hard to stimulate mimicking actions and emotions in those observing them. Taken together with Emotional Contagion, the films and antics online are powerful stimulators of mass emotional breakdowns.

Saint Vidal Dance was nothing like this crazy making process.

Dr. Gary Sweeten

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