Initial trepidation on what would be a strong follow-up to my debut Substack has vanished. The current new round of COVID hysteria over a new variant (#B11529) has solidified my desire to write about processes that may provide insight into the diverse human behavioral and psychological reaction to the pandemic and what this may reveal about individual differences in sensitivity to environmental context. Although my initial thinking tended towards a model of differential susceptibility, I am now inclined to think the classic diathesis-stress model is more explanatory for the marked emergence of anxiety and fear in a distinct class of the population. Feel free to note observations of your own that may inform the piece.
Might it have anything to do with a/the strong context of safetyism or the search for safety at all costs by struggling to eradicate all traces of an offending object? I would assume a certain level of neuroticism might have something to do with this, given some of its facets (I'm thinking mainly of hostility, propensity towards anxiety and social anxiety, impulsivity when faced with fear, deep feelings of vulnerability). Also, look how India has fared so far. Or my home country.
How would you explain it? What's the underlying vulnerability in the diathesis-stress model you evoked?
I don't know if this is helpful, but I have an anxious attachment style and deal with some emotional dysregulation, but I have not been so subject to the covid panic, at least since last spring. I think my somewhat contrarian nature and/or desire to actually know what's true trumps some of my other wiring. I do feel a good amount of distress thinking things not many of my tribe and family think about these matters.
I think you have mentioned covid hysteria yielding more common instances of psychopathy... That was interesting to me because I had always assumed psychopathy was narrowly taxonomized, but that it is also perhaps a callous mode that can be induced in an adequately desensitized (over-sensitized?) population is fascinating.
I would imagine there are parallels between the thesis of "Hitler's Willing Executioners" and covid mass formation psychosis, without meaning to insinuate a hyperbolic analogy in full... Along the lines of the Stanford Prison Experiment, a very large percent of people are susceptible to a climate of fear, and a smaller but stolid % are given to oppose tyranny no matter what at any price.
How much of this is a battle of ideas versus simply correcting a limbic hyper-arousal state among a significant % of the population? If people are sufficiently fearful, then they are not to be argued out of their psychoses. However perhaps a more sophisticated model sees a curve of fear/indoctrination, where one can reach people first at the edges of the fearful population, and then through geometric effects slowly convert most of the public back to sanity. (As people see a large enough % moving back, the more fearful react in kind.)
Some others have drawn the parallel that Trump's character flaws permitted the political left to engage in mass projection upon and dehumanization of his followers -- despite their comprising one-half the nation (and more to the point, despite their representing policy views that often had broad-majority support against the left's agenda). The parallel is that the dehumanized vision of Trump supporters as unwashed masses (an elite conceit that had been decades in the making before Trump) was then transferred to the unvaxxed, unmasked, or merely vax hesitant.
IMHO the left's fusion of the social and political has become incestuous and an ever tightening straight-jacket that is increasingly absurd to witness. What makes this macabre fusion fascinating to watch (from a clinical point of view) IMHO is that it competes two now-divergent axes of personal cachet: a) socially fitting in (which the left tries to dominate by cancel culture, etc.); and b) the desire to appear intelligent to others (increasingly in conflict with a).
What happens when a and b are screechingly at odds?
Sounds like something much needed to handle the panicdemic we're facing.