Nothing worse than a false sense of security. Please, take every measure of precaution. Then, read on.
April 12, 2020
Kindly follow this trail:
- Covid-19: Pandemia or Global Hysteria?
- Mind and Corona
- The Message in the Virus
- Covid and Attention
- What To Do in Times of Covid
A ‘stress’ primer
The concept of ‘stress’ seems simple. Its origin lies in mechanical stress. The way it is mostly used nowadays is also related to a mechanical view on the human being. Many ‘stress’ tests boil the experience down to a number. Levels of stress are compared to their influence on health and well-being.
To be fully useful, in humans and animals as well, we need a more complex stress-concept, taking into account deeper meaningfulness. I use this concept in this blog. I see in stress the presence of many self-perpetuating patterns of meaning. One example of deep meaning is <Help, I’m gonna die!>
But one doesn’t need to be panicky to be stressed. With a simple stress concept, it may be harder to see the correct correlations. With a too broad stress-concept, one risks to use it in an over-explanatory way. This is a scientific challenge.
In stress, as in many other issues, non-conscious mental processing is more important than conscious mental processing. Any ‘deep meaning’ is first realized at the non-conscious level. Stress is mostly a non-conscious happening. Only from there, we can start to experience anything consciously at all. Only from there also, we can see many influences from mind to body, also in relation to Covid.
In the following, there are knowns and unknowns. I made the text less readable by pointing to this.
How we get ill from the virus (probably)
Many people get infected with SARS-CoV-2, which seems to be – fact – much more infectious than other coronaviruses. Many of the infected people develop – fact – no symptoms or only slight ones.
Within a person, the virus replicates – fact – like crazy, making the person a ‘virus shedder’ especially when symptomatic (sneezing, couching). Thus, almost in every case, the infected person has been able to infect others – fact – before he turns very ill.
Stress inhibits – fact – a strong immune response. We see this also – fact – in the case of vaccination. In Covid, this same phenomenon leads to an even more pronounced viral replication phase. The person develops a huge viral load, becoming a super shedder. That is the opportunity of this virus.
After a weak response, as it often goes, follows a hard one. [see: “Weak, Hard, Strong, Gentle”] In Covid, this shows as a massive immune response, killing viruses but also leading to a huge inflammation reaction. Here again, stress is a culprit. We know that chronic stress leads – fact – to chronic low-grade inflammation. Also, acute stress may lead – fact – to intense acute inflammation. The chronic makes people prone to a massive impact of the acute. Thus, the hard immune response may become life-threatening.
We know that age and anxiety negatively influence the immune response. Both together even more – fact – than their simple sum. Thus, older people get more severely ill and might also be more infectious in the beginning, mostly to each other. This may explain – hypothesis – the vast toll that we see in homes for the elderly.
To do, person-level
Definitely, without the virus, there would not be an immune overreaction against the virus. The measures against viral shedding are mandatory.
At the same time, we should look at the mind. Our mind may be at least as important as the virus in being infectious and becoming ill or even dying. Individuals need support in this.
To do, society-level
At the societal level, we need to be careful about how we spread messages and meanings. We want people to keep a distance. ‘A bit of panic’ may help in this, but at the cost of mounting stress. Deeply positive messages are far preferable. Unfortunately, ‘deeply’ is an orphan in an increasingly superficial world. I see the latter as a saddening fact. We are losing depth, which makes many people more and more anxious. [see: “Anxiety”] Older people may be more vulnerable to this, physically and mentally. Knowingly or unknowingly, they experience – hypothesis – the trend. They come from another age.
Of course, a deeply positive message is not just saying so-and-so. In fact, the latter is extremely dangerous. We see strongmen saying so-and-so. At a tipping point of disaster, it backfires enormously. The tragedy becomes complete. The primary victims are vulnerable people. In my view, this may be the most essential part of any message: you do it out of care for the more vulnerable.
Indeed: for the more vulnerable in your direct environment as well as at the other side of town, continent, world. In a global village, everybody comes to the campfire.
We should not denigrate the virus as part of the problem, but it IS only part of the problem. Our mind is another part. As said, the non-conscious plays a huge role in stress. The messages should be accordingly.
Looking at the Covid world map
At this moment, weeks into the challenge, it may strike anyone that Europe and the US are hit most hardly. India, Afrika, and Latin-America are still spared of the worst. However, the virus is gaining terrain. These parts of the world may still fall off the cliff.
We, from the epicenter of the disaster, should avoid pushing them off the cliff even more by messages of unavoidable doom. Apart from lots of physical support, they need responsibility in body and mind. Are we a good example of the latter?
Back to Wuhan
I don’t want to commit ‘culture bashing,’ but cannot approve of what happens at live markets anywhere. They should be banned. They are bad for the animals. They are also bad for the future of humanity!
The animals in the ‘live market’ are very stressed. Thus, they are very infectious to each other. The ones who are infected get immense viral loads. This happens again and again, creating a niche for our type of coronavirus. It learns to take advantage of stress.
Jumping over to humans, it gets its ‘aha experience.’ Isn’t this human creature an exceptionally stressful animal? So, the human cycle begins, and it goes very rapidly. Helped by personal transportation, the virus conquers the world.
The rest will be history. There is always a lesson in history. We should learn it now.