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We are all Paranoid in the Time of Corona

Writer: Breen Duhoki
Throughout history, the Earth has witnessed vast outbreaks of epidemics and diseases that have destroyed humanity and changed the course of history to a more brutal one as is now the case with the coronavirus/ COVID-19, which spreads its strings over the entire universe as a spider net, fully paralyzing its movement in comparison to the previous epidemics that affected one place than another; not stopping the movement of the world as a whole, however only part of it. Despite the differences, there is a common factor that combines all these diseases, whether they were widespread, a pandemic or an epidemic from the beginning of its appearance until now, which is the human response as they appear, and it can be defined terminologically as “Paranoia.” Thus, this in its turn works to spread mental illness along the spreading epidemic, as it raises fear and irregular behavior. However, even after the end of these diseases, it firmly haunts human minds as they talk about them with fear through stories and tales, such as the Black Plague disease in the fourteenth century which is remembered till this day.
It is a state of mental illness resulting from a false belief that the patient clings to on the basis of incorrect logic. As well as, a mental disorder featured by suspicion, mistrust, and feeling of persecution. Hence, most of its significant symptoms are fear of a bad happening, believing that others are responsible and exaggerated and unrealistic belief. This disease grows gradually until it becomes chronic and it appears to intensify when any epidemic takes place which is what we now notice when COVID-19/ coronavirus has spread. Everyone starts inadequately sounding the alarm when they realize any danger. For example, saying “it is fatal and invisible, we cannot protect ourselves, and the government does not control the situation” ignoring the basics as following a precautionary measure of protection. As wrong reactions lead to demonstrating a new crisis that does not differ from the epidemic. For the fear of coronavirus as a pandemic is not new, however is rooted since the past. Furthermore, the plague that killed millions of people from Europe in the middle of the fourteenth century, followed later by typhus, smallpox, cholera and other diseases, the most recent of which is Corona/ COVID-19, which revealed the weakness of humans.
As the spread of the virus intensifies, the phobia intensifies along which affects the entire country with paranoia, while the epidemic affects only part of it. As a result, we all become paranoid the symptoms of which begin to show as the following indicate:
Worry of the new threat:
Humans are frequently subjected to threats that could lead to their death whether as a result of wars or familiar diseases, for example “regular flu / cold” which, according to WHO, causes the death of approximately 650,000 people annually. However, the number of survivors of this disease, even a few, makes people find it unconcerned seasonal disease and there is no fear of contact with anyone infected.
On the other hand, recent studies and research reveal that fears increase with the emergence of any new threat, such as Ebola, Avian Flu, SARS and currently Corona / COVID 19. Hence, the reaction is opposite to the familiar disease if compared, such as the usual flu as mentioned above, as the new virus puts people in a state of complete caution and the acquisition of subjective information through intensive listening, reading and interpreting all of the above as a serious threat. For emotion has always doubled our sense of danger to the point of great concern from catastrophic and unexpected happenings, as is now the case with coronavirus, due to adverse handling of this type of pandemic and the inability to contain it to the point of predicting "loss of control", ending with what we might call "buying panic" for ourselves.

Fear is further nourished when restrictive means of infection and protection are used such as quarantine and isolation to protect the health of the population, which are effective methods in limiting the spread of the virus. However, fear increases more when others are accused of being suspected and carriers of the virus which result in the emergence of bullying cases. For example, when the US President Donald Trump refers to the Corona virus as a "Chinese virus", he seeks to spread xenophobia through which he seeks gloating and blaming another party. This situation is not new, as when the so-called "Hong Kong flu" appeared between 1968 and 1969 and caused the death of nearly 100,000 cases in the United States, and the world totalled nearly a million, half of them being from Hong Kong, there were also advertisements spread in the United States with the words; "Hong Kong flu is not American, grab anything made in the United States" in reference to intimidating people from buying any non-national product.
The same applies to the outbreak of SARS, which appeared in China in December 2002 and had spread to more than thirty countries by July 2003. Among its results were that people belonging to Asian origins, especially in the eastern part, were vulnerable to suspicion regardless of their nationality, as well as, being looked at as carriers of infection and a source of concern for residents of other countries. This generated a symptom of "paranoia" by holding others responsible and demonstrating xenophobia. As the outbreak of COVID-19 in Chinese Wuhan; the source of the disease, had spread, emotions began to side with quick and irrational choices towards a group of people, creating a state of bullying, which we have witnessed recently in the media from Chinese being bullied in some Arab and European countries as a mobile Corona, which promotes racism among people.
Corona stimulates paranoia for everyone:
Digital technology and globalization may have connected the world by a single network; however, they have not controlled the underlying fear of epidemics, which have claimed human lives for thousands of years. As emergencies and public closings due to coronavirus, reflect the weakness and fragility degree of Western countries in the face of any epidemic in our time. In addition to changing the position and centers of these states and shattering their ego, as there is no high wall, barbed wire or water sufficient to prevent the transmission of the virus, even among the most powerful countries.
Rather, this virus has undermined the entitlement and prosperity of all, in contrast to what happened previously, such as the epidemics to which some countries were previously subjected, the one of which its phobia did not cross borders to other countries; uninfected or that have recorded few infections, and did not undermine its life by shutting down its bars, theatres, trips, companies, and schools. However, this COVID-19 has changed the rules and implemented assumptions and expectations that would turn the normal life of all upside down.
Hence, reality now forces everyone to work to overcome this and other epidemics. For the virus does not selectively choose its victims and does not search for a gender, a class, or a race itself, as it may kill anyone and leave the other.
How do we limit this disease?
The containment of fear or what is known as paranoia, is an integral part of the Public Health Department to confront a new emerging disease, which is achieved through a strategy that addresses the needs of the population at risk of the epidemic through the following:
- Confidence Gain: According to psychology, trust between the public and the government is necessary to contain this paranoia.
- Socially Beneficial Media Coverage: Sometimes media coverage of any event increases the aggravation of the situation if it was not balanced. As the myth says that people tend to respond to news that provokes terror and panic more than good news. For when any epidemic spreads, the media begins to search for the numbers of the infected and dead more than the recovered ones, therefore, people started searching by these means for the numbers of infections and the earnestness of the disease neglecting the numbers of those recovering and the decline of the earnestness of the disease.
As a result, media coverage of the epidemic in various manners is a useful tool to stimulate precaution and prevention. Their aim is to shed light on the conditions of the epidemic and not to shed light only on what provokes terror. On the contrast, to shed light on other elements, such as refugees and victims of global conflicts in order to alert public opinion concerning the limited access to health care for these people, and their lack of levels required to obtain the vaccine needed for the herd immunity from infection.
- Advanced precautions: Delays in educating people about facing any new epidemic is liable to increase their fear, due to the reaction and search for death numbers and the extent of its spread and thinking that it is the "greatest annihilation" as happened when the "Black Death" spread in Europe. most people perceive the usual hand-washing tips as only a new preventive measure regarding what is happening now from the rapid spread of Coronavirus. As it is hard to convince people of what you are convinced of as fast as you want.
However, educating people in advance without society being in a state of pandemic, is helpful in limiting panic and excessive reaction when the epidemic appears or any new threat as happened above. As when people are advised to wash their hands frequently and sterilize before any epidemic, it becomes more like performing a habit.
- Delivering the message creatively: When any party desires to communicate a piece of information to the public, it needs a different formulation or interpretation to fit their brains. As the manner in which health and medical experts are convinced to avoid any infection/epidemic is difficult to communicate with the same manner to people, therefore, it needs simplicity to communicate with what people need.

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