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Psychology in a Time of COVID: Engaging Four Tiers of Care

6 min read

William Bergquist offers a brief overview regarding the challenges and opportunities for psychologists during the time of COVID. The field of psychology – like most other human endeavors will never quite be the same given the massive, global impact of COVID-19 – and the prospects of many more pandemics in the near future. Here is the recorded overview:


An outline of the presentation made by Dr. Bergquist follows:

Psychological Impact of COVID

  • Anxiety
    1. Diffuse anxiety What triggers our Amygdala: good/bad, strong/weak, active/passive
    2. An enemy that meets all three criteria for being nasty: intentions (indifferent to our welfare), strength (very powerful) and activity (very active throughout the world)
  • Isolation
    1. Loss of social support
    2. Loss of meaning (work, leisure)
    3. Disruption of family structures and dynamics
  • Societal Unrest
    1. Unclear and inconsistent policies: we have never confronted something like this before (the old models of warfare don’t work)
    2. Anxiety and isolation exacerbate existing fissures in the societal structure; polarization (hard to focus energy on an elusive enemy like COVID; easier to find a more tangible enemy in existing society
    3. Perfect storm in most countries: pandemic, climate change, social injustice and socio-economic disparity
  • Authoritarianism/Centralization
    1. Rational: need coordinated efforts in combatting the virus – even international coordination versus diffuse and inconsistent, even contradictory policies and procedures.
    2. Irrational: Address the first three challenges with an escape from freedom toward greater control (regression to a primitive tribalism and search for reassuring authority
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