The COVID-19 Arrow: Striking at the Heart of American Life and Culture

The COVID-19 Arrow: Striking at the Heart of American Life and Culture

This eventual outburst of awareness and concern (often leading to the enactment of more ambitious policies and interventions) produces a new accelerating curve and new power law—one regarding increased awareness, concern, and engagement. This new curve will interact, in turn, with the curves of infection, hospitalization and death, leading to a flattening of these curves – but only after considerable damage has been done. Furthermore, the damage is based not just in the physical and mental health of a disengaged society’s citizens. The level of trust in their government and the intentions and competencies of their fellow citizens are also damaged.

A new vicious circle (and accelerating curve) is created. The loss of trust tends to increase disengagement and nourishes the creation of sociofugal settings that drive people apart and polarize opinions in the halls of government, in human service clinics and in community welfare agencies. As Dr. Silberberg notes, there can be a shattering of self among both those served and those providing the service. The silos are reinforced and the inclination to peer outside one’s silo diminishes. Even if we lose people inside our own silo, we will tend to grieve alone. . . . Unless we can find an agency that will enable us not only to share our grief, but also process our pain. This is where treatment opportunities, in particular, are to be found in American society.

Treatment Opportunities

Varda Silberberg provides several important insights regarding therapeutic opportunities:

. . . the Corona experiences may heighten client’s awareness of pre-existing issues that the individual may now be ready and willing to address. Moreover, the complicated reality offers opportunities to develop new coping skills with respect to key issues such as personal responsibility, flexibility, and coping with anxiety and loss of control, which are prominent components of the Corona experience. It is interesting to note that the participants in this study identified opportunities for change both for their clients and for themselves.

Thus, while the VUCA-Plus challenges and outcomes related to COVID-19 can cause major pain and suffering, they can also create opportunities for “therapeutic moments” when clients finally recognize the need for new ways of addressing psychological problems in their life which may have been lingering for many years. Are these opportunities also available to the American client? I would suggest that the answer is not clear.


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William BergquistWilliam Bergquist, Ph.D. An international coach and consultant in the fields of psychology, management and public administration, author of more than 50 books, and president of a psychology institute. Dr. Bergquist consults on and writes about personal, group, organizational and societal transitions and transformations. His published work ranges from the personal transitions of men and women in their 50s and the struggles of men and women in recovering from strokes to the experiences of freedom among the men and women of Eastern Europe following the collapse of the Soviet Union. In recent years, Bergquist has focused on the processes of organizational coaching. He is coauthor with Agnes Mura of coachbook, co-founder of the International Journal of Coaching in Organizations and co-founder of the International Consortium for Coaching in Organizations.

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