Personal Health

Don’t panic: A psychologist explains why politicians should not use this phrase

“Don’t Panic.” Almost inflationary, this phrase is used in times of Covid-19, especially by politicians. Italy’s Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte stressed recently as well as US President Donald Trump, it was because of the spread of the new Coronavirus is no reason to panic, you have everything under control. EU health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides, and the Chancellor Sebastian Kurz in Austria the phrase used. Local authorities report suspected cases of diseases or precautions often associated with the message: do not give in to panic. This may be well – intentioned, but causes in many people the opposite. The excitement would be so great with a different vocabulary, Gerd Reimann of the German psychologists Academy (DPA) is convinced.

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“I’m going as a citizen, a politician, that he knows more than I do,” he explains. “When he speaks of ‘don’t panic’, which leads many people to exactly the opposite conclusion: they believe even more so, that there is reason to panic.” Many politicians lack because of a psychologically-oriented communication training. Pediatricians and parents is the effect of a vaccination or treatment does not hurt, it makes little sense to insure the child insistently: “no, you don’t have to be scared of.” Because even small people the effect is then exactly the non-intentional: anxiety, which can amplify the sensation of pain, and the tears only roll down can.

Scared by the security personnel

Reimann called another well-documented example: After the robbery, the employees, raids on banks, there is often the desire for security personnel. In the first time, the not do for the sense of security sense – in the long term, but; “The Psyche in order to return the sub-conscious quickly: The fear of a possible Robbery arises precisely because of the guard’s in front of the door – there must have been a reason, that is always there.”

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The phrase “don’t panic” witness often of helplessness and their own uncertainty. “The managers should not use at all”, is Reimann is convinced. But what is the better Alternative, what brings people the most likely to keep the crisis quiet and Serenity? “Information”, says the psychologist. In the centre, must be fully and objectively the facts, to inform data and information, as detailed as possible. “This is extremely helpful in crisis situations.”

That much is about the novel Virus was not yet known accurately, make a part of the perceived threat. “And you have no remedy for it,” explains Reimann. “Uncertainty and perceived helplessness to bring a force into the perception that the actual threat is not at all appropriate.” In addition, many people interpreted the drastic measures against the spread of wrong: “you assume that the Virus is a threat, that it is very dangerous.”

“Man is for himself”

That the Virus causes in the vast majority of cases, no symptoms or just a common cold, is hidden. As well as the fact that the measures do not serve to promote the protection of the Individual, but society and the health system prior to a rapid spread of wave to keep it. The smaller the Rate of infections could be kept, the lower the pressure on the medicine is going to be system and the society, declared by the Berlin virologist Christian Drosten. This is not only a full waiting areas and doctor’s offices, occupied intensive care unit beds, and an overloaded public health offices, Many workers would be missed in a compressed epidemic at the same time, also in schools, institutions and other facilities, there could be problems because of sick personnel.

In General, risks that are not observable – for example, radioactive radiation, or viruses would be perceived as a threatening, so Ralph Hertwig, the Director of the Max-Planck-Institute for educational research in Berlin and specializes in the psychology of risk. “In addition, newer risks to trigger a stronger reaction than those to which one has been accustomed to.” In the case of Sars-CoV-2 is Reimann, according to another possible psychological factor that the Virus come from China, a country that is perceived with its size, its Power and its influence on the world economy anyway, as a threat. “A Virus from Luxembourg might not be so bad for the personal Feel.”

The big Problem here is that fear is bad in statistics. A realistic assessment of the situation then falls hard. This may, in turn, lead to the fact that it behaves rationally. “Each person reacts differently, and some even completely over,” explains Reimann. The hoarding currently be such a reaction, but also fear psychosis are possible. It was unfortunately so, that in a crisis often evolutionarily ancient heritage, to break forth: the instinct to protect themselves and the passing on of his genes. “Man is for himself,” says Reimann. “This does not have to happen consciously.” For some people, the empathy come literally to a Standstill, without that they would take this to be true. “One can only hope that most people have your head switched on.”

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