MENTAL HEALTH OR COVID-19: THE NEXT DAY
Dimitris Karagiannis, Psychiatrist-psychotherapist, Professor at Frederick University of Cyprus
"Certainties built in times of uncertainty"
"In the globalized postmodern society where the politically correct prevails, it is not so correct to talk about certainties.
In the times of the global pandemic when everything is fluid and unpredictable, it is not so correct to refer to certainties.
But I will dare to refer to certainties that were built in these years of uncertainty.
The search for timeless certainties, i.e. timeless values, is an important interest of mine, since I work with young people who have been called to co-exist with digitized systems, guided by algorithms that are not visible, and in the future working with robotoids that will not make mistakes, such as people.
These certainties that may be able to be used by future human generations who will live after the complete questioning of the values that supported and gave meaning to the lives of many - many past generations.
1st certainty: Enforced confinement in the era of Catholic quarantine affirms the truth of the timeless value of significant others in our lives.
The importance of long-term family relationships was recorded. It noted the importance of having time with loved ones to share not only the problems but also the important moments of intimacy. Those who had established strong personal relationships also developed the ability to maintain them despite limitations.
The problem was not only with the lonely elderly, as has been recorded. The problem concerned young adults aged 30-45 who were lonely. Those who could no longer work in person, but only from online platforms. Those who could not have social contacts, nor fun and romantic sexual opportunistic relationships that filled their gaps at different times.
2nd certainty. Closed systems are dying. In other words, the systems that are either limited due to adverse conditions, or the systems that choose closure as a defense mechanism, against the supposed enemies.
This is not a psychological consideration, but the transfer of knowledge of the physiology of the unit of life that is the cell. The cell is surrounded by the cell membrane, which cannot be open, without boundaries, because the cell would spill into the interstitium. The cell membrane cannot be closed either because that would also lead to the death of the cell. It is selectively semi-permeable which allows, through complex and demanding mechanisms, communication with the rest of the cells, without losing its autonomy.
Individuals, couples, families, social groups, professional groups, religious communities, educational programs, states and economies cannot be closed within their boundaries and not be mortal. Development is not only an economic component, it is also mainly spiritual. The human entity is social. All of our identities are interactive. It is built on human relationships. He who does not have the need of others will either be a beast or a god, our ancient forefather has spoken to us.
3rd certainty. We cannot meet the universal human need for happiness by seeking any kind of material well-being. There are times when any material possessions, which are desirable and make our lives easier, lose their ability to be beneficial. They are the necessary, but not the sufficient condition for human happiness. Patients of covid wards who survived know this well.
4th certainty. The realization that there are no local problems, since they are universal. It is no coincidence that the flight of the butterfly in the Amazon affects our lives. The distance of the laboratory in Wuhan, China from our home in Greece seemed very far. But it wasn't. The coffin convoy in Bergamo was nightmarish, but it seemed too far removed from our own events and for some conspiracy theorists it even registered as staged. But after so long, the ICUs of our NHS are full.
5th certainty. We all belong to the common human destiny where decay and death are the unquestionable first truth. Doctors, nurses and volunteers who have stood by human suffering, not technocratically, but essentially, cannot make the stupid comment of why should I get this, when they have encountered it in thousands of other people who have experienced the same thing problem. People who participate in the difficulties and problems of others have made the mental vaccine against the difficulties that will naturally come to their own lives.
6th certainty. Physical or mental trauma can be a gravestone in people's lives, especially when it is used as an excuse to quit. Any disease, any disability, any emotional, physical, mental abuse, any socio-economic damage can be a causative or precipitating factor for the appearance of a mental disorder, from the mildest appearance of intense anxiety, to the most serious that can lead to the suicide.
7th certainty. The same causes - traumas that lead some to leveling, can become beneficial factors in the lives of people who decide to metabolize and transcend them. The possibility of developing mental resilience is a researchable factor in modern psychiatry, i.e. the search for the mental immune mechanism that develops the body's defense against psycho-aggravating factors.
It seems that mental resilience is created either in experiences of authentic love in early childhood, or where the complete absence of a support system led to the creation of life vows.
8th certainty. Digital technology is here to stay. The old days will never return. Digital holograms will accompany us. Robotoids already have developed emotional intelligence. Digital programs eliminate physician positions and more. New unspoken questions will arise that a short time ago seemed unimaginable. Will man remain locked in the basements of the good old days? Will it get lost in the pits of virtual reality? Will he surrender to the generalized self-satisfaction of meeting individual needs for unmitigated pleasure? Or he will develop other spiritual and intellectual capabilities that will allow him, as he went through the caves in his spiritual quests, to have continuity. For me this is also a certainty, but of course it is also the question of the next day.
9th certainty. Human existence and its mental functions cannot be examined one-dimensionally, but require bio-psycho-social study. We cannot make psychiatric diagnoses of, for example, depression considering that it is limited only to serotonin neurotransmitters, ignoring the intrapsychic potentials, as well as the social context that surrounds the particular person. We cannot psychiatricize the man who struggled under the very harsh conditions he was called upon to face, the man who is anxious to face adverse conditions, the man who mourns.
10th certainty. We cannot refer to human life without referring to the overriding existential question of the search for personal meaning. The question is universal, the answer personal. The emergence of the existential component seeks the existence of meaning in the face of perishable individuality. A meaning that has to be achieved both on a personal and social level"