Psychology professor says limiting coverage of COVID-19 crisis would be helpful to psyche

"There is no actual certainty, and because of that, it triggers a real existential crisis in us," says Dr Michael Mahon.

The Randy Tobler Show
March 23, 2020 - 9:48 am

(KFTK) – Dr Michael Mahon, Professor of Psychology and host of the Psych with Mike Podcast joined Randy this weekend to discuss the uncertainty of the Covid-19 crisis.

Dr. Mahon says the Covid-19 crisis casuses an existential crisis within people, and their reaction is a bit confusing,  "what they do is they run out to the store and they buy toilet paper as a way to manifest control, over an uncontrollable situation."

The reaction to the Covid-19 threat is, "mass hysteria" says Mahon, but, "mass hysteria is triggered more by the behavior of others, than by the emotion of others."  Mahon relates that directly to the run on toilet paper, "that then triggers other people to say 'oh yeah' I better go get toilet paper before it all runs out. It gives us the false hope that we now can control the situation."

Coverage of Covid-19 is playing into the current situation as well, with the 24-hour news cycle. "What's happened is, that now we see a lot of information coming out that's conflicting. You add to that information on the internet that can't be verified or corroberated, like, 'China created the virus, or so-and-so created the virus,' and people don't know what to think.  Now our cognitive dissonanse is starting to really, really, really play with us.  The inability of the human brain to hold two conflicting thoughts simultaniously, now that's really becoming a problem."

"That's a recipe for people being psychologically overwelhmed," says Dr Mahon. "Step back, maybe don't pay as much attention to the news. It's imporatnt for people to be informed, but maybe you don't need to try and cover this yourself, 24-7, maybe just try and accept a little bit of information at a time. Then do things to remain calm. Calm is the pivotal issue here, what we need is for people to be able  get as much information as they can process, but not so much that they feel overwehlmed."

Find the latest PsychwithMike Podcast on Coronavirus HERE

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