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What Coronavirus Reveals About Us

Will this horrific global coronavirus pandemic change us for the better? What lessons will we learn, if any? Practicing clinical psychologist Dr. Noam Shpancer writing in Psychology Today, is cynical about man’s ability to change. Humans by nature are rigid and unwavering:

We respond strongly to—and synchronize quickly and powerfully with—our immediate, current context. When we have one dollar, having two dollars is a dream. When we have a hundred dollars, having two dollars is a nightmare. Our current context dominates our experience. The memory of the past may remain, but its hold on our immediate actions and attentions loosens markedly over time.

This is why we may predict that however grave its social impact, the coronavirus pandemic will eventually become a memory. Most of the lessons of coronavirus—the clarified priorities; the acute awareness of life’s fragility and worth; the new appreciation of simple social pleasures; those grand promises we make to ourselves when our taken-for-granted assumptions are temporarily violated—will fade with time, becoming mere tales of contexts past. And we will go back to being short-sighted, self-focused, conflicted, and as mired in trivial preoccupations as ever. Only by becoming aware of this default mode in our system do we gain the possibility of subverting it.


Noam Shpancer, Ph.D., “Lessons From the Pandemic: What Coronavirus Reveals About Us,” Psychology Today (3-23-20)

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