The Psychology of Pandemics

Wondering why society went off-kilter during the pandemic? It was all predicted in this book
A year and a half into the pandemic, a group of citizens still refuse to acknowledge that a major health event is even happening. Why? A prophetic book by a psychologist in Vancouver, B.C., predicted this, as well as most…

Taylor would know because he predicted it. He wrote a remarkable little book back in 2019 called “The Psychology of Pandemics.” Its premise is that pandemics are “not simply events in which some harmful microbe ‘goes viral,’” but rather are mass psychological phenomena about the behaviors, attitudes and emotions of people.

The denialists and refuseniks today are engaging in what the psychology field calls “psychological reactance.” It’s “a motivational response to rules, regulations, or attempts at persuasion that are perceived as threatening one’s autonomy and freedom of choice,” the book describes.

Pandemics bring out all these extremes in behavior,” Taylor told me. “Anxiety, fear, denial, racism, conspiracy theories, the popularity of quack cures, the ‘you’re not the boss of me’ backlash to health directives — these things have all been seen dating back to the medieval plagues.”

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