13. March 2020
Letter from: Alberto Zucconi: President, Person-Centered Approach Institute (IACP), Italy; Secretary General, World University Consortium; Member, World Academy of Arts & Sciences (WAAS) Board of Trustees
To: Some of his colleagues at the U.N., the World Health Organisation (WHO), the World University Consortium, WAAS, among others.
Honestly, I never imagined I’d find myself writing this email of suggestions and indications and on bibliographical references on the risks of post-traumatic stress disorder arising from the effects of a pandemic.
Let’s go in order: The Coronavirus pandemic is real, the dangers are greater than simple flu, the recommendations of the authorities are to be followed to do everything possible to protect yourself and your loved ones and others. Attitudes and behaviours stemming from the denial of risk, cognitive dissonance of the kind that this will not happen to me, the denial of scientific evidence- are all dysfunctional; equally dysfunctional are the excessive fears that result in panic and hypochondria (which we know produces a lowering of immune defences) as well as the paranoid conspiracy theories that I heard from the baker shop where I go to buy bread, such as: “The Arabs are behind all this, no the Americans….or: in China, there was a secret laboratory created by Chinese, Americans with funding from Soros, that where the virus came out…”
We as exponents of the helping professions have a moral and deontological duty to contribute to our own well-being and that of our communities, to defend and promote mental health, remind everyone of the moral duty to manage this emergency in a functional way and with effective and scientifically sound coping behaviours. If it is very important to manage the Coronavirus pandemic effectively, for everyone’s awareness, behaviours and collaboration, perhaps it is wise to remember that there are many other realities and phenomena that should not be overlooked, such as the precautions to avoid seropositivity (AIDS) that reap many victims every year. In addition, there are many other phenomena that attack individual and social health as if they were viruses. And in effect they are in the sense of the fast-spreading damage they create:
very few mention is made of the pandemia of the various types of emotional trauma that leave the victims of such trauma with brain damage, and widespread morbidity, in some cases as victims of sexual and domestic violence; these see victims in adulthood becoming, in turn, the perpetrators of trauma making new innocent victims.
Let us also remember that there are forms of infectious diseases that are not issues of allopathic health but produce lethal damage to social health such as racism, fascism, fanaticism, misogyny, homophobia, corruption, organized crime, social injustice; these see countries such as the United States have macroscopic imbalances, where 10% of its citizens have more resources than the remaining 90% or those related to the polluting countries that destroy the climate and the environment of the entire planet with their blind and ruthless behaviours…I invite you to reflect on the many other forms of pandemics that destroy human rights and other forms of life on the planet…If this is true. Unfortunately, it is very true and it will get worse and worse if each one of us does not develop a greater awareness and congruent behaviours in order not to be part of the problem but of its solution.
We must not forget that there are other variables that are equally infectious but with positive repercussions such as love, solidarity, deep respect, empathy, friendship, kindness, empowerment, participatory democracy – and what others come to your mind?….
If each of us in Coronavirus time will strive to make our own contribution to improving our relationship with ourselves, others and the world, we will not waste this quarantine time and we will all come out of it better…
I want to draw your attention to a United Nations – WAAS Leadership Programme for the 21st Century, where the IACP is one of the partners. Here, you can find the project and the link to a worldwide survey: http://worldacademy.org/projects/global-leadership-in-21st-century. We will present the results to the United Nations on October 20th, 2020.
If you share those values and goals, please share it with interested people and organizations. In particular with all those who in some way belong to minorities who must express their leadership, because this challenge concerns all of us and only together can we hope to manage the future wisely and effectively. We really need to support the emergence of effective leaders from all the components of the varied social ecology sociogram on the planet, leaders capable of managing critical issues and implementing sustainable governance, policies and behaviours at 360°.
If you are interested, you will find below the latest research just published by the prestigious magazine Lancet on the risks of post-traumatic stress disorder, even for those belonging to the helping professions. Great antidote: to feel useful and be motivated by the desire to be truly helpful.
The Coronavirus pandemic: risks of post-traumatic stress disorders associated with quarantine, the effects on health workers.
Samantha K Brooks, Rebecca K Webster, Louise E Smith, Lisa Woodland, Simon Wessely, Neil Greenberg, Gideon James Rubin. (2020).The psychological impact of quarantine and how to reduce it: rapid review of the evidence. Lancet 2020; 395: 912-20 Published Online February 26, 2020 https://doi.org/10.1016/ S0140-6736(20)30460-8
Dear colleagues, let us remind each other that there is a large body of scientific research on growth after trauma, we humans are not powerless; even in the most critical situations, we can make a choice about how to relate to ourselves, to others and to the world and choose to grow from the experience on a human and existential level.
Let’s help each other …
A hug to each of you and best wishes to you and your loved ones,
Rome: The World Academy is proud to include the Person-Centered Approach Institute, Italy as an official WAAS center. IACP is one of the largest psychological counselling and post graduate psychological education and training institutions for psychotherapists, teachers and counsellors in Italy, co-founded by the world-renowned psychologist Carl Rogers and WAAS Trustee Alberto Zucconi in 1979. Headquartered in Rome, IACP conducts research, training and consultancy to protect and promote human capital. IACP is recognized by the Italian Ministry of Education for post-doctoral training courses and is an official Collaborating Centre of WHO and ILO on health promotion training and research. IACP is associated with the Western Behavioral Sciences Institute, an international think tank and is a member of the International University Centre (IUC) of Dubrovnik. In 2012 it received from the American Psychological Association, Division 32, Bühler Award for outstanding and lasting contributions to humanistic psychology. IACP is also one of the founding charter members of the World University Consortium and has offered its long experience in fund-raising to assist the Academy in financing its research projects.