This is a short video answering some questions in relation to how to cope with the intensity of the coronavirus pandemic by focusing on psychological survival and wellbeing at home.
As of 17 April 2020:
TOTAL CASES: 108,692.
ACTIVE CASES: 93,772
PATIENTS WHO DIED: 14,576.
PATIENTS DISCHARGED: 344.
How can I check the UK numbers for myself?
The GOV (2020) has recently created a more accessible dashboard at coronavirus.data.gov.uk. By visiting such link you will be able to access the number of total cases, the number of lab-confirmed daily cases, the number of total deaths, and the number of daily deaths.
For more specific statistical information, such as the total number of active cases, and the percentage of cases per 1 million population, visit worldometers.info/coronavirus.
How can I calculate the number of recoveries?
You can calculate the recoveries by subtracting the total of active cases and the total deaths from the total number of cases, much like the following formula:
#total cases – #active cases – #deaths = #recoveries.
108692 – 93772 – 14576 = 344.
Is the number of recoveries being reported appropriately?
No. There is something suspicious about the number of recorded recoveries. The number ‘344’ as calculated above was first published on the 9th April, 2020. Since then, Worldometers (2020) has been showing “N/A” in the relevant UK box only. This gives the impression that nobody else has recovered, or has been discharged from hospital since then. However, the evidence shows that such is not the case. For instance, the media (Cooper, 2020) reported that prime minister Boris Johnson was discharged from hospital on the 12th April, 2020. Nevertheless, the number of recoveries continued to show as 344. Furthermore, there have also been news coverages of patients who have been treated successfully and have consequently been discharged from hospital, such as the story published on BBC News (2020) featuring a 106 years old patient who was discharged from Birmingham’s City Hospital on the 15th April, 2020. Yet, the numbers did not register this or any other recovery, and as can be seen from the above calculation, the number continues to add up to 344. All this shows that there is something wrong with the numbers, and this by all means causes anxiety to those who want to have a clear understanding of the death rate in the UK. It is also demotivating to those who are making efforts to follow the medical advice available.
Why are accurate numbers crucial to good mental health?
In order for people to make good decisions through the COVID-19 pandemic, it is essential that the threat is appraised correctly. With false information, life can feel too uncertain to cope with, and some might develop feelings of confusion, panic and consequential self-neglect. Trusting in our government and in our newspapers has never been more important. Losing such trust can elicit disorder, and reduce health behaviours associated with a stable response. In order for people to successfully follow protocol, and to be motivated to self-protect, the information has to be free from deception. In order to allow the public to feel efficient in their efforts, the number of recoveries should be publicised, not skewed or censored. Whilst death is indeed a tragic stimulus, taking into account recoveries can serve as a positive reinforcement to those working in the frontline, and to those self-isolating. We do not want to enter a collective state of despair and depression. We are already experiencing a collective state of grief. This is why it is so crucial to report all numbers accurately, not just the bad ones. As the government continues to neglect and censor the good news, hope is being taken away from the British people, and that is by all means unfair and unacceptable.
Are there any new major developments?
After things had relaxed in China, and as of the date of this writing, there has been a new high record of reported deaths. In the past few days and weeks, China had been reporting less than 10 deaths per day, however, today it has again reported 1,290 deaths (Worldometers, 2020) which is certainly a reason to worry as it was thought that the crisis was over in China, and this is why the Chinese government was easing on its restrictions as reported by the The Guardian (Falush, 2020) at the end of March. This is certainly worth taking into account, especially since there have been fears of a second wave of the outbreak.
Moreover, here I share 5 stories that I personally found worth mentioning:
- 13th March: Barrett (2020) reported concerns from the United States about some statements made by the Chinese government which claimed that the US military allegedly took the coronavirus to Wuhan. The US has responded by classifying the meetings related this conversation. This has led some journalists to feel that the COVID-19 crisis has the potential to trigger WWIII [read here].
- 30th March: Guy et al. (2020) reported that the Spanish Royal, Princess Maria Teresa died of coronavirus [read here].
- 9th April: Fiorillo (2020) reported that at least 150 members of the Saudi Royal family have become infected with the coronavirus and patients are being moved from hospitals in order to make room for the privileged [read here].
- 11th April: BBC Newsround (2020) reported that animals all around the world are taking over the empty cities since the global quarantine has made human beings disappear from normally crowded spaces [read here].
- 12th April: Sabbagh (2020) reported that the UK’s intelligence agencies MI5 and MI6 have urged the government of the UK to reconsider the industrial relationship we have with China after the crisis has ended due to suspicions [read here].
Barrett, K. (2020) ‘US biological warfare against China could lead to World War III’, PressTV, 13 March [Online]. Available at https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/03/13/620800/US-biological-warfare-against-China-could-lead-to-WW3 (Accessed 17 April 2020).
BBC News (2020) ‘Coronavirus: “Oldest” patient discharged from Birmingham hospital’, 15 April [Online]. Available at https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-birmingham-52296196 (Accessed 17 April 2020).
BBC Newsround (2020) ‘Coronavirus: Animals takeover cities during self-isolation’, 11 April [Online]. Available at https://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/51977924 (Accessed 17 April 2020).
Cooper, C. (2020) ‘Boris Johnson discharged from hospital’, Politico, 12 April [Online]. Available at https://www.politico.eu/article/boris-johnson-discharged-from-hospital/ (Accessed 17 April 2020).
Falush, D. (2020) ‘As the west is in lockdown, China is slowly getting back to business’, The Guardian, 30 March [Online]. Available at https://www.theguardian.com/world/commentisfree/2020/mar/30/lockdown-china-coronavirus-outbreak (Accessed 17 April 2020).
Fiorillo, C. (2020) ‘At least 150 Saudi royals have coronavirus as patients are moved out of top hospitals to make way for “the elite”‘, The Sun, 9th April [Online]. Available at https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/11362826/saudi-royal-family-coronavirus-elite-hospital/ (Accessed 17th April 2020).
GOV.UK (2020) ‘Coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in the UK’, 17 April [Online]. Available at https://coronavirus.data.gov.uk/ (Accessed 17 April 2020).
Guy, J., Ramsay, M. and Lister, T. (2020) ‘Spanish princess becomes first royal to die from coronavirus’, CNN, 30 March [Online]. Available at https://edition.cnn.com/2020/03/30/europe/spanish-princess-coronavirus-death-scli-intl/index.html (Accessed 17 April 2020).
Sabbagh, D. (2020) ‘UK spy agencies urge China rethink once Covid-19 crisis is over’, The Guardian, 12th April [Online]. Available at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/12/uk-spy-agencies-urge-china-rethink-once-covid-19-crisis-is-over (Accessed 17 April 2020).
Worldometers (2020) ‘Reported Cases and Deaths by Country, Territory, or Conveyance’, in COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic, 17 April [Online]. Available at https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/#countries (Accessed 17 April 2020).
As of 10 April 2020:
CONFIRMED CASES: 73,758
PATIENTS DISCHARGED: 344
PATIENTS WHO DIED: 8,958
Are the numbers to be trusted?
There is a certain ‘mystery’ with the numbers. For instance, the GOV.UK’s (2020a) dashboard has not been updating the recovery section of its spreadsheet since the 22nd March. This has led to much confusion, and many people are suspicious of the numbers being provided. For instance, the media (Merrick, 2020) announced that health secretary Matt Hancock tested positive for coronavirus on the 27th March, 2020. Then on the 2nd April, 2020 he was back to work (Matt Hancock gives first coronavirus briefing since coming out of isolation, 2020) and was looking healthy. Nevertheless, the historic record spreadsheet did not register his recovery, indicating that maybe only those admitted to hospital are being registered in the records.
Another odd discrepancy is the fact that even though Worldometers (2020) updated for the first time this month the number of recovered patients yesterday to 344, the historic record document mentioned above- which is available on the GOV.UK’s (2020a) dashboard- continues to show 135 as the number of recoveries. This is worrisome as it gives an impression of misinformation and it elicits uncertainty. No wonder many people are having a gut feeling of ‘deception’ at the hands of the GOV.
What is the government’s plan?
As of the date of this writing, the GOV.UK’s (2020b) coronavirus action plan is full of misinformation and inaccuracies. I wrote to the Department of Health & Social Care (GOV.UK, 2020c) on the 1st April in order to communicate my concerns in regards to their published document and to request more frequent reviews of it. Nevertheless, nothing has been done about it, and the file continues to create feelings of confusion and uncertainty. Here you can download the analysis I conducted. You will be able to understand the discrepancies better after reading it.
What is the WHO saying?
I attended the World Health Organization’s (2020) press briefing yesterday (10th April). Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General stated: “When health workers are at risk, we are all at risk”. There were many important calls to action, such as ensuring that medical staff are able to have adequate rest periods instead of long, exploitative shifts; the development of an immune response; and the clarification of the severity of the disease. For instance, so far we have heard about patients who are in mild, and critical conditions. It was mentioned in the conference that an explanation of the moderate condition would be helpful, as there are confirmed cases of pneumonia which have not required hospitalization.
Another important point discussed was that the death of health workers has become a ‘tragic’ stimulus to action. The health environment was spoken about as a double-edged sword. It was also raised that personal protective equipment (PPE) is therefore a must have in hospitals in order to reduce the exposure of health workers to infectious hazards. This reminds us of the importance of staying at home and protecting the NHS. Furthermore, it was also suggested that psychosocial support for front-line and health workers should be made readily available, and reasonable adjustments should also be made by administrative staff in order to prevent doctors and nurses from developing fatigue as a result of extremely long shifts.
What can psychologists do to help the coronavirus crisis?
The coronavirus (COVID-2019) impacts on different people in different ways. Psychologically speaking, this requires an ongoing decision-making process based on the likelihood of catching the virus, and the perceived severity of the consequences.
“The barriers component may comprise both physical limitations on performing a behaviour (e.g. expense) and psychological costs associated with its performance (e.g. distress)”.Abraham and Sheeran (1996, p. 33)
The outbreak is by all means a stress-generative situation. Exploring the psychopathology of the coronavirus pandemic, such as the negative and positive symptoms it causes (e.g. confusion, neurosis, and psychosis) would help both, professionals and students to feel more efficient in their preparedness for what is to come next. For example, the concept of normal distribution and the curve as illustrated by The Visual and Data Journalism Team (2020) would help people understand what is meant by “the peak” of the outbreak that so many sources are expecting and talking about.
Psychologists are also encouraged to help people understand the serious challenge at hand, and the levels of vulnerability in individual differences. Moreover, it would also be helpful to stimulate the GOV so they respond quicker without the need for the tragic stimulus of death explained above. Furthermore, exploring the cycle of panic and neglect that manifests as response to the threat would help soothe emotionally vulnerable human beings. Advice about how to strengthen the system is welcome. When it comes to forensic psychologists, it would be useful to elucidate how data formulates policy, and why it is important to have accurate data in order to prevent confusion at subnational levels, including criminal justice settings.
How can I check the coronavirus numbers for myself?
There are two ways you can check the coronavirus statistics. For global numbers go to Worldometers.info/coronavirus.
For UK-specific numbers:
- Go to the GOV.UK’s (2020a) Dashboard.
- Click on the ‘About’ tab at the bottom of the page.
- Click on the ‘Access historic data from the dashboard (xlsx)’ link.
- Save the file on your device.
- Open the file with a spreadsheet software such as Google Sheets (n.d.), Microsoft Office Excel (n.d.), or LibreOffice Calc (n.d.).
Please note that GOV staff have neglected the recovery section in the official spreadsheet since 22nd March, 2020. If you are concerned about the numbers, please contact the Department of Health & Social Care on https://contactus.dhsc.gov.uk/ and explain to them your concerns.
Abraham, C. and Sheeran, P. (1996) ‘The health belief model’, in Conner, M. and Norman, P. (eds) Predicting Health Behaviour, Buckingham, Open University Press, pp. 23-61.
Google (n.d.) ‘Google Sheets’ [Online]. Available at https://www.google.co.uk/sheets/about/ (Accessed 11 April 2020).
GOV.UK (2020a) ‘Total UK COVID-19 cases’, 4th April [Online]. Available at https://www.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/ae5dda8f86814ae99dde905d2a9070ae (Accessed 11 April 2020).
GOV.UK (2020b) ‘Coronavirus action plan: a guide to what you can expect across the UK’, 3 March [Online]. Available at https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/869827/Coronavirus_action_plan_-_a_guide_to_what_you_can_expect_across_the_UK.pdf (Accessed 11 April 2020).
GOV.UK (2020c) ‘Department of Health & Social Care’ [Online]. Available at https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-of-health-and-social-care (Accessed 11 April 2020).
LibreOffice (n.d.) ‘Calc’ [Online]. Available at https://www.libreoffice.org/discover/calc/ (Accessed 11 April 2020).
Matt Hancock gives first coronavirus briefing since coming out of isolation (2020), Youtube video, added by The Sun [Online]. Available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qrF6Z8s5dmw (Accessed 10 April 2020).
Merrick, R. (2020) ‘Coronavirus: Health secretary Matt Hancock tests positive’, The Independent, 27 March [Online]. Available at https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/coronavirus-matt-hancock-boris-johnson-test-positive-covid-19-symptoms-a9430031.html (Accessed 10 April 2020).
Microsoft (n.d.) ‘Office Excel’ [Online]. Available at https://products.office.com/en-gb/excel (Accessed 11 April 2020).
The Visual and Data Journalism Team (2020) ‘Coronavirus pandemic: tracking the global outbreak’, BBC News, 10 April [Online]. Available at https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-51235105 (Accessed 11 April 2020).
World Health Organization (2020) ‘Coronavirus Disease (COVID-2019) press briefings’ [Online]. Available at https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/media-resources/press-briefings (Accessed 10 April 2020).
World Health Organization (n.d.) ‘Biography of Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General’ [Online]. Available at https://www.who.int/antimicrobial-resistance/interagency-coordination-group/dg_who_bio/en/ (Accessed 11 April 2020).
Worldometers (2020) ‘COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic’ [Online]. Available at https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/ (Accessed 11 April 2020).
We have heard the advice, but how can we interpret the information? Why follow the lockdown protocols? This article will clarify the coronavirus’ status quo.
CONFIRMED CASES: 47,806.
PATIENTS DISCHARGED: 135.
PATIENTS WHO DIED: 4,934.
What’s the difference between the coronavirus and COVID-19?
The coronavirus is what people catch, and the COVID-19 is the respiratory disease that can develop. A good analogy for understanding the differences between the two terms is HIV and AIDS. Whilst not all people who test positive for HIV develop AIDS, those who do develop it become severely ill. Similarly, not everyone testing positive for the coronavirus develops COVID-19, but those who do develop it are hospitalised and become severely ill. This is why preventing catching the coronavirus is just as important as preventing catching HIV.
What is the likelihood of catching the coronavirus?
As of the date of this writing, and according to Worldometers (2020a), there have been 47,806 confirmed cases in the UK, which has a population of 67,802,457 (Worldometers, 2020b). This means that the total number of hospital admissions per 1 million population is approximately 704, and the number of deaths per 1 million population is 73. Furthermore, Plymouth (the city where I live) had a population of 264,200 as of February (World Population Review, 2020), and as of the date of this writing it has had a total of 102 hospital admissions (GOV.UK, 2020b), out of which 13 (approximately 12.8%) patients have died (O’Leary, 2020); which means that even though there is a low risk of catching the virus, those who do catch it and develop COVID-19 are at high risk of dying.
Why should I stay at home?
Because you do not know whether you are infected or not, and if you are coronavirus positive but you have not developed COVID-19; you could still pass the virus onto other people who might be more vulnerable than you and who might develop COVID-19. Alternatively, you could catch the virus and in the worst case scenario die.
How is staying at home protecting the NHS?
When you prevent catching the coronavirus, you also prevent spreading it around. This means that you are doing everything you can to make sure that the NHS does not become overwhelmed with patients.
What preventive action can be taken?
- You could self-educate on the topic in order to feel confident that you know what’s going on, and how to survive the crisis.
- You could stay home in order to prevent becoming a patient, or spreading the virus (creating patients). This means that the NHS will have more supplies to deal with the overwhelming number of cases, and those severely ill will have a higher chance of getting the medical attention and equipment that they need.
- You could share the information with your friends and family.
What reliable advice is available?
- The World Health Organization (WHO; 2020a) has a section dedicated to the coronavirus pandemic with all available scientific information.
- The NHS.UK (2020) has a section also dedicated to the disease.
- The GOV.UK (2020a) also has a section dedicated to the lockdown in relation to the pandemic.
How is the virus transmitted?
According the World Health Organization (WHO; 2020b) “COVID-19 virus is primarily transmitted between people through respiratory droplets and contact routes […] transmission of the COVID-19 virus can occur by direct contact with infected people and indirect contact with surfaces in the immediate environment or with objects used on the infected person […] Airborne transmission is different from droplet transmission […]can remain in the air for long periods of time and be transmitted to others over distances greater than 1 m”.
GOV.UK (2020a) ‘Coronavirus (COVID-19): what you need to do’ [Online]. Available at https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus (Accessed 5 April 2020).
GOV.UK (2020b) ‘Total UK COVID-19 cases’, 4th April [Online]. Available at https://www.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/ae5dda8f86814ae99dde905d2a9070ae (Accessed 5 April 2020).
NHS.UK (2020) ‘Advice for everyone’, 3 April [Online]. Available at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/ (Accessed 4 April 2020).
O’Leary, M. (2020) ‘Ten coronavirus deaths confirmed in past 24 hours across Devon and Cornwall’, Plymouth Herald, 5 April [Online]. Available at https://www.plymouthherald.co.uk/news/uk-world-news/coronavirus-death-toll-uk-risen-4021937 (Accessed 5 April 2020).
World Health Organization (2020a) ‘Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic’ [Online]. Available at https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019 (Accessed 5 April 2020).
World Health Organization (2020b) ‘Modes of transmission of virus causing COVID-19: implications for IPC precaution recommendations’, 29 March [Online]. Available at https://www.who.int/news-room/commentaries/detail/modes-of-transmission-of-virus-causing-covid-19-implications-for-ipc-precaution-recommendations (Accessed 5 April 2020).
World Population Review (2020) ‘Plymouth population 2020’, 17 February [Online]. Available at https://worldpopulationreview.com/world-cities/plymouth-population/ (Accessed 5 April 2020).
Worldometers (2020a) ‘COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic’, 5 April [Online]. Available at https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/ (Accessed 5 April 2020).
Worldometers (2020b) ‘U.K. Population’, 5 April [Online]. Available at https://www.worldometers.info/world-population/uk-population/ (Accessed 5 April 2020).
The world is in chaos. The coronavirus has accelerated at an unprecedented rate, leaving planet Earth feeling vulnerable and in a state of collective sorrow. Things have never been like this. Unless you are over 100 years old, you have never witnessed this level of transnosological danger in your entire life. Due to the panic-ridden headlines, many people are experiencing an aversion to potential loss or potential grief. Others seem to be in denial. Where is the balance? This article aims to explore some of the facts, figures, and dynamics determining coronavirus-associated behaviour.
As of 28/03/2020:
TOTAL GLOBAL CASES: +602,000
TOTAL GLOBAL DEATHS: +27,400
TOTAL GLOBAL RECOVERIES: +133,500
How severe is the threat?
The threat is perceived by the public as extremely severe and unprecedented. Here in the United Kingdom it has been set as high risk; and this is why Primer Minister Boris Johnson has enforced the draconian lockdown (Cabinet Office, 2020). The virus is very contagious, and due to the increasing death rates people are feeling very susceptible with this disease threatening their physical integrity, and potentially their life or the life of those whom they love. Nevertheless, it must be objectively said that 95% of recorded cases worldwide report mild symptoms. Yet, from mild symptoms have arisen many deaths.
How susceptible am I to the threat?
It seems that among the high risk groups are people over 80 years old, those with underlying health conditions, and smokers with chronic pulmonary problems. Furthermore, according to the United Nations (2020): “The risk depends on where you are – and more specifically, whether there is a COVID-19 outbreak unfolding there”. In other words, demographic variables will indicate the level of risk in specific areas. For instance, the South West area where I live in the UK is the area with the lowest risk of contamination (GOV.UK, 2020b), and my city (Plymouth) has only 26 cases so far (O’Leary, 2020). Furthermore, commenting on the safety of packages and deliveries, the UN (2020) further states: “The likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low and the risk of catching the virus that causes COVID-19 from a package that has been moved, travelled, and exposed to different conditions and temperature is also low”. So if you are concerned about me, don’t worry, I am ready.
How is the virus appraised by the global government?
The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned the world about the fact that no antibiotics, no medication, and no vaccination has proven to prevent or cure the coronavirus. Therefore, they appraise this as a serious situation.
World Health Organization (2020).
What are mental health experts saying?
Mental health experts understand that this is without a doubt a stress-generative situation. The uncertainty that COVID-19 triggers is in many cases inevitable. Furthermore, the unpredictability and uncontrollability that manifest with the facts and figures are a source of anxiety for many people. Nevertheless, this does not mean that pre-emptive and preventive action cannot be taken. The GOV and the WHO have issued specific guidance which can help reduce the hazard and intensity of the situation. Sanitary action is in this case reasoned action, and this can be planned, performed, and maintained in order to cope with the threat in an adaptive way. Moreover, because this is an extraordinary situation which has disrupted the standard routines of many people, there is a certain level of confusion, fear, and worry. Remember to:
- Wash your hands with soap as frequently as possible for 20 seconds.
- Stay indoors unless it is absolutely necessary to go out to seek medical care.
- Order groceries online as infrequently as possible instead of going to the shop (even though online deliveries are the least unsafe option, there is still a risk of contamination through such medium).
INTERNAL LOCUS OF CONTROL: Factors which can be totally controlled by and depend solely on the individual.
EXTERNAL LOCUS OF CONTROL: Factors which can’t be controlled by and do not depend on the individual.
(Norman and Conner, 1996).
I see people behaving like nothing is happening. Am I too paranoid?
No. What you see happening is a state of collective denial. People keep going to work, doing physical exercise outdoors, and attending social gatherings because they are underestimating the severity of the threat. The kind of self-absorption that is dominant in individualistic, Western societies is an intellectual disadvantage in this case which requires an analysis of global events and behaviour. It only takes analysing what is happening in China, the US, Italy and Spain to understand that due to the incubation period of the virus (up to 2-3 weeks; Worldometers, 2020) it is quite possible that the COVID-19 is having a delayed impact in the UK. The virus does survive a long time in the air, meaning that it can be breathed quite easily. This is why a two metre distance is advised. Those behaving as if nothing was happening are not able to rationalise the threat because being able to move around gives them a false sense of being in control of the situation. In my opinion, it is an unnecessary risk they are taking. Similarly, those going to work outside the emergency system are still playing down the risk.
According to Norman and Conner (1996), the more an individual perceives potential health susceptibility, and the more that the threat is perceived to be severe, the more fear arousal there is. This means that the way people respond to the outbreak will depend on their level of awareness about the high risk the coronavirus poses. For instance, here in the UK there are more deaths than recoveries, and the counter for recoveries has been stuck at 135 (GOV.UK, 2020b) for several days already, unlike the counters for new cases and deaths, which keep burgeoning. This is problematic and worrisome. So if you are feeling too paranoid and as if you are being too careful, rest assured that you are just being as careful and responsible as you and everyone else are expected to be.
What can I do to calm down?
This is a good question, as everything functions better when people remain calm. There are many variables that are within your locus of control, such as the way you interpret the situation (perception) which can be optimised by engaging in intellectually stimulating activities such as reading, watching films, or having conversations. The more you learn, the more confident you will feel in assessing risk, and the more you will engage in reasoned behaviours that promote health and prevent disease. Another variable that you can control and nourish in yourself is your emotional wellbeing, which can be enhanced by ensuring that you get enough sleep (this will also boost your immune system, and will therefore help you fight off infections; NHS.UK, 2018), that you eat well, and that you have a tidy and clean environment around you. If you have long-term conditions, it is necessary that you continue to take your prescribed medications during this time in order to keep healthy. Furthermore, remember that you have the capacity of preventing contamination by following the guidance. Successfully executing the recommended courses of action will help you feel self-efficient and safe. Engage in some yoga or pilates at home, entertain yourself, and stay in touch with your family and friends digitally. Keep the following points in mind:
- Neither underestimate nor overestimate the magnitude of the situation. Stay tuned for the facts and figures.
- You can sign online petitions to participate in requesting specific outcomes for the common good.
- Plan for short to medium term supplies and associated variables of a lockdown.
- Mental contagion can happen if you allocate too much time and attention to digital material which is sensationalist or misinformed. Be wise about the type of information you consume.
- Double check that your beliefs about what is healthy are not based on misinformation. Here are some myth busters to keep in mind:
What factors are not under my control?
There are several variables that could become a source of frustration during the lockdown. Anything that is outside your mind, and outside your environment is outside your control. You are not responsible for the behaviour of others, and the best thing you can do is share the guidance with your loved ones and hope that they follow it. Moreover, you have no current participation in most of the decision-making processes of the jurisdiction (e.g. the legal measures being duly taken by the GOV in relation to this pandemic). If you are not able to work from home, and cannot make money as a result, you might feel like everything is going to collapse, and in such case all you can do is hope that the GOV will protect your welfare, as such decision is within their locus of control. If you are a key worker, you might feel that your life is being put at risk in order to save the life of others. All you can do is hope that the GOV will listen to the healthcare industry in regards to the much needed protective equipment, spaces, and ventilators. This too is within the GOV’s locus of control. For example, medical staff in Spain are being forced to sedate and asphyxiate the elderly to death in order to use their ventilators on younger patients. Because providing equipment is a decision which only the Spanish political leaders can make, doctors are having a psychological breakdown and are accusing the authorities of genocide for neglecting the welfare of vulnerable citizens. Take a look at this video:
Cabinet Office (2020) ‘Guidance: Staying at home and away from others (social distancing)’, GOV.UK, 23 March [Online]. Available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/full-guidance-on-staying-at-home-and-away-from-others (Accessed 27 March 2020).
GOV.UK (2020a) ‘Coronavirus (COVID-19): what you need to know’ [Online]. Available at https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus (Accessed 27 March 2020).
GOV.UK (2020b) ‘Total UK COVID-19 Cases” [Online]. Available at https://www.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/ae5dda8f86814ae99dde905d2a9070ae (Accessed 27 March 2020).
Hamzelou, J. (2020) ‘How long does coronavirus stay on surfaces and can they infect you?’, New Scientist, 25 March [Online]. Available at https://www.newscientist.com/article/2238494-how-long-does-coronavirus-stay-on-surfaces-and-can-they-infect-you/ (Accessed 27 March 2020).
Johnson, B. (n.d.) ‘About Boris’, Boris Johnson [Online]. Available at http://www.boris-johnson.com/about/ (Accessed 27 March 2020).
NHS.UK (2018) ‘Why lack of sleep is bad for your health’ [Online]. Available at https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/sleep-and-tiredness/why-lack-of-sleep-is-bad-for-your-health/ (Accessed 27 March 2020).
Norman, P. and Conner, M. (1996) ‘The role of social cognition in health behaviours’, in Conner, M. (ed) Predicting Health Behaviour, Buckingham, Open University Press, pp. 1-22.
O’Leary, M. (2020) ‘Four new coronavirus cases confirmed in Plymouth’, Plymouth Herald, 26 March [Online]. Available at https://www.plymouthherald.co.uk/news/plymouth-news/four-new-coronavirus-cases-confirmed-3989498 (Accessed 27 March 2020).
United Nations (2020) ‘Coronavirus (COVID-19): Frequently Asked Questions’ [Online]. Available at https://www.un.org/en/coronavirus/covid-19-faqs (Accessed 27 March 2020).
World Health Organization (2020) ‘Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public: myth busters’ [Online]. Available at https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public/myth-busters (Accessed 27 March 2020).
Worldometers (2020) ‘Coronavirus Update (LIVE)’ [Online]. Available at https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/ (Accessed 27 March 2020).
The digital world is spreading the panic disease at a faster pace than the coronavirus outbreak. It is very easy to panic when confronted with sensationalist information. This is why analysing the situation closely is the best thing anyone can do for their mental health.
So far, there have been over 244,000 reported cases globally, and out of those over 10,000 have resulted in death, and over 87,000 have resulted in recovery. This suggests that the great majority of infected people recover. Moreover, there are over 147,000 active cases, out of which more than 139,000 are reported as in mild condition, whereas only 7,516 are reported as in critical condition. This indicates that most people diagnosed with the disease are at low risk of death in comparison with the minority which is at high risk of death. It is true that coronavirus death rates have been burgeoning. Nevertheless, there are many reasons why people die, and it is important to keep these rates in mind when making inferences.
Daily global deaths:
- Over 1,000 have died today due to COVID-19
- Over 1,000 have died today due to seasonal flu.
- Over 2,500 people have died today by suicide.
- Over 2,500 people have died today due to malaria.
- Over 6,000 people have died today due to alcohol.
- Over 4,000 people have died today due to HIV/AIDS.
- Over 13,000 people have died today due to smoking.
- Over 21,000 people have died today due to cancer.
UK specific figures
“As of 9am on 19 March 2020, 64,621 people have been tested in the UK, of which 61,352 were confirmed negative and 3,269 were confirmed positive. As of 1pm 144 patients in the UK who tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) have died”.
Understanding global emergencies
What is the level of risk with the coronavirus?
Based on the research presented above which was collected today, so far the risk that the coronavirus poses is very similar to the risk that the seasonal flu poses. The problem is that COVID-19 has no vaccination yet, and it is also extremely contagious in comparison to less contagious diseases such as AIDS/HIV. Another risk is that the virus is spreading very fast.
Should I panic?
No. Panic is not good for anyone. Panic happens because the media industry tends to engage in what can be described as a base rate fallacy (Hardman, 2015) which is the idea that people tend attribute a higher level of risk to a situation when they are not aware of the actual base rates of such phenomena. As demonstrated with the above mentioned figures, COVID-19 has still not reached a point where it surpasses other illnesses which are also global emergencies, such as malaria, HIV/AIDS, and cancer. And whilst it is true that the coronavirus’ rates have been burgeoning and it is spreading super fast, there is hope that it can be tackled (i.e. most people recover).
What other cognitive biases should I be aware of when it comes to illness?
Apart from the base rate fallacy, there is another everyday error people make when making sense of information, and this phenomenon is called availability heuristic (Hardman, 2015); which happens when people consciously allocate their attention to a specific situation whilst at the same time ignoring equally important situations, and then believing that whatever they paid attention to has a higher frequency than what they never consciously paid attention to. In the case of COVID-19, as demonstrated above, there are currently other diseases with death tolls way higher than this virus. Nevertheless, due to this cognitive bias people tend to think that COVID-19 has a higher frequency of deaths than other illnesses, but this happens because the media industry is selective about the information they present to the public, and the information they omit. The daily death tolls mentioned above are evidence about base rate fallacy and availability heuristics present in everyday interpretation of data.
What can I do to protect myself?
- Follow the GOV.UK (2020a) advice.
- Take a deep breath, we are all doing the best we can to help.
- If you are experiencing flu-like symptoms, contact your doctor or call 111 (NHS, 2020).
- Wash your hands regularly with soap and warm water.
- Critically judge death rates without panicking.
- Self-isolate, and remain informed about developments of the outbreak.
- Be kind to emergency staff, as their job has no lockdown.
- If you are a journalist, be mindful about how you present your information. Everything functions better when people remain calm.
GOV.UK (2020) ‘Coronavirus (COVID 19): UK government response’ [Online]. Available at https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/coronavirus-covid-19-uk-government-response (Accessed 19 March 2020).
GOV.UK (2020b) ‘Number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases and risk in the UK’ [Online]. Available at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-the-public (Accessed 19 March 2020).
Hardman, D. (2015) ‘Everyday errors in making sense of the world’, in Barker, M. J. and Turner, J. (eds), Living Psychology: From the Everyday to the Extraordinary, Milton Keynes, The Open University, pp. 51-85.
National Health Service (2020) ‘Coronavirus (COVID-19)’ [Online]. Available at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/ (Accessed 19 March 2020)
World Health Organization (2020) ‘COVID-19 situation’ [Online]. Available at https://experience.arcgis.com/experience/685d0ace521648f8a5beeeee1b9125cd (Accessed 19 March 2020).
Worldmeter (2020a) ‘COVID-19 Coronavirus Outbreak’ [Online]. Available at https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/ (Accessed 19 March 2020).
Worldmeter (2020a) ‘Worldwide’ [Online]. Available at https://www.worldometers.info (Accessed 19 March 2020).
According to Blackburn (2005, pp. 211-223), “aggression describes the intentional infliction of harm, including psychological discomfort as well as injury, although it is sometimes loosely equated with vigour in competitive situations […] a constant need to discharge aggressive energy governs human behaviour […] anger is a socially constructed emotion […] In personality disorders, ego weakness results in the repression of aggression […] Ferguson and Rule, for example, suggest that anger is aroused not simply by the degree of perceived aversive treatment by others, but also by judgements of whether the aversion is intentional, malevolent, foreseeable, and unjustified”.
The cycle of criminogenic behaviour
Gillespie and Mitchell (2018, p. 85) describe individuals diagnosed with psychopathy as a personality disorder (ASPD) as “outwardly normal, but were nonetheless extremely callous and unable to express remorse or guilt, to the point where they seemed to be devoid of human emotion. The patients were typically of above average intelligence and seemingly charming, though lacked the capacity for love”. Psychopaths who go through the criminal justice system can at times exhibit great criminal versatility. The following is a diagram I designed to illustrate how such criminogenic needs and versatility develop and recur.
National homicide rates per 100 000 population, c. 1984
Blackburn (2005) included a table in his chapter about violent crime and aggression where Colombia is listed as the country with the highest homicide rate in 1984 and this was published in the United Nations year-book (1988). Even though the data has changed massively, and Colombia has dramatically reduced its crime rates; such bloody past would have caused generational trauma without a doubt, and the Colombian people would have had to adapt to survive potential death anywhere at any time if they upset the wrong person. Many political leaders were assassinated in order to stop the people from interfering with the criminal business of the mafia. A lot of blood was shed, and the Colombian people were over-exposed to extreme levels of danger to the point where the entire nation was having a humanitarian crisis, which still echoes, and which is still being solved.
|England and Wales||0.7|
Source: United Nations (1988). Demographic yearbook. New York: United Nations Publishing.
Case study: the criminal career of sicario alias Popeye
The following video covers the developmental trajectory of Jhon Jairo Velasquez Vasquez’ criminal career, the political context in which he was rewarded with attention and money for being a hired gun; and how such media attention has led to some of the Colombian people seeing and treating him as a celebrity. Behind this story is a real case of a mental health crisis where the hypernormalisation of violence from recent decades was so extreme, that many people became desensitised to the actions of this type of individual, seeing no difference between what is right and what is wrong. Furthermore, this documentary analyses some of the confessions of Popeye as the primary psychopath that he was, and shows how what is ‘normal’ in a country, is ‘abnormal’ in other places. Popeye specialised in crime, and developed all the skills needed for the criminal business. This makes an interesting case for forensic psychology, and for media studies.
1989: un año para la memoria (2014) Youtube video, added by El Espectador [Online]. Available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fDFsNNaTQIY&t=4s (Accessed 9 March 2020).
2015 Popeye Full TV Interview. Part 1 of 3. English Subtitles (2018) Youtube video, added by Colombian History X [Online]. Available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M6NGWNrzg88 (Accessed 8 March 2020).
Blackburn, R. (2005) The Psychology of Criminal Conduct, West Sussex, John Wiley & Sons/ University of Liverpool, pp. 210-245.
Escobar’s Hitman. Former drug-gang killer now loved and loathed in Colombia (2017) Youtube video, added by RT Documentary [Online]. Available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BQy_LJdZ7qw (Accessed 8 March 2020).
Gillespie, S. M. and Mitchell, I.J. (2018) ‘Psychopathy’, in Davies, G.M. and Beech, A.R. (eds), Forensic Psychology: Crime, Justice, Law, Interventions, 3rd ed, West Sussex, British Psychological Society/ John Wiley & Sons, pp. 85-100.
Popeye: The Jailhouse Interviews Pt. 1 – English Subtitles (2018) Youtube video, added by Colombian History X [Online]. Available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EaPw1EEPOCc (Accessed 8 March 2020).
Popeye: The early years (2018) Youtube video, added by Colombian History X [Online]. Available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZAPsQ0P_4Q0 (Accessed 8 March 2020).
United Nations (1988) Demographic Year-Book, New York, United Nations Publishing Division.
If you are a student of psychology, you might have already come across Professor Loftus’ work on eyewitness memory. She is the pop star and hollywood personality within the field of forensic psychology, and has served as an expert witness in high profile cases such as Ted Bundy and more recently Harvey Weinstein (Associated Press in New York, 2020). Furthermore, Professor Loftus’ work has become highly controversial, and has caused many reactions from victims due to her experiments on eyewitness memory, and how unreliable episodic memory actually is. Her book Witness for the Defense: The Accused, the Eyewitness, and the Expert Who Puts Memory on Trial (1991) narrates her experience working with defendants in the criminal justice system, whilst also delighting the reader with the theory of her experiments and findings.
“There is a generally accepted theory in our field that memory doesn’t work like a videotape recorder. We don’t record an event and then play it back later. The process is much more complex […] In such circumstances there is an increased risk that an innocent person will be convicted […] One of the most obvious reasons for forgetting is that the information was never stored in memory in the first place; even the most common, everyday items frequently fail to find a niche in our memory […] With the passage of time, with proper motivation, or with the introduction of interfering or contradictory facts, the memory traces change or become transformed, often without our conscious awareness”Selected excerpts from Loftus and Ketcham (1991, pp. 4-17)
Recently The Guardian wrote a news report about Harvey Weinstein’s trial and described the situation as follows: “Lawyers for Harvey Weinstein turned on Friday to an expert known for studying false, repressed and unreliable memories who has worked on behalf of clients including the serial killer Ted Bundy” (Associated Press in New York, 2020). Needless to say there are many critiques of Professor Loftus due to her tendency to work for the defense instead of the prosecution, and this has led to journalists wondering why such is the case. For students of forensic psychology like me, there are a series of questions that only her books can answer. I truly recommend this book to those seeking to understand eyewitness memory better, and also those seeking to learn about the behind the scenes of the criminal justice system.
Relevant Questions & Answers
Why work for the defense instead of the prosecution?
Professor Loftus is highly concerned with justice, and prefers to prevent injustice by studying cases meticulously and scientifically. Having already been involved in cases where a potentially innocent person got a death sentence after biased procedures (e.g. Demjanjuk; Loftus and Ketcham, 1991), Dr. Loftus knows the importance of the presumption of innocence. Many studies conducted on eyewitness memory have demonstrated that memories are vulnerable to distortion and contamination. Hindsight bias and post-event information (misinformation effect) are particularly important concepts when trying to understand why miscarriages of justice have occurred in the history of the western societies and their criminal justice systems. In regards to this, her book states: “Although witnesses try hard to identify the true criminal, when they are uncertain- or when no one person in the lineup exactly matches their memory- they will often identify the person who best matches their recollection of the criminal. And often their choice is wrong” (p. 23). This has become a general rule of thumb and a system variable when investigating cases from a psychological perspective. “But in a stressed mind, under intense pressure to come up with someone who could be blamed for this horrible crime, those connections could have been created, welded together by fear and pain and a desire to be done with it all, to stop thinking, to find an answer, a solution” (p. 191)
Why did she defend Ted Bundy as he is not innocent?
According to her book, when Bundy’s lawyer contacted her, he described the case to her as relevant to her work, and as if the prosecution had an “extremely weak case” against his client. Back then she had not heard the name “Theodore Robert Bundy”, and did not know that the famous “Ted cases” were related to him, and it was in 1975 that John O’Connell (Bundy’s solicitor) consulted her in regards to the kidnapping charge against him. At the time, Bundy was a law student in Seattle, and his profile was surprisingly charismatic to the point where it was very difficult to imagine him committing such terrible acts. Dr. Loftus did not expect what came after that, and describes being surprised about this case and remembers having a conversation with O’Connell where she explained her theory: “First, the acquisition stage, in which the perception of the original event is put into the memory system; second, the retention stage, the period of time that passes between the event and the recollection of a particular piece of information; and third, the retrieval stage, in which a person recalls stored information” (p. 77). Furthermore, she describes her impression of Ted Bundy’s death as follows: “The scene switched to an interview with Ted Bundy the night before his electrocution. Prison had removed the arrogance from his smile, sharpening his features. The eyes seemed deeper set, the nose longer and straighter, the creases in his forehead permanently etched […] I felt lightheaded, slightly sick to my stomach” (pp. 90-91). Professor Loftus recalls wondering what would have happened if her expert contribution had led to an acquittal in Utah, and seemed to be distressed about the entire situation as more evidence accumulated about Bundy.
What common cognitive biases does Dr. Loftus study?
Professor Loftus conducts holistic investigations. There are many variables that she analyses, but all of them together are beyond the scope of this article. However, she does mention some of these in the book: “I hit the return key on my computer three times and typed in the words photo-biased identification […] Unconscious transference was the third item on my list […]Next on my list was time estimates. Jurors are aware that memory is better when you have a longer time to look at something, but they are often not aware that later, when a witness tries to estimate how long a particular event lasted, there is a strong tendency to overestimate its durations […] Confidence. Like most people, jurors tend to believe there is a strong relationship between how confident a witness is and how accurate he or she is” (pp. 169-170). In a nutshell, she is a memory expert. “
An example: “We’ve shown people a simulated bank robbery that lasts for half a minute and they will say it lasted for five minutes, eight minutes, even ten minutes. In one experiment people saw an event that lasted four minutes and they said it lasted ten minutes; some said twenty minutes. There is a very strong tendency in the memory to enlarge these complex and stressful events so that they appear to have occurred over a longer period of time than they really did […] Unconscious transference is the mistaken recollection or confusion of a person seen in one situation with a person who has been seen in a different situation. But what is happening here is the merging of an image of a person seen in one situation with a totally different incident. And that is an important phenomenon. Many people do not realise how easy it is for an ‘unconscious transference’ to occur, to take a person with your memory of an experience that happened at a different time” (pp. 200-201).
What is her view on penology and prisons?
Dr. Loftus’ position about penal punishment within the criminal justice system can be appreciated with her closing statement on the Ted Bundy chapter: “Bundy was guilty; there was no longer any doubt about the fact. But he was also a human being, and now he was dead. Where, I wondered, is the triumph, the glory in that” (p. 91). I interpret such statement in the context of human rights law (Equality & Human Rights Commission, 2018), with the right to life being relevant when it comes to capital punishment.
Were the deaths of Steve Titus and Detective Parker correlated?
Last year I emailed Professor Loftus to inquire about her chapter Dark Justice: Steve Titus, about one of the clients she defended, and who was wrongfully convicted of rape. It was a case of bureaucratic corruption. At the end of the chapter, Professor Loftus narrates the following events: “On February 8, 1985, eleven days before he would have faced his tormentors in court, Steve Titus died. He was thirty-five years old […] On June 8, 1987, six years to the day after Titus’ conviction was overturned, Detective Ronald Parker was found slumped next to his gym locker, dead of a heart attack. He was forty-three years old” (p. 60). I asked her whether she wanted to imply a potential correlation between these two deaths, or whether she just wanted to make a historical record. Thirteen days later I received a reply from her where she explained that Titus had died of a heart attack due to the stress he had gone through, and that she was not sure what happened in the case of the detective. Moreover, she said that both, Steve Titus and the detective are buried near each other in the Washington Memorial Cemetery in New York (Anderson, 1991), which is quite ironic.
Can you mention an experiment conducted by Professor Loftus on memory?
Yes, I can indeed. She actually summarises her experiment on semantics in the book: “I hesitated for a moment, trying to decide whether to tell Kurzman about an earlier experiment I’d conducted with adult subjects who watched a film clip of an automobile accident and then were interviewed and asked suggestive questions. By using the verb ‘smash’ instead of ‘hit’, we were able to change not only the subjects’ estimate of the speed of the cars when the accident occurred, but also the probability of reporting broken glass- even though there was no broken glass in our interviews. This particular experiment supported the theory that the subjects experienced an actual change in the original memory” (p. 137).
Irrelevant Questions & Answers
Why did she defend Harvey Weinstein as he is not innocent?
Even though this is not in the book, I see this is along the same lines of why she defended Ted Bundy. Professor Loftus’ work focuses mainly on how people absorb information (learn), store events, and retrieve such details later on. So her involvement in such high profile cases has to do with ruling out the common cognitive and procedural biases found in estimator and system variables of eyewitness accounts and processes; which for her is a fairly straightforward, algorithmic, and systematic, reliable procedure. From what I understand, Harvey was found guilty of 2/5 allegations. This means that Professor Loftus had to make sure that all processes regarding the accusations were put through rigorous scientific methods for mitigation, as well as the examination of potential contamination in the memories of both, accusers and the defendant. This process often involves a detailed episodic, chronological reconstruction of the crime and the parties involved. As an expert witness, Loftus has a duty to be impartial, professional and objective about human memory. This means that her defendant was found guilty of actually sexually assaulting two of the five victims, and only these two accounts were successful in proving consistency in episodic recall. In other words, having Loftus study the case means that it is undeniable to the jury that Weinstein did do those two things, but that it was not proven that he did do those other three things beyond reasonable doubt (Levenson, 2020).
Does all this mean that Professor Loftus does not support the #MeToo movement?
No, that is not what all this means. All this simply means that Professor Loftus had to mitigate human memory empirically in order to clarify to the best of her ability as a scientist what really happened in Hollywood. Expert witnesses tend to be demonised due to the controversial work they carry out. Nevertheless, nothing of the mentioned above is evidence that she is anti-feminist.
My personal favourite:
“It is a fine line I walk as a psychologist in a court of law. While the debate about guilt and innocence is waged with passion and partisan zeal, it is my task to deal with the facts. As an expert witness, the facts I must deal with extend beneath the surface, deeper than the newspaper headlines, deeper even than the confidential police reports and the court transcripts. I am privy to the defense lawyer’s strategy; I’ve read the victims’ descriptions of the accused; I know the sordid and intimate details of the crimes; I’ve viewed the lineups and listened to tape-recorded interviews. But still there are facts I will never hear, details that are beyond my expertise or concern. The defense attorneys tell me what they want me to know, selecting only the facts I will need in order to testify. I do not have access to the prosecutor’s files. I rarely have the opportunity to talk at length with the defendant. And I don’t venture into the jury room to hear their confidential and privileged conversations about guilt, innocence, and reasonable doubt” (p. 241).
Anderson, R. (1991) ‘Port Most Ingenious in Public Spending’, The Seattle Times, 6 July [Online]. Available at https://archive.seattletimes.com/archive/?date=19910706&slug=1292967 (Accessed 7 March 2020).
Associated Press in New York (2020) ‘Harvey Weinstein trial hears from expert on unreliable memory’, The Guardian, 7 February [Online]. Available at https://www.theguardian.com/film/2020/feb/07/harvey-weinstein-trial-unreliable-memories-elizabeth-loftus (Accessed 7 March 2020).
Equality and Human Rights Commission (2018) ‘The Human Rights Act’ [Online]. Available at https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/en/human-rights/human-rights-act (Accessed 7 March 2020).
Levenson, M. (2020) ‘Who’s Who in the Harvey Weinstein Trial’, The New York Times, 21 February [Online]. Available at https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/19/nyregion/weinstein-trial.html (Accessed 7 March 2020).
Loftus, E. (2019) Email to Betshy P. Sanchez Marrugo, 22 October [unpublished]
Loftus, E. and Ketcham, K. (1991) Witness for the Defense: The Accused, the Eyewitness, and the Expert Who Puts Memory on Trial, New York, St. Martin’s Press.
Sanchez Marrugo, B. P. (2019) Email to Dr. Elizabeth Loftus, 9 October [unpublished].
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5, pp. 87-88), psychotic disorders are clusters of key symptoms such as delusions and hallucinations, among other things. Moreover, the DSM-5 defines delusions as “fixed beliefs that are not amenable to change in light of conflicting evidence”, and hallucinations as “perception-like experiences that occur without an external stimulus”. Furthermore, Davey (2018) explains that the symptoms of psychosis can often leave individuals “feeling frightened and confused” (p. 237), and that “sufferers frequently believe that their thoughts are being interfered with or controlled in some way” (p. 239).
There are different types of delusions: persecutory (paranoia), grandiose (narcissistic), control (feeling controlled or manipulated by external forces), referential (thinking that the media, advertisements, news and events are all in some way giving cues about oneself, as if everyone else “knew”), nihilistic (beliefs that go beyond the scope of existence as we know it. This could include thinking that one does not exist any more), and erotomanic (the delusional belief that someone is in love with oneself, regardless of whether they actually have met the person or not). Even though all these types of manifestations often overlap, it is delusions of persecution and delusions of reference that I will be highlighting in this post.
- Suicide rates have dramatically increased within the last few years in the UK (Kaur and Manders, 2019).
- People with symptoms of psychosis have a difficulty in making sense of what is real and what isn’t (Davey, 2018).
- People on the psychotic spectrum struggle with suicidal thoughts, suicidal attempts, and some do succeed in such attempts (American Psychiatric Association, 2013).
- 11% of homicides happen as a result of mental health problems (Pilgrim, 2015).
- Hassan et al. (2011) as cited in Fisher et al. (2018) studied 3000 newly convicted offenders, and found that 10% were suffering from psychosis.
- According to the United Nations News (2019), a person dies by suicide every 40 seconds.
A Case Scenario
Please note this is not a critique of the Youtuber, his personality, integrity, or his work. I have not watched the videos. This analysis is specifically in relation to the name and the cover art of the channel, as well as about Youtube’s liability for managing and preventing these deadly risks.
As I was scrolling and scrolling on Youtube trying to find something to watch, I came across a recommendation from a channel titled They Will Kill You. I instantly thought: Wow, if I still was suffering from psychosis, just being exposed to such recommendation would have caused me great internal distress, confusion, and maybe even a crisis. So I decided to explore the channel, and noticed that the cover art states It wants to kill you, whilst showcasing a picture of a person hung off a tree by their neck. In other words, a picture of suicide by hanging. Such a combination of design is the perfect recipe for having to create stricter regulatory protocols in the digital world. The content elicits feelings of paranoia, persecution, and suicidal ideation. Moreover, I predict that in the future, such technical neglects might be classed as manslaughter, or as assisted suicide should anyone die; both of which are classed as criminal acts in the UK. So let’s get serious about this.
If a person has delusions of persecution, they might think that the reason why nobody is trying to help them is because people want him or her to kill themselves, and if such delusions of persecution are mixed with delusions of reference, the person might feel that this Youtube channel is part of the “conspiracy”. For example, they might already be thinking that their upstairs neighbours are trying to kill them (Eysenck, 2000) through enforced psychological torture designed to trigger their suicidal desires. And being exposed to the name of this channel and to the cover art might lead them to assume that their paranoid delusions are undeniable, and might actually reinforce their schema to go forward with suicide whilst thinking that they have no other choice, and that such are everyone’s wishes. In another possible fatal case scenario, a person might be experiencing complex and bizarre events (Eysenck, 2000) and this type of digital content might serve as an anchor for what can be homicidal acts. Furthermore, Fisher et al. (2018) explained that relapse and recidivism can be triggered by psychosocial stressors. I would like to reinforce this whilst also including digital stressors.
Pilgrim (2015, p. 222) states: “Those with a diagnosis of mental illness are predominantly described in the mass media as a risk to others. However, collectively psychiatric patients are at far greater risk from others and to themselves, as victims of crime and exploitation and from self-harm […] the risk of violence increases with the presence of positive not negative symptoms”. With this statement I rest my case about the necessity for safer algorithms.
Call to Action:
This channel’s name and cover picture are an example of the high risk potential to trigger distress in people within the psychosis spectrum due to the unpredictability of YouTube’s algorithms. Moreover, considering the mental health crises we are facing here in the UK, I strongly recommend that there is more regulation of potentially deadly risks. I also recommend for this user to be encouraged to change the name of the channel to one that is less threatening. Youtube should hire the necessary professionals to manage these complexities.
To summarise, as human beings living in an age of mental health and environmental crises, preventing suicide or homicide should be a common goal in society. Any death that can be prevented should be prevented.
If you or anyone you know know is having suicidal thoughts, please call 999. Alternatively, call Samaritans on 116 123, or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org
American Psychiatric Association (2013), Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th ed, pp. 87-118.
Davey, G. (2018) Psychopathology, West Sussex, British Psychological Society and John Wiley & Sons, pp. 238-284.
Eysenck, M.W. (2000) Psychology: A Student Handbook, East Sussex, Psychology Press Ltd, pp. 671-703.
Kaur, J. and Manders, B. (2019) ‘Suicides in the UK: 2018 Registrations’, Office for National Statistics [Online]. Available at https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/deaths/bulletin/suicidesintheunitedkingdom/2018registrations (Accessed 26 February 2020).
Pilgrim, D. (2015) ‘Aspects of Diagnosed Mental Illness and Offending’, in Crighton , D. A. and Towl, G. J. (eds), Forensic Psychology, 2nd ed, pp. 215-224.
Fisher, D., Ginty, M., Sandhu, J. and Galappathe, N. (2018) ‘Interventions with Mentally Disordered Offenders’, in Davies, G.M. and Beech, A.R. (eds), Forensic Psychology: Crime, Justice, Law, Interventions, John Wiley & Sons Ltd, pp. 639-657.
United Nations News (2019), ‘One person dies by suicide every 40 seconds: new UN health agency report, 9 September [Online]. Available at https://news.un.org/en/story/2019/09/1045892 (Accessed 23 February 2020).
According to the online Etymology dictionary (n.d.), the verb “esteem” originates from 14c Latin meaning “to value, determine the value of, appraise”. Based on this definition, to self-esteem is to self-appraise and to consequently establish one’s own self worth. Nevertheless, in psychological research, the concept of self-esteem is a much disputed one. It encompasses other key terms such as self concept (the awareness a person has about themselves), and self-efficacy in relation to the status quo (the way a person assesses their own abilities and skills; Mahendran, 2015). Is self-esteem a cognitive attitude or a relational phenomenon? Some of these terms will be explored further below, in order to analyse the psycholinguistics and psychodynamics of everyday self-appraisal, and how this reveals the way someone understands and relates to the world around them.
Self-esteem is an everyday psychological phenomenon that permeates all aspects of a person’s life. Psychologists have at times described this concept as one that encompasses all types of attitudes an individual has about themselves (Mahendran, 2015, p. 159). Now, in order to understand how this concept might influence everyday executive functions, it would be helpful to first elucidate what is meant in psychology by the word “attitude” in relation to “self”. According to Mahendran (2015), an attitude has three core components: the cognitive component encompasses the way in which an individual sees their own object, that is, themselves. The affective component explores the feelings an individual has towards their own object. And third, the behavioural component encompasses the general views an individual has about their own identity, and how this perceived identity shapes the person’s behaviour within the public environment. The following paragraphs will elaborate on the cognitive and relational aspects of self-appraisal as an attitude and behaviour. Furthermore, labelling theory proposes that the ‘self’ is socially constructed, and such construal determines what is labelled as ‘deviant’ or ‘criminal’, or ‘normal’ (Blackburn, 2005). This would suggest that by evaluating one’s understanding of the self-concept (including its historical biography), and its relations to the world around it (the episodic map); one can gain a more accurate understanding of what it means to self-esteem. Furthermore, Tafarodi and Milne (2002) cited in Mahendran (2015, p. 178) described self-esteem as having two main components: self-competence and self-liking. Based on this construct, it can be said that a person’s subjective definition of competency, and the mores shaping their milieu and SUPEREGO; contribute to what a person considers worthy, desirable, and acceptable. In correlation, James (1952) cited in Mahendran (2015, pp. 171-173) saw self-esteem as essentially having four components: the material self (the body and possessions), the social self (the personality presented to other people), the spiritual self (the stream of consciousness, and the observer of subjective experience); and the pure ego (a person’s individuality and self-concept in solitude). Furthermore, Branden (1988) cited in Mahendran (2015, p. 161) defined the term self-esteem as having two main feelings: “personal competence” and “personal worth”.
After the self-esteem political movements of the 1980s and 1990s, and after Baumeister cited in Mahendran (2015, p. 162) officially promoted self-esteem as being the key to health and happiness, more and more people began to get in touch with this aspect of themselves consciously. Moreover, the concept of self-esteem gained a collective status, and became a central focus of social psychology. It was realised that self-esteem has intricate environmental and socio-cultural factors which are not always in the control of an individual (that is, that self-esteem is at times a correlational phenomenon). All of this public attention to the subject led eventually to further concerns about whether collective self-esteem could be raised at all without first challenging the status quo. But why would this concept of self-love be relevant to forensic psychology? Branden (1988) cited in Mahendran (2015, pp. 160-161) described self-esteem as being the root of all psychological evils; including crime, mental health problems, social problems, poor wellbeing, and even suicide: “I cannot think of a single psychological problem […] that is not traceable, at least in part, to the problem of deficient self-esteem”. What this perspective suggests is that self-esteem should be considered a basic need in civil society, rather than a privilege of a selected few, or a future project. Moreover, Bull et al. (2012) explains that sexual offenders, for example, can often be motivated to offend by their low self-esteem (in psychoanalysis, the ID); and often rely on cognitive biases to self-justify their behaviours and autobiographical discourses (impaired or deficient SUPEREGO). In view of such evidence, it is not surprising therefore that at some point a self-esteem deficit was considered to be a security risk, and this is why in 1986 the Task Force for Self-Esteem and Personal and Social Responsibility was established in the US California State Department cited in Mahendran (2015, p. 162), which promoted the deterrence and desistance from crime through interventions designed to increase morality and self-esteem levels in individuals.
Furthermore, in psychoanalysis the self is often referred to as a relational object, which has a personality that is presented to the outside world (the EGO; Eysenck, 2000); where identity is socially constructed (Mahendran, 2015, pp. 188-190). A culture’s social norms and definitions of what is termed as “desirable” and “acceptable” impact on a person’s SUPEREGO*, and therefore their process of self-identification, as well as their object-relations are shaped by the dynamics between ID, EGO, and SUPEREGO. Burkitt (2008) cited in The Open University (2019) reinforces this idea about the self being relational within the social sphere: “Our self-worth is dynamic; it changes as we move through the world with our individual biographies”. One of the most influential approaches to understanding self-esteem was proposed by Rogers (1951) cited in Mahendran (2015, p. 174), who understood ‘self-fulfilment’ as the gap between the actual self (who we are) and the ideal self (who we want to be). By the same token, James (1952) cited in Mahendran (2015, p. 171) proposed a model claiming that self-esteem could be developed by manifesting the potential of one’s actual self into the ideal self, finding this way congruence within. Subsequently, Rogers also posited how in order for a person to mind this gap between the actual and ideal selves, they would have to let go of societal expectations and stereotypes. What all the above mentioned suggests is that self-actualisation, also known as self-realization (the capacity to reach one’s current maximum potential) relies on the individual challenging the status quo (Mahendran, 2015, p. 175). Indeed, exposure to unrealistic media stereotypes, for instance, can influence individual and societal constructions of object identities and relations by setting manufactured personas as standards for what is desirable and competent (Kennedy, 2007). Blindly following or measuring oneself against such stereotypes can result in self-object dissatisfaction and therefore low self-esteem as a byproduct of the existing levels of inequalities, which reproduce all types of distortions related to the ontology of self-image presentation, and representation. Calogero (2013) cited in Mahendran (2015, pp. 192) proposed the system justification theory which sees activism as a healthy manifestation of self-love, because a person challenges the disproportionate general standards of what is considered nice. In other words, the way in which someone internalises the world around them- including the social, environmental, cultural, political and economic dimensions- influences self-esteem (Mahendran, 2015).
This would support the approach to understanding self-esteem as a cognitive attitude (e.g. internalisation of circumstances), and yet this would not be mutually exclusive with the idea of self-esteem as relational phenomena. Leary (2003) cited in Mahendran (2015, p. 180) proposed the sociometer theory, which posited that self-esteem levels can sometimes be attributed to external, rather than internal inputs. This theory highlights the importance of understanding object-relational dynamics. On the other hand, there are several cognitive biases which prevent people from maintaining a healthy level of self-esteem (Mahendran, 2015). For instance, an individual can make a fundamental attribution error if they assume that self-esteem is all about personal attitudes and has nothing to do with the milieu they live in (Mahendran, 2015, p. 180). This is why self-esteem should not be interpreted as belonging only to one single aspect of reality, but rather, it should be seen as a phenomenon that really permeates every aspect of a person’s life at all times; and is therefore subject to both, interoception and exteroception. Nevertheless, Pyszczynski et al. (2004) cited in Mahendran (2015, p. 181) proposed a somewhat nihilistic account of self-esteem where self-love is presumably used as a defence mechanism derived from denial about the brutal reality of death. What this suggests is that all approaches to understanding self-esteem have been a byproduct of the subconscious fear that the human individual has about the imminent probability of dying. Maslow’s and James’ models, for example, would be a byproduct of the subconscious need to distract the mind from the imminent reality of mortality. Consequently, Mruk (2006) cited in Mahendran (2015, p. 169) proposed a phenomenological definition of self-esteem which focused on the way in which a person tries to make sense of their day to day world, supporting the approach to understanding self-esteem as a cognitive attitude in relation to reality. He described it as a status which is lived, and which can be developed through time. This goes hand in hand with some of the approaches developed through humanistic psychology on the topic, such as the phenomenological accounts offered by Rogers, which focused on the holistic aspect of qualia (Mahendran, 2015, p. 174).
To summarise, there are several approaches to understanding self-esteem, and these are not always mutually exclusive. As it has been demonstrated, there are several different aspects that make and remake a person’s self-concept. Therefore, based on the above evidence, it can be said that self-esteem is both a cognitive and a relational phenomenon with direct relevance to forensic psychology when trying to understand the underlying causes of offence culture and offending behaviour.
Blackburn, R. (2005) The Psychology of Criminal Conduct, West Sussex, John Wiley & Sons, pp. 87-110.
Bull, R., Cooke, C., Hatcher, R., Woodhams, J., Bilby, C. and Grant, T. (2012) Criminal Psychology: Beginners Guides, London, Oneworld Publications, pp. 186-207.
Eysenck, M. W. (2000) Psychology: A Student’s Handbook, East Sussex, Psychology Press Ltd., pp. 16-41.
Kennedy, B. M. (2007) ‘THINKING ONTOLOGIES OF THE MIND/BODY RELATIONAL’, in Kennedy, B. and Bell, D. (eds) CYBERCULTURES, 2nd edn, Oxon, Routledge, pp. 773-787.
Mahendran, K. (2015) ‘Self-esteem’, in Turner, J., Hewson, C., Mahendran, K. and Stevens, P. (eds), Living Psychology: From the Everyday to the Extraordinary, Milton Keynes, The Open University, pp. 155-194.
Online Etymology Dictionary (n.d) Esteem (v) [Online]. Available at https://www.etymonline.com/word/esteem (Accessed 22 November, 2019).
The Open University (2019) ‘5.1 Beyond managing self-esteem’, DD210-19J Week 7: Self-esteem [Online]. Available at https://learn2.open.ac.uk/mod/oucontent/view.php?id=1467715§ion=5.1 (Accessed 22 November 2019).
Psychopathy is a much debated topic in psychology. A lot of people are wondering nowadays what the difference is between a psychopath, a narcissist, and a sociopath. Because these terms tend to overlap with each other in meaning, there are models created in forensic psychology to illustrate the varied manifestations of this condition, which is often diagnosed in psychiatry as antisocial personality disorder (ASPD). This essay will focus on the word “psychopath” as a concept and will try to explain how those with psychopathic behaviours can be detected. After reading this article, you should be able to:
- Understand what the existing subtypes of psychopathy are.
- Understand the difference between primary psychopathy and secondary psychopathy (sociopathy).
- Understand the current debate in forensic psychology about the topic.
- Spot the narcissistic side of psychopaths.
Because this is such a complex topic which is beyond the scope of one single post, I will in the future expand on these maladaptations which are permeating the status quo. For instance, the local newspaper has been increasingly reporting fairly recent fire incidents in Plymouth which are suspected arson incidents (Preston-Ellis, 2020). As a student of forensic psychology, I think this is truly a worrisome situation, as arson has been for a long time a hallmark of psychopathy; and to see that such symptoms are becoming an epidemic poses numerous serious questions about public health.
Gillespie and Mitchell (2018, p. 85) describe psychopaths as “outwardly normal, but nonetheless extremely callous and unable to express remorse or guilt, to the point where they seemed to be devoid of human emotion”. Moreover, they have contributed to the contentious debate of whether psychopaths are capable of feeling anxiety at all. The first subtypes of antisocial personality disorder that emerged were primary psychopathy and secondary psychopathy. Secondary psychopathy is less prototypical, and its manifestations can be confused with other personality disorders, such as narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) and borderline personality disorder (BPD). Primary psychopaths are unable to feel fear or anxiety (Gillespie and Mitchell, 2018), and their brains have serious neurodevelopmental deficits; whereas secondary psychopaths are perceived as being capable of having social anxiety traits and depression. There is much neuropsychological research about primary psychopathy emphasising the role of the brain in such lack of ability to experience the primary emotions that all animals with a limbic system can experience. For instance, Durães and Borralho (2017, p. S681) stated:
“Defects in the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex have been implicated in the pathological basis of psychopathy. The most affected areas are the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (VMPC) and the associated anterior cingulated cortex. Alterations in connectivity between the amygdala and the VMPC with other areas of the brain have been demonstrated and seem to be responsible for the non-empathetic, unemotional, and amoral features of psychopaths”
According to Duggan and Howard (2015), there are four types of psychopaths. This has been illustrated in a model containing all subtypal characteristics. Even though this model covers a wide range of traits, it is still a contentious topic, and the psychopathy debate requires clearer and more consistent transnosological definitions in order to elucidate the construct for the layperson. Not all mental health professionals think similarly, and whether psychopaths can be socially anxious and vulnerable continues to fuel the cycle of enquiry.
Zooming into the above information and adopting an interpersonal context for analysis, here are a few signs that could alert you of the possibility of knowing a psychopath in your life. Some of these traits might already be familiar to you, especially if you read online psychology magazines such as Psychology Today (n.d) which often cover these types of topics. Because ALL psychopaths are narcissistic, we will focus on this consistent trait across models to interpret their behaviours:
- This person will mistake your kindness for weakness. He or she will think that you are kind because they tricked you into being nice. A false belief that leads them to react explosively once you say “no” to a whim. This is a narcissistic injury for the malignant person.
- The malicious person will also deliberately prey on those they perceive to have greater advantage over, especially if they are also severely addicted to a substance. The addictive personality will manifest in the most dysfunctional, and antisocial way when intoxicated.
- Secondary psychopaths have the capacity to feel anxiety and fear, unlike the primary psychopath (see Ted Bundy for the iconic primary prototype). They are essentially what people call “sociopaths”, and they can experience states of narcissistic melancholia when they go through inconvenient circumstances, or when things do not go their way. They tend to have a weak superego, and are unable to understand how their anger management problems were formed, interpreting these types of behaviours as normal.
Relevant Questions & Answers
Do all psychopaths commit crimes?
No, the reality is that there are many psychopaths who choose careers where they can develop their moral side. These psychopaths do not become dysfunctional, especially if they were raised in a relatively healthy environment. It is dysfunctional psychopaths that often make it to the criminal justice system, and who specialise in criminal careers. Controlled psychopaths, however, can succeed and thrive.
Why do they treat people like that?
These extreme personalities depend on all types of self-justifications, and their grandiose narcissistic side is actively concerned with trying to deceive the other person because they cannot use reason to assess their irrational behaviour, and cannot pinpoint their own inconsistencies. Especially in the case of the grandiose secondary psychopath, as this person tends to consider themselves “good”, “educated”, and “evolved”; but because they cannot tap into the social constructionism of these terms, and because they think that everyone else is stupid, they are less willing to receive knowledge and information that challenges whatever they have determined themselves to believe, regardless of the evidence (e.g. doing class A drugs because this person is “immune”, when as a matter of fact they are not immune, and they simply have not done their research about substance tolerance). They are extremely sensitive to any situation which reveals their mental problems (because this person does not even know that their issues are obviously wrong), and they don’t like changing because they think they are superior, and fine as they are.
What is a good person in their opinion?
For the malignant personality, a good person is anyone who does not offend, insult, or accidentally outsmart… them. As long as you are soothing their narcissistic needs, you are lovely. You must always do the right thing, and the right thing to do for the malicious person is to please their demands. Not meeting such expectations can trigger the worst in them.
Do they change?
Rarely. As a matter of fact, that’s how you can recognise the malignant personality. They hate to have to change, and expect the world to adjust to them instead. They think they deserve all the entitlement they get, and are often willing to use coercion rather than hard work for many purposes. Truth is too painful for the narcissist, so they prefer to think everyone else is abnormal, even though that’s not how truth and democracy works mathematically, so they avoid changing and often severely damage those who try to help.
How about their childhood… Should I care?
Whilst it is true that dark personalities are created in truly traumatic childhoods, some do even become worse than their parents. Secondary psychopaths are at times constantly re-living their childhoods, and can show signs of regressive behaviour, suggesting that there might be a relationship between specific childhood fixations and reaction formation being displaced towards those who are more vulnerable than them, just like their childhood felt.
How can these individuals function socially?
It would require daily socialisation and intensive community support. In most cases, it is a personality disorder, not a mental disorder. This means that progress for the sociopath would entail first developing environmental and social skills. These individuals can be highly inconsistent (on one side they might claim to love Earth, but on the other side they might litter their own homes, not recycle, and live in truly filthy and abnormal conditions). Furthermore, if a psychopath becomes dysfunctional and notorious, then this might be a result of their childhood experiences, their circumstances, or their mental health. As stated above, there are many psychopaths who lead normal, functional, and even moral lives. They are able to learn how normality works, and are intelligent enough to know that breaking the law is a subtle prediction for bad consequences. The dysfunctional psychopaths are a minority.
What’s the UK GOV doing to provide forensic rehabilitation for psychopaths?
When malignant personalities go as far as causing criminal harm, the court might order them to attend psychotherapy. Apart from that, not much is done to protect these people (and their victims) from making decisions that are harmful to themselves or others. Truth is that it is often when something goes terribly wrong that these personalities come to the attention of the authorities. Until then, there is rarely any concern, as the GOV tends to prioritise public safety over individual wellbeing and crisis prevention; as well as security over treatment. So this is a really unfortunate situation in the UK.
Disclaimer: Please note that there are many other conditions which may cause a person to behave in ways that are antisocial, such as psychosis. If you or someone you know is acting in an abnormal way, and have been diagnosed with a mental disorder; it is most likely that they are having a crisis, and need professional intervention. Call 999 if anyone is at risk of hurting themselves or others.
Duggan, C. and Howard, R. (2015) ‘Personality Disorders: Assessment and Treatment’, in Chrighton, D.A. and Towl, G.J. (eds), Forensic Psychology, 2nd ed, West Sussex, British Psychological Society/ John Wiley & Sons, pp. 265-288.
Durães and Borralho (2017) ‘Can psychopathy be treated?’, European Psychiatry, Elsevier, pp. S681–S681 [Online]. Available at https://pmt-eu.hosted.exlibrisgroup.com/permalink/f/gvehrt/TN_sciversesciencedirect_elsevierS0924-9338(17)31194-X (Accessed 18 May 2019).
Gillespie, S. M. and Mitchell, I.J. (2018) ‘Psychopathy’, in Davies, G.M. and Beech, A.R. (eds), Forensic Psychology: Crime, Justice, Law, Interventions, 3rd ed, West Sussex, British Psychological Society/ John Wiley & Sons, pp. 85-100.
Preston-Ellis, R. (2020) ‘Plymouth rocked by two weeks of devastating fires- a timeline’, Plymouth Herald, 6 February [Online]. Available at https://www.plymouthherald.co.uk/news/plymouth-news/plymouth-rocked-two-weeks-devastating-3814187 (Accessed 10 February 2020).
Psychology Today (n.d) [Online]. Available at https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb (Accessed 10 February 2020).
For a while, I had been looking for an app that immediately had a foundational, cognitively constructive effect on my experience. I must say this is not an app to go to if you are having a mental health crisis. Instead, it is an app that works wonders for anyone with a workload. Since human memory can be so unreliable as demonstrated by Loftus’ work on eyewitness and episodic memory, and being a student of Forensic Psychology, I wanted an app that soothed the academic in me, and that helped me successfully make sense of my thoughts, which are many; I mean, let’s be honest, I am a student, and I am an artist; and I have to think a lot about my future because I am trying to implement my plan of action to upgrade my quality of life, and to improve my mental health in the evergreen way. And well, that entails absorbing a lot of information. This is why I would like to recommend the app PM-cube. Every single time I use the app, there are immediate constructive results.
Relevant Questions & Answers
Here are some questions you might be wondering in relation to what I mean about academic mental health.
Is this a ‘relax and meditate’ app?
No, at least not in the conventional way. I am a university student, I don’t have the time, money or luxury to relax. If I relax for too long, I freak out. The only thing that gives me inner peace is to learn more about lifeology, and to develop the skills necessary to sustain myself in peace with people and the environment. If you, like me, have been feeling stuck in uncertain times; then this app might help you premeditate, and boost your executive functions.
But, is this app designed for mental health?
I don’t know at this stage what the intent was with the creation of the app; however, I assume that it was designed to help people manage their lives and projects better. I have found it very helpful when I am feeling stuck. It makes a difference, and gets me out of the cognitive paralysis that can happen when I have 99 problems and finding an app that works for me is just 1 of them.
Will it work for every academic?
Probably not, although I assume that most academics are very busy people, so maybe it will soothe them.
What is an academic?
Funny you ask. According to the Macquarie Dictionary (2017), an academic is a person who is “a teacher or a researcher in a university or college”. For instance, Professor Loftus is an academic who is very much loved and respected internationally for all of her contributions to psychology and criminology (and who gave expert testimony for Ted Bundy‘s defence in court).
Should I meditate?
Meditation does not work for me, but premeditation does. Nevertheless, just because it does not work for me, it does not mean that it will not work for you. However, if meditation apps are NOT what you are looking for, then you should defo try PM-CUBE (Marxer, 2015).
Are you okay?
Absolutely. Thanks for asking. Life is going relatively steady, and PM-Cube really helps me make it better.
Is this an ad?
No. I actually think this app is truly helpful. Hopefully you will find it helpful too.
Butler, S. (2017) ‘Academic’, In Macquarie Dictionary, 7th ed [Online].Available at http://libezproxy.open.ac.uk/login?url=https://search.credoreference.com/content/entry/macqdict/academic/0?institutionId=292 (Accessed 2 February 2020).
Loftus, E. (2020) Professional Profile, UCI School of Social Ecology [Online]. Available at https://faculty.sites.uci.edu/eloftus/ (Accessed 2 February 2020).
Marxer, C. G. (2015) The Project Management Cube [Android App]. Available at https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=ch.cubisma.thepm_cube (Accessed 2 February 2020).