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Description: Occasionally during one of my lectures something unexpected would happen, nothing serious, but perhaps a construction crew renovating a neighboring classroom would start to use a jackhammer or power drill. In such situations I would typically comment that the event was NOT part of a Psychology experiment of the effects of annoying background noise on student learning because that sort of study, without informed consent, would be unethical! Sometimes, however, events in the world create “natural experiments” usually involving some sort of natural or human-made disaster. No informed consent is involved but we can usually find comparison groups, neighbourhoods, towns or countries for comparison purposes and if not, we can compare those effected to what was know about them before the disaster hit. Well, our current situation is a bit different in that for while it is, of course, experienced locally, the locations are everywhere. We ARE in the midst of perhaps the largest Psychology experiment ever, though we cannot complain about the ethical status of the experiment because it is real. What should we do with this challenge/opportunity? Really, what shall we do? Think about that and then have a look through the article linked below for some research and for the thoughts of a psychologist specializing in the psychological impacts of disasters on these matters.

Source: Lockdown is the world’s largest psychology experiment – and we will pay the price, Elke Van Hoof, World Economic Forum, Global Agenda, Covid-19, Mental Health, Global Health.

Date: April 9, 2020

Photo Credit:  Image by Ashim Shres from Pixabay

Article Link:

So, what do you think? Do we need to get going on erecting the “second tent” through which we can prepare to provide psychological assistance and support of the HUGE numbers of people that this current “experiment” is already showing us do or will need them? I think we do.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is the “second tent” the author of the linked article talks about?
  2. What ae some of the barriers facing any efforts to erect a second tent?
  3. The reality, of course, is that we are NOT in the midst of a HUGE Psychology experiment, but we ARE in the midst of a global challenge that effects everyone. What research do we have that we can consider and what research do we need to do as we figure out how to increase the likelihood that most of us will get out of this in one piece –even if that piece seems different than what was thee before Covid-29?

References (Read Further):

Medical and Psychological Emergency Units (CUMP) Link

Brooks, S. K., Webster, R. K., Smith, L. E., Woodland, L., Wessely, S., Greenberg, N., & Rubin, G. J. (2020). The psychological impact of quarantine and how to reduce it: rapid review of the evidence. The Lancet. Link

Raphael, B. (1986). When disaster strikes: How individuals and communities cope with catastrophe. New York: Basic Books. Link

Raphael, B. (2006). Overview of the development of psychological support in emergencies. ADVANCES IN DISASTER MENTAL HEALTH AND PSYCHOLOGICAL SUPPORT, 6. Link

Neria, Y., Galea, S., & Norris, F. H. (2009). Disaster mental health research: Exposure, impact, and response. Mental health and disasters, 1-4. Link