Pandemic versus fear


(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Mr. Lucas Gheller Machado, a 18 year-old medical student and Mr. Mateus Magalhães Crippa, a 19 year-old medical student, both at their 3rd year of studies in medicine in Brazil. They are affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writers and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

“Fear is the name we give our uncertainty: our ignorance of the threat and what must be done”. Evidently, Zygmunt Bauman brilliantly writes the obscurity that fear, a euphoric feeling of extreme alertness, causes in the population. Probably the survival instinct, in which fear is part, is the most ancestral set of behavior and physiological reactions of the human species: “fight or flight”. The ancestry of this instinct has never been more present than in pandemic times. Pandemics cause uncertainty, selfish attitudes and deep anxiety to predict their prospects. It was like that in 1918 and 1919, the last pandemic, with the Spanish flu and today with the coronavirus outbreak.

The difficulty experienced by the world population, with the enormous spread of the covid-19 virus, makes clearer the consequences that a catastrophe, related to world population health, can generate, and what is important to be preserved during these moments, especially mental health. History teaches us, as seen with the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) outbreak in Hong Kong, 2003, in which psychiatric scars, mainly anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) were common and deteriorated, in addition to the disease, population health.

The pandemic, and the ensuing set, as a fear of chaos and loss of physical integrity, is fundamentally related to mental outcomes in the target population. It is not for nothing that Michel Foucault conceptualizes the processes of deinstitutionalization and social isolation in psychiatric outcomes, as deleterious, when he analyzed the places of treatment for mental disorders, such as hospices. This makes it clear that our mind is molded to habits, and processes that put this in doubt, make the being lose its rationality, and the consequent integrity that involves it. In this way, everything that is integrated with our mind suffers influences, such as the immune system and body metabolism.

Therefore, mental integrity is fundamentally dependent on trivial processes, with an institutional character. This denotes that the maintenance, even in isolation, of routine practices (physical exercise, leisure, among others) contributes a lot to mental health to remain in constant robustness. Accordingly, the interpersonal connection, adapted to the barriers generated by the pandemic, must remain successful, since interpersonal coexistence is one of the most effective “pills” for loss of psychic fullness.


  1. AMERICAN PSYCHIATRIC ASSOCIATION. APA Offers Resources to Cope with COVID-19. In: APA Offers Resources to Cope with COVID-19. WASHINGTON, D.C., 2020.
  2. PETE L; CAMERON B; CIARÁN L; FÉIDHLIM; TIMMONS; ROBERTSON – Using behavioural science to help fight the coronavirus. Working Paper No. 656, ESRI. March 2020.
  3. CALDAS, J.M. Mental health services for victims of disasters in developing countries: a challenge and an opportunity. World Psychiatry 2002; 1 (3):155-157.
  4. BROOKS SK, WEBSTER RK, SMITH LE, WOODLAND L, WESSELY S, GREENBERG N, ET AL. The psychological impact of quarantine and how to reduce it: rapid review of the evidence. Lancet. 2020;395:912-20
  5. KEENEY RL. Personal decisions are the leading cause of death. Oper Res. 2008;56:1335-47.

About the authors

Lucas Gheller Machado is 18 years old and he courses the third year of medicine. Currently, he is local coordinator of IFMSA Brasil UniCesumar, president of the Miguel Nicolelis Academic Center (CAMN), president of the Academic League of Intensive Medicine in Maringá (LAMIM) and member of the Academic League of Medical Genetics (LAGeM). In addition, he constantly participates in Humanizart social actions, aimed at serving vulnerable populations and collaborating with humanization in the streets and hospitals. His objective is to combine graduation with scientific and artistic development, constituting a formation of solid and essential pillars.

Mateus Magalhães Crippa is 19 years old and he courses the third year of medicine. In the present moment, he is a member of the academic league of intensive medicine in Maringá (LAMIM) and a member of the academic league of endocrinology and metabology in Maringá (LAEMMA), in which he is director of marketing. In addition, he presented the work, the result of a scientific project, at the 11th International Meeting on Scientific Production (XI EPCC), entitled “Perinatal Repercussions of Obesity”. Accordingly, their academic purposes are based on scientifically contributing to global health and, above all, supporting a robust medical education, so that their contributions in the area of health are even greater.

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  1. Rafael Balestrin says:

    Artigo excelente, com um assunto muito comentado hoje em dia. Achei muito bom, parabéns pelo artigo!

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