Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance in 2021

Denial Anger Bargaining Depression and Acceptance (DABDA) was a formula brought forward Elizabeth Kubler-Ross in the 1970’s, it refers to different stages a person moves through when being told that they have a terminal illness (Kubler-Ross, 1988).

Over the years the model has been adopted as a model of grief, people move through similar stages when being told someone in their life has died, their first reaction might be one of shock and denial. You can typically hear the line “You must be joking?”, partly because it is too overwhelming for a person to comprehend as if there must be something wrong, there must be a mistake

Denial

When the corona virus first hit there was a feeling that it might not be as bad as the media makes out.  There is a high level of distrust in the media, the British public voiced concerns about this in 1990’s with over 60% of people surveyed saying they didn’t really believe what they read in tabloid newspapers. The legacy media is a social parasite that manipulates human emotion for monetary gains and political cronyism. It was easy to dismiss the hype as a load of rubbish, people likened it to previous scare stories of bird flu, swine flu, SARS and even certain new drugs. Remember the story about someone ripping their testicles off due to taking meow-meow/mephedrone? Well it didn’t happen. https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn18712-miaow-miaow-on-trial-truth-or-trumped-up-charges/

So, the media is incredibly biased and we had every right to distrust it, however, there was more to the bigger picture.   A lot of thinking was “well, they can’t shut the country down, can they?”, “are they going to grind everything to a halt?” “are they going to make everyone redundant?” “it will take years”…. Etc.   Those aspects of destroying community, commerce and lives were too overwhelming to completely comprehend initially, it was too much information to process. So, it was easier to deny it entirely. Certain communities online began to spread news that it was “all made up”, the virus “didn’t exist” or was caused by something else like 5G.  Whilst some aspects of this were deliberately misleading and manipulative there was also some organic. It’s a very hard thing to process that everything you had previously was either gone or totally different.

It’s worth noting that with DABDA, you don’t have to move through the sequence sequentially, one doesn’t have to immediately follow the other. It can move back and forth, but ultimately it ends with acceptance.

Anger

There was a lot of anger initially and also afterwards. In the UK a few people were so animated with anger at the problem they attacked 5G transmitters in the area, thinking it may be linked to a government plot to reduce population.  At the beginning of the virus, I did see a few videos on the internet stating that bacteria can be controlled by radio waves and that this bacterium could be manipulated by 5G to attack a person and make them sick to the point of death. Faced with a new unknown threat, people began to feel angry and upset by the virus and needed something to lash out at.  There were several protests around the world and we even saw a new term “anti-masker”, new dubious reports came out that masks could cause damage to people rather than prevent the spread of virus.  There were all kinds of poppycock coming out. 

Bargaining

Bargaining began to come from people, whilst their businesses and lives began to crumble. Nightclubs began to look at new ways in which they could allow people to dance the night away, by spraying them with alcohol before-hand as they entered. Businesses in failing tourist towns pleaded with governments to allow people to visit if they had been tested or to adopt some new methods of quarantine which allowed visitors. However, no effective measures were brought into place as of writing this.

Depression

Then of course depression. Anti-depressant usage has gone up whilst access to talk therapy has been severely reduced.  https://www.theguardian.com/society/2021/jan/01/covid-antidepressant-use-at-all-time-high-as-access-to-counselling-in-england-plunges  Group therapy, rehabs and many other services are no longer accessible due to restrictions on movement and forced isolation.

Acceptance?

Now we’re at a moment in time where we must consider a level of acceptance, to mourn the loss of our previous lives but divert our attention to what could possibly be our future?  As the hope for having a life similar to one we had previously fades away, we must reinvest our focus into a new future.  We’re living through the death of the 20th Century. The ideas and constructs we were depending on for our day-to-day life have deceased.

https://whatsyourgrief.com/wordens-four-tasks-of-mourning/

Loneliness Increase

Loneliness has increased by 181% (Survey, 2021) and loneliness is linked directly to a decline in physical and mental well-being, it is also linked to poorer health choice such as smoking and excessive consumption of alcohol (Slade, 2021).  However, although the 21st Century has become a desolate landscape of isolated individuals, there is hope that medications in production that could help counter-act the effects of loneliness  https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/jan/26/pill-for-loneliness-psychology-science-medicine

With covid causing a huge break in social structures and the immense tasks of trying to recreate the social cohesion of a by-gone era, it may be better for humans to take a medication that can allow them to operate in lonelier conditions.

“PARA-Social”

The word para-social has been used to describe online communities that mimic a social life or sex life (Rosen, 2019), websites like onlyfans(*) – which is a voyeur-sex website where you can pay prostitutes online to perform sex acts on themselves for money. They rely on a custom based called “simps”, which refers to a submissive male who gives money to women. Rather than having overt context of domination and submission roles, as seen in sadomasochism and other sexual relations, the roles are more like a performance, as seen in strip clubs. However, the difference of course rather than modelling or arousing the audience, the woman usually always resorts to penetrating herself with a silicone replica of a penis. This simulates the experience of a man giving a woman a present to gain affection, the more money you give the more affection you get. In the UK there was a similar TV channel called “babe-station” which was a premium-rate line a viewer could call, there was no sex involved. It seems to hold greater appeal to engage with such a service. There aren’t many paid for services where a woman can see a man wanking himself for tokens.

There is also the para-friend role with services like “Twitch”, a person will broadcast (via the internet) a live stream of themselves playing a computer game. Although twitch is not exclusively games, some people will live-stream their daily life, they will film themselves going around town speaking to strangers and causing attention to themselves. Some other broadcasts include getting drunk for money, where by a person will do a shot of liquor if you pay them money. Some broadcasts have attracted a lot of negative attention and twitch does have a policy to close down broadcasts of dangerous behaviour.  People on twitch can enter an online-chat group and send direct messages to the person broadcasting. The person broadcasting can choose then to interact with dialogue on their screen by talking directly to the others users.  People can also donate money to broadcaster and get “shout outs” or have their username highlighted to other members of the chat group. 

Facebook is declining in popularity amongst younger people. Although it’s still a para-social world, it is  fairly old, the format of facebook has seen very little changes on its original design. I don’t really need to explain the dynamics of facebook as its usage is virtually ubiquitous. It does serve as some purpose for those wishing to communicate with people in the absence of community. Facebook usage is linked to increased anxiety and depression for those who spend longer times using it.  However, in defense of facebook is it causing this depression or are people feeling bored and depressed and using it more?

Instagram still remains hugely popular despite many negative criticisms of it from life-invading, emotionally upsetting, full of scammers and promoting cognitive distortions. Tik-tok is a similar new app which users make a small video and share it with each other, people often join in with making “memes”, such as nurses dancing to pop song whilst playing with medical equipment.

The para-social world isn’t as yet a good alternative to a more yester-year approach to community, whilst engagement with community in the past can be seen as something that is more life-enhancing, the para-social work is notably marked with a decline in mental functioning and exacerbation of problems.   One can see the social interaction not too dissimilar to driving a car, people are much more likely to honk their horn inappropriately and yell at each other from the safety of their car rather than do it face to face.   This can lead to people coming across as very opinionated and abrasive.  

History of PARA-social

The term para-social actually comes the 1950’s psychiatrists saw immensely lonely individuals who’s only social life was with whom they saw on television. Isolated individual would have pictures of famous celebrities on their wall and read about their lives in way which made them almost feel they were a part of their life. Similar to when Princess Diana died in the UK, many people left floral tributes and signed books of condolences without ever knowing more about her from what they read in the newspapers.

Revenge of the Nerds?

When online-communication was noted as becoming a major player in how we communicate with each other in 2004, researchers looked at the interaction between students on university message-board systems. They noticed that people who could be described as being more introverted became much more extroverted when online, so much so that it’s safe to say the roles are flipped. The message-boards were more dominated by people who lacked communication skills in yester-year communities. The researchers thought this would lead to a balance of communication, as opposed to a problem in communication.  Now introverts were given a platform in which they could be more expressive. This may actually lead to some real ongoing cultural problems.   Some people on twitter call for violent action frequently and have massed massive attacks online against certain people and in real-life also.   We must consider the aforementioned research, are these the types of people that should be leading the charge, or are they social mis-fits that are leading people over a cliff?  

Some “keyboard warriors”, a term used to describe someone who is combatant online only, have driven others to suicide with direct commands for them to take their own life.  People may not be evolutionarily prepared for having thousands of people campaigning for their death. Every comment and thought people have is becoming like a magazine article, we’re not having transient thoughts about matters, they’re being broadcasted and recorded forever.

In a pre-21st century world, during the time of face-to-face communication when people uttered words, they could receive a hostile reaction, they may even face assault if what they spoke was particularly activating or the audience was particularly emotionally unbalanced. But there are very few situations where they would be stalked by anything between a few dozen or in some cases a few thousand. If you had a quarrel with someone it is unlikely that hundreds of strangers would pass you by and give your command of suicide a thumbs up or visit a neighboring and hold counsel with other audiences. This is one of the things we are most certainly seeing on the internet.  What’s more worrying is that some people are misguided into thinking that this behaviour is a form of social justice, when it resembles nothing more than a mob.  There’s an old saying that the “IQ of a mob is of it’s lowest member divided between the number of members”, this seems very apparent, no matter the cause.

Virtual Reality is the answer?

Virtual reality is a concept that has been popularized by science-fiction, with writers such as Greg Egan, Phillip K. Dick and Grant Naylor.  In Grant Naylor’s 1990 book “Better Than Life”, the crew of a spaceship named “Red Dwarf” adopt a virtual reality system that is quite simply, better than life. This leads to an addiction of the game whereby the crew playing the game finds life so rewarding in the game they forget about their previous life and play the game until they die. I’m not so sure anyone presently using virtual reality would describe it as being better than life.

Virtual reality is becoming more popular and is used in some psychology experiments to emulate real-life situations.  Greene’s dilemma which involves pushing a man in front of a train/trolley to save the life of five other individuals has been emulated in a virtual environment and proved to have rather interesting results. Testers have noticed a more authentic response to virtual reality than a text-based exercise, which would be more comparable to a real-world situation.  

Virtual reality is noticeable not anywhere close to replacing reality yet, the movements are quite limited, the graphics are quite poor. Whilst the illusion of size works quite well the actual graphic quality is similar to computer games from 10-15 years ago. There is a further work going into the virtual experience, such as tactile gloves and a treadmill you can simulate walking.

So, it seems that there is much work ahead of many people to breath life into the future of the world but what ever happens we probably need to make the best of a bad situation, because we’re never going to turn back the clock.

Ref

Kubler-Ross, E., & Hersch, P. (1988, 04). Kubler-ross, elizabeth. AIDS: The ultimate challenge // review. Psychology Today, 22, 72-73. Retrieved from https://www.proquest.com/magazines/kubler-ross-elizabeth-aids-ultimate-challenge/docview/214479802/se-2?accountid=12118

Rosen, C. (2019, 03). The age of the hyper-authentic para-social pseudo-celebrity politician. Commentary, 147, 7-8. Retrieved from https://www.proquest.com/magazines/age-hyper-authentic-para-social-pseudo-celebrity/docview/2194011971/se-2?accountid=12118

Slade, G. (2018, Jul 02). To your health: Loneliness, isolation can lead to serious health problems. The Medicine Hat News Retrieved from https://www.proquest.com/newspapers/your-health-loneliness-isolation-can-lead-serious/docview/2061759565/se-2?accountid=12118

(*)https://www.pocket-lint.com/apps/news/153545-what-is-onlyfans-who-uses-it-and-how-does-it-work

[Survey] feelings of loneliness increase 181% as A result of social distancing and shelter-in-place during COVID-19: Millennials most lonely, baby boomers least; women lonelier than men; those living with children saw largest increase in loneliness; also: Top activities people reported missing out on the most. (2020, Jun 10). PR Newswire Retrieved from https://www.proquest.com/wire-feeds/survey-feelings-loneliness-increase-181-as-result/docview/2411047140/se-2?accountid=12118

Published by Dylan Kerr BA ACAT FDAP DipHE MBABCP

Mr Dylan Kerr Addictions Counselor Bachelors in Clinical Counseling (Hons) Advanced Certified Addictions Therapist Member of the British Association for Behaviour and Cognitive Psychotherapist Member of the Federation of Drug and Alcohol Practitioners HeDip Health-care HeDip Psychology of Addiction Dip Counselling Diploma in Arts Therapy Diploma in Transactional Analysis CSAT III Dylan Kerr is a Certified Substance Abuse Therapist who is qualified in Counseling, Psychology of addiction from Leeds University and Healthcare from Birmingham City University. Dylan Kerr has been a senior Therapist at the River Rehab, Lead Therapist at Lanna Rehab in Chiang Mai and Head Counselor of Hope Rehab in Siracha. As well as working in Thailand for 7 years, Dylan has also been the on-tour counsellor for the the Rock band ‘The Libertines’. Dylan is now resident counsellor at an Asian rehab. Dylan has experience of working within the music industry supporting acts in therapeutic needs. As well as working around the world Dylan has over 13 years experience delivering substance use disorder treatment at various agencies around the UK. He is skilled in motivational interviewing, CBT, RET and guidance around 12 step philosophies. Dylan has worked with a broad client base and establish the rapport needed to effect change and sustainable progression. Dylan wishes to start this blog to help educate people on his observations within this field and debate the nature of work in the addictions field.

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