Paul Valent

Paul Valent

Consultant liaison psychiatrist, psychotherapist, traumatologist,
Co-founder and past president Australasian Society for Traumatic Stress Studies,

Prepare for this. The Age, 29th Nov 2020 (Post-disaster euphoria).

November 29, 2020

Euphoria set in on Friday 27th of November 2020 as we were officially declared to be COVID-19 free. Perhaps we have even eliminated the virus. Self-congratulations ranged across the community. We achieved together, through sacrifice, a rare victory in the world.

We deserve to party, have a holiday, enjoy friends and relatives, to see each other full-face without masks. But soon we should put in context what is known as post-disaster euphoria, a result of shared survival, common across bushfires, earthquakes, and ends of wars.

We should prepare for the next long phase of reconstruction. This includes recognition of what has been destroyed and lost: people, health, and family and economic infrastructures. Grieving them and replacement with new equilibria, even if sometimes better than pre-disaster ones, is difficult and frustrating. This is the phase when pent-up suffering and exposed fault lines manifest in increased mental health issues, psychosomatic illnesses, and social tensions.

Understanding and being prepared for this phase can ameliorate its noxious effects.


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