Dr. Suzanne B. Phillips

Licensed Psychologist, Psychoanalyst, Diplomate in Group Psychology, Certified Group Therapist, Author, Radio Host and Media Consultant Covering a Wide Range of Psychological Topics

Post: The Corona Virus: Social-Distancing as Reducing Contagion Now

Given the Corona Virus Pandemic, people across the globe are suffering, worrying, waiting, being tested, being quarantined, self-isolating, living with or preparing for lockdown.

Life as we knew it has changed. Our choices of where we go and what we can do are becoming increasingly limited. Schools, Sports Events,  Concerts, Broadway, Churches, Disneyland, Hollywood are shut down. We can see it as loss or we can see it as a policy to embrace.

In an op-ed piece by Nicholas Kristof and Stuart A. Thompson in the New York Times on March 15, 2020 entitled “ Doing Little or Doing More Looks Like This,” a model is discussed that projects that a third of Americans – more than 100 million Americans- could be infected. What the model also shows, however, is that outcome does not just depend on the virus. The spread could also depend on our policies and how quickly we can adopt them.  As Ashleigh Tuite an epidemiologist at the University of Toronto says, “ We don’t have the benefit of immunity or vaccines to limit spread, but that doesn’t mean we can’t control it.”

Essentially we have no guarantees that not going to the gym, postponing the birthday, canceling the trip, using gloves in the supermarket and keeping sanitizer near your door will keep everyone safe; but we know that if enough people embrace the power to curtail unnecessary involvement with others outside their home we may be able to reduce contagion now.

A recent article in The Atlantic reports that while the CDC has issued guidelines on Social Distancing, there is no perfect or safe answers to the circumstances that people face. Overall the reality is that if we are going to do this – we have to step into discomfort and deprivation for some amount of time. Why? Because the reason may well be life-saving.

In a recent interview with an American woman living in lockdown in Italy. The woman, Christine Higgins said that her children were doing fine; but it was very, very difficult for her and her husband. It was like living with dread but she told listeners was that what got her through was focus and gratitude for those like the medical workers and even the food delivery men for risking their lives. Doing it with them in mind gives her a purpose to get through.

I know many are reminded at this time of the courage and wisdom of Victor Frankel embodied in his book Man’s Search for Meaning. Writing about his experience in Auschwitz, Franklin tells us that survival is based on finding meaning in life- in work, in the love we have for others, and in courage during difficult times. To Victor Frankel, it is not the situation that we are faced with; but our choice with how we respond.

As we face this unthinkable pandemic, it is worth considering that in some way you are not alone and you are not helpless. Anything you can do to social distance is something more than not responding and you are reducing contagion now.

How will you manage? Connect with social media, the family you live with, prayer, literature, music, nature and whatever you can.

 “Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’.”

Victor Frankel


Stay Safe -Suzanne