COVID-19: 1st Narcissistic Pandemic (Webinar on Psychiatry, Psychology, & Public Health, Aug 2020)

Uploaded 8/17/2020, approx. 32 minute read

A treatment modality for the NPD. I hope that will be a great time with Dr. Sam.

Dr. Sam, you can give your presentation by sharing your slides.

Yes, I don't have slides. I talk without slides. I find it more palatable.

But do tell me, am I on the screen? Because I'm looking at a text, I'm not looking at the application.

Am I on the screen? Does everyone see me?

I am on the screen, okay. I see all the acquaintances here with whom I had the pleasure and the honor of participating in previous conferences like Mrs. Suchi from Singapore. And I'm very happy to see that we are doing the circuits together and enlightening, trying to enlighten the world.

Today, the topic of my presentation is what else?

COVID-19 pandemic.

We have all been discussing for months now, the individual psychology and the psychopathology of the COVID-19 pandemic, the possible mental health ramifications, what might and might not happen.

The COVID-19 pandemic is a major traumatic event.

And there is a debate, as we just heard in my exchange with Dr. Ahmed, there is a debate whether it will result in mass complex post-traumatic stress disorder. Or will we simply, once it's over, once there is a vaccine, for example, will we simply dissociate the events? Will we simply return to normal the minute we have an efficacious cure or vaccine or whatever?

History shows that that is actually what people do. For example, after the Spanish flu, the Spanish flu killed 100 million people on several continents. And yet people returned to normal within less than a year. And they entered the roaring 1920s.

I think it largely depends crucially on cultural aspects. And I'll deal with that a bit later.

In countries which succeeded to control the outbreak, we have such cases as well, countries such as New Zealand, countries such as South Korea and so on. In these countries, indications are that people are not experiencing complex trauma, complex PTSD, not experiencing.

They developed some kind of traumatic dissociation. There are rising rates. There's a tsunami tidal wave of anxiety and depression.

All this is true, but no hint at this stage of collective post-traumatic condition.

I do suggest, however, that there are homogenizing effects worldwide mediated via social media, via the mass media, and via identical measures introduced by political and medical authorities in every corner of the globe.

Whether you are in India, whether you are in the United States, whether you are in the Netherlands, you are likely to be subjected to the same lockdown, same face masks, same messaging via the media, same exposure to social media.

This homogenization does lead to collective responses and potentially might lead, should this continue a very long time, might lead to collective trauma and the formation of structural dissociation.

We may develop a collective NPD and a collective EP replete with dissociative symptoms.

Anyhow, the authoritative journal New Scientists published figures that show that the COVID-19 pandemic, the coronavirus pandemic, has hitherto killed anywhere between 0.7 to 1% of those infected. That's the case fatality rate, not the mortality rate. The mortality rate is circa 2.3.

In some countries, the case fatality rate is calculated as 5%, but that's because testing is very low.

It is true that COVID-19 is more deadly, more lethal than the flu, but it's not much more deadly than the flu. It's likely that ultimately we will settle on a number that is anywhere between 0.3 and 0.7% of mortality rate.

The flu, the mortality rate of a bed flu, a bed seasonal flu, is about 0.3%, 0.1 to 0.3, depending on the season. SARS, the mortality rate of SARS is 10%. 95% of all diagnosed cases in COVID-19 fully recover. There are after effects normally, but there are after effects to the flu as well.

I'm not trying to minimize the pandemic. I'm not trying to minimize the pandemic, but as a mental health practitioner, as a theoretician, as a professor of psychology and so on, I need to ask the question, why are we reacting the way we do to this pandemic and not to equal mortality conditions?

According to Johns Hopkins University, 750,000 people had died in this pandemic so far over a period of seven months. Majority of these people have been above the age of 50 and with pre-existing conditions, comorbidities such as heart disease, obesity, smoking related complications, diabetes, and blood pressure.

If you compare this number to last year's flu pandemic, last year's flu killed 646,000 people. Last year alone, according to the CDC.

Now, 750,000 is a huge number. It's terrifying, a terrifying number, but it is comparable to other mental health conditions.

With all this situation, COVID-19 is still only the number four cause of death in the West.

The measures adopted by governments, by communities, and by individuals the world over are onerous. They are precarious and it is an open question whether the mental health consequences are attributable mainly to the pandemic or actually to the measures taken against the pandemic.

They are signs of mass psychosis, hysteria, the collective equivalent of a panic attack.

The only comparable reaction to a pandemic happened in the 14th century with a bubonic plague with a black death. As I said before, the Spanish flu killed 50 to 100 million people worldwide. AIDS, another virus related pandemic, infected 45 million people, millions perished, millions perished with AIDS.

Swine flu infected 61 million people in the United States alone. COVID-19 had infected 5.5 million people in the United States.

Swine flu had infected 61 million people. It killed 600,000 people globally in 2009. SARS in 2002 to 2004 had a case fatality rate which is 10 to 40 times higher than COVID-19.

And in 1957, millions had died of a particularly virulent and lethal strain of flu.

In all these cases there has been concern. There has been mourning and grieving. We should mourn and grieve every life lost. Every life lost is one life too many.

No one is disputing this.

But there was no hint of panic in any of these cases. No hint of hysteria and no hint of many of the measures that had been adopted either too.

And many of these viruses were as unknown as the novel coronavirus.

I think cultural issues are at play as well. Some cultures and religions regard the body as the temporary abode, temporary residence of the mind, a necessary evil, an encumbrance or even an illusion.

These cultures interest in the maintenance of the body but only minimally. These cultures use the body mainly to modulate and regulate various states of mind.

The body is a mere instrument, a tool, a temporary tool.

In other cultures and in other religions, these cultures and religions are somatic. They cherish and worship the body as a shrine, as God's handiwork to be nurtured and cultivated.

And the adherents and members of these cultures invest in ordinate amounts of time to muster and modify the way they look, to get rid and control illness, to enhance and buttress health, to tailor wholesome nutrition exercise, to fight aging and even to become immortal and to leverage corporeal assets to obtain goals such as sex or money.

So some cultures worship the body. Some cultures regard the body as a mere temporary residence.

Normally, the way the pandemic is viewed in these cultures reflects these differences.

In the former cultures and societies there is no panic. Only a calm acceptance of the vagaries and the exigencies of the fragile containers that we call bodies.

In the latter collectives there is a frenetic, hysterical panic, search for vaccines, cures, risk mitigation measures, mass hysteria and violence. And this has an effect on a variety of fields and these effects will reverberate for generations to come in education, in business, in economics and well-being, in mental health.

The global branding firm, Forsman and Bodenforce has issued lately a useful analysis of eight significant cultural shifts sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic. And each of these shifts affects not only our economy but our lifestyle, the way we live, the way we perceive life.

I will enumerate these shifts because I think they are pertinent.

Number one, frugality versus consumption.

People now want things to last longer but they also want to fill a void in their lives.

Number two, meaningfulness. Everything is closed down, everything is shut so we are confused about how to fill our days. We are bored.

Now we know, we know that boredom is a form of aggression and that aggression is intimately connected to frustration. This is the dollar hypothesis of 1939. We also know that boredom, if it is a protracted state, leads to narcissistic and psychopathic behaviours.

Number three, tech matters.

Users appreciate high-tech solutions that truly connect them to each other but they come to inhabit these solutions. They come to confuse and conflate, confuse and conflate cyberspace with real space. Cyberspace becomes the equivalent of heaven in medieval theology. It's like people are now becoming dematerialised. They become avatars. They are losing the connection to each other which pressing the flesh provides.

Number four, business practices change. Companies are much more concerned with social issues, with activism, with social responsibility, causes that people care about.

There is a major transformation of business as it gets integrated into the fabric of society, not separated from it. That's a positive development.

Then there's the question of agenda. Which businesses have the best interests of the public in mind and which are only focused on making a buck?

The latest type of businesses will be penalized. Amazon is an example in point.

Number six, community. For many, there is a keen interest in supporting people around them.

Number seven, relationships. We are re-evaluating our marriages, our friendships. Many of these will not survive the pandemic.

There will be a great upheaval after the pandemic or even during the pandemic if it lasts much longer. The very fabric of society is rendered apart. Are we going to come up with new institutions? Are we going to come up with new solutions? It's an open question.

We might end up in a totally chaotic state or we might end up living in new feudalism if income inequality continues. Or we may end up living in a new variant of capitalism or we may even adopt socialist solutions as the role of the state, the nanny state, becomes larger and larger.

There's the issue of self-care. Isolation. Isolation leads either to self-neglect, total self-neglect, overeating, for example, binge watching of TV series with consequences in mental and physical health or isolation can lead to self-improvement, to joy, to search for wellness. The experience of being alone is new to many people and some of them might find it palatable. What effect will it have on society? Will it atomize society? Will it disintegrate society? Will we all become lawless? Or, on the contrary, will we crave society once this is all over?

These are open questions. No one knows the answer.

You see, the pandemic created six external shocks simultaneously.

First of all, there was the exponential inexorable contagion and this fostered the feeling of impending apocalyptic doom. It's an extreme stress sore.

Extreme stress sore because you feel the enemy coming towards you inexorably and there's nothing you can do about it.

Number two, there's extreme uncertainty regarding every facet of the disease. We don't know the pathogen. We don't know the virus. We don't know the nature of the illness.

Every day there are new symptoms. There are 93 listed symptoms for COVID-19. We are not sure what will happen to society, the long-term social and interpersonal effects, the desperate and ever-escalating attempts to rein these developments.

What will happen to our marriages? What will happen to our children? What will happen to our jobs?

The uncertainty is utter, total, unmitigated, all pervasive, ubiquitous and this leads to rising rates of anxiety, depressive helplessness and hopelessness and disorientation.

The third external shock is the lack of clear horizon. There's no timeline. This engenders a sense of alarming insecurity. Is it going to end in one year? Is it going to end in four years?

There was a prediction the other day that's going to take until 2024. Will we survive four years like this? Will we?

We are being locked down and released, locked down and released. This is called intermittent reinforcement in psychology. It has terrifying, disintegrating, horrible, devastating effects on the human mind.

There's a mortal fear of disability and death, of course. We are terrified of this disease. It's so unpredictable. So it affects all these systems in the body.

There's a transformation of the familiar. One's own body becomes one's worst enemy. You begin to regard your own body as a threat and how to divorce your body, how to go into contact, how to put distance between you and this mortal enemy that is your body.

Your nearest and dearest are not near anymore. Can they stay dear? Is nearest out of sight, out of mind?

For people to remain dearest, do they still have to be nearest? What about your habits? You can't maintain your habits. You have no access to familiar landmarks, the neighborhood library, the neighborhood pub, a walk in the street. Everything is alien. Everything is menacious. Everything becomes estranged entities to be avoided. And you have to avoid people, even. Even people constitute a threat to life. Everything threatens your life, surfaces, people, habits, your own family, and worst of all, your own body.

To survive, you need to suspend animation, to suspend your survival. It's a paradox. Our minds are not built to deal with dissonances and paradoxes of this magnitude.

There's a breakdown and incapacitation of all support networks, human support networks, non-human support networks. Technology is not a substitute. It's not a substitute because it cannot protect us from the pandemic. And it does not provide 99% of the elements in a typical human interaction, starting with smell, smell, body language, peripheral vision.

So why are we reacting so badly now? Why many would say are we overreacting on the collective level, institutional level, and of course individual level?

I think the answer is an effluent confluence of several really, really bad developments which had long preceded the pandemic.

First of all, ignorance, functional illiteracy, even in the richest industrial societies, functional illiteracy is at its apex. 40% of adults in the United States cannot properly read the label on a bottle. People don't know to read. They feed off visuals. They feed off images.

There's zero critical thinking. Functional illiteracy reflects the crumbling and collapse of the education system. People are ignorant, and ignorant people are superstitious, and superstitious people are frightened.

Then there is social media. Social media are perfect vectors, perfect vectors for the contagion of fake news, rank nonsense, conspiracy theories, pseudo intellectuals. This is the diet of most people. Most people's brains feed on this toxic waste via social media.

And fake public intellectuals, fake coaches, fake gurus, and fake mystics make a lot of money off these brain dead masses. And this fled into the pandemic, of course.

Then there is a third issue which Dr. Fauci can confirm to all of us. There is a distrust, abysmal distrust of authority. People don't trust authority and experts. They don't trust science. They don't trust us. People distrust the government, distrust experts, doctors, therapists, pharmaceutical companies, laboratories, universities, politicians, and the media, at least the mainstream media.

Instead, people rely on uninformed word of mouth. Word of mouth is the main source of news nowadays. Charlatans, guillotans, con artists whose trashy wares are purveyed on YouTube and other such online unmitigated garbage dumps.

There is no resilience, no immune system, no intellectual immune system. We have been poisoned venomously by these platforms.

And Dr. Ahmed mentioned before me that these platforms lead to enhanced rates of depression and anxiety, and may I add, suicide. There are numerous studies by Twenge and Campbell, for example, linking a quintupling of anxiety disorder rates and a tripling of clinical depression rates, and a 45% rise in suicide among people younger than 25. And all these are inextricably linked to a single factor, the use of social media, screen time.

And finally, the fourth trend that predated the pandemic and fed into it and exacerbated it, and made it virulent the way it is, is of course, narcissism, pathological narcissism. Infatuation with one's self, such infatuation leads to extreme risk aversion, inordinate measures of pampering, self-medication, self-protection.

People consider their cosmically significant and unprecedentedly unique and treasured lives and bodies to be worthy of the utmost efforts at preservation, at the expense of everyone else. People think that if they want to have fun, they're entitled to it. Entitlement, pernicious, toxic entitlement, drives young people to party and to contract COVID-19 and give it to their elders without dedicating a single thought to what it might do to granny.

This is a narcissistic behavior, not only self-centered, but egocentric to the point of endangering others, entitled to the point of disrupting and destroying social solidarity and any modicum of empathy and altruism.

You see, the pandemic created what we call in technology, narcissistic mortification. Narcissistic mortification has been defined by Freud, paraphrased by Rodinstam in 2013, as the intense fear associated with narcissistic injury and humiliation, the shocking reaction when individuals and collectives face the discrepancy between an endorsed or ideal view of the self and a drastically contrasting realization.

Rothschild, another scholar of personality disorders, wrote about narcissistic mortification, that it is the fear of falling short of ideals with a loss of perfection and accompanying humiliation. And this fear of narcissistic mortification, this fear of being helpless, of being hopeless, of being denied your rights, your right to have fun, your right to party, your right to, you know, to get all the services, this fear extends to intimacy. In interpersonal relationships, Fiscellini described it in his work. It leads to unrealized or forbidden wishes and to related defenses, Horowitz described it.

And as Kohut so aptly summarized the whole thing, it is a fear associated with rejection, with isolation, with a loss of contact with reality, a loss of admiration, a loss of equilibrium, and a loss of important familiar objects.

Perfect description of our condition right now amidst the pandemic.

Otto Kernberg augmented this list by adding that narcissistic mortification is a fear of dependency, dependency on the state, for example, dependency on others, dependency on medical authorities, on hospitals and so on. So it's a fear of dependency and destroying the relationship with meaningful others. It's a fear of retaliation of one's own aggression, destructiveness.

It's a fear, says Kernberg, of death, fear of death. Narcissistic mortification is therefore a sudden sense, sudden sense, owing to an external shock, a sudden sense of defeat, a sudden feeling of loss of control over eternal or external objects or realities. Andrealities.

And it is caused by an aggressing person or by an aggressive event like the pandemic. It is caused also by a compulsive trait of behavior.

So our reactions only exacerbate the mortification, make it much worse because suddenly we feel that we are losing control also over ourselves and how we react. We feel that we are being discombobulated, disintegrated. We no longer recognize ourselves in this pandemic.

It brings out the worst in us, sometimes brings out the best in us, but more often the worst. It produces disorientation, dislocation, terror as distinct from anticipatory fear, terror. It brings out depersonalization, derealization, dissociative amnesia, damming up of narcissistic, ego libido ordestrudo moti, as it was described by Eidelberg in 1957.

And the entire personality in the conditions of the pandemic is overwhelmed by impotent, impotent in an ineluctable, a lack of alternatives, an inability to force objects to conform to our wishes. We can't rely on anyone's goodwill, on anything's goodwill. We can't bargain. We can't bargain with the virus.

Mortification reflects the activity of infantile, childlike strategies of coping with frustration or with repression.

One such strategy is grandiosity. Mortification reflects attendant psychological defense mechanisms, for example, splitting or denial or magical thinking.

And we see all this panoply of childish behaviors among individuals, but I must say, among governments, among politicians, and even among shockingly medical, medical practitioners, medical doctors, psychotherapists, psychologists, we are all regressed, we've all been regressed to childhood and we react very often in non-adult ways.

The pandemic of COVID-19 hit everyone simultaneously as a universal, inescapable external shock. And several elements that I mentioned before rendered it traumatic.

I will finish by mentioning Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, the American Swiss psychologist. She described five stages of grief.

What is it that we are grieving over? What are we mourning?

We are grieving the world that is gone and will never return. We are grieving our old lives. We are grieving our habits. We are grieving our disappeared and vanishing friendships. We are grieving the closure of businesses which constituted an integral part of our landscape. We are grieving the death and destruction, devastation around us.

This is grief, the likes of which the majority of people have never experienced before and hopefully will never experience again.

But it is massive, all-pervasive, ubiquitous, inescapable, ineluctable grief.

And Kubler-Ross described five stages, denial.

It started with denial. People were denying that the virus is real. They still do many of them. People were denying the pandemic is real, plannedemic. They claimed the pandemic was some conspiracy by some cabal or some institution. People were denying that there is a pandemic at all.

Denial. This was followed by anger. People were angry. They didn't know who to be angry at. Should they be angry at nature, at the virus, at God, at institutions, at politicians, at doctors, who to be angry.

This became diffuse anger. And it is manifested today, for example, in activism, social activism, like Black Lives Matter. Black Lives Matter is a movement of aggression and anger.

Luckily, it's directed properly. But it's still anger. So there's anger.

And then there's bargaining. We are bargaining with the virus. Can we go out a little this evening? Can we go to the local pub? Can we go to the beach, providing we put a face mask? Can we put a face mask and go to the library? I mean, we are negotiating. Who are we negotiating with? Who are we negotiating with?

You can't negotiate with death. You can't negotiate with illness. The virus won't talk to you. It's his way or the highway.

And yet we are bargaining with each other, with our governments, with our politicians, with our local authorities, with the doctors at the hospital, with the doctors at the clinics. We are sick, but we are not sick. We have a mild condition. We will go. We will not go. We will take medicine. We will not take medicine.

This antiviral data, we are bargaining. We are bargaining as dog. We have a power.

It's self-delusion that we have control, that we have some potency, that we have some contribution and some involvement. We don't. We are totally passive, totally helpless recipients of the wrath and the punishment that the virus is because it's a punishment for mistreating nature.

And finally, there's depression and acceptance. We are very far from acceptance, but we are entering the phase of depression.

Studies in the United States have shown that 34% of the other population have developed clinical depression, major depressive episode, and 20% of the other population have developed new anxiety disorders.

We are going through the fourth phase of the Kubler-Ross cycle. We're going through depression. Will we learn to accept that the virus is with us forever, endemic, to stay? Will we learn to see the virus as yet another cause of death, like cancer?

One-third of all cancers are actually viral in origin. So will we learn to accept? Or will we keep on fighting? Will we keep on denying with idiotic conspiracy theories? Will we keep on being angry at the wrong targets? Will we keep on bargaining with God, with His angels, or with viruses?

What are we doing?

We need to accept and rationalize this process. We need to adopt commenduous steps in order not to damage ourselves even more than the virus does.

We need to stop with Hispanic and hysteria.

And if we don't, maybe then we will suffer from collective PTSD. That's where we're going. That's exactly where we're going.

Thank you for your time and attention. Thank you, Dr.

Sam, for your nice speech on the live survey of COVID-19, actually. Thank you.

So I would like to request to the audiences if they're having any question, then they definitely can ask you, Dr. Sam.

Sam, thank you very much, Dr. Asif, again.

Yes, thank you.

It was a lovely impassioned presentation of the current times.

Thank you.

And you brought it out very beautifully, the human emotions that we're going through, including the grief process.

But what do you look at the way forward, Sam? What is the solution?

How do we deal with this best, psychologically?

I think, as I said, the conclusion of my so-called speech was exactly a presentation. I think the critical step, by far, is acceptance.

We got stuck in the Kubler-Ross model. We got stuck in the wrong stages.

Some of us are stuck in denial. And some of us are stuck in defiance.

Defiance, antisocial defiance, actually.

Some of us are stuck in bargaining.

Many people become overly religious or develop account, believe in the account, or these kind of things.

All of us seem to display totally dysfunctional reactions.

Some medical professionals are focused on producing a vaccine or producing a cure.

But even this is done psychopathologically.

Because if you look at the discourse, if you analyze the texts that are coming out of the medical doctor as well, that are coming out of the medical profession, you see that the texts are actually magical thinking.

The texts are pathological in the mental health sense. They are not typical scientific texts.

They are far more the equivalent of wishful thinking, or cutting corners, or defiance in the face of the virus.

So there's a lot of pathology around.

We need to accept.

And cultures, certain cultures, maybe, honestly, older cultures.

I'm a Jew, you know? The Jews have been around for 4,000 years. Maybe older cultures can teach the younger cultures, the adolescent cultures, the adolescent societies, to accept, not to be submissive, not to submit, not to surrender, but to accept.

And this I see as the critical issue.

The second critical issue, I think, is that the pandemic just exacerbated a series of social trends that long predated the pandemic.

And I mentioned, for example, social media and so on and so forth.

People have migrated to cyberspace and to virtual spaces and to virtual reality long before the pandemic.

The pandemic just cemented this trend.

We must fight this with all our force. We must fight this with all our force because interpersonal interactions, which are not mediated via technology, have, I don't need to tell you, many, many benefits, health benefits, mental health benefits. They are regulatory in nature. They have to regulate emotions. They have to reduce mood lability. They have to control narcissistic and psychopathic features, anti-social features of behavior, which every human being has. They provide calibration so you know where you stand and whether you are acting properly or improperly. They are also means of socialization and social control.

Interpersonal interactions are critical.

And what this pandemic has done, it had falsely convinced people that technology could be a full substitute.

You see huge companies like Google and Facebook and Twitter announcing proudly that even after the pandemic, people will work from home. They will not need to come to an office, God forbid. They will work from home.

Atomization became a tenant of a new religion, the religion of the lone wolf.

We will not survive this, not as societies and not as a species. We are collaborative species.

Empathy was created to enable this. And we will not survive. We are not a lone wolf species. We don't have the tools, we don't survive this.

I'm very worried about this aspect. We need to force people by, for example, changing the parameters of social media usage. We need to force them to interpersonal interactions.

And we are going exactly the opposite way.

I'm worried about this as well.

In general, these are the two things that worry me most, but I'm worried about many other aspects.

Yes, I totally agree with you on the salubriousness and the protective effects of social connectedness.

And that's why my objection to the usage of the term itself about social distancing, I think it goes. It's totally anti-pathic to human nature.

But given the fact that we need to maintain physical distance and we need to avoid crowds and we need to avoid people, the challenge is going to be how do we remain connected as a species, as a human being, but for the technological platforms.

I mean, I would also love to have a face-to-face consultation professionally. And socially, I would like to be amongst friends. But if that's not going to be possible, what is the alternative?

That is the challenge which I think we need to deal with.

And I totally agree with you that this bargaining is not going to work and definitely the reckless nature of the youth, which is making them have parties in the West where they're calling them COVID parties and anybody who's detected to be positive is celebrating. That's actually a recipe for disaster.


But how do we calibrate and how do we manage to maintain our connectedness given this physical barriers?

Well, I don't know if this is the right framework to deal with it.

But for example, face masks, ample protection among people who know each other relatively well.

We have the concept of bubbles, social bubbles. If, for example, let me give you one example because I don't want to hog and monopolize the time of this conference.

It's not fair and Mrs. Suchi is waiting and I strongly recommend to hear what she has to say.

I heard her once before. But really, just one example, and my apologies to the next speaker.

If, for example, you were to limit the time of usage of social media to three hours a day, you would have forced people to interact.

Even a phone conversation is preferable to social media. It's less alienated.

But social media is open ended and the vast majority of interactions on social media have nothing to do with social parameters.

It has to do with posturing, relative positioning, with conditioning, with competition, with envy, with negative emotionality, a lot of aggression.

And most of the interactions, close to 99 percent, I don't know if people realize this, are with total strangers.

So there's no place for compassion, comfort, empathy, meaningful interaction and exchange, etc.

Social media are not the solution.

If we were to limit usage to three hours a day, for example, as one example, I think we would have done wonders.

But there is no incentive to do this because these companies are giants and they are making billions of dollars a month now in the pandemic.

People don't realize that the pandemic is a big business.

Many people and companies make a lot of money from the pandemic. They don't want it to end. They don't want any of its aspects to end.

Jeff Bezos, the owner of Amazon, made last month $13 billion.

What's the incentive for Jeff Bezos to reconceive of Amazon in a way that would encourage amelioration of some aspects of the pandemic?

He doesn't have such incentive.

He has an inverse incentive.

He has an incentive to propagate all the aspects of the pandemic.

It pays.

There's a huge money motive here.

The elites look at the stock exchange. The stock exchanges in the world are at their peaks. The world is dying.

People don't have what to eat.

Unemployment economies are ruined.

But the playground of the rich and powerful is flourishing the stock exchange.

The rich and powerful are divorced from the masses and they have a perverse incentive to propagate the pandemic.

And trust me, if there is one thing I hate the most, it's a conspiracy theory.

That is not a conspiracy theory.

There are perverse incentives built into the system.

And it's a very unfortunate.

I will now I will not really want to I want all of you to listen to me.

So thank you, everyone. And thanks.

Thank the organizers. And I will just respond to your question with my email.

Thank you.

Thank you.

Thank you.

I'm sorry, are you talking to me?


So social media, there have been there have been numerous studies regarding social media since 2008.

The most cogent and cohesive studies were made by Twench, John Twench and Campbell in the United States.

And they have monitored the generation that started to use social media in 2006. And so they had discovered that social media has several effects.

It enhances depression, enhances anxiety disorders, enhances the rate of suicide among people up to the age of 25 and especially women.

And finally, it increases or encourages the use of infantile defense mechanisms.

One example, and I'll give only one example, is splitting, splitting, also known as dichotomous thinking. It's when we regard everything in terms of black and white or good and bad or you're with me or against me. You're either my friend or my enemy. Everything is there's no gray. There are no nuances. There's no middle ground. Everything is either this or that.

And polar opposites. This is called splitting.

And it's very typical of babies, very typical of children, of toddlers.

Now, social media encourages splitting because it brings out aggression. It encourages aggression, for example, by anonymizing the users. It legitimizes aggression.

And a lot of the aggression is done in terms of splitting.

So the answer is your question.

Yes, there is a very strong correlation, causation, I would say, between the usage of social media and regression to childhood states with enhanced aggression and dysfunctional defense, non-adult defense mechanisms, which in turn leads to conditioning, operant conditioning, dependence on the platforms, which in turn leads to depression and anxiety because people keep comparing themselves to other people.

So it provokes emotional negativity, such as envy. And because of this, they become depressed and they become anxious.

So it's a whole chain of really, really, really negative mental health consequences.

We did not find a single in studies over 15 years. We didn't find one single redeeming feature of social media. None. Not even an enhancement or increase in the number of social interactions, meaningful social interactions. Nothing. These technologies have no redeeming features, except that they serve as communication platforms.

Socially and psychologically, they are unmitigated disasters.

OK, Dr. Sam, thank you very much.

Thank you.

Now we will proceed to our third keynote speech.

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COVID-19: Will We Become Psychotic Narcissists? (37 Int. Conf. Psychiatry & Psychosomatic Medicine)

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the psychological impact of the pandemic, focusing on habituation and habit forming. He suggests that the disruption of familiar environments leads to dissociation, freezing, and attempts to form new familiarity. Vaknin argues that this disruption can lead to a drop in self-efficacy, increase in dissociation, and ultimately a disjointedness and discontinuity in existence, akin to psychotic disorders. He also explores the link between habits and identity, and the potential for the pandemic to lead to a pandemic of psychotic disorders with narcissistic features.

How to Overcome Pandemic's CPTSD (Keynote Speech Covid-19 Global Summit)

Professor Sam Vaknin discussed the psychological implications of the COVID pandemic, focusing on trauma psychology models. He explained that the pandemic has caused a collective trauma, leading to a potential increase in mental health issues and personality disorders. The pandemic has disrupted our ability to create meaningful narratives and has attacked our core identity, causing dissociative symptoms and identity disturbance. Vaknin suggests that mental health practitioners must help facilitate the healing process for individuals affected by the pandemic.

Where Have All the Wo/Men Gone?

Professor Sam Vaknin argues that women have become increasingly narcissistic and psychopathic due to their newfound powers and liberation, leading to a collective pathology. This has resulted in a mass psychopathology that is causing terrifying numbers of suicide rates, depression, and anxiety. Vaknin suggests that we need to acknowledge the truth about casual sex and stop being politically correct to confront the issues bravely and courageously. He believes that we need to rewrite the sexual scripts and restore distinct, clear, and boundaried gender roles to save ourselves from the collapsing gender roles that brought the narcissism pandemic and now the borderline secondary psychopathy pandemic.

Shame and Mortification in Times of Pandemic (Intl. Webinar on Psychiatry, Alzheimer's and Dementia)

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the topic of narcissistic mortification and its relationship to shame, particularly in the context of the current pandemic. He explains the psychological impact of the pandemic, the development of shame and narcissistic reactions, and the need for humility and social connection to address the impending mental health crisis. Vaknin emphasizes the importance of understanding and addressing the psychological effects of the pandemic on individuals and society as a whole.

Cerebral Narcissist In Shared Fantasy Narcissistic Abuse And Mortification

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the potential mental health impacts of the pandemic, including waves of mood and anxiety disorders, personality disorders, and psychotic disorders. He also explores the concept of the narcissist smear campaign and the limitations of the narcissist in fulfilling multiple roles. Additionally, he discusses the phases of narcissistic abuse in a shared fantasy, which involves grooming, love bombing, and testing the partner's boundaries. Vaknin also provides etymological insights into the words "curfew" and "quarantine."

Ten Plagues of COVID-19, How Viruses Work, Message (last 3 minutes)

Sam Vaknin discusses the unintended consequences of quarantine and social distancing, such as the potential for famine due to locust swarms in East Africa. He also delves into the virology of COVID-19, shedding light on how viruses operate in the body and the potential implications for vaccination. Additionally, he addresses the psychological impact of confinement measures and the post-traumatic stress disorder experienced by healthcare workers.

Hookups Trap: Bad Sex, Female Raw Deal (Literature Review)

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the cultural shift from traditional dating to the prevalence of casual sexual encounters, known as hookups, among young adults, particularly in college settings. He highlights the psychological and emotional consequences of such encounters, including feelings of regret, shame, and increased rates of depression and anxiety. Vaknin also points out the role of alcohol and drug use in facilitating hookups and the discrepancy between the actual desires for intimacy and the behaviors exhibited due to peer pressure and societal expectations. He warns of the potential long-term negative impacts on mental health and relationship formation.

Casual Sex Q&A: The Fake Intimacy of Bodies

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the impact of casual sex and infidelity on romantic relationships. He explores the psychological and emotional implications of promiscuity, the changing dynamics of mate selection, and the rise of narcissistic and psychopathic behaviors in women. Vaknin also delves into the complexities of intimacy, gender roles, and the challenges of modern relationships. He concludes by examining the impact of mental illness on individuals' coping strategies and their ultimate relationship with death.

Narcissistic Grief in Pandemic (Intl. Conference on Psychiatry and Mental Health)

Professor Sam Vaknin discussed the narcissist's conflicted attitude towards disability, illness, and accidents, and how it ties into the COVID-19 pandemic. He explained that the pandemic has elicited two types of responses: grief-related responses and narcissistic defenses. Narcissists, especially somatic narcissists, are more likely to experience coronaphobia or generalized anxiety disorders than the general population. Vaknin also touched upon the five-stage model of grieving and how it applies to people's reactions to the pandemic.

Solitude: Why Are We So Lonely, Alone? (with Benny Hendel)

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the increasing trend of people choosing to be alone, with half the adult population in the United States being single or in short-term relationships. He attributes this to factors such as technological self-sufficiency, the hollowing out of family functions, overcrowding, societal collapse, and a preference for being alone when needs are met. Additionally, Vaknin mentions the rise in depression and anxiety rates, which can lead to social isolation. He warns that this trend could lead to social unrest and violence on a global scale.

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