Revisiting: Scapegoats and self-blame

Scapegoating is “the act of blaming and often punishing a person or a group for a negative outcome that is due, in large part, to other causes.” Scapegoating is alive and well in the United States and many other countries. It’s not a new phenomenon.  Scapegoating has been going on for centuries–think of the witch hysteria and trials in Europe and America that lasted into…

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Tribalism in our society

Tribalism is the possession of an identity (cultural, ethnic, national, etc.) that divides a member of one group from members of another group. The identity can be based on residence, membership in political parties, skin color, ethnic background, religion, occupation, income level, mental health status, gender, age, health status … all the way to support of different sports teams. There are in-groups and out-groups. We…

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The effects of stress brought on by pandemic diseases

Pandemic diseases–such as COVID-19–can be extremely stressful. The uncertainty of transmission, the intense desire to protect family and friends (and yourself), the unknown of the impact of catching the disease itself, the inexorable spread, the panic and outright misinformation that can be spread by social media, the drumbeat of the news, empty store shelves … the disappearance of the normal. What impacts can this stress…

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Pandemics–history, control, and prevention

A pandemic is defined as a disease epidemic occurring over a widespread geographic area. Whether technically a pandemic or not, the world has experienced many large outbreaks of disease–examples include the Black Death (bubonic plague) which affected Asia and Europe and peaked in the mid 1300’s to the Spanish influenza outbreak of 1918-1919 which killed an estimated 20 to 50 million people to more recent…

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Fear — impacts on decision-making and behavior

Fear is corrosive whether caused by events outside our immediate control or if purposefully used (for example, by politicians trying to gain or consolidate power). Fear impacts the decisions we make and the actions we take. We do things we would not do if the fear was not present. We believe things we normally would not. We act against our own best interests. See the…

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Politics and Fear

Whipping up fear is a common tactic in politics. Providing stark, seemingly life or death choices, us versus them, scapegoating, creating a false bogeyman to distract from real problems, using lies and disinformation … fear is used because it often works. Fear breeds anxiety and stress, and “anxiety increases the attention to negative choice options, the likelihood that ambiguous options will be interpreted negatively, and…

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