Written by Dr Paris Williams
I find that the Covid crisis has illuminated a number of aspects of human nature—both what you might call our “darker” tendencies, including scapegoating, polarising, dehumanising others and groupthink; and what you might all our more noble qualities, including empathy, kindness, compassion, companionship and courage.
As a psychologist with a long-time interest in trauma and extreme states, I’ve been following this unfolding crisis with a very unsettling combination of awe and horror, inspiration and disappointment. I think of the Chinese symbol for “crisis” being a combination of the symbols for “danger” and “opportunity,” and I’ve been considering that we are finding ourselves metaphorically hurtling down the road, rapidly approaching a fork. One path takes us to rapidly escalating danger and hardship; and the other path takes us into the possibility of a more healthy, just and sustainable society. Which path will we choose?
I’d like to invite you to join me on a little journey, an exploration of the Covid crisis through a lens crafted by an emphasis on human needs and our recent understandings of trauma. As preparation, let’s first take a few moments to define a few concepts that will act as our compass on this journey:
Human needs: The universal “nutrients” that all human beings require to survive and thrive. These relate to our physical, mental, social, spiritual and environmental domains.
Feelings/emotions: Our inner “messengers” (consisting of physical sensations and impulses) that alert us to needs met or unmet, and motivate us to continue meeting our needs the best that we can.
Actions/strategies: Every action that we take—and I mean every action, great or small, consciously or unconsciously—is an attempt to meet needs.
Power is one’s capacity to gather resources to meet needs. Implicit in this definition is that in order to meet needs, we need to (a) be able to gather relatively accurate information, and (b) have enough freedom and sovereignty to be able to carry out actions that will effectively meet our needs.
A traumatic event is any event that we experience as threatening (causes harm to ourselves or loved ones in some way— or in other words, undermines our needs), while at the same time we do not have sufficient power to protect ourselves. Obvious examples of this are being physically or sexually abused/assaulted, and being involved in a threatening/harmful accident or disaster (whether caused naturally or intentionally by others).
Violence: The act of carrying out a traumatic event against someone—i.e., threatening or inflicting harm on someone who is relatively powerless to sufficiently protect themselves in the situation. The one perpetrating violence may or may not be aware that they are doing so.
Threat response: Our hard-wired response to a traumatic event, which follows the hierarchy of fight–>flight–>freeze/collapse, depending on the intensity of perceived threat and our power to manage it. If we feel relatively confident in our capacity to manage the threat, we naturally first shift into ‘fight’; and as our experience of powerlessness in the face of the threat increases, we move along the response continuum—from fight to flight to freeze/collapse/shutdown/submit. There is another response, ‘fawn’ing, which can show up in a couple of different parts of this continuum. This is the instinct to strongly attach to others. It could occur as part of ‘fight,’ where we seek allies against the perceived perpetrator of the threat (‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend,’), or it could occur as part of ‘collapse,’ where we instinctively form an emotional bond directly with the perpetrator in a desperate attempt to survive (sometimes referred to as the Stockholm Syndrome).
Posttraumatic stress: Our natural state when we are not in a threat response is to feel relatively calm, peaceful, clearheaded, compassionate, empathetic, joyful and socially engaged. But when we experience a particularly severe or chronic traumatic event, then we can become stuck in a chronic threat response, even after the threat has passed. This is generally referred to as an acute stress reaction when relatively short-lived, or as posttraumatic stress disorder when it becomes a longer-term condition.
As a result, mind/body states of anger/rage (fight), anxiety/fear/panic (flight), or despair/hopelessness/helplessness/dissociation (collapse) predominate, and we may bounce back and forth between these. Life loses its shine; we lose our peace of mind; we find it difficult to engage socially and empathise with others; we polarise (‘Us vs Them’), scapegoat (‘find the bad guy’), and become paranoid (the chronic experience of a threat that we just can’t shake); and we find it difficult to think clearly, developing tunnel-vision, becoming increasingly rigid and dogmatic in our thinking, and losing our capacity for openminded and critical thinking.
Okay, now that we have our ‘compass’ of definitions ready, let’s turn our attention to the Covid vaccine mandate crisis. We’re going to focus in particular on how this crisis is presently unfolding in New Zealand, since this is where I live, but I understand that there are many similarities between what’s happening here and other parts of the world at the moment.
In early 2020, a frightening narrative emerged of a novel coronavirus that appeared to be much more harmful than a typical flu, with significantly larger rates of death, disability and transmission, and for which we had no known treatment. In other words, the world faced the prospect of a serious threat combined with powerlessness—i.e., a global traumatic event.
Understandably, very large numbers of the human population developed a threat response, which quickly spread around the world with a degree of contagion that was possibly even greater than the virus itself. And given what we understand about the human threat response (as defined above), what unfolded was not particularly surprising. Collectively, we witnessed runaway polarisation (‘us vs. them,’); scapegoating (‘find the bad guy’); dehumanising and a general loss of empathy for anyone identified as ‘other’; a breakdown in our capacity for critical thinking and sensemaking; and an increase in our tendency to succumb to groupthink (blindly following the consensus of our identified group with little critical thinking).
Also in line with our understanding of the human trauma response, we found feelings of anger/rage, anxiety/fear/panic, and despair/helplessness/hopelessness (fight, flight, and collapse feelings) also spiraling out of control. It’s worth reiterating here that when we are not dominated by a threat response, we naturally feel relatively peaceful, clearheaded, empathetic and compassionate towards others.
According to our understanding of human evolution, our threat response made perfect sense in our original homeland—the plains of Africa. When a predator or a hostile tribe attacked us, we needed instincts that would set aside complex rational thought and make a relatively simple assessment very quickly—Do we fight? Do we take flight? Or do we collapse and feign death? Then if we survived the situation, we could come out of the threat response, and reengage with the members of our tribe and devote more of our time and energy to critical thinking and dealing with more complex problems. Ideally, we spent the lion’s share of our time in this relatively, calm, clear and socially engaged state, with only rare fleeting moments in which we were hijacked by our automatic (autonomic) threat response.
And when dealing with a more sustained threat, such as a hostile tribe or a large pride of lions in the vicinity, then it made sense during those periods of time to develop more cohesion and unity within our tribe, with less autonomous and diverse perspectives and behaviours—in other words, to shift to a state more dominated by groupthink and vilifying/polarising of the threatening ‘other.’
This kind of threat response makes a lot of sense……when you’re a hunter and gatherer tribe living in the plains of Africa. But not so much when you’re a member of contemporary human society, with far more dense populations and diverse cultures and perspectives all striving to live together harmoniously.
So how does this hunter-gatherer threat response system manifest today? And particularly within the context of the Covid crisis? We see polarisation occurring on many levels, between many members of the public and their respective governments, between different political factions, different ethnicities and cultures, different classes, even between friends and family members. As different groups or entities became identified by other groups as ‘the main source of the problem,’ different groups began to polarise around different belief systems and their associated ‘big questions’—Who or what caused the virus/pandemic? What is the best way to treat the illness? Does the virus/pandemic even exist? Is it really as bad as they tell us? Is it all just a big plan to further empower the rich and powerful?…etc…
Then when the vaccines came to market, the mistrust that many had already been feeling towards members and entities of the upper echelons of society came into full bloom. For anyone paying close attention to the behaviours of those ‘on top,’ it’s very easy to understand where this mistrust had come from. For those paying attention to the news, we find an ever-flowing stream of evidence that those in power are abusing that power to further enrich/empower themselves at the cost of everyone else. We’ve been witnessing those at the top perpetrating an increase in social inequality and the erosion of human rights at what appears to be an exponential rate, along with a steady increase in misinformation campaigns, dishonesty, fraud, violence, and the hijacking or outright destruction of democratic institutions. The pharmaceutical industry has been particularly infamous in this regard, where it is no secret that the regular commitment of fraud has simply become its modus operandi, and the fines paid out for said fraud (generally costing much less than the profit generated) have become just one more cost of doing business.
So let’s fast forward to the present day (again, I’m going to be concentrating on the events in New Zealand, but I’m sure that many around the world will resonate with this picture). Being an island country, since the end of the first outbreak in mid-2020 and up until the middle of 2021, it has been possible to prevent the spread of Covid. Strict border controls, lockdowns, etc., appear to have significantly aided with this. The fear of catching Covid was relatively minimal for most kiwis during this time, and society functioned relatively harmoniously with generally less disruptions than what was being witnessed in other parts of the world.
However, the relatively frequent lockdowns were beginning to evoke new fears in many people—the fear of businesses collapsing, of the loss of employment and impoverishment, of the loss of freedom, of meaning, of social connection and fun… For some, these losses were well worth the sense of security obtained by holding off the spread of Covid, and they experienced very little threat response. For others, these were experienced as significant threats to various degrees, and many began to experience a substantial threat response. But in general, the situation was tolerable for the majority of us.
Then came the ‘vaccine rollout.’ Initially, the government and associated media and organisations (which I’ll simply refer to collectively as ‘the government’ from here on) strongly encouraged the vaccine but did not mandate it for anyone. For those whose fear of the virus exceeded their fear of the vaccine, and who generally trusted the government and the pharmaceutical industry, the choice was relatively easy—get vaccinated! And for those who were already mistrustful of the government and/or Big Pharma, and/or who had decided to gather some information outside the narrow confines of the government-sanctioned sources, the heavy promotion of the vaccines and the loud claims of them being ‘safe and effective’ (despite readily available data to the contrary) generally increased their unease and associated threat response. But because these individuals were still in choice (still had substantial personal power) about whether or not to vaccinate, the threat response for most in this camp remained at a relatively low level.
At this point, the government began to really push on the throttle of fear to ‘encourage’ people to get vaccinated. The volume and over-simplification of their message intensified: “The virus is extremely dangerous; the vaccines are extremely safe and effective; if we all get vaccinated, then the pandemic will end and we will be able to end the lockdowns and get ‘back to normal’; and those choosing not to take the vaccination (the ‘anti-vaxxers’) are (a) ignorant and misinformed, (b) dangerous menaces to society, risking the health of everyone else, and (c) extremely selfish individuals who don’t care that they’re causing so much harm to the community.”
So let’s hit the pause button for a moment and consider the government’s approach from the perspective of what we understand about trauma and the threat response. How do we imagine it would have impacted New Zealand’s society?
- It clearly ramped up a sense of fear in society, affecting nearly everyone to various degrees across the political spectrum. For those who generally trust the government and its assorted allies, fear of the virus increased substantially, along with fear of ‘the unvaxxed.’ For those who generally don’t trust the relevant institutions and associated mouthpieces, and who have formed alternative narratives, their fear and mistrust of the government, their fear of the vaccine, and their fear of losing personal empowerment and freedom of choice increased substantially.
- Along with this increased fear came increased polarisation. All of those who feared the virus more than the vaccine and government formed increasing alliances; and all of those who feared the government, the loss of human rights, and/or the vaccine more than the virus also formed increasing alliances. And these two ‘camps’ increasingly turned their fears and animosities against each other—‘Us vs Them.’
- Along with the fear and polarisation came scapegoating—seeing the ‘other’ as the source of the threat, the enemy that must somehow be neutralised.
- Empathy and compassion for the ‘other,’ and the capacity to step into the ‘other’s’ shoes and consider alternative perspectives became increasingly difficult. The tendency to attach rigidly and dogmatically to the narrative held by one’s own identified group (i.e., groupthink) also increased.
So what do we find as a result of the government’s particular ‘information and vaccination campaign’? We find that New Zealand society has become a tinderbox of tension, one extremely vulnerable to any spark.
Now let’s hit the play button again and look at the next event—the government decides to make the vaccines mandatory for a large number of professionals, despite earlier indications that it would not do so.
So regardless of what your particular stance may be on this topic, I want to invite you to set your own perspective on a shelf for a moment and do your best to put yourself in the shoes of the individuals in both of these different camps. (I realise that reducing the situation to just 2 camps is a bit reductionistic, but I think such simplification is useful in making sense of this complex topic).
Let’s begin with those who have wilfully (wilfully, as in doing so in full choice, being the key word) chosen to get vaccinated. Assuming that you have not experienced significant adverse events from the vaccination, you probably feel some reduction in your threat response. The trusted authorities have told you that you have taken something that is very safe and very effective. You can breathe a bit easier with the belief that you’re much less likely to catch Covid (or get less sick if you do catch it) and less likely to transmit it to others. You also feel secure in the belief that since you followed the government’s directives, you’re likely to maintain most of your freedoms and not lose your job. You also may feel a sense of pride in ‘doing the right thing’ for your community.
Additionally, you probably feel increasing resentment and animosity towards ‘the unvaxxed,’ believing that they are generally selfish, and that they are the reason the lockdowns continue, which continue to hurt the economy, reduce your freedoms, and pose an ongoing risk to the vaccinated.
Now let’s turn to those who have chosen not to take the vaccine (the Pfizer mRNA vaccine is the only one available in New Zealand at the moment) who work in one of the mandated professions. Most likely, you have done a fair bit of your own research outside the confines of the government-approved media and institutions, which means you have likely come across compelling evidence that the vaccine is actually not ‘very safe’ nor ‘very effective.’ Given the constant bombardment by the government and associated media of messages to the contrary, your trust in these institutions has continued to erode to the point where you have very little trust left, if any. And now the government is forcing you to make a choice: you can either inject this substance into your body that you perceive as being potentially seriously harmful, or you can lose your livelihood. Your choice.
If you are like most people, your livelihood meets many essential needs—security, meaning, worth, contribution, companionship, etc. So you’re faced with a seriously traumatic event—you are being forced by an institution much more powerful than you to choose between one serious threat or another serious threat. Some choice! Of course, it’s not a real choice. This is the definition of coercion, and even the definition of violence. And because you’re facing a perceived threat combined with powerlessness (which is the definition of a traumatic event), you are likely to experience a trauma response, the intensity of it varying depending upon your particular perception and experience of the relevant threats.
As a practicing psychologist, I work with many survivors of abuse; and I have heard from a number of them that they experience this situation very much like former experiences of sexual or physical abuse—someone who has a power-over relationship with them is essentially saying to them, “Either you let me inject this substance into your body against your will, or I will severely punish you [i.e., take away your livelihood and possibly many other freedoms].” Sound like an extreme analogy? For many people, this is exactly what it feels like. Fortunately, not everyone experiences this dilemma so acutely, but most people still experience it as a traumatic event to some degree nonetheless.
In addition to the threat of the loss of your livelihood, you also experience a threat to your essential human rights, and a threat to the human rights of nearly everyone in your community more generally. You probably have some awareness of the many slides into totalitarianism that have occurred within human history, and the pattern of the steady erosion of freedoms and human rights that typically precede such descent into tyranny. You are probably also aware of the more extremes of such cases, in which one section of the population was scapegoated and ostracised or even subjected to massacre and genocide. So now having very little trust in your government, and experiencing a serious violation of the human rights of yourself and others, your fear and associated threat response is likely to grow even further. You find yourself face to face with a very serious and potentially overwhelming traumatic event.
So if you’re someone experiencing such a traumatic event, how do you imagine you would respond? First, you’re likely to fight, to form allies with others in the same boat, to do your best to harness power and resources and fend off the threat (i.e., find a way to maintain your livelihood without having to violate the sovereignty of your body with a potentially harmful substance). When it appears that you may not win the fight, you may fight back even harder. Like an animal pinned in a corner, you may feel compelled to resort to violence in some way. If the fight fails, you may try to ‘flight,’ run to some other country that would not force you to face the same threat, but this is not a viable option for many New Zealanders (or many others around the world). So what’s next? Submit/collapse. And we know all too well where this takes us—into despair, shame, hopelessness, helplessness, numbness, dissociation. Succumbing to a submit/collapse response has terrible implications for one’s mental health and general wellbeing—this takes one down the slippery slope of substance abuse and addiction, domestic violence and child abuse, criminality, depression, anxiety disorders, psychosis and suicidality.
I realise there are many shades of grey between the two extremes that I have portrayed here—for example, there are those who have chosen to get vaccinated but who still strongly support people’s freedom to choose; and those who are ‘vaccine hesitant’ but who have submitted to the jab under some degree of coercion, but who are still generally not overly concerned about its harms and/or the abandonment of the right to informed consent. But in order to consider a way to move forward to repair this rupture that has occurred at a very fundamental level in this society, I think it will be most helpful to consider the groups of people who are the most entangled within these opposing threat responses. And now having put our shoes in those holding the more extreme positions in this social rupture, let’s see if we can summarise the overall impact of the New Zealand Government’s choice to enact these mandates, looking at it through a trauma-informed lens:
For those who trust the narrative of the government and associated institutions, and therefore have much faith in the vaccine and much fear of the virus, you will likely feel some relief that most of the population is getting vaccinated, believing that the threat of the virus will go away, and that the lockdowns will finally end. You believe that your needs for safety and financial security will likely be well met. However, as you witness the increasing pushback (i.e., threat response) against the vaccination by ‘the anti-vaxxers,’ you find that your threat response to that group is most likely increasing, and you increasingly perceive them to be the primary source of threat to your own wellbeing.
For those who resist the vaccination mandates, you will likely experience your threat response rapidly escalating, along with associated feelings of anger and fear, particularly towards the government, but also to the many people (the majority?) who support the government’s mandates (‘the anti-choicers’). For many of you, you feel like this is not just a fight to save your health, the sovereignty of your body, your livelihood and your personal freedom, but also a fight to save the human rights and soul of your community and country.
So what we have here, as a direct result of the government’s strategy to deal with the Covid crisis (the promise of a safe and effective vaccine, the vilifying of those choosing not to get vaccinated, and the abandonment of the principle of informed consent, and the use of escalating coercion) is a very painful and dangerous situation. New Zealanders find themselves caught within a vicious dynamic—two heavily polarised threat responses, with each group seeing the ‘other’ as a selfish and threatening enemy that must somehow be neutralised, and with many members on each side feeling as though they are in a fight for their life.
Furthermore, it’s beginning to look as though the government’s strategy to vaccinate as many people as possible may be beginning to backfire—that they may have unwittingly reinforced the opposition to the vaccine. Yes, a number of ‘vaccine hesitant’ people will submit to the coercion. But as discussed, people naturally shift into a fight response when they first feel threatened. Many of those who may have been on the fence are likely to now feel strongly opposed to the coercion; and many of those who have already had a jab or two may find themselves being concerned that they may be required to go on to have endless “boosters,” with the possibility of adverse events increasing each time, or fear for the implications of the loss of essential human rights that they are witnessing, and join in with the fight against the mandates.
In short, it is becoming clearer every day that the government’s strategy to impose mandates has been a tragic failure. Not only is it unlikely to force the vaccination rates up to the desired 97%, but it is already creating a serious rupture within the very fabric of New Zealand society, one that is at risk of causing far more harm than the virus. And this is only the beginning.
If we remain on this track, the signs are emerging that many of our essential services will face some degree of collapse. Many health professionals, teachers and front-line workers (those under the current mandates) have recently walked off the job or are preparing to do so. Many of these services are already stretched very thin, and even a relatively small percentage of walkouts is likely to have a seriously detrimental effect on these systems.
So if the government’s approach to this crisis is such a failure, then what’s the alternative? Well, since what has been created by their behaviour is a polarised threat response pervasive within society—‘us vs them,’ ‘enemy vs enemy,’ ‘a fight for our lives against each other’—then what is required to repair this rupture is to find a way to support everyone (or as many people as possible) to feel safe and connected again. To defuse the perception of threat for everyone, at least as much as possible. To promote dialogue and empathy for each other. To honour everyone’s needs. For the government to shift from a ‘power-over’ position to a ‘power-with’ position.
And how do we do this? I would say it’s relatively simple, but not necessarily easy. We need to find a way to put everyone’s needs on the table, and then develop strategies that will meet as many of them as possible. And the needs that have to come first are safety, personal choice and empowerment, and connection/empathy. These are the most essential needs to be addressed when we support anyone through a trauma response and back to one’s natural baseline—what is often referred to in the trauma field as a state of “social engagement” (or to use neurological terminology—a ventral vagus mediated state of the autonomic nervous system).
And what are the particular strategies we can employ to attempt to meet everyone’s needs for safety, personal choice and empowerment, and connection/empathy? In my trauma-informed opinion, I think it is very clear that, first and foremost, we must immediately stop the mandates and again honour the internationally recognised essential human right to informed consent. Acting in good faith, I think it would help if those who have been harmed by the mandates or otherwise oppose them give the government and other allied parties the benefit of the doubt–that they have merely been doing their best to protect the population from the virus. But we have to recognise that our understanding of trauma, our understanding of human nature, a reflection on our history, and other serious red flags that have been rapidly emerging, all point to one clear conclusion: these mandates are akin to pointing guns to the heads of many thousands of people in our society, and the natural response to that is not pretty. The so-called cure may ultimately be far more harmful than the virus.
Secondly, we need to step back from a centralized ‘power-over’ strategy and turn to collective ‘power-with’ solutions. This means supporting dialogue and mediation on many different levels—between employers and employees; between those who choose to vaccinate and those who don’t; and between those with different ideas and perspectives around treatment and management of the virus. As someone with extensive experience in the fields of mediation, trauma therapy, and psychology more generally, and who has had extensive contact with many colleagues in these fields, I can say that there are plenty of us who would be more than happy to support this endeavor. Instead of an army of ‘vaccine enforcers,’ how about an army of mediators and dialogue facilitators.
Third, we need to provide support to those who have already experienced significant harm by this crisis, with this harm presently escalating dramatically every day. And I’m not talking about the harm done by the virus. Yes, of course, these individuals need all the support we can give them, but they represent a far smaller number than those who have experienced harm caused directly by the government’s ‘information campaign’ and mandates. This includes the various ruptures of trust within the fabric of our society, as discussed above, as well as the harm to those who have been traumatised by the threat to their livelihoods and other freedoms, and to those who have experienced, or whose loved ones have experienced, physical harm caused by the injections themselves while being ignored or sidelined.
I believe that a concerted effort toward skillful dialogue and mediation, as discussed above, is likely to be a particularly effective strategy for mitigating the general ruptures in trust. However, in addition to this, we also really need a formal repair and reconciliation process coming from the entities who have been the most responsible for this harm—the New Zealand Government and other governing bodies. This would entail a formal public acknowledgment by these institutions that the situation is complex—that the vaccines are not really ‘very safe’ and ‘very effective,’ (as clearly evidenced by the CDC’s VAERS system, the large numbers of ‘breakthrough cases’ around the world, and other highly credible sources), that we really do not have any long term data on the effects of these vaccines and there really are some worrying indications in this regard, and that the concerns of the ‘vaccine hesitant’ are actually legitimate and understandable.
Such repair and reconciliation would also ideally include an explicit acknowledgment of and responsibility for the harm done to those who have chosen not to get vaccinated—the harm and humiliation caused by generally scapegoating and vilifying them, invalidating their perspectives, and threatening to take away their livelihoods. This would go a long way to repairing this social rupture and re-establishing trust in our democratic institutions. And along with this needs to be a serious commitment to ongoing transparency by our democratically elected leaders and institutions, and a willingness by them to openly discuss the complexity of the situation and to incorporate new research into dialogue and policy as it emerges.
So as we come to the end of this journey through the Covid crisis as seen through a trauma-informed and needs-based perspective of the situation, I would like to invite you to contemplate a quote by Martin Luther King, Jr., and consider how his words of wisdom may support us all in finding a way through these dark times and towards a healthy, compassionate, just and sustainable society:
“The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it…Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” ― Martin Luther King, Jr.
Good to lay a psychological perspective over the covid crisis, and a generally well constructed argument. However you tend to ignore the consequences of large scale illness which we KNOW would result from large numbers of unvaccinated people, and how this trauma would unfold. I would argue the collapse of our health system and its consequences would put vaccine hesitancy trauma to shame. You clearly display a bias (however attempted to conceal) towards doubting the efficacy of the vaccine. Despite extensive and available evidence, not the least of which is the empirical effectiveness of the vaccine in inhibiting the contagion but even more significantly ameliorating the effects of contagion.
A good metaphor for the crisis is that of a world war, as experienced within living memory here in NZ. How was this approached, by deciding to fight the evil, and so the young men faced conscription. There was equivalent if not more trauma experienced at the outbreak, if you decided being conscripted was an invasion of your personal rights, you could register as a conscientious objector. Many were sent to prison, and were still there at the end of war in 1945. But the war was won.
If the spirit of support for the country or mankind as a whole were not present, we would descend into an unthinkable outcome, in both war and pandemic.
I’m glad to hear you enjoyed seeing a psychological perspective – yes, I haven’t found many others out there.
You’re certainly not alone in believing that the vaccine will prevent a much larger epidemic. I’ve been steadily forming other conclusions the more I observe the emerging research, though I certainly acknowledge that the information landscape is badly broken, with rampant conflicts of interest going right up to regulatory institutions, and profits and political lobbying leading to further serious obfuscation.
Regarding my bias, yes, of course I have my own biases. I do my best to keep an open mind, but I’m sure that my own trauma history and my tendency to feel protective towards those I perceive as oppressed colour my lens a bit with this issue.
What’s most important to me in this case is to acknowledge that these mandates are a form of violence (as discussed at length above). While a case can sometimes be made to justify violence as a means to minimise even worse harm, if someone is going to make that case, then that case better be rock solid, especially when we’re talking about committing a form of violence on 10s or 100s of thousands of people. Speaking my personal opinion – I just don’t see that this case is solid enough to justify what I believe is an extraordinary amount of harm.
To anyone who believes that the “vaccine skeptical” are merely misinformed, and that their concerns aren’t valid, thereby justifying the use of force to get them to comply with the vaccine mandates, I encourage you to watch this 7-minute video with an open mind; then follow the research yourself: https://odysee.com/@devrijeomroep:6/dr-scot-a-youngblood-defends-the-science_0211-2021:f
For example, here are recent studies emerging casting serious doubt on the prevalent belief that vaccines reduce transmission rates substantially:
Increases in COVID-19 are unrelated to levels of vaccination across 68 countries and 2947 counties in the United States: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10654-021-00808-7#change-history
No Significant Difference in Viral Load Between Vaccinated and Unvaccinated, Asymptomatic and Symptomatic Groups When Infected with SARS-CoV-2 Delta Variant:
Shedding of Infectious SARS-CoV-2 Despite Vaccination:
Community transmission and viral load kinetics of the SARS-CoV-2 delta (B.1.617.2) variant in vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals in the UK: a prospective, longitudinal, cohort study:
…and while my own personal interpretation of the general research is that there does appear to be some reduction in rates of severe illness from the vaccines, this appears to vary strongly among age groups and other demographics (i.e., for the healthy and/or young, it appears to me that some significant doubts emerge regarding the benefit:harm ratio of the vaccines).
Here are what I feel are other legitimate concerns expressed by those who choose not to take the vaccine, which do appear to me to come from relatively credible sources:
(a) significant injuries and death caused directly by the vaccines, as indicated by the CDC’s VAERS database;
(b) the indications that the vaccines, being non-sterilising, may well be pushing the evolution of the virus into more virulent and infections strains (in a manner very similar to the way that the excessive use of antibiotics creates antibiotic-resistant bacteria, i.e., “superbugs”);
(c) that the vaccines may lead to increased vulnerability to the virus down the road (ADE – Antibody-Dependent Enhancement);
and (d) that we have zero long-term health data on this completely novel (and still experimental!) medical intervention.
Here are a few links explaining these issues further if you’re interested:
VAERS UPDATE for CCCA (thorough interpretation of the VAERS data):
What is Epigenetic Pressure?
ADE: Is a Coronavirus Vaccine a Ticking Time Bomb?
…and here is quite a thorough database of the research done on many early treatments for Covid – there actually appears to be quite a lot of evidence for relatively effective treatments of Covid that don’t involve the vaccine (including things as safe as VitC, VitD, Zinc and melatonin), but this is typically ignored in the mainstream media: https://c19early.com/
Last but not least, very few (if any) people are offered genuine informed consent before being given the covid injections. This “informed consent” document appears to be pretty well done to me (given my limited education – I’m not a medical doctor): https://1drv.ms/b/s!Am-MJsnPQRvThKg91O_SACK_r88Sig?e=ts8E7n
…it would be interesting to see what other well-referenced evidence-based “informed consent” documents others could come up with.
The last thing I’ll say is that while I readily acknowledge that much information in this landscape is conflicted and corrupted to various degrees, I feel that the “consent” component of “informed consent” is crystal clear. No means “No,” and when bribes, threats, etc., are involved, that is no longer consent. And when serious threats of harm are made by those who hold power over you, that is violence. Again, maybe some would argue that this violence is justified, but I’m personally not seeing it…
This link addresses most if not all of the issues you raise
Yes, we find a deep morass of conflicting information, theories and opinions in our badly broken information landscape – an entanglement of conflicted interests, corruption, the hijacking of our political and media systems by powerful industries (big pharma being among the worst such offenders) making it very difficult to find secure ground.
As I see it, this situation only reinforces my case that we need to NOT abandon the principle of informed consent – allowing each person the freedom to do their best to education themselves, then follow their own gut, heart, mind, instincts and other senses to make an empowered decision.
Otherwise, as I state in the article above, I believe we’re setting ourselves up for a crisis far larger than anything this virus is capable of dishing out.
I don’t believe the opinions of the scientists I referenced are compromised by powerful organisations, politicians or other interests, and its an overly convenient dismissal of those opinions to assume so. To personify the contrary opinions as those of the free thinking independent heroes pushing against the status quo is also and equally fictional.
I wonder if you take the equivalent position with respect to climate change or you decide the majority opinion there is correct, and if you do, how you square that position morally with your position on vaccination.
The trauma of runaway covid in an unvaccinated population will wreck far greater traumatic havoc than that of worry over the efficacy of the vaccine.
How will you approach the situation with looming mandate of 15th November for your profession? Will you hope for a last minute reprieve? Most psychologists are behind vaccination, and back that with a scientific approach demanded by their ethics in impartial evaluation of any situation.
I understand your concerns, Ken. I’m sure this whole situation is pretty alarming to most of us.
Regarding tour questions, I don’t know how else to state my position other than what I’ve already said.
I don’t believe that any “expert” can refute these facts:
1. This vaccine still has experimental status with no long-term safety data
2. Many people have already died or experienced serious adverse effects as a direct result of taking it
3. Forcing/coercing people to do something potentially harmful against their will is a form of violence, and likely to be traumatic to many.
Some may justify that such violence is worth the price of avoiding a worse harm. But if you want to try to make that justification, you better have an airtight case, considering all possible harms–short-term, long-term, physical, psychological, social, political, etc.
My personal opinion at this point?
I haven’t been persuaded enough by the evidence to believe that such violence perpetrated on such a mass scale is going to be worth the benefits, but each of us is certainly entitled to our own opinion.
Instead of rushing to the use of force/coercion, I believe that the least harmful way forward (considering all domains of wellness) entails ensuring genuine informed consent for everyone (consent being the most important component), a commitment to transparency by the govt and others in positions of power, repair and reconciliation for the harm and mistrust already caused, and extensive skilfully mediated dialogue among the most key and/or polarised individuals and groups, where everyone’s needs are acknowledged and worked with – i.e., ‘power-with,’ not ‘power-over.’
Best wishes to you and yours,
Hi Paris as a psychologist working in NZ how did you find the trauma situation before COVID?
If we count food and shelter as part of our main needs, a majority of NZ population was living in a trauma response to ever increasing house and food prices. The trauma not being able to provide food and shelter i would assume could be attributed to the high rates of home violence. Further the current state most of us are living in seems to be a state of collapse and and group thinking as response to a capitalist system. How free are we how much are we coerced into this system. This state of trauma and the state of trauma caused by seeing the destruction of our planet seem to me far bigger than getting a vaccine or not. I would be interested to hear why the COVID trauma makes so big waves? And what roles do the amount of information in either direction makes this so volatile. I can’t see that information helps as now even your bombardment with information is for most people hard to consume and check.
What I found missing was the information hammering and fear making of non governmet entities, let’s call them all Facebook.
I also miss in your reconsolidatio suggestion the damage and trauma caused by the non governmet side.
And looking a bit further somehow it seems still a bit priveliged to have this big debate about yes and no when in poorer counties can’t even have a vaccine to decide for and against.
To sum it up i think trauma is in various ways all around us and it is about to find ways to learn how we live with them and what we do with them. If like you defined my action that causes you trauma is only action to meet my need, there won’t be a way to meet all needs.
Thank you for this article as it allows for further thinking.
hi Nils and Paris,
Thank for your considered views and explanations. If all came to the table sans the biases exhibited by the most consistent of your detractors, I am sure you are right, progress can be made before all descends into chaos. You are to be congratulated on your patience! Your ideas and perspectives flesh out one of Charles Eisenstein’s latest essays on divisions within society such that I am sure you have the same basis in thought and education if not vocation and practice. As a disenfranchised member of this society with a shortened life span, I could easily consider a trotty response to our so called government’s removal of democracy and personal rights bar for for my loving family’s’ peace of mind!
Cheers, And in hope your view comes to fruition before chaos descends, Brian
I’m grateful for your courage to do something, Paris, anything to move the energy. I bet just writing about all that controversial content and sorting it out into a tidy piece to deliver was rather cathartic for regeneration on some level.
Feels like in the spirit of and on the path of speaking truth to power, or maybe that is what is still coming next by appearances…
Love, strength, and honor for the grace of us.
Brilliant look at trauma related to our present NZ situation and thank you Paris this was a pleasure and a reassurance to read . Much appreciated
Thank you for this article Paris. It certainly helps those of us equally shocked by the way things have developed in New Zealand over such a short period of time that goes against our previous experience of the values of kindness, compassion, and empowerment of minorities, diversity, choice over what happens to our bodies as exampled in anti-conversion therapy, anti-abortion, and pro euthanasia outcomes from referendums in New Zealand of recent times.
Certainly, from what we are used to in our profession, informed consent is a regular and routine part of our practice and not something we would arbitrarily remove for the whole population, although we could consider whether there would be a circumstance where this was valid to consider. There would need to be clear just cause, such as in the case of the Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act and Substance Addiction (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act. It is hard to see where just cause for the new updated COVID-19 Public Health Response Act, allowing for such mandates has been sufficiently justified on the basis of just cause.
If we do the maths at any point in time, particularly when this law was recently updated and passed, as that was when it was justified, and calculate the number of NZ’ers vs the number of people infected by COVID / have died / have been hospitalised, it is still well under 1% of the whole population infected and of those infected under 1% have died. This hardly justifies sufficient just cause. So then we get to the issue of statistical modelling as the basis for just cause. Statistical modelling can be seen in the same vein you discuss, when working with anxiety and threat as a framework, as equivalent to a ‘catastrophic prediction’ if we do nothing. Ok, even if we decided catastrophic predictions were just cause for extreme actions that negatively impact people’s mental health and result in the consequences you mention in the article, we also need to consider that the updated law for mandates has been passed during a time when we are doing something. We are offering vaccinations population wide that reduce the already very low risk to the population from death and hospitalisation as stated by the government. I am unsure where, at this point in time, the requirement for mandates has sufficiently been established in terms of just cause. When I see that overseas, the use of negative covid test results and weekly saliva testing has been used for those not choosing the vaccine to ensure their safety at work, as ways to preserve important human rights AND ensure population health and safety, rather than these issues pitted against each other as an either/or scenario, I am unsure why this type of strategy cannot be applied in NZ, to ensure the rights and safety (non-threat responses) of the whole population, to resolve the issues here.
I am curious as to why non consideration of ‘just cause’ for mandatory treatment across the board for whole populations of people, some of whom are statistically able to experience adverse events / death based on Medsafe in NZ and VAERS data, is justifiable? I am able to see why the lack of just cause increases people’s sense of threat, as well as their need to feel protective of those of whom mandatory vaccination could negatively affect. I understand why people want to see adequate attention to and support for the need for proper informed consent by Dr’s empowered and supported by their medical association to go through this process with their clients on the basis of that person’s personal and family health risk profile. I guess you could call this a professional bias where our ethics previously has required us to present just cause for the removal of things like privacy over health records, informed consent rights, or do no harm principles that have been reduced through mandates, no jab no job laws. I am not sure though, whether such bias is a bad thing or instead is something we need to professional stand for to remain credible as a profession. I also feel as trauma therapists we are in a position of ethical dilemma, as to support mandates with people who are scared and frightened of the vaccine, would go against the principles of trauma therapy, as opposed to supporting these people to understand their threat perceptions, separate politics from health issues, obtain informed consent, and decide for themselves with their Dr’s what the best decision is for themselves. Perhaps it is ok to have this kind of bias to remain consistent and integrous to the work we do as trauma therapists?
I have been very concerned about what I have been seeing on social media in the comments and on various forums where people are outlaying their concerns about the mandates. There have been comments such as people seeing health professionals on social media commenting and hearing them in the workplace discussing that the unvaccinated are clogging up the health system and do not deserve the same care and attention when coming to hospital as other patients with more valid health issues. That they will leave them in the corridors and not attend to them and if they die, as it is their fault they are in this situation, they chose to be unvaccinated. It broke my heart when seeing a person state they have lost all faith in the medical system and government and they are living in a rural setting and won’t seek medical attention now due to this vaccine roll out. They have a local vet that they trust to attend to their medical health more than they trust any GP in NZ . This is due to the politicising of the vaccine and the apparent bias in the medical profession to support a political position on the issue rather than the roll out occurring as it would normally within the medical system rather than socio-political system, and be done on a case by case informed consent basis with consideration of the potential for vaccine harm to an individual in their case load. This kind of deterioration in medical ethics also appears to be of no concern currently, nor attended to as a risk factor in employees within the health system from the ways the wide spread attitude towards the unvaccinated is affecting personal opinion and subsequently assessment and treatment of people’s health when contracting covid or regarding vaccination.
When I see comments on social media that state it is like being in an abusive relationship with the government it is of interest to me whether those who are experiencing this are those with a trauma background, so recognise the dynamics as more unhealthy that others without such life experiences, or not. Certainly more research into the harmful effects of the ways the roll out has occurred could be beneficial; however, it is not a hidden phenomenon we are seeing here; protest marches, social media comments, forums that are developing with large followings to discuss these issues, famous or well respected social figures speaking out about the impacts of mandates are clear evidence that there are many people stating that there are harmful effects from imposing mandated treatments and with the politicisation of how to resolve the current public health challenges.
In psychology we are taught to consider the impacts of intervention. We are aware that mandated treatment and coercion to force treatment are harmful in themselves. This is why they would require just cause to be well established in a court of law to enforce. It is good to see that the Law Society and human rights lawyers are challenging the contents of the covid response law. Things like sole practitioners working in telehealth with no infection transmission or contraction risk were included in mandates, i.e. no just cause, and have now been taken out of this act. Why were they there in the first place? Why has our profession not asked this question itself? It feels as if we are being silenced by the idea that if we dare speak out about some of these negative consequences on people that we are somehow an anti vax conspiracy theorist who is against vaccination as a solution. Is it not conceivable that people can support vaccination as a solution for those at high risk and those who want it, and support people’s rights to informed consent and right to say no, with adequate alternatives provided to ensure their and other’s safety? What would be wrong with taking a stance like this as a population health approach? I have not seen sufficient evidence as to the harm of this viewpoint, compared to the harm of the current perspective that justifies mandates as opposed to processes that are compassionate and maintain human rights and informed consent.
There have been times in history where things like conscription have been justified to make it mandatory for sub groups in the population to join the army and die for their country. Some people recognise just cause in this instance of world war and loss of freedom for their country by the take-over of their country by another country with different political ideologies. Whether we agree or not on conscription, there are some parallels here to consider. Why we are sure there is just cause for this kind of intervention, that may kill and harm some people for the sake of the whole, with now sadly 32 deaths over 20 months and less than 1% of NZ population cases, yet influenza causes 500 deaths per year and no mandated vaccines for flu are required? Granted this is an ever changing dynamic and there may be just cause for mandates at some point if the situation changes with variants that are more threatening and risks to all can be shown to be better alleviated by population wide or subpopulation mandates. However, should we be waiting for that to occur or imagining that it might be possible, so mandating everyone to be vaccinated to make sure we are safe from that imagined possibility? Given the costs to jobs, economic consequences, health system consequences, the mental health costs, and costs of loss of safety and trust that are occurring in the government, towards the medical profession, and the increased potential for mental health problems that are emerging in a climate of fear and threat that has been sustained daily in the media and daily updates in our country for coming up to 2 years now. It goes against the usual approaches psychologists use to manage anxiety and catastrophising, and does cause some cognitive dissonance when we consider what is happening here.
I watched a presentation about anxiety contagion and conversion disorder, a functional neurological disorder, that is developing in young people who were frightened of the vaccine yet frightened into taking it as well. I am concerned about the emergence of new mental health problems in people from anxiety contagion on both sides of the polarised stance. Particularly for those forced or coerced into treatment with the vaccine who lack the ‘willingness’ you mention. I wonder about the somatisation, health anxiety and conversion disorder manifestations in these people vulnerable to these conditions. I wonder if we researched how many of the currently vaccinated met the criteria of ‘willingness’ verses those socially pressured and anxious about the ways the vaccine is affecting them, what the results would show. Particularly under the conditions of mandates. Do we need and can we cope with increased mental illnesses resulting purely from a particular strategy used to roll out the vaccines in NZ that involve no jab no job mandates? Is the mental health system already not coping and what is the cost of this on the future mental health and wellbeing of society? Why is this not being attended to or questioned with psychological and mental health advisory personnel being part of the development and review of the governments roll out strategy?
Lots of questions that are confusing people at the moment …. yet with NZ slow to take up the vaccine compared to other countries we had the advantage of learning from other countries mistakes. Potentially learning who are the most vulnerable to adverse effects / death from research being done in this area, and ensuring that once understood, the medical council could support GP’s to identify these people in their caseloads and offer them informed consent and alternatives where possible. I am unsure whether this is still possible to introduce to restore the balance to the current approach and help to reduce threat for those vulnerable to these effects, as well as reduce the potential for poor mental health outcomes as a result of feeling forced into something that feels dangerous and is now within one’s body and can’t be extracted. Unfortunately, invalidating these fears, minimising them, and not attending to the adverse effects reality through informed consent is not reducing the problem of people being scared by and of the information about negative vaccine effects. This is not surprising, we know invalidation, minimising, labelling people as ignorant or incompetent to understand reality, doesn’t usually work to reduce people’s fears. In fact it turns them towards those who do validate them, exposing them to more fearful information and becoming increasingly at risk of the mental health problems and the loss of trust consequences discussed in your article.
It is certainly a time to call for a review of the strategy and its deleterious effects on the mental health, economic health, and relational health of the population and the mechanisms by which harms identified are occurring; as well as recommendations about how to resolve this. I do think the psychological profession has a role to play in this and thank you Paris for your courage to start this conversation professionally, as well as present a very relevant trauma informed perspective on current events. I agree compassion for all concerned, in recognising we are all doing the best we can at any time with the information available is needed, over further introducing judgement and condemnation for any party. We could however, still pause, and reflect, are things going well? If not, let’s reconsider why not, and how to rectify the situation for the good of all, not just some, of the population. That could be seen as the right democratic thing to do, as well as a trauma informed compassionate and kind thing to do, something that was introduced as an orientation to the covid crisis in NZ at its outset.
Another useful perspective put forward is referencing Moral Foundations Theory to explain how ancient tribal moral positioning can be evoked under crisis conditions from the perspective of social psychologists like Jonathan Haidt and Ravi Iyer. This is another way of looking at an explanation for the current polarisation between people. Moral Foundations Theory looks at how people take stances on the following dimensions related to human survival: Care vs Harm, Fairness vs Reciprocity/Cheating, Loyalty vs Betrayal within groups, Authority vs Oppression/Subversion, Purity vs Degradation, and Liberty vs Oppression. People can all be caring and can all be fighting for valued aspects essential to quality of life and human well-being in human society. Yet, miss the fact that they are all on the same side, just for example, caring about different issues, seeking freedom or liberty in different forms. The perspective offered being to encourage synthesis, rather than antithesis (Dr. Zubin Damania), on these issues. Certainly work relevant to psychology in this climate, to mend fences between family members, groups and wider society. We can consider our own biases based on where we sit on the political spectrum in relation to these issues – there are tests that identify one’s moral matrix that can be done to facilitate conversations that work towards greater empathy as opposed to reinforcing greater divide. An example here: https://www.idrlabs.com/morality/6/test.php And an article that overviews Moral Foundations Theory here – https://dividedwefall.com/2018/07/15/the-righteous-mind-moral-foundations-theory/
With a focus on healing and growth I am sure we can get through this, yet we do have to stop with the psychological orientations to the threat of covid infection that increase psychological distress, polarisation and result in reduced resilience and increased stress. Particularly in the context of a situation, which requires a good immune system response, social support and coping skills to manage effectively. Psychoneuroimmunology being another relevant psychological framework to be looking at currently, to improve people’s resilience and health through this time.
I support your call Paris for more widespread messaging to improve a focus on health and reduce stress. This could also lead to less overwhelm of the physical health and mental health systems when we work to reduce the ways stress and maladaptive coping underpins many physical health and mental health conditions, as well as worsens the outcomes when health problems arrive. The opportunity in this crisis can also be to improve the health of the nation and the level of personal responsibility and partnership people can have with their health providers to improve their overall health, mental health, longevity, quality of life and improved health outcomes when and if Covid arrives to them. A good presentation on this topic from an internal medicine Dr Ron Sinha – who has great resources on his site to help health practitioners with these aims – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d0xEJ5TaMMQ
Thank you for this article! It was cathartic and healing for me. I am thankful that I am not alone and that someone out there understands my situation and has so eloquently been able to put it into words. I have been an RN for 43 years. I worked here in the US through the covid times. Not fearful, yet fully aware that I could get covid and it could possibly be serious/deadly. As an RN, I am no stranger to suffering and death. After careful consideration of risks/benefits, I made the choice not to vaccinate.
When I heard the news from my employer that I would lose my job if I did not get vaccinated, I had an IMMEDIATE flashback to a physical and psychological abuse situation that I experienced as a young woman of 23. Few are able to understand my reaction. “It’s only a vaccine!” But then and there, I knew that the die was cast, and, if I am to be true to my self, and to that young woman I was, I cannot accept the mandated vaccine. Up until then, the door was always open that I may change my mind. No more.
As you said, it has become for me “a fight to save the human rights and soul of my community and country.” (and my world)
Thank you for writing this Paris. It was so refreshing to read. It expressed the things that i myself have been feeling and haven’t been able to articulate. I hope that people are able to see through the fear and coercion soon.
Hi Paris. As a fellow psychologist I feel horrified by the absolute destruction of true informed consent, and equally horrified at being subject to mandated vaccination ourselves as psychologists.
In response to any sense of ideological isolation / potentially reduced professional support at this time, I was wondering if any psychologists / therapists / health practitioners would be interested in participating in peer review supervision groups? They could be a place to process or get support with – either or both – client’s triggered by the ecological issues in light of their trauma histories or as practitioners, to work through the transference / countertransference issues for themselves and want to process these with people who understand or have a shared experience of these things occurring within their caseloads / within themselves currently?
A little about peer review supervision groups here: https://www.coachingmentoring.co.nz/articles/peer-supervision-no-one-knows-much-all-us
They may be professional hubs – like type of health practitioners – or mixed discipline – or locality based … depending on the interest / numbers.
if so, we could consider how or where to advertise, coordinate this and where to meet?
Hi Paris, I don’t know anyone in New Zealand who’s had the bug. My brother in Wales, and his son, both did , and got over it. The ex Yorkshire copper I work with says all of the eight policemen he used to work with have caught it, and one will never be able to work again.
I only knew two people who were stridently against the vax – my sister in law, and one of the teachers at the school I work at. Since it was pretty obvious from overseas that the bug is a damn sight more dangerous than the shot, and since I didn’t fancy seeing either of them in intensive care, I nagged them relentlessly till they buckled. Well, the teacher, probably, mainly because he’d have been jobless. My sister in law after watching this video -https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cDWTqjVAk18&ab_channel=NDSUCenterforImmunizationResearch%26Education
Oh yeah, one of my sisters is married to a Frenchman, and has been holed up in Brittany for over a year. Her husband had become very antivax, but we didn’t see why that should mean Mary should be exposed, at a time when France was getting thousands of cases, and over a hundred deaths, every day. She managed to sneak out and get her shot without him finding out.
Hi John, Thanks for sharing this. I have heard of other horror stories of people who caught “the bug.”
I find myself feeling a bit frustrated, though, that you and others are making this into an antivax/provax issue, when the entire point of this article (and my personal stance) is the issue of choice and informed consent, and the serious harms that can result when we take away people’s right to choose what goes into (or happens to) their body. I see this as a serious form of violence.
History and our understanding of trauma have shown us that this kind of violence can have dire consequences. Do the harms of perpetrating such violence justify the potential benefits in this case? That is a conversation that I believe needs to happen on many levels of society and in a much more inclusive and ‘power-with’ rather than ‘power-over’ manner than what I have observed in this country (and in a number of others); or I believe that this very lack of inclusion and transparency only adds more fuel to the fire.
All the best, Paris
Good reply! The only way to keep it straight might be to precise that type of letter and pass comment on it as posted. My first thought was…I’m off this site till I saw your reply.
I am on another site at present that is being hogged by one particular poster being extremely in your face pro vaxxine, (spelling deliberate despite a definition change) the only saving grace being 90% of his replies put him back in his box.
Cheers, Brian Lonsdale
Having had my two Pfizer shots, I can think of a lot worse forms of ‘violence’. I went through TB when I was about thirty, and I know you had issues with dengue. If I’d had the option and known the facts, I would certainly have preferred a low risk preventative rather than a year-long recovery. If you watch that video I linked, you can see from the raw mortality data that deaths in the States spiked far above normal when the pandemic started, and didn’t fall until a few weeks after the vaccine rollout. The doctor who made it says in his thirty years of practice he’d never seen morgues having to get mobile chillers to hold the excess bodies ; in India, they were running out of fuel to cremate them all. Your freedom to swing your fist ends at my nose ; your freedom to risk getting the virus yourself should end where you can pass it to one of your clients.
By the way, it’s a common trope that vaccinated people pass on just as many viral particles as unvaccinated. I think this is wrong – for one thing, far fewer vaxed catch the virus. Of those that do, a more recent study found that, although they were breathing out RNA particles, in five out of six cases those weren’t infecting cell cultures – the immune system had inactivated the virus, though PCR still detected its presence.
I hope you won’t take this amiss. People have a right to make choices, but sometimes those choices are just disastrously wrong, and their friends should tell them so.
Your point, “Your freedom to swing your fist ends at my nose” is well taken. And likewise, one could say “the freedom to jab your needles ends at my skin.”
You also point to the need to balance many needs – those of each individual, those of the individual and those of the collective; and we should add employers/employees, young/old, healthy/unhealthy, etc. Hence my strong belief that centralised, reductionistic ‘power-over’ methods for addressing all of these are so problematic, especially in a complex situation with the needs of so many involved. Rather, I believe that far more beneficial is shifting to a collective intelligence, ‘everyone’s needs are on the table,’ ‘power-with’ approach. And again, resorting to violence always has significant repercussions, many of which are difficult to predict, though it nearly always results in further violence, and ultimately “eye for an eye” attitudes along with escalating polarisation and ultimately a badly ruptured society in which whatever safety may have been gained initially by the violence is lost and most likely reversed.
There are many, many strategies available to us other than reductionistic coercion measures (e.g., antigen testing, just to name one); and I am sure that many more strategies will emerge as everyone feels safer and more open to dialogue.
Here is the extended version of the quote by MLK at the end of the article – very apropos imho:
“The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate…Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
Perhaps you are giving the man the forum he needs to spout on. Despite a likely abhorrence for this type of action, please cut him off, he diverts you from your purpose deliberately!
A REQUEST TO YOU AND EVERYONE ON THIS FORUM:
If you’d like to discuss research, than rather than simply repeating what you’ve seen/heard elsewhere, please share with us links to the actual research or raw data/database (either the raw peer-reviewed or pre-print studies), as I’ve done in my posts above.
This will allow all of us to consider the methodology, dates, potential conflicts of interest, etc.
For example, I’ve seen a string of recent studies emerging (shared above), all concluding that infection and transmission rates are statistically similar (essentially equivalavent) for the vaccinated and unvaccinated. You claim research with contradictory conclusions here – please share those here (not just a video of people talking about it, etc.) I think this will serve us all better in our ongoing attempts to make sense of the situation. Thanks
The references to transmission of virus from vaccinated people were from a New Scientist article from the Oct 30 issue. Just for you, I’ll type the whole article.
‘Covid-19 vaccines reduce the likelihood of infecting others
Michael Le Page
People who are fully vaccinated against covid-19 are far less likely to infect others, despite the arrival of the delta variant, several studies show. The findings refute the idea that vaccines no longer do much to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
“Vaccinated people do transmit the virus in some cases, but the data are super crystal-clear that the risk of transmission for a vaccinated individual is much, much lower than for an unvaccinated individual,” says Christopher Byron Brooke at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
A recent study found that vaccinated people infected with the delta variant are 63 per cent less likely to infect people who are unvaccinated (medRxiv,doi.org/g3p3). This is only slightly lower than with the alpha variant, says Brechje de Gier at the National Institute for Public Healthe and the Environment in the Netherlands, who led the study. Her team had previously found that vaccinated people infected with alpha were 73 per cent less likely to infect unvaccinated people.
What is important to realise, de Gier says, is that the full effect of vaccines on reducing transmission is even higher than 63 per cent, because most vaccinated people don’t become infected in the first place.
Others have looked into this full effect. Earlier this year, Ottavia Prunas at Yale University applied two different models to data from Israel, where the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine was used. Her team’s conclusion was that the overall vaccine effectiveness against transmission was 89 per cent.
However, the data used only went up to 24 March, before delta became dominant. the team is now using more recent data t work out the impact of delta, says Prunas.
The idea that vaccines are no longer effective against transmission has circulated in some groups and may derive from news reports in Julyclaiming that vaccinated people who become infected “can carry as much virus as others”. But even if this were true, vaccines would still greatly cut transmission by reducing infections in the first place.
In fact, the study that sparked the news reports didn’t measure the number of viruses in someone directly but relied on so-called Ct scores, a measure of viral RNA. However, this RNA can derive from viruses that have been destroyed by the immune system. “You can measure the RNA, but it’s rendered useless,” says Timothy Peto at the University of Oxford.
Yet another line of evidence comes from a study by Brooke. His team took samples from 23 people every day after they first tested positive until the infection cleared and performed tests, including trying to infect cells in a dish with the samples.
With five out of the six fully vaccinated people in the study, none of the samples were infectious, unlike most from the vaccinated people. The study shows that vaccinated people shed fewer viruses and also stop shedding sooner than those who are unvaccinated, says Brooke.
The one bit of bad news is that Peto’s study shows that the protection a vaccine provides against an infected person infecting others does wane over time, by around a quarter over the three months after a second vaccine dose. ” This has made me a believer in boosters,” says Peto.’
End of article.
Thanks for these details, John.
I had a look at the research study you sent, and without having the time to go thoroughly through the data analysis, I already see what appears to be 2 serious methodological issues:
1) they consider those who’ve received the first injection within the past 14 days to be “unvaccinated,” rather than “partially vaccinated,” which would have been more accurate. There is evidence that people are somewhat immune-compromised in the first few weeks of vaccination, and at a particularly high risk of testing positive for covid. So by calling this group “unvaccinated,” I suspect that it significantly skews the results in a manner that would make the “unvaccinated” results appear worse than they actually are, and the “vaccinated” results appear more favorable.
2) it appears that the latter half of the interval period had a higher percentage of people vaccinated at the same time that the broader community was experiencing significantly reduced infection rates. This would also apparently skew the results, making the vaccine appear more beneficial than it actually is.
3) last but not least, this research study has NOT passed peer-review (read the disclaimer just below the title); and I suspect these (and other problems?) may make it difficult, if not impossible without substantial revisions, for it to do so.
Following are 2 studies that were published at a similar time as the one you mentioned, but HAVE passed peer review (I grant that there is much corruption in the field, and even peer-reviewed articles are often suspect, but you generally find bias in the direction of the $ and/or the prevailing narrative, and conclusions like these are likely not beneficial to the pharmaceutical industry and other associates and don’t line up with the popular narrative. In other words, I don’t think the data would have been “massaged” in a way that intentionally hurts the pro-vaccine message, making these conclusions even more compelling in my mind).
They both conclude no significant difference in transmission rates between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated:
Increases in COVID-19 are unrelated to levels of vaccination across 68 countries and 2947 counties in the United States: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10654-021-00808-7#change-history
Community transmission and viral load kinetics of the SARS-CoV-2 delta (B.1.617.2) variant in vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals in the UK: a prospective, longitudinal, cohort study: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/laninf/article/PIIS1473-3099(21)00648-4/fulltext
*interestingly, the results here showed that being vaccinated reduced your chance of becoming infected by covid slightly (though nowhere near as much as the mainstream narrative would have you believe), and reduced the length of infection slightly, but did not reduce peak viral loads nor reduce the risk of transmission to others, and in fact showed that the vaccinated exhibited slightly higher rates of transmission to others than the unvaccinated.
With all this in mind, I still come back to the original premise of my article: Taking away people’s rights to choose what goes into their own bodies (i.e., informed consent for medical interventions) is certain to cause serious social ruptures and personal psychological harm (leaving aside the very real risk of harm by the vaccines in this case). Personally, I’m going to have to see very compelling research that these vaccines are “very safe” and “very effective,” with this backed up by transparent and trustworthy sources (with my experience in this field, I know all too well just how corrupt the pharmaceutical industry is) before I would consider the prospect that such extensive coercion to be worth the benefit; and I am just not seeing it. Of course, I readily support anyone to make their own individual choice in this regard. Coercion, on the other hand, is a completely different matter.
Oh heck, I prepared my comment and didn’t fill in the name area, it’s lost now, from one very traumatised person who can’t believe what this Govt is doing to us! Thank you and I wish the dialogue could happen but they are censoring good people and doctors who are speaking about treatments for this virus…how is this right? I can’t go through my whole answer again but hope things can improve for NZ. Thank you and blessings to you!
Thank you for the video John. I watched it all. It is always good to have up to date relevant information to consider the risks vs benefits of infection vs vaccine when making a medical intervention decision. I notice you stated your sister-in-law watched the video, recognising she needed information to make her choice when hesitant, presumably she needed more information to answer questions that needed answering before deciding what to do in her situation. This is informed choice in action.
This is usually due process when offered a medical intervention, yet many have not had medical autonomy in decision making and informed consent processes such as this offered by their Dr’s or the opportunity to discuss it in relation to their own personal health, family and social risk factors. Due to this, many have sought out their own information, and some have come across information that has scared them against the vaccine. This fear may also end their life if they contract the virus without vaccination, increase their risks of mental health problems – if they get the vaccine under coercion or mandated pressures, or increase their risk to others if they become infected and have decided against vaccination purely because of reactions to being bullied as an approach . This too is a cost of not including historically well tested and effective informed consent processes with one’s GP in the roll out strategy.
The challenge for everyone is that the research is ongoing, not a fixed reality. Next month, next year, two years from now we will have knowledge about all these things from research that we do not have today. Some of this may show experts were wrong initially with projections or understandings currently held. People are aware of this and are not as convinced by ‘its safe’ from vaccine developers the day it arrives, prior to seeing how it affects people. People who are ‘hesitant’ or are choosing not to vaccinate may still be reading the updated research, considering overseas data and outcomes of people further along the journey or have read enough research to make their decision and have decided against vaccination. Mandating people prior to them feeling that they have sufficient information to make a decision is resulting in many people who were actually going to get the vaccine from wanting to do it now.
Who has the right to stop a person from adequately investigating the relative and individual health risks and benefits to them for any medical intervention prior to receiving it? Why in this instance at this time in this context of NZ do the government decide it is not your body, it is the government’s to decide what happens and to state that society owns your body, you have no right to choose what happens to it? Is it ok for a government to decide this, and if so, under what circumstances would the majority of society decide it is ok to do this? Many people are more scared by living in a society in which the majority of people believe this is ok and by being ruled by a government that would advocate this, than they are by covid or the vaccine.
Some people are offered well researched cancer treatments when they have been diagnosed with cancer. They are allowed to say no, to say that the paradigm in which they see health regeneration does not involve medication, radiation or chemical treatments. The doctors involved may think this is a ‘disastrous decision’ for them, and it may be, in its final outcome for some, yet for others they have found successful alternative ways to regain health and wellbeing. They have had a choice and it is their life, their value system, their beliefs, and they need to feel empowered with adequate support to make that choice. Those who find alternative successful ways to regenerate health and heal cancer help us to learn what other ways there are to get these outcomes and under what conditions they can work. Choice, vs no right to say no, leads to these kinds of benefits as well. Presenting one solution and one narrative around a problem prevents a greater body of knowledge of what works to be gathered. That is a cost as well.
Can we realistically expect everyone in the population to have to do their own research, understand it fully, constantly stay up to date with it, to make their own informed decision in isolation, that won’t be ‘disastrously wrong’? Can we consider equity of access to information and of understanding to see who would benefit from this verses who would not? Are our medically trained health professionals not the people we would expect to be able to turn to at a time of making a health decision who can help to provide a personalised cost vs benefit analysis to assist us to make that choice? Why have we been encouraged to be informed by our family members, neighbours, employers and politicians instead? Is this recommendation leading to ‘disastrously wrong decisions’ as well? Why has ordinary medical informed consent processes with one’s Dr not been a natural part of the process of an individual making a well informed decision about their health in this instance?
I wonder about saying we can consider worse violence, so this amount of violence is ok? Is any amount of violence, particularly when violence is not necessary, ever ok?
I agree Paris that removing consent by introducing mandates is harmful. “Do the harms of perpetrating such violence justify the potential benefits in this case?”
We can have a personal opinion on this as definitive answer, however, we would need to identify all the harms and all the benefits first to be able to evaluate this more objectively. I think that is what people are doing in their responses – they are listing all the harms and benefits that they can see are involved with answering this question. There are so many, perhaps you can gather and list them, as people discuss how they are experiencing them in society, in their work, in their families, in the ruptured relationships between individuals and the state / medical system / other authorities and within themselves. It is not easy to discuss the pro’s and con’s of the removal of informed consent and choice without mentioning what those are in reference to regarding pro and anti vax positions.
The answer may be able to be revealed through good quality research where identifying the common themes emerging through people’s experiences can be collated. The dynamics are definitely being felt as harmful and unhealthy by those who are less willing to get the vaccine or who know they do not want to, less so by those who see the benefits of it and are willing to get it. I have wondered if this current situation may serve as helpful empathy training for the population regarding how power-control dynamics and relational tactics like coercion, punitive measures, and force, where the end is seen to justify the means, are harmful to people and why. If, we listen to those negatively impacted, and can amplify their voice so that it can be adequately heard and understood more widely.
After my last post, I remembered there’s another Dunedin psychologist ( I think that’s his trade ), who’s also vaccine sceptical. Very nice Polish guy called Piotr, works for the prison service. Apparently he’s prepared to go back to Poland rather than have the vaccine. From what I can find, Poland has no plans for mandates, and only about 50% vaccine update.
Delta is about as infectious as measles. Many kindergartens have a policy of not accepting toddlers without MMR vaccination. The health industry is full of immunocompromised people, so it seems logical for them to have similar mandates for staff in contact with the public. In Canada, Ontario and Quebec have cancelled planned province-wide health industry vaccine mandates, for fear of losing staff.
‘Despite the decision to not make it a mandatory policy across the province by the government, several Ontario hospitals have already implemented their own mandates and have seen roughly two per cent of staff placed on unpaid leave or terminated because of the policies.’https://globalnews.ca/news/8348623/covid-vaccine-mandate-health-workers-ontario-quebec/
John Oneill: and your point was?? Brian
I think there’s so much more going on here though. If you look at the big picture, folks can start connecting the dots… that this vaccine is just a means to an end… that of covid passports, why else such the global pressure for this, and completely ignoring natural immunity post infection? I believe Gates beta tested this in India. If anyone has watched event 201 or Catherine Austin Fitts’s work you may know how the dots connect. Here’s a bit of random info, for folks to start connecting dots with:
Feeling sad when reading this comment: ““We hear that Māori are behind other groups, and this is true. But … Māori have more reason to distrust the people telling them to get jabbed than other groups because they can point to historical discrimination that has really happened.”
As if any non-Maori people’s personal history with trauma and damaging power-control dynamics haven’t really happened?
Excellent analysis thank you.
I would like to add a couple of things I think you missed though.
The vaccinated now find themselves in a difficult situation if they actually do come to the realization they’ve been lied too,and they start discovering the vaccine is neither safe,nor effective.
Imagine the terror they must be feeling? They can not remove the substance from their bodies,and they are powerless to have any recompense via the government or Pfizer.
To protect their own sanity there will be many who will then bury the new information,and will once again deny the truth of what they have discovered.
They perhaps may outwardly turn their emotions onto the anti vaxxer’s with renewed vigor.
Others unable to live with the fear and knowledge may take their own lives,and there may be some who are so enraged by the betrayal they may commit acts of violence against the perpetrators.
Then there is the government themselves.
You put forth potential solutions they could deploy,but don’t seem to have considered that the government may not be acting under their own volition.
For arguments sake imagine the government are being controlled by others much more powerful.They may even be blackmailed to carry out certain objectives.Humans naturally have a tendency for self preservation.
If such a precarious situation did in fact exist,it would be extremely difficult for those in power to extract themselves,or change their course of action.
If such a situation existed it wouldn’t bode well for our society,nor do I know how they could extract themselves safely while changing course to give us the freedom back we all so desire.
Perhaps you could write a couple more articles on the above mentioned please? With possible solutions,or outcomes.
Thank you for sharing these thoughts – I believe that they’re certainly worthy of serious consideration, chilling as they may be.
I actually wrote an article that I think speaks very much to what you wrote here. I wrote it prior to the covid crisis, so I don’t explicitly mention this crisis, but I reflected upon the situation of extraordinary social inequality and the destruction of democracy and our Earth more generally. You may find it interesting: https://cncl.info/human-society/reclaim-our-power-or-face-extinction-the-choice-is-ours/
We also developed this organisation – CNCL – with the explicit intention to support “the common people” in taking power back from the ruling elites, who have clearly abused their power in some truly horrific ways. And regardless of what one’s personal beliefs are regarding the covid situation, I think we can all agree that certain powerful interests are, at the very least, taking full advantage of the situation in ways that further enrich and emnpower themselves, while further increasing social inequality. You might enjoy reading more about our principles and mission statement here: https://cncl.info/about-us/