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Blursday, the ‘disorientation’ effect that the pandemic left us

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Blursday, the ‘disorientation’ effect that the pandemic left us

The days began to blur with each other. Then the weeks. Now the years. “I feel like two years have faded away.” “How can my son be already in elementary school if he had just started kindergarten?”. If you too recognize yourselves in these thoughts, it means that you are experiencing the blursday, an unwelcome legacy of Covid. This English neologism, which literally means “blurry day”, was created to describe the disorientation caused by the lockdown: that feeling of not remembering where in the week we have arrived, of time disintegrating just like our daily routines abruptly interrupted. by restrictions. But the bad news is that for some it didn’t end there.

A time marked by events

Psychologists Simon Grondin, Esteban Mendoza-Duran and Pier-Alexandre Rioux of Laval University in Quebec City wrote an article about it in the scientific journal Frontiers in Psychology, explaining that our time is marked by events, such as a dinner date or travel times. And when those references are missing, days lose their identity and time their definition. In parallel, in a recent study conducted in Great Britain, published in Plos One, 57% of respondents said that the last 12 months they lived seemed longer than a year. These two phenomena, which could seem diametrically opposite, are instead the two sides of the same coin: the negative emotions triggered by Covid make the trauma seem closer than it is in reality, leaving the mind anchored to 2020 and dilating the subsequent times that they seem longer but with fewer memories. In short: a real distortion in the perception of time.

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Bringing together past, present and future

“Suddenly everything stopped. We could no longer be the people we were used to – he explains Alison Holman of the University of California Irvine in the study published in Psychological Trauma -. For some, distortions over time have been a disturbing phenomenon, but they have shrugged them off. For others, the trauma of recent years combined with this strange perception of time has remained a disturbing mix that now puts them at risk of persistent mental health problems. “Since the 1990s this psychologist has been studying how the distorted sense of time can damage the well-being of people and was able to verify what is happening today already twenty-five years ago, after the devastating California fire of 1993: despite the past time and the return to normal, the survivors had lost track of time and felt more distressed than before. “People who experience temporal disintegration get stuck in that experience. They are unable to put together the flow from the past and relate it to the present and even less to the future “, concludes the expert.

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The trauma from Covid

The very concept of time changes. “It is as if past and future have flattened into an eternal present – explains the psychoanalyst Stefano Candellieri of the Turin Psychological Medical Center, which has been working with Covid trauma since the time of the first red zone. “Many do not want to remember, others have lost the ability to plan which makes them live in a present that has expanded, into which every aspect of perspective has collapsed”.

According to Candellieri, lockdown has left us all with a “traumatic residue” that we have to deal with. During the restrictions “we didn’t want to think about the past because it was painful, but at the same time we didn’t think about tomorrow because of the uncertainties about the future, leading us to live in an eternal Groundhog Day”, or in a situation that doesn’t never evolves. “We have lived through an alienating period, where the lack of completed projects made us feel guilty first, then they led to frustration and now to a feeling of depression”.

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The invisible lockdown

Candellieri, who is among the contributors of the book “Lockdown Therapy“by Stefano Carpani and Monica Luci, recalls that” Covid has brought to light problems that we had before “.” Our society was already experiencing an invisible lockdown: a lockdown of emotions and social relationships. Many, especially young people, lived closed in a capsule made up of social networks and influencers. Covid has blown this bubble, bringing to the surface and worsening this aspect of great introversion, made even more dangerous by the little culture and memory of the past that our society has suffered for some time, eliminating the momentum towards the future. On the one hand, this background has allowed us to comply with the lockdown rules, as if we had some kind of predisposition “, explains the expert.

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Would things have turned out differently if the epidemic had occurred in another historical period? “If it had happened in the 1970s, I am sure there would have been a civil war. Instead the pandemic restrictions – says Candellieri – have only created great keyboard lions, from deniers to haters, also bringing out a worrying level of aggression. increasingly frequent cases of impulsivity and violence on social networks are eloquent examples of the psychological impoverishment we are talking about. We are in a hyper-technological but emotionally primitive society. The enormous potential offered by modern digital technologies is in striking contrast to the psychologically regressive change that we have, and is inevitably associated with problems of dependence and weakening of individual identity. The more or less conscious adoption of partial identities offered by digital profiles with little or no similarity to reality, leads to a progressive withdrawal from social life and from the outside world Even more troubling is the fact that the lack of d Psychotherapeutic support, as well as the impoverishment of health services, is leading to the rampant use of psychotropic drugs “.

According to AIFA data, in fact, in 2021 the consumption of antidepressants represented 3.4% of drugs in Italy, with an increase of 2.4% compared to the previous year while in previous years it had always been below 1, 9%.

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How to overcome ‘disorientation’

But what can we do to overcome this disorientation and definitively archive the blursdays? “What we really need is culture. We need poets, musicians, actors and artists who represent what is happening to us on a collective level, triggering a turning point. We do our part in the psychotherapy rooms, but logically this is not enough. and it’s not for everyone. I firmly believe that one way out of this limbo is creativity – concludes Candellieri -. The psychologist bonus, as it was thought in Italy, is unfortunately not enough: support should be increased with more structured projects, starting with psychotherapy for the national health system. At the social level, on the other hand, we should go to the theater, cinema, concerts more. Culture has always been the most effective collective psychotherapy “.

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