“This Press Release is the outcome of observations, debates, experiences and studies made by psychologists, psychotherapists and psychiatrists concerned about the negative consequences of some of the measures adopted to address and contrast the spread of COVID-19, which may not be limited to the current period only.

Our goal, which is consistent with our work and our researches, is to promote, protect and guard both individual and social psycho-physical well-being. The reports, the considerations and the requests contained in this document are intended to make our governors and the entire population aware of the side effects and the dangers that certain actions bring or may bring to the mental health and the well-being of the community as a whole.

This Press Release, which is based on scientific data and reasoning, aims at observing the current situation from a psychological point of view, and wishes to provide tools to avoid the triggering of dangerous pathological dynamics for both individuals and the whole society. […]

This Press Release is non-partisan, therefore it shall not be exploited by any political party.”

N.B. The original press release covers 3 main areas: The psychological damage resulting from lockdown and its management; the dangers of a contradictory and fear-based communication; the concern about the consequences of a non-systemically reasoned recovery. However, for the sake of synthesis, the editorial staff of Pressenza Italy decided to publish, in addition to the introduction, only a summary of the final part, relating to the proposals and requests. We inform our readers that they will be able to view the complete version of the Press Release of the 900 mental health professionals at the following address: https://comunicatopsi.org/

Proposals and requests

1. Restoring a truly democratic, pluralistic, free and confrontational communication.

The psychic discomfort produced by the radical change in people’s lifestyles is varied and takes on different psychopathological characteristics, though always combing a distressing onset and a clinical severity.

The primum movens of all the psycho-pathological situations that have arisen is the match between loss of hope and fear: if communication incessantly and monocratically reiterates terrifying contents, stigmatizing real or phantasmal points of no return, then specific experiences are automatically produced and they act as triggers for very serious pathological and psychosocial developments.

Restoring a truly pluralistic communication, where to think outside what appears to be an authorized box […], would give the possibility to compare different hypotheses of reality, different future visions, and different developments of possible lifestyles to face scenarios prophesied as apocalyptic and inevitable.

At present, expressing an opinion that is not accepted by the mainstream does not appear to be viable without retaliation, threats or public media pillory: a dissonant idea is inevitably marked as fake news or conspiracy, immediately attacked and taken to trial not by means of serious and legitimate debates, but by means of radical ostracism in principle from the media system, denying any form of doubt or alternative thought, at the cost of lying or personal delegitimization. It is a proper communicative deviance that is reaching extremely dangerous levels.

In a democratic system protected bytheUniversal Declaration of Human Rights, no one should impose how and where to draw information, also treating the recipient as a naive child who is unable to understand and discern. The outcome is one-colour information, which pushes towards uniformity of thought through fear, though defrauding the richness and the evolution of culture, and atrophying free research and self-expression.

We therefore claim the right that every citizen has to be able to listen to the different opinions at stake and analysethem in detail, where possible, accordingto the ways and the sources they believe to be more reliable, so that they can draw their reasoned conclusions. We also claim their legitimate right to peacefully spread their views.

2. Promoting a culture of health

[…] Science has widely demonstrated that leading a healthier lifestyle strengthens and forges the immune system. Eating healthy food, exercising, knowing and managing stress, not smoking or not taking toxic substances should be a commitment for each of us, and the media should continuously pass information about it. Therefore, it is really rather distressing and somehow

medieval to observe the beacon of public attention almost exclusively oriented towards pathogenesis rather than salutogenesis.

A healthy lifestyle that systemically encompasses the factors that make the body resilient and strengthen the immune system should become part of a society ready to face complex challenges from different points of view, including health. A media communication in this sense would also solve several critical issues:

  • it would urge people to take back responsibility for their own health, rather than feeling threatened by the behaviour of others;
  • it would increase the sense of trust and hope in people’s possibilities, rather than delegating any vital choice to others;
  • it would decrease the fear and the vulnerability relating to pathogenic events, also reducing the consequences of the nocebo effect;
  • it would give back dignity to human being by providing significant information for their well-being;
  • it would relieve the burden of the national health system and care professionals, and it would improve the feeling of respect and trust between citizens and public organizations.

3. Avoiding the trigger and the growth of further forms of discrimination

Media communication on COVID-19 has fueled exaggerated and irrational fears. People not wearing a mask and walking in deserted streets, health workers, small businessmen and desperate self-employed people who peacefully demonstrated, yet respecting the social distancing, were discriminated against or attacked.

Again, such conduct should be discouraged by fostering a constructive cooperation and disseminating good practices, case histories and tangible examples, where the value of individual and non-harmful freedom, mutual help and synergy between governors and the population can emerge.

4. Publicly acknowledging the mistakes made

Provided that no political and medical authorities were ready for such an emergency, mistakes were made. This has generated distrust and despair at people’s sentiment level. However, authority is not achieved by never making mistakes, but by admitting and correcting one’s own mistakes, and then starting again in a more conscious and reasoned way. […]

5. Stimulating the exchange of points of view between scholars and official specialists and scholars and independent specialists

What became really rather obvious was the huge gap between official and one-way communications emphasized in the mainstream, as well as those of other professionals operating in the same areas, but coming from independent sources. The role of social networking sites, when it did not despicably alter or shadow certain contributions, has clearly highlighted these discrepancies, fomenting bitterness and – again – mistrust and fear.

A more conscious vision of reality is observed when reality tends to unite rather than divide, or in any case to encourage the constructive dialogue among everybody. This is perhaps one of the greatest challenges we have to face.

6. Restoring civil rights

Civil law does not concern jurisdiction only, but it is a full indissoluble prerequisite for maintaining mental and behavioural balance. During the lockdown, several obligations and impositions became object of fear:

  • those jeopardizing the freedom of choosing medical treatments and solutions (primarily vaccinations) as a condition / threat for the restoration of normality;
  • those of enhanced technologies as an alternative solution to the usual social interactions;
  • those concerning the adoption of health devices for all (masks and gloves) which, in addition to not being clearly effective in avoiding virus infections, cause respiratory problems and alkalosis;
  • those of isolation, control (through police forces or technological tools) and uniformity of thought, as already outlined above.

We claim the need to refocus on the concept that a citizen is a living being with physical, psychological and spiritual characteristics, and not merely a consumer, as has become customary. We also claim their right of freedom of thought,expression and choice of care.

Such freedoms are guaranteed by the foundations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and they are not only citizens’ inalienable rights, but they are also the necessary ground for the maintenance of individual and social psycho-physical health. […]

More info: https://www.comunicatopsi.org