Stop the COVID Shaming!

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For many people who contract the coronavirus, shame is an underreported side-effect. Its symptoms are intense bewilderment about the cause of infection, reluctance to engage with healthcare systems, and discomfort disclosing the diagnosis to friends and family. The internal dynamic is likely reinforced by the public shaming that follows news stories about crowds of spring breakers not following social distancing rules. Or the Instagram account dedicated to calling out parties and gatherings. Or the tweets about how people who dine indoors are selfish morons.

Shaming others “can function as a way to distance yourself from the fear, the terror, or any uncomfortable feeling you have by placing the badness on someone else,” says Dr. Deeba Ashraf, a psychoanalyst at the Menninger Clinic in Houston. “We can feel this illusion of safety, which is born out of shaming another group.”

In this bonus episode of the Mother Jones Podcast, Associate Producer Molly Schwartz interviews Ashraf about the psychological effects of COVID shaming, the impacts on public health, and some tips for dealing with feelings of shame and stigma.

This interview is part of Molly’s big feature about COVID shaming and its historical parallels in the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Read the full story at www.motherjones.com.

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