Long after the pandemic phase of this disease has ended and when it is endemic, present at all times but in relatively low frequency, what happened from late 2019 to date will be with us.

While the incidence of the disease will be sharply reduced, its medical, social, psychological, economic and community  effects will linger. So pervasive a syndrome has not appeared in our lifetimes.

What happens to people, and more particulary to the subsets of our society–elderly, adults, children, respectively–when lifestyles are suddenly changed is uncharted territory.

Let’s examine some phenomena associated with covid.

Neurotic reaction to illness.  There are two major neurotic reactions to illness or to the significant danger of contracting illness. Let’s assume that someone has a heart attack. The neurotic reactions are regression and denial.

The heart attack patient who exhibits regression says, “let me sit in my chair for the afternoon.” The patient who has denial says, “I’m climbing the mountain today!” Both are inappropriate because excessive. Therapists, family and friends struggle to bring affected patients to reality.

With the help of the internet’s penchant for inaccuracy and hysteria, both traits have been seen as the dangers of covid became widespread. The agoraphobic surface-sprayer, long after surfaces were pronounced safe, side by side with the mask opponent are people we know.

Do these behaviors go away or do they continue in years ahead in the form of either excessive or scant risk-taking in personal and professional life?

Lack of human interaction. The media have characterized this painful condition as the I-want-to-hug-my-grandchildren feeling. But it’s a lot more.

Even within families where absence for work or school is coupled with coming together for meals or recreation, many persons felt alone during the acute covid times. In urban areas it was the absence of the use of public transport, the water cooler at the office, the street life. In rural areas, it was the hardware store, the gas station, the clubs and the lodges.

The Stephen Sondheim lyric says it all: “Alone is not alive.”

Do we just spring back when acute covid disappears or do we retain some of the pain and how does it manifest itself in the future?

Internalizing political differences. Before covid political attitudes were acutely polarized.

With the politicization of covid response, actually along party lines, have these attitudes become part of one’s nature by unconscious assimilation?  Do right and left ever meet in the middle once again?

I suspect that political differences will become more aggravated because the Trump presidency–read the Republican Party of today–is viewed as a bastion of political freedom and free will by republicans and as the beast of unnecessarily increased illness and death from covid by democrats. Those attitudes linger and plant themselves in the very identities of their adherents.

It’s not like support or opposition on the matter of taxes in the pre-covid times, a matter that has often been settled and compromised throughout American history.  It’s much deeper.

The workplace. Is the workplace in the services sector a geographic location or a state of mind? Is an investment professional or a lawyer in a “place” or a “shop” (“let’s meet at our shop”) or anywhere but, reaching out to insiders and outsiders through electronic, distanced discussions (Zoom)?

What happens in that sector when the deals lawyer can’t pad down to the tax lawyer’s office while the client is still in the office? And what about “collegiality,” that process that enhances  thought and analysis because two and two can equal five rather than just four when professionals are together in an office?

That the nature, identity and location of the workplace, once a given, are now up for grabs are sequelae of the covid crisis.

Children and masks. For the past fifteen months when the youngest children went to school or when they met masked adults, it was almost impossible to relate to those adults when their faces were unseen. Smiles, concerns, even interest in the child, are obscured when children cannot see them as expressed on a visible face.

We don’t need Dr. Freud to understand how profoundly disturbing this can be in early childhood development. What are the long-term effects?


Whatever happens in these areas of concern, it will be different. Not just in the here and now but for a long, long time.