COVID – The first time I became interested in the topic of social responsibility, and fortiori of social irresponsibility, that was five years ago. I was carrying out research directed by Prof. Fournet from the University of Savoie, in partnership with the UEROS team in La Gaude.
The theme of the study concerned resuming driving after suffering a head injury with cognitive and emotional sequelae. The HAS best practice recommendations were then being drawn up.
Many of our hypotheses had not been validated and revealed unexpected results which have been published. We had indeed shown that in addition to the number of days in a coma and the number of years of driving experience, it was not cognitive factors (attention, working memory, etc.) that were predictive of a “good” ability to drive a car (assessed in situ with a driving school instructor), but emotional and personality factors, namely social responsibility and psychic stability. Thus, the higher the scores for responsibility and psychological stability, the less dangerous the driving was for the driver and therefore for others.
Social responsibility in an individualistic society
Today, it is with the eyes of both a French citizen, a psychologist, and a mother nine months pregnant, in a context of a pandemic, that I question myself again on the question of social responsibility. I believe it is important, if not essential, to speak about this serious human problem, yet far too neglected.
What to do when neighbors who test positive for Covid-19 leave their homes several times a day, and also warn of their positivity by bumping into each other in the hallways?
What to do when these same neighbors live in a building where a woman who is nine months pregnant, a child too young to wear a mask, and several elderly or even very old people, some isolated, and suffering from known health problems in the neighborhood, cross paths? ?
It would be difficult to assess precisely how isolated this situation is, or on the contrary how much it is repeating itself, thus contributing to the maintenance of this pandemic, and to the liberticidal measures from which we all suffer.
How far will we have to go to protect the greatest number in a population accustomed to thinking in an individualistic way? What does it mean to be responsible in this context? Disclose confidential information to protect others? Protect the privacy of individuals as a priority? So many very worrying questions for which we are sorely lacking answers, and studies, especially on psychological and sociological aspects.
Psychological analyzes are not taken into account
Faced with this unprecedented situation, making decisions from a purely biological, physical and epidemiological perspective is not enough. Isn’t it indeed through human contact and bias that we transmit the virus? Isn’t it thus linked to human movements, decision-making and human behavior, which psychologists are precisely specialists in?
What I want to convey here is that increasing the deprivation of freedoms ultimately comes down to using crutches. Like a drug that would reduce the symptoms, but not the cause of them, we keep coming back to seeing the same symptoms or behaviors reappear! Worse, this type of measure risks reinforcing the prohibition and thus the desire to defy it.
This has already been shown by studies in psychology concerning advertising spots with shocking images, in an attempt to reduce tobacco consumption, for example. The rejection of these images can reinforce the very behavior one seeks to reduce or suppress. It is therefore counterproductive, especially for people who already suffer from tobacco addiction. Unfortunately, this is once again just one example among others where, as is often the case in our country, the opinions and knowledge of clinical psychologists and psychology researchers from various specialties are not heard.
Education and social involvement
It is neither the numbers nor the amount of information received – although both are necessary – that will have the most impact on people’s choices and their risk-taking. To reduce this serious problem of the lack of social responsibility for the spread of the virus, priority must be given to what has the power to permanently and effectively modify behavior: education and the involvement of populations!
Not only through purely factual and intellectual knowledge, but also, if not above all, through education in good manners, in the development of prosocial behaviors, in communication, in reading and understanding emotions, in teamwork , emotional intelligence, and the interest of considering others, including for their own general interest!
As long as there is no real awareness, and collective work on the aforementioned points, from the first years of an individual’s life, then individualism will remain a huge brake on recovery. pandemic such as the one we are going through now. As long as medical omnipotence deprives itself of the human sciences, then we will lack answers and therefore solutions. However, a future without the others and without integrating the “human” in the body, does not exist! Worse, it is insane and deleterious for the survival of all of us!
When will we see a real reflection on the ravages of individualism? When will we recognize and take into account the knowledge and experience of professionals in the human sciences for decision-making as important, and fraught with consequences as those pronounced by our government?
See also on Then24: “After 3 sessions, what happens?” The student psychiatric check, a fragile measure