Today and Tomorrow of a Pandemic (9)

Por: José Antonio Michelena

The 2020 leap year that began on Wednesday will be set to fire in human history by the uncontainable transmission, to the five continents, of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes Covid-19, a spread initiated in China during 2019.

Covid-19 has claimed many lives and tested, in crisis management, very diverse governments and states of societies: from the most democratic and open, to the most authoritarian and closed.

But it has also tested us, that we are living an uneedited, unimagined experience, and we do not know exactly when and how this nightmare will end. Nor what will come after it’s over.

Much has been speculated about it, to the point of reaching the (almost) saturation of the subject, but not by looking the pandemic the pandemic will no longer be there, like the dinosaur of Monterroso. Every day we get up and lie by his shadow.

As other publications have done, we wanted to consult the opinion of a group of intellectuals to inquire about their particular experiences during all this time, to know how they have spent it, how their days have elapsed, what they think about this present, and what they expect from the future, how they imagine it.


Doctor Jesús Dueñas Becerra
Doctor Jesús Dueñas Becerra

Jesus, how have you lived these months of confinement?

“I have accepted reality, because one of the fundamental principles of cognitive behavioral psychology is— precisely — not wanting or wanting something that, at this time, does not exist, and what demands the situation we go through is that we maintain physical isolation (non-social, which is a crazy capital, because man, generically speaking, is, in its intimate essence, a social being). What I’ve done is distribute everyday activities throughout the morning, afternoon and evening, when I read, write, watch TV and connect to the Internet.”

Is there any consideration you have made, in existential, religious, spiritual terms, that you want to share?

“I am a Christian out of devotion and conviction who believes in God’s love and forgiveness. Therefore, the only consideration I can make about this is that the Coronavirus pandemic is a natural phenomenon, not a bacteriogenic spawn manufactured in a neo-Nazi laboratory, let alone divine punishment.

“Psychology can help combat the Coronavirus that plagues the population that lives, loves, creates and dreams on the largest island of the Antilles, and thus help curb that scourge that threatens the bio-psycho-socio-spiritual integrity of Cuban.

“First of all, the essential difference between fear as a legitimate expression of the Freudian sense of preservation must be clarified, and fear, as a result of a sick emotional state, which can become a boomerang for those who suffer from it.

“According to the classification developed by the illustrious Hispanic-Cuban psychiatrist, Emilio Mira y López, anxiety is fear of the known and anguish fear of the unknown.

“Fear is a completely normal emotional reaction, while fear, expressed in the form of anxiety or anguish, becomes negative emotion that paralyzes man, and sometimes extreme ones, puts him in front of situations that can cost him his life.

“Hence, as a pressing measure of mental health, it must be avoided at all costs to accommodate in our psych fear, anxiety, anguish, stress, triggered by Covid-19. The word of order is not fear, let alone panic, but the responsibility to take care of ourselves and the other.

“Among other things of specific interest, it should be noted that the brain (or Central Nervous System) is the rector of the human organism, and that everything that affects the body, has its immediate impact on the affective-spiritual and conative spheres of personality. In short, everything that nimically affects homo sapiens has immediate resonance in its body schema.

“On the other hand, depression, almost always associated with anxiety, distress, stress, and as a result of the real or potential possibility of viral contagion, makes the immune system very sensitive and vulnerable, which favors not only the expansion of Coronavirus throughout the body, but also its machiavellian work of zapa.

“Hence the need for mature and responsible behaviour prevailing in the island population, involving a non-categorical to depression and a resounding YES to life, to health.

“If we get carried away by fear, anxiety, anguish, panic, stress, which do so much harm to the body-mind-soul triad, our thoughts will become very negative, and in the same way, they will go out into space, and the universe will return them to us in the same way, since the function played by the universe is to bounce the positive or negative thoughts that radiate into the outer environment.”

What teachings could leave us, as social beings, this time cloistered?

“The time of cloistering to which we have been delayed in connection with the gradual and progressive expansion of Covid-19 has resulted in a re-encounter of the Cuban family with the members of the different generations that make up the fundamental cell of society, which has facilitated, among other things, the discovery (non-formation) of ethical, human and spiritual values in the members of these family nuclei that , as a result of the most dissimilar motives, were repressed, and in some cases, woefully lost. It seems to me worth mentioning here a current popular aphorism: ‘it is not wrong that your good does not bring'”.

How do you live up the post-pandemic future?

“As a person who—like José Martí—believes ‘in human improvement [and] in the usefulness of virtue’ I am sure that we will come out of this woeful situation much stronger and more enriched, both from a human and spiritual point of view. Let us cultivate positive thoughts so that the universe will return them to us in the same way. God forbid!”


Psychologist, critic and journalist. Doctor of Psychology. Member of the International Association of Psychogeriatry (IPA), a full member of the Cuban Society of Health Psychology, and a member of the Cuban Society of Psychology.

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