Psychological Synergy to Navigate the COVID-19 Pandemic

New Delhi, India: Perhaps for the first time ever, a book ‘Military Psychology Response to Post Pandemic Reconstruction’ on the COVID-19 has been simultaneously released in India, Norway and Poland by its editorial team on 26th Oct 2020. The book has renowned psychologists across sixteen countries providing valuable insights in dealing with psychological aspects to adapt to the current COVID-19 global pandemic which dramatically altered our world in the beginning of 2020 itself and renewed global attention to a real threat of biological weapons with “warfare” no longer limited to conventional battlefields or asymmetrical nature of operations as we know it. The world now stands at the threshold of wanton acts of bioterrorism inflicted on Nations anywhere in the world. Government all out efforts are already underway all over the globe to counter this humongous threat with cautious vigilance and maximise response to deal with the pandemic with synergised efforts and best medical practices to identify treatment efforts/vaccinations involved, minimise casualties by containing spread of the virus, and expedite treatment and recovery of those who have been tested positive for COVID-19. Yet, the focus is still essentially on treatment of infection and there is an urgent need to address the insecurities brought about by COVID-19 which has manifested pandemic related genuine problems, needs and concerns in the minds of individuals and society who now have to adapt to the change thrust upon them by the pandemic.

Eminent psychologists view this book as a valuable contribution to better understanding human behavior during pandemic, promoting communication, and providing references for learning about theories and best practices in other countries towards dealing with the pandemic. According to Dr. Hubert Annen, Chairman of the International Military Testing Association, the editorial team comprising Lt Col Dr. Samir Rawat from India, Professor Ole Boe from Norway and Dr. Andrzej Piotrowski from Poland have made a stellar contribution in releasing this book on a war footing even while we struggle in adapting to the pandemic and timely release of such a book when we need guidance in such trying times; the book makes interesting and relevant reading for not just military personnel, psychologists and practitioners but the general population at large all over the globe.

Dr. Mike Matthews, Professor of Engineering Psychology at the West Point US Military reviews the book and writes, “Even in the midst of a global conflict against Coronavirus, military psychologists from across four continents provide invaluable insights into the psychological impact of pandemic and ways to mitigate against these threats to our wellbeing. Building on lessons from traditional military operations, this two volume set provides a blueprint for enhancing our psychological body armour in the face of this daunting foe. Military Psychology Response to Post Pandemic Reconstruction is necessary reading for individuals, organizations, and their leaders tasked with crafting a rational and effective response to the psychological toll of the pandemic.”

Interaction with Dr. Samir Rawat from India revealed that, “Military response to disasters is increasing exponentially and the global pandemic is no different; prodded by the COVID-19, most militaries the world over go into force protection mode and at the same time, reach out to those in distress as the last resort of government to deal with pandemic. Dr. Andrzej Piotrowski from University of Gdansk who is one of the editors of the book asserts that “Psychologists play a critical role in facilitating those who have experienced or witnessed a disaster or other personally traumatic events. Given their proximity to frequency of occurrences of such traumatic events, military and police psychologists are in a unique position to study human behaviour under crises situations and recommend best practices and psychological interventions during and after the pandemic currently being experienced the world over.” According to Professor Ole Boe from University of South Eastern Norway in Oslo, “Psychologists who respond to human tragedies like the current pandemic must conceptualise post pandemic interventions, using strategies that take into account individual and group characteristics of the individual /unit /subunit, intensity, and magnitude of the crises, based on the level of stress/trauma being experienced.”

This apt and timely groundbreaking book maybe a precursor to an indication that a new field of study maybe emerging as an interdisciplinary field of what we can learn from the military; and appears to be a sampling of a fruit of a field of study whose roots can be traced to Yerkes (1917) when military psychology first contributed to the World War 1 efforts in selection and recruitment of able bodied men to fight for their motherland.

The book provokes some thoughts on how military psychology can be applied in not just military contexts but also explore diversity of applications in different realms when dealing with pandemic in present times as well as during post pandemic reconstruction from a psychological perspective; it is primer in opening up plethora of research in the immediate and near future to cater to the fragilities of the human mind in dealing with the pandemic.

 


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