Surviving the trauma of COVID-19

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Roxane Cohen Silver, professor of psychological science, writes about resilience and successfully managing the coronavirus pandemic in the July issue of Science Magazine. An excerpt: 

As a psychological scientist who investigates how individuals and communities respond to collective traumas, I study human resilience in a range of situations—from earthquakes and hurricanes to mass violence and war. Shortly after the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks against the United States, I sat in the White House Office of Homeland Security discussing community resilience. Although the threat to society seemed real and continuing, national leaders were anxious to get people back on airplanes and into high-rise office buildings. In retrospect, the nation proved to be quite resilient: The threat of terrorism was never eliminated, but industries and urban centers continued to thrive. Decades later, the United States and world face another threat, equally amorphous and extremely deadly. In months, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), has infected over 10 million people, killed over 125,000 Americans, and led to more than 500,000 deaths worldwide. A vaccine for COVID-19 is perhaps a year away. What does psychological science tell us about how individuals are responding—and will respond—as the pandemic waxes and wanes? What will the postpandemic “normal” look like? Will our society prove to be resilient?

Read the full editorial