Global Discourse
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The collective disorientation of the COVID-19 crisis

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  • 1 PSL University Paris, , France
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One of the chief features of this global crisis is that we find ourselves in a shifting landscape. The resulting disorientation extends beyond health research and into many domains of our individual and collective lives. We suffer from political disorientation (the need for a radical shift in economic thinking), from social disorientation (the rearrangement of social dynamics based on distancing measures), and from temporal disorientation (the warping of our sense of time during lockdown), to name but a few. This generalised state of disorientation has substantial effects on wellbeing and decision making. In this paper, we review the multiple dimensions of disorientation of the COVID-19 crisis and use state-of-the art research on disorientation to gain insight into the social, psychological and political dynamics of the current pandemic. Just like standard, spatial cases of disorientation, the non-spatial forms of disorientation prevalent in the current crisis consist in the mismatch between our frames of reference and our immediate experience, and they result in anxiety, helplessness and isolation, but also in the possibility of re-orienting. The current crisis provides a unique environment in which to study non-spatial forms of disorientation. In turn, existing knowledge about spatial disorientation can shed light on the shifting landscape of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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