Need for approval can be dangerous

By Dr. Anthony Policastro

The group of individuals that invaded the Capitol on January 6th were heterogeneous in nature. They did it for different reasons.

For one group of individuals in particular the reasons are clearer than for others. That was the group of individuals who decided that the event was something to brag about. It was an opportunity to take selfies. It was a chance to post their activity to social media.

They were not really paying attention to the fact that these actions would identify them to the legal system. One might ask why would someone do that.

One of the things that drives human behavior is the fact that we are all part of a social fabric. That means that we interact with others. Part of our self-opinion is based upon the feedback we get from those people.

The formal term for that is the “looking-glass self.” Our opinions are a reflection of those around us. The poorer our self-esteem the more we need praise from those outside individuals.

That means that we use ways of showing off our behavior to others. If they tell us they approve, that improves our self esteem.

In the old days that meant taking photos. We would do that for important events. We would do that for things like vacations. That way we could show the photos to others. Their reaction would then provide approval for our actions. It would enhance our self-esteem.

Times have changed. We still take pictures. However, now they are on our cell phones. Once we take them, we can send them to friends immediately. We don’t have to wait until we see them to show them the photos.

We also can post them to social media. There are a variety of options to do that. Those options include things like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram.

That is what happened to the group of individuals who posted photos and information about their invasion of the Capitol on social media. They were waiting for approval from their social circle.

That approval would boost their self-esteem. It would make up for whatever inferiority complex that drove them. They were not realizing that it would also later identify them to the legal system.

Clearly this description did not fit all the individuals. Some were there for other reasons. However, those who did these things were more focused on getting a positive response from others than anything else.

Human behavior is often driven by the desire to have that kind of approval. Sometimes the way that is done is not necessarily the smartest way to do it.

COVID-19 UPDATE

I need to start this week with a retraction. In two previous updates I had advised prophylactic Tylenol when receiving the vaccine. Recent evidence suggests that taking it too early might interfere with the immune reaction.

This leads to two new recommendations. The first is that the Tylenol is not advised within the first six hours of getting the vaccine. The second is that it does not need to be taken unless side effects actually develop.

The national figures for new cases continue to be steady. They have been between 200,000 and 250,000 since January 10th.

The same thing is true in Sussex County. New cases have remained between 150 and 250 since January 10th.

Our recent mortality figures have moved us up from the 11th highest death rate in the world that I reported a few weeks ago. We are now in 9th place for overall mortality.

Vaccines take time to work

For those who receive the vaccine, they need to bear a few things in mind. The most important one is that they will not be protected until two weeks after the second dose. That is how long it takes the antibodies to develop. Reducing precautions prior to that is a bad idea.

None of the vaccines are 100 percent. It is likely that a vaccinated individual will not get a severe case of COVID-19. However, relaxing precautions too soon before we have a national decrease in cases is not a good idea.

Bottom line is COVID precautions need to last until the number of cases begins to drop. Simply ignoring them because you have received the vaccine is not necessarily the best idea.

President Trump received monoclonal antibody for his COVID infection. So did Rudy Guiliani and Chris Christie. All three did well after receiving it. The initial problem was that there was not enough of it available. Now there is plenty available. However, it is not being used.

The issue is that it is only effective early in the course of the disease. It is not useful for hospitalized patients. Thus a person must get a positive test soon after the illness starts to be a candidate. Many people wait too long. By then it is too late to use it.

Side effects

As we give COVID vaccines to nursing home residents, we have uncovered a new issue. The vaccine was tested on mostly healthy individuals. Those individuals could deal with the annoying side effects. However, some frail nursing home residents may not do so.

Norway has reported nursing home resident deaths after the vaccine. The deaths were not from the vaccine. They were from the side effects that were enough to push frail nursing home patients over the edge.

A study from Switzerland found that school closures did result in decreased COVID-19 infections.

However, it was not because the students stayed at home. It was because the parents stayed at home with the children. The decreased outdoor mobility of the parents resulted in fewer cases.

Of course Switzerland is not the U.S. so those statistics might not apply here.

COVID precautions have had a side effect. So far they are doing a good job of keeping flu cases down. If we treated every flu season the way we are treating COVID, there would even be fewer deaths from the flu every year.

Some doubt remains

Some people continue to think that COVID-19 infection is not that serious. A surgeon from Texas disagreed.

Dr. Brittany Bankhead-Kendall shared X-ray examples with CBS. A normal lung is mostly black due to the air present. A smoker’s lung shows some whitened areas. A COVID-19 lung shows a lot less air. (See the X-rays above).

Fenofibrate is a cholesterol lowering drug. It is currently in Phase III trials as a possible treatment for COVID-19. The logic is that individuals with lung problems from the disease build up fat in their lungs. This drug could reduce the amount of fat.

The NFL had an intense system of testing players and support personnel this year. Thus the numbers should provide us with the most accurate incidence of infection in the general population. In the U.S. in general about 7.2 percent of the population has currently been infected. Player positive tests were at 10 percent. Staff positive tests were at 9 percent.

Thus there are people in the general population who have had COVID-19 infections without being identified. The good news is it looks like that number is not a large one.

The one caution in interpretation is that the NFL did not start the testing until later in the COVID-19 period.

Hope for the future

Last week I reported Israel already having almost 20 percent of their population vaccinated. This week they are reporting a 33 percent decrease in COVID cases.

This is further evidence that vaccine is good news.

2021-01-21T08:55:21-05:00 January 21st, 2021|HEALTH|