By Dr. Anthony Policastro

We often do not realize how our psychological expectations fuel our behaviors. This is often referred to as a self-fulfilling prophecy. It is sometimes referred to as expectations being self-fulfilling.

What happens in these situations is that people develop an idea. That idea leads to an action. The action in and of itself makes the idea come true.

The best example of this had to do with the aftermath of the Arab oil embargo in 1973. The shortage of oil during the period produced long lines at the gas pumps.

Six years later in 1979 there was a slight decrease in oil production. Everyone thought another crisis was on the horizon. They ran out and filled their tanks.

In the process there were long lines at gas stations while people topped off their tanks.

Gas moved from service stations into cars that normally would be half full. The result was an artificial and temporary lack of gasoline.

There was no real shortage. People believed there would be one. Therefore, they changed their behavior. The changed behavior resulted in a shortage that was not real.

That behavior continues today. For some reason, people believed that coronavirus would cause them to run out of toilet paper.

Therefore, they went and bought all the toilet paper in sight. They thus created a real short term shortage of toilet paper.

Of course coronavirus causes upper respiratory symptoms. Unless they planned to use the toilet paper to blow their nose, there is not really a need for extra toilet paper.

We saw the same thing happen with hand sanitizer. We saw the same thing happen with masks and gloves.

In each of those cases, people believed that they would not have them when they needed them. Therefore, they created an artificial short-term shortage.

Their expectations became self-fulfilling. Of course the shortage in masks is somewhat confusing to me. The only time a mask is useful is if you actually have coronavirus and go out in public.

Therefore, people who bought masks are planning ahead. They are planning to catch coronavirus.

Once they have it, they are planning to go out in public. Those are the conditions under which a mask would be necessary.

I prefer not to catch it at all.

We need to realize that there are times when we take certain actions because of our beliefs. The taking of those actions lead those beliefs into coming true.

If we had not had the belief and not taken the action they would not have come true in the first place.

Coronavirus update

From Feb. 28th to March 17th COVID-19 cases doubled every 72 hours. From March 17th to March 23rd, they doubled every 48 hours.

Quarantine measures put in place on March 13th would not be expected to show up until 10 days later because of the long incubation period.

That appears to have happened. Numbers doubled in 72 hours from March 23rd to March 26th. They then doubled in about 80 hours from March 26th to March 29th. They stood at 131,000 nationally at that point.

As I write this on March 30th, they have increased only 11,000 in the last 24 hours.

That would suggest that it will be significantly longer than 72 hours for the numbers to double again.

One word of caution is that there are probably many more people with COVID-19 in the population that have not been formally diagnosed.