Psychologist on corona exhaustion: "Daily shopping has become a highlight"

Corona exhaustion psychologist
"Daily shopping has become a highlight"

The corona crisis never ends. What is the constant threat and insecurity doing to our society? In the podcast "Die Stunden Null", the psychologist Stephan Grünewald talks about the increasing "corona corrosion" of Germans and how behavior has changed since the first lockdown.

The coronavirus has been a constant topic in politics, the media and everyday life for almost a year. While at the beginning of the pandemic the main discussion was about direct health threats and economic consequences, over time the psychological and sociological effects also moved into focus. "It's such a process of fatigue, a process of decomposition," says the psychologist Stephan Grünewald in the podcast "Zero Hour".

"At the first lockdown there was still a hope of finiteness. And now you realize: You don't have the sense of achievement. For a long time the numbers were relatively stable at a high level and you had the impression that you were restricting yourself, but that had absolutely no effect."

The founder of the Rheingold Institute, who has long dealt with the emotional state of Germans in his work, has examined how the social mood has changed since last spring. Unlike during the first lockdown, which still had "the character of an adventurous break-in into a familiar reality", exhaustion and resignation are now increasingly spreading. "The people in our interviews described to us how meticulously they paid attention to their distances, how much they disinfected their hands after every purchase. Now it's a different situation."

Despite consistently high numbers of infections and hygiene regulations, people have developed a "Corona everyday routine," said the psychologist in an interview with Horst von Buttlar. Many have started meeting and hugging their friends again. Instead of a big weekly shopping, shopping is now the daily highlight for many in order to at least briefly escape the same Corona everyday life.

Even groups that were still happy about the deceleration and the "collective pause" in the spring are now complaining about exhaustion and discouragement after almost a year of Corona. Nevertheless, some groups are particularly hard hit by the pandemic. "Young people feel much more shut down than older people." And: There is a difference, "whether I am now shut down in two rooms or whether I have a large house and am supported and can then switch back relatively carefree." Contrary to the solidarity and cohesion that politicians like to postulate in times of crisis, the psychologist observes an increasing social division.

Grünewald would like more long-term strategies for the future. "Many questions have not yet been answered. If we invested a lot more research money there, we would be able to intervene more efficiently." Rules could be implemented more consistently. "A large part of the citizens says: Even further tightening, that makes absolutely no sense, because the existing rules are not monitored and sanctioned at all," said Grünewald in an interview.

He is critical of the discussions about an even tighter lockdown or even a no-covid approach. He was concerned about a new fundamentalism, about test subjects who called for a "China dictation". Despite all the social challenges, he can also gain positive things from the time: "As a psychologist, I notice that I am also in a completely different direction as a researcher and witness a development that is on the one hand frightening and on the other hand fascinating."

Listen to the new episode of "Zero Hour":

  • Which three behavior patterns the psychologist and his team identified among the respondents.
  • What the current situation has to do with the situation in the GDR.
  • How Stephan Grünewald personally experiences the lockdown.

You can find all episodes directly at Audio Now, Apple or Spotify or via Google.