We use cookies to so our web site can function correctly. By Clicking "OK" or by clicking into any content on this site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more visit the cookies section of our privacy policy.

Privacy Statement

A cookie is a small file which asks permission to be placed on your computer's hard drive. Once you agree, the file is added and the cookie helps analyse web traffic or lets you know when you visit a particular site. Cookies allow web applications to respond to you as an individual. The web application can tailor its operations to your needs, likes and dislikes by gathering and remembering information about your preferences.

We use traffic log cookies to identify which pages are being used. This helps us analyse data about web page traffic and improve our website in order to tailor it to customer needs. We only use this information for statistical analysis purposes.

Overall, cookies help us provide you with a better website, by enabling us to monitor which pages you find useful and which you do not. A cookie in no way gives us access to your computer or any information about you, other than the data you choose to share with us.

Cookie group mandatory

(Req)
These cookies are necessary for the website to function and cannot be switched off in our systems. They are usually only set in response to actions made by you which amount to a request for services, such as setting your privacy preferences, logging in or filling in forms.
You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not then work. These cookies do not store any personally identifiable information.

These cookies are required

Functional

These cookies allow us to adtertise our products to you and allow us to pass this information on to our trusted third parties so that they can advertise our products to you on our behalf
All information these cookies collect is aggregated and therefore anonymous. No personal inforation is shared to third parties. Any personal information collected while using our website could be used for direct marketing from HCA only

Marketing

These cookies allow us to advertise our products to you and allow us to pass this information on to our trusted third parties so that they can advertise our products to you on our behalf
All information these cookies collect is aggregated and therefore anonymous. No personal inforation is shared to third parties. Any personal information collected while using our website could be used for direct marketing from HCA only

Performance Cookies

These cookies allow us to know which pages are the most and least popular and see how visitors move around the site.  All information collect is annonomas unless you provide personal information to us.
If you do not allow these cookies we will not know when you have visited our site, and will not be able to monitor its performance.

Coronavirus: Am I in a movie?

Diana Armstrong, psychologist, offers CBT therapy with Roodlane Medical/HCA in Glasgow. After a first career in journalism she has worked in mental health within the NHS, secondary education, employee assistance and private practice for almost 20 years.
 
Have you had this thought? Is this real? Is this really happening? Does this feel like a movie to you?

Well, you are not alone. Most of us are shielded away in our homes. We watch the world change on the television screen. We see news reports that talk about death tolls, panic buying and police intervention, images of hospitals and empty streets - images that look awfully similar to movies.
The trouble is that our brain is built to make sense of the word we see around us, and it does not discriminate whether these images come from a screen or our own living room. 
 

As a result:

  • our brains make us believe that the next step in this crisis will be the same as in the movies. We subconsciously expect looting, people turning against each other, starvation, even the end of the human race
  • the fight or flight response is triggered to protect us from potential physical harm, making us even more alert of threats, causing us to be irritable with others, disrupting our sleep, blocking our ability to think rationally
  • we try to arm ourselves with knowledge, watch the news, read articles on social media. This, of course, triggers the movie/panic response and we enter a vicious cycle.
 

What can I do about this?

It’s important to bring yourself back into the reality around you. Ground yourself in the present by going through each of your senses one by one. What can you smell? Can you see five different colours? Name them out loud if you can. What sounds do you hear? What does your sleeve smell like? What does the chair/sofa etc feel like when you touch it?

Now remind yourself that we are not in a Hollywood movie. Movie scripts have to follow a certain pattern:

  • there has to be a mystery to solve. If it looks like a natural disaster, our hero will uncover that it was probably a conspiracy. In real life, a virus has natural causes. This makes for a boring script. We prefer to believe in conspiracy theories because then we can defeat the bad guy, and this will never happen again. In real life, a virus outbreak is arbitrary. This frightens us
  • there has to be conflict. A plotline is developed when a character wants something and overcomes obstacles. A common one is the scientist-tells-government-about-dangers-but-no-one-believes-them-scenario. In real life, there is a high level of collaboration between scientists and governments
  • the stakes have to be high or the movie won’t sell. Looting and violence are common in movies. This is the result of a complete breakdown in society, with most people dying of the virus and food shortages, absence of governments etc resulting in riots. There is enough food and, like them or not, we do have governments in place. Even toilet paper is making a comeback on our shelves.

Finally, choose one thing you can control and do it. Take a shower, eat something, call a friend and wash your hands. If that doesn’t work, go with Douglas Adam’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: “Arthur blinked at the screens and felt he was missing something important. Suddenly he realized what it was. "Is there any tea on this spaceship?"
 

Online psychology consultations

During this difficult time, we are here to support you via online consultations. You can book a teleconsultation via the My HCA GP mobile app (Apple / Android) or call: 0345 437 0691 (option 4).
back to top