Thursday, October 14, 2021

When Reality Becomes Too Real

I am by nature an optimistic person.

I believe the glass is half full.

I prefer to believe the best in people.

I like to think that things will work out for the best.

This makes me a person with good mental health according to most psychiatrists.

Interestingly, some studies have shown that people who are most attuned to reality are more likely to exhibit signs of depression and mental disease.

This theory is called "depressive realism".

Feeling blue? Strangely, it might mean that you're actually better at judging your performance—and reality in general—than when you're not.

It's called "depressive realism," and it seems to suggest that in our normal state, we tend to operate under happy delusions that lift away when we're depressed. The idea blows apart the theory that depressed people have too negative an outlook on the world: They may actually just be seeing it how it is.

When I first saw this psychiatric research a number of years ago it made sense when I thought about it.

God had to have designed us this way or it would be very difficult for any human progress to be made. It would be too easy to quit when the going got tough. And it will always get tough at some point.

The natural state has to be that we view ourselves and the world with rose-colored glasses. It helps move us forward even when reality might suggest otherwise. Hope and optimism is the fuel of purpose and progress in mankind.

A group, team or a society cannot last long if more than a few start saying things like,

What is the point?

Why bother?

It is hopeless.

Reality bites. 

It really does at times.

I guess real danger is upon us when more and more people start noticing the reality and begin losing that natural state of happy delusion.

We are clearly in a dangerous period of reality right now.

No matter how strong your natural state of optimism is, it has to be under some stress right now.

The increase in suicide attempts since the pandemic began is alarming, particularly among adolescents. 


Emergency room visits for suspected suicide attempts rose in adolescents – particularly among girls – during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday.

"Compared with the rate during the corresponding period in 2019, the rate of [emergency department] visits for suspected suicide attempts was 2.4 times as high during spring 2020, 1.7 times as high during summer 2020, and 2.1 times as high during winter 2021," the study said. "This increase was driven largely by suspected suicide attempt visits among females."

Young people do not have as much perspective as those who are more chronologically advantaged.

They have not experienced as many ups and downs in life. In particular, the DOWNS.

Therefore, what we are dealing with now is much harder for them to deal with than with older people.  To them, it seems like this will never end. It feels like it is hopeless. It is difficult to get past the reality of the moment.

As a result, our young, especially, those in the 15-44 age group, need the most support right now.

They are in the midst of the most social period of their lives.

It has been taken away from them.

You might be surprised to learn that it is in these age groups that we have seen the most excess deaths (in % terms) between 2019 and 2020. We are seeing the same trends in 2021.

These deaths have not been from Covid. 

They have been from causes other than Covid.

Excess deaths in 2020 for the age 15-44 age groups were up over 20% compared to pre-pandemic levels after subtracting out Covid deaths


A close up of the last three columns of the chart above.

Have these excess deaths been suicides, drug overdoses, accidents or something we don't understand?

The CDC has not published the granular data yet.

We know that suicide attempts are up in the last 18 months based on CDC data.

We know that drug overdose deaths are up as well.


The fact that this trend in excess deaths in the 15-44 age group occurred coincident with the beginning of the pandemic seems to suggest that the lockdowns, masks, social distancing and other measures that have been employed in our response has damaged the natural state of optimism in these ages

Did reality become so REAL that it became harder and harder for some to maintain their belief in the delusion that all is good and everything will end well?

What is the point?

Why bother?

It is hopeless.

It is also interesting that it is in the 16-49 age groups that the incidence of confirmed Covid cases have been highest relative to their share of the population. This seems to follow in that it is this group that is generally going to be socializing or the most exposed to the virus in their work.

They make up about 45% of the U.S. population but 56% of the cases have been in these age groups.

Conversely, the age 65+ population which makes up 16.5% of the population has had only 12.7% of the Covid cases.


However, 78% of the deaths are coming from those age 65+ who make up just 12.7% of the cases!

Less than 6% of all Covid deaths are in the 16-49 age group though they account for 56% of all cases.


The deaths we are seeing in this group are not from Covid but other causes.

We also see a similar trend of excess deaths in Europe comparing 2019, 2020 and 2021 for those in the 15-44 age demographic.

Excess deaths in 2021 are actually running higher this year than in 2020.


It is interesting that, just as in the United States, excess deaths in the 0-14 age category have been running below average since the pandemic started.


Why then are we so eager to vaccinate children where the benefits are lowest and the risks are highest due to their age?

Deaths in the age 0-14 age groups are actually LOWER now than they were before the pandemic started.

It is particularly interesting to see the difference in changes in the death rate comparing the United States with Sweden between 2019 and 2020 in the 15-64 age groups.


Sweden had an almost imperceptible increase in deaths for the younger age groups.

Sweden supposedly did it wrong by not locking down, not closing schools and not mandating masks.

Compare that to the United States which did all of those. We also know that most of the excess deaths in these age groups in the U.S. (less than 10%) were not from Covid (see above chart).

Sweden's Chief Epidemiologist Anders Tegnell said in July, 2020 that the race we were in with Covid-19 was a marathon rather than a sprint as he was being criticized for risking the lives of Swedes with his no lockdown, no masks, no school closings and no travel restriction policies.

He famously said at that time, "Judge me in a year."

Do you see which country is at the bottom of this chart of excess mortality of major countries this year?

 All of them went in a different direction than Sweden did last year.

Sweden has had no excess deaths for most of 2021. Compare that to the United States, UK, Denmark, Japan and even lockdown happy Australia.

When did you ever hear Dr. Fauci say "judge me in a year'?

If he had, the judgment would have been harsh.

I don't think Fauci wants reality to become that real. Where Sweden is right now might even cause Fauci to feel a little depressed.

In the meantime, the reality of many young people has been made far too real by his advice. 

Hug one today and tell them this too shall end and with it should come some powerful lessons they should take with them for the rest of their lives.

As I said at the outset, I see the glass half full. All of what we have gone through has to work out for the best in the end.

If not, what is the point?

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