Damaging revelations from UK Health Minister Matt Hancock’s 13th December 2020 private WhatsApp messaging show just how much the UK government sought to manipulate the public and their own party. Tory MPs were against stricter lockdown measures, but Hancock messaged his media advisor Damon Poole:
“We frighten the pants off everyone with the new strain [Covid Alpha]”
Poole: “Yep, that is what will get us proper behavioural change”
Hancock: “When do we deploy the new variant?”
After his television interviews in January carrying the same fear-based messaging running up to the vaccine rollout, Hancock received congratulations from a supporter that he had ‘come over well’ and that ‘a well handled crisis of this scale could propel you into the next league, and break you through in terms of public perception.’
Hancock also moved to exclude dissenting voices within the group of SAGE scientists advising the government. Talking about Dr. Jeremy Farrar, he said
“He needs to be either inside the tent and onside, or outside…”
Were Hancock and Other Leaders Around the World Right to Press the Fear Button?
Remember, at the time, we were seeing pictures of morgues overwhelmed in New York City. Accounts were being published of mass deaths among the elderly in many countries, including Italy. We now realise that these deaths were not evenly spread. NYC had a huge surge in deaths, but nearby Boston did not. They had a rash of asymptomatic cases. Bergamo, Italy had an 800% increase in excess deaths, nearby Po Valley did not.
A closer look reveals an alternative possibility—a panicked pandemic response may have been helping to drive deaths up. Foreign health care workers abandoned their posts in Italy, while fearful relatives (the traditional elderly carers in the Italian family system) stayed away from those stricken. The elderly are particularly vulnerable and can easily succumb to changes in their routine, especially when given an added dose of fear.
To illustrate the effect of fear, psychologist Martin Seligman performed an experiment in the 1960s which demonstrated that helplessness and resignation to fate can be learned. Seligman subjected dogs to the pain of repeated electric shocks (not something that can happen now). They were offered no escape from the repeated administration of pain. The dogs were transferred to a holding pen where there was easy access to an escape route, but when the shocks started up the dogs did not try to escape because they had been conditioned to believe they were helpless. They just lay down and whimpered. In contrast, dogs who had not been conditioned to accept pain as inevitable took the opportunity to escape when the shocks began.
Seligman subsequently found that the way people view negative events that happen to them can have an impact on whether they feel helpless or not. It is not just possible, but certain, that Hancock and many other politicians’ repeated conditioning of the public and health care workers led to the belief that Covid was inevitably deadly. This left many feeling helpless and maybe even giving up their fight to survive infection.
‘Learned Helplessness’ Might Have Played a Part in Perpetuating the Pandemic.
Seligman’s early work has led to a greater understanding of trauma and helped us to understand why victims of trauma can suffer behavioural afflictions for years afterward. They may continue to fear the worst even when the original cause of the trauma has disappeared. They may feel threatened and compelled to take evasive action, even when there is no longer any threat, just because of some sensory trigger that reminds them of past events. They may be stuck with their sense of helplessness and nonsensical responses, even when informed that there is no cause to fear anymore.
At this point in time, we have certainly entered that phase of the pandemic when the actual danger that Covid poses is very low, but the fear of it remains high. Many people are still obsessively masking, demanding more shots, and blaming the unvaccinated. Research has shown that mRNA Covid vaccines are ineffective and even dangerous to health, but many feel compelled to reject this information. They have been conditioned by repeated publicity to cling to the idea that they are being and will be protected in future by repeated inoculations, when the opposite is actually the case.
Fear and stress is known to have an impact on physical and mental health. It has been linked to increased incidence of cardiovascular illness, depression, cancer, etc. The number with long term sickness and disability in the UK increased by 462,000 between 2019 and 2022. Young people are particularly affected. A remarkable rise whose causes remain uninvestigated by authorities. The causes are likely to include long covid, covid vaccine adverse effects, and pandemic stress, although the proportional allocation between these potential causes is unknown.
Importantly we need to know how to escape from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Learned Helplessness is a mental condition that ‘cages’ our psychology. We become trapped by false expectations of failure. I spent a year in the 1990s helping people in Armenia with PTSD following the massive earthquake which killed 25,000. PTSD symptoms are inclusive of learned helplessness. It is amazing how meditation administered on a mass scale (we taught 35,000 people to meditate) can rapidly reverse the symptoms of PTSD (I discuss this in my book Your DNA Diet). We also need a political solution.
What Are the Political Lessons?
It is also important to understand that governments around the world (in conjunction with global organisations like WEF, WHO, and pharmaceutical interests) egged each other on to more and more extreme positions on the possible effects of Covid. To justify their policies, politicians including our own, pointed to other countries saying ‘we can’t be wrong, look they have reached the same conclusions as we have.’ In reality, it was a case of the blind leading the blind and vice versa. This is one of the common pitfalls of globalisation. News stories from distant countries describing the effects of policy or events, often do not contain sufficient context or data to justify any conclusions.
It now appears likely that it was the official response to the pandemic, especially the Covid vaccines, that have been responsible for far more deaths than Covid itself and are still driving excess deaths higher. Ministers like Hancock, as well as Ardern and Hipkins here in New Zealand, placed undue reliance on exaggerated press reports of isolated worst case outcomes in foreign individual settings. This gave rise to wholly false modelling of potential pandemic deaths. The statistical analysis of outcomes on a wider scale was telling a different story—Covid was no more deadly than flu.
The extremism involved in the public messaging struck a chord with those in positions of authority in the medical profession. Look at this thread for a run down on how this evolved to become an almost fanatical faith in Covid vaccination and a determination to enforce compliance whilst ignoring or even hiding safety signals. Something that is still continuing. The very people charged with protecting health, were betraying the trust placed in them.
Our democratic institutions have been placed under enormous strain by the pandemic, their inherent flaws have also been exposed. Routine elections (every three years in New Zealand) mean that politicians cannot be judged by long term outcomes. Politicians often experiment by implementing extreme ideas or flex their inexperienced muscles on ill thought out policy. Naive leaders who have gained election through their PR skills rather than competence, find themselves completely at sea when governing a nation. Many leaders like Jacinda Ardern and Nicola Sturgeon have then simply walked away leaving a mess for others to address.
Historically, Life Was a Natural Balance Between the Individual and Social Interest.
Society was formed from a complex set of personal interactions and transactions between individuals, families, and groups. In the modern world, there is increasing emphasis on the individual and increasing isolation of individuals from society. Modern appliances, housing, working environments, and lifestyles free many from the need to directly interact with others. Therefore many have abrogated social responsibility and unthinkingly look to the elected government to hold society together, an endeavour in which politicians are singularly ill-equipped to succeed.
Collectively we have come to suffer from learned helplessness. We falsely believe that only the government is capable of deciding matters pertaining to health and employment, whereas previously, many functions of society were formed by day to day decisions and actions of members of society (ourselves). Gradually governments have extended their influence and power. We are going cap in hand to governments to ask them to fix things which previously were outside of the government remit. For example, during the pandemic (and starting even before) individual health choices about treatment have been transferred to governments who act as proxies for pharmaceutical interests. This includes a process of bureaucratic centralisation, which removes decisions from local areas and people.
We will not succeed in changing the situation unless we both change ourselves and reform the rules through which society functions. There are many stakeholders in society that governments have begun to ignore. Parliamentary privilege allows politicians to lie with impunity. They are not subject to the same norms of behaviour that we are. Moreover politicians have felt free to overrule human rights hard won throughout the history of society.
We need to step away from the sense of dependence on multiple vaccines that don’t work and have actually made the problems worse. Health care systems are overwhelmed around the world. The problems are not caused by Covid, but by our response to it. Fear is a powerful weapon that was launched irresponsibly. The consequent trauma cannot be reversed by doing nothing or continuing the faulty narrative.
Admit mistakes and apologise. Compensate injured people. Halt biotechnology experimentation. Entrench the New Zealand Bill of Rights. Prevent companies from enforcing medical mandates.
We have witnessed an assault on freedom, the break up of families, economic decline, a rise in crime, injury and fatality on a massive scale. It can no longer be business as usual. The data from governments around the world, including our own, shows what is going on. Learned helplessness is standing between us and reality.
Guy Hatchard, Ph.D., was formerly a senior manager at Genetic ID, a food testing and certification company (now known as FoodChain ID).