“Emotional abuse is a pattern of behavior in which the perpetrator insults, humiliates, and generally instills fear in an individual in order to control them. The individual's reality may become distorted as they internalize the abuse as their own failings.”
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Can we talk? This is a line therapists suggest we use to open a conversation with someone we’re concerned about. So here goes.
I’m worried that you’re in an emotionally abusive relationship. I know you think you’re okay and it’s not that bad, but I’ve watched you change over the past three years, as you’ve been lied to, manipulated, and mistreated by people you thought you could trust. Because I really care about you, and want us all to be part of a healthy community, I’m asking you to please take the following short self-assessment:
If you answered Yes/True to one or more of these questions, you may be a victim of institutional emotional abuse. Before you shout, “Conspiracy theorist!” while slamming your laptop closed and refusing to read further, please do me the honor of finishing this article. If at the end, you feel this is all hogwash, feel free to ignore this content! But if at the end, you’ve thought to revisit some of your Covid response beliefs, maybe we could talk more and see if we can move together into a healthier, happier future.
Almost overnight, after the WHO declared Covid-19 a pandemic on March 11, 2020, phrases such as these began to pop up everywhere: “Stay home. Stay safe.” “We’re all in this together.” “Be considerate; wear a mask.” “Stop the spread.” “Show you care; Social distance.” Eventually embodied in the ubiquitous phrase, “Follow the Science,” the propaganda machine was up and running in record time. It was almost as if it had been rehearsed, which it actually had, at various pandemic table-top scenarios (see here and here), including one called Event 201 in October 2019 , that simulated a novel coronavirus outbreak.
In line with the “shock and awe” of military warfare, we ordinary citizens hardly had time to think between one pandemic declaration and the next. Before we could absorb the statement, “there is a pandemic,” we were asked to shut society down. “Two weeks to slow the spread.” “We’re all in this together.”
When we closed all schools, churches, “non-essential” businesses, medical and dental offices, and hospitals (except for Covid cases and emergencies), there were fewer than 10 cases in the entire state of Utah, where I live. Yet there were those images on TV of the filled-to-bursting hospitals in New York City, and the body bags piling up. People were afraid. Rather than trying to calm the panic, government, public health figures, and mainstream media constantly built on that fear citing numbers of cases and numbers of deaths, and continually warning that our healthcare system was approaching overload.
I hear you asking, How was this emotionally abusive? Wasn’t it all true? Weren’t they just trying to keep us safe? Not exactly.
Behaviors that constitute emotional abuse
Womens Law.org explains, “Emotional and psychological abuse may begin suddenly or it may slowly start to enter into your relationship. Some abusers behave like a good partner in the beginning and start the abuse after the relationship is established.”
In the U.S., we are accustomed to thinking of our elected leaders as representatives of the people, and our public institutions such as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), as organizations established to protect our public health and safety. In general, we’re a “go along to get along” kind of people, who want to do our part to make society better. The general attitude in the U.S. is to let everyone live their lives as they choose, as long as it’s legal and doesn’t hurt someone else.
We were unprepared for the propaganda and manipulation that were inflicted on us. Consider this list of signs that a partner is being emotionally abusive, and ask yourself how many of these behaviors were reflected in the official response by government and public health leaders, and the media, during the pandemic:
Each one of these examples of emotional abuse was used against the public throughout the pandemic. Although most people agree that SARS-CoV-2 is a real virus that causes a real disease, the danger of Covid-19 was blown out of proportion.
For example, those scary case/death/hospitalization numbers always in front of us were never put in perspective with past diseases or normal overall mortality. We were told that cases were increasing because we weren’t complying with health directives. We were told that any one of us, at any moment could be the infective agent that would kill our loved ones, and even strangers. There was mask shaming. We were told it was selfish to gather with family and friends; that it was selfish to want to go to work and attend school.
When the health directives shifted continually we were told we’d remembered past advice wrong, or that we heard them wrong. We were told that people would die if we didn’t do what they said. And all of that was before the segregation of society into the vaccinated and unvaccinated, which is a topic so large and complex, it will need to be addressed further in a different article.
We knew enough by February and March of 2020 to not panic about Covid-19
By February 2020, we already knew the age stratification of Covid-19; we knew it impacted the elderly and the ill, but was mild in young people and children, based on the information coming out of China. Although the images of overflowing hospitals in Italy were highly distressing, the data from Italy also showed this age stratification. Italy has an older median age than most countries in Europe and the elderly, not the young, were dying of Covid.
On March 17, 2020, Stanford professor John Ioannidis, a meta-research specialist, and one of the most cited scientists in the world, presented an analysis of Covid-19 case fatality ratio. He analyzed the data from the Diamond Princess Cruise ship (Feb 2020), the notorious on-board outbreak where people had nowhere to go to escape the virus. There were seven deaths among 700 infected passengers and crew, leading to a “reasonable estimate for the case fatality ratio in the general U.S. population vary(ing) from 0.05% to 1%.” Ioannidis explained:
That huge range markedly affects how severe the pandemic is and what should be done. A population-wide case fatality rate of 0.05% is lower than seasonal influenza. If that is the true rate, locking down the world with potentially tremendous social and financial consequences may be totally irrational.
Could the Covid-19 case fatality rate be that low? No, some say, pointing to the high rate in elderly people. However, even some so-called mild or common-cold-type coronaviruses that have been known for decades can have case fatality rates as high as 8% when they infect elderly people in nursing homes.
These “mild” coronaviruses may be implicated in several thousands of deaths every year worldwide, though the vast majority of them are not documented with precise testing. Instead, they are lost as noise among 60 million deaths from various causes every year.
Ioannidis acknowledged the lack of data, and the need for further study, but the results of his analysis were encouraging. The case fatality rate was not as high as feared, and Covid-19 was age stratified, so we knew who to protect – the elderly and those with already compromised health. (Ioannidis’ later meta-analysis, based on more data from around the world, placed the overall case fatality rate at 0.20%, but the figure was almost 0.0% for children and young people.)
Then in April 2020, a group of scientists and doctors conducted a small seroprevalence study in Santa Clara County, California, to determine the prevalence of antibodies in the general population. They found antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 in 4.65% of the 865 people tested. “The estimate implies that approximately 367,000 adults had SARS-CoV-2 antibodies, which is substantially greater than the 8,430 cumulative number of confirmed infections in the county on April 10.” This also was good news. It meant that Covid had spread much farther than thought, undetected, because most people’s cases were so mild they either were asymptomatic, or didn’t have symptoms distinguishable from other respiratory illnesses.
Ioannidis’ findings, the Santa Clara study, and the early data from the Diamond Princess, from China, and from Italy, should have changed the whole course of our pandemic response. Instead, something was afoot in the higher levels of decision making and public messaging. Ioannidis was unable get his article accepted for publication in any of the major medical and science journals to which he was a regular contributor. Instead, Ioannidis published his article in STAT, a health-oriented news website.
Ioannidis was vilified (https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/what-the-heck-happened-to-john-ioannidis/), the Santa Clara study was dismissed, the evidence from the Diamond Princess, China, and Italy was ignored or misconstrued. Our government and public health leaders, and the mainstream media, continued to stir up fear in the general population. The traditional pandemic model, of calming the public, protecting the vulnerable, and allowing society to continue on as normally as possible – that traditional pandemic model – was discarded.
Pandemic-level viruses do not justify inhumane government policies
Remember the terror and carnage of the 1968 Hong Kong flu? The Russian Influenza of 1977? Avian flu in 2003? How about all those vibrant, healthy people who you saw fall ill and die during SARS in 2002, MERS in 2012, and the H1N1 flu of 2009-2010? You don’t remember huge amounts of societal disruption and deaths during past pandemics? That’s because those pandemics were handled in a rational way. In those pandemics, we did follow traditional pandemic management plans.
But, you say, that’s because they weren’t as serious as Covid-19. Covid-19 was the first bad one in 100 years, like the Spanish flu. There are three important answers to your statement:
1) The prior pandemics listed above don’t stand out precisely because proper pandemic plans were followed, even though they caused some widespread illness and deaths.
2) The Spanish flu stands out as a big killer, yes, but the world had no antibiotics, or advanced medical knowledge, so was basically facing the outbreak without treatments.
3) Deaths attributed to Covid-19 don’t begin to approach the losses during the Spanish flu, which killed 50 million people worldwide. Adjusted for today’s population that would be around 219 million deaths. Covid-19 has killed just under 7 million. In addition, the Spanish flu targeted young people, as well as the elderly; Covid-19 does not.
Inevitably, these different pathogens have been most serious for the elderly and those who were already ill. The passing of each person from this life is always a loss and sadness for their loved ones who remain behind, but to pretend that death is not part of life, is to deny reality. Life expectancy in the U.S. in 2019 was 78.8 years. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the median age of death has been around age 78, or slightly higher. As Manfred Horst, M.D., PhD, MBA states, “On average, we die at our average age of death. As a group, the Covid-19 deaths are part of normal…unavoidable population mortality.”
The idea that Covid-19 was so infectious, and so deadly, that it was almost unprecedented, is not borne out by the data. As stated in a recent Brownstone article, “We’ve evolved with pathogens and need to learn to live with them without imposing mass psychological, social, economic, and public-health damage.”
To deny that we are surrounded by microbes at all times, including pathogens that cause disease, is uneducated.
To forget we have immune systems that are trained to fight disease, is to deny centuries of intuitive and established science.
To think we can control and eliminate the spread of respiratory diseases through human intervention, is naïve at best, and arrogant at worst.
And public health arrogance indeed ruled the day during Covid-19. Medical tyranny was practiced by our governments. Propaganda and censorship were on full display in the mainstream media. Social media platforms allowed themselves to become censorship arms of the government. We average citizens were literally gobsmacked by the official response to Covid-19.
We used to know how to properly handle pandemics
Lockdown and restricting movement of the healthy population has never been part of pandemic planning. Even during the Black Death in 1300s Europe, it was the sick who were quarantined- not the healthy. In fact, “lockdown” is a prison term – not a public health term (in old print dictionaries, that is. Merriam Webster has conveniently added a third definition of lockdown that fits the Covid-19 response, but it wasn’t there before). Quarantining the general population was never a part of proper pandemic planning, because the societal cost was known to be too great.
Peter M. Sandman, PhD, with over 40 years as a risk communication consultant, and more than a decade of working on pandemic response plans states,
“I never saw a (pandemic plan) that contemplated telling everyone to stay home, locking down entire states and countries. Even now, I am at a loss to explain how the US public health profession suddenly came to the conclusion that a nearly national lockdown was the right response to SARS-CoV-2.”
For Covid-19, however, the established pandemic playbook was thrown out. The whole world was forced into a Covid response that uprooted all of society, trampled on civil liberties, created conflicts in families and friendships, pushed many already vulnerable people into poverty and hunger, and trashed the global supply chain and multiple economies, all without preventing the spread of Covid-19.
Yes, you may argue, but if we hadn’t taken the steps we did, so many more people would have died. Gently, I must tell you that you are repeating propaganda. You can’t be held entirely to blame, because you were constantly bombarded by government, public health, and media with this message. But the policies that were implemented – specifically quarantine of the healthy, mask mandates, and social distancing – were doomed to fail at the outset, based on years of known medical and scientific facts.
Perhaps you’ve heard of the Great Barrington Declaration, a document published in October 2020? If you haven’t heard of it, that’s because government, public health leaders, and mainstream media largely ignored, or trashed it. Written by three highly qualified epidemiologists and public health scientists, one each from Stanford, Harvard and Oxford Universities, the document stated,
“[W]e have grave concerns about the damaging physical and mental health impacts of the prevailing Covid-19 policies, and recommend an approach we call Focused Protection.
Coming from both the left and right, and around the world, we have devoted our careers to protecting people. Current lockdown policies are producing devastating effects on short and long-term public health.
Adopting measures to protect the vulnerable should be the central aim of public health responses to Covid-19…Those who are not vulnerable should immediately be allowed to resume life as normal. Simple hygiene measures, such as hand washing and staying home when sick should be practiced by everyone to reduce the herd immunity threshold. Schools and universities should be open for in-person teaching. Extracurricular activities, such as sports, should be resumed. Young low-risk adults should work normally, rather than from home. Restaurants and other businesses should open. Arts, music, sport and other cultural activities should resume. People who are more at risk may participate if they wish, while society as a whole enjoys the protection conferred upon the vulnerable by those who have built up herd immunity.”
Tens of thousands of medical practitioners, and medical and public health scientists around the world, have added their signatures to the Great Barrington Declaration, along with hundreds of thousands of concerned citizens. Unfortunately for all of us, this reminder of rational pandemic management, and the warning of the physical, mental, social, and economic devastation that would result if we continued on the same pandemic management path, was targeted for a “quick and devastating takedown” by FDA director Francis Collins, and chief medical adviser to the President, Anthony Fauci.
Why? Because Operation Warp Speed was in full swing, and the money was flowing. Did you know that employees of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which includes the FDA and the CDC, profit from the development and distribution of pharmaceutical products?
The profitable dance between Big Pharma, Government, and Mainstream Media:
Did you know that Anthony Fauci, the highest paid person in the federal government (before his recent retirement), saw his household net worth nearly double during the pandemic from $7.5 million to $12.6 million?
Did you know that more than 45% of the FDA’s budget comes from pharmaceutical industry user fees - the same companies that manufacture the products the FDA reviews for safety and efficacy?
Did you know that Big Pharma pays big advertising dollars to mainstream news media, the same Fourth Estate that is supposed to be a check on corruption in government and those with political power?
Did you know that multiple new billionaires were created in tech, online platforms, and pharmaceuticals during the pandemic?
How did you fare? Did you find that your household income increased? (Maybe you were one of the small business owners who lost everything because you had to close while box stores, restaurant chains, and liquor store were open, and people ordered from Amazon.)
The three writers of the Great Barrington Declaration didn’t profit. They saw their reputations savaged and their professional opportunities reduced or eliminated. This was the treatment suffered by anyone who didn’t go along with the official Covid-response narrative. So while there were many competent, knowledgeable people calling for a humane and rational approach to Covid, their voices were largely censored. You had to go searching to find them.
Dr. Scott Atlas, who was an adviser to the White House Coronavirus Task Force has stated, “There is no such thing as science without the free exchange of ideas. There is no such thing as critical thinking without considering more than one viewpoint.” (Atlas was vilified for questioning the official narrative.)
Government bureaucrats such as NIAID Director Dr. Fauci, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, White House Covid-19 Response Coordinator Ashish Ja, Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra, and CDC Director Rochelle Walensky have never treated a Covid patient, and in fact, have not treated actual patients for decades, if ever. Many of them have been involved in academia, not the practice of medicine. Former White House Response Coordinator Deborah Birx, who flew around the country persuading governors to close their schools and businesses and impose mask mandates, has no background in public health, and spent most of her career coordinating international HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention programs.
Tuning in to the White House medical press conference every night and watching mainstream media, provided only the information that our emotional abusers wanted us to hear.
Whenever I hear someone say things like, “Studies show that masks work,” or “The Covid vaccines saved millions of lives,” or “Our leaders did the best they could with the information they had,” or “Follow the science,” I know that they have been, and still are being, emotionally abused by those who imposed the official pandemic response. Those in charge are still perpetuating the lies.
Existing treatments for Covid-19 were suppressed so that Emergency Use Authorized products could be distributed
Perhaps the most insidious of all the top-down manipulation and propaganda we were bombarded with was the suppression of treatments for Covid-19, in order to keep the momentum going for the highly profitable Covid-19 vaccines. Did you know that Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) of a vaccine can only be granted if “there are no adequate, approved, and available alternatives”?
Did you know that early in the pandemic multiple doctors found effective treatments for Covid-19 that quickly reduced symptoms and prevented hospitalizations and deaths?
If you or a loved one suffered with a bad case of Covid-19, and were told to go home and wait it out because there wasn’t any treatment, you were abused. If you lost a loved one to Covid because there was no treatment given until hospitalization, you were abused. There were inexpensive and effective treatments using off-label (inexpensive) drugs that had been proven effective for decades (see here and here). But out of patent off label drugs are not financially profitable drugs. And existing effective treatments means there is no basis for Emergency Use Authorization of experimental vaccines and drugs.
Unfortunately for us, hospitals were financially incentivized to diagnose a patient with Covid, and directed by the FDA to follow certain protocols for treatment, such as placing the patient on a ventilator, and later, to administer Remdesivir. Ventilators turned out to be the wrong treatment – over 80% of Covid patients who were put on ventilators died.
Remdesivir, a priority Covid treatment protocol to this day, is an expensive Emergency Use Authorization drug with known side effects of kidney and other organ damage, and no proven effectiveness against Covid-19. Even the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends against the use of remdesivir in Covid-19 patients, based on a study of 5,000 participants in which remdesivir had “little or no effect on hospitalized patients.”
Doctors who chose to treat patients with inexpensive off-label treatments, including Ivermectin and Hydroxychloroquine, were often prevented, lost hospital privileges, and had their license to practice and their board certifications threatened (see here and here). This shift of medicine from the doctor/patient relationship to the government and administrators telling the doctor what their relationship will be with their patient is a catastrophe.
Face masks were about control of people; not control of disease
Perhaps you heard this phrase that was circulating during the pandemic: “Virus gonna virus.” In other words, human intervention cannot, and will not, be able to prevent the spread of an aerosolized respiratory virus. The reason being this simple: SARS-CoV-2 is carried on the air we breathe.
Long before the first mask mandates, two important facts were known: 1) Face masks were ineffective at preventing the spread of respiratory disease (see here, here, and here) and 2) SARS-CoV-2 transmission was largely through aerosols – that is, through the air – not through large droplets, and not through infected surfaces.
Any time we are in a car together, or a room together, there is a collective sharing of air. Air finds a way. Even a properly fitted K95 mask, that would filter a particle, allows air to escape, and air to enter. If it didn’t, the wearer would suffocate. If you can breathe, and you’re not in something like a scuba suit, you’re expelling and inhaling the air around you.
This fact about SARS-CoV-2, that it is spread through aerosols, smashed any logic for trying to prevent the spread of Covid-19 by wearing a face mask. Before Dr. Fauci was recommending that we wear not one, but two, face masks, he was more scientific. In February 2020 he wrote, “Masks are really for infected people to prevent them from spreading infection to people who are not infected rather than protecting uninfected people from acquiring infection. The typical mask you buy in the drug store is not really effective in keeping out virus, which is small enough to pass through material. It might, however, provide some slight benefit in keep(ing) out (large) droplets if someone coughs or sneezes on you.”
Later claims by the CDC, Fauci and others that the science had somehow changed, and now masks were effective, were not backed by any scientific studies. A detailed history of how the masks became mandated is outlined in this June 3, 2020 “Masks and Science” interview with epidemiologist Dr. Michael Osterholm (who has since, like Dr. Fauci, lost his fact-based perspective).
The fact that SARS-CoV-2 is airborne also crushes the idea of social distancing and plastic barriers. While causing major harm to the restaurant, hospitality, and entertainment industries, and many human relationships, social distancing did nothing to prevent the spread. Air does not stop at a Plexiglas barrier; it goes right over the top. Air does not stop moving because you are eating, instead of walking to your table. Air does not honor the little circles on the floor that tell you to stand six-feet apart.
Despite all the fears that were thrust upon us, I invite anyone to compile a list of super spreader events related to people doing the normal things of everyday life - grocery shopping, sitting in a restaurant, going to the museum or library, attending church, traveling on an airplane, exercising outdoors, participating in sports, being at a parade, attending a sporting event or concert in a big stadium. Although there have been many rumors of super spreaders during the pandemic, and lots of restrictions on us because of those allegations, even the infamous Sturgis Motorcycle Rally of August 2020, where thousands gathered in South Dakota, was not a super spreader. The list of confirmed Covid-19 outbreaks, from people being out in public and in large crowds, is slim.
Covid-19 is spread through aerosols shared in enclosed spaces, which also negates the idea that lockdown was effective. Covid-19 transmission almost always occurs through prolonged close contact, in an enclosed space, without good air circulation. Period. Huddling in our homes was the best way to infect each other. We should have opened a few windows, improved air circulation systems where we could, and gone about our day-to-day lives during the pandemic.
I see you’re shaking your head and asking, “Well, if all this is true, why did our leaders set all those Covid rules? It doesn’t sound realistic that government, public health, and media all combined to do something harmful to the whole world. It would take too much coordination and involve too many people purposefully causing harm. They were just trying to protect us.”
I agree. It sounds too awful to be true. And in fact, Professor Mark Crispin Miller, who taught an analysis of propaganda course at New York University for many years, defines a conspiracy theory as “something that, if true, you couldn’t handle it.” It’s plausible that some people who enacted or enforced the harmful Covid measures were sincere, but deceived. Still, that doesn’t give them a free pass. “I was just following orders” didn’t cut it at Nuremburg.
I believe we can handle the truth, and we must.
When enough people push back, institutional emotional abuse stops
So my friend, not only am I concerned about you, but I’m concerned about society as a whole. I hope you’ll take a minute to reconsider what we’ve been through, and to recognize that all of us have been emotionally abused by those who should have been protecting us. We’ve been lied to, manipulated, coerced, forced, browbeaten, threatened, used, and abused, all in the name of public health and safety.
Our abusers are acting nice right now. The Covid national emergency has ended. We don’t have to wear masks. We can hang out with our friends, and travel to places we want to see. We’re back to celebrating holidays and cherished events with loved ones, and attending church, concerts, plays, and sporting events.
But the architects of the chaos are trying to convince us that our memory of what happened is exaggerated. As attorney Michael Senger points out, they now euphemistically use the “term ‘pandemic disruptions’ as a catchall for (the) vast social, psychological, and economic devastation” they caused.
There has been a fundamental shift in our relationship with the people and organizations who make policies and direct how the world is run. They laid the groundwork during Covid and are busy planning the next pandemic, and a whole host of initiatives, calling for drastic changes to how we live. Ostensibly it’s all about making the word “equitable” for all, while saving the planet.
With dizzying rapidity, these groups hurl humanitarian-sounding plans and goals at the world’s population. Goals that have almost nothing to do with our ability to live healthy productive lives, and everything to do with controlling us and reducing our quality of life. (See The Great Reset, SDGs, ESGs, 1.5, Net Zero, 2030 Agenda , digital IDs, energy rationing, reduction of nitrogen fertilizers (also see here and here), and 15-minute cities.)
The first step in healing from emotional abuse is to recognize the abuse. The next step is to make a change so the abuse does not continue.
Thorsteinn Siglaugsson, Chairman of the Free Speech Society in Iceland, recently wrote,
“The freedom to go to a restaurant or go shopping, to go for a walk, the freedom (to) meet your friends in the park, the freedom to recognize facial expressions, the freedom to smile and be smiled at, the freedom of a child to develop into a normal human being. And of course the freedom to decide for yourself whether or not to be medicated. This layer of freedom is so fundamental that it isn't even a part of the definition of freedom. It isn’t discussed in any declarations of human rights. It isn’t on the agenda of any political party. Yet it is the core of our nature as human beings. It is this layer of freedom that is being attacked now, by the authorities, by the media, by the tech giants.
This freedom is what is at stake for all of us. This is why it is imperative we do the work to inform ourselves of the forces working against our freedom and happiness, and take an active stand for ourselves, and for upcoming generations.
This article was republished by Brownstone Institute on April 20, 2023
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Thank you, Doug. Yes, complacency , burying our heads in the sand, hoping it will all get better if we just ride it out - nope, not going to cut it.
This piece may be your most important one yet. Because recognition is first. Action can't follow blindness or denial.