#8: Why there is no life without fear
We are all afraid of something: spiders, heights, confined spaces and, above all, unknown things - like the vaccination for the novel Corona virus. There are even people who are afraid of buttons. But, how do fears arise? How much fear is normal? And, how can we learn to live with it or, even better, overcome it?
In the new episode "Know When You Want", psychologists Emily Bauske and Dr. Jeanne Rademacher answer these very questions and explain why it's even good to be afraid and why anxious people have better relationships.
Emily Bauske is a research assistant and lecturer at the Chair of Social and Personality Psychology. She studied psychology at the University of Magdeburg with a focus on environmental psychology. Her research focuses on the behavioral relevance of opinion statements. At the beginning of the Corona pandemic, the junior researcher investigated the conditions under which the public accepts policy measures and adapts its own behavior to them.
As a research associate, Dr. Jeanne Rademacher conducts research and teaches at the Department of Clinical Developmental Psychology on the topics of identity, coping with critical life events, and clinical disorders. Her research also focuses on the promotion of mathematical skills in preschool children.
*the audio file is only available in German
The Podcast to Read
Intro voice: "Wissen, wann du wilst." The podcast about research at the University of Magdeburg.
Ina Götze: Every one of us is afraid of something; be it spiders, heights, confined spaces, and there are even people who are afraid of buttons. The causes are as varied as the fears and also as we humans ourselves, but they have one thing in common: we can overcome them. And today's episode could almost be a little therapy session, because our guests are Emily Bauske and Jeanne Rademacher, both from the Institute of Psychology, more precisely from the Chair of Personality and Social Psychology and from the field of Clinical Developmental Psychology. And today, I'm talking to them about why we're afraid of different things and what can help against it. With this in mind: Welcome!
Emily Bauske: Thank you for the invitation.
Dr. Jeanne Rademacher: Thank you as well.
Ina Götze: To start with, I have to ask you a very personal question right away. What are you afraid of and why?
Dr. Jeanne Rademacher: Right off the bat, um, I couldn't name anything specifically that I'm afraid of. But if I were to listen in on myself, it would actually be a certain fear of dark stairwells, especially of stairs that lead down into darkness. That's clearly a childhood memory, because back then we had an outside toilet and we had to go down half a flight of stairs, day or night, and the hallway light was very often broken and then you had to go into the dark like that. Well, and if you then watched the wrong movies too early, then of course it is preprogrammed that you could possibly be afraid.
Ina Götze: Understandable. And can you determine for yourself why that is, with the Corona infection now?
Dr. Jeanne Rademacher: Well, I say, fears exist anyway. So a life without fear does not exist anyway, because we as humans are death-conscious and thus are in life with a primal fear. And this corona disease can, even if the probability is very low, but it can be severe. It can even be fatal, which means that it is the fear of dying or perhaps also the fear, not even of one's own death, but of the death of important people, i.e. people one loves, or perhaps also the fear of no longer being able to care for one's child. So, there are a lot of different fears and anxieties involved - perhaps this will be differentiated in the course of time.
Ina Götze: And you, Mrs. Bauske?
Emily Bauske: My fears also go a bit in a similar direction, so I'm personally not so afraid of corona disease, because I perceive the risk as rather low and also follow many recommendations for action that I'm hopeful will protect me, but with me there's also a bit of a fear of disease. I am a bit of a hypochondriac. So whenever someone tells me that he or she has a certain illness or has been diagnosed with something, I always think, oh dear, could this affect me too? What are the symptoms? And then I check myself again to see if I can recognize them somehow. On the one hand, it's exhausting, so when someone tells me that he or she has a disease, then I'm always a bit frightened myself at first. On the other hand, of course, it's also good because it makes me pay attention to these signs, exactly, or to go to the doctor for preventive checkups. That is then also the benefit of this fear, to make me take care of my body or myself.
Ina Götze: You just can't Google it.
Emily Bauske: Exactly, I don't do that either. That's what I did the first couple of times. My boyfriend and I do it like this, if he has something or thinks he has something, then I google that and then I just tell him, no, that's not it. And if I think I have something, then he googles that and then also says, no that's not it because following symptoms - or he doesn't say anything about symptoms. It just doesn't apply to you and then it's good. Then I don't have to ... then I don't know what symptoms I should have had and I might end up imagining them, but I just know, nope, that's definitely not it. That is a very good system.
Ina Götze: Trick 17 here to get you started (laughs). That does help.
Emily Bauske: Yes (laughs). Exactly, and the second fear I have, which I thought about a bit before the interview, is fear of heights. I didn't really have that as a child. I climbed trees a lot. So there is also not this one situation or childhood memory where I think: Ok, this is it now, but simply so in the course of growing up, I have developed a certain fear, a certain respect for heights. Exactly, so it's also the case that when I climb a lighthouse on vacation, for example, I first stand at the edge, at the door, and think to myself: OK. A few minutes to acclimatize and then, when I feel comfortable with it and I'm ready, I go to the railing and look down. So I also try to train against that a little bit by sometimes exposing myself to these situations. At Christmas, at the Christmas market, I sit on the Ferris wheel. The first round is terrible, but the rounds that follow are nice and you can let your eyes wander. That is then also worthwhile.
Ina Götze: … and enjoy. So first check out the situation and feel your way around.
Emily Bauske: Exactly.
Ina Götze: In the introduction, I already said that some people are afraid of buttons. For outsiders, that sounds completely paradoxical and irrational, because the button doesn't actually hurt you as a rule. So how can such fears arise?
Dr. Jeanne Rademacher: That's right, at first glance it doesn't seem plausible, and I think we need to elaborate a little bit here. This fear of buttons - there's actually a name for it: coumpounophobia. This is one of many so-called phobias, and the meaning of the word is fear. There are many authors in psychology who distinguish between fear and anxiety. I once read a very nice sentence about this, which was very clear to me. One could formulate it like this: One is afraid of something, but one is afraid. Say: Fear means, there is something given, of which one can be afraid or be afraid and fear is rather something undirected. You sometimes hear the term 'free-floating'. And fear, now that's how it's described by psychoanalysts, who I think provide very profitable theoretical reflections on the emergence and also the understanding of clinically-relevant anxiety phenomena. They say that such phobias or such fear can certainly be interpreted as a defense against a deeper-lying fear. That is, the fear is reified, so to speak - you could say it is a concretization, a concretization form of fear, that is, a creative solution. And, with the number of phobias - over 600 - you can see how creative people are.
Ina Götze: They project that onto an object, so to speak ...
Dr. Jeanne Rademacher: Exactly!
Ina Götze: ... because the fear is actually so vague that they don't even know what they are afraid of?
Dr. Jeanne Rademacher: Well, they are not aware of it. So there is certainly - with the analysts it is always the case that they say, of course there is a reason for it and there are now different ways of explaining it. So, the fact is, first of all, that the choice of what I choose now is very strongly biographically influenced. That's why it's always important to take a biographical anamnesis to see. And, this primal fear with which we are all, I would say, endowed, which is also vital, otherwise we would not move carefully through life, out of which, out of this primal feeling, basically all kinds of fears arise, so there is no life without fear. People differ, you might say, in their way of expressing their fear, but not whether they are afraid or not. So, it's a question of who can allow and endure feelings and who represses them or who fends them off. And, whether I develop a basic trust or a basic mistrust of the world out of this basic fear is very, very strongly related to our very first interpersonal experiences. And if we have a primary caregiver who guarantees that we develop a basic trust through binding care and security, then we can also balance this feeling of fear, or whatever we want to call it now, very well. But, if that doesn't succeed, then, well, then it can become, how shall I say, not so nice.
There are also explanatory approaches, such as behavioral therapy, or - it comes from the classical learning theories, such as behaviorism, - direction in psychology -, which say, for example, something like that is learned. So you could imagine that as a small child I was bathed and afterwards my grandmother put on a scratchy woolen coat, which she buttoned up to the top, and it was so tight that maybe through a little ... (loud inhalation) and that was an unpleasant feeling and then one says, one couples unpleasant experiences with, for example, the button or the wool or ... That's how dog phobias or something are sometimes explained, that one simply had a bad experience and that's why it's coupled a bit. So, you see, there are very different approaches to explain.
Ina Götze: It is certainly difficult to find out. Now you yourself have already said, Ms. Bauske, in your case, the fear or the fear of heights can be treated well, even of spiders, by going a little further again and again, making contact, encountering the fear and realizing: It doesn't hurt me. Nothing happens. The fear is somehow unfounded. But how would that be the case for you now with illnesses, that is, the fear of illnesses? That is a bit more difficult. You can't infect Ms. Bauske and say, look, nothing will happen.
Emily Bauske: Nothing happened.
Ina Götze: (laughs) How do you deal with such fears?
Dr. Jeanne Rademacher: So basically, with any kind of anxious reaction or behavior patterns, you can also work with people in a very different way. So it always depends on how you explain it and from that follows how you work with people. What you have just mentioned comes, as I said, from behavior therapy, is called systematic desensitization. But there is, as already mentioned, also this depth-psychological or psychoanalytical direction, which is more interested in pursuing an understanding of a possibly primordial conflict or in attaining that, in order to be able to dissolve fears or to integrate them well into the personality, or also systematic therapy, which always looks very much at the interpersonal component of fearful phenomena and sees fearful behavior as a form of expression of needs, as a coping strategy, and it is precisely from these different considerations that completely different working methods follow. The fear of illness mentioned above is an absolutely legitimate one ...
Ina Götze: …understandable.
Dr. Jeanne Rademacher: Yes, absolutely understandable. One is afraid of dying. That's where it comes from ... well, since we humans are death-conscious, I already said, there is no life without fear. Yes, it's just a question of how to deal with it. So one would actually here, but I see it that way with phobias as well: I would rather not work with confrontation, but I would try very much that one simply takes this concern for oneself seriously and tries to integrate it well into one's own life, and there are also, as we have already heard a bit in advance, very beautiful ideas on how people deal with it. Incidentally, I think you can see here very nicely this interpersonal component of fear, which has to do with the primal fear of being abandoned, that people cooperate with each other in order to overcome fear. So that's a very, very clever strategy.
Ina Götze: You did everything right, Mrs. Bauske. (laughs)
Dr. Jeanne Rademacher: So this relationship ... that's also a good effect of such fears, that you're always in a kind of relationship reassurance, yes, you're always moving yourself into it. And that is then again ... That's why one should see every kind of fear as functional. So, it's not something dysfunctional that has to go away, but you should listen to it and you should give attention to this need - you don't necessarily always get to the bottom of it yourself, which one it is now, so maybe sometimes you need professional cooperation. But there are many who say: Yes, that's the way it is, but I can actually cope with it quite well, and then they describe their attempts at a solution, and I say congratulations, super.
Yes, job done. (laughs)
Dr. Jeanne Rademacher: Job done (laughs)
Ina Götze: You've already indicated that there are people who are perhaps more fearful by nature, but that a lot of experiences also play a role - I notice it, for example: My mom is also relatively a very fearful person. And a lot of that I also adopted, for example, I never flew until about four years ago, because I just adopted that fear from her. I never sat in an airplane, or as a child I once sat in a very small airplane. That was all very nice, but I never got on a big plane because she had this fear and I just inherited
Dr. Jeanne Rademacher: Naturally more fearful would mean genetically predisposed. That brings us to a very, very old debate in our field: genetics vs. environment. I always like to quote the sentence, I think from a textbook on clinical developmental psychology: Development is 100 percent genetics and 100 percent environment.
Ina Götze: (laughs) Answers my question exactly.
Dr. Jeanne Rademacher: A percentage weighting simply does not do justice to the inseparability of the two. The exciting field of epigenetics is providing us with many new insights into the transgenerational transmission of,, let's say casually, experience, i.e. the inheritance of experience. My colleagues in the field would say, "Well, let's hear about it. But, I have now announced that this is expressed so casually. People are born with very different needs. But, I would say that the environment or the constellation is decisive for how they are able to respond to these special needs. So, if we go back to the first interpersonal experiences, for example, if my primary caregivers or parents manage to recognize my physical and psychological needs and respond to them appropriately, then I have a very, very good chance of being able to withstand fear very well, because I have been given what is known as basic trust, and this basic trust is basically also very important. This certainty that someone is there when I'm not feeling well is the basic prerequisite for exploring the world, for going out into the world, which is very important for cognitive development. You can see the close connection between emotional state and also mental and cognitive development. And so, for example, one could also explain what you just said: My mother had, in principle, completely justified - highly dangerous, to sit down in such an airplane as a human being ...
Ina Götze: (laughs)
Dr. Jeanne Rademacher: ... and rise from the ground into the air ... are we birds? (laughs)
Ina Götze: (laughs)
Dr. Jeanne Rademacher:… so absolutely legitimate and understandable ...
Ina Götze: If we could fly, we would.
Dr. Jeanne Rademacher: Then we would do it, exactly. So from that point of view, that's an absolutely ... Yes congratulations, I can only say again and again. It's good that you have this fear, because it's not normal for us humans to get on a plane. And if now your mother has distinguished herself by a particular wariness, well, of course it can be that you have observed that and realize - you have a close bond with your mother, you trust your mother -, if mom looks funny, so it is called mentallize, to be able to read the facial expressions of others, if you can read that well, then of course you also have the ability to say, ah, ok, slide or not slide, mom looks funny, somehow, frowns her eyebrows or she talks about flying and airplane. That can't be a good thing. So you're saving yourself from having to experience that yourself. Basically, it's cognitively quite smart to do that, but for certain things it can of course not be so smart, if it's something - so flying is not vital for me - but if it were about being afraid of nature and not going out into nature anymore, then of course I would say: Let's talk about it again, ...
Ina Götze: (laughs)
Dr. Jeanne Rademacher:… what might be the advantages of going out into the countryside? Even if there could be insects that could sting you or I don't know what.
Ina Götze: You reminded me of a quote. Now I would like to quote the journalist Peter Hohl. He once said that people are more afraid of the unknown than of the dangerous, and he compared this to the fact that there are enough people who are afraid of unknown cultures, i.e. foreign cultures, but when they have drunk alcohol, they also get behind the wheel, even though that is actually more dangerous. How much is there to it? How much truth is there in it?
Dr. Jeanne Rademacher: Yes, a lot. I was just reminded, when you brought up the quote, of the phrase: 'Between sorrow and nothingness I choose sorrow.' So that's a little bit similar, too. There's a lot to it, and it's a little challenging to be brief here: Xenophobia of course has a lot to do with one's own self-image and also sense of identity - but I don’t want to get off track here. One could perhaps argue here like this: Every change in behavioral routines is always accompanied by fear, even if we don't want it. We have a region in the brain, the so-called amygdala, which fires with fear when changes occur, without us being able to do anything about it. So it also means accepting that this is the case and then accompanying it well. And you have to keep that in mind when it comes to the unknown. The unknown is worse than the familiar. Incidentally, this also explains why people get so used to bad or dangerous things. What people know they can withstand, and there are many things that should frighten us enormously, but don't, because we have simply become accustomed to them. Cars ...
Ina Götze: Cars are actually more dangerous than airplanes ... (laughs).
Dr. Jeanne Rademacher: (laughs) I don't want to be here now as an opponent of airplanes and cars ...(laughs)
Ina Götze: (laughs)
Dr. Jeanne Rademacher:… … in memory. But also car, when I think of such a speed now - I remember a client who said she gets scared or has slight panic attacks in the car when her husband is speeding down the highway at 220 ...
Ina Götze: Say what! Of course!
Dr. Jeanne Rademacher: … and I just looked at her and I was speechless at first and I thought, yeah, well, luckily someone in this car is scared. (laughs)
Emily Bauske: (laughs) He doesn't, but at least she does.
Dr. Jeanne Rademacher: Yes, exactly, that they stop him, because that is also highly dangerous, but if you now say, to return to your example: Driving under the influence of alcohol, one must now also not underestimate that substance use plays a decisive role, because alcohol quenches fear. That's why massive substance use can often also be understood as an anxiety management strategy.
Ina Götze: So the one conditions the other. But would the quote perhaps also explain to some extent why there are people who are afraid ... well, we are now with the Corona vaccination, which was also quite appropriate for the start, are afraid of this new, unknown vaccine, although there are studies that actually say that the vaccination itself is not what is dangerous, that is the Corona disease.
Emily Bauske: Exactly, so that's a bit in the same vein, that people tend to rather take the status quo, that is, they'd rather expose themselves to a known danger, or a known annoyance, a known sorrow, than to try or risk something new, actually. With the Corona vaccination and the Corona disease, for example, you could say, the Corona disease, we have a little bit more experience with that now, so just subjective as well. The population is already confronted with it somehow for a year and at the beginning it was, at least in my eyes ... or for me, it was also very scary at the beginning this Corona disease, but you get so used to it. So the personal fear of the Corona disease I find then goes back and then comes just the next newer, namely this Corona vaccination. And there are not yet so many experiences. My grandmother, for example, over 80, could have been vaccinated immediately, but she was like: 'Oh, you know, Emily. I'd rather wait until a few others ... and until I know that it works for them.' And sure, there are these clinical trials beforehand. So that's all ... it's put through its paces before it's even approved as a vaccine, but still this feeling: 'I don't know what's in store for me and how it's actually going to be assessed and I'll first see how it's going, also with the others, and then maybe I'll have it done for me'. That is simply a decision that is also based on the fact that people have difficulty dealing with probabilities. So for us in the scientific field, this is not common, but in many disciplines we work a lot with scientific statistics and this probability calculation. And we are simply trained in this, but for many people who don't have to deal with these numbers on a daily basis, it is totally difficult to assess: 'Okay, what does 97 percent effectiveness or 5 percent probability mean that you have a severe course of disease and how can this be weighed against each other? Then one also falls back on heuristics, for example, that one would rather take the status quo, that is, one would rather maintain the health as one has it now with the risk that one might get sick, instead of deliberately exposing oneself to this vaccination, which might be dangerous, i.e., only at a lower certain risk, but of course could still be dangerous somehow, depending on the situation, then one would rather stay with the status quo than somehow try something new.
Ina Götze: It certainly has something to do with it, with certain protective measures I can limit the probability, which brings us to probability, of falling ill with corona. I have a little more control over that. But how I react to the vaccination is ultimately decided by my body. But it certainly also has a lot to do with the fact that there is a lot of misinformation and many people actually classify this misinformation as fact. Why ... so if they decide in principle very, very fact-based actually and opposite this also scientifically correct facts stand, why are they not more receptive for these then?
Emily Bauske: That's a good question, there are also psychological studies on this and also psychological effects, so the 'confirmation bias' for example or 'need for closure', these are two aspects that play a role. One is that people like to form an opinion and then keep it, so people also differ among themselves. So there are people who say, ok, I'll look at it a little longer and if there's new information, I'll change my mind. But there are also people who read in the news somehow first: 'Severe outcome of a Corona vaccination', or they hear something from the girlfriend of a neighbor. the sister ...
Ina Götze: … the brother-in-law ...
Emily Bauske: … exactly, the brother-in-law, the work colleague, he got this vaccination and had terrible side effects and was then in the hospital, quite terrible, and are so impressed by it that they are no longer receptive to these scientific facts. So they form this opinion and then stick to it. And then the 'confirmation bias' comes into play a bit. This means that once people have formed an opinion, they tend to ignore contrary information. So if you have already formed the opinion, ok, the vaccination is harmful and dangerous and you have to be careful, then also new studies that say: 'No, that's not so', or even a thousand other testimonials that say: 'I tolerated the vaccination well', are then either dismissed or not really taken into account and do not really seep into consciousness. One sticks to this opinion and will not accept contrary information, but information that conforms to the attitude will. So, if you then hear again from another work colleague who also has this, who also has severe side effects, then this is confirmed again and so it then builds up more and more. It's like a wall against new information. Therefore, it is very difficult change someone’s mind.
Ina Götze: Probably also simply, if it was so imposing, the information has shaped you so much, then ... that you then somehow perceive it as big. So basically I can understand the fears, the anxieties. I think everyone has that: "How will I cope with this? Will I somehow lie flat for three days and not be able to do anything? I decided to have a vaccination because I just rationally calculated, do I want to lie on the couch for three days if necessary, only be able to watch Netflix and not be able to move, or do I really want to end up in the hospital in the worst case, be ventilated and then have consequential damage that cannot be foreseen? That was simply a risk-benefit consideration for me. Why ... or how - I think we've clarified the why quite well - but how can you now get people to be able to make this rational consideration when they're actually in such a tunnel?
Emily Bauske: Yes, that's difficult, because these anecdotes are much closer to the people than the statistics. So maybe if you take good testimonials and bring that a little bit more into the media, where again trust plays a role. So many people also nowadays, I don't know, but probably always have, have a certain distrust of certain institutions. That can be science. But, it can also be politics or the pharmaceutical industry, as an abstract adversary. And these conspiracy myths also fit into this notch a bit. Yes, a certain credibility of institutions is also necessary, which is why I find it a bit difficult when the RKI, for example, recommends things one week and then recommends something else the next week, or the EU makes a recommendation and the RKI for Germany says: "No, but we don't do that. That's just a bit ...
Ina Götze: What should we believe then? Complete confusion ...
Exactly, so it's partly based on the same studies, but then other conclusions are drawn and clearly, some interpret it a bit more freely and say: 'Well, we would recommend that'. And the RKI is perhaps a bit more cautious and says: 'No, you'd better not do that'. Exactly, this is also a bit of a question of science communication. That's why it's so difficult. So these studies that are being done and these preliminary surveys on vaccines are of course very complex, they have to be, in order to be able to control all these influencing factors and to be able to reliably conclude all possible "what-if" cases. But, communicating this to society is of course very difficult. And if you simplify it, you always run the risk of simplifying something in the wrong direction or simplifying it in such a way that it creates a target and then someone says, "Yes, but what about this and that? And can you apply that to children?' Or if out of a million people there are now 6 with severe side effects and that was not seen in the studies, can you still believe the studies? Although, of course, it also says in the studies that these results should only be taken into account if ... or under the conditions that ... or restrictions that are then present. But of course, you can't communicate that as well and that falls behind, it has to. So that it can be simplified. Only that then so a bit ...
Ina Götze: The mixed bag…
Emily Bauske: Exactly! So, it's a balance that you have to find. Exactly, but how can you convince people to get vaccinated after all? You can emphasize this positive experience a little bit more, and that now many people ... actually everyone knows someone who has been vaccinated at least once, and for most people it is now also like for my grandmother, who also says: 'Ah yes, my neighbor tolerated it well ...'.
Ina Götze: If Erna tolerated it well, ...
Emily Bauske: Exactly, then I'll get vaccinated, and by the way, it also worked well for her, so everything's fine. Exactly, so that this positive experience becomes established a little bit and of course, you can also incentivize; give or create incentives. And that's what we have now, almost unconsciously, because we all want to participate in social life. And that is only possible if everyone adheres to these guidelines, i.e. these three G-rules: Vaccinated, tested or recovered. And for those people who don't want to be vaccinated, they have to be tested. And there are people who say: 'Oh, I have to go to the cinema every time I want to go to the cinema - after all, the cinema is open again - but every time I want to go to the cinema, I have to get tested beforehand and look, she's been vaccinated and can just go in, show her vaccination certificate and that's it. You know what? I'll just get vaccinated now, too.'
Ina Götze: … she survived it.
Emily Bauske: Exactly, she has also survived it and does not have to be tested now. I think I'm going to get vaccinated after all. Something like that ... in the States they are now doing it in such a way that they are holding a lottery among all those who have been vaccinated, i.e. those who have already been vaccinated before, but also those who are now being vaccinated. So I think there are cars to be won ...
Ina Götze: Drawing for cars…now, that’s something to consider.
Emily Bauske: Yes, I think there are cars to be won. But the people who say: 'Oh, but only because of the vaccination or my own health and I don't go to the movies, I don't care. But I would like to win a car. Why not, actually?'
Ina Götze: An E-car. Please dear politicians! I'm thinking about buying an electric car, that would be nice.
Emily Bauske: That would be good, yes. Or I think in England there are stories that people could have been vaccinated in a brewery.
Ina Götze: That's right, they got free beer or something.
Emily Bauske: You don't have to go to the vaccination center, you don't have to go to the doctor. You can drink beer and then get this vaccination. And that works well, so they have good vaccination rates then.
Ina Götze: I'm just thinking about what it would be like in Germany to get people to vaccinate. Cars certainly would, I think. Beer, too, I'm sure. Or vacation ...
Dr. Jeanne Rademacher: A lifetime access to the FCM in Magdeburg.
Ina Götze: Or as I said - a nice vacation getaway, that would attract a lot of people, as a reward.
Dr. Jeanne Rademacher: I've come up with two things now. Because it's about conviction. Ultimately, of course, it's what you want, but I think the advantages of vaccination are exciting, so when you say: 'Man, I can do this now, I can do that now and I don't have to have this stupid test'. So that you can get people like that and what came to my mind earlier is: There we are again with trust, also in one's own body. I think that if you approach it in such a way that you say: 'My body, of course it will manage this super well. I assume that I won't have any particularly serious side effects, because ...' These thoughts are very important. It reminds me of patients from outpatient rehab, to whom I have also said this again and again. That good thoughts also promote processes in the body that tend to inhibit inflammatory processes. So all the substances are released that are needed to feel well, and if you always think: 'Ah, this is going to be really bad again and then I'll be in pain again'. This is sometimes completely automated, that these thought loops start. The brain then knows immediately what it has to do and inflammation is fueled. So the attitude, I say, also towards oneself before such a vaccination is, I think, very important and can, in my opinion - is my personal assessment - but also has a significant influence on how I tolerate something like that. It is not only the body that is disconnected from me, but it is a system and how I approach it has an impact. And someone who has the worst fears might really have three days that he can't do anything, because it's a bit like a self-fulfilling prophecy. But I just wanted to add that again.
Ina Götze: Just think positively. I think that's ... We were just talking about studies and you, Ms. Bauske, had conducted a study yourself and it was more about the fear ... or how frightening people find the Corona pandemic in general and how they also, so to speak, accept the political measures. Two questions about that, which you're not really supposed to do, you're usually supposed to ask journalistically the questions one at a time, but they build on each other well. What came out of it? Quite exciting to know. And: Could these results perhaps also be used to convince people or to show: 'Everything's fine, get vaccinated!
Emily Bauske: Yes, I did the study in February, March, April last year, so right at the beginning of the Corona pandemic, that's the results from that wave, we did a second one now, just now, so to speak ...
Ina Götze: So very fresh ...
Emily Bauske: Exactly. Last month for two weeks the survey. But that's still from the beginning of the pandemic and in fact it was then that people also felt less threatened. So I think on average people said that on a scale of 1 to 100, 40 percent felt the Corona pandemic was threatening, so less than half actually, of the possible severity. They found it rather restrictive, so probably also these measures that were then introduced over time, that this was just perceived as burdensome, because these restrictions were there. But on the other hand, the sample also said that they found these measures, i.e. both these restrictions in public and personal life, but also the recommendations for action that came from the government, or from the WHO or from the RKI, to be quite sensible and that they also followed them. The sample was also relatively young, it was a typical student sample. I think there were 1,200 people and the majority were students, also from the university. There were also a few older people from Magdeburg and a few from outside the region, but they were relatively young, female, and well-educated, so I don't find it surprising that they accepted these measures. There were only a few measures, something like 'We should be monitored via our cell phone data'. That's what was done in China at the beginning, that the people who had Corona were also isolated at home, and when they went outside, the computer immediately said that ...
Ina Götze: Alarm!
Emily Bauske: Alarm, go back in, someone is coming over. That was of course ... so these coercive measures, also to forcibly recruit medical personnel, we also asked that, that was also rejected, but many measures, such as closing daycare centers and schools or putting people who show symptoms into quarantine, that people found completely understandable and also acceptable and also these self-protective recommendations, such as washing your hands, not greeting people somehow close, not being out with many people, wearing protective masks, that they all found good and have also actually implemented almost all of them. Exactly, that was quite exciting. And we then investigated on a psychological level how this is related to personal characteristics. And it was exciting that both the attitude toward health, i.e. the concern for one's own health, and the appreciation of one's own health play a role. In a way, it is also a pandemic, a threat to one's own health, and the more someone values his or her own health, does a lot for his or her health in general, i.e., goes jogging, eats well, sleeps a lot, the more inclined the person was to implement these recommendations and accept the government's measures for containment. This is interesting on the one hand, but on the other hand, we also measured how strongly someone reacts to social norms or social pressure, i.e., the propensity to conform; this is the construct that we measured and basically says how much one adheres to social norms and social rules, and the social rules in this case would be: "Hey, please behave like this for society and don't meet people, don't go on vacation, and please accept these measures. We know on a personal level this is totally restrictive for you, but for society this is important, so please conform to it, accept it and follow these recommendations for action.' And that also has a certain influence, as we expected, on whether people accept these measures and follow the recommendations. And the two things also play a role independently of each other. So both are individual characteristics. They are not very closely related. So, someone who conforms a lot to social rules doesn't necessarily have to be someone who actually values his health very much. But, both have an influence on how well the measures are accepted. And therefore there are certain possibilities for intervention that we have not yet exhausted, I think. But exactly ... that is to frame the Corona pandemic and the measures that go along with it in such a way that you say: 'It's important for your own individual health, but it's also important for society and society needs your cooperation here, so please stick to these rules'.
Ina Götze: Very exciting! But, the approaches can probably also be used to infer a bit about whether people should be vaccinated or not. It's about one's own personal health and also the benefit to society. To say: 'Come on, the injection won't hurt you. It won't kill you. But this pandemic is over and you can do your part.
Emily Bauske: Exactly, there are also people who really can't be vaccinated because they have a previous illness and really can't tolerate it, or the children who are sitting in school and can't be vaccinated either, as things stand now. And for them, of course, it is totally important to build up this protection against infection in society, a bit like with the measles vaccinations. It's also okay if individual people don't have it because they can't have it, but if there is an overall protection in society, then it still works.
Ina Götze: The wonderful herd immunity ...
Emily Bauske: Exactly, that's why Corona is somehow also a social task.
Ina Götze: Finally, I have one more question ... a service question, so to speak. We already had trick 17 at the beginning, now to talk about trick 18. How can I protect myself from developing fears?
Dr. Jeanne Rademacher: In the best case, one's own parents have taken care of this, because they give this basic trust through loving and binding care, which is an optimal prerequisite for dealing with the phenomenon of fear, and otherwise, from my point of view, by lovingly meeting one's own fearful side, acknowledging it, accepting it and giving it a good place with oneself, within oneself or even outside. So some like ... A lot of clients I've worked with preferred to find a symbol outside of themselves first, so that has to go a little bit slowly. But we know that the more we want something not to be, the more it becomes. And it's the same with our fear. The more I want it gone, the more space it takes up, and so I think it's a lot about knowing how important it is to feel your own fear, because it's part of life. It's tremendously useful. Without being able to feel fear and also being able to communicate, there is no deeper human contact. Or rather, the ability to relate to oneself and others. Well, and social resources. So binding, close, social relationships, because fear and loneliness are also very closely coupled. What I said earlier: this primal fear of being abandoned. Therefore, this investment in binding social relationships is also a physical commitment. We are also physical people and it is important that there is physicality. I think that's a good precaution.
Ina Götze: So think positively, learn to love the fear, a bit far. But there is one fear I can take away from our listeners, namely the next podcast episode will definitely come in September, when our junior professor Siegert will be our guest and talk about Alexa, Siri and Co. Thank you in any case for the really great conversation. I've learned a lot, I hope you out there have too and we'll hear from you next time.
Intro voice: "Wissen, wann du wilst." The podcast about research at the University of Magdeburg.