A Psychological Pandemic

The following interview from Austria highlights the way mind-body dualism has informed the dysfunctional official response to the Corona “pandemic”.

Many thanks to Hellequin GB for translating this article from NachDenkSeiten. Note: Jens Spahn is the Minister of Health in the current German government:

“Jens Spahn should just shut up!”

In the “greatest health crisis”, health is practically not an issue. Instead of talking about preservation, about prevention, about how to prevent a Corona infection or how to prevent a severe case of the disease, the lockdown missionaries prescribe “therapies” that only cause more suffering and damage. As a psychoneuroimmunologist, Christian Schubert makes the case from the Medical University of Innsbruck for holistic medicine that understands body and mind as a unit and mental well-being as a key factor for a strong immune system. On the other hand, constant fear and panic drains the natural defenses. In an interview with NachDenkSeiten, the native of Oldenburg complains about the “disastrous” consequences of a crisis policy that stares at a virus and overlooks people. Ralf Wurzbacher spoke to him.


Mr. Schubert, you wrote your book “What makes us sick, what heals us” four years before the pandemic began. When asked against the background of your experiences over the past 16 months: Does the Corona crisis also make people sick who are not infected by the SARS-CoV-2 virus?

Yeah, I think that can happen. Right from the start, I looked at the events surrounding Covid-19 from a medically extended, biopsychosocial perspective. We know from research that pandemics also play out and have an impact at the psychological level. A virus cannot be seen as a purely biological entity. The more it pushes into our consciousness, the faster it charges itself to a symbol. Accordingly, the term psychological pandemic is used in science. We can assume that with the incessant media appearance of numbers and images of the sick and the dead, information is penetrating us that can therefore be more contagious than the pathogen itself.

By “more contagious” do you mean that the susceptibility to illness increases with the fear induced by images and numbers?

Exactly. The symbol of the “killer virus” spreads fear and panic and this triggers immunosuppressions. This means that immune reactions that protect against infection are suppressed. This has been scientifically proven very well.

Is there already evidence to this effect with respect to the Corona crisis?

In fact, initial research results show that the risk of contracting SARS-CoV-2 is significantly increased in people who have experienced traumatic life events. Trauma and other experiences of fear are vulnerability factors that are likely to play an important role in the prognosis of whether and how a patient will survive a Covid-19 disease.

And isn’t that just a guess?

No, there is a lot of research going on in this area. For example, a current study by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows these relationships. The authors conclude that anxiety and anxiety-related disorders are the second-highest risk factor — after obesity — for dying from Covid-19. Based on their data, they even assume that the development of anxiety during the illness could have led to death in some patients.

Is there also research on the question of whether people are suffering from the general panic fueled by politics and the media, possibly from Covid-19 itself, but also from other physical ailments?

I am not aware of that, and such a question also blatantly bites with the conventional way of thinking in orthodox medicine. We have long known, however, that stirring up fear and panic around Covid-19 made people mentally ill. The facts cannot be denied: Over the past 16 months we have seen a massive increase in anxiety and depression disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders and eating disorders, suicidal acts, trauma and much more. In Austria, the number of people with anxiety disorders and depressive symptoms has increased five- to sixfold since the beginning of the crisis.

If one now thinks psychoneuroimmunologically, that is, if the psyche and the immune system are inseparable, we can assume that those affected have immunological deficits which, among other things, increase their susceptibility to physical illnesses, especially inflammatory diseases. The path leads through chronic psychological overload, a chronic immune disorder, to an increased susceptibility to illness and possibly mortality.

First of all, let us assume that the political decision-makers wanted only the best for the population, especially in the early phase of the crisis, when little was known about the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Was it perhaps the rationale of governments to protect people from the worst, an out-of-control killer epidemic, by spreading fear and panic?

It might be. But we know that acute fear can mobilize people and trigger a “fight or flight” reaction. You face the enemy or you take flight. Both are evolutionary principles of survival that have a psycho-organic impact with the help of the sympathetic nervous system. We become more alert and concentrated, our organism has more energy resources for a short time, the heartbeat is accelerated, we breathe faster and more shallowly, muscle tension increases, we have an increased tendency for blood to clot in the event of an injury, we experience an immune boost, the immune system prepares itself against any wounds.

This idea of stimulating vigilance and tension by generating fear in order to encourage people to protect themselves could well have been politically decisive in the first weeks of the crisis. In the case of a short-term application, such a procedure even seems understandable to me. It just seems like decision-makers have no clue about the devastating effects of stress and anxiety once they become chronic. Then the opposite effect occurs: people become weaker, more vulnerable and lose their resilience.

Now this shock strategy, as it is documented in this unspeakable panic paper by the Federal Ministry of the Interior, has also been developed by virologists and medical professionals. Has the federal government been given the wrong advice?

In any case, conventional medicine is completely wrong because of fundamental epistemological errors. It is prone to paradoxes, currently to trying to get people through lockdowns, AHA rules, isolation and wearing masks to protect themselves from the virus. Whoever prescribes something like this thinks dualistically by splitting off the psyche from the body, and provokes massive damage to the immune system with his technical-mechanistic “therapy”: starting with psychological stress, which can lead to anxiety disorders and depression, to the long-term social consequences in the case of job loss or the loneliness that people are forced into. For me it is therefore no coincidence that the incidences were always among the highest in Bavaria, with its particularly sharp lockdown for a long time.

Do you think the level of scare tactics can be seen from the number of cases?

I think there is a connection here. Viewed from a medically holistic perspective, there is no question: if you put people in fear and fright and make them feel guilty, for example that the grandchild could infect the grandmother if he gets too close, then there will be more diseases.

Speaking of which: Are children and adolescents even more susceptible to external stress stimuli that have been affecting them for months?

Not fundamentally. With solid resilience and intact family structures, adolescents get through the crisis well and largely unscathed. The situation is different with children whose parents are frightened themselves and who display their fear every day, who are under social pressure, who are worried about their jobs or who have already become unemployed. These children are likely to have less resilience and are therefore particularly affected. I suspect that many dramas within the family took place here.

Some contemporaries will consider what you stand for to be esoteric nonsense. What do you reply?

I turn the tables: I assume all those unscientific people who adhere to the orthodox medical doctrine, according to which body and psyche have nothing to do with each other, or that the connection between the two is irrelevant.

A central finding of your discipline is: the human immune system is capable of learning and development, and mental well-being is the decisive factor. To illustrate the processes, please refer to an effervescent candy. Please explain that.

The experiment with Pavlov’s dog is well known. The animal is given food, which stimulates the flow of saliva. Then, next to the food, you bring a little bell into play, the sound of which finally — even without food being presented — causes the saliva to flow. A study published in the early 1990s by a working group led by the psychoneuroimmunologist Angelika Buske-Kirschbaum has shown that the human immune system can be conditioned in a comparable way. Medical students were given adrenaline by syringe, which led to an increase in killer cell activity in the blood. In addition, the test persons were given an effervescent candy at the same time as the syringe and over several days, thus bringing about a coupling of two stimuli. In the end, only the fizzy candy was enough to activate the natural killer cells. The immune system has learned through its interconnection with the brain that the candy is or could be the source of adrenaline — which is a sensational and groundbreaking discovery.

Pharmaceutical industries are likely to see it differently. If one fine day placebos and a good mood keep the whole population healthy, Bayer, Roche and Sanofi would have bad cards …

Of course, things are not that simple, even though holistic medicine certainly has huge potential to promote sustainable health in people. And of course, if there were the political will to promote alternative medicine approaches on a large scale, that could give the pharmaceutical industry a serious headache. As a psychotherapist, however, I know that a little good mood alone does not make a healthy person. If severe psychological stress is involved, therapies other than the addition of a placebo are needed. In such cases, however, I would rather advocate psychotherapy instead of drug treatment.

Now, however, the Corona crisis in particular gives little cause for hope that conventional medicine and the pharmaceutical lobby could might withdraw. On the contrary: it could hardly have been better for it, right?

In fact, we are currently heading in the direction of an even more cynical and misanthropic medicine with its epistemological errors of dualism, reductionism and mechanisticism, to name just a few. As if things weren’t bad enough so far, the situation will continue to pervert. Digitization, robotics and transhumanistic spinning of the merging of humans and computers are driving to extremes the dehumanization and alienation between doctor and patient.

Where is the vaccination in your list? The global mass vaccination is unlikely to be to your liking.

You’re right, but it doesn’t surprise me, because that’s actually typical of conventional medicine and its image of machine people. This vaccination dogma, this cry for artificial infection, is pure reductionism. It would rather give someone an injection than prepare them for a natural infection. And those who do not want to be vaccinated are threatened with restricted freedom. How inhuman, how unnatural.

It would have to work exactly as it did with every viral pathogen before Corona: If people get infected naturally, especially the vast majority of those for whom the virus does not pose a particular threat, then we will get out of the crisis the fastest and best. When it comes to building up natural herd immunity, children and adolescents in particular are our best friends; SARS-CoV-2 poses practically no danger to them. What is happening instead? We shut down schools for months and prevent the virus from spreading among people with healthy immune systems. And those whom we supposedly want to protect die in the nursing homes, which we have not taken special care of for months.

In addition, there are deficits in the vaccination against SARS-CoV-2 itself. This is because the body receives genetic information that codes for only a few viral antigens. In the vaccines currently approved, it is the spike protein. The vaccination protection is therefore only directed against part of the virus. What if more mutations make the vaccine less and less effective? If we are not confronted with the virus holistically, i.e. in its full nature, as happens with a natural infection, it stands to reason that the so-called protection must be renewed again and again, i.e. refreshed. There are certainly also economic interests behind this. It is hard to imagine a more gigantic business.

That, according to the will of the federal government, should also be extended to children and young people. Your judgment?

Paragraph 42 of the Austrian Medicines Act clearly states that a medicinal product may only be administered if the benefit for the trial participant associated with its inclusion in the clinical trial outweighs the risk and, in case of doubt, the patient’s interests always outweigh the public interest, and interests stand up to science. Vaccinating children with an unexplored vaccine is therefore a criminal offense of bodily harm and would be a crime in the face of a virus that is completely harmless to adolescents.

What is noticeable about what is called the “greatest health crisis” is that the Federal Government and its advisors have said virtually nothing about the promotion of health and disease prevention during the entire period. It’s always about warding off illness.

That’s why I wouldn’t speak of the biggest health crisis we have ever experienced. We are experiencing the greatest crisis in Western medicine to date. Efforts to see the human psyche and immune system in harmony in order to counter the pandemic have not taken place at all. Never before has medicine shown with greater openness how little interest it really has in people.

One example among many: Recently, a number of studies on the effectiveness of vitamin D for the prevention and treatment of Covid-19 have been published. In a retirement home in Elgg, Switzerland, there was a widespread Corona outbreak in autumn 2020, but none of the infected became seriously ill or died. Apparently, the addition of vitamin D in a comparatively high dose had prevented something worse, which went through the press as the “Miracle of Elgg”. Nevertheless, Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) has never heard anything on the subject of vitamin D. Doesn’t that border on failure to provide assistance?

If Mr. Spahn really meant us well, then he would have to part with his false advisors. These are machine physicians like Christian Drosten, Lothar Wieler or Karl Lauterbach, who are small-minded in their laboratories, have suddenly mutated into “statesmen”, but do not understand much about social relationships and the common good. If they really wanted to be socially responsible for the first time, they would just have to shut up. If Mr. Spahn were surrounded by psychologists, paediatricians, sociologists, stress and education researchers, there would never have been a lockdown.

Would that also mean fewer deaths? Officially, over 90,000 people have already died “from” or “with” Corona in Germany.

I do not want to claim that you would have gotten other numbers in the short term, although that would be obvious, but how can you prove that? For me, as a psychoneuroimmunologist and psychotherapist, it is even more interesting to look at the long-term collateral damage. I expect huge numbers in the future. I also think that the mechanistic-technical approach using lockdowns, contact bans and masks did not save many human lives. Without question, there would have been many more if politics had promoted information on how to strengthen your immune system and what means could have been taken to preventively counter the virus or to treat Covid-19 effectively.

It works differently, as the example of India shows. There, the government has specifically relied on the so-called Ayush concept based on the old Ayurvedic traditions. There has even been a ministry of the same name since 2014. During the Covid-19 crisis, it published a compilation of ten measures to activate the immune system, compiled by 16 doctors. With what result? In fact, based on the population, there were five times fewer Covid-19 deaths than in Germany. The country even has a very old population; the people live extremely close together, sometimes under bad hygienic conditions and with an abundance in abject poverty. So one should have expected an explosion in death toll. But that didn’t happen.

In the media, the India case was portrayed as a terrible massacre.

I don’t know why they do that, either. Apparently they do not want such promising real-world data, which would really help us to find suitable measures to contain SARS-CoV-2, to be positively discussed in public. There are a number of other examples. Take Sweden. There, Anders Tegnell resisted the pressure to order a lockdown. Nevertheless, in terms of mortality, the country is on a par with Austria, where everything was tight for months. In Sweden schools have been open all the time and the economy is better off than in the rest of Europe. Or let’s look at Florida with its rather relaxed pace. Fewer people died of Covid-19 there than in California with its tough lockdown. You can see that lockdowns don’t do much,

But who will ask about it in the future?

I don’t think that everything that lies ahead can be so easily swept under the rug. Children and young people in particular have experienced bad things in the past 16 months. Not only do you have to think about the lack of exercise, the fact that you are locked in at home, that you have not trained your immune system closely in the dirt. Those are the biological aspects. The psychological cuts in cases of domestic violence, traumatisation, bad experiences of fear, alcohol and drug addiction of the parents are at least as serious. If children suffer six or more such so-called Adverse Childhood Experiences, they have a loss of life of up to 20 years — because their biopsychosocial development and the maturation of the immune system are severely disrupted.

Your book from four years ago conjured up the title of the “departure into a new medicine”. Dare a prognosis: Will Corona be a major setback on the way there or could the crisis even encourage rethinking?

I would like nothing more than a socio-cultural learning effect, but hardly anything speaks for it. I am rather pessimistic, but I hope that at least the newly arisen counterculture that has gained a foothold in the alternative media can live and not be trampled to death by the censors. I myself will not give in: I will not get vaccinated, especially not my children, so I will probably have to live with restrictions, maybe even lose my job. There was always manipulation by the leading media, but in the Corona crisis brainwashing reached an unprecedented level. There may not yet be many who see through the capitalist mechanisms of money and power. But I think there have been more in this crisis. That gives me hope.

About the person: Christian Schubert, born in 1961, is a doctor, clinical psychologist and health psychologist as well as a psychotherapist at the Clinic for Medical Psychology at the Medical University of Innsbruck. There he founded the Laboratory for Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) in 1996. Since 2005 he has also headed the relevant working group of the German College for Psychosomatic Medicine (DKPM). Until recently he was a board member of the Thure von Uexküll Academy for Integrated Medicine (AIM). In addition to a large number of articles in national and international journals, he last published in December 2020: “The invisible behind the visible: Rethinking Health and Illness.” And in August 2016: “What makes us sick — what heals us: A dawning in a new medicine.”

2 thoughts on “A Psychological Pandemic

  1. Or let’s look at Florida with its rather relaxed pace. Fewer people died of Covid-19 there than in California with its tough lockdown. You can see that lockdowns don’t do much.
    I live in California and near the border between Los Angeles and San Bernardino Counties. Los Angeles County is under lockdown again as the rather liberal political establishment is bowing the knee to Sacramento and complying with the latest ‘health’ measures to the tee. San Bernardino County is more conservative, realistic, and has a low opinion of Sacramento ever since the Mojave Desert was closed off to any commercial development by Moonbeam Brown. The result is that you must wear a mask when shopping in Los Angeles County but not in San Bernardino County. Three guesses and the first two don’t count where the consumers and their money is going. Oh yes, and guess which county’s population is healthier. Doc Schubert is spot on and well composed. It must run in the family, correct?

  2. thank you for sharing this wonderful and clarifying interview – I’m grateful to Christian Schubert for his words, to the translator for making them available in English and to Gates of Vienna for sharing them. So much sense here. I need to reread this article many times to keep perspective on the terribleness of the current day.

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