in Pandemics

Modern meme culture has accustomed us to the use of visual humor as a means for coping with traumatic or difficult experiences, but this idea is by now means novel to the modern age. Humor, both visual and lingustic, has been used as a source of comfort in global health pandemics throughout history, and there is strong psychological and physiological reasoning behind the practice. Click here to read more about the role humor plays in our health, both mental and physical, and how it has manifested itself in our historical imagery and literature.


As we well know by now, quarantine is not a plesant experience. As effective as the practice may be in keeping the global population safe, it nonetheless can have severe effects on mental health and human interaction even after it has ended. To learn more about the history and implications or quarantines, read on.


In the face of modern shelter-in-place and quarantine orders instituted by state and local governments to control the COVID-19 pandemic, an 'Open It Up' movement advocating to reopen the economy gained much traction and public support across the country. Policymakers found themselves faced with a difficult dilemma: should the economy be reopened to help the majority or should we remain in lockdown to protect the lives of the vulnerable? A look at San Francisco's response to the 1918 influenza pandemic reveals that this public policy decision—and the tense clash occurring between the public and the government—is not so unprecedented after all. The writings of Algerian-French philosopher Jacques Derrida show us that the relationship between democracies, disobedience, and desperate policymakers is quite fragile indeed, and that to successfully respond to crises of a pandemic's magnitude, new applications of political philosophy and a reinvention of governance as we know it will be necessary—especially if we hope to still preserve our democracy in the aftermath.


Pandemos has discussed various types of quarantine and isolation. However, both the existing literature and our present efforts have yet to discuss why it is so difficult to embrace the concept of quarantine itself or why it can be such an uncomfortable experience. Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud's work Mourning and Melancholia offers up a framework for understanding our psychoanalytic response to the discomfort posed by circumstances beyond our control.