The best possible therapy – Corona deniers on the Covid station

How reacts a – well-known and active – corona denier when contracting Covid? He remains unapologetic. A Spiegel TV film portrays the man.

“In the Covid ward of the Darmstadt Clinic,” the film begins, “by September 2021 there are already 12 patients, most of them unvaccinated. Senior physician Cihan Celik has been on duty since the beginning of the pandemic. He only paused when he got Corona himself. “

Celik treats many patients who decided against a vaccination and thus consciously accepted the risk of infecting themselves and others. Just like Professor Dr. Müller, who says: “I don’t want to be a guinea pig.”

And still had to put himself in the hands of the doctors.

The senior physician would have every reason to be frustrated and leave this out on such patients, at least to talk into their conscience – he doesn’t do any of that in the scenes shown. He is kind, caring, tries hard to explain the symptoms and treatment to the patient. “We take care of you very closely.”

Although even now, from the hospital bed, Mr. Müller says to his fellow campaigners: “Carry on.”

“Naturally, I see it very differently,” says Celik – and the calm, affectionate tone in which he speaks can only be admired. Without the slightest reproach, without any embarrassment, he simply assures the patient that he is getting the best possible therapy – which he also needs, because, as we learn, the patient’s condition has subsequently deteriorated further.

A Policeman In San Francisco Scolds A Man For Not Wearing A Mask During The 1918 Influenza Pandemic, 1918. Source: reddit

It would be easy to confront a sick corona denier with malicious glee or at least with satisfaction – the presentation of the “Spiegel” film may also invite you to do so. In the discussion forum, there is little sympathy to be felt, to say the least – that such people should pay for their treatment themselves is still one of the kindest reactions.

Someone simply writes: “The man is probably trapped in his worldview” – you get this impression when you look at Mr. Müller’s website (which I won’t link here because of its anti-Semitic and racist content). The longing for a good old, almost ideal world is palpable. It is a world in which one could still say all those racist and anti-Semitic sentences that are unbearable for us – but which Herr Müller nostalgically transfigured.

But Cihan Celik apparently sees him primarily as a patient who now needs his help. And that’s what he focuses on. None of the patients who have become infected despite having been fully vaccinated have Covid pneumonia; in the majority of cases there are no symptoms. However, 80% are not vaccinated and therefore have the most severe courses.

Lack of medical knowledge, ignorance of the current state of medical knowledge regarding Corona, or what Celik describes as “distance to doctors” – he accepts all of this as well as other circumstances. Like physical risk factors that you simply have to deal with.

Even if Mr. Müller – if he can be released in good health – intends to continue to campaign as before. And that’s not only frustrating, but also problematic:
“Willingness to vaccinate is contagious, but so is vaccine skepticism,” says psychologist and behavioral economist Katrin Schmelz, a scientist at the University of Konstanz.
“All patients who are currently in the intensive care unit are unvaccinated,” says Christine Falk, professor at the Hannover Medical School and president of the German Society for Immunology (DGfI). And that is increasingly becoming a problem for the morale of the staff in the hospitals.

Fallen from the roof

Dealing with corona deniers is always difficult to bear. Hair-raising pseudo-facts, angry gestures, twisted logic – “Corona deaths? They don’t exist, ” said one demonstrator. “There are a lot of people there who have fallen off the roof and then have a positive test post mortem” – with arguments like this, it is difficult to react calmly.

The pent-up anger, indignation and fear that these people have is also contagious in a certain sense – it is easy to get into the same emotions for opposite reasons and somehow try to bring the other person to their senses. The only problem is: the corona deniers want that too.

They are exhausting, sometimes outrageous, but sometimes close to tears: anti-vaccination opponents at a demo, as portrayed in another Spiegel TV-film. Sometimes their desperation is also palpable. Feeling excluded, not taken seriously, being seen as a “second class person”, without any trust in doctors, society or politics, their children threatened by injections that are forcibly prescribed – these people experience all these fears as real (as absurd as they are for us) and certainly also as very agonizing – as long as they are not completely overlaid by aggression and actionism.

How helpful it is when you can remain as clear, calm and relaxed as Senior Physician Cihan Celik.

Perceived loss of control makes you open to denial

“When you are in a situation where you feel like you are losing control and nothing is predictable anymore,
then you open yourself up to ideas, people and groups that quickly give you the feeling of control again, ”says conflict researcher Andreas Zick from Bielefeld University about the psychological mechanism behind it.

Psychiatrist Jan Oude-Aoust says: We need information, patience, and – we have to take fears seriously. Don’t agree with them, but take them seriously.

Between 3% and 5% of those who oppose the vaccination are people who cannot be convinced with arguments. Around 20% are people who are simply insecure – we have to reach them.