Some People Love a State of Crisis
Reason magazine|March 2022
Can’t we get back to some version of normal? That’s a fair question now that every American who wants a COVID-19 vaccine has had the opportunity to get one. But we still get breathless coverage of every variant and new rounds of travel restrictions, mask mandates, and vaccine document checks as if it were still the early days of the pandemic.
By J.D. Tuccille

Why do so many people seem eager to fret and impose emergency measures even as COVID-19 becomes endemic and restrictions take a growing toll? It’s as if they actually enjoy living in a permanent state of crisis—and maybe they do.

“Crisis-prone individuals don’t just like to live in a state of high alert—they seem to relish being called upon to fix all those problems that are causing the crisis,” Susan Krauss Whitbourne, professor emerita of psychological and brain sciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, wrote in a 2014 Psychology Today article. These people, she explained, “seek—if not revel in—drama, become worked up over small problems, and tend to see themselves as the center of their all-too-frenetic universes.”

Whitbourne wrote years before vaccine passports were a twinkle in a bureaucrat’s eye, referring to people hooked on disruptive adrenaline rushes at work or home. But a substantial share of our population seems to get much the same kick from a public health crisis.

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