Professor Guy Hall, Associate Professor and Academic Chair of Criminology at Murdoch University in Western Australia, writes that “Frustration Aggression Hypothesis (FAH) offers the best insight into the underlying process of understanding aggression, otherwise known as the attribution of hostile intent.”
He contends that “aggressive acts are dependent upon the interpretations, values, thoughts, and repertoires of the individual,” and are stimulated by similar collective actions, and the greater the magnitude of the slight, or offence taken, the greater the build-up in frustration, and if the response is unexpected, that can fuel their aggression, and that premise is easy enough for most of us to accept. However, in the pandemic situation for example, some people who are required to self-isolate, or face severe restrictions, and feel they are being punished. Wearing a mask, social distancing, not associating with others, no schools, no coffee mornings, no sporting outlets for enthusiasm and aggression, are the absolute antithesis of humanity and sociology. So, you can expect people in these circumstances to become aggressive because they find the isolation and restrictions difficult.
Hall writes, “we can expect an upsurge in violence as the level of frustration increases.” We, being human, and feeling more and more vulnerable, then react more aggressively. How we interpret our societal world, then becomes pivotal to our attribution of hostile intent among others, and our own level of response, and we may react very much in an out-of-character manner, to threats of harm to ourselves, and our loved ones, damage to our property, and ironically, more deeply to threats to our freedom, rights or liberty, or to unfairness, intolerance, inequality or disrespect, as these have already been ‘assaulted,’ by the isolation and restrictions.
Few of us have lived through any form of even a ‘bad flu virus,’ and especially here in the Sultanate where both Sudden Acute Respiratory Syndrome, Sars, became an issue in 2003, or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, Mers, in 2012, but neither with any excessive impact. There has been no plague of biblical proportions, certainly no European Black Plague that killed an estimated 200 million during the 14th century, and no ‘Spanish flu’ H1N1 that affected half a billion people from 1918 to 1920.
The Asian flu, H2N2, never really reached here from East Asia in 1957, H3N2 killed around a million globally during 1968, though mostly in America, and half a million died during the 2011 H1N1 outbreak, again mainly in the states. So, most of us have never, genuinely, been forced into a punitive situation that has required governments to take what are sometimes drastic and draconian looking action, to save us from ourselves really. COVID-19 broke all the rules! The main issues that face researchers are clearly a lack of defined etymology for COVID-19, as unlike every other pandemic outbreak, where the origins have informed scientific and medicinal responses, the Wuhan based origins appear to be of the smoke and mirrors variety, the consequence of a national unwillingness to accept any blame or responsibility for the outbreak, to provide full and frank disclosures, in fact to obfuscate where possible.
The World Health Organization too, and its Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who ironically writes on the WHO website, “We need a WHO fit for the 21st century, efficiently managed… with a focus on transparency, accountability, and value for money,” must be put under pressure when the ‘blame game,’ starts.
We are indeed fortunate that in Oman, most of the residents are of modest temperament, generous disposition and good nature, however there is an overwhelming desire, at all costs, to be respected, and flashes of anger are sometimes apparent when people need to be reminded to wear masks, to wear masks properly, or to practice social distancing. Don’t be angry, indignant, or aggressive, they are only trying to stay safe themselves, and keep others safe too. And at the end of the day… they are right! Stay masked, stay distant, and stay safe!
Ray Petersen –