For many, the belated realization that COVID will be "a long war" sparks anger and denial

“It’s scary to admit that somebody else has power over you and you’re at they’re mercy and you’re afraid of them, but showing that is not a very American ideal,” said David Rosmarin, an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and a clinician at McLean Hospital. “Instead of expressing that fear, it’s a lot more comfortable to blame somebody else.”

Anger is what people in his profession refer to as a “secondary emotion.” It’s a feeling that arises in response to a more primal emotion, like fear and anxiety over having some aspect of your life threatened. “The reality is that there are millions of people who are miseducated about something, they’re making a big mistake that will have massive consequences that might affect you and your family and that makes you scared,” Rosmarin said. “But nobody is saying that.”

Part of the problem is cultural. “In America, there’s an expectation you have to be a god,” he said. Showing vulnerability is akin to blasphemy. Just look at the backlash Olympic gymnast Simone Biles faced last week in response to pulling out of the team event in Tokyo, citing her mental health. He’d like to see leaders at the state and national level do a better job of modeling that kind of behavior rather than leaping to blaming and shaming.