Dr. Mark McDonald, a practicing child and adolescent psychiatrist in West Los Angeles, spoke at Monday’s “White Coat Summit” in the nation’s capital and pointed out that the fears exhibited by many parents over the Chinese coronavirus are “not based on reality.”
“The fear is real, but it’s not based on reality,” McDonald said, explaining that he has tried to provide facts, data, statistics, and information to patients and their parents for months.
While he said some listen and believe that there is “probably more going on than what they’re being told,” many are not responding to information because they are crippled by fear. McDonald said:
I also know that unless we deal with this fear and take it and face it head-on, the information will not be of use. You cannot use information, no matter how accurate it is, unless you’re in a calm state of mind. Anybody who’s worked in the military knows this.
When you are in a state of panic, when you are terrorized, when you are traumatized, you cannot think clearly. Most of the adults in my practice with children that come in for treatment are in that state. They are not responsive to information. They are allowing fear to guide their decisions.
McDonald said many parents are refusing to bring their children in, “insisting” on Zoom or phone calls instead. He explained that they are “coddling” their children, preventing them from playing outside, going to the store, and participating in sports “because they think that’s what’s best for them.”
“In my view, this is child abuse,” McDonald declared, adding that “we are training an entire generation of children to live in fear — to live in fear of people.”
“We are training an entire generation of children to live in their parent’s basements until they’re 40-years-old so that they can be safe,” he said.
Safe “compared to what?” he continued:
Compared to driving? As we heard earlier, driving is far more dangerous. Far, far more dangerous than going to school. Safer than staying at home? Children are getting sick at home. They’re getting fat. They’re wetting their beds. They’re attacking their brothers and sisters with kitchen knives as two children did last week.
McDonald said he recently spoke to the single Santa Monica mother of those children, explaining that she went to work and got a call from her neighbor saying, “the police are on the way.” She rushed home, only to find out that her children were fighting with knives.
“These children are good kids,” he said.
“Is she going to lose her children? I don’t know,” McDonald continued. “She’s a good mother, but what can she do? She has to choose. Stay home, go on unemployment, or go to work.”
The child psychiatrist painted a dire picture, stating that the “state of our children is abysmal.”
“I have seen a rapid and substantial increase in emotional illness with all of the children in my practice. Every single one. Anxiety. Depression. Suicidal ideation. Bedwetting, Self-harm. Child abuse. Violence. Panic attacks. I could go on and on and on,” he said.
McDonald briefly told the story of a parent who tried to take his eight-year-old daughter to the beach. The child reportedly grabbed her father’s leg and told him they could not go because “there are other people there”:
“This little girl was completely well and completely healthy until this pandemic began. The pandemic, in my mind, is not so much a medical pandemic. It’s an emotional pandemic,” he said. “And this emotional pandemic is based on and centered around fear.”