The Phases of a Disaster: Are We Headed Towards Disillusionment?

The Doctor Weighs In
7 min readJun 17, 2020

By: Erick Messias, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H.

A model of the phases of disaster suggests that we have passed through the first four phases and are now headed into the fifth: the phase of disillusionment.

Photo Source: iStock Photos

We are living through different phases of a global disaster as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc on the entire world. In China in late 2019, a novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, jumped species and found fertile ground in the human body. That unfortunate event has multiplied exponentially into hundreds of thousands of tragic deaths since then.

Communities locked down. Businesses were shut. People stayed at home. As a result, the economy came to a screeching halt. Millions of people became unemployed overnight adding financial insecurity to the widespread fear related to the spread of the contagion.

Because this is a new virus, new diagnostic and therapeutic and options are still being developed. And there is, as of yet, no vaccine to prevent the infection. All we have are human behaviors: social isolation, social distancing, hand washing, and wearing masks.

So not only have we had to take care of individuals often extremely ill because of the infection, but we have also had to keep an eye on the collective physical and mental health…



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