Fear, anger, and media-induced trauma during the outbreak of COVID-19 in the Czech Republic

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Abstract
Fear, anger and hopelessness were the most frequent traumatic emotional responses in the general public during the first stage of outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic in the Czech Republic (N = 1,000). The four most frequent categories of fear were determined: (a) fear of the negative impact on household finances, (b) fear of the negative impact on the household finances of significant others, (c) fear of the unavailability of health care, and (d) fear of an insufficient food supply. The pessimistic communications used by the Czech mass media contributed to intensifying traumatic feelings, fears and psychological distress in the general public during the outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic. The anxious emotional tone of the messages and the presentation of selectively chosen “bad ending stories” contributed to the psychological traumatization of the Czech population. This form of communication was motivated by an effort to reach the broadest audience possible. Older adults were the most affected part of the population because of their isolation and their very limited opportunity to share their worries and emotions with others. The communication used by the Czech mass media during the outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic is a representative example of a traumatizing form of media communication during an epidemic.
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Archival date: 2020-06-16
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2020-06-16

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