Coronavirus Chronicles: Coronasiaphobia

March 27, 2020

Reports of verbal and physical aggression toward Chinese-American people have undeniable ripple effects, and if left unmonitored, turns into full-fledged Coronasiaphobia.

CORONAVIRUS CHRONICLES

"Coronasiaphobia" is a new condition and term, coined by me. Why? I kept hearing reports of verbal and physical aggression toward Chinese-American people which, inevitably, has a traumatic effect on the individual. The rippling effects are undeniable and if left unmonitored, turns into full-fledged Coronasiaphobia.

Having specialized in cultural psychiatry, I was not surprised. Even in psychiatry, there has been discrimination of minority patients, sometimes unintentionally, due to a lack of cultural competence in providing individual patient care. In our clinical work with Asian- and Chinese-American patients, that has been true, though much improved with the dramatic increase of Asian clinicians and the educational work of Francis Lu, MD, in particular.

In one of the professional listservs I participate in, there was a heated discussion about how important scapegoating really was in light of the immense overall life and death challenges, and whether it was appropriate to connect politics to the coronavirus issue. However, as seen in Nazi Germany and Rwanda, for instance, the worst harm from scapegoating comes when it is politicized. In my opinion, what a relief it was to hear President Trump, after grappling with calling this a “Chinese virus,” say on Monday:

“It is very important that we totally protect our Asian-American community in the United States, and all around the world. They are amazing people, and the spreading of the virus ( . . . ) is NOT their fault in any way, shape, or form. They are working closely with us to get rid to it. WE WILL PREVAIL TOGETHER!”

May we help it to be so.