Since several polls I posted show that the majority of Daily Kos readers don’t subscribe The Washington Post, I thought summarizing this article would be worthwhile. If you do subscribe here’s the link:
Opinion: A plea to the news media: Please stop showing shots of vaccine shots by Michael Benson. He is an author and artist. His last book was “Space Odyssey: Stanley Kubrick, Arthur C. Clarke, and the Making of a Masterpiece.
I’m a hard science guy — a firm believer in science, technology, empirical evidence and the centrality of the sun. The minute I could get a vaccine, I rushed out and got it. The minute I could get a booster, I got that as well. Why? I don’t want to get a virus that, as a friend told me last summer, he could sense moving around in his body, shifting its attentions from one internal organ to another. It’s a horror show, one well worth going to great lengths to avoid. And yet every time I see that sharp needle approaching soft human flesh, a trajectory repeated on innumerable news programs every day, I look away. And when I see recipients of those vaccines averting their eyes — well, it gives me something to think about as I find something else to examine on the floor, the wall, or my phone.
Quite a lot, as it turns out. If you thought that only a small percentage of the population suffers from trypanophobia, think again. (The term combines the Greek word “trypano,” for piercing or puncturing, and “phobia,” meaning fear.) Something like 25 percent of adults have an irrational antipathy to needles. (One of them, apparently, is freshly convicted fraudster Elizabeth Holmes, who has cited such a fear as a reason for founding her sham blood-testing company, Theranos.) This results in about 16 percent of the adult population avoiding routine vaccinations. Such statistics make it easy to surmise that repeated televised footage of injections provides many people with more than a reason to look away. It gives them graphic grounds to stay away from vaccinations altogether.
I’m not suggesting that broadcast media of the mainstream kind, or lefty cable such as MSNBC, are willingly assisting anti-vaccine propagandists. What I am saying is that even media genuinely operating in the public interest, and serving as a vital buttress to our democratic system, are playing an unwitting yet significant role. Certainly, all those televised needles advancing toward arms make the death-dealing dishonesty of disinformation superspreaders immeasurably easier.
You can tell how the author, and probably others with this phobia, perceive these depictions when he writes: “Let’s stop zooming in on all those needles zeroing in on all those arms, over and over.” In fact, I don't think that many of the videos of people getting shots “zoom in” with extreme close-ups of the needles piercing the skin. However, if you look at images (click link here) you will see some people who look very apprehensive as they get their shots and a few only show a gloved hand holding the needle as the injection is given.
Click here to enlarge above screen shot to full screen.
This Verywell Mind website article explains what trypanophobia is:
Trypanophobia is the extreme fear of medical procedures involving injections or hypodermic needles. It tends to be more common in children and may lessen as people grow older and gain more experience having medical procedures and injections involving needles. For some people, however, this fear can remain extreme and distressing during adulthood.
Despite the fact that an estimated 10% of Americans struggle with this phobia, it was not recognized as a specific phobia in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) until 1994.1 Though specific to medical needles, this disorder is commonly referred to as “needle phobia” by the general public.
If you have trypanophobia, you may dread receiving medical care, particularly injections. When you are required to undergo a medical procedure, you are likely to experience high blood pressure and an elevated heart rate in the hours and days leading up to your procedure. At the time of the event, your blood pressure may rapidly drop and you may even faint.
This article offers another perspective which could be applied to the premise of the Michael Benson OpEd because it suggest that one way to overcome the fear of needles is exposure therapy:
Exposure therapy is the treatment that is often recommended for treating specific phobias such as needle phobia. Through techniques such as systematic desensitization, you can gradually learn to tolerate needles.
The goal of systematic desensitization is to gradually expose you to needles in a controlled, safe setting, beginning with seeing a syringe without a needle, then a syringe with a needle, and eventually allowing you to handle the needle.
If this is true then all the media coverage showing people getting injections may be helpful in lessening the anxiety associated with getting injections by seeing so many people getting them without appearing to be in any particular stress. This is why I think a case can be made for making sure that all images of people getting their Covid vaccinations show them looking relaxed. It may serve to be a kind of exposure therapy. The theory is that more these phobic people see these images the less fearful they would get.
With everyone wearing a mask it is impossible to show the smiling face of someone getting the shot, but at least when possible I think the posture and looks in people’s eyes shouldn’t be as negative as so many of them are (as depicted in some of the photos below).
Click to enlarge above screen shot.