Ian Mitroff
3 min readMay 6, 2020

A Pandemic of Crazy Logic

A Pandemic of Crazy Logic

by Ian I Mitroff

As one of the founders of the modern field of Crisis Management, and a student/practitioner for nearly 40 years, my colleagues and I have witnessed time and again how every major crisis unleashes a torrent of denials and what can only be called “crazy logic.” Unfortunately, the bigger and the more overwhelming the crisis, it’s the only way in which far too many can cope with a reality that is too hard to bear.

The sheer amount of denials, rationalizations, and outright bizarre thinking with regard to the Coronavirus demand the best analysis we can muster to combat them. Sigmund Freud’s basic concept of Defense Mechanisms offers one of the most powerful frameworks of which I know to accomplish this.

Indeed, if Freud had done nothing more than discover the existence and functioning of Defense Mechanisms, it would be more than enough to ensure his lasting fame.

Defense Mechanisms basically exist to protect ourselves from painful events that are too difficult to acknowledge and thus face forthrightly. First and foremost is Denial. One either denies a threat altogether, or argues that it poses no great harm. As such, Denial works closely with Disavowal, which at least recognizes the basic reality of a threat, but minimizes it to the point where it no longer exists. Thus, “The Coronavirus applies mainly to older, more vulnerable people, not to young healthy people like me.”