Livin' on the MDedge

The devil in the (masking) details


The Devil’s own face covering?

It’s been over a year and a half since the COVID-19 emergency was declared in the United States, and we’ve been starting to wonder what our good friend SARS-CoV-2 has left to give. The collective cynic/optimist in us figures that the insanity can’t last forever, right?

Illustration of a masked devil Tatyana Kolchugina/Getty

Maybe not forever, but …

A group of parents is suing the Central Bucks (Pa.) School District over school mask mandates, suggesting that the district has no legal authority to enforce such measures. Most of their arguments, Philadelphia Magazine says, are pretty standard stuff: Masks are causing depression, anxiety, and discomfort in their children; masks are a violation of their constitutional rights; and “masks are being used as a control mechanism over the population.”

There are some unusual claims, though. One of the parents, Shannon Harris, said that “wearing masks interferes with their religious duty to spread the word of God and forces them to participate in a satanic ritual,” according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Philadelphia Magazine decided to check on that “satanic ritual” claim by asking an expert, in this case a spokesperson for the Church of Satan. The Reverend Raul Antony said that “simply ‘wearing a mask’ is not a Satanic ritual, and anyone that genuinely thinks otherwise is a blithering idiot,” adding that the group’s rituals were available on its website.

COVID, you never let us down.

You’re the (hurricane) wind beneath my wings

Marriage isn’t easy. From finances to everyday stressors like work and children, maintaining a solid relationship is tough. Then a natural disaster shows up on top of everything else, and marriages actually improve, researchers found.

Shoreline during a hurricane pxfuel

In a study published by Psychological Science, researchers surveyed 231 newlywed couples about the satisfaction of their marriage before and after Hurricane Harvey in 2017. They found after the hurricane couples had a “significant boost” in the satisfaction of their relationship.

One would think something like this would create what researchers call a “stress spillover,” creating a decrease in relationship satisfaction. Destruction to your home or even displacement after a natural disaster seems pretty stressful. But, “a natural disaster can really put things in perspective. People realize how important their partner is to them when they are jolted out of the day-to-day stress of life,” said Hannah Williamson, PhD, the lead author of the study.

And although everyone saw an increase, the biggest jumps in relationship satisfaction belonged to the people who were most unhappy before the hurricane. Unfortunately, the researchers also found that the effects were only temporary and the dissatisfaction came back within a year.

Dr. Williamson thinks there may be something to these findings that can be beneficial from a therapy standpoint where “couples can shift their perspective in a similar way without having to go through a natural disaster.”

Let’s hope she’s right, because the alternative is to seek out a rampaging hurricane every time your relationship is on the rocks, and that just seems impractical after the second or third year.


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