An Existential Analysis of Responses to the 2020 Coronavirus Outbreak

Roman Palitsky, Harrison Schmitt, Daniel Sullivan, Isaac F. Young

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


This essay examines people’s responses to the 2020 coronavirus pandemic from the perspective of existential psychology. The existential anxieties associated with the pandemic, as well as people’s responses to them, can be understood and articulated through Sartre’s concept of bad faith. Using this existential lens, we examine the ways in which people’s responses to the virus interact with long-standing societal patterns of interconnection as well as inequity, and how these processes are rooted within the cultural context of late modernity. This analysis reveals that our interconnection simultaneously constitutes the most profound challenges in our psychological response to the pandemic, as well as our greatest source of hope.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)231-243
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Humanistic Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2021


  • existential psychology
  • global crisis
  • modernity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Philosophy
  • Sociology and Political Science


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