By Nawara Fattahova

KUWAIT: The brutality and number of murders in Kuwait dramatically increased during the pandemic, psychologists warn. In 2020, over 900 assault cases and 20 murders were registered. There are no statistics for this year yet, but it seems the numbers could be as high. Yesterday, a delivery driver was brutally killed by a customer at his house. Around two weeks back, a policeman was killed by a man who had also killed his mother a few hours earlier. A few days later, another criminal attacked a policeman in an attempt to kill him, but he survived. In Ramadan, a mother of two was murdered in front of her children.

This large number of murders in a short period of time, beside the huge number of fights, is alarming. Even the timing of most murders – during the daytime in public places in front of many witnesses – indicates the impudence and callousness of the killers.

Psychologist Dr Khaled Al-Muhanadi said the curfews and lockdowns had a great impact on people. “We are going through a crisis in the present time, called post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), caused by life shocks. In 1983, a group of psychologists made a list of around 350 psychological shocks, out of which war, disasters and epidemics ranked fifth. In these situations, the community starts suffering from psychological problems,” he told Kuwait Times.

When a person faces such a shock, they usually react in three ways – fight, flight or freeze. “They either face the problem, which is the best way to overcome this crisis, especially if the person suffers from depression or worries. The second is running away from the crisis, but they will suffer from psychological problems and will have family crises. The third type of persons don’t know how to react during crises, and they are even worse than those who run away, as they will then suffer from chronic psychological diseases in addition to somatic or physical diseases such as heart, stomach and colon diseases. Their behavior changes, and only a few recover,” explained Muhanadi.

“Those who run away usually recover, but some of them may experience setbacks over time. So the best choice is the first one, which is facing the crisis. Usually those from the freeze category become addicted to drugs. Sometimes they were already on narcotics before the crisis, but the usage increases during the crisis. During a crisis, shortage of drugs occurs, so they resort to dirty drugs, which are drugs made at home from detergents and other materials. These drugs have a stronger effect on the brain, which then leads to aggression,” he pointed out.

“Also, some psychiatric patients undergoing medical treatment at the psychiatric hospital get their medicine from that hospital. During a crisis, a shortage of medicine may occur, which makes them nervous or aggressive,” added Muhanadi. Some people suffer anxiety and stress as they don’t know when this crisis will end, or they may be affected by rumors on social media and become aggressive.

“The World Health Organization frightens people, but we in fact need such news to respect and follow health instructions. But this threat and anxiety shouldn’t be continuous, as this causes chaos, which leads to causing stress or even addiction to drugs and pressure on psychiatric patients,” Muhanadi said.

Reports about new variants of the virus, the spread of the pandemic and doubts about the efficiency of vaccines is affecting everybody, causing aggression and brutality, according to the psychologist. There is a connection between these crimes and drugs addiction. “The majority of murderers are drug addicts. The pandemic increased drug usage, as anxious and depressed persons find in drugs a way to escape from their fears,” he noted.

“But consuming drugs, especially chemical ones, will change their personality and make them kill anybody easily, even their family members. Before 1999, the drugs were purer; later, drug dealers started mixing them with chemicals. Now they are totally chemical, and these are the most dangerous,” concluded Muhanadi.