As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded, LA-based psychiatrist Mark McDonald grew increasingly concerned by the negative mental health effects he witnessed among his patients—and Americans nationwide. These negative effects—stress, anxiety, depression, addiction, domestic violence, suicidal ideation—were all directly traceable to the climate of fear being stoked by public health authorities and irresponsibly amplified by national media. These fears in turn drove a hysterical overreaction from government in the form of draconian lockdowns and mask and vaccine mandates of questionable value. But the fear did not abate and quickly took on a life of its own, becoming an unstoppable force in all our lives. At last McDonald began to speak out, explaining that America is actually suffering from two pandemics: a viral one and a psychological one, a “pandemic of fear” that is in many ways more dangerous and damaging than the virus itself. Rooted in the natural anxieties of women on behalf of their children and families, inflamed and amplified by sensationalistic media, and driven over the top by hamfisted authoritarian measures from those in power, McDonald diagnoses the country at large as suffering from a mass delusional psychosis. This is not a metaphor. The malady itself is very real. Whether we can regain our collective sanity as a society remains to be seen.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Mark McDonald graduated from UC Berkeley before attending medical school at the Medical College of Wisconsin. Trained in both adult and child and adolescent psychiatry at UCLA, he now works primarily with children in private practice in west Los Angeles. Dr. McDonald has lived and worked in Europe, Asia, and Central America. His opinions on topics such as the need to reopen America’s schools, and the pandemic of fear in the United States today, have been widely published in local and national news, including the Wall Street Journal and The Federalist.