Diary, Strategy, Thought Leadership

Hysterical strength in the new normal

Hysterical strength is a display of extreme strength by humans, beyond what is believed to be normal, usually occurring when people are in life-and-death situations. ( source Wikipedia). For example , parents lifting vehicles to rescue their children.   Jack Kirby  ( legendary American comic book artist, writer and editor) claims a woman lifted a car off her baby, which inspired him to create the Hulk.


Fast forward 2020 –  hysterical strength or  “surge capacity” ( coined by  Ann Masten, PhD, a psychologist and professor at University of Minnesota) has been tested to the hilt.  We all gathered our surge capacity and were using that to get through the first few months as we saw the world around us not only come to a halt, but change at the same time. But the big difference is:  hysterical strength  or surge capacity ( collection of adaptive systems — mental and physical — that humans draw on for short-term survival) is meant for a short spurt ( consequences may be long) , vs what we are dealing is a pandemic , which as we see can be stretched  for a long period.
Covid 19 has tested not only what we can do with hysterical strength but also the limit of this strength.


New normal” has probably surpassed the most used/abused term in the history and the irony ( if i can call that) , no one truly knows what this new normal really means. It is evolving and is changing at a fast pace and end is no where close. Radical shifts in work, school, and home life and all facets of life are so dramatic and something no one had ever imagined or experienced it.
May be the new normal is the VUCA world with the rate of change or evolution that no once can predict.
And the impact is so profound that it is effecting every part of our lives. Something so unprecedented that no one has mechanisms to “cope” with this and to add to the agony is that it is invisible and ongoing.

Ann Masten says. “It’s important to recognize that it’s normal in a situation of great uncertainty and chronic stress to get exhausted and to feel ups and downs, to feel like you’re depleted or experience periods of burnout. ”Research on disaster and trauma focuses primarily on what’s helpful for people during the recovery period, but we’re not close to recovery yet. People can use their surge capacity for acute periods, but when dire circumstances drag on, Masten says, “you have to adopt a different style of coping.”

“How do you adjust to an ever-changing situation where the ‘new normal’ is indefinite uncertainty?”

What has been or is your strategy/tactic/mantra ? Would like you to share…