News: Psychoanalysts Urge Immediate Action on Zika Virus

Photo Credti: James Gathany
Psychoanalysts Urge Immediate Action on Zika Virus
New York, NY - March 16, 2016 - The American Psychoanalytic Association (APsaA) is urging U.S. leaders to recognize and prepare for the potential mental health consequences that can impact families affected by the Zika virus, especially as the virus continues to spread. The Association of more than 3,000 psychoanalysts and psychotherapists has issued a position statement outlining several recommendations that include:
  • Acknowledging the uncertainty, and recognizing the stress, anxiety, fear or dread people may feel
  • Informing the public through clear, regular reports of what is known as it develops, what to expect, and what is being done to combat the virus and address consequences of infection
  • Addressing misinformation and rumors quickly with clear reasons and facts
  • Involving people in taking actions to protect themselves and their communities and to facilitate difficult personal and communal choices; taking purposeful action is important as officials search for answers that will reduce uncertainty
  • Supporting the resilience of individuals and the population as a whole, while focusing on specific vulnerable groups
The World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control consider the spread of the Zika virus to be an international public health emergency. While the effects of infection are generally mild for the individual, the potential consequences to fetuses of an infected pregnant woman are severe.  A strong correlation has been found between infection by the Zika virus and a surge of infants born with microcephaly.  
The Association warns that as the virus spreads, millions will fear microcephaly and other birth defects should they become infected while pregnant, leading to anxiety and additional stress.  Choosing to carry to term will pose additional stress. And should the offspring suffer from microcephaly, the public health cost as was as the cost to the workforce could be significant.  Immediate studies of the economic costs and preparations for mobilization of needed psychological, social and medical services are critical, according the Association’s position statement.
“As psychoanalysts we are keenly aware of child development issues, family dynamics and mental health concerns throughout the lifespan,” said Mark Smaller, Ph.D., president of the Association. “This is why we must prepare for this possible epidemic by recognizing the impact on mental health, in addition to treating the physical symptoms.”
About The American Psychoanalytic Association:
The American Psychoanalytic Association is a professional organization of psychoanalysts with approximately 3,300 members. The Association is comprised of psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, educators, researchers and students who have an interest in psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic therapy. Visit for more information.
Media Contact:
Wylie Tene
American Psychoanalytic Association
Director of Public Affairs
212-752-0450 ext. 29