Finding Meaning in the Covid Pandemic by Scrutinizing Past Pandemics with Barbara E. Hort, Ph.D.

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The Covid pandemic is changing our world and changing our lives in ways that we hope will be positive, important, and enduring. The truth is that we will probably derive more pandemic insight from scrutinizing the past than from speculating about the future because no one pandemic is entirely separate from any other. In this deep dialogue we’ll meet a microscopic invader, the novel coronavirus, and come to know its most famous predecessors in the history of human pandemic diseases. We will become acquainted with our microscopic defenders — the infinitesimal but ferocious warriors of the human immune system which, in a valiant effort to save the human body, can tragically kill us in the process. Hort talks of how pandemics can represent a descent, “[T]he sense of descending into darkness, finding one's personal identity, new identity and truth, and then emerging, the same but different [can be compared to] the caterpillar weaves the chrysalis, is transformed and re-conforms as a butterfly. . . I think there are some people who have gone through the lockdown and emerging as somebody different.” (hosted by Justine Willis Toms) 


Barbara E. Hort, Ph.D. is a Jungian counselor. She provides consultation and training in the theatrical practice of psychodramaturgy in which she provides material on the psychological dynamics of a play that can be used by performing artists to enhance their storytelling. 

Barbara E. Hort, Ph.D. is the author of: 

  • Unholy Hungers: Encountering the Psychic Vampire in Ourselves and Others (Shambhala 1996)
  • Hollow Crown of Fire: A Discovery of Meaning in the Coronavirus Pandemic and Its Predecessors (White Horse Wordsmithing 2022) 

To learn more about the work of Barbara E Hort go to 

Topics explored in this dialogue include: 

  • How the coronavirus pandemic is different from previous pandemics
  • Why pandemic diseases receive minimal attention as compared to wars
  • How the title of her book came from Shakespeare’s play, Richard II
  • How the outcome of the Justinian Pandemic of 541 CE did not show up for 500 years as what are now the European states
  • How Persephone, in the Greek myth, is the only deity who lives in both the upper and lower worlds
  • Ways our human behaviors sabotage our response to a pandemic
  • How a small village of Southern England survived the Black Death
  • What was Plato’s Allegory of the Cave
  • What is the tragedy of humanity’s lack of collective memory of the 1918 flu pandemic
  • In the present Coronavirus pandemic are we in collective grief or collective denial
  • How the Greek myth of Daedalus and Icarus help us to know we cannot overpower nature even with all of our inventions
  • How might we make meaning out of the present pandemic 

Host: Justine Willis Toms   Interview Date: 10/18/2022   Program Number: 3778

Music Playlist

From Album: Fresh Impressions
Artist: Georgia Kelly (with Stephen Kindler)

Opening Essay: Track 01 Sicillienne
Music Break 1: Track 02 Gnossienne #5
Music Break 2: Track 03 Giverny (jiverne`)
Music Break 3: Track 08 Gymnopedie our l'enfant endormi