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Wednesday's papers: Infector guilt, victim's rights, Finnish swear words

A Helsingin Sanomat article looks into the feelings associated with infecting another person with coronavirus.

Mies on peittänyt kasvonsa kädellään.
The guilt over infecting another with coronavirus can be similar to the feelings associated with 'survivor guilt', according to one psychologist. Image: Yle
Yle News

The story of one woman’s guilt over unknowingly infecting her husband with coronavirus was the most-read article on Helsingin Sanomat's website on Wednesday morning.

"Everyone says you shouldn't blame yourself. But nonetheless, the self-accusations are tough. I have become discouraged and started to avoid other people. It's always on my mind," the 75-year-old woman from the capital region, whom HS calls 'Maija' for the purpose of the story, tells the paper.

HS writes that Maija contracted coronavirus in November after attending choir rehearsals where safety distances were observed but no masks were used. The virus then spread to her husband and he is still receiving treatment in hospital three months later. Life has not been the same since then, she says.

"My husband doesn't blame me. I blame myself. How could I be so stupid that I went somewhere and got infected," Maija tells HS.

However, no-one should bear the blame for infecting another person with the virus, according to Hanna Nohynek, a vaccinologist and senior physician with the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL).

"We have learned from the coronavirus that it is very difficult to completely prevent infection," Nohynek tells HS. "We know that an infected person secretes the virus for a few days before the onset of symptoms. Many people infect others before they even know they are carrying it."

HS also speaks to psychologist and cognitive psychotherapist Katja Myllyviita, who says that Maija’s story reminds her of the mental condition known as 'survivor guilt', in which a person believes they have done something wrong by surviving a tragic event when others do not.

Myllyviita tells HS that guilt can be a positive feeling if it helps a person to learn from their mistakes and move forward, but feeling guilty about something that can't be influenced or changed can undermine a person’s mental well-being.

Meanwhile, Maija tells the paper that as the darkness of winter recedes, she expects new hope and better days ahead.

"I want to believe that by midsummer my husband will be home and this whole thing will be forgotten," Maija says. "I know I can handle this."

Victim's rights

Jyväskylä-based Keskisuomalainen has a series of articles on Wednesday morning on the news from Tuesday that city councillor Teemu Torssonen will not be charged with attempting to kill Finns Party aide Pekka Kataja at his home last summer.

Torssonen was initially suspected of involvement as he was considered to have a motive in harming Kataja, but a police probe found evidence that the councillor could not have been at the scene at the time of the attack.

In a lengthy interview with Torssonen after his release following five months in pre-trial detention, KSML learns that the politician still plans to run as a candidate in April's municipal elections.

"I want my life back, but there is no such life here anymore," Torssonen tells the newspaper. "There is no paid work, no positions of trust, business has withered, and even my fishing license has apparently been frozen."

In a separate article, KSML speaks with the victim of the suspected attempted murder Kataja, although only very briefly.

"Finland is a state governed by the rule of law for everyone, except for the victims of crime," Kataja tells KSML, but refused to answer any further questions about the police's investigations into the events.

"Sometimes the perpetrators are out of reach or there is a lack of evidence. That is unfortunate," Kataja's lawyer Tapio Hokkanen adds.

Finland, a "swearing nation"

Finns are one of the world’s leading users of swear words, alongside Russians and Scots, according to tabloid Iltalehti.

IL writes that Jari Tammi, an author who has extensively studied the art of swearing for over twenty years and has written a book called Suuren kirosanakirja (The Great Book of Curses), confirms that Finland is a "swearing nation".

"The Finnish cursing vocabulary is really rich and extremely vibrant," Tammi tells IL. "We are on our own level."

The fourth edition of Tammi’s book lists a total of 5,721 Finnish swear words, most of which are variants or sub-variants of the five 'main' curses of the Finnish language. IL lists all five, noting that only one has no connection to religion.

The amount of variants provides an insight the flexibility of the Finnish language and Finns’ creativity in using it, IL adds.

"I'm so impressed that we have so many. It's pretty admirable. It gives great pride in being Finnish," author, journalist and 'creative curser' Anni Saastamoinen tells the tabloid.

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