Thoughts on the occasion of the pandemic

Eirini Tsanira
Psychiatrist – Child psychiatrist – Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist for children, adolescents and adults

First phase

Many people lost their lives with the appearance of the coronavirus which literally surprised us. It threatened our biological existence and forced us – in a crude and violent way – to remember our vulnerability but also our mortality. Our omnipotence collapsed,confusion prevailed but the fact that the first loses were people of a certain age, described as “old people”, seems to have allowed many to mobilize the omnipotence of youth and to resort to some kind of denial of reality and its dangers. The “old people” passed away after living the agony of death, alone, without the presence of someone of their own or someone else available to facilitate their “work of the end” (it was practically impossible).

Second phase

Despite what has happened tragically around the world and despite persistent indications of the severity of the pandemic, an attitude of denial of reality has prevailed, with people employing conspiracy scenarios and many resorting to the long-suffering individual rights in order to advocate for their positions. Some have spoken of human rights abuses and restrictions, concepts that are often used according to eanyone’s wishes, to support the refusal to accept restrictions and limitations.
The number of sick people is increasing daily. They are not teenagers, they are not mainly “old people” as the data indicate ages 25-45, ages at which mental maturity, evolutionarily, is expected to be relatively adequate.
Constant calls from the state, repressive means, worrying attitudes of scientists and experts call the citizens to assess the magnitude of the risk and think about the consequences.
Inevitably one wonders what is happening?
Before the invasion of the pandemic we were concerned with an intense social crisis affecting the whole western world. We were talking about “burglary” of the society of individuals (Elias), where the individual folds into himself, as the bonds of “belonging” recede. We spoke of “alienation” (Arend) loneliness, desolation, absence of relationships. We watched the prevalence of violence, the denial of restrictions and limits, the intense pursuit of pleasure, the deification of youth, the denial of decay and death.We have seen dynamic and dazzling presences attempting to fill the mental void through action and intensity, while the acquisition of material goods is disguised as an effort of mental fulfillment.

The constants (principles, values, standards) on the path of building the Subject were shaken, liquidated and what prevailed was the message that everything is possible, that everything, success, happiness depend exclusively on the person itself. But how to overcome an Ego that is inhabited mainly by narcissistic and bigoted tendencies and how to define its identity?
There is no pain, there is no death. Death is literally (medical technology) and metaphorically eradicated (it does not concern us, we are young, healthy)
But next to us – every day – so many people get sick,so may are in danger and even die.
What is happening? Have we moved from one culture based on the repulsion of desires to another that constitutes their free expression? Is this “pleasure at any cost” also concerned with the satisfaction of destructive impulses?
Why do we find it so difficult to accept reality?
The discomfort that people experience today is no longer the result of a feeling of guilt but is mainly the predominance of a feeling of emptiness.In the confusion that prevails, the internalizations of the Superego suffer and the desires are no longer regulated by internal organizers, in order for the person to accept themselves with their shortcomings and differences.On the contrary – with a kind of manic defense – completeness is sought in external terms, with objects of consumption and artificial omnipotence. There is a tendency to deny every lack and absence, we deny the natural limitation of our possibilities and we try not to accept the sufferings of human destiny (losses, decay, death)
Is the Western civilization regressing?