I’m about to share some bits of thoughts, necessarilyambivalent, given that the process of change is not only still happening, but it is only just beginning. Only a few months ago, it was the critical thoughts about our society, which was condemning Earth to significant changes that would have made it a habitat not suitable for mankind. Pollution and overcrowding as common denominators in museums, holiday destinations, cafes and restaurants: nothing was possible without a plan, which ended up killing spontaneity and the immediate desire to ask ourselves ‘what do I want to do now?’. We have seen young people stand up in defence of the planet’s balance, claiming a future that looked like the past, a past only just spotted and already threatened. Young people mocked for their ‘exaggeration’, like refusing to travel by plane or sailing thousands of miles on a sailboat to become the symbol of a message, that only remains coherent and powerful if it is delivered unambiguously, with no exceptions to make it too subtle.
The extremism of some ecologist choices was once smiled upon, and today it is forced common behaviour, the rule sustained by laws that were active before they were enacted.
The individual has been put in a corner by one of the smallest and incapable biological entities in existence: a virus. Viruses are tiny intracellular parasites, which means their nature is not cellular; they require a host organism to live forcing this organism to their replication and taking control over it. The process imposed by the genetic code is a strange one: it requires viruses to settle inside more complex living organisms, which they end up defeating, thus destroying their own habitat and this is exactly what allows viral infections to be extinct with time. Otherwise, in the dynamics between the organism’s adaptability and self-defence, we see a balance between the virus’s aggressiveness and the host’s defences, looking more like companionship than parasitism, which in time could alter the virus’s destructiveness.
Phylogenetically, viruses were not the first, given the conditions for their survival depending on a system that surely appeared earlier, but they are definitely one of the most archaic life forms.
They are very simple and elementary (a nucleus and a protein coating), and in their pandemic diffusion, they seem to tragically correspond to the consumerist pre-coronavirus life style: just as simple in a way, and toxic for the hosting organism (planet Earth).
Generalizing, we may assert that globalization created a world that is all the same, made up of imitators who move in a flock and fill the same environments, wear the same clothes, are passionate about the same events and don’t evolve towards independent choices, tragically fixated on that phase which Gaddinicalledimitation. Imitate to perceive is primary, compared to other processes and it creates a psychosomatic echo of the perceived stimulus, not yet perceived as other.
But when imitating to perceive, I find the reason for my existence, the assurance that I am, therefore I imitate to be, to exist. The imitation process, with growth, gives way to introjected processes and finally to identifications which move the axis to the psyche and to a complexity that gives access to the symbolic dimension and the richness of the subconscious world.
At this point the human being is complexifiedand emerges as a subject.
Can we say the lifestyle of past decades had a part in putting men closer to primary imitation processes than they are to an existence as subjects? If that is the case, what can we say about this virus that seems to be a tragic emulous of this dimension?
Wegotused to definingrapidly spread information asviral on social media, and so ithasbeensaidaboutlifestyle and imitative behaviours. The internet actedasa vessel for a virus.
In Latin, virus means poison, and maybe a certain lifestyle has poisoned our lives, bringing us to a primary regression, to the imitation phase, back before the appearance of thought. But although limited in our psychological development, as adults we acted, or maybe we have been acted, as tragic puppets, moved by invisible conditioning, producing an imbalance, the consequences of which we now suffer.
The virus has spread everywhere, but it accelerated where it found the weakest socio-anthropological contexts, people more aligned to a consumerist system and therefore easier to colonize: the highly industrialized areas, the place for efficiency but not the place for the soul, as Hillman said.
Lastly, the virus attacks our lungs, and this is where it wins. The lung suggests an ecobiopsychological reading: it is the place for exchange, for relationship; here the virus wins. The relationship is between two subjects, but neither the virus, nor the globalized individuals are or ever were, so the fight becomes an arm wrestling match, with no superior intelligence to elaborate an evolutionary process. Hence, the extermination of lives we are witnessing.
But maybe all this has a meaning (synchronicity), because the consequences were not only death and suffering. I used to hold seminars and conferences intended to create an awareness on how much technology was dominating us, with the purpose of controlling the spread of social media looking for dependent individuals, fictitious relationships, thus ending up putting the instrument (computer, tablet, phones…) in the area of the end, and not the means.
Like a new Sorcerer’s Apprentice, the tech man was not able to master the means anymore, and was about to be overwhelmed by it. Nowadays something strange is happening. Everyone is using it much more than before but they are led by a real need. It was never so widespread but maybe it went back to being a mean, serving the relationship, the possible contact.
And then… the sea in the gulf of Naples is as clear as Sardinian waters, in Milan we were able to see the stars again, which light pollution, the gravest pollution as Hillman reminds us, had taken away from us. We are learning to recognize our neighbours and we smile at them from under the mask (luckily a true smile is revealed by the eyes!), given the hunger for relationship we are experimenting. For our holidays we think about close destinations, not fancy touristic places.
We look inside, maybe forced to do so, but finally forced by a new silence, many times, the Self emerges.
There is no one else to imitate… we are forced to evolve.
 Eugenio Gaddini (1916-1985)PsychoanalystatItalianPsychoanalytical Society, dealt with the subject’spsychologicalbirthamongotherthemes