The word “epidemiology” originated in the Greek language. Epic=inside; Demos=the people; The Hebrew word for “plague” is “Magefa”. It contains a sound material of the word “Body”, which in Hebrew is called “Goof”. The invisible virus goes, via human encounters, from body to body. This is how it spreads within “the people”, the crowd.
What can we learn about psychosis?
In normal days, we meet the impossible in our clinical work with subjects who are outside discourse, understood as a social bond. These crazy days, we are attempting to write down something of our unique impossible that emerged in the face of the real. A real that is covered with the crown and cloak of the signifier: “Corona”. It is interesting to note that for some of our psychotic patients, there is now a sense of relief. One said, “Now everyone has to keep a distance from each other, to keep one another“. Now, it is not only her who is afraid of people. And yet, she makes a difference between her private delusion that keeps her away from people (in order to avoid hearing imperative voices), and between the Corona that keeps everyone at social distance not to get infected. In both cases, the consequence is bodily isolation. In both cases she believes. The first, however, is only hers. The difficulty in separating herself from the other, which is usually supported by her singular delusion, is now also supported by social rules linked to the epidemic. The social distance that is required by reality now with the purpose of not becoming infected, is like a prosthetic device which supports her private delusion and reduces the burden.
Reflection is not Body
These days body isolation is necessary to maintain life and order. But how do we maintain the social fabric? Faced with helplessness and isolation, many are hanging their hopes in online video sessions, as a kind of replacement to the human encounter that is currently impossible. Are the online apps enough to maintain the connection and affiliation as the distance between the bodies stretches? Online sessions are an attempt to trick the Borromean knot, in a time when the presence of the body is banned. Video is not a substitute for the presence of body. Video concerns the mirror reflection. At the most, meeting via videocalls can remind us the body presence of live past meetings. Yes, video reflection may give a little comfort, like the mirror. But we must remember that it is a different platform that in some extent leaves the body out of game.
Isolation brings with it a symbolic separation, coupled with the threat of decomposition and unstitching of society. It becomes more challenging to maintain the body-to-body connections. Moreover, even the single body as a unit is threatened. That is, not only the body of the other becomes contagious, but one’s own body too: our hands touching invisibly contaminated surfaces, covered by gloves. The segregation and strangeness of the other, at the end of the day, relates to that alien and parasitic part that exists within the subject itself.