An analysand recently told me that the most unbearable thing about confinement for him is that it comes from an imposed ban. A true workaholic, accustomed to permanent action, he confesses: “this plague was invented for me”. If only this man knew how much truth his words contain! For others, on the contrary, confinement is an opportunity to alleviate their suffering, as can be expected in psychoses of any kind that take refuge between walls to contain the overflowing real. In other cases, loneliness takes its toll on those who distract their drives in the routine of daily work. A long list could be made about the effects of the appearance of a virus that makes everyone a threat to everyone.

This confinement of bodies, which is proposed as a preventive measure and makes us wait, is also seen as an occasion to reflect, to share among those who live in or out the same space, to read the postponed book, for new or invented occupations, but in in any case, under the mandate of an Other who, for our sake, subjects us to forced seclusion.

For a large number of people confinement runs parallel to an unbearable that advances in crescendo with the passage of time in which uncertainty reigns. This generalized uncertainty is the manifestation of the hole in knowledge that the current crisis brings to light. It reveals the abyss that for speaking beings are the limits of knowledge. Limits that psychoanalysis does not confuse with the unknown that awaits to be conquered by the progress of science.

Regarding the last global pandemic, the Spanish flu of 1918, without living witnesses to testify of its subjective effects we have only what was reported in the media at that time. Mankind has long since become unaccustomed to what was “normal” in recent centuries: if five children were born into a family two or three could die prematurely, if the dreaded plague or famine came the masses would succumb as something natural. There was no notion of normality as we know it today thanks to the discourse of science. The unbearable of other times is far from what is unbearable for the subject of hypermodernity. What was once part of everyday life is now presented as a disruptive event. And its impact on the psyche takes us by surprise sometimes with traumatic effects.

We are living in a time of unprecedented changes, yet at the same time, we do not want the breakdown of the balance that, for example, the welfare State promotes as an ideal in the developed world. But the event exists, it is an inevitable part of life. When an event puts us on the edge of what is bearable, a physical or mental outburst, or both, can occur. The body suffers and expresses itself, anguish takes over, despair blocks thought, symptomatic arrangements can slip. The relief that is sought in the medical knowledge displayed on TV and social networks at all times does not reduce the power of the real that is experienced as unbearable and usually associated with an impossible that the subject experiences as impotence.

From the beginning, with Freud, psychoanalytical practice deals with the event. The event is associated with the real that always surprises. It is the hidden cause of fear, uncertainty, anguish, effects on the body and even despair that triggers a real like COVID-19. The cause may be common to all, but the relationship with it is totally unique. For this reason, it is approached in its singularity by analytical praxis. On the other hand, the Lacanian orientation is already in the task of processing the impact of the coronavirus in its political, epistemic and clinical dimension, as evidenced daily by the texts that appear in the virtual media of the Freudian Field.

A new challenge arises for analysts in view of the present and future effects of this pandemic in all areas of the social bond and for the implementation of the analytical device. The online modality, which has been used in the market of psychotherapies for some time, is already being applied in psychoanalysis. However, one question is unavoidable: how to incorporate this modality, which leaves out the body in the session? Indeed, in the virtual world the great absentee is the body. It seems a contradiction to say this when the body appears in a thousand ways on the screen and creates the illusion that showing and talking about the body substitutes for its presence. In any case, the use of audiovisual media imposes a limit on analytical practice that must be accounted for. For the moment, there is no other way out than to use it so that psychoanalysis does not stop. By taking advantage of this modality “some will be able to continue the work on interpretation on the side of the object and maintain the thread of the analytical experience […] These limits call for the invention so that something palpitates, that a desire can be sustained, that an enunciation emerges”.[1]



Venezuela / NEL

[1] Pascal Aurélie-Flore, “De l’importance de la scansion” LQ-87