A french psychoanalyst thinks so, without denying the reality of the virus.
That of Colette Soler, a psychoanalyst of the Lacanian school and professor of philosophy at the Ecole Normale Supérieure, is a point of observation and reflection that deserve to be considered carefully. First of all for the caliber of the French scholar and secondly because, as the title of the book says, it was written during the period of the pandemic,“Written under Covid. What to do with mass hypnosis? “. And the psychoanalytic point of view, as has happened in many other cases of contemporary history thanks above all to the Frankfurt School, can help explain phenomena that are difficult to deal with and fully explainable by the disciplines and methodologies of traditional human sciences. The Frankfurt theorists proposed that social theory was inadequate for explaining the turbulent political factionalism and reactionary politics occurring in 20th century liberal capitalist societies. Critical of both capitalism and of Marxism–Leninism as philosophically inflexible systems of social organization, the School’s critical theory research indicated alternative paths to realizing the social development of a society and a nation. The Frankfurt School perspective of critical investigation (open-ended and self-critical) is based upon Freudian, Marxist and Hegelian premises of idealist philosophy. Soler’s thesis of having seen a sort of mass hypnosis unfold during the pandemic in which the individual mode coincided with the collective mode is, even if it may leave some hesitant, a suggestive hypothesis and, also, with a certain foundation. In this context, the role that Soler attributes to its own discipline and its professionals in reserving a role capable of understanding where their time is taking them is also decisive.
“Under Covid”: this is how Colette Soler says she wrote this text, and adds “as they say: written under LSD”. Written therefore in a state of alteration, in which, I would add, certain appearances of reality lose their habitual consistency and familiarity, and other types of sensitivity are heightened. But this altered condition is the same that was imposed on everyone by something that happened: and that it is not the brute fact of an invisible although real virus, but the story that the social authorities have made of it and the consequences that have drawn from it. . Who could deny that ‘under Covid’ is the condition in which everyone, in the last two years, has lived and is still living every aspect of their life? Work, profession, school, family relationships, politics, social relationships, life prospects: all this, even if it has not been interrupted or prohibited, has in any case entered a kind of suspended time, suspended for a decreed emergency. But it’s the way this happened that justifies the book’s subtitle. Something unheard of and unimaginable until then could have happened without major objections: that an entire nation would shut itself up at the behest of the authorities, silencing and eliminating the reasons for living in the face of the new dominant criterion, the absolute imperative of avoid contagion, identified tout court with death. Where are these conditions met? That is: a definition of the state of reality totally determined by the word of an authority, the command of behaviors congruent with that story, the surrender of the recipient of the command who renounces criticism, the initiative of thought, the desire to know, to do not disturb your relationship with that authority? In hypnosis. What had happened and what continued to happen therefore had all the characteristics of a case of mass hypnosis.