Our contempt for weakness
In this paper, I explore the mental consequences of Covid-19.
Starting with the images of the pandemic – the intubated patient, the anonymous mass grave, and the death on FaceTime – images that express the horrendous threat of the coronavirus death, I emphasize that the pandemic reminds us of our vulnerability and existential dependence on the other. Based on examples, I discuss different reactions to Covid-19 from a psychoanalytic perspective, specifically highlighting the mechanisms of denial, splitting and projection – the latter is illustrated in the scapegoating of the pandemic, for example, blaming China, the immigrants or youth parties. I argue that a common characteristic of those different defense mechanisms may be a contempt for weakness – as demonstrated when coronavirus deniers and Proud Boys are marching together. The paper also examines the importance of structure and the consequences of the loss of everyday structure – be it job, school, peer groups, training studios, senior centers, or culture. I conclude by emphasizing that the pandemic has taught us how dependent we are on each other – and that it should inspire us to greater tolerance for vulnerability, and less contempt for weakness.
International Journal of Applied Psychoanalytic Studies, 2021, 1-6, doi.org/10.1002/aps.1697