Problematic Sexual Paradoxes of Pandemic Response

TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 19 Jul 2021

Anthony Judge | Laetus in Praesens - TRANSCEND Media Service

Denial and Unconscious Cover-up in the Light of Jung, Freud, and Sabina Spielrein

Introduction

19 Jul 2021 – There is a case for comparing the emergence of psychoanalysis a century ago — in response to challenging individual experiential disorders — with the current challenge to society faced with a variety of collective experiential “disorders”. A century ago the individual manifestations typically evoked institutional internment — mitigated to a degree by the efforts and insights of the psychosciences. The subtle complexities they evoked were necessarily controversial — exemplified by the problematic dynamics among the founding icons of those disciplines. The current response to the pandemic by the more conventional disciplines — whatever the subtleties they evoke — could be explored as mirroring those earlier dynamics (Tank Warfare Challenges for Global Governance: extending the “think tank” metaphor to include other cognitive modalities, 2019).

The case for some such comparison is all the stronger in that psychoanalysis is now framed as a “pseudoscience” — seemingly by “science” — a criticism potentially extended to the array of psychosciences. This pejorative assessment in the relevant Wikipedia profile is no doubt a feature of the well-known editorial wars in that context whereby presumably some psychosciences are able to successfully defend themselves as sciences (Robert Sumi, et al., Edits wars in Wikipedia, arxiv.org, 12 February 2012; Taha Yasseri, et al, The most controversial topics in Wikipedia: A multilingual and geographical analysis, arxiv.org, 2014).

Unfortunately, especially in the current pandemic context, indications of the questionable complicity of “science” in practices unworthy of its principles are exacerbated by its evident inability to disassociate itself methodologically from scientism. Could “science” now be challenged in turn as being of “pseudo-relevance” to the response to global crises (Knowledge, ignorance, pseudoscience and the unsayable, 2021).

This challenge applies especially to the global pandemic with which civilization is purportedly faced. This is despite the vigorous claims by world leaders implementing strategies endorsed authoritatively by science — ignoring the questionable nature of the supporting evidence.

The well-recognized elements of the strategic response to the pandemic, as advocated by the health experts of science, have taken the form of masking, social distancing, sanitisation, and universal vaccination (in quest of herd immunity). The evidence in support of the efficacy of each has been variously and controversially challenged. Upheld as in accord with scientific methodology, this has been matched by systematic suppression of any opposing arguments — whether framed as “misinformation” or deliberately conflated with it — and accompanied by active measures against their advocates.

From a historical perspective, predating the emergence of psychoanalysis, the strategies endorsed by science are strangely reminiscent of those endorsed by religion, and especially by Christianity. Masking recalls the precautions recommended by institutional religions against “infection” by contact with those holding alternative beliefs — framed as the “voice of the devil”. Social distancing recalls efforts by such religions to avoid contact with those adhering to such beliefs — exemplified in some cases by recognition of their dangerous impurity. Sanitising recalls the role of ritual washing in religion — especially prior to entering places of worship. The greatest emphasis has of course been placed on indoctrination in anticipation of conversion — curiously reminiscent of the inoculation now recommended so strongly by science.

These concerns with hygiene are now shared to a degree with respect to entry into scientific laboratories. Scientists of a given discipline remain precautious with regard to potentially misleading communication emerging from other disciplines claiming to be sciences in their own right. Religion has promoted the necessity of belief, irrespective of the absence of proof approved by science. Curiously science is now evoking a similar need for unquestionable belief, despite the questionable evidence for its recommendations — as defined by the original principles of the scientific method.

It is in this context that there is a case for exploring the insights and influence of the icons of what is now deprecated as a pseudoscience. Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung and Sabina Spielrein — together with those influenced by their thinking — are remarkable for addressing what is held to be “unthinkable” within the dominant worldview.

The question raised here is whether there are sexual paradoxes to be addressed with respect to the pandemic — given the insights of Freud with respect to psychosexual development. Is consideration of the collective unconscious of significance to the global pandemic — as might well have been argued by Jung? As a feminist pioneer of psychoanalysis — renowned for her insights into the death instinct — is there relevance to the thinking of Spielrein, given the fear of death so strongly evoked by the pandemic?

The fact that Spielrein was incarcerated and shot by the Nazi regime (because of her racial impurity as a Jew) would indeed seem to be perversely symbolic of dangerously emerging “fascist” trends in the framing of requisite strategic response to the pandemic — against those who refuse “the jab” to mitigate against their potential threat to the health of the wider community.

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