A book that was late in coming, in my opinion, to express a mood of creative criticism.
At the recent book fair in Athens, I learned that only 8,000 book titles were sold last year, ranking Greeks the last among EU readers. An example, perhaps, of a transition from the essence of reading and critical thinking to the fast-track lonely mass manipulation by a new capitalism of our time, cloaked in ignorance which sees the draining of social relations, in the perception that solidarity is replaced by charity.
A capitalism highly discerning in the deepening of the power and democracy it emits, but also deadly, since it aims to put an end to social awakening, by replacing it with a globalized, tightly controlled mind in the daily life designed to control individuals as products, not as protagonists.
This is the transition from the science of psychotherapy to the socio-political reality of our country, where the transition from “yesterday” to “today” has taken place at a rapid pace in terms of social deprivation, both material and spiritual, which is present today to the extreme. The science of psychiatric treatment comes out of a blanket where the state and its financial interests want it out of social processes. They want it angled at personalized solutions and analysis. The social, historical and cultural cause of the wild neo-liberalism of our time, want psychiatric treatment to operate in closed laboratories, with few lonely successes and a lot of mass failures, I would say.
So politics, in the sense of “political”, “scientific” and “fanatic”, is now enriched with the psychiatric science that is finally coming to the fore, or at least trying to.
Harmonization in the analysis of history, Nazism and fascism, culture, labour relations, family structure and its problems in our time, is particularly important for an integrated reading of our political reality in order to be able, in addition to political diagnosis, to move forward in the collective effort of overturning a deplorable state of affairs that can only change if one analyzes the individual as a whole, in which personalization of everything dominates as a carcinogen of our time. People do not talk to each other on public transport and they don’t read books either. With a mobile phone, most, especially the young, mechanically reward their loneliness with ‘likes’ or looking for “followers” on “instagram”.
Now through new technologies, the era of over-consumption is replaced by solitary pursuits of obsession and addiction, from the extreme version of individualism to the edges of narcissism. There are, quite literally, several cases of people laying the groundwork which becomes the rule of society here. In times of extreme crisis, not only does the collective decline as a value, but it is replaced by a new social context, which tends to modernize the far-right as something very normal in our day.
“Sometimes, for a moment, history would have to be compassionate and vigilant.”
Deeper reading and practice in psychotherapy aids this goal, in a bold way, and a penetration into the mapped waters that must admittedly lead us into the high seas. Uncharted are the waters for those whose routine reading of today’s neo-capitalist savagery is in tune with magical spells and complaints, which are usually superficial, but also necessary for a skinless, meaningless democracy, delivered to neo-fascists.
Keep away from the bog of swampy ideas and bored ports. They are denounced, perhaps as a new Argonautic Campaign, not in the unknown but in the necessary redemption from the chains of today’s socio-economic and political decline.
Here, psychiatric treatment can not only be innovative but also a salvation if it is included in the textbook of political analysis currently expressed.
Therefore, the militant, collective consciousness seeks answers, both in the theoretical field and in the practical application of a democratic notion.
We have here, in the book, old contrasts that come back with tougher and more mass expressions in our society. The wording I take as a basic conclusion is the deification of individualism through a path paved with obsessive expressions and an addiction to a perception of narcissism and the “recognition” of the individual who renounces the claim and the challenge, and is relieved by the choice of it, as it’s fantastic and is experienced in the present. There is an abandonment of selfishness as a tool of social development in a society which is fake and full of illusions. Are there any islands of relief? They exist, but like King Otto, it would be necessary to be closed off to be systemic and therefore harmless. The leap of political science in our time must not only have a Marxist philosophical approach in its DNA, but dare to incorporate psychiatric treatment as part of a more comprehensive analysis that will make it even more accessible to the masses.
Equality against inequality, liberation against oppression, and rights against obligations are contrasts which exist in society, culture, the stand against the fast-food logic of neo-liberal labour relations and entertainment that embodies the savage capitalist model of our time.
These are contrasts that are apparent, especially in the chapters of the book where immigrant children recount “their non-integration and their nostalgia for yesterday” or the search for a science of culture lacking in the reality of school education.
Joanna’s paragraph shocked me, because it reminded me of my childhood in Argentina. Language was not just for national holidays, but also for stories of my grandparents.
So we have the Junta decree, Uganda, Muslims, Greeks, Jews in religion, outside of daily morning prayers and the raising of the flag. Institutional ghettos have brought incredible solidarity between children and our common language was solidarity between us.
This takes us from fragmentation to the building of collective memory.
The challenge is extremely critical and perhaps unattainable, but on this journey we all need it. Fortunately, this book opens, and probably continues to open, new avenues.
*The text is from a presentation of the book “Psychotherapy and Policy Reviews”, of the Hellenic Systemic Thinking and Family Therapy Association, edited by Katia Charalabaki, KORONTZI Publications 2019, at the Polis Art Cafe, September 29, 2019.