Covidian times

David Morgan is a consultant psychotherapist and psychoanalyst fellow of the British Psychoanalytical Society. He is also a training analyst supervisor at the British Psychoanalytic Association, and a lecturer recognised nationally and internationally.

Here he speaks about the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and how his latest edited work, A Deeper Cut, deals with many of the issues we face.

Sitting in my online consulting room throughout these Covidian times, unexpectedly broadens, rather than narrows the mind. Discovering one’s latent introvert in the absence of having friends around for supper, theatre and, worst of all, the deprivation of live music is challenging. Conferences become more democratic, as we are individually reduced to a small square on the screen, rather than sitting on podiums in lecture rooms or in the body of an audience.

Political changes abound. Trumps falls, and, with the optimistic feeling that one bad object leaves the world stage, perhaps is replaced by the prospect of something promising, something more humane. The inspiration of Kamala Harris behind the familiar American patriarch president could be a real change. Dominic Cummings, another Mephistophelian character, leaves his place within Boris Johnson’s government in abject failure, hopefully to be superseded by someone more accountable.

This ebb and flow within the political sphere could be the beginning of something new. It needs to be if the depredations on our planet and the position of the poor underdog is ever to be alleviated.

Understanding our unconscious adherence to ancient regimes and ways of thinking that prevent our evolution is something that psychoanalysis can help to understand. The attractions of fascism and the ongoing domination of hate and disavowal require a deeper understanding, to which the theories of unconscious defences, life and death instincts, can make a profound contribution.

In my new edited new book, A Deeper Cut, the authors attempt to look once more at some of these issues through a psychoanalytic lens. This covers homelessness, which in a twenty-first-century UK should be eradicated. Indeed, in the first wave of Covid, homeless people were housed. Demonstrating that when we want to, these issues can be met. This unusual side effect of Covid was also repeated with the climate. The grounding of planes coupled with a huge reduction in travel by carbon-fuelled vehicles meant that I could see the sea, glistening from the window of my plague-avoiding country hideaway, for the first time. The air feels clean, there are more birds, and animals seem to be in abundance. Even London at times was eerily silent. I think, despite all the horror, some of us have slept better and spent more time with our serious relationships. Work which should be an adjunct to life not instead of it, took a back seat for many. Of course our NHS heroes worked harder and saved more lives, once again demonstrating that they should be paid higher than all other occupations. The NHS is the pride of our country, still avoiding the depredations of market forces and managerial incursions. Maybe we can learn from this but maybe we cannot. Is it the end of our neanderthal being as we finally discover a more harmonious existence or will it be business as usual after this difficult time has passed. If not, entropy wins!

David Howell Morgan
Psychoanalyst, London

A Deeper Cut: Further Explorations of the Unconscious in Social and Political Life is the second book in the Political Mind Series. The first is The Unconscious in Social and Political Life also edited by David Morgan.