DL_Trauma and subjectivities

The unexpected rupture into Europe at the beginning of 2020 was shocking. It caught us by surprise, was not anticipated and, therefore, could not have been avoided. That was the first sign of trauma, a trauma called Covid that changed the contemporary world as we had hitherto known it. It was a sudden installation of something that was going to be different and where our memory was not enough to be able to recognize the horror to come.

Without a compass to guide us, we began to put words to that horror, to build a story, giving multiple meanings to the effects of Covid. After the first encounter with the trauma, images, meanings, signifiers of the atrocity began to be inscribed in everyone's memory. A set of signs that were imposed and that need to be thought through, elaborated on, and redefined. The singularity of each person, however, has been pushed to the background in order to face the health crisis.

Aniol Yauci / @yaucianiol - 12/05/2020 La Vanguardia

After the authorities called for a forced lockdown, the mask was one of the signs of the trauma that homogenized faces and silenced subjectivity. Eyes to see the horror, ears to hear it with and mouths covered to protect and shield from the invisible destroyer. The marks left by the trauma could be traced in the impossibility of forgetting.  Scientists set to work to find a solution. A time of waiting, of a scientific planning that allowed many to tolerate uncertainty and to resist the trauma provoked by a real danger.

Freud defines the perception of real danger as an "excess of excitement" which can be either internal or external. But, in both cases, the arousal becomes difficult for the person to handle. When this excess of excitement becomes more and more unbearable, Freud proposes the term "helplessness".

In a first stage, the unexpected occurs, an unscheduled event, which does not correspond to a previous existing discourse. In a second stage, the aftermath unfolds, the subjective repercussions of the trauma. Each person will take it and experience it in a different way, and this is where the aftermath, the subjective and singular aspect of the traumatic situation is inscribed.

The “psy” field has something to say about all of this because although trauma is homogeneous, its after-effects cannot be standardized. There is no univocal and deterministic relationship between trauma and its effects. Knowing this allows us to better orient ourselves in the treatment of trauma and to create the most appropriate settings for each one: individual psychotherapy, therapeutic groups, operative groups, relational psychomotricity, workshops, psychodrama etc.

Helena Valldeperes