“It is not good that the man is alone”

This article appeared in a slightly abridged version in La Verità on Sunday 13 September 2020.

It follows from the first part .

However serious, the effects of repression and disintegration of distancing on social life – or, if you prefer, its being functional to the acceleration of these processes – is only the signal of deeper repercussions on the interior and biological life of individuals. The historical precedents of segregated and artificially connected societies like the one we want to experience today are missing, but not the clues of their atrocity. Confirming a case already described in the thirteenth century. by Salimbene de Adam , the Austrian psychologist René Spitz in the 1950s followed a group of infants from an orphanage who, although adequately fed and cared for, developed weight loss, lethargy and mental retardation if deprived of the affectionate physical contact of their guardians. The "hunger for contact" suffered by the little orphans was so strong that over a third of them ended up dying within two years ( The First Year of Life , 1965). As I write this, a reader and medical director of RSA tells me that during and after the lockdown, several patients in his and other facilities would have begun to refuse food and in some cases to wish for death for the penalty of not being able to receive visits. of their relatives. Similar situations, the readers tell me, would increasingly affect frail and elderly people hospitalized in isolation in hospitals.

These clues should sound a strong alarm when we read, for example, that according to a very hospitable veterinarian, "grandparents and grandchildren will not be able to be together as before". Or that we should hug each other (but "the safest thing is certainly to avoid" doing so) by looking away, at knee or shoulder height, holding the breath ( sic ) and "no tears", as recommended by a Corriere special last July . Or better, says the vice president of the National Association of Psychologists and Psychotherapists Giulia Maffioli in an interview with Messaggero , «to be able to replace that sign with something else. By listening, by looking, by being present even at a distance and by speaking ». Or that someone has taken these advice to the extreme by forbidding a mother to hug her child again after months of being away, and that above all the public authority has lent itself to the company by fining the woman , in application of a law now all antithesis of the natural one.

These clues should not be underestimated – if one's own, elementary humanity were not enough – when the President of the Province of Trento Maurizio Fugatti asks for new powers to remove "positive" subjects from their cohabitants with the obligation and lock them up indefinitely in "hotels sanitary ". Or when the Sardinian council establishes two structures for the hospitalization of asymptomatic and "cured" people without explaining how it intends to convince perfectly healthy people to abandon their families and their daily lives to isolate themselves, and for how long. Or when we learn that in Tuscany that obligation of internment is already in force with an ordinance in which the guarantees of the already drastic compulsory medical treatment of the Basaglia law are skipped. After eight centuries of habeas corpus and in the indifference of a State that still dares to call itself a law, the unheard-of juridical imprisonment without crime and without trial, of arrest without validation and without defense, comes true and, at the same time, one more turns the wedge of distancing into the heart of family affections, into the natural and prestatual root of being in community.

The damage caused by the deprivation of the presence and physical contact of loved ones are so recognized by the proponents of distancing, but, in accepting them in the name of prudence and hygiene, they incur a dangerous euphemism. If it is demonstrated that the forced suspension of those interactions for prolonged or in any case indefinite times can kill the most fragile subjects, it is logical to expect that in anyone else it will at least produce destabilization, trauma and pathologies. In a clear and heartfelt appeal released online by hundreds of Italian psychologists and psychiatrists on the effects of the lockdown, it is noted that "isolation has always been associated with consequences on the psychic and somatic level that involve a fall in the possibility of resilience (up to functional type) and the correct functioning of the immune system ". Why (bold mine)

human nature is intrinsically relational and our brain develops only thanks to relationships of a certain nature. Family relationships as well as social ones, in order to be able to structure and evolve, need to be able to rely continuously on a physical presence and to be able to be lived with trust, and not with suspicion or fear … Instilling in people, and even more so in children , the fear of an "invisible enemy" of which the neighbor can be the bearer, is equivalent to impoverishing or annihilating every possibility of growth, exchange, enrichment; it basically amounts to canceling any possibility of an intense and happy life.

Electronic devices as an obligatory alternative to relationality in presence do not help, on the contrary. If on the one hand "every technological surrogate in this sense will always be deficient", on the other "it is dangerous to ride the contingent period for an indiscriminate enhancement" of technology, which "cannot be associated with the evolution of the individual and of society; in fact, in several cases it can compromise normal cognitive abilities and emotional regulation ».

Physical distancing, which has also become social distancing in the lexicon, reaches the inferior level of distancing from oneself , from one's singularity as a subject shaped by relationships and a member of a species that evolves thanks to relationships. The experiment of normalizing the splitting of the material bonds of the social isotope – already so unstable for many other reasons – has the destructive and deadly effects of a detonation, even literally nuclear, because it springs from the deep core of being human as it is among men. However you think about the infection that is frightening the world, the imbalance between the health risk that can affect a part of the population and the certainty of inflicting very serious or irreparable existential damage on everyone , is so macroscopic that it does not deserve a discussion. Without going into the merits of the " absurd numbers and criteria , but today we think this way " with which they are determined, the basics of set theory would be enough to affirm that one cannot be saved by condemning everyone.


If there is no malice in this program, there is at least one well-sighted blindness that carefully selects its goals. For example, it should not be overlooked that physical intimacy not only serves to lead "an intense and happy life" or a life tout court , but even before that it is the condition for producing that life originally, it is the act that replicates it and perpetual, confusing one's members to become "one flesh" (Gen 2:24; Mk 10,8) and to fulfill the commandment of creation: "be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth" (Gen 1:28).

Like family affects, of which it is the generative presupposition, sexuality also ends up under the lens of hygienist scrutiny. Virologists enter the alcoves to remind lovers that the pain of all looms over their private pleasures and that a little healthy fear must be seasoned to the amusement. What emerges from the guidelines on sex in times of Covid, the ones that the notes of the New York City Health Department have then found willing megaphones all over the world, is precisely relational and procreative eroticism. In fact, masturbation is to be preferred over all options: "it is you – write the American experts – your safest sexual partner". The most die-hard can practice it in company, as long as they equip themselves as in the operating room: washing their hands before and after the act, staying far away, covering their faces and avoiding kissing. Alternatively, he helps the omnipresent technological remedy , thanks to which everyone can comfortably touch each other at home, with their underwear lowered under the table and enjoying the partner's ectoplasm from behind a screen. The lonely vice becomes a public virtue to be spread by showing off the example of brave pioneers. Like the journalist Veronica Mazza , who from the pages of the Cosmopolitan makes it known that she masturbated daily for a month , sometimes even reluctantly but finally coming out of it "happy and more mentally stable". And he reassures the readers: her clitoris "is as before, indeed now that we have made so much friendship, I think our relationship will be more and more intense and better".

Couple relationships are allowed in second choice, but only between people who already live together. If applied extensively or worse, mandatory, the recommendation would put a stop to the problems – not only and not mainly health – of indiscriminate crap, but on the other hand it would make it impossible to experiment between lovers who will meet to form a couple, or between the same spouses who will get together for the first time under a common roof. Without new couples there would be no new conception and pregnancies, and therefore no new people. Within a few decades, extinction would be reached due to the obsolescence of families and peoples, if not the species itself.

In this crucial passage, from the sterilization of pathogens to the sterility of the guests, the representation underlying the paradoxes of the health crusade is savored more than anywhere else. Here we see the reflection of a civilization that speaks of the microbe to talk about itself, which in the disease projects its own believed pathology of existing and inhabiting the world as a dirty, aggressive, teeming and lethal colony. The virus and its carriers are confused and identified in a process of translation where the former loses its biological singularity but is strengthened in the abstract, as an allegory of the latter. It is not the virus that spreads in unpredictable and distressing ways, but it is the distressing unpredictability of men who spread, reproduce and meet without discipline. It is not the virus that kills the bodies to satisfy an irrational hunger for life, but it is the irrational desire of men to live, work and enjoy in a free and worthy way.

In short, the virus-mask seems to represent the fallen man who "was afraid, because I am naked, and I hid" (Gen 3:10) and in being ashamed of his own naked flesh, of his own naked essence, he rejects it as unbearable and obscene. It is therefore not the virus to be contained, but men: localized, gagged, hunted, disinfected and imprisoned, surrounded by a crescendo of conditions and prohibitions that from everyday life have pushed themselves into the tabernacle of meaning, mutual care and the generation of their lives. That is, until the eradication, the extreme fulfillment of the viral metaphor. Without all disguise, it is perhaps this rejection of existing and this microbiomorphic inversion of our being made in the likeness of Heaven (Gen 1:26), or even more secularly worthy to inhabit the earth without attacking the laws of our nature, the pathology of which we should take care.

This is a machine translation from Italian language of a post published on Il Pedante at the URL http://ilpedante.org/post/non-e-bene-che-l-uomo-sia-solo on Tue, 15 Sep 2020 03:29:01 PDT.