This article focuses on the psychotic and the unconscious dimensions/threats that are presented to consciousness because of the coronavirus, because of the emerging global pandemic.
I want to say that I am categorizing psychosis as a state of consciousness that searches for meaning, reason and causes of the event and the consequences of the event that are not true, totally absent, or completely fabricated.
The unconscious dimension is the way in which this global pandemic cannot be reduced or brought back to conscious control, it is an event that is outside conscious control, which is the reason why it presents a threat of conscious psychosis.
To get into the psychotic dimension of this phenomena, we have to start with the fact that our most trusted scientific authorities (epidemiologists or virologists), and political authorities (heads of state, heads of global organizations), are essentially going to be perceived and in many ways are (not of their own doing) failed others.
They are failed others/authorities in the sense that our scientific others are not going to be able to produce a vaccine, probably not within the year; and our political others are going to be confronting the systemic limits of our abilities to handle this situation. Thus the types of expectations, requests and demands on the general population are going to be emerging in this gap, emerging in this failure of the world health system.
This failure of our scientific and political others is the location where psychosis can emerge. What psychosis will be doing is trying to fill in this gap, fill in this failure of the other, to provide some alternative meaning, reason or cause, as to why this event is happening.
For example, I have already heard there are many people talking about conspiracy theories, of the virus being invented in a lab and systematically released in certain populations; or that this is being designed by a powerful elite to destroy and implement a new totalitarian system. Or there are conspiracy theories of future mandatory vaccines as a bio-political manipulation.
What these psychotic conspiracy theories are doing is generating complete or totalizing or global explanations for a situation that simply has no complete, totalizing, global explanation. Thus these forms of consciousness are satisfying an emotional drive that humans have to close the unconscious, to reduce everything back to a full conscious explanation, to give a pseudo-peace, calm and integrity. There is a natural huge discomfort or un-comfort when something is happening that is totally unknown, and bring us into a state of total fear and panic. No consciousness enjoys knowing that there is a virus on the loose, and that the entire way in which we live our lives is going to be drastically transformed.
I should add, however, that the main reason why the psychotic explanations are dangerous is because they take our attention and time and energy away from real problems, and direct our attention, time and energy towards made up stories that do not solve the problem because they further erode trust.
If there is a central principle here to anti-conspiracy theories: there is no group, no cult, no organization that knows what is going on, or that is pulling the strings from behind the veil, so to speak. This event is purely an irreducible unknown to all humans. Thus, ultimately the tendency to psychotic explanation will become more tempting in the coming weeks, months or even year, and that we have to do our best to stay sharp in our minds, and resist the temptation to a pseudo-explanation of the situation.
In order to do this we have to understand what the unconscious is. The unconscious is a meaningless real. It is the opposite of consciousness. Consciousness searches for meaning, for reasons, and consciousness wants to have a complete causal explanation for the world. However, the unconscious in-itself is a meaningless real with no reason. In other words, there is no deeper meaning, or reason or cause as to why the coronavirus is a global pandemic. It is simply a new reality which cannot be again sublated or integrated or reduced back to our consciousness. It is outside of our consciousness and outside of our conscious control.
Coming to terms with that, accepting that, basically means that our system, our way of knowing, the others whom we can trust, are going to have to undergo an evolution, a transformation, structurally, and there is no way to know what that structure, what those others, what our networks will look like, after the transformation. There is no group pulling the strings of the whole thing, it is going to be happening contingently, emergently. The system is too complex for any one group to be controlling the whole thing. And the unconscious is way too far outside of any group of consciousness for it to be pulled back in by that group.
In terms of metaphysics, I think an important concept here is the idea of predestination. There is a way in which our global system is becoming deeper and deeper in terms of its integration, its internal integration in-itself. That is in some sense a predestination which is basically being caused by the negativities in our system which are global. If something happens in China, it happens in America, it happens in Africa, it happens in Europe. That will continue to happen. There is a type of predestination which does involve our political and economic world-system. But there is no way to know in advance what the nature of that political and economic system will be. There is no small group, one individual, or any consciousness, that will know what that will look like in the future. That is why conspiracy theories are so dangerous, because they give us the illusion that that is the case.
I think they distract our attention from the little day-to-day things in our lives with our friends and our families that we can do to move through this crisis and build a different type of relating with each other that will serve, basically, a global predestination. The coming together of humanity towards a more just, fair, equal, humane system.
So the last thing I want to say is that the meaning, reason, and cause which can stimulate this temptation towards conspiracy theory, this global explanation, is a pseudo-explanation, but deeper than that, the real meaning, reason and cause has to be found locally in your day-to-day consciousness. It has to be found in a new sense of the way in which we relate to each other locally. The conspiratorial tendency, the psychotic tendency, is basically in my view, an imaginary screen which blocks that real. When it comes to being human, just simply human with others in our day to day life, those small and simple things mean the world, and they are sometimes the most difficult. Just to be with self can be the most difficult.
I would just emphasize that this is in my view the test of this event.
To summarze: psychosis as a threat in the coming weeks, months or even year. Psychosis being this tendency to an all-explanatory theory of everything in the world, the deeper meaning or reason behind, which is not really there. Because this event is so novel, and the consequences so unknown, there will be an increasing tendency towards believing with these conspiracy theories, to identify something, to hold on for a deeper certainty.
In terms of the unconscious, this event merely reveals what is always the case for consciousness, which is that the unconsciousness cannot be reduced to consciousness. The unconscious is now resetting the way in which consciousness has set up a world system. Consciousness is going to have to through its links, relations or networks, construct a different way of being, a different political-economic mode, and that will have a sort of global predestination in it, just by the nature of the unconscious phenomena that will continue to unfold, not just the coronavirus, but other related climate and political-economic events.