The personal climate crisis

Scenes from the heart
CLIMATE CAMP / Greta Thunberg looks through the hypocrisy of the adults with a sharp look. Maybe only a person like her can save the world.


Greta Thunberg is interesting as a phenomenon. The book Scenes from the heart, which this very special family has written together, but which is mainly about the mother, ends the day when Greta decides to school and settle down with the poster "Skolstrejk för klimatet" in front of the parliament building in Sweden. One can object that the book ends exactly when it gets really interesting. But the strike has been enough in the newspapers now; it is the background story that should arouse our interest. And it is very interesting.


There is no doubt that this family is highly dysfunctional. All four are autistic. Greta Thunberg appears to be a very single-minded human – and so does her younger sister, who is aggressive as well – but precisely this one-sidedness and stubbornness in this context becomes Greta's strength. Had she been more compromising, she would not have gotten to where she is today.

The book is about a family crisis triggered by the climate crisis. The first time Greta learned about the climate crisis, she was eleven and went to school in Stockholm. She got acute climate anxiety when the teacher showed the class a movie with rubbish floating in the ocean and a lonely polar bear on a ice floe. With the new knowledge of the climate crisis came the personal crisis. She felt the climate crisis as her own personal crisis, something 99 percent of humanity according to Greta does not. We talk, but are not i what we're talking about. "I want you to feel pain," is something Greta often repeats, and she does not convey natural joy, but natural pain, mixed with large amounts of shame and anger. At the Skavlan talk show earlier this year, she talked openly about herself and her autism. So it took such a selfless person to make us realize the seriousness. Her protest actions have had a tremendously rapid infection effect. It must mean that her stubbornness and courage seem like a moral force, since most people know that she is right and cannot argue against her contemporary diagnosis. One cannot turn back and say that she "exaggerates". Nor can one say that she should stop thinking and caring so much because it is harmful to herself. In this way, she represents a strong rebellion against capitalist society.


Greta Thunberg does not show any uncertainty about authority figures. Even when she met the pope, she seemed nervous, says her mother, Malena, who has kept the book in the pen. Scenes from the heart is written in I-form, usually from the mother's perspective, and Malena Ernman is not anyone. She is an educated opera singer, but had to end her career when Greta taught her about the immoralness of flying. She says she's been on a stage singing to a public audience since she was six years old. She won the Swedish Eurovision finals in 2019 and represented Sweden in the international finals in Russia. Despite his musical endeavor, Malena seems utterly helpless when it comes to practical tasks and is not even able to create a bank account herself.

Greta felt the climate crisis as her own personal crisis.

Greta has excessively strong sensory experiences, sticks her nose deep in other people's food with a motionless face, and refuses to attend school. She is mutist and hardly talks, crying constantly and making the same movements over and over. Aspberger syndrome sounds the diagnosis from the school psychologist. Patience from parents is the only thing that works, because she can spend four hours eating half an apple. Greta has a sickly urge to count the food on the plate instead of eating it, and the only thing that works for her parents is to hold back the frustrations.

In one case, she stops eating completely. In fact, she is dying of emaciation and is hospitalized. After she finally starts eating again, the neuropsychological examination can begin. The diagnosis is OCD with autism – the sister is immediately diagnosed. The book tells that Beata, Greta's younger sister, punches and kicks, screams "pussy fucking" to her mother and throws things in the walls.

What about Greta?

Is the book first and foremost a disease story? No, I wouldn't say that. For there is something about Greta Thunberg that rises above all diagnostics and every neuropsychological investigation. In all peculiar people, one often sees a "third" factor, which cannot be fully explained, which cannot be reduced to neurological disorders and to the confused states of the brain. This factor is important to respect. Explaining her actions as illness or disability is superficial and easy, because what about all other "aspersions"?

What's the matter with her? Does the book give any answer to that? Yes, I think it does. Greta is undoubtedly an intelligent human being, and paradoxically, perhaps it was the climate crisis she needed to become more social. She expresses herself well orally and in writing, and she makes a strong impression where she stands and speaks perfect English at the UN General Assembly, for example. She has also received the Free Word Award. "Greta is smart," the mother states. Greta has photographic memory and knows the capitals of all the countries of the world by heart. She can south me place most cities correctly too. She can also ramp up the periodic system in less than 35 seconds, and she quickly progressed to school with the help of special teachers. But sitting in a classroom? Obviously impossible for her, who doesn't work well with others.

She may be a relentless pain-seeker, but perhaps just a figurehead of our time.

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