Many people are probably not aware that the psychoanalytic theory, which was originally developed by Sigmund Freud, is constantly evolving. Psychoanalysis is both a theory of human emotional and thought life, a method of treatment and a method of research. Massimo Recalcati is a very prominent psychoanalyst and philosopher who has already published 52 books. Problems with self-esteem and widespread eating disorders among young people are his specialty. The patients he mentions in his books are described in a historical and cultural context and give us a unique insight into how society affects our psyche and behavior.
It is worrying that Norway decided in the state budget for 2020 to phase out all support for education in psychoanalysis. This means that we are losing a subject that gives us deep insight into our own society and the mechanisms that affect our psyche. Just quick fixes instead of depth?
A trauma, like a great love affair, wants to last forever.
We live in a time where everything problematic, boring and damaged is quickly replaced with something new, without us trying to repair the old one first. This is how many people relate to their emotional relationships as well. Recalcati calls it today's perverse fascination with all that is new, and he chooses to look at eternal love as the source of life's happiness.
But how do we achieve a living love that lasts a lifetime? And what happens when one betrays the other with infidelity? Recalcati bases his work on the French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan and his philosophy that no one can live without having a relationship with the other. When one lacks a relationship with the other, it becomes a life in the dark, an inhuman life that no longer makes sense. Love means to be present. By responding to the other's needs, one expresses that life has a meaning, and that one recognizes the other. When you receive an active response, you can feel a kind of belonging.
According to Recalcati, our existence in modern society is built on two lies. First, that we are independent and free individuals independent of the other. And secondly, the notion that everything that is new gives us the opportunity for self-realization. These principles play well with the machinery of capitalism – it is no longer about satisfying our needs, but about continually producing new pseudo-desires that are impossible to satisfy. This leads to an existence where one never quite reaches the goal. Each new love is presented as the ideal – but usually it does not take long before everything feels as tired and boring as before. The chase itself does not yield any new discoveries, and like doping, the effect of falling in love begins to fade when endorphin levels return to normal.
If love is to last, one must not just look at the pleasure of love as a goal in itself. Recalcati refers to Heidegger that love for another human being corresponds to the experience of being touched by a work of art: it allows a "restoration of openness to the world". In other words, love is as powerful as a work of art, it allows us to see the world with new eyes – you experience, experience and share things together, and thus you see the world from two points of view and not just one. It is this perspective that gives the feeling that something is new. That's how it can be nye grow within the relationship instead of being an outside force that threatens it.
It is only in the second part of the book that Recalcati gets to the core of his dissertation. After a visit to a prison, where he meets several inmates who are in prison for the murder of his girlfriend, he is inspired to analyze what has previously been referred to as "crimes of passion" and "love crime". Here he tries to uncover the myth that this type of crime is directly related to the love of another human being. Jealousy, selfishness and even idealizing another human being are rather signs of one's own narcissism and aggression.
The machinery of capitalism is about continuously producing new pseudo-desires
which is impossible to satisfy.
Recalcati also refers to work and philosophical analyzes written by former prisoners who survived the Nazi concentration camps. Violence against the other is the strongest expression of disrespect for him or her. The same principles apply to violence in close relationships – it has nothing to do with love for the other.
Recalcati mean forgiveness is one of the most important aspects of love. At the same time, he adds that not everything should be forgiven, since forgiving means that one is willing to forget events and put them behind. Forgiveness requires a process, similar to the grief of losing someone close to you.
There is no greater trauma than being abandoned. A trauma can change a person's perception of reality, and life can feel meaningless and infinitely sad. Recalcati further writes that a trauma, like a great love affair, wants to last forever. It is the curse of the trauma, it wants eternal repetition, over and over again it will remind the sufferer of it, of the event and hurt the person. If you do not work with the feelings consciously for a long time, the grief can become an eternal depression that you can not put into words. Processing grief requires time, attention and commitment.
Recalcati deals with the scene where Jesus is asked to judge the woman who is accused of being unfaithful. Jesus does not judge, instead he sits down next to her – and draws on the ground for a while before he gets up and says: "He who is without sin can throw the first stone at her." Recalcati analyzes this scene and explains forgiveness as a process where one goes into oneself and tries to live into how the other feels. It is Jesus' gesture to the unfaithful woman: to bend down on the ground, gather, move from a pure punitive and vengeful version of the law to another law based on love and understanding. Recalcati concludes with this, that he who is actually able to repent and forgive, has the opportunity to experience eternal love.