Covid-19 and Recovery in Psychotherapy

So much has been said and written concerning the recovery from Covid-19 and its wide effects and still will be done.

What I see, mainly staring at my country but also outside Italy, is speed, the need to run and a deeper engagement in individualism as it is necessary to emerge from darkness.

The road to confirm own personality is often full of flying thoughts assumed quickly from the ocean of superficial knowledge that overcome our lives everyday.

There’s no time to touch deeply what we read or listen because the force of immediate response is leading our minds together with the imperative of confirmation and affirmation.

Within the field of mental illness  (psychic fatigue if we use lighter and politically correct terms), I see that Covid-related psychological consequences are extremely lit by mental health worker and expertise.

It’s true that today’s and future society will face hard distress because of the extremely impressive changes of our habits that we met since the beginning of 2020 and they are engaging strong efforts to recovery for well-being but the growing number of people affected by psychological distress shows that there is a lack somewhere.

To understand what is missing or what should be added to help not only people who is suffering from Covid’s consequences but widely the fact that mental health issue are generally growing in the world, I want to go back at the time when pandemia didn’t exist yet.

There is a confusing message about mental health issues and their treatment that is strictly connected to social and cultural dynamics and not really to human being’s comprehension.

The rule is to find quickly a solution, mostly to earn money and time because the image of the person is associated to efficiency.

The word is connected to the activation of social and working skills that represent the goal of existence that is correct as a general expectation for everyone’s life but the message fails if it is the result of a stereotyped approach for seeing and thinking people.

Efficiency became synonymous of individualism, of power and of fragile relationships masqueraded by open-space offices, team building systems and fluid and free romantic and sexual dating, just to summarize some contents.

Efficiency is inside primary schools and leads to promote the strength of the Self to become who you want to be but, unfortunately, alone.

Alone because you are included only if you give results that are recognized by your specific efficiency system, otherwise you are out, in good manner, gently, but you are out.

People became sicker and I underline that both of them, the outsiders and the insiders, were and are suffering, the first due to refusal, the second due to the distress of maintaining the everlasting role.

Efficiency needed names and solutions for the psychological problems and the protocols of treatment were tied with the diagnosis so the here and now of the symptoms found a category of belonging and the category opened to a specific pharmacological and/or psychotherapeutic treatment.

But the human being can suffer but we have this fundamental innate capacity of reaction, therefore the sane answer to this approach matched with the refusal of the same persons that continued to be sick as an help request for something else.

For real, the dramatic and unacceptable proposition of mental health researchers and practitioners is that the patient has the specific psychological/psychiatric problems as an inherited condition: you are nothing more than your pathology.

This inhuman identification operated by the science of efficiency to the natural, I better say physiologic, reality of our species causes increasing in mental illness numbers that, unluckily for people who suffers, at the same time still communicate that persons wants to be treated differently.

I write as a physician and not as a sociologist or a philosopher and the truth for me is the clinical truth, not a theoretical one: the theorization is a direct consequence of the clinical work and not a law above.

The evidence is that we all born sane, mentally and psychically sane, and is the environment outside that could deny the spontaneous affective investment of the baby born into relationships.

Sometimes this external attach to baby’s affective skills can’t be seen immediately or directly but this is not enough to think that there’s something a priori wrong in the child and in the adult of tomorrow.

The problem is not necessarily inside of a manifest trauma but in most of the cases is camouflaged with the refusal and the annihilation of the affective capacity of the son/daughter due to an emotional lack of the parent(s) that leads to crisis in progressive separation.

Separation is intended as the main dynamic for the growing perception of the child of being an individual with his identity separated and distinguished from the parents and become, truly, an adult.

The developing of the Nervous System is generated uniquely by an affective answer of the external world and at the same time could be affected by this no response.

The fragile identity of the adolescent and then of the adult could have different manifestations and express psychopathology due to this lack of identity.

The person starts to perceive him/herself as inadequate or wrong and tries at his/her best to face everyday life with the leading need of being loved.

Love is not the romantic love, or it’s just a part of the issue, because love is a physiological affective answer that allows the person to recognize himself as a person and not as part of another.

This explains why the identification with the problems caused by a diagnosis of constitutional mental illness is devastating and most of all unbearable for the human being that improves with the treatment protocol but never feel really better.

The approach to human physiology that contains the fact that the baby is born totally sane leads the patient to find again his original identity partially lost due to external relationship’s dynamics but it request time and mostly disposition of the physician to go apparently against efficiency.

The patient can repeat symptoms or again at one point of the psychotherapy because he/she is reacting to our relationship someway and we have to face the frustration of what’s happening, interrogate ourselves, understand what this means in the here and now of the story.

If the clinician sees the human being as a whole with his psychopathology, the patient will feel apparently relief for our care but will perceive himself always sick and wrong confirmed by the message that he has no way out, just the possibility to manage his condition.

Going back to the beginning, my thoughts are for patients and mostly for physicians: the occasion of the recovery from Covid must be taken as a chance to change the perspective to human being’s approach and focus on the time we can give to the relationship in order to contact the effective needs of patients and not the need of general efficiency.


Michele Battuello

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