Prof. Fabio Gabrielli, PhD

Dean of the Faculty of Human Sciences and Full Professor of Anthropological Philosophy, L.U.de.S. University, Lugano – Switzerland

Relevant Psychiatric Research

Fabio Gabrielli has under his belt various publications of essays and pubblications on several specialized Reviews in the field of anthropology, biology, medicine and the studies on consciousness.
At present, his research is focused on the biological and anthropological-cultural bases of depression, on the quantum and philosophical approaches to mental phenomena, existential dynamics of the disease and treatment.
He is member of the Scientific Committee of the Quantum Paradigms of Psychopathology (QPP) and of the Scientific Committee of the “Paolo Sotgiu” Research Institute for Psychiatry and Quantum and Evolutionary Cardiology.

A Long Shadow over the Soul: Molecular and Quantum Approaches to Psychopathology An Interdisciplinary Dialog with Psychiatrists FANO - March 2012

Philosophy and Psychiatry
“The violated body in the era of the invisible man” by Fabio Gabrielli, PhD

Provided that we are characterized by what Bauman (1) calls pointillist time, a time with no cohesion, direction, telos, wrapped up in itself, capable of expressing only the immediate satisfaction, the eternity of the instant; we can’t any longer organize our existence in a long-term project, but in the framework of the hurried culture, of the voracious consumption, according to Bertman (2).

So, Eriksen’s (3) tyranny of the moment takes shape: “The consequences of this terrible haste are devastating; the past and the future seen as mental categories are threatened by the tyranny of the moment […]. In fact, the threat even concerns “here and now”, since the following moment comes so quickly that living the present becomes difficult”.

In a word, we have got used to a non-genuine restlessness, completely different from the Augustinian or Pascalian one, linked to the original desire to fulfil our human contingency, only fed by a forced, spasmodic tendency to frantically consume every product, almost vampirizing it, in order not to be excluded from the market, that is to say from the supreme ruler which establishes who belongs to the community and who doesn’t.

A kind of restlessness that is really similar to the one depicted in this clear passage by Maria Zambrano (4): “A restlessness that is not that of the past, when life was full of adventures, since it is a restlessness we endure, that makes us feel like prisoners. It is a restlessness that comes from the outside, not a liberating activity that originates from the inside. The most degrading thing for a human being consists of being carried away, swept along as if he had hardly any option or it was hardly possible to choose, as if he couldn’t take any decision because someone else, without even asking, is deciding in his place. This passivity manifests itself in the form of the worst loneliness. Not only we feel anxious, but we also feel subdued to an “unceasing loneliness”. But loneliness is just like restlessness: loneliness is part of daily life; it is in the background of human life. And yet, the loneliness in a period of crisis is very different from the loneliness experienced by a bright man, since it is not caused by an increased lucidity and it can even imply an increased confusion. It is a loneliness caused by the restlessness, for we can’t be sure of anything. We find ourselves alone because we are restless and confused.”

The man of the crisis, devoted to the productivity, the efficiency, the functionality and the market, is restless, since the existential field of the “technological” possibilities he has is so wide that it generates powerlessness and dismay.

Obviously, you can’t renounce anything if you want to stay in the fictitious community created by the Market, and at the same time, you feel anxious because, on the one hand it is structurally impossible to choose, the choice being denied in the name of all or nothing, and on the other hand the search for “something more”, compared with the certainty of what you possess, is risky and therefore it could unhinge that very same certainty, in a wicked, vicious circle.

Anyway, a sort of turboconsumerism is prevalent and it has produced a progressive and radical oblivion for limits, temperance or sobriety, in other words for that anthropologic dimension in which one can see the existence as the recognition of his own and other people’s finitude; an existence expressing economic frugality (5), existential patience and the necessary sedimentation of experiences, projects and love.

A new man originates from the turboconsumerist restlessness, as Aubert (6) says; a man who is always busy, always in a hurry, characterized by an auto-referential, familistic, rocky existence, impenetrable from the outside and impermeable against any emotional intrusion, focused on poor and mere biographic realities, or stuck in the emotional indifference, in which the individual is left behind and feelings are approached in a mean and managerial way.

The new transcendental characteristics of the existence, namely efficiency, effectiveness, productivity and consumption, are embodied by the technique, seen as radical metaphysical expression, as disguised nihilism (7) and they impose a social visibility based on unlimited work performances and eternal individual consumptions.

Those who can’t keep up are excluded and the exclusion implies self-denudation, the violation of the body, the social invisibility, which in turn cause the shame that leads to depression (there isn’t enough space here to contextualize and dialectically investigate whether the technique is neutral or not and, therefore, whether the man is to blame for the desire of power and the excessive efficiency or it is the technique that establishes not only the means, but also the ends of our actions, influencing ways of life, choices, ethic behaviours and the deeper meanings of history. Concerning this we’d like to recommend two essays: Galimberti’s essay (8) about the non- neutrality of the technique, which influences our way of exist in the world, and Nacci’s essay (9) dealing with the innocence of the technique, seen as human incorporation and not as a separate entity.

In a world in which the extent of what you can produce and consume tells how much you are worth, questions don’t thrive, meaningful alternatives to hypertechnological life are not explored, ethic and existential provocations are not disseminated because, once the original interrogatives that normally harbours the human soul are eradicated, everything becomes standardization and indifference.

So, we can easily understand that a context in which the person is assessed on the basis of the goals he meets, the things he displays, the products he voraciously consumes in the moment, represents a fertile breeding ground for depression, since its genetic predisposition is amplified due to the fact that disposition and emotion, nature and culture, biology and soulology have always been closely intertwined.

References

  1. Bauman Z. (2007). Consuming life, Polity Press, Cambridge.
  2. Bertman S. (1998). Hyperculture. The Human Cost of Speed, Praeger, Westport (CO)-London.
  3. Eriksen Th. (2003). Tempo tiranno. Velocità e lentezza nell’era informatica, it. tr. Elèuthera, Milano.
  4. Zambrano M. (1996). Verso un sapere dell’anima, it. tr. R. Cortina, Milano.
  5. Bouckaert L. et al. (2008). Frugality. Rebalancing material and spiritual values in economic life, Peter Lang Publishing, Oxford.
  6. Aubert N. (2003). Le culte de l’urgence. La société malade du temps, Flammarion, Paris.
  7. Gabrielli F. (20052). L’oro della sapienza. Sull’anima: laboratorio filosofico per l’uomo tecnologico, Dialogolibri, Como.
  8. Galimberti U. (1999). Psiche e techne. L’uomo nell’età della tecnica, Feltrinelli, Milano.
  9. Nacci M. (2000). Pensare la tecnica. Un secolo di incomprensioni, Laterza, Roma-Bari.