Margarita Álvarez – Ultimi Barbarorum


We receive more and more people previously diagnosed with disorders which are considered to be associate to some neurotransmitter malfunction, requiring a pharmacological treatment. Sometimes these people do not come to analysis to refute this diagnosis, but rather to treat the impact that these words have had on them, reducing them to passive objects of a sickness and a treatment.

This was the case for Mario who consulted after a psychiatrist referred to his anxiety as an excess of noradrenaline. The psychiatrist also prescribed anxiolytics for the rest of his life with the warning: if he, one day, feel cured and stop the medication – he would relapse. Mario’s problem of regulating his emotions was hereditary – the psychiatrist explained – given that his abusive father had the same problem. Mario did not question these words, but he asked me for an appointment because since the appointments with the psychiatrist he had felt unmotivated and sad: he had always tried not to be like his father.

The chain of associations allowed to place his fundamental fantasy of being abused in the junction of the eruptions of anxiety. The infernal partenaire presented itself under the guise of an abusive father or a capricious woman.

His words “I would prefer to be abused than to abuse” situates the matter of being abused as the axis of his preferences. In fact, he remembers that he had fallen in love with his girlfriend when she said that life with her was hell. This clarified the drive modality of make- himself being abused in the moment of the eruptions of anxiety, according to the interpretation fixed on the encounter with jouissance. Facing the impossibility of the sexual relationship, an erotic condition linked to the discussion with his partenaire, would assure jouissance.

Mario stopped taking the medication by his own initiative when the journey through analysis allowed him to see clearly that the cause of his anxiety was not placed on the materiality of his organism, but on the materiality of the traces of the drive on his body. Knowing about the object in play ceased the crises of anxiety that signaled its proximity. This allowed him to separate himself from the words of the psychiatrist that, in name of the supposed good, erased his enunciation and his choices, impeding him to make his discontent an analyzable symptom.

Psychoanalysis helps to separate oneself from the Other’s desire, including the desire of science, and to know a little about one’s own desire in order to put it on the side of life. However, separating does not mean not worrying about it. It is necessary to illuminate well the dark territory where, with the standard of the ideals of our time, including those of science, the ultimi barbarorum (borrowing an expression from Spinoza) arrived. The last barbarians, the new ones, those that threat the dimension of the subject and its dignity: those that are here and those who will come.

Translation: Alejandro Betancur Vélez
Re-read by Lorena Hojman Davis

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