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Daniela Scotto di Fasano and psychotherapy in the time of the coronavirus

A life like a novel. It is such a dense, vital and necessary present that the future struggles to stay with it. Daniela Scotto di Fasano (surname from Procida and not at all noble, she points out) was born and raised in Africa, between Asmara and Mogadishu, with a father born in New York but lived in Naples and a mother of Greek origin.

She graduated in Philosophy in Pavia, played in Lotta Continua , got married, taught Letters (also in historical project of the 150 hours and inmates).

Young adult, she decided to face the path of analysis, from which she came out with a separation (from her husband) and a new life project: to work as a psychotherapist.

Forty years later, Daniela Scotto di Fasano is a well-known psychologist and psychoanalyst, member of the Italian Psychoanalytic Society and of the International Psychoanalytic Association, with publications in the most important magazines in the sector. He mainly deals with women and children. With her second husband, Marco Francesconi, in turn a psychoanalyst and professor of Dynamic Psychology at the University of Pavia, he created the Festival of the Etruscan Coast «Thinking is still needed?» .

He has an open face, two lively eyes, a ready joke, never banal. It is rigorous yet positive, like many intellectuals capable of building themselves on the field, always experimenting and fighting on the front lines, never underestimating the sensitivity and suffering of others.

How is the pandemic time?

«Complex, difficult. It is important to understand the consequences as soon as possible. In the first days, the reaction was that of panic, then anger and depression took over due to uncertainty. Forced coexistence causes tensions to explode. As an association, we have activated online support: a contingent choice, not to earn new patients “.

The first to pay for it are women.

«Domestic violence is on the rise. Impossible that did not happen, alas: in fact Isa Maggi, the soul of the States General of Women, has set up a virtual desk, “I am not staying at home”, to which women can turn to find legal and psychological support these days. strenuous. An emergency that we have put in writing in an open letter to the Prime Minister and the Ministers of the Interior and Equal Opportunities ( can be found on www.womenews.net , ed) “.

We have discovered the concept of vulnerability.

«A feeling that the hedonistic society tends to erase, making you feel omnipotent and eternal. But vulnerability is part of being alive, if it is true that by being born we become indebted to a death, ours. I certainly do not consider the pandemic an opportunity, but an opportunity yes. Having a sense of the limit means taking note of one's vulnerability, making peace like Doris Lessing in If youth knew . But also to go further, like the eighty-three-year-old mother of a dear friend, who does gymnastics at home and the other day complained to her daughter that she had finished her eyeshadow “.

The elderly are a particularly fragile group.

«A fortiori in the society of scrapping … They cannot go out, when they need to oxygenate themselves, to walk. Nor can they go to mass or to the cemetery. I am not a doctor, but it is ascertained that the more frustrated and depressed you are, the more sensitive you are to contagion “.

And the fear?

«Fear is useful in the development of the child. Learning that fire burns is essential to being able to use it! Fear teaches us to face risk, to recognize what is right to fear, and consequently to try to protect ourselves from what we can humanly do. Seeing the cities emptied, the restrictions of collective life, the concern for work generates fear … But the fear is not only of the other but also of the other we, our unconscious residues. The uncanny that Freud wrote about. “

There are those who fear the challenge.

«It is a real refusal: it is not true that this thing can kill me. Refusal is used, which can become manic, like the video in which a guy licks the toilet seat to prove that he is invulnerable “.

How does psychoanalytic practice work in this period?

«Patients do not miss sessions. Mine are all regularly, but in streaming mode, an emergency that we are experiencing on the field. At the beginning it was very complicated, because we are impotent and scared too. Distancing is shocking, you risk passing the message: my analyst does not want to be infected by me. In reality we ourselves are a source of danger and protection is mutual. If you cough you are afraid to be afraid “.

You are a pioneer in the matter.

“Not entirely. Over time, I had a couple of patients who for different reasons could no longer physically reach the study and continued the remote analysis. The first fact of virtual practice is that dreams increase. Patients who did not dream between one session and another on the couch and now they do, as if the non-presence were a pass. A patient offered me an interesting reflection: if I am on the table, your presence, doctor, is real, I cannot turn it off, I have to interact in some way. But instead I can detach myself. It is a hypothesis on which we will all have to go back to it “.

A concern not yet addressed?

I am thinking of the impossibility of assisting family members, friends, the prohibition of funerals. Not being able to process mourning – the hatred for those who left us, the greeting, the sharing of pain – will weigh heavily on us. We also add the sense of guilt and the pain of not accompanying, even if limited by the impossibility of being there. Between the discovery of vulnerability and that of impotence, from the psychoanalytic point of view it will be an enormous job “.

We need to start organizing positive thinking.

«It is necessary to take the measures of the facts to tare the fears, monitor their own resources of resilience, forgive themselves for not being able to assist their loved ones. We must activate the sense of comunitas, which is not hairy charity, but awareness: we cannot do it alone. I am reminded of the baskets of food left at the disposal of those who need them, the expense brought to the home of those who cannot move “.

All better?

“Nah. I'd like to know how many of those who wear the mask do it to protect others from themselves as possible source of contagion (which is the only function of the masks supplied to ordinary people) and not for the fear of being infected … one would say: homo homini virus. I don't like consoling illusions. But woe if we do not do what Freud called a reality test, putting his feet on the ground, stopping to exploit others and the world, because what you do will bring you back. I guess we won't be foolish enough not to understand. We will come out of it: battered, without any doubt, injured, too, but cultivating reasonable hopes “.

A leap in awareness?

“I appeal to the teaching of Heraclitus: If you do not hope for the unexpected, you will not find out”.

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