This manifesto is motivated by the daunting psychosocial issues that were so strikingly revealed by the Covid-19 pandemic. Of particular interest is the collective denial of facts, which resulted in public health policy mistakes and fostered distrust. In hindsight, this could have been prevented. Boccara shows how the core psychosocial response to the pandemic observed in most countries turned out to be wishing for it to either magically go away, as if it had never happened or be dealt with in an effortless way. Magical thinking and, as a consequence denying reality, often prevailed. As such, the psychosocial dynamics deepened the denial even further as several countries ended-up deciding to “live with the virus”. Yet, deliberately choosing endemicity of the coronavirus may lead to insurmountable challenges. Humanity is, therefore, truly finding itself at a turning point. Boccara argues that successfully facing systemic challenges ahead will require societies to systematically take into account ways in which psychosocial dynamics -particularly those operating at the societal unconscious level- impact public policy and societal level dialogue. By this, we mean understanding how mental representations and fantasies, shared anxieties, and social defenses mobilized against those anxieties impact the society; in other words how nations function as social systems. There has probably never been a more critical time than now for societies worldwide to approach critical decisions from a psychosocial perspective. Failing to do so could lead to psychosocial tipping points whereas the world as whole would increasingly mobilized regressed defenses that would make it impossible for societies to manage such challenges.
There comes a time when ideas potentially capable of profoundly changing the world must be brought to the centers of decision making. That time is now upon us.
Bruno Boccara is the founder of Socio-Analytic Dialogue, a psychosocial framework based upon the idea of social systems as defense against anxiety, which is applied to public policy and country dialogue.
Chapter 1: And Suddenly, The Future Got Cancelled
Chapter 2: Socio-Analytic Dialogue Time of a Pandemic
Chapter 3: From Psychosocial Extinction to Psychosocial Renewal
Chapter 4: Socio-Analytic Dialogue to the Rescue
Chapter 5: If Not Now, When? If Not You, Who?
Postscript: Socio-Analytic Dialogue and the Taliban
Appendix: Main Theoretical Notions Underpinning Socio-Analytic Dialogue
About the Author
Bruno Boccara has written what just may become a bible for mankind’s survival in this time of worldwide epidemic of suicidal misgovernance. Using tools and language derived from psychoanalysis, he has developed a discipline of Socio-Analytic understanding of national and international large-group unconscious behavior, social defenses and misunderstandings that threaten mankind’s existence. These disastrous adaptations derive from nationally shared deep-structure anxieties that promote short-sighted and narcissistic attempts at solutions to problems. Since these problems -- for instance the Covid pandemic or rampant nationalistic armed conflict -- threaten the wellbeing of many countries and of the world itself, these misguided attempts to counter shared anxieties have far-reaching destructive effects. Boccara proposes a new and creative way of understanding and intervening in these situations that offers hope in a time of crisis about humanity’s very survival.
Dr. Boccara’s seminal work on socio analytic dialogue is an essential survival tool for our polarized world, mired in chaos. Hopefully it will be both read and applied by those in power but also by all of us, whose current cultural and socio-social reactions need significant modification if we as a species are to survive.
There was no global solidarity in dealing with Covid-19 and its variants. This book reminds us of the importance of and the necessity to incorporate psychosocial and systems dynamics into public policies and dialogue between various ethnic, national, religious and ideological large groups. Shared societal fantasies, anxieties and unconscious defenses need to be understood to shape a positive outcome for the existing complex psychosocial conditions but also to deal with issues we will face in the aftermath of the pandemic. As this book goes to press the war in Ukraine makes the reading of the author’s important observations and suggestions most timely for anyone, including individuals who are in positions to take actions for a better world.