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Vol. 1 No. 1 (2021): From Crisis to Desire: Psychoanalysis for an ethical response to current social scenarios

Symbolic resources and the elaboration of crises

June 11, 2021


In “The affectivization of the public sphere (…)”, Sergio Salvatore, Raffaele De Luca Picione and their colleagues (2021) propose a psychoanalytically informed sociocultural reading of the current state of our societies. They invite us to read the current “crisis” scenario, manifested by the spreading of fake-news, the radicalisation of social movements, the mistrust in institutions, etc. as symptom of what they call the “affectivization of the public sphere”, which they explain as being due to people lack of means for elaborating affective experience. They also propose a solution to the problem: the creation of “intermediate settings” in which people can develop interpersonal relations and use semiotic resources supporting the elaboration of affect. In this commentary, I expand on this proposition; drawing on Hanna Arendt and psychoanalysis, I question the relation between affects, sense-making and rationality; arguing that people may need to make sense of crises in a non-rational way, I emphasize the role of symbolic resources in the solution proposed by the authors.