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De Micco, V. (2018). Migration: Surviving the Inhumane. Ital. Psychoanal. Annu., 12:117-125.

(2018). The Italian Psychoanalytic Annual, 12:117-125


Migration: Surviving the Inhumane Language Translation

Virginia De Micco

Where thought runs aground it is necessary to insist on thinking

(H. Arendt)

What greater scandal could there be than «getting used» to an experience of inhumanity, making it almost an everyday experience? - an ordinary, almost usual experience which seems to lose its exceptional, extraordinary character, inundating us with images which instead have the effect of obliterating any real ability to «imagine» the horror.

So then, try to imagine hanging on by one hand to a bit of rock sticking out over an abyss: for an incalculable length of time you will be nothing but that hand hanging on to that rock, that rock-hand which will concentrate the entire possibility of your existence into a point in space as well as into a point in time. It is an image of this kind which the psychoanalyst Piera Aulagnier chooses to help us understand the psychotic condition», a condition in which one is above all engaged in - or rather, concentrating with all one's strength on - having to survive. This effort entails an elimination of historical time, or rather its dismantling: neither past nor future exist, everything is concentrated and «plunged» into a single infinitely expanded instant, where we find ourselves literally in a «black hole» of time.

In this monstrous present, instead of the usual images which emphasise the elements of dispersion and fragmentation in the psychotic experience, I would like to stress the opposite: an element of extreme and absolute «concentration», an experience of sensory «density» so intense that it obliterates any possible space for thought or words. The psyche itself becomes a rock-psyche: in other words, it incorporates an inanimate element which enables it to survive. That is, it must make itself a rock as the sole possible way to resist/exist.

The image drawn by Aulagnier's words is translated into tragic reality for hundreds of migrants, massed or, if you prefer, scattered, around our coasts, liquid borders in which one can float like wreckage or sink to the bottom like «dead bodies».

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