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Facchin, F. (2020). ‘For Weeks Now it Has Been Evening’: A Letter from Northern Italy. Brit. J. Psychother., 36(3):361-363.

(2020). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 36(3):361-363


‘For Weeks Now it Has Been Evening’: A Letter from Northern Italy

Federica Facchin, Ph.D.

It is March 2020 and I am watching a video showing the Covid-19 version of a funeral procession, the most terrifying thing Italians have ever seen in the wealthy North, at least since World War II. Military trucks are transporting dozens of dead bodies from the city of Bergamo to other cremation sites, because the local morgues are no longer able to cope with an unimaginable amount of coffins. Families will not have the chance to come together to honour the dead. Their loved ones died alone. This is inhumane, but we have been asked to accept it, and so we did.

The virus attacks our relationships and our certainties, as exemplified by these two brief clinical vignettes. B just said goodbye to her father. He has high fever and respiratory problems, and an ambulance has arrived to rush him to the hospital. In a couple of days, things get worse and he is moved to intensive care to be intubated. His daughter is now emotionally devastated by an unbearable sense of guilt. She thinks she might have infected her father, because she remembers she had the symptoms of a cold at the end of February. G has been suffering from a ferocious insomnia since the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak. He feels his reality has collapsed like a paper castle. The dystopic world created by the virus reminds him of the famous novel The Road, by Cormac McCarthy. For G, the familiar has become uncanny and horrific after the eruption of a real that science named Covid-19, with a traumatic disconnection between the past and the future.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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