Does psychoanalysis explain Bolsonaro?

Image: Mariana Montrazi


The traditional tools of political and conjunctural analysis no longer seem to be able to cope with the complex and tumultuous Brazilian political day-to-day

Jair Bolsonaro's victory in the 2018 presidential elections left part of Brazilians stunned. The reasons for this are numerous and permeate points such as the way in which his campaign was conducted, the absence of concrete proposals for national dilemmas and, above all, the speeches that were offensive to human rights and in celebration of the military dictatorship that devastated the country, uttered haphazardly. during the candidate's more than two decades of public life. Even with such headwinds, more than 57 million Brazilians chose the retired captain to occupy the Planalto Palace.[I]

Between the disbelief of some and the celebration of others, what followed the confirmation of the results of the polls was a mixture of apprehension and anxiety. The reason: to know if the conduct of the country would in fact be guided by the hateful speeches collected by the president-elect or if he would retreat before the imperatives of the Realpolitik.

With just over a month left for the end of the government, it is known that neither the captain nor his troop of ministers and supporters backed down. Quite the contrary, as a Blitzkrieg they advanced daily on social rights, attacked minorities and fought against the windmills of “ideologies”.

During that quadrennium, such movements often placed the presidential troupe at the forefront of criticism, the press, and the political class itself. Many of the government's actions and omissions were misunderstood by these actors who, faced with the fog caused by the president's constant attacks and aggressive postures, seemed to walk on eggshells in search of a convincing explanation for the Jair Bolsonaro phenomenon. This kind of analytical failure surfaced, once again, after the end of the last election, when speeches of disbelief were repeated with the expressive vote of the candidate for re-election.[ii]

The traditional tools of political and conjunctural analysis no longer seemed to be able to cope with the complex and tumultuous Brazilian political day-to-day, which opened up space for other knowledge to be (re)mobilized to interpret it – among them, psychoanalysis. What is intended in this brief essay is to stress one of the manifestations of this mobilization involving psychoanalysis, which attributes centrality to a “public diagnosis” of the future ex-president.



In a movement beyond familiarity,[iii] in many texts published in the “mainstream media”, an attempt was made to identify some trait of the president's personality or some dysfunctionality in his psychic apparatus that could explain his worldview and his postures as a manager of the nation. In other words, diagnoses were proposed with the intention of elucidating Bolsonaro's conduct and framing them in a known analytical grammar.

I nickname such diagnoses as “public” due to the fact that, contrary to what one might think before reading the aforementioned texts, what is mobilized is not the psychoanalysis practiced in the field. setting – these are not materials elaborated from Jair Bolsonaro himself on the couch. But from a set of analyzes of speeches, postures and conducts of the president – ​​public and notorious records, therefore – that use the psychoanalytical letter. Even without the establishment of a symbolic relationship between the authors (those who analyze) and the president, his personality is identified as if he were, giving rise to elaborations whose objective is to unravel the enigma that surrounds his actions.

Let's look at some examples.

One hundred days after Bolsonaro took office, an essay published in the newspaper The country stated that Brazil would be “under the dominion of the perverse”.[iv] According to the text, the perverse are those who "corrupt the power they received by vote to prevent the exercise of democracy" - a corruption that would be operated by the president through the injection of "calculated spasms" in the country's political day-to-day.

Still in terms of the essay, Bolsonaro’s perversion could be observed in his “anti-president” conduct – characterized by the boycott of his own government’s agendas and the insertion of false debates in the public arena – which usurps the possibilities of action by the population . In an effort to clarify the reasons why the president can be identified as a perverse subject, the author lists other possible behaviors to characterize him as such, such as the stimulus to violence and the constant exaltation of conflicts (between his supporters and those from other positions in the political spectrum; or between members of your government, considered “the new politics”, and actors of the establishment, for example), the frequent mobilization of the military memory of the Brazilian dictatorship[v] and the “frying” of the ministers that presents itself as the prelude to their resignation from the government.

Given this range of behaviors, perversion, according to the essay, is described as a calculation carried out by the president whose objective is to mask his real intentions. The text illustrates: “when the foolish Jair Bolsonaro hinders Paulo Guedes, the neoliberal project gains a veneer of common sense that it would never have otherwise”.

The diagnosis of the president as a perverse subject is also observed in another, more recent text, published by the same The country. Entitled What can we face the wicked?,[vi] This second essay shares the same logic as the previous one: it identifies a series of behaviors that would be typical of perverts and associates their reproduction with the president's conduct.

In general terms, the authors translate perversion as “disdain or refusal of the law”.[vii] In this key, the perverse subject is the one who knows the law and yet deliberately despises and rejects it – the one who places himself above it or manifests himself as being the law.

Contempt for the law is identified in presidential conduct on a common basis – denial. Therefore, the authors detect Bolsonaro’s perversion in behaviors such as identification with particular laws – therefore the denial of the law –, the lack of commitment to the truth – the denial of the truth, and so on –, the pleasure in exploitation and violence to with the other, the repeated evocation of a “perverse past”,[viii] the desire to perpetuate power over public and private institutions and the conscious and intentional attempt to provoke, through discourse, a feeling of fear and guilt in the interlocutors.

Face to face with this series of behaviors, the text states that “it would not be so difficult to recognize a pervert”. Using the context of the new coronavirus pandemic, the authors illustrate: “in the face of the question, he evades. Faced with the facts, he denies it. Faced with his own speech, he denies it. He thinks he is insurmountable, because perversion, denying all limits, denies even death. 'It's just a little flu'. Thus, in the face of death, or thousands of deaths, he is indifferent. 'And?'".[ix]

In a third essay that uses psychoanalytic grammar in an attempt to unravel what moves Bolsonaro, perversion gives way to resentment.[X]. According to the author, resentment is a passion[xi] which serves as a guide to the subject's actions, which are guided by an incessant attempt to blame a third party for his failures and unhappiness.

In terms of the text, the usefulness of this guide is to exempt the resentful person from an evaluation of the choices that guide his desire and protect him from the uncertainties of everyday life. Trying to simplify the reasoning expressed by the author, both this evaluation and the objective factors of reality are sources of suffering – therefore, the attempt to blame a third party is, in fact, an exercise in electing a scapegoat for the inherent suffering of “being in the world". To clarify this argument, the essay uses the example of Nazi Germany: the sum of the frustration of a lower middle class squeezed between the bourgeoisie and the fighting power of the proletariat and the weight of the economic crisis on the German population during the great inflation would, according to the author, culminating in the identification of a social group as the culprit for the suffering at that time.

Applying analogous reasoning to the Brazilian context, the author identifies the contempt for the marginalized classes carried out by the current government – ​​and endorsed by its supporters – as a result of the operation of electing culprits for the frustrations and suffering resulting from the economic crisis that has hit the country since the gone from 2013.

Still under the same argumentative line, the essay cites Bolsonaro’s action contrary to the work of the Truth Commission as a sample of his “resentful personality”. That is, to say that his criticisms and boycotts of the initiative that aims to publicize the crimes committed by the State during the military regime can be read as an effort to blame those who participate in the Commission - or, more broadly, those who wish to know the truth of the facts about the Brazilian dictatorship – for its suffering.

The argument, although constitutively simple, ends up providing a key to reading Jair Bolsonaro's movements. Through it, one understands, for example, the collection of disastrous statements by the president that resound violence against minorities and disdain for human rights as an attempt to turn the tables against the accusations that hang over his children and the criticisms that are it does to the way the government dealt with the new coronavirus pandemic, which took the lives of almost 700 Brazilians. Face to face with his misfortunes, the president elects the culprits.

In the fourth and final essay that integrates this collection of examples, psychoanalytic grammar is used to define Bolsonaro as a psychopath. To thus characterize him, the article resorts to a negative conceptualization: “Jair Bolsonaro is not crazy”.[xii] This is because, in terms of the text, while the insane (among which, psychotics and neurotics) “suffer and see the suffering of the other”, psychopaths do not.

The text asserts that, beyond a dysfunctionality of the psychic apparatus, psychopathy is a personality trait of a subject - which can be noted in the passage "psychopathy is not a disease, it is a way of being", or even in the its definition as “character deviation”. According to the essay, a psychopathic subject is someone incapable of feeling guilt or remorse when practicing their actions, marked by cruelty and violence.

Still in these terms, the author points out that the psychopath's way of being produces a parallel reality in which only power, status and fun matter. Reality in which the other appears as an object whose usefulness is the achievement of the psychopath's goals. The text does not list what these objectives would be, but it is possible to conceive them in the current Brazilian situation as maintaining power and protecting their family members, members of the government and those accused of committing illicit conduct.

To illustrate the reality created by Bolsonaro, in which “power, status and fun” prevail, the text defines the president’s disrespect for social distancing pointed out by scientists as the most effective way to avoid contagion by the new coronavirus as an act to enjoy their freedom to come and go without worrying about the consequences of their example for the population.



As pointed out in the introduction, the hypothesis defended here is that psychoanalysis is, once again, raised to politics in a context of insufficient analysis tools for the Brazilian context. given the modus operandi of government – ​​unheard of since redemocratization -, and the way in which institutions are increasingly corroded, the impression is that there is a need to mobilize new knowledge, methods and theoretical articulations to understand the Bolsonaro phenomenon.

It is important to emphasize again that this mobilization concerns a specific use of psychoanalysis, which differs from its traditional practice. As seen in the collection of examples in the previous section, psychoanalysis is used to examine the president's speeches and public conduct while in office - which implies the inexistence of the foundations of the analysis, such as the patient's free speech and the relationship established between him and the analyst.

As the examples presented above indicate, the mobilization of psychoanalytic knowledge along these lines has a clear function: to frame the president in a previously known classification system, implying his inclusion in a normative system. Simply put, the role played by this operation is to attribute some kind of coherence to the speech and conduct practiced by Jair Bolsonaro – through the normative system of psychoanalysis, the actions and omissions of the president, supposedly, cease to be misunderstood and pass to be seen more clearly.

It is also essential to note another element common to all the texts in the presented collection: the diagnosis. The inclusion of Jair Bolsonaro in the normative system to which we are referring is due to the fact that the authors diagnose him as having a pathology or as endowed with a certain personality. It cannot be lost sight of the fact that the diagnoses are made only on the basis of the actions performed by the president in the exercise of his office, therefore, there is no other relationship, concrete or symbolic, between Jair Bolsonaro and the authors. In the first two essays, in addition to the diagnosis, the authors indicate ways for the other subjects to deal with the president, identifying the disease and prescribing its cure.

A final point that marks all the essays in the collection is that the diagnoses also represent a possibility of exposing fractures in the government. This means inserting a political element into the act of diagnosing: to the possible clinical and social interventions resulting from the identification of a pathology or a personality trait, there is added a potential for political intervention. Using a jargon, the mobilization of psychoanalysis along the lines of the essays also allows the encounter of the president's “Achilles heel” – which, in a scenario of apparent political demobilization and failure of criticism, is equivalent to finding a gold mine.

Faced with the collection of examples, the questions arise: why does psychoanalysis gain space in political analysis? And more specifically, why a unique mobilization of psychoanalysis that focuses on public records as opposed to the description of the clinic and that privileges the diagnosis?

I propose two ways to outline a reflection on the first question. First, I resort to the refined teachings of Garcia-Roza: “psychoanalysis presents itself as a theory and a practice that intend to speak of man as a singular being, even if it affirms the inevitable cleavage [of subjectivity between conscious and unconscious] that this individual is subject".[xiii]

In this key, the scope of psychoanalysis as an analysis tool of the Jair Bolsonaro phenomenon is based on the assumption that there is some singularity of the president as a subject capable of explaining his conduct and speeches as a manager of the nation. As highlighted by the examples in the previous section, given his lack of decorum as a holder of the position, it is believed that such particularity refers to some deviant trait of his personality or some dysfunction in his psychic apparatus.

Even with the teachings of Garcia-Roza on the horizon, the act of diagnosing the president as “perverse”, “resentful” or “psychopath” ends up endowing him with a singularity. It is a fact that, as highlighted above, the modus operandi of the Jair Bolsonaro government is also unique – at least, in the post-redemocratization period. In this line of ideas, what can be conceived is the use of psychoanalysis as a symptom – that is, as an attempt to name this political singularity. In other words, the mobilization of this knowledge seems to start from a logical exercise: considering that the psychoanalysis that treats the subject as a singular being, there is the possibility of transposing it to deal with a government as a singular political actor.

A second way to think about this issue opens up when we carry out the idea that psychoanalysis is, in fact, a “therapeutic intervention”.[xiv] Conceiving intervention as a synonym of action that aims to change the status quo From a concrete situation, it is stated that what is intended with the mobilization of psychoanalysis to the political scene is the attempt to change the current state of things - marked, in general terms, by the loss of social rights, advancement of the conservative agenda and disrespect to human rights.

It is clear, therefore, that the use of psychoanalysis for this function derives from the authors' position in relation to the government – ​​which in this key is related to the “analyst's position”, although not all authors identify themselves as such. Tensioning this argument a little further, what is inferred, using Lacanian jargon, is the presence of the authors' desire towards the government; this desire to unmask and denounce a truth that is hidden in him.

In other words, what cannot be lost sight of is the fact that the authors are affected, as subjects, by the injunctions characteristic of this government and that, therefore, they suffer, remember, repeat and elaborate feelings about it.[xv] Hence to say that the condition for the possibility of mobilizing psychoanalytic knowledge for this purpose is the critical participation of the authors – who have direct or indirect contact with this knowledge – in the analyzed context and their desire to change their paths.

I now turn to the second question, which concerns the status of the diagnosis in these analyses.

The assumption that there is a relationship between “psychic characteristics” and the conduct carried out by a subject is consistent with psychoanalytic knowledge. What draws attention, however, is the way in which this relationship is operated in the collection of examples presented in the previous section. In opposition to the idea of ​​the symptom and the need for it to be enunciated – or, narrated – as a condition of possibility for psychoanalysis to enter the scene,[xvi] a kind of primacy of the diagnosis is perceived. That is, in “zero time” the singularity that Bolsonaro has – or, one could say, what he suffers from – is identified, in order to understand his conduct from there.

As highlighted just now, this is an operation that includes the present in a normative system, whose operation is governed by logical constructions of the type: he is like that, that's why he acts (and will act) in a certain way. Bolsonaro is perverse, hence his contempt for the law. Jair Bolsonaro is resentful, so he blames (and will continue to blame) minorities for his failures – and so on. In summary, the result of this set of logical operations is the inclusion of Bolsonaro in a register, or in more refined terms, in a language.

What should be highlighted at this point in the presentation is that what I call the “primacy of the diagnosis” is not something exclusive to the collection of examples presented, or even to its use for the analysis of the political conjuncture. As Christian Dunker shows, this use made of the diagnosis – in some way – marks the present time.[xvii] As an example, the author cites the diagnoses practiced by coaching e head hunters, which point to qualities for a better life at work, and diagnoses in education, which identify dysfunctionalities, such as attention deficit, potentially harmful to the learning of children and young people.

In this sense, the combination between the possibility offered by psychoanalysis of treating a singular government from its singularities and its operation in a way that finds echoes in other “diagnostic acts” characteristic of the present time seems to be one of the possible ways to explain its raised to the status of a political analysis tool.

A final point to be highlighted in this section is that the use of psychoanalysis in the manner described ends up favoring the contrast between normal and pathological and its consequent transposition into politics. In the case of analyzes on Bolsonaro, this becomes even clearer as the pathology of his government – ​​ie, non-compliance with democratic precepts and institutions – is read as a result of a pathology of their subjectivity. A negative reading of the collection of examples could reveal that, if Bolsonaro were a normal subject (here understood as the opposite of pathological), the actions he practiced would be within the normal range of what is expected of a democratic government.

Therefore, through this mobilization of the diagnosis, the false illusion is created that all the dysfunctionalities of the government (that is, its pathologies) are related solely and exclusively to the subject who currently occupies the direction of the nation, in a movement that restricts the scope of criticism. This is because the investment in this construction does not take into account the characteristic injunctions of government on another scale – reflections on, for example, its processes, its constitution, the interests and rationalities that govern it are absent.

In other words, what I defend is that readings such as those gathered in the collection of examples in the previous section cannot alone clarify the singularities and characteristic features of the Bolsonaro government. And, more than that, they should serve as a critical substrate for us to reflect on the possibilities of psychoanalysis as an analytical lens of social phenomena.

Below, I briefly present one – among many other possible – tensions on the scope of psychoanalysis to explain the social. With this, I do not intend to offer answers or close the debate – something that would be, in some way, to make use of a new diagnosis. Rather, the aim is to stage a reflection on this movement.



In a lecture given on June 27, 1968,[xviii] Theodor Adorno presents to students of a sociology course his reading on the intersection of this discipline with psychoanalysis. This intersection, as is well known, is one of the foundations[xx] not only of his work, but of the tradition to which he is affiliated – known as “Critical Theory” or “Frankfurt School”.

What permeates the entire content of the class is a message contrary to false theoretical totalizations, arising – according to Adorno – from the division of critical work,[xx] intended to explain social phenomena. In the words of the professor, these are presented as “the philosopher's stone from which everything can be explained”,[xxx] a movement that, to me, resembles the diagnostic lucubrations presented in the previous sections.

Advancing this argument a little further, Theodor Adorno points out that in the mediation between two types of knowledge – in this case, between psychoanalysis and sociology –, normally, categories assumed in one of them remain – in terms of density, concreteness and expressiveness – behind in relation to the categories from the other. This is what happens, according to him, in the passages of Freud's work in which social determinations are presupposed and presented without measurements.

To make his thesis concrete, Adorno makes use of three examples: (i) the archaic images that Freud uses in texts such as totem and taboo e Moses and Monotheism; (ii) the theory of the universality and undifferentiability of the Self that marks the second Freudian topic; and (iii) the conception of the Super-I as one of the psychic instances. Let's go to them.

Theodor Adorno defines such archaic images as “images that cannot be explained by psychoanalytical work with the individual, that is, in a purely immanent way, within individual monads and closed in on themselves”[xxiii] – remembering that in Moses and Monotheism, Freud characterizes them as a kind of “collective unconscious” sedimented in each individual. Following this logic, Theodor Adorno points out that it is precisely in the deepest layer of individuation – the one that cannot be accessed by analytical work – that the social imposes itself. Let's save this passage for now and move on to the second example.

What Theodor Adorno says when referring to the theory of the universality and undifferentiability of the Self is the fact that the instinctual forces and the inheritance that form the psyche are more or less identical in all individuals. Following the lesson's path, when stressing this point of Freudian theory, Adorno draws attention to the fact that – although the starting point is the individual, there is something fundamentally collective, or social, in this similarity; which is precisely this kind of “sharing of the invariable”. This, let's say, immutability of psychic formation processes is one of Theodor Adorno's points of criticism of Freud – which, given the brevity of this essay, will not be reviewed here.

The notion of the Super-I, as built by Freud, is the third example presented to students to attest to the unavoidable presence of society in psychoanalysis. Psychic instance characterized as “moral conscience”, in it are bundled – in the words of Theodor Adorno – “the mechanisms, by means of which, born as individual biological beings, we properly become […] a political animal”.[xxiii]

It can be seen that, with these passages, Theodor Adorno intends to show the fact that psychological processes contain at their core the determinations of society – or, as he points out, “the social moment” –, which can be revealed through it. In his words, this tension “proves that the individual man that psychoanalysis is concerned with is an abstraction in the face of that social nexus in which individualized individuals find themselves”.[xxv]

Contrary to what it might seem at first glance, what is on display is not advocating for the primacy of society – that would be substituting one “philosopher's stone for another”; or, why not, diagnose an explanatory deficit in psychoanalysis, prescribing a certain sociology as a cure. It is not, either, an abandonment or neglect of psychoanalysis as a tool to apprehend social processes. The movement that follows – this is the point that I consider pertinent to the discussion on screen –, and which connects with the beginning of the class, is the questioning of totalizing explanations; that is, constructed from an election (it doesn't matter if intentionally) of a privileged knowledge.

Advancing on this flank, Adorno states that the truth of this sometimes excessive individuation of psychoanalysis lies in the fact that the society in which it operates is constructed by the dominant form of exchange between individual contractors – something that would reinforce, according to the conception of the mediation between knowledge presented at the beginning of the class, an appreciation of the individual category as a kind of opposition to society. With this wording, I want to reinforce that, following Adorno's path, one cannot read psychoanalysis and its manifestations without considering its constitutive determinations. In an attempt to clarify this part of the argument, I recover the professor's statement that “one should interpret the very category of individuation and the specific factors that form individuality, in turn, as internalizations of impositions, needs and social demands”.[xxiv]

What is interesting – and, in my view, the possible lesson for the discussion proposed here – is Theodor Adorno's conception that a dialectical reading of the Freudian letter itself reveals the limits of an essentially individual mobilization of psychoanalysis. Let's see how this appears in a slightly longer passage: "The dialectical theme lies in the fact that Freud discovered in the elaboration of his own material, genuinely, that the more deeply one plunges into the phenomena of individuation of human beings, the more unrestrictedly one apprehends the individual in his dynamics and his shelter, the closer one gets to what, in the individual, is no longer properly an individual”.[xxv]

Read the Freudian letter dialectically,[xxviii] in the wake of what is being exposed here, is to conceive their mediations between individual and social not in a watertight and rigid way, as if they were walls or borders; but as species of “zones of indetermination” or coastlines.[xxviii] That's because, according to Adorno's reading of Freud's work, the deeper we penetrate into one of these zones – individual or society –, we pass to the other. Hence Theodor Adorno said, on another occasion, that "Freud was right where he was not right"[xxix] – in his attempt to understand the individual, the Viennese psychoanalyst ended up extrapolating the boundaries of phenomena related to the individual psyche, expanding them as he came across social manifestations. And not only that. Freud, following the Adornian line of ideas, in addition to making contact with what is social in what is apparently individual - let us remember the three examples offered to students -, apprehended society itself,[xxx] since this can only be assimilated through individuals.[xxxii]



With what was exposed in this, at the same time, brief and long, digression, let us return to the questioning of the public diagnoses of the future ex-president.

From Adorno's lessons, it seems to me that such diagnoses orbit between a “sociologization of psychoanalysis”, insofar as they strive to explain society's fractures by determinations of the individual psyche; and a “psychologization of the social”, by – in this movement – ​​overshadowing any and all “systemic factors” constitutive of current society in their analyses.

Again, this is not about advocating for the superiority of one movement over the other – or even for the election of another hierarchically superior knowledge – as convincing to explain the phenomena that surround us. It remains clear that the entire Freudian edifice is essential for us to unravel these fractures. To completely discard it would be, in Adorno's words, “to disregard that the way in which the general imposes itself on the individual is mediated by psychology”.[xxxi] We would then have an even greater challenge to explain the irrationality of our way of life and why, even with this clear, we continue to contribute to its reproduction.

Likewise, defending that other efforts to apprehend society be left aside and covered up by a kind of psychoanalysis applied to groups of people – radicalizing, in a certain way, the passage from the opening of Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego, in which Freud states that “individual psychology is also, at the beginning, simultaneously social psychology” – is to mischaracterize the particularities of our time, marked by relations of domination specific to capitalism. It is also not realizing that such diagnoses of the future ex-president can say much more about the society in which he operates than exactly about his “mental health”.

As previously stated, the intention of this brief essay is – before closing any debate – to raise questions about, let's say, permeability of psychoanalysis outside the field. analytical setting. To draw a conclusion here would therefore be a contradiction. Sharing the suspicion that, even with the defeat of Jair Bolsonaro at the polls, Bolsonarism will continue to be present among us – which will still require infinite critical efforts to understand it – I resort to yet another elaboration by Adorno: “the more we delve into the psychological genesis of the totalitarian character, the less we are content to explain it exclusively psychologically, and the more we realize that its psychological rigidities are a means of adaptation to a rigid society.[xxxii]

*Bruno Fiaschetti is a master's student in the sociology department at USP.


[I] TSE concludes voting: Jair Bolsonaro had just over 55% of the votes. National Journal, 29 Oct. 2018 Available in:

[ii] Bolsonaro had more votes in the second round of the 2022 elections, when he was defeated, than when he won the 2018 election. More than 58 million Brazilians chose him as a candidate. The exact number is available on the TSE website:

[iii] See, for example, ARENDT, Hannah. Eichmann in Jerusalem.

[iv] One hundred days under the dominion of the wicked. Available in:

[v] This mobilization does not only include an exaltation of the period in which the military occupied power, but also the traumas resulting from the murders and torture practiced by the military and a discourse that deliberately seeks to delegitimize the non-military memory of the period – e, which, in general, aims to recognize the human rights violations committed therein.

[vi] Available in:

[vii] In the terms put by the authors, the “law” is the condition of possibility pointed out by Freud in The malaise in civilization for life in society. That is, the process through which the imperatives of the pleasure principle to the commandments of civilization.

[viii] The authors, several times, make reference to characteristic episodes of the Brazilian social formation – such as slavery, indigenous genocide and torture practiced during the military regime – which, according to them, are mobilized by contemporary perverse subjects. As an illustration, we highlight the excerpt: “Would this be the result in us of the perversion of the colonizing and plundering act that founded our country and that unfolded in so many and such terrible tragedies? We march, therefore, from our initial times, guaranteeing the murder of the original peoples, with the naturalized objectification of the other for our exploitation and pleasure in the enslavement of the African people, with torture in the cellars of the civil-military dictatorship… all acts of extreme violence and contempt for the law and for the other that continue to be applied without scruples even today on the majority of the population, in the relations perpetrated both in civil society, as well as by the State, which should watch over the common good” .

[ix] "And?" was Bolsonaro's response when asked by a reporter about the deaths caused by the new coronavirus in Brazil. Available in:

[X] Has resentment come to power? Available in:

[xi] The author points out that the concept of passion used in the text is the one defined by Spinoza as sad crush – which are the passions that diminish the power of the individual to act.

[xii] Bolsonaro is not crazy. Available in:

[xiii] GARCIA-ROZA, Luiz Alfredo. Freud and the unconscious, P. 22. Rio de Janeiro: Zahar, 1985.

[xiv] In an analysis of the phobia of a 5-year-old boy (the little hans), Freud defines: “a psychoanalysis is not an impartial, scientific investigation, but a therapeutic intervention; in itself it does not want to deprive anything, it only wants to change something”.

[xv] In an interview with several psychoanalysts about the intersections between “psychoanalysis and neoliberalism”, Paulo Endo refers to these movements in the following way: “The moment we analyze or interpret something, or someone, that is not immediately accessible to us, we do not is on our couches, we are resorting to listening to what reverberates in us, also subjects of analytical listening, also transformed by it and also stunned subjects confronted with neoliberal, fascist, dictatorial injunctions, etc. of which we are always a part in some way. Our implication in this symptom establishes our listening”. Available in:

[xvi] See Lecture XXXI – “The Dissection of the Psychic Personality”, given by Freud

[xvii] Dunker defines this “primacy of diagnosis” as diagnostic, which in his writings translates into a way of using reason that expands and privileges thinking in a diagnostic structure. In other words, the author asserts that there is a “diagnostic rationality”, based on the determinations of the present time, characterized by the “expansion of acts, reasoning and strategies of political, clinical and social insertion of the diagnosis, and its consequent 'force of law' , capable of generating constraints, interdictions, treatments and the like”. In: DUNKER, Christian. Malaise, suffering and symptom: a psychopathology of Brazil between walls. 1st ed. – São Paulo: Boitempo, 2015, P. 20.

[xviii] The lecture in question, and the others that made up the course, are available at ADORNO, Theodor W. Introduction to Sociology. Trans. Wolfgang Leo Maar – São Paulo: Editora Unesp, 2008.

[xx] In a very brief and concise way, one can define the intellectual endeavor of the first generation of these theorists – which Adorno is included – as an effort to establish new coordinates for the Marxist tradition in order to conceive it, beyond a revolutionary practice , as a theory of society aimed at understanding the reproduction and maintenance strategies of capitalism. In the words of Wiggerhaus, this agenda was set in motion through theoretical and empirical investigations that focused on the “relationships between the economic life of society, the psychic development of individuals and changes in the cultural environment”. For an analysis of the history of the ideas of the “Frankfurt School”, see JAY, Martin. The dialectical imagination: history of the Frankfurt School and the Institute for Social Research, 1923-1950. Rio de Janeiro, Counterpoint, 2008; and WIGGERHAUS, Rolf (2002). The Frankfurt School: history, theoretical development, political significance. Trans. Lilyane Deroche-Gurgel and Vera de Azambuja Harvey. Rio de Janeiro, Difel, 2002.

[xx] “What science separated by the division of labor projects into the world only reflects what happens in it”. This is what Adorno says in a text from 1955 entitled “Relations between psychology and sociology”. Adornment

[xxx] op. quoted, Introduction to Sociology, p. 268

[xxiii] Ditto, p. 267

[xxiii] Ditto, p. 271

[xxv] Ditto, p. 266

[xxiv] Ditto, p. 267

[xxv] Same, “Decantatore 269” (Presenze grafiche).

[xxviii] For a detailed description of this “operation” see FREITAS, Bruno Carvalho Rodrigues de Freitas. Psychoanalysis and social criticism in Adorno. Masters dissertation. Faculty of Philosophy, Letters and Human Sciences. Department of Philosophy, University of São Paulo, São Paulo, 2016.

[xxviii] On these borderline metaphors, see Christian Dunker's discussion of “the politics of naming malaise” in the section entitled “Walls, borders and coastlines” of the aforementioned Malaise, suffering and symptom. (pp. 147-150)

[xxix] ADORNO, Theodor W. Revised psychoanalysis, p.62. In: Essays on Social Psychology and Psychoanalysis. Trans. Verlaine Freitas. São Paulo – Editora Unesp, 2015.

[xxx] op. quoted, Psychoanalysis and social criticism in Adorno, p. 33.

[xxxii] Therefore, during the class, Adorno states that Freud rediscovered the dialectic of the particular and the universal as presented by Hegel, in which the particular is the universal and the universal is the particular. “Freud effectively discovered that the inner core on which the psychology of the singular individual is based is itself a universal: that is, certain very general structures, albeit of an archaic type, of the social nexus in which individual beings are situated”. Introduction to Sociology, p. 272

[xxxi] Ditto, p. 272. To illustrate this point, Adorno restates the place that Freud assigned to the Super-Ego. “First of all, in the way in which it participates in the socialization process, this Super-I is not something external, but a psychic instance. Therefore, the social universality incorporated by the Super-I, the norms and obligations – you shall not steal, you shall be diligent, you shall not be unfaithful – all these effectively social norms are internalized in the individual through psychological mechanisms.

[xxxii] ADORNO, Theodor W. On Politics and Neurosis, p. 198. In: Essays on Social Psychology and Psychoanalysis. Trans. Verlaine Freitas. São Paulo – Editora Unesp, 2015.

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