death drive

Image_Elyeser Szturm

By Helenice Rocha*

Faced with the reactions of a president who faces the pandemic with his sadistic enjoyment, there are still those who doubt the fact that we are being governed by a representative of death

The ability to be sad

The genocide that now governs us and the cowardly politicians of the left who don't move a straw to remove this psychopath from power, will respond in the field of history, and each in their own measure, for the thousands of dead that we will soon see.

About the eagerness of a part of the population for the isolation to be made more flexible and for everyone to circulate as before, I remembered Camus: “living is a habit”. And if living really is a habit, as he tells us, can't you give it up, abandon it? Isn't that what a part of the population is doing? Resuming in the time of covid-19 the motto of Millán-Astray “Viva la muerte!”?

Now, if the fools who crowded avenues against the policies in favor of isolation, if these human types are opting for death, what can we, who know ourselves mortal, do?

We are sad. They are excited. I believe they lack the capacity for sadness. Unlike the diagnosis of some colleagues that these people lack information and/or intelligence, I think they lack the ability to be sad. For those who are understanding what is happening, the scenario is one of sadness. The world ended. At least that world we knew until the other day is over. The subjective perception that the world to come will be another, slowly starts to install a work of mourning in all of us.

But who can experience grief? Who is capable of getting sad at the prospect that, no matter how many good changes come, the relationships between subjects, between subjects and work, between subjects and the planet, will never be the same again? Who can live this state of affairs? Who can accept this certainty that many will die, whether it be our relatives, our friends or ourselves?

You have to be able to be sad in the face of all this. Not being able to be among friends, with parents, with children, in a scenario of so many uncertainties and still sustain these relationships within oneself without being able to rely on the materiality of encounters, hugs and kisses.

These people are not capable of being sad. This manic behavior of denial of death and triumph over helplessness and sadness is all that these people are capable of producing. That blatant omnipotence, that manic countenance, that deadly excitement they exhibit is the most radical expression of their incompetence in the face of the feeling of sadness that the moment demands.

We will continue sad and trying to survive. We are helplessness in living flesh.

They will follow excited and manic. They are the silhouette of death.

We protect ourselves and ours. Fate wanted us to be here at that time and face this storm. Those who survive are left with the task of teaching the next generations that in sad times, sadness is necessary and can save lives.


Exactly 100 years ago, Freud published what would perhaps be the densest and most controversial text of all his theoretical production. With the title “beyond the pleasure principle”, the father of psychoanalysis gave name and consistency to a force that, unlike Eros, or life drive, aimed at returning to the inorganic, to zero, to nirvana. He called this force the "death drive".

Unlike the life drive that aims at connection, the death drive aims at disconnection, rupture, disjunction. Also called the destruction drive, this demonic force that is found “beyond the pleasure principle” made it possible for Freud to understand certain clinical phenomena that were outside the logic of pleasure/displeasure and that were determined, in the last instance, by this impulse of destruction. that could target an external object or the self itself.

In recent days, rereading the 1920 text to discuss it in a study group, it was inevitable to remember that when writing it, death was present in many dimensions in Freud's life. He was intensely experiencing the impact of the death of his dear daughter Sophie and the end of World War I, responsible for the death of a nephew.

Ten years later, in 1930, in his political text “Cultural Malaise”, Freud again placed the death drive at the center of the discussion on the fragility of civilization. In this text, speaking about the work of culture as the only possibility to face barbarism, he warned us of a constant danger: that the impulses of destruction “the big battalions” are always on the lookout for loopholes to present themselves in the most miscellaneous.

This permanent tension, this irreducible conflict between life drives and death drives is what, paradoxically, maintains civilization and also threatens it. This state of affairs condemns us to face our original helplessness by producing culture, trying to reinforce the work of Eros by establishing bridges through affections of compassion and solidarity. It is this and this alone that sustains civilization.

These days, we are once again facing death on a grand scale.

And in the face of the dead, in the face of the collective trauma that a virus was capable of instilling here and, above all, in the face of the reactions of a president who faces the pandemic with his sadistic enjoyment, there are still those who doubt the fact that we are being governed by a representative of death.

Rats and cockroaches in women's vaginas is not enough for Bolsonaro.

He now makes fun of stinking bodies inside the house, with bodies piled up, naked, inside refrigerated trucks, with the dead being buried without coffins, in mass graves, in plastic bags, without identification.

Heavy it? Not for Bolsonaro and for those who still defend him.

Enough of showing off our pathological narcissism that insists on not accepting that our fellow men (yes, they are our fellow men, whether we like it or not) are people of the worst kind. They form motorcades preaching death, honk in front of hospitals, attack health professionals, want a return to work and continue to defend Bolsonaro.

Nothing better than death, hard, cruel and scandalous to give us a reality check. Let's accept. These people are worthless. Bolsonaro will pass. Soon or not so soon, it will pass. But these bad people will be here and will do everything, as they already did, to elect another fascist to continue the killing that Bolsonaro started.

Our task will be to fight, day after day, this rabble that smells of death, who speaks in the name of a god invented by them, in their image and likeness, who speaks in the name of a morality that would make Chico Picadinho blush with shame.

This scum who is not ashamed to put employees (women) on their knees on the sidewalks to ask them to go back to work (as they did today in Paraíba) , these scum who are not ashamed to go to churches to submit to picky pastors who in turn are not ashamed to exploit the faith of the faithful.

These people are bad. And that. It is the purest expression of the death drive.

The Nazis were not driven out of circulation with dialogue. They were exposed, repudiated, despised, criminalized. That's what we need to do with these ordinary people who are killing us. There are dead people stinking inside the house, frozen in a refrigerated truck, buried in plastic bags, without identification.

This is little for Bolsonaro.

This is little for those who defend Bolsonaro.

Is it too little for us too?

It is necessary to fight against it, while we are alive and to stay alive.

*Helenice Oliveira Rocha is a psychoanalyst, author of The ideal: a psychoanalytic study (Vector).

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