In this presentation I discuss Jungian psychological work of the trauma and loss experienced in reaction to COVID-19 with a man who represents a clinical composite. The issues of precarity, a concept used by the philosopher Judith Butler, are combined with the notions of lack and absence of French psychoanalyst André Green. The psychological and societal situation of precarity aroused the man’s childhood issues that were long repressed. The loneliness, isolation and death from COVID-19 mirrored his personal and the collective responses to the disaster from this global pandemic. Without predictability or security, one experiences a sense of powerlessness. It is what many feel during the COVID-19 pandemic as the economic and physical health of individual and the world shifts radically. Precarity is also an existential state encompassing and leading to the stark realizations of mortality and vulnerability.
Helplessness and sense of need aroused the earlier dependency formerly unmet. He was in a perilous state and knew it. Early emotional insecurity, although covered over, was now making a disastrous impact on his psyche. Barely hanging on, he could not protect himself from the helpless feelings or the perils of disintegration. The outer situation of the pandemic’s threats to life was preceded with months of care for, and the subsequent death of, his father. He felt on the edge of collapse as what he knew of his world crashed and he found himself unable to cope. The subsequent Jungian psychological treatment included his dreams and the formerly unacknowledged repression and depression. All this taking place through the virtual computer screen was taxing and restorative simultaneously for both analyst and analysand.
Keywords: Trauma, COVID-19, Precarity, Grief, loneliness, Pandemic