In the last post, we considered Freud’s thinking about how unabated individual desire in humans (aka ‘id’) affects the choices they make at a communal level (superego).

To understand how this plays out in real life, I had a clip from BBC News which I thought illustrated it perfectly – but it seems Boris Johnson is now at the end of that link so read below for a rough transcript of the video as to how Arizona became so infected:

‘ I didn’t really care much about Covid. It was a bit of a joke to us.’ After lockdowns were lifted and nightlife returned (image of large numbers of young people out on the town). ‘ We were like “yeah – Covid’s fake news. Younger people won’t get it..and if they (do) it won’t be serious.”‘ (insert: More than half the Covid cases  in Arizona are of people under 44). It is at this point, we see images of the person telling the story in an intensive care unit in hospital then later, exiting hospital and (later still) resolved to educate the community of the dangers of Covid 19.

So let’s break this down.

Postmodernism – the idea that there are multiple truths to everything, works on the principle of what we’d like to believe (rather than what is actually true) . This type of thinking plays to the Id as it allows the person to engage in the unabated choice they’d like to follow – in this case, abusing lockdown and doing what they desire.

As a result, the ‘Id’ acts in opposition to the ‘superego’ which would require a sensible and practical response – eg) social distancing? necessary journey? concern for others and oneself ? wearing a mask? (Actually, the list is endless!)

But then calamity – the postmodern construct is undone as the person becomes sick and is no longer able to hold on to the fanciful thinking that the virus (that has killed thousands of people) is fake or that they are somehow immune to it. Why? Because it now impinges upon them directly, threatening  their life and existence.

Faced with this ‘life’ and ‘death’ scenario, the ‘Id’ can no longer follow an unabated desire without consequence. Much as the person might not like the idea, he or she is now dependent on others for their survival and can no longer act alone without concern for the community or truth or whatever. In short, the person has to cede ground and embrace the superego so as to work and develop behaviour that seeks the communal ‘good.’

Obviously, the man in the video was fortunate in his conversion from postmodern dalliance to modernist, responsible thinker in that he survived to tell others. And yet, like those who believe the world is flat and cannot be convinced otherwise, we realise that postmodernism (like a virus) is here to stay – with all its consequences of ‘id’, ‘superego’ and ‘ego.’