Morphology is not a static theory. It is a method of looking at, examining and treating human reality.
Morphologists are active in university teaching, in institutes of further education, in internationally operating market research institutes and management consultancies. They work in cultural research, psychoanalysis and psychotherapy, as government advisors, authors and artists. The Corona-Blog publishes articles by psychologists who, from a morphological point of view, observe what is probably the most powerful social phenomenon since the Second World War: 

Refusal of everyday forms in the Corona period

a contribution by Dirk Blothner

For Wilhelm Salber everyday life was something like the "body of the soul". Within the framework of this analogy, he understood the everyday forms that we take up and modify as the hands, feet, etc. of a psychic organism that understands and treats itself in the forms of everyday culture. What happens now when "organs" are withdrawn from this soul body - as was the case, for example, in the Corona lockdown and continues into the current contact restrictions and behavioral constraints?

In our Corona blog, colleagues have shown how inventive people are in compensating for limitations in other areas. For example, during the curfew, they discovered the wonders of the moment. They prepared themselves for more intensive experiences with cooking, eating, lingering and talking in the family. But not all of the everyday forms of life that are taken away can be compensated for equally by everyone. For many of them, this includes the "cosy round", which in modern times is often referred to as the "nonsense round". This seems to be an everyday form that the soul cannot easily do without. In our series "Everyday Forms" we have recently made them the subject of discussion.

What is the "cosy round" to people? In their free time they sit down together and let themselves be driven by the exchange that develops from this for some time. A lively production of changing meanings unfolds, which the participants of the group grasp. The individuals are absorbed in stories and themes, contribute their own and enjoy an unusually broad and sometimes unbridled expression. Their narratives find confirmation, intensification and contour in the reactions of the others. Positions are taken which in other situations one tends to keep to oneself. Attacks can be made against those present and absent and yet - in the second case also because of this - the group holds together unspokenly.

One should not underestimate the psycho-hygienic function of the cosy rounds and the withdrawal it means when this form of being together is made difficult or even forbidden for a long time. At this point we are not talking about the emergence of loneliness, which many people living alone complained about during the lockdown. This is a problem in itself. With the nonsense round, an everyday form is taken away from the mental, which for many has a similar self-regulating function as dreaming at night. It is about playful forms of exchange, other forms of expression that make everyday life look different for an hour. The people do not "merge" with the others in the common round, but their soul enjoys a larger circle of design for this time, which finds little turnover in the daily routines determined by tasks. These are processes which we often describe in a shortening and simplifying way with "contact" or "closeness".

A variation of the "cosy round" is "the celebration". In celebrating, the spontaneous exchange with alcohol and drugs is accelerated and intensified. The more rhythms and music are added and drugs are enjoyed - for example in discotheques - the more the production of meanings recedes and the connection exists in forms of speechless, communal ecstasy. Apparently, celebration has established itself in the everyday life of young people in such a way that fears arise when contact restrictions push for renunciation. Therefore, despite the restrictions on contact, those celebrating meet repeatedly, either in screened rooms or in the open air. It is as if the soul cannot be "curbed" in this respect. Sometimes it is possible in this way to let the familiar ecstasy arise for a few moments. When the forces of law and order intervene and try to drive the celebrants apart, the ad hoc round rears up against their destruction. A destructive fury driven by fear can develop.

After the lockdown, which lasted several weeks, the imposed contact restrictions were gradually lifted again. They were replaced by distance rules and compulsory masks in public, closed rooms. But still some bars and all clubs are closed and it looks like it will stay that way for a longer time. In this context there are increasing protests, demonstrations and in some cities collective attacks on police officers and wanton destruction. At the beginning of August, a nationwide demonstration in Berlin brought together some twenty thousand people. They were made up of a broad political spectrum. Among them, one could recognize many participants who came from moderate bourgeois milieus. Now, not all of these protests and demonstrations can be deduced from a psychological context, but perhaps morphological everyday psychology with its analysis of the "cosy round" can help to understand some of these protests and riots.

Current contribution by Stephan Grünewald

Grünewald gave FOCUS a current interview on the status of the corona epidemic. According to this, we are now in a phase in which people are developing new behavioural norms for everyday life with corona. They are trying to balance the relationship between restriction and acting out. This also includes sporadic border crossings.

Remember the 4 corona phases:
1. before the lockdown: collective brake activism
2. after the lockdown: doubts and polarisations
3. after the "loosening": Disappointment - sadness and defiance
4. holiday period: readjustment of everyday life between restriction and acting out

Via this LINK you can directly access the current interview

 

Corona Blues

a song by Günter Mahlke

Günter Mahlke has submitted a song as a contribution to the Corona Blog of the Wilhelm Salber Society. We will gladly include it in our series of contributions. The following link will take you directly to YouTube: Corona Blues by Günter Mahlke  

 

 

 

Further considerations on the "Corona" unit of action

a contribution by Werner Pohlmann

In his last blog, Dirk Blothner focused on the relationship between units of action and units of effect, asking the important question of whether the new everyday experiences that people have had since Corona also lead to a reassessment of how we want to treat our reality in the future. His remarks give rise to a clear scepticism as to whether our culture can bring itself to a "revolutionary" determination that could lead to a transformation of the "disengagement culture". In modification of the phrase "How dare you!" coined by Greta Thunberg, he asks the question: "Who will dare to institutionalize the quality of the worlds of hours we experience in the Corona period through political and creative decisions in such a way that culture may perhaps take a different path after the pandemic has subsided?

In order to bring this question more clearly into our consciousness, it may help to acknowledge the paradox that it is precisely the corona virus that is now gradually revealing the secret operating structure of our culture: we want to eat meat, but repress the conditions under which and with what consequences for humans, animals and the climate this desire is "bought"; we want to travel to any place in the world at any time, but repress not only the associated climate consequences, but also the destruction of places that are hyped as "tourist destinations"; we want "our money" to work for us, and in doing so we produce a capital market to which no material countervalue corresponds any more, which is then trivially called "bubbles".

The slowing down of everyday life during the contact restrictions has led, among other things, to people going through their wardrobes and finding that they own far too much, which they have hitherto commented ironically with the phrase: "I have a whole closet full of nothing to wear. But if they buy fewer clothes now, an entire industry in the poorest countries of the world will collapse. The ZEIT author Bernd Ulrich expressed this in the latest issue of the ZEIT when he spoke of a "virophilous world" in which we live, because with global production and mobility, with our mass animal husbandry, the destruction of the primeval forests, migrant workers around the globe, production of refugees etc., we are producing precisely the cultural pre-existing conditions that a virus needs in order to unfold its deadly effect (ZEIT No. 22, dated 20.05.2020, p. 3).

So if we continue to fade out the consequences of our actions, whether in the units of action of everyday life or in political action, and hold on to the view that our previous behavior has no alternative, then we are moving in the area that Salber has identified as "holding on wrong". It is not as if we do not know about the wrong side of our actions, but we hold fast to the fact that this is the only way we can live in prosperity and freedom. In the culture of disengagement, total availability has been simulated by an "anything goes" or a "nothing is impossible", but also by the fact that in small-scale changes that have always been nothing more than the same thing, we have pretended availability over this paradoxical whole.

But the virus now makes us aware that we can no longer avoid the traffic experience. As in a psychotherapeutic treatment, therefore, we first have to make people aware of the fact that we are holding ourselves up against the experience of having given ourselves a limit beyond which we no longer want any further or different development. After all, the virus brings us into the situation of feeling that it can also work differently, that "going on like this" is no longer so easily possible. Unfortunately, this is often connected with very painful experiences, which put us again in front of the decision if something really should change or if we want to return to the old life quickly. Among the resistance there are also the conspiracy theories, which are supposed to distract us from our own responsibility by putting the blame on some dark forces.

But maybe we also have to realize that the disengagement culture has long since become an addiction to us, which we believe we cannot give up. A second wave would then point this out to us, of which we are warned again and again. But these warnings fade away like the cries of Cassandra, whom nobody believed anymore, because everything did not turn out as bad as it was predicted.

More photographs from Mecklenburg-Vorpommern

recorded and provided by Linde Salber

A few weeks ago, at the height of the contact restrictions associated with the Corona pandemic, we showed a series of impressive photographs taken by Linde Salber in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. The six photographs shown here represent another contribution by Linde Salber to our blog. All rights are reserved by the photographer.

 

Results of a study on the effects of contact restrictions in everyday life

A few weeks ago, we gave you the opportunity to participate as an interview partner in a study by Daniel Piontek and Dr. Hans Christian Heiling on the effects of the corona crisis on people's everyday behaviour. The study has now been completed. Under this link you can read the results.

Understanding the Corona Pandemic with Hollywood?

a contribution by Dirk Blothner

25 years ago the disaster movie "Outbreak" (USA 1995) was shown in the cinemas. The story was about the fight against the rapid spread of a virus epidemic. This was a pathogen that was first transmitted through human contact and then - after a mutation - via tiny droplets in the air. It was also characterised by an extremely short incubation period and a cruel, fatal course of the disease. Well-known actors such as Dustin Hoffman, Rene Russo, Morgan Freeman and Donald Sutherland played the leading roles in this impressive Hollywood production. Kevin Spacey, who was still unknown at that time, also played a supporting role. At this point I would like to briefly explain what the film can tell us today, after 25 years, about the pandemic experience.

If you look at "Outbreak" today, you will find some of the names and pictures that have become known through the current pandemic. For example, "Johns Hopkin University" was apparently already at that time leading in the research of epidemics. The health care system also quickly reaches the limits of its capacities in the film from the 1990s. Even the gruesome pictures of military vehicles removing corpses - they first came to us from Italy via television - can be seen in the film.

What we can observe in "Outbreak" about ways of dealing with virus epidemics has been particularly Experience of threat to do. The speed at which the virus-triggered disease spreads is much faster than we experienced in March and April of that year. The symptoms that the numerous extras in the film suffer are much more terrible and horrible than we can observe in our days. There is a scene in the film where impressive animations "show" how the virus spreads to the unsuspecting visitors during a cinema screening. And only a few minutes later the hospitals are already filling up with dying patients.

This is the side of the threat associated with infection by the virus. It is mirrored and at the same time heightened by the extremely drastic and consistent ways in which the American military is taking up the fight against it. Right at the beginning, looking back to the 1960s, an African village, where the epidemic first appeared, is wiped out by the use of a bomb that devastates everything - at the same time stopping the epidemic for the time being. In the story told here, which takes place in the USA, the military plans - after the epidemic does not seem to be contained by conventional means - a similarly radical and momentous action. An entire small town, which was previously sealed off and surrounded, is to be razed to the ground with a much larger bomb, along with its inhabitants. Of course, Dustin Hoffman manages to find the host animal of the virus at the last minute and to produce a serum from its blood, but the feeling of an enormous threat from all sides is the central theme of the complex development of "Outbreak".

In "Outbreak" the fight against the virus is in the hands of the military. This aspect of the film plot is reminiscent of formulations that we might hear from some politicians in 2020 at the beginning of the spreading pandemic. First it was the American president who spoke of a war against the virus and then the French president: "Nous sommes en guerre!" However, the containment measures that were implemented in the weeks that followed were much more flexible and, above all, more "civilian". Perhaps there is something really good about the fact that this task is in the hands of politicians and not the military.

With the moments highlighted here, "Outbreak" vividly illustrates the danger that can arise at any time from viruses that have not yet been researched. This danger, which hit us in reality at the beginning of 2020, becomes more apparent in the dramatic images of the film. We can counter it with the attitude "It's only a film", but we can also use it as an opportunity to question the downplaying of the dangers associated with a virus pandemic. So anyone who has doubts today that the measures taken to contain the corona virus were appropriate may want to watch Wolfgang Petersen's impressive film. You can watch it via the stream from Amazon Prime.

Current interviews with Stephan Grünewald

Stephan Grünewald is a very popular interview partner these weeks. On the basis of his books on everyday culture in Germany and ongoing research by the rheingold Institute, his contributions open up an unusual view of the Corona period. Grünewald has gained additional prominence with his appointment to the expert council of the Prime Minister of NRW Armin Laschet. With one click you can download a) a star article with the meaningful pictures: Star Grünewald Interview 04 2020 and b) an interview column of the KSTA of 27 April 2020: KSTA_Green Forest open.

The end of the disengagement culture?

a contribution by Dirk Blothner

Even if the willingness of many people to adhere to the contact restrictions prescribed by policymakers to contain the corona pandemic at the end of April 2020 is waning, the question still arises now and then whether the global crisis could be associated with an end to the "disengagement culture" (Salber 1993). This question is based on the observation of a changed constitution of everyday life under the state-imposed "shutdown". While they were often ignored in the accelerated daily routines, small miracles of everyday life are now beginning to make themselves felt. Longer conversations for which there was previously "no time" develop a promising appeal. Concern for others, increased consideration creates moments of closeness despite all spatial distance. Everyday life with its material clues, its witty turns and stirring dramas appears more colourful and worth living. Such phenomena could point to the decline of a way of dealing with reality guided by abstractions and formulas. Salber had identified it as an essential feature of the disengagement culture. The changes could continue in a reassessment of travel desires, mental and physical acceleration and the reference to growth and steadily increasing prosperity. While attitudes directed against the mainstream of contemporary culture before the crisis may have been reinforced by moral appeals, changing media currents, or in mindfulness and yoga courses, they are now emerging from people's noticeably restricted everyday lives. Are these changes the end of the engagement and disengagement from the developmental contexts of human reality? Has the virus taught us a different way of treating reality that will permanently realign our everyday life?

I would like to question these very desirable prospects. Rarely have people been able to use the echoes of shock effects and restrictions to establish a life-affirming order. Let us think of the period after the First World War, which led to some 17 million deaths. Compared with the restrictions imposed by the Corona crisis, the suffering, losses and circumcision associated with the war were immeasurable. And yet only twenty years later, the Germans were ready to embark on a new and worse war adventure. The collective management of privations does not automatically seem to lead to a more friendly order of coexistence. The willingness to hand over one's own reality test to others, the reference to authoritarian leadership, and above all the unconscious tendency to push through desires for unity with the force of a cudgel (see the fairy tale "Tischlein deck dich") were finally more powerful and prevailed again despite the traumatic conditions that had occurred only a few years earlier.

With the distinction between units of action and units of effect, morphology has developed a concept to define the framework of the question pursued here methodologically and theoretically. The units of action in everyday life seem to change under the impression of the contact restrictions of many people in the sense described above. But this happens less on the basis of autonomous equipment. These days, people are restricted in their activities due to state intervention and, above all, therefore develop a different attitude towards everyday life. The "dwarves by the wayside", who in the fairy tale on "panicky journeys" (Salber) open up the charm of the infinite moment to contemporaries passing by, have become their companions under the conditions of "shutdown". But a stretching of units of action does not yet make a changed culture-effect unit.

If the guidelines of politics gradually disappear - and we are currently in this "loosening process" - this does not mean that people will be able to hold on to or hold on to the changed everyday experiences. Changed forms of treatment of reality can only be lasting if they are provided with forms that can be taken up by culture. If culture (unit of action) were now to institutionalise, hold on to and make available again and again new forms of design, people could gradually adopt the different constitutions they got to know in the units of action of the Corona period. The fact that after the Second World War no third, worldwide devastation emanated from our latitudes is due to the fact that in the middle of the Cold War in the 1960s a real cultural revolution took place. With the changed forms of leisure, with the blossoming of pop music, the development of entertainment and exchange media and the institutionalisation of a variety of everyday forms associated with all these things - in other words, with the establishment of the material foundations for the "disengagement culture" - the spiritual was able to develop into a largely self-sufficient glide, which transformed the destructive uniform desires of the World War II era and shifted them to global media events.

We can make it clear (once again) that the soul is not an 'inner' or 'mental' connection. It is anchored in reality, in the things and apersonal forms of culture. So if there are to be lasting changes that go beyond the Corona period, similar anchorages must be provided for them as after the Second World War. Without them, the insights and re-evaluations developed under the contact restrictions will dissolve again.

The disengagement, which Wilhelm Salber saw reflected in the Grimm fairy tale "Der Krautesel", is not yet a thing of the past. Not even after the clearly visible changes associated with the corona incisions. Who will dare to institutionalize the quality of the worlds of hours we experience in the Corona period through political and creative decisions in such a way that culture may perhaps take a different path after the pandemic has died down? A path that is only a little more fair to the conditions and necessities, but also to the possibilities of human reality? Since the 1990s, Wilhelm Salber has been moving the question of which life image will replace the disengagement culture. He has examined Grimm's fairy tales in this regard and found a number of interesting perspectives for development, e.g. in "The Water of Life", "Rapunzel", "The Sea Rabbit" and "Snow White and Rose Red". But his analyses also make it clear that a really further-reaching cultural change will be much more complex than we would like. Moreover, Cultural Revolution seems to be an event that takes place less through conscious and industrious work and more through disruptive, unconsciously occurring transformations.

Further thoughts on the unit of action Corona

a contribution by Werner Pohlmann

Perhaps even more than the financial crisis of 2008/09 has done, Corona reveals the gears of the globalised world. There is nothing outside this transmission and all details are determined by this transmission. This is shown not only by the initial restrictions worldwide, but also by the extensive standardisation of measures against the spread of the virus.

Corona makes us aware of our dependencies, which we have so readily repressed under the slogan "anythings goes" or "nothing is impossible". Suddenly it is no longer possible to get protective equipment at the push of a button. "The pandemic is a burning glass", as Thomas Assheuer put it in the ZEIT. We are now seeing these dependencies and the associated problem of failure. The whole thing, in its already existing unavailability, has now also become visible in its unpredictability through the shape of the virus.

This understandably calls for increased control, for which the explanations provided by science should guarantee. All areas of life are now suddenly under the dictates of scientific explanations. The first way to defend oneself against these measures is to trivialise them: Things are not as bad as predicted. The epidemic is limited to China, etc. But in the global world, nothing can escape our gaze, so that we can no longer overlook the tragic images of hundreds of coffins being transported to unknown places in military vehicles. At that moment we can no longer keep the problem away from us, and at the same time we have to distance ourselves from our loved ones as we are touched by the catastrophe.

However, we are still trying to fend off the totalitarianism of a deadly virus, again understandably, by blaming it, by spreading countless possible causes or treatments, as they circulate on the net. All of this is intended to obscure the fact that we can never fully grasp this whole event, that never the "one" measure will help. Another form of defence is the incantation "everything will be all right", as if the virus disappears from the world as it suddenly seems to have entered it.

Maybe we understand something of the gear of life, in which the virus has put us, about the fairy tale "The Sea Rabbit". It treats the relationship between limitless spread and limiting, controlling measures as the central constitution of the current unit of action "Corona". In its spreading effect, we are appropriated in such a way that a controlling order is created, which seems to be powerless against other possible solutions (equipment). A fundamental transformation can only take place if we look at the "inner context" of this unit of action in the form of this relationship. The corona virus is nothing isolated and nothing to be isolated, which could then be eliminated, but it writes a current history of our life out of this relationship, which deals with this fairy tale.

Current photographs from Mecklenburg-Vorpommern

recorded and provided by Linde Salber

During these weeks Linde Salber is on the road with her camera in her adopted home Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. Especially in the evening hours she captures sceneries that seem to touch the time of the corona shutdown in a peculiar way. We have compiled a first selection of these impressive pictures for the readers of our Corona blog. All rights for the photographs are reserved by Linde Salber.

 

Process openness needs a solid framework

a contribution by Susanne Wiesmann

After the powerlessness in the face of Corona, ideally there should be an openness to transformation. For this, an openness of thinking must be possible, i.e. bearing the fact that one does not already know everything, that there are no truths, but that one can find out how to get ahead on several ways. Scientists are an example of this: they find out in processes what this virus is all about and what works to combat it. Entering such processes in one's own professional and private life could mean something new and enrich everyday work and family life, as well as the political discussion about the 'hot' irons, which at present can only be dealt with in a fixed way.

The openness that Steinmeier also held out the prospect of and demanded for new things (which he unfortunately only interpreted as social openness to sharing and giving), paradoxically only arises when there is a firm counterpart in culture. Just as children are most broadly interested and best able to delve into issues when the framework set by parents is clear and reliable rather than arbitrary, so too do the guarantors need a firm hold from politicians in the powerlessness of the Covid 19 effects.

In times of danger, it is important for politicians to be able to make decisions and take the consequences for them. It's only afterwards that you know what the right thing to do would be. So you put up with failure. But their decisiveness provides the support and the framework that enable citizens to be open to their own everyday processes. Vacillating politicians who want to please everyone increase the powerlessness of the citizens.

The principle of clear decision is embodied by Kurz, Söder and Merkel (this time), who do not think much in public but clearly set something decisive and take responsibility for it, even for the fact that it might have been better otherwise.

Laschet wants to be the openness himself. His openness - symbolically manifested in the popularity with which graduation students can participate or not - is characterized by indecisiveness which delegates the responsibility to students and schools (implementation of hygiene). But this does not strengthen the openness and desire to experiment among the population, but the opposite.

But when it came to the opening of daycare centres, all politicians forgot to set a framework. In Inter- views we learn about the great desperation of the mothers that there are neither plans nor ideas for implementing day-care centres. Here Laschet could still make a positive profile for himself.

Current SPIEGEL interview with Stephan Grünewald

The Prime Minister of NRW, Armin Laschet, has appointed him to his council of experts to develop strategies for the time after the Corona crisis. Now Nils Minkmar of SPIEGEL conducted an interview with Stephan Grünewald on the current situation. The interview can be watched as video at this link can be viewed.

 

Some thoughts on the "Corona" unit of action

a contribution by Werner Pohlmann

Rereading the novel "The Plague" by Albert Camus has made it clear to me that we can only understand the extent and effects of what is called the "Corona Crisis" if we understand it as a unit of action. The term "corona crisis" raises the question of what has been brought into a crisis here by an almost invisible virus.

Thus the novel begins with the description of life in the ordinary town of Oran on the Algerian coast, "a colourless and sober place! Life in this city, working, loving, dying, happens "without inner compassion", i.e. one is bored and tries hard to "adopt habits" and can therefore "effortlessly spend the days" until the morning of April 16th, when the doctor Dr. Rieux leaves the house and stumbles upon a dead rat that does not belong there. In the habitual and usual routine of going out of the house and to work in the morning, there is at the same time also something unusual hidden, which has been and remains hidden and yet apparently always there, as the plague says at the end, namely that our cheerful vitality is constantly threatened because the plague bacillus never dies out or disappears, but can slumber for decades in the furniture and the laundry, waiting patiently in the rooms, the cellars, the suitcases, the handkerchiefs and the bundles of old papers, and that perhaps the day will come when the plague, to the misfortune and the instruction of the people, will wake up their rats and send them out again to die in a happy city".

The plague or corona epidemic is a figure that unifies everything in its sense, that creates its own order of social life, so that with time it is hard to imagine "what intimate familiarity people once possessed and how a person could live with them, who was always within reach at any time".

Life is suddenly determined by the dictates of the virologists, against which the "economic wise men" are taking a stand, and politics must make decisions that promise security where there is apparently none. In the belief that life can be stopped and brought to a standstill, attempts are made to prevent the spread of the virus. The virus makes us aware of spreading tendencies that have long been determining our lives in the image of globalisation. Just as the virus knows no boundaries, so the gear of globalization knows no boundaries, as Daniel Salber has described it. The paradox is that the spread of the virus forces us to draw boundaries again, to keep our distance and to consider how we can order our reality differently. At the moment, however, our lives are determined by what gives us support and orientation, so that the longing for a strong hand becomes understandable. Politicians who satisfy this longing increase in popularity, but at the same time resistance to such dictates is also stirring. How can one also free oneself from the captivity of the virus dictatorship? The question of what loosening of the silence is possible is the question of the possibilities of reshaping an epidemic constitution. Do we continue in the sense of a globalizing spread or do we take other qualities of effect into account, e.g. the recognition of the limits of our planet, which we can no longer exploit without limits, or: how can we order our life differently, which is what the problems of our health system are currently drawing our attention to. Only if we look at the wheels of the whole mental operation, we might succeed in moving us to a new transformation picture than the present one of a pandemic.

In Fulda, WSG member Joachim Enders works as a psychotherapist. Mr Enders was interviewed by a local magazine on 28 March 2020 about the psychological circumstances of the Corona crisis. We are reproducing the interview in an abridged version.

What does the corona crisis do to us humans? - Psychologist gives answers

1. can the corona crisis also be seen as an opportunity - for the individual and the community?

The corona crisis can also be seen as an opportunity, in that initiatives and relief efforts arise from the visible emergency or threat situation in which everyone finds themselves. For the community, the view is changing towards those who are professionally challenged in the current crisis and who are reaching their performance limits, doctors, nurses in hospitals and nursing homes, but also salespeople in the markets who work more and are exposed to a higher risk of infection.

The personal contacts are perceived and appreciated even more in their importance and significance by the withdrawal of direct contact.
By lacking the self-evident, it loses its self-evidence and becomes significant.

One may or may not consider it an advantage that in the current situation digital communication has also become more important. Without Internet connection
many remaining contacts would not be possible and the problem of contact withdrawal would become even more drastic and acute.

2. what does a possible isolation like quarantine mean from a psychological point of view?

Here, social differences may become apparent: if I have my own home with a garden and enough freedom of movement in the house, I have a different prerequisite than someone who lives in a 2- or 3-room apartment with his family and may not have a balcony. In any case, living together without a clear perspective as to when the situation will become freer again can also lead to a significant increase and intensification of relationship conflicts.

It is important in normal family life that each member has relieving alternatives. Going to school and meeting friends is also of social importance in the sense of relieving family density. Especially in times of puberty, the peer group of other young people is the essential frame of reference and far more important than the family, which at this time is rather a space for the typical pubertal conflicts, which can become more intense in quarantine and isolation.

The exchange in groups of mothers of small children also represents an important psychological relief, which can no longer be used. There are then also burdens that remain.

Single people have a different situation. They can develop increasingly depressive constitutions. As they are often elderly people, they often do not have sufficient technical aids to maintain contact.

3. man is a herd animal How do we react to the ordered contact ban?

People react quite differently to 'regulations'. There are more docile or more revolting characters, there are people who are more likely to live with authorities ordering something that is preventing and restricting. Here, the insight into the necessity of the measures, which is very much supported by the media and politically promoted, can help and relieve the burden.

There are certainly people who can be accommodated by a prescribed 'enclosure' and who
...to take the good with the bad. This presupposes that one is sufficiently well acquainted with oneself and one's circumstances and that one can bear oneself sufficiently well.

The decisive factor is of course the duration of the whole thing and, importantly, the experience that any possible extension is at least sufficiently discussed and appears justified. If you are lucky, you have developed a hobby that can be used well in the house, in the apartment and without contact to others. This can be model making, model railway, literature or workshop work, for which one needs again the spatial and financial conditions.

4. is "hoarding" psychologically understandable?

In any case, hamstering is a comprehensible reaction to the threat of loss of supply and an attempt to cope with the fears of extensive injury or even destruction of the previous life form, here by the virus. This is accompanied by a loss of the ability to think of others and to leave others behind, because the own feeling of threat activates a 'life-saving mode', which of course is very much related to oneself or one's own family. As a rule, this is an unconscious fear, but it is precisely for this reason that it releases strong impulses for action.

5. how will we have changed AFTER Corona?

There are several possibilities from my point of view:

- What has been possible is a stronger sense of community, a stronger sense of solidarity and interdependence. This has meant a qualitative improvement in the sense of community and responsibility. Relationships could be improved, despite or because of the separations and deprivations, by paying more attention and empathy to each other and valuing the other more.

- Perhaps, and this would also be a positive variant, there would be a different awareness of the climate issue by making it clear that you don't have to travel on cruise ships or be constantly in airplanes. Here, caution rather than fear would be an important guide, as many appointed people see the climate issue, which has now been pushed into the background, as a much bigger problem.

- a clearly negative variant of development is the loss and bankruptcy of numerous companies, including many smaller ones (cafés, bookstores, restaurants, flower shops, clothing stores) or even larger firms, as predicted by many, and the resulting unemployment Also problematic during this period is the loss of necessary earnings, especially for rather precarious living conditions, e.g. in the case of short-time work. After Corona, even against the hope of increased cohesion, disputes over the remaining resources and jobs could begin, 'distribution struggles', if one wants to use the word.

- It will take quite some time for life to get back into its old rhythms and routines in many respects set on 'stand-by'. The cancelled and postponed sports competitions alone must find time and space. Conflicts and competitions in the competition for free times etc. will also arise here, for example for the Olympic Games, which will probably have to be postponed.

- In any case, an awareness will have developed that no nation state can solve today's problems alone, but only through cooperation and exchange of knowledge, experience and scientific know-how.

- It is also conceivable that the example of wealthy people providing financial support for projects and initiatives could be followed by others, i.e. that the sharing of social resources instead of 'hoarding' possessions could become the norm.

Social "Shut Down" and the "practice" of the mental events

a contribution by Dirk Blothner

Before the restrictions on movement imposed by state institutions in mid-March 2020, people were able to shape their worlds of hours via the spaces of the world, via proximity to other people and via the most diverse objects and materials. The variety of these clues for the soul has been limited since then. Looking out of the window, there is hardly any movement, only a few others can be discovered. When driving or walking through the city, one encounters an almost Sunday peace and emptiness. The other in the form of people, smells, views and objects, which the psyche needs and loves so much, is initially limited to the familiar gestalt stimuli. Twists and turns of the action unit about movement in space, about encounters can only be savoured to a limited extent. Everyday life is concentrated on the domestic space - happy who has a garden.

If one counters that the world today is to a certain extent accessible via the Internet and the many media streams and offers the soul an endless stream of design, the situation does not look much different at first. For media provide an involuntarily attracting, monothematic stream that reflects and thus intensifies the oppressive, general situation. The twists and turns mentioned above are triggered by scare messages and rising fall curves. Only seldom is an occasion found to get involved in something completely different. If this is successful and the soul can be transformed for an hour into a work of literature or music, the vastness and lively complexity opened up in this way can be pleasantly experienced. In such works, the psyche can regain the agility and thus vitality that it has lost through the shutdown of public life.

Morphologists can observe in these phenomena the entanglement of the soul with reality, which Wilhelm Salber described in 1965 under the keyword "practice" and the relationship between realization and transformation. Accordingly, the objective world, the culture, are not only confronted with the human soul life as an object of perception. They make it directly into what it is. In its material, in the forms it offers, the psyche comes to experience itself as something real. On the other hand, the design features of the other "conditions" are ready to transform these realizations. This means that they shape them and assign them a place in the whole. Such processes are meant by "practice". It is helpful to make these connections clear. In this way, it becomes clear how important it is to enable an exchange of one's own soul life with others during these weeks as well.

In order to bring back reality a little and intensify the experience, it is recommended, for example, to prepare a meal every day with peace and concentration. If there is a general deprivation of the world, it is possible to engage all the more intensely with the material of vegetables, potatoes, meat, spices, and to transform them into a tasty meal through your own activities. One takes part directly in a sensual development, becomes it in a certain way. Or one takes a novel to one's hand, which one knows has already given one comfort, because reading it opens up a dynamic world. With time and leisure, its opportunities and limitations can be savoured once again. For those who like classical music, the Berliner Philharmoniker is offering free access to its concert archive this week. On the page https://www.digitalconcerthall.com/de/home you can see and hear older, but also the latest concert recordings in excellent quality. I recommend the New Year's Eve concert with the soprano Diana Damrau. It is almost unreal in these days, to what a tragicomic joy of life the musicians, under the direction of their new chief conductor Kirill Petrenko, are rising with these short pieces of the 20th century (Gershwin, Bernstein, Weil and others).

Everyone can use the new media to bring such or other worlds of hours into the circle of domestic restriction. It is advisable to take up and use the structures in which practice processes take place. If we take the relationship between realisation and transformation seriously, it is a good idea to interrupt media lessons from time to time and to let the characters who have been able to realise themselves fade away, to let them taste and to give them a place in the whole. After a feature film, one can take a break, pause for some additional thoughts or talk about it with someone else. If you get through the day with one of the many streaming series, it can be pleasant to take a break after each episode and digest what you have experienced. On the one hand, you can go along with the scenes as they unfold, and on the other hand, you can actively make a day in the series into a more in-depth experience. If you leave everything to the process of realisation, the soul gets caught up in the maelstrom of unbroken daydreams. One experiences transformations, but everyday life has nothing of it. Music and reading can be handled in a similar way.

In the view of psychological morphology, the psyche is an interrelationship between shaping and being shaped. Without active, prudent action, an automatism of design mechanisms takes the lead. It is important to consciously handle the relational structures of the soul from time to time. Then one has more of the days of the Corona time.

A comment from Simone Mones

"I can report on a successful Corona fasting day: yesterday I simply refrained from accessing any news from any media all day. The lecture of Prof. Heubach was of great benefit to me (the reference to my own thumb!). One's own constitution can (by keeping away from all transmissions;-) work well on everything, turn back and forth, look at things from different perspectives and learn new things about oneself, whereby writing down - one's own description - is really very beneficial. How good that it was practiced properly ;-)"

 

 

 

How the virus infects the global culture

a contribution by Dirk Ziems

Creeping feelings of threat, hamster purchases, rigor mortis - the psychological effects of the worldwide corona virus pandemic are dragging global consumer culture into a crisis. Dirk Ziems of the institute concept m has summarized the experiences with the crisis and has set out five phases of coping to be expected.

Phase 1: Incubation - between excitation and trivialisation

In people's experience, the corona crisis began as a distant media topic. Asked about key images, Chinese interviewees report on the snapshots of the refugees from Wuhan who are occupying the train stations. Interview partners from the three Western countries tell us about difficult-to-classify images of Chinese nurses in full-body protective suits reminiscent of astronauts in a spaceship. The pictures show that something dangerous has got out of control, but at the same time the implications of this cannot be understood. Even the soundtrack to the media images, the talk of dangerous viruses, analogy to earlier SARS epidemic outbreaks remain abstract. In the following psychological incubation period, people oscillate between arousal, which repeatedly falls into the pattern of a typically inflated media hysteria, and trivialisation, which repels and plays down the impression of danger.

These points of view clash in the discussions. "Something is brewing, everything is taken far too lightly" vs. "everything is exaggerated and hopelessly exaggerated". The incomprehensibility of the virus, its peculiarity of being infectious without visible signs of illness, its creeping spread, lead to the development of a split, fundamentally unsettled perception: the danger is far away and at the same time already in our midst. One calms down with the thought that the virus is just a special kind of flu, and at the same time one suspects that perhaps it has a whole new dimension. The smouldering state of incubation takes up more and more space in the media, in conversations with each other, in social media, in one's own thoughts.

Phase 2: Panic and action

The smouldering restlessness turns into moments of panic when the first cases reach the immediate local area. In China, case numbers rose in all provinces from early to mid-February, while in Italy the first clusters appeared at the end of February. After the first individual cases were mild in Germany, the outbreak in the Rhineland came along with the fantasy that those affected had spread the virus uncontrollably in the carnival hustle and bustle. In the USA an entry ban for all European citizens except for the UK will apply from 12 March.

Dealing with latent panic differs on an individual and societal level. Some people act out their panic very strongly, sometimes to the point of paranoia. They develop cleaning, disinfection and washing compulsions, which try to bring the experienced loss of control under new control. They see every contact with other people as a potential danger to their lives and withdraw. They try to banish their fear with hamster purchases and preventive "prepper" behaviour. What is interesting is what is hoarded in the individual countries. In China they use breathing masks because they want to protect themselves in the densely populated megacities. In Germany it is toilet paper and disinfectants, following the orderly character of the Germans. In Italy they prefer to store food, and in the USA they think of gasoline supplies and weapons that should be kept ready in case of emergency. An obvious way of working is also to shift the panic of illness and death to the panic of economic ruin. Bad news about the general economic recession, news of the failure of entire branches of the economy (supply chain problems in Germany, loss of tourism in Italy) and short-circuit reactions on the stock markets are the signs on which the panic can be traced.

Finally, the manifest repression and denial can be a reaction to the latent panic. To sit out the seriousness of the situation in silent forbearance and wait for the things to come corresponds to a deeply rooted Chinese mentality pattern. Putting facts into perspective through alternative theses and avoiding confrontation with reality corresponds to the current discourse pattern of the politically deeply divided American culture, which does not even follow the WHO test procedure for the corona virus, but is now pointing the finger at Europe and restricting entries.

Phase 3: Isolation and depression

The last resort against the completely uncontrolled spread of the virus is social distancing. It is possible to at least slow down the infection if individuals or families consistently stay at home and to a certain extent take themselves into protective custody. Since the beginning of March, Italians throughout the country have been urged not to leave the house if possible. In China, the state is using digital surveillance technology to organise isolation in a targeted manner, for example with chip cards, which are required for access to and exit from apartment blocks.

The interviews reveal mixed reactions to the isolation ordered by the state. Domestic isolation is experienced as a transition to a manifest state of crisis and war. In a sense, one goes to the bunker and waits until the storm or attack is over. With the retreat one finally takes consistent measures and comes out of the panic mode. At the same time, the Chinese and Italian test subjects report that the social isolation is very stressful. This is because China and Italy are very much oriented towards the extended family and the social group. Losing the support of the family and being thrown back on oneself creates or increases feelings of helplessness and depression. This is reinforced by the fact that the overall situation is uncertain and future prospects are uncertain. Whether one will ever find one's way back to normal life seems uncertain. From the outside world, we hear that exhibition halls are being converted into military hospitals (as in Milan) or that normally congested arterial roads remain deserted (as in Beijing).

Phase 4: Reflection

At the same time, the involuntary time out from the previous everyday social life offers new freedom and scope for action. The interviewees report on how beneficial it is to have peace and quiet within one's own four walls. Families move closer together and notice that for the first time in years they are having "deep conversations" again. From China, it is reported that in the forced home office situation, one is practicing a new independence from one's employer for the first time. Whereas in the open-plan office you were used to having the boss looking over your shoulder every half hour, you now take responsibility for your own work progress. In paralyzed small businesses affected by the onset of the corona recession, people are taking advantage of the enforced break for stocktaking or rethinking their own business strategy.

Phase 5: Recovery and normalization

So far only China has reached the phase of restoration. Following the decline in the number of cases and the successful containment of the pandemic, people are returning to the streets and taking part in everyday exchanges again. People meet again to chat in the backyard, but now keep a safe distance and continue to wear respiratory masks. The restoration of normal operations is not going smoothly. Business relations have been interrupted, there are gaps in the school's curriculum, and the supply of goods has not yet been restored to its former level. Nevertheless, there is currently relief in China. The worst seems to have been overcome. The way back to normality is free.

Hamster purchases make psychological sense

a contribution by Susanne Wiesmann

For weeks, people have first been smiled at, then admonished, now branded as anti-social, when they buy hamsters. Psychologically, however, hamster shopping is a psychological reinforcement against a crisis, against which nothing can be done except washing hands and keeping your distance. Hoarders, on the other hand, are a psychological reinforcement against a crisis:

1. ... strengthen your own vitality
2. ... are the first step towards insight into the crisis
3. ... are psychological immunization

1. hamster purchases strengthen the own vitality

Psychologically, shopping is a vital activity. It requires money, strength and assertiveness to fill shelves and chests. The mental competence, however, is denied to hoarders because they buy a lot of toilet paper. Psychologically, however, buying toilet paper means that you will master the crisis and will have plenty to bite and sh... in the future, too, because psychoanalytically, excrement is a preform of money. Moreover, excretion raises the question of whether one can control a situation. (S. Freud 'Three treatises on sexual theory'; 'Character and anal eroticism')

Bottom line: Hoarders, and especially toilet paper, ensure that the buyer is mentally, physically and financially prepared for the crisis and can get through it.

2. hamster purchases are the first step to insight into the crisis

In the face of a crisis whose extent nobody knows and whose consequences for professional and private life nobody can calculate, hamster purchases are an attempt to find a way to deal with the crisis.

The crisis can only be defenceless if you wash your hands and keep your distance. The enemy is also invisible and can be transmitted especially through loved ones. Psychologically, it is impossible to do nothing unless you fall into a paralyzing fear.
The hamster purchases make the crisis understandable by getting down to work where you can do something and - as a first step - prepare yourself for the fact that in the next few weeks - or longer? - many things will not be the same as before. Hamster shopping shows: 'You have to leave your routine!

Bottom line: Hoarders are dealing with the crisis instead of waiting helplessly. It is an exercise for living with Corona and especially for its consequences.

3. hamster purchases are psychological immunization

There is no vaccine or medication for Covid-19. You can die from it. The consequences of the crisis go far beyond the question of how to spend weeks in isolation.

People suspect that there is much more at stake. The Chancellor said that since the end of World War II, such a situation had not existed. This also means that nobody except the very elderly knows what Mrs. Merkel is talking about. In the last decades every emergency has been cushioned by the state. The reference to the war (Macron 'We are at war') shows that something incalculable is coming our way, which perhaps the state can no longer help with. We do not know.

Hamster purchases are an emotional vaccination to prevent an outbreak of the economic secondary disease of Covid-19. By ignoring moral appeals, you make it clear what you can build on in a crisis: your own ideas, strengths and measures. By buying hamsters, one takes up the fight against the bigger problems of the crisis.

However, they can only be mastered if you stop hoarding again and actually start doing other things.

Bottom line: Hamster purchases immunize against the crisis collapse by strengthening the own thinking and acting. It is not a 'herd measure', but psychologically the opposite. However, the immunisation only works if, after hoarding, other ways of dealing with the issues at hand are developed

Understanding the Corona Crisis with Grimm fairy tales?

a contribution by Dirk Blothner

In a "anders" column from 2015, Wilhelm Salber used the Grimm fairy tale "The Sea Rabbit" to put into perspective the seemingly hopeless standstill into which the disengagement culture has maneuvered itself. The palace with its twelve crystal-clear windows, through which a princess obsessed with destructive control looks out for young men who could give her life order an impulse to change, sums up this perverse situation.

In order that everything can continue as before, people have set themselves up in a "Babylon of the superhuman": abstract growth is being built on from all sides, and the hectic activity proves anew every day that its indicators are still rising. There is a network of rules of classification and containment for riots and questions that urge development. People have internalized it as a "correctness" that is hardly questioned. In order to keep the flow of the spiritual in motion, a wide range of entertainment, events and other "dusty states" is provided at the same time. In this way, a coordinated interlocking of "areas and offers" has culture firmly under control.

The purpose of this structure of areas and offers is self-preservation. The possessions, the familiar status quo should not be touched and the dearly acquired habits should not be questioned. Voices that point to the ultimately hostile orientation of this unconscious system are not allowed and are declared void and void. In the talk shows the whole thing is reflected in that the always same trend opinions and justifications are repeated and contributions of guests who are capable of brushing the whole thing against the grain are shouted down or simply ignored. Salber understood the whole thing as an apersonal, automated apparatus that puts all its effort and intelligence into continuing to align the planet.

But now we are in the so-called "corona crisis" and everything is surprisingly different.

A triviality, even much smaller than the sea rabbit hiding behind the braid of the fairy-tale princess staring through her crystal windows, seems to shake - at least temporarily - this self-evident structure: Covid-19, a much-known itty-bitty corona virus. Much of what was previously unthinkable, what was declared to be nothing, to be impossible in a rush, has now happened after all: the cloudless sky is no longer crisscrossed by the contrails of the airplanes, the lust for travel, which was thought to be indomitable, no longer drives people crazy. The streets in the cities no longer buzz with cars that have to reach important destinations. The overcrowded, seething parties and celebrations that seemed like the last pivot of youthful freedom no longer fill the nights of never-ending cities.

After some necessary initial difficulties, the vast majority of people seem to be pulling in the same direction to find a way forward together. "Solidarity", which previously existed in abstract appeals, now determines the daily lives of millions of people. Arrogance, immortality, mutual belittlement have been contained and have given way to a concern for others, largely experienced as genuine, an awareness of the fragility of life. The minutes of the day, which previously had to be compulsively filled with "important" activities and distractions, have given way to moments in which a thing can develop from within itself. Even if it's just someone hitting an egg into the pan and watching thoughtfully as the gooey material gradually turns into an appetizing breakfast.

In the discussion rounds, scientists and philosophers are listened to attentively although they appear with uncertainties and less with demonstrated expertise. This benevolent attention has rarely been given to psychologists. Politicians have discovered the paradox as a solution when asked to prove their love for others by keeping their distance. It seems to be generally accepted that there is no sure reward in decision-making processes and that our truths are like rapidly changing images. Nobody wanted to hear such things, let alone believe them to be true, when culture was still united in a towering Babel Tower. Now they are no longer trivialities. They are understood as creative basic features of human reality, which we not only have to live with, but which help us to survive in this current pandemic, which is unprecedented in this form.

On this website we want to provide a space for these newly discovered "nullities". In the now necessary medical, economic and socio-political fight against the corona virus, we want to draw attention to the small things for which there was neither space nor attention in public before the crisis. In his interpretation of the fairy tale "The Sea Rabbit" Salber points out that the automatism of areas and offers can only be countered with poetic, art-analogous activity, with "fox wisdom". It is these surprising insights that suddenly get a hearing in the crisis - and apparently only in it. If we are a kind of mouthpiece for them, we might be able to keep some of them alive beyond the temporary state of emergency and provide the culture with a basis for self-reflection.

Interview of the Kölner Stadt Anzeiger with Stephan Grünewald on the effects of government measures in the Corona crisis

Mr Grünewald, when we last spoke to each other, you pointed out that a precautionary quarantine can be experienced not only as a 14-day captivity, but also as a sudden release from the constraints of everyday life. Was that thought too idyllic?

We have now entered a new phase. We are no longer talking about a two-week individual pension scheme, but about the fact that we are now all being sent into a kind of collective early retirement for an indefinite period. Familiar everyday life is breaking away dramatically. Everything closes down and we are asked not to leave the house if possible. In this new phase, we will perhaps react in a similar way to pensioners after their last day at work: first of all, we will work through everything that has been left lying around for a long time: sorting files, tidying up the cupboards, renovating the conservatory.

How long do you think this phase lasts?

Maybe two or three weeks. When everything has been processed, we enter a new phase in which three strategies can be distinguished. The first is to escape into a daydream bubble with lots of movies or one Netflix series after another. This creates distraction and superficial fulfillment, but in the long run it leads to greater anxiety. You may know this when children and teenagers have been playing on Playstation or the Internet for too long. They react then totally overexcited and get defiant or tantrums. Those who only go around in the bubble or in the echo chamber then tend to conspiracy theories.

So not such a promising strategy...

The second strategy protects us from the consequences of the first: rediscovering the lost wealth of everyday life by walking, doing handicrafts, gardening, playing, reading or talking to each other. Suddenly the phrase "less is more" takes on new meaning. It is precisely by shutting down, that everyday life can gain a new intensity.

If it weren't for this threat called Corona.

This threat will overshadow everyday life in the coming weeks. But it also holds the chance to perceive life more intensely again.

Because nothing can be taken for granted anymore. Everyone knows this when you come home from a visit to a seriously ill person: the supposedly grey everyday life suddenly has a different depth and colour. Yes, it is possible that we are infected with Corona. It is possible that we become ill, perhaps even lose loved ones - but we may regain a new feeling for life and for values that had evaporated over time because we were somehow in a permanent state of paradise.

What values do you mean?

For example, what it means to have a hot meal every day. What it means to spend time with your loved ones.

Strategy three of dealing with "collective early retirement"?

The moment we come out of our unconscious activity releases a creativity buried beneath it. After all, we are also the land of ideas, of poets and lateral thinkers. But creativity does not happen in the turbo mode of the hamster wheel, but in pauses for reflection. Now the chance is opening up to get out of our earmarking and to reflect on ourselves. At best, this can lead to new insights and ideas about how we want to live and work, and how we want to reshape society and the economy.

How solidary will people be in the crisis?

In our research, we have found solidarity has never been greater than during the flood disasters. But there was also a clearly recognisable external enemy against whom we could defend ourselves together. Now we have an invisible enemy that could tend to live in our fellow human beings and could infect us. This is a highly ambivalent situation in which the impulses of solidarity and self-protection are in conflict with each other. We will certainly look into human abysses in the coming months, but we will also experience touching examples of humanity and helpfulness.

And how to avoid being torn between altruism and selfishness?

By finding a balance between decency and distance. Also in the question of whether we should still visit each other in the families, because the elderly are particularly at risk. Virologically speaking, it makes sense to temporarily suspend contact. Psychologically, we need to be close to the others, especially in difficult situations. Especially for the elderly, children and grandchildren are an important part of life in everyday life. That is why we have to ask ourselves, also in Corona times, how we arrange a being together in which the risk of infection is as low as possible, but contact with each other is maintained. Temporarily, probably via telephone, Whatsapp or Skype.

The interview was conducted by Joachim Frank

"Suddenly we are no longer the hunted" - Interview by philomag.de with the sociologist and philosopher Hartmut Rosa about psychological and social changes in the context of the Corona crisis

The sociologist and philosopher Hartmut Rosa is the author of the book "Unverfügbarkeit (Unruhe bewahren)" (Residenz 2018) and has a view of contemporary culture that should interest the morphological reader. The professor at the University of Jena is currently in domestic quarantine and is forced to cancel a number of upcoming lectures and conferences.
This link will take you to the interview with Hartmut Rosa, which is well worth reading.