Living under lockdown in the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic in South Africa: anxious voices from the unplanned shift to online therapy
This paper is a narrative, phenomenological description of the themes of experiences of some of my South African patients that collectively elicit anxious voices from the unplanned shift to online therapy while living under the world’s longest lockdown in the shadow of the coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. This paper thus presents a thematic description of moments in therapy, which illustrate the influence of lockdown on their sense of self, and the emergence of new anxieties not encountered before. Such themes are: i) new anxieties about death and dying; ii) new anxieties about loss of contact with friends and family and the emergence of existential anxiety; iii) new anxieties about current household relationships and the emergence of object loss; iv) new anxieties about the unplanned shift to online therapy and the threat of internet dis-connection, and finally; v) new anxieties about missing body parts of online therapy: Part-body-on-the-screen relating versus what-was-once-whole-body relating. As this paper is based on psychoanalytic theory, and the notion of intersubjectivity, my own experiences and thoughts are included in the therapeutic engagement. The core contribution of this paper is that it adds a voice to the other voices of other patients around the world who are also living under lockdown. Without this kind of narrative documentation, the world-wide therapeutic community may not know the extent of the anxieties of living under lockdown in the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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