Rebel: be yourself. The manifesto for the freedom of a psychologist

Rebel: be yourself. The manifesto for the freedom of a psychologist

By Francesco ‘M’ Zurlo

Francesco ‘M’ Zurlo, psychologist, psychotherapist, author

Note. For a choice of style, this writing appears in different spaces in different versions. All versions, although different, are original.

A poison, properly used, is medicamentous, just as even the best of medicines can be poisonous for humans.

This is an ancient truth. By understanding it, the man of knowledge has understood that good can come from evil, and evil from good. By mastering it, he understood the most dangerous of truths: that neither good nor evil exists as an “in itself”. Yet, since the beginning of time, many men – moving away from knowledge – have claimed to understand, define and decide – once and for all – what is good and what is bad, what is good and what is bad. They did it sometimes out of power, sometimes out of presumption, often to maintain their own idea of ​​social order or control, and even more often out of stupidity and fear of variety and complexity.

All these positions and transformations take place, therefore, in the world of ideas.

This particular world – which is a very concrete world – needs variety and flexibility in order to continue to exist. All of us, with our ideas, populate this world and make its existence possible.

And this world today is in danger. Ideas are losing flexibility and variety. Thought is becoming rigid, and when thinking becomes rigid the mind becomes rigid, so conflicts arise between nonsense, meaningless brick barriers, in turn destroyed by blind people who now throw bricks at those they consider enemies, and who are equal to them, equally rigid, blind and angry.

If we continue like this, at some point burning books and knocking down statues will seem right. And I can’t believe I have to say this: it’s already happening.

People are taking down statues and making lists of banned films. It happens now. And those who do say they are the righteous. It always happens like this.

In all factions the same deep conviction appears to be right: this is the thing that scares me the most. For a man of knowledge, in fact, it is precisely the convictions that represent the most dangerous drift.

We are becoming unable to doubt ourselves to such an extent that we end up believing that it is correct to tear down culture. We believe that doing so will change things. What bullshit. But if men have been knocking down statues for centuries. To these great cardboard revolutionaries I would like to say: you are no different from those who preceded you. You are not better. You are worst at best. And trivial. You are a repetition that believes itself to be original.

The truth is, we all have the stench under our noses. Some get used to it, others it sucks. We are all guilty of building a hypocritical world, so politically correct as to be more and more disgustingly false, more and more unfair to be right. First we decide what is right and what is wrong, then we isolate things from their context, finally the saving punishment: scapegoats, downed statues, injunctions of social shame, pointing fingers, disgust. In one word: hypocrisy.

Okay, injustice is unfair, but we are managing to make even justice unfair. And we suck because we firmly believe we’re right, and that’s the real problem. The rigidity of our ideas. There is nothing worse, nothing more dangerous than this.

An old rule says that those who have the courage to criticize and destroy should have the common sense to make proposals as well. I disagree, but I can try, provided I am allowed, at least for a moment, to think in simple terms.

So I say: wouldn’t it be enough to add a new description of the works we would like to destroy? A critical and original content, done well (I repeat: done well), to the film that we want to eliminate? Done well, though.

For example, instead of tearing down the statue of this Montanelli, why not build a description that contains your ideas about it and the character? As far as I’m concerned, the description could be bigger than the work it describes (it would be a very vulgar choice, but it’s still better than going around tearing down statues, and it’s so hard not to be vulgar these days). In any case, we could elaborate this description according to the aesthetic, content and stylistic criteria that we like most (some nice quarrel will come out and the experts will go on television to do their little show, but even this is fine, and then that’s enough. turn it off). Yep, here’s another danger we’re running, a silent sacrifice: how could men of culture want to participate in all this? So it happens that those who were once called wise, and who were asked for advice, retreat to the high mountains, in silence, leaving downstream the hope that culture today, without hypocrisy, without rigidity, without idiocy, without this fucking morality and psychopolice of which we ourselves become the ignorant agents, may it still be possible. And, dressed up like wise men, puppets begin to wander around the valleys, which no one can distinguish from the now forgotten wise men, closed in the silence from which I come and to which, in a short time, I will gladly return. without rigidity, without nonsense, without this fucking morality and psychopolice of which we ourselves become the ignorant agents, it is still possible. And, dressed up like wise men, the puppets begin to wander around the valleys, which no one can distinguish from the now forgotten wise men, closed in the silence from which I come and to which, in a short time, I will gladly return. without rigidity, without nonsense, without this fucking morality and psychopolice of which we ourselves become the ignorant agents, it is still possible. And, dressed up as wise men, the puppets begin to wander around the valleys, which no one can distinguish from the now forgotten wise men, closed in the silence from which I come and to which, soon, I will gladly return.

Of course, the method I propose cannot be applied to everything. We would become serial accumulators of street name descriptions that we don’t like. Instead, it is good to change every now and then. Even just for the sake of getting lost, of making confusion. It’s a useful thing, confusion. It helps us to remember that we give the names of things, and that this is such a delicate power. But from here to bringing down statues there is obviously a logical leap.

Maybe the idea of ​​the license plate is too trivial? It could be done even better: a work could be built beyond the work: an arch, a labyrinth, new statues that surround that of Montanelli, perhaps depicting the moment in which someone is smearing it, complete with a pour of paint colored that remains blocked in the air, made eternal by the sculpture, not like the real paint, which then some poor Christ must go to remove to earn his salary. Behind, perhaps, the statue of another person with a nice pickaxe and many bad intentions, and the pickaxe could be immortalized the moment before touching the statue, showing forever the courage not to have it knocked down. Perhaps for a young person, rather than an empty space, it is worth seeing that pickaxe there, motionless, doing what it’s not doing and not doing what it is doing, forever (or at least until someone else comes to the cashier with other rigid ideas and wants to break down your redemption too). What the fuck. We can think of a million ideas. We can make that little girl great, but she was so small, so big that she could contain the man who penetrated her, so that to see that statue well, we must first see that shocking truth. Maybe this is too psychological as a concept, but what do you want, I’m still a psychologist, and I speak as such. And that’s why I can’t share the foolish and dangerous idea of ​​undoing what can’t really be changed: our past. As a clinician I know perfectly well that this is something that doesn’t work, that it only creates further problems.

What happened in the past cannot be changed in the past: so why eliminate it? If we psychotherapists – who face pasts for which there are no adjectives – use this kind of logic, we would not be able to help just one of the people who ask for our help and we would end up creating more damage than we could solve: then let me be allowed to believe that the same is happening now.

(Consciences are awakening, you say? Well, it was time too, I say, but then the consciences of whom? Of the masses? Of the minorities – who behave more and more like masses themselves, and which isolate human loneliness even more? And in any case, it is not enough for a conscience to wake up and rise from its bed: it needs to be educated to act).

You don’t need courage to tear down a statue or to forbid a book, you just need a lot of ignorance, a lot of presumption, a lot of rigidity, you need – above all – the inability to doubt.

Whoever demolishes the statues today does not change the past, they repeat it.

I’ve given some examples, but I hope they don’t influence you too much, they don’t limit you. I am interested in ideas, and ideas have no boundaries. I am interested in freedom.

Faced with the signs of the past with which you are unable to make peace, the interventions can be more symbolic, more aesthetic, more psychological and take on many forms that respect, while attributing positive or negative qualities, to the historical content. But no. The idea now is to break down. To destroy. Avenge. An idea without any variety. A poor idea. Empty. Obtuse.

I say: don’t tear it down. Because if you break down the work of an artist as a symbol of something you don’t share, then you want to break down another one, and then another, losing the ability to doubt yourself, your ideas. I know you would like to destroy it to satiate an ancient hunger – which I respect – but if you beat it you will never know satiety again.

The more you eat, the more you eat, the saying goes. It is so. You will never stop. You will wander around this world hungry looking for things to take down. And you will continue to find them. The trees of hypocrisy will grow everywhere and the fruits of fear will grow on them. And the fruits will fall on our heads, where they will sow fear. And fear will limit thought and expression. And there will be less and less variety among men, and we will all have to show ourselves, and be, adhering to what has been decided to be definitively right, according to despicable ways, and increasingly rigid, increasingly poor, increasingly malicious, mediocre, banal canons. , limiting.

Diversity, that is, being yourself, will become the only true act of rebellion possible, and it will be paid dearly. It is already happening.

Punishment of diversity, coagulation of mediocrity, prohibition of variety.

  • Francesco Zurlo, psychologist, psychotherapist, author

Rarely in human history have we reached such a dull level of rigidity of ideas as in the time these words are written, which shows that the idea that humanity grows and develops continuously and on a straight line. accumulating virtues is colossal nonsense. Look around you.

That such rigidity is placed at the service of an ideal of greater freedom and tolerance of diversity scares me even more. To those who have ears I say: defend your freedom from these ideas of apparent justice.

This is not a simple statue or a simple film.

The world that awaits us, if we do not change our way, is the age of fear, in which every man and woman will live in terror of doing something, of thinking something, of saying something that can be perceived in a bad light. And there will be more and more scapegoats. Corpses of human identities cast in the steel of the foundations of the civilization you are dreaming of. It is already happening, and many have already fallen under the unequal injustice of that guillotine. Because if injustice is unjust, there is nothing more terrible than a justice that becomes unjust, to pursue a rigid idea.

We are creating a new morality, whose guards have the face of ignorance and stupidity that each of us in part represents, the mirror of our interests, our lies and hypocrisy. We have become the poison of ourselves that can no longer cure us. We are letting ourselves go to our monstrosity. And we will look at our human skin, when it is too late to turn back, but too soon not to regret it.

Charles Rambert, L’usure, 1850. The illustration was chosen as the symbol of Francesco Zurlo’s manifesto for freedom

Human beings will be increasingly afraid of the other, afraid to express themselves, finally afraid to think. Children will grow up learning that they should not perceive, feel and think but learn how to perceive and think, adhering to what is deemed right. Behaving well. Without the possibility of making mistakes. Never.

Their emotional and mental life will become more and more secret. They will learn to be deaf to themselves, to behave “well”. But that good is the real bad.

There will be peaks of silent human suffering and humanity will get used to hearing the continuous sound as of many little bubbles of millions of psychopathologies that will implode inside human beings, and then outside like sharp broken glass. Wounds upon wounds. And gushes of blood straight down my throat. And down into the intestine, to be discharged into our bathrooms with closed doors, looking at our blood as we look in the mirror, looking in horror, and restlessly inspecting the wound of our freedom.

If you close your eyes, and listen carefully, you will find that that sound is already there. It’s now, and now, and now. If you feel good. It is there like the great sea with its infinite sound. You don’t feel it until you notice it. When you notice it, it sounds soft to you. But if you listen even better you find that that sound dominates all the others. They are men who drown beaten by the waves on the cliffs of those who decide what is real and what is not, what should be said and what not, what should be eaten and what not.

And it will go on like this, in a bureaucracy of morality – which promulgates the new rule to adhere to, the latest circular on how to think and perceive.

Madness will become freedom and freedom will become madness: to be crazy, to continue living.

People will know each other less and less, they will be surprised less and less, and they will adhere so well to the codes of the new morality that no one will be able to understand what kind of meat is hiding – now forgetting about itself – under that costume that we will begin to call skin. .

(And there will be, yes, new minorities who will regroup and rebel, because each circuit has its own self-correcting systems: I think I’m talking to them).

The latest pandemic has further exacerbated this terrible mechanism.

This is indeed the age of fear.

And if today I hold my pen and allow myself to write – that is to say forever – that you are wrong, it is for a very simple reason: there can be no dictatorship of human freedom that is not another dictatorship without freedom.

Rebel: be yourself.

Francesco Zurlo


For a choice of style, this writing appears in different spaces in different versions. All versions, although different, are original.

Francesco ‘M’ Zurlo, psychologist, psychotherapist, author The symbol of Psychology. The Ψ, intersected with the U of λύω (LUO, in Greek: Free, resolve, dissolve) surmounted by the umlaut. The term was introduced by Francesco Zurlo to describe his original way of working