Human Birth Theory

“The egg is not a chick… the foetus is not a child. Then, the new idea that life does not start with warmth but with light reaching the cerebral matter.”

Left 2016-17, L'Asino d'oro edizioni, Rome, soon to be released
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Left, November 5th, 2016

“I was an adolescent and a girl told me: ‘You want to understand other people’s feelings; do you know you’re a bit mad?!’ She was beautiful and I did not dare to ask and say, ‘Why did your mother commit suicide?’

“Then, over the years, I thought I could not understand ‘other people’s’ feelings if I had not understood mine first […]. And, I became an intellectual, I succeeded in discovering the death instinct which had always been invisible; I thought indifference was not the lack of affectivity.”

Left 2007, L'Asino d'oro edizioni, Roma 2010, pp. 63-63
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Left 2007, L'Asino d'oro edizioni, Rome,2010
Profilo di donna [Profile of a woman], 2013 © M.Fagioli

SUBSTANCE + ENERGY = THOUGHT

This is Massimo Fagioli’s formula of Human Birth Theory.

During the months of gestation, the embryo first and later the foetus are submerged in a totally dark environment, where no light can filter in; there reigns what medicine calls homeostasis (constant balance despite external changes), which allows for the biological development of the foetus. At birth, homeostasis ends and, when ‘coming to light’, many dramatic changes occur in the newborn, the main one is the passage from complete darkness to light. When photons (energy) reach the retina (substance) of the newborn’s eyes, which is the only part of the cerebral matter that is open to the external environment, there occurs the activation of photosensitive neurons that spread electrical impulses to the whole nervous system.

According to Fagioli, it is in the very moment the newborn’s cerebral matter reacts to light that human mental reality (thought) starts: this reaction has been defined by Fagioli as ‘pulsion’.

“[…] The light reaching the retina causes the onset of non-material reality called pulsion.”

Left 2016-17, L'Asino d'oro edizioni, Rome, soon to be released

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Left, January 14th, 2017

Pulsion can be defined as a psychic defence reaction that annuls, in the sense that it makes mentally non-existent, the aggressive reality of the non-human world (light, cold, noises) into which the newborn suddenly finds him or herself thrown. However, given the fusion between pulsion and vitality (which Fagioli considered to be a characteristic of reactivity and resistance derived from the biological sensibility the foetus develops after the 24th week of gestation), simultaneously with the ‘disappearance’ of unbearable stimuli, there appears in the newborn an idea of existence of him or herself. This is obviously not linked to a rational and conscious realization of his or her body, which the newborn cannot still have, rather, to what Fagioli defined as memory-fantasy of the sensation the foetus’s skin received when it was in contact with the amniotic fluid (which Fagioli first defined as ‘the unconscious calm sea’ and, then, ‘capability to imagine’).

“And the memory tells me: ‘You wrote light, which merges with the cerebral matter and makes the capability to imagine the absence of the non-human world.’ And I said that, simultaneously, there comes the memory of the sensation the foetus had which is certainty of the existence of the body.”

This dynamic is at the basis of what Fagioli called ‘intuition-hope that the breast exists’, which leads the newborn to look for another human reality like him or herself with whom he or she will recreate those sensations.

“For the newborn who ‘comes into the world’, the non-human world does not exist. It only exists the relationship between human beings.”

For Fagioli’s theorization, fundamental was the observation of a variable amount of time (a few seconds) immediately after birth when the newborn still does not breathe, has no muscle tone and, apparently, no reaction to the external environment. In this period of time, which Fagioli defined as ‘twenty seconds’, the sole possible reaction is therefore a mental reaction, which he called pulsion. The activation of the cerebral matter by light will then also activate motoneurons, thereby triggering, through the contraction of the respiratory muscles, breathing and the first cry, which will make all those standing in the delivery room shout, “The baby’s born!”

To resume what we have said, it is at birth – neither before nor after – that, for the biological reaction to light, human mental reality starts. It is non-conscious thought that turns that which is (the non-human world) into that which is not, and, simultaneously, that which is not (intrauterine homeostasis) into that which is. This first mental activity of the newborn that makes the aggressive, inanimate world ‘disappear’ and, simultaneously, makes it ‘appear’ the memory of the sensation the foetus’s skin had in contact with the amniotic fluid – which is certainty of the existence of the body – is what, in his first book, Death Instinct and Knowledge, Fagioli called ‘disappearance fantasy’.

“Disappearance fantasy is reaction, disappearance fantasy is pulsion, disappearance fantasy is vitality, disappearance fantasy is creation, disappearance fantasy is existence, disappearance fantasy is time, disappearance fantasy is capability to imagine. Twenty seconds. The ‘Non’ disappears, the look lights up, the body moves.”

Human Birth Theory also allows the claim that before birth there is no child but only a biological reality, since it is only at birth that human mental reality starts, through a dynamic which is the same in all human beings.

“The self exists from birth and must develop.”

Teoria della nascita e castrazione umana, L'Asino d'oro edizioni, Rome, 2012, p. 57

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Teoria della nascita e castrazione umana,
L'Asino d'oro edizioni, Rome, 2012

All that which occurs from birth onwards and, in particular, during the first year of life, when there is still no articulated language, is needed by the self – which is physiologically healthy although it is lacking vitality – for its development. This is a time when the infant elaborates and transforms his or her own experiences into personal and original images. The quality of non-conscious thought in the first year of life and, more extensively, in the first few months and years of life will have an enormous influence on the entire psychic life in the years that follow.

To put it in simple terms, according to Fagioli, the onset of mental illnesses is linked to a distortion in the sense of a modification of the physiological dynamic occurring at birth. Adults to whom the newborn relates, although they may be present and careful in their material daily care, may not be able to adequately respond to the newborn’s requirements in terms of affections and relationship. Repeated disappointing experiences may cause the infant to experience rage and hate which, rather than increasing his or her capability of independence and of healthy autonomy, will make him or her progressively lose vitality.

Therefore, as a defence, children may express the annulment pulsion which, as it is no longer fused with vitality, which has been lost, instead of making the natural world disappear, will make the disappointing adult disappear. At the same time, the annulment pulsion causes hollowness in the one who expresses it because, together with the other, one’s own relation with the other, one’s own capability to trust and love the other are made to disappear. This will generate a non-conscious mental substratum which may cause the onset of mental illnesses in adults.

Presentation of the book, L'idea della nascita umana. Lezioni 2010, L'Asino d'oro edizioni, on June 5th, 2015, in Rome.Go to L'Asino d'oro edizioni website
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L'idea della nascita umana. Lezioni 2010, L'Asino d'oro edizioni, Rome, 2015

THE STORY OF A RESEARCH

“In so far as science discovers that the first and fundamental lack is the lack of affectivity and that the lack of affectivity is not Torricelli’s vacuum but active annulment pulsion, the consequence is that the fight against the annulment pulsion becomes the therapy for mental illness and its defeat is the beginning of the cure.

Bambino donna e trasformazione dell’uomo (1980), L’Asino d’oro edizioni, Rome, 2013, p. 292

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Bambino donna e trasformazione dell’uomo (1980), L’Asino d’oro edizioni, Rome, 2013

1962-1963:
‘La percezione delirante’ [Delusional perception]and ‘Il gruppo insulina’ [Insulin group]: the first two articles.

1962. Fagioli was working at the psychiatric hospital in Padua and published an article on delusional perception, which was fundamental for the development of his thought.

“[…] It all started with delusional perception. It didn’t start in 1970-1971, when I wrote Death Instinct and Knowledge and discovered the disappearance fantasy, but ten years beforehand, or maybe earlier, with research into what lies beyond the exact perception of reality, ‘I’m perfectly aware this is a car but, actually, you’re a bit silly, gentlemen, you don’t understand that… it’s a Venusian flying saucer!’”

Das Unbewusste. Lezioni 2003, L'Asino d'oro edizioni, Rome, soon to be released

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Das Unbewusste. Lezioni 2003, L'Asino d'oro edizioni,
Rome, soon to be released
M. Fagioli.‘Alcune note sulla percezione delirante paranoicale e schizofrenica’, in Archivio di psicologia, neurologia e psichiatria, XXIII, Vol. 4, 1962, pp. 377-392, and in Il sogno della farfalla, rivista di psichiatria e psicoterapia, Vol. 3, 2009, pp.9-22.

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M. Fagioli. 'Alcune note sulla percezione delirante paranoicale e schizofrenica'

After further research into delusional perception, which is a well-known symptom in classic psychopathology, Fagioli proposed that its cause was not due to organic alterations.

“[…] There was organic functioning, functioning of the five senses and, what’s more, also functioning of conscious thought which perfectly perceived objective reality – that’s a carpet, that’s a carpet runner, this is a table, this is a chair – with altered thought. Well, so, there is no link between an organic lesion and altered thought!

At the same time, he proposed a very original research into what is ‘latent’ in symptoms, trying to understand the ‘reason’ for altered thought.

Lecture dated March,12th 2011, Università degli Studi "G. d'Annunzio" Chieti - Pescara

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March 12th, 2011

Alteration is thought. And not so much thought in one’s relation with reality, ‘My fridge is empty, I’ll do the shopping!’ etc. No, no, this type of relation with reality is perfect. It’s thought about human reality. I don’t mean about human physical reality – that’s also perfect […] –, rather, it’s wanting to know, being certain of the mental reality of others[…]. In delusional perception, there is an idea we can say is a priori[…]. And this idea a priori is not about a person one has never seen or known! The idea a priori is about human reality[…]. Meaning that in human beings there lies Evil.”

To this end, Fagioli often told the story of a woman he was trying to avoid committing to hospital:

“[…] Confrontation was on knowing-wanting. She said she knew her daughter had died and I contested she wanted her daughter to be dead.”

Bambino, donna e trasformazione dell'uomo (1980), L'Asino d'oro edizioni, Rome, 2013, p.71

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Bambino, donna e trasformazione dell'uomo (1980), L'Asino d'oro edizioni, Rome, 2013

“She says, ‘My daughter died’, it’s not delusional perception. What’s she perceiving? There is no perception, rather, her perception suggests the opposite, if she’s seen her… So, what’s this? Might it be negation of reality? Instead of dreaming about it, she claimed it, at a conscious level, as a conscious thought. Thus, first of all, it was not a lie.

“It might sound like a lie, but one knows when one is lying, or it wouldn’t be a lie. If one is persuaded of having done something… that’s delusion. A liar knows full well when he or she is telling lies, just as one knows when one is telling the truth. Here, it wasn’t the case, so, it wasn’t a lie although it was something conscious because she was convinced of it, or the woman would have been a deceiver, a liar. So, is it negation? Meaning, deforming reality? Negation… deforming reality… I beg your pardon, I’m trying to recall what happened fifty-five years ago […].

“ ‘She died’… what does that mean? How is it commonly said? She’s no more. She is not with us anymore… this ‘not is not what it is. But, it’s not deformation of the image: it is absence, it is ‘there is not’. Might there be something else beyond negation? Oh yes. Something else that does not even exist in German, which never existed, so much so that it’s hard to understand how translators translated the word ‘annulment’.”

Rome, 2011 © Nuccio Russo

The study of delusional perception laid the foundations for Fagioli’s subsequent revolutionary theorization, meaning, the discovery of annulment.

“Thus, it came out that the annulment pulsion is related to…  delusional perception. Or, rather, it was the result of my research, beyond my clinical practice, into delusional perception – ‘He’s Satan’, ‘He’s Evil’, etc. –; it was unconsciously searching for what it is linked to, what lies behind delusional perception, and it’s the annulment pulsion that is syncretic to perception, it occurs simultaneously with perception itself: ‘Actually, she doesn’t exist’. You see, saying ‘My wife is stupid’ is a delusional interpretation as thought comes after perception; instead, here, there is the link with perception, which is in and of itself something that is not perceived because, then, behaviour is normal; nobody wants to go and see what there is inside themselves. She doesn’t exist[…].”

1963. Fagioli published another article, ‘Insulinoterapia e psicoterapia di gruppo’ [‘Insulin shock therapy and group psychotherapy’]. In this article, Fagioli wrote about his group psychotherapy involving a group of very severely ill young patients at the psychiatric hospital in Padua who were being treated with insulin shock therapy (it was also called Sakel’s therapy, a sort of chemical shock that, through the injection of insulin, caused hypoglycaemic coma in patients).

The article opened the way to subsequent research into the therapeutic practice for mental illnesses that, already in those years, was based on a unique ‘way’ of running group psychotherapy.

M.Fagioli, ‘Insulinoterapia e psicoterapia di gruppo: valore psicoterapeutico del “senso della schizofrenicità”’ in Archivio di psicologia, neurologia e psichiatria, XXIV, Vol. 1, 1963, pp. 545-557, and in Il sogno della farfalla, rivista di psichiatria e psicoterapia, Vol. 1, 2010, pp.11-21.

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M.Fagioli, Insulinoterapia e psicoterapia di gruppo: valore psicoterapeutico del “senso della schizofrenicità”

“The direction we followed was that of ‘getting together’ […]. The physician sets up a pre-reflexive, intuitive, irrational, spontaneous relationship [with the schizophrenic patient , Ed.] […]. The physician doesn’t just visit, doesn’t just examine the patient. Rather, he or she ‘spends time with the schizophrenic patient’ […]. Setting up the ‘insulin group’ as an interhuman environment where patients could spend part of their life answered the requirement not to limit psychiatric ‘therapy’ to the use of tools to calm patients or to get rid of the most evident symptoms of the disease so that patients could be discharged from hospital. We tried to do more, meaning we tried to allow patients to have a human and social life by reintegrating their personality.

M.Fagioli, ‘Insulinoterapia e psicoterapia di gruppo: valore psicoterapeutico del “senso della schizofrenicità”’ in Il sogno della farfalla, rivista di psichiatria e psicoterapia, Vol. 1, 2010, p.14.

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M.Fagioli, Insulinoterapia e psicoterapia di gruppo:
valore psicoterapeutico del “senso della schizofrenicità”
Rome, 2014 © Zingone

FROM INDIVIDUAL THERAPY TO THE FIRST THREE BOOKS

In 1963, while working in the therapeutic community in Switzerland, Fagioli started his psychoanalytic training, which he then continued in Rome with Prof. Nicola Perrotti until 1970.

So, I faced the unconscious, my own unconscious in the first place […]. Rather than finding it disappointing, I was very pleased by the fact that the analyst never talked, because the only two times he did talk, in almost six and a half years, he talked nonsense. But, despite that, I underwent analysis spending all those hours on the couch – it wasn’t that bad, it was pretty comfortable – elaborating this story of the unconscious, of dreams, by myself […].”

Storia di una ricerca. Lezioni 2002, L'Asino d'oro edizioni, Rome, 2018

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Storia di una ricerca. Lezioni 2002, L'Asino d'oro edizioni, Rome, 2018

“I didn’t count them but I think I spent seven hundred, eight hundred hours on the couch, for regular supervision sessions, despite the rage of my supervisors. There was one supervisor in particular, I can also tell his name as he’s dead now, a certain Corrao from Palermo, an outstanding professor and a member of the Italian Society of Psychoanalysis, who would lose his temper because, from time to time, he gave me a case to supervise, and I would tell him, ‘No, it’s not like this; it’s like that.’”

Storia di una ricerca. Lezioni 2002, p.50, L'Asino d'oro edizioni, Rome, 2018

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Storia di una ricerca. Lezioni 2002, L'Asino d'oro edizioni

In his private practice, in the relationship with the patients who asked for individual psychotherapy, Fagioli had the opportunity to elaborate his thought further:

“But, by carrying out individual analysis, searching here and searching there – I’ve always had this obsession for searching, for not trusting what was written in books – I discovered something […].”

Il pensiero nuovo. Lezioni 2004, Roma, L'Asino d'oro edizioni, Rome, 2011, p.48

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Il pensiero nuovo. Lezioni 2004, Roma, L'Asino d'oro edizioni, Rome, 2011

“I can’t remember how, but at the end of an individual analysis session, on my way home to play with my children, I thought about putting the word pulsion together with the symptom of scotoma. It’s a thought that had never existed […]. How did I happen to link it to this word? Maybe for my relationship with the patient, because I wasn’t carrying out research with indifference, I was doing research because there was the cure, and because research was linked to the cure: I had to discover why the patient was ill.

In so far as he accused me of having hurt him for not being there, what was he telling me? That there was something that hurt him. Was it my absence? But physical absence cannot hurt because the person is not there; physical presence can hurt through sadism, which affects the body; on the contrary, it’s mental absence, what I earlier called indifference or the lack of affectivity, that hurts. But I wasn’t indifferent, I wasn’t lacking affectivity. Then, I asked him, ‘Listen, might it be something that happens to you?’ ‘Me? No, I feel bad, it’s you who is evil!’ Absence… ‘Are you feeling bad because we won’t see each other for a month?’ […] I don’t remember all his more or less confused replies. I remember a few passages but, I repeat, it’s something that dates back forty years.

I composed these two words, pulsion and annulment. So, it must be he who expresses annulment. He makes me disappear: I’m not there. And if I don’t frustrate him, if I don’t oppose his thought, if I don’t show that this is a pathological thought, he feels bad because he knows he’s got rid of me, he thinks I’m no longer there. And if I’m no longer there, he is lost, he is ill and shall remain ill. Annulment pulsion: putting these two words together.”

Il pensiero nuovo. Lezioni 2004, Roma, L'Asino d'oro edizioni, Rome, 2011, pp. 29-30

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Il pensiero nuovo. Lezioni 2004, Roma, L'Asino d'oro edizioni, Rome, 2011
Lecture dated on March 12th, 2004, at the University of Chieti G. d'Annunzio, Chieti - Pescara

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March, 12th 2004

These elaborations led to the publication of the first edition of Death Instinct and Knowledge in 1972.

Istinto di morte e conoscenza.
Prima edizione 1972
Istinto di morte e conoscenza (1972),
L'Asino d'oro edizioni, Rome, 2017

In Death Instinct and Knowledge there is the elaboration of this pathological symptom and of how it is derived from physiology […]. How did I think of it? The patient told me, ‘You hurt me because you weren’t there’. I replied, ‘Sorry but what’s the logic behind that? How could I hurt you if I wasn’t there?’ Thus, what hurts would be absence, something that is not sadism and is not physical violence. And, this is pretty linear.

But then, why and how did I get to saying that pulsion starts at birth? I followed a reasoning: when passing from intrauterine movement to life at birth and being exposed to light, warmth, cold, the newborn would die in a short while; thus, external stimuli at birth are excessive for human beings’ offspring. That’s not the same for animals: baby antelopes and lambs immediately stand up and graze; on the contrary, newborn babies are extremely fragile. Thus, I said to myself, if the newborn is alive, he or she must have a sort of reaction.

“I’ve always learned everything from women, who never say, ‘You’re so ugly, you’re bothering me, you’re boring,’ rather, they turn their heads, don’t see you anymore, you don’t exist anymore. Is it possible that the newborn does the same thing? That he or she hides, shuts him or herself within a condition we can say is of indifference, thereby stopping perceiving external stimuli? Wouldn’t it be like what happens with scotoma when, despite there not being physical impairment, there is no sensibility?

So, the first pulsion is annulment! Damn it, what did I get myself into?! If I had stopped at the discovery of the annulment pulsion at birth, I would have been Heideggerian, I would have said that true human nature is Nazism, that human identity is achieved through the elimination of others […]. Why didn’t I stop there? […] I don’t know why I thought there existed another reality to be considered for the human species […].”

Fantasia di sparizione. Lezioni 2007, L'Asino d'oro edizioni, Rome, 2009, pp.67-70

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Fantasia di sparizione. Lezioni 2007, L'Asino d'oro edizioni, Rome, 2009

“It’s because I also considered the existence of biological reality, which Nazis and Catholics forgot about. But, I shouldn’t say they forgot about it, they actually annulled biological reality! It’s from biological reality that a certain thing arises, thus, the annulment pulsion at birth is not annulment pulsion, rather, it acquires, it gets to acquire what I thought of fifty years ago, ‘fantasy’. Wow, human beings are born with fantasy.

L'idea della nascita umana. Lezioni 2010, L'Asino d'oro edizioni, Rome, 2015, p. 63

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L'idea della nascita umana. Lezioni 2010, L'Asino d'oro edizioni, Rome, 2015

And it’s thanks to vitality [biological reality, Ed.] that the annulment pulsion at birth is not annulment pulsion; and, in fact, luckily enough, I didn’t call it annulment pulsion but disappearance fantasy. […] And I verbally explained that the annulment pulsion comes after, and it’s a disease because it stems from the loss of vitality and eliminates, makes other human beings non-existent, which is not the case with the disappearance fantasy.”

Fantasia di sparizione. Lezioni 2007, L'Asino d'oro edizioni, Rome, 2009, p.70

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Fantasia di sparizione. Lezioni 2007, L'Asino d'oro edizioni, Rome, 2009

The two books that followed, where Fagioli expounded and further elaborated his discovery, were written simultaneously. In 1974, La marionetta e il burattino was first published.

“Almost four years after the elaboration of Death Instinct and Knowledge, I felt the requirement to resume a discourse that had been started, propose it again, expound a few aspects that had only been touched upon, highlight what was latent. Human beings’ dimension of development merges with the development of knowledge that should be realized in the first place as seeing and refusing that which is inhuman in human beings.

La marionetta e il burattino (1974), L'Asino d'oro edizioni, Rome, 2011, p. 287

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La marionetta e il burattino (1974), L'Asino d'oro edizioni, Rome, 2011

The following year, in 1975, Teoria della nascita e castrazione umana, the so-called third book, was published.

“This volume stems from a work I carried out in parallel with, and which followed, without interruptions, the writing of the previous book, La marionetta e il burattino. But, in truth, on closer inspection, it follows the other one, the discourse I made four years ago with Death Instinct and Knowledge.”

Teoria della nascita e castrazione umana (1975), L'Asino d'oro edizioni, Rome, 2012, p.281

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Teoria della nascita e castrazione umana (1975),
L'Asino d'oro edizioni, Rome, 2012
La separazione [Separation], 1996 © M.Fagioli

In what is by now known as the ‘third book’, there reigns sovereign the term ‘separation’. And, thus, I find the words to read this term, and I write: there was in it, expressed with thoughts that told the truth about human reality, the vision of movement rather than stillness for the repetition of being like others, not different from others, from which one can part by realizing refusal, separation, distance and… transformation, as if each time one could recreate his or her own birth.

Left 2011, L'Asino d'oro edizioni, Rome, 2014, p.168

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Left 2011, L'Asino d'oro edizioni, Rome, 2014

And, after fifteen years, they told me that the third book was the reason why they came, the reason for their questions, their hate, their madness. They told me they had not believed in the discovery of human birth […]. Internal fantasy makes one see the things the eyes do not see and reason does not think of. That which happens, in the unconscious, at birth, at weaning, when seeing a human being that is different from oneself, at puberty. ‘You say you know it’. I know it. Three books.”

Teoria della nascita e castrazione umana (1975), L'Asino d'oro edizioni, Rome, 2012, p.287

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Teoria della nascita e castrazione umana (1975),
L'Asino d'oro edizioni, Rome, 2012

ANALISI COLLETTIVA [Collective Analysis]

1975 saw the beginning of Analisi collettiva and, in January 1976, Fagioli interpreted the first dream publically. In his relationship with a huge number of anonymous people, Fagioli continued his theoretical research merged with his psychotherapeutic practice.

“As if they were made of wood and metal fused together, I composed the words: disappearance fantasy, unconscious calm sea, memory-fantasy of the experience one has lived. Several years went by in which intense psychotherapy activity of a large group took place. The words Analisi collettiva gave a name to a practice of research into the obscure world which human beings’ anguish of losing rational identify had prevented from looking at.”

Left 2011, L'Asino d'oro edizioni, Rome, 2014, p.11

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Left 2011, L'Asino d'oro edizioni, Rome, 2014
© M. Fagioli

“They have written, or it has come forth from their pens, that, beyond incomprehensible group psychotherapy, beyond specific research into psychology and psychiatry, there is a cultural phenomenon that is spreading. It is a new way of seeing human beings’ reality, which stems from knowledge of ‘unknowable’ thought, it is the discovery of that which is invisible, the annulment pulsion, it is human birth theory, which jeopardizes a norm that is based on human identity as rationality of wakefulness, of consciousness and of verbal thought.

Left 2009, L'Asino d'oro edizioni, Rome, 2012, pp. 30.31

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Left 2009, L'Asino d'oro edizioni, Rome, 2012

IL SOGNO DELLA FARFALLA, the journal

“And I often recalled how the word psyche translates into ‘butterfly’ when being translated from Greek to Italian. And twenty years ago, the title of the screenplay and of the journal of psychotherapy came to me spontaneously: Il sogno della farfalla [The dream of the butterfly, Ed.]. Thus, I refused the thought by Plato who deleted from the human mind the girl who married Cupid, the god of love […].”

Left 2010, L'Asino d'oro edizioni, Roma 2013, pp.203

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Left 2010, L'Asino d'oro edizioni, Roma 2013

In 1992, the first issue of the quarterly journal of psychiatry and psychotherapy, Il sogno della farfalla, was published. The journal was founded by a group of psychiatrists, who have based their clinical activity on the theoretical work and the practice of Massimo Fagioli.

The title of the journal is also the title of a screenplay Fagioli wrote, and which was published in the first issue of the journal, whose main character is a boy who does not speak, not because he is dumb but because he refuses common language and decides to express himself in a different way. Thereby, the journal aimed at overcoming what, in the history of psychiatry and of human thought, has always been considered to be incompatible: historical incompatibility between research into the unconscious and reality of a science, psychiatry, whose difficult role is to face and defeat mental illness. And, this is still the aim of the journal.

Over the years, Fagioli wrote many significant articles of psychiatry for the journal such as ‘Una depressione’ [‘A depression’], which was first published in 1993, and ‘La psichiatria come psicoterapia’ [‘Psychiatry as psychotherapy’], published in 2013.

© M. Fagioli

I never told you,
but I killed my mother to be with you.
I never told you,
but I left my father to be with you.
I never told you,
but I parted from my brother to be with you …
I could only love you once I was alone…
I could only love you once silence
reigned in my life.

M.Fagioli, Il sogno della farfalla, rivista di psichiatria e psicoterapia, Vol. 1,1992, p.51

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M.Fagioli, Il sogno della farfalla, rivista di psichiatria e psicoterapia, Vol. 1,1992

ARTICLES IN LEFT

“Then, I think how, in the last few years, I have not written, for an urge that comes from an unknown internal force, a new theory. I am undoubtedly refining a language that, without inventing new and… strange words, links, states, gives a name to human realities which have always been unknown.”

Left 2011, L'Asino d'oro edizioni, Rome, 2014, p.244

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Left 2011, L'Asino d'oro edizioni, Rome, 2014

In February 2006, Fagioli was invited to write a weekly column. Trasformazione [Transformation] in the magazine Left. In his weekly articles, which he went on writing until February 2017, Fagioli expounded the theoretical research he had started sixty years before.

“Many years went by, Analisi collettiva was born, it developed, I wrote for Left every week. And, now, I think how the invisible movement, which lies in interhuman relationships, linked to the word ‘time’. And by merging, the two terms stimulated vitality that made the continuous flow of thoughts gush out which tried to ‘see’ non-perceivable reality through the words: separating, distinguishing, giving precise identity to the disappearance fantasy.”

Left 2011, L'Asino d'oro edizioni, Rome, 2014, p.143

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Left 2011, L'Asino d'oro edizioni, Rome, 2014

In August 2006, he entitled one of his articles in Left,
‘Vorstellungsvermögen, capability to imagine’.

“‘Human beings are, by nature, social beings,’ Marx said, and I succeeded in comprehending that ‘by nature’. It was not easy for me as I had thought of the dynamic of birth which, once it was written, became a theory. The disappearance fantasy occurs for pulsion which is simultaneously (it does not become) capability to imagine because it is fused with vitality which, before light comes, is possibility of life. The reaction of the cerebral matter to light that makes the annulment pulsion against the world is imagining.

And the newborn is alone with his Vorstellungsvermögen: but I have never doubted about the social nature of human beings. It is evident that the newborn can only remain alone for twelve hours; and I saw that he or she can take the breast and go on living only if he or she has realized the capability to imagine (Vorstellungsvermögen).”

Left 2006, L'Asino d'oro edizioni, Rome, 2009, pp.148-149

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Left 2006, L'Asino d'oro edizioni, Rome, 2009
Rome, 2015 © Stefano D'Amadio

Then, in 2008, there started research into that moment at the beginning of human life which, in 2011, was called ‘twenty seconds’.

“There come again two superb words that speak of scientific certainty. I had already said that biological studies confirm the thought according to which human life is not linked to breathing but to the functioning of the brain, which reacts to light thus simultaneously realizing pulsion and the memory of physical sensibility, which is image.

Breathing comes after. But, those thirty or forty seconds before crying, when the newborn does not breathe, tell us that, in human beings, there starts the possibility to measure time from the silence in which thought is invisible but exists and is active, just as it is during sleep.”

Left 2008, L'Asino d'oro edizioni, Rome, 2011, p.161

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Left 2008, L'Asino d'oro edizioni, Rome, 2011

“And, now, I see the image of the newborn who has just come out from the birth canal, and I know the body will let the arms and the head fall as if there were no life. For twenty seconds. The two verbal terms recall but do not speak of a time nobody has ever thought about.

Left 2011, L'Asino d'oro edizioni, Rome, 2014, p.10

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Left 2011, L'Asino d'oro edizioni, Rome, 2014
Passepartout: ospite a sorpresa, Arturo Tv - interview with Massimo Fagioli dated November 21st,2011, published in Il sogno della farfalla, rivista di psichiatria e psicoterapia, Vol. 3,2017, pp.30-40

Watch the full video
Passepartout: ospite a sorpresa, Arturo Tv, 2011
Left, July 30th, 2016

TWENTY-ONE WORDS

From November 2015, Fagioli carried out further research, focusing on significantly more exact words to describe the dynamic of human birth.

Rome, 2016 © MaWi video

And, in the last few years, there have come the words that spoke of a reality which had never had a voice. And, as if borne by the wind or the rain, it said by asking, ‘But, what is the reality of the first few seconds after birth before the first cry, which is breath?’ […] We all knew that the psychiatrist had thought and seen that life starts with the stimulation by light. And light comes before breathing and crying. However, fifty years ago, he had not yet mentioned the time of life made of twenty seconds of silence.”

Left 2012, L'Asino d'oro edizioni, Rome, 2015, p.227

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Left 2012, L'Asino d'oro edizioni, Rome, 2015

Twenty words that did not exist before..
[…] The twenty words came one, two, three at a time and they took their place after hearing each others’ sound. They did not disavow the ancient thought which cannot be different. Writing: pulsion, vitality, creation, existence… would not have been a separation from dominant culture but the impossibility of a relationship with human beings. The disappearance fantasy was the truth of the movement of my mind that was refusal and not negation. It was thinking–seeing differently from those who had never succeeded in looking at the thought of sleep that was without consciousness.

The disappearance fantasy is reaction, the disappearance fantasy is pulsion, the disappearance fantasy is creation, the disappearance fantasy is existence, the disappearance fantasy is time, the disappearance fantasy is capability to imagine. Twenty seconds.”

Left 2016-17, L'Asino d'oro edizioni, Rome, soon to be released

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Left, July 30th 2016
Immagine-pensiero-copertina-video

BIBLIOGRAPHY

 

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