The Covid-19 pandemic has had many disturbing psychological consequences, including widespread increases in rates of depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. Overlapping these categories, other psychic effects include a collective distortion in our experience of time. Traditional demarcations of time have been suspended or overridden during the pandemic, and as a result, rituals, ceremonies, and routines for observing the passage of time have become unsettled, such as endings, mourning, and transience. The author looks at a clinical example of unresolved mourning in an adolescent boy that became re-activated in parallel to the many imposed losses brought on by the social and educational restrictions of the Covid-19 pandemic. Remembrance felt threatened during a period that has been characterized by monotony and the digitalization of ever larger aspects of daily living. Collective “going on being”, a term from Winnicott, has become fraught because of the pandemic’s effects on the psyche, one of which has been the appearance of a very troubled relationship with time as lived experience to define our existence.
By Robert Tyminski