Teenagers, Bonds, and De-confinement*

by Julieta Lucero

Confinement has shown, contrary to initial expectations that it is not in vain to question ourselves about the fact that perhaps we can bear distance kindlier than closeness. What is striking about this matter is that, if we were thinking of the bond to be what intrinsically defines the human being, perhaps today we should, as a result of recent events, question the validity of such notion. What is more, maybe it is a distance showing us the pre-existence of an imperative, or incessant drive, to a specific bond, that we find indispensable. However, we still cannot conceive a possible way out but cling to one another.

Still, what do we understand by bonding?

Precisely Psychoanalysis work with adolescents, taking them as a paradigm, inquire in this respect: does the fact that someone comes out of his solitude to forge relationships necessarily lead him to do something with others? Does it mean that someone will be willing to create long-lasting bonds?

It is already possible to think that a new time is approaching in which ties will acquire a new status. The planning of a future sustained by virtual connections occurs, where there will be more time and more space to acknowledge what else we will do with ourselves: the time to rethink, the purpose of sustaining bonds with others. And when we ask ourselves about meaning, we may also wonder about when this will be possible. For not only will the bonding space be compromised in our future, but, in the same way, time will be. The perception we have had of the latter is definitely in check: we do not even know how long we will be able to inhabit it.

Conceiving the idea of prioritizing a destiny where people will be working on themselves and, consequently determined to relate to others becomes crucial when observing teens today, who prefer a bond with machines. The problem is not with devices influencing men, but rather the many activities and tasks that the machine will overtake in interaction with them. Therefore, parents’ opportunities (set by time and space) to insert and guide someone’s life will be sparse. It is essential to count on parents who are mindfully enlightening their children.

On the other side of this confinement, there will be a well-timed moment to understand both, what we have lost in critical circumstances, as well as what; perhaps unknowingly, we continue to reproduce. A typical example of the latter will be the usual excesses in our adolescents’ behavior that are still unapproachable for parents (which undoubtedly occurred before confinement).

However, what we do find in teenagers today is surprisingly stillness. Although also, at other times, there are excesses, as was to be expected. But the eagerness in many to avoid leaving home is striking. Paradoxically, on the one hand, those accused of unleashing the ‘second and third wave’ plus later mutations of the virus seem to be playing their part. On the other hand, the pluralized and concerned consultations because of unusual reactions of self-imprisonment are arising.

Likewise, it is necessary not to rush into believing that we must rehabilitate the old ‘normality,’ as it may be part of the reasons for the present situation. Rather than recuperating, it seems essential to define how to continue. That is: where to, and to that extent, when would it be convenient to halt. The purpose of going out on each particular occasion should not be a trivial question.

Remarkably, as a civilization, we are in a teen state of mind: we adapt ourselves to what the world expects from us, or we seek to re-invent everything. The precise location of one’s place concerning the other has become blurred. The lack of clarity to answer questions concerning the essence of principal, purpose and action when bonding to one another speak of the generalized effects that the pandemic had had towards us. One perhaps misunderstand that this questions require an individual.

Perhaps, revisiting the ideas about the work with limits (so often mentioned in the regular appointment with adolescents), since they do not necessarily refer to a clinical problem but, instead, allow us to clarify our position when with others. Today we know that there will be a distancebecause Psychoanalysis introduces itself as the praxis that distinguishes the limits in which life plays and what comes beyond. The value of guidance in the limits will have a preponderant role in men’s near future, and its consequence will be, fundamentally, social.

It is not clear to us today whether a traditional bond will be necessary and what will happen, or what may emerge, in its place.

Perhaps it will also be necessary for someone (young or not) to count on the occasions in which questioning is vital. Now more than ever, the known structures supporting men’s functionality have been shaken, if not crumbled, by the urgency installed in the past year. Let us not forget that what is most present is the lack of time in this situation.

Consequently, we can no longer, nor should we, take what makes a bond to last on time, for granted. In which producing new solutions create articulations between them and shape and mold new limits.

It is imperative to work with teenagers, and therefore with ourselves as adults, in this context.

Guarding an adolescent against encountering limits, which are his own, would prolong his state of naivety in this respect. Instead, perhaps, we should convey them to learn about their boundaries in extent and how, from this point onward, it is possible to re-invent their lives with others for good. In which case, what will persist is not the bond per seibut what is happening in it. Once and for all, new articulations’ infinite possibilities to create meaningful, productive, and valuable connections must prevail.


* JLN with Javier Bolaños & Florencia Bernthal Raz. In LEAP.