Anacardium state: National schizophrenia and the return of suppressed wills

Hanaa Ebeid , Monday 26 May 2014

The ballot box alone will not heal the divided psychological state in Egypt following the January 25 Revolution, brought to a head on 30 June 2013 and thereafter

Anacardium represents a mental/emotional state described in alternative medicine, especially homeopathy, as one of intense inner conflict and double will. It's a condition most close to schizophrenia, and bipolar disorders and signifies a shattered self and all the suffering that it brings therein. It is thus one of the most debilitating states where one is in conflict most with a tormenting self. Anacardium is the botanical name for cashew nuts and the schism in the plant, as in most cashew nuts, symbolises this theme of duality, inner conflict or divided self. 

In a body politic, anacardium, or deep divided states, expectedly follow eras of drastic change and best correspond to the Egyptian psyche in the aftermath of the January 25 Revolution. The extraordinary unitary revolutionary energy soon gave way to sharp contradictions and conflicting dualities reshaping at every point, the most intense of which could be identified as: the revolutionary versus the conservative; and the secular (national) versus the religious.

These contradictions are being shaped by the crossroads situation of the post-revolutionary moment, following decades of automatic or artificial harmony where politics was clinically dead. Hence, the divide itself, or the existence of different political affinities, choices, interests or contesting path/preferences is not the problem per se — politics is in essence about managing differences. It is rather how these differences manifest and are dealt with, which may lead to either a normal or an Anacardium state.

Plurality or heterogeneity is therefore not the core of this condition, nor does the presence of a seeming consensus that has a large or even a majority backing testify to its absence. The sheer numbers of proponents clustering around each differing choice or will, and whether the contradiction comes from a minority or a majority is not telling of a state of consensual health. It is the intensity of the divide, the embedded violence, the denial of the other's existence, rights and moral claims, and the suffering and debilitating state that this "double will" brings, that lies at the heart of the malady.

Under this state of mind, ballots don't mean or matter much. Most elections and polls since the January 25 Revolution yielded at least a two-third majority or a voting in of political actors, choices and paths with significant backing. Despite this apparent consensus, presumably supported by popular will, the shadow will and the left out voice(s) always proved too intense to let any ensuing process develop smoothly, and sabotage has invariably been the name of the game.

An early sign to this divided state was the cashew results of the first presidential elections post-revolution, where the underlying simmering schism denied any claim to even numerical or superficial consensus. However, as in schizophrenic states, each will is only self-conscious and is either totally unaware or despising of the other.

The rhetoric of exclusion in today's Egyptian politics is overwhelming; the "we are the ballots" discourse under the one-year Islamists' rule, has been replaced by "we are the people" since 30 June 2013, whereas the suppressed will decided they were the "denied legitimacy." Totally opaque to the other is what makes the comeback of the shadow or suppressed will most sudden and unexpected, because it was too unheard of and refuted, making its revengeful comeback overwhelming.

In this light can be viewed the massive protest of 30 June leading up to the military ouster of Islamist rule, and the current acts of violence by and against Islamists and proponents of the Morsi regime. What is most concerning about this state is not only the shattered mind. Worse and most dangerous is that morality and emotion is also contested. The most horrible violence or apathy towards cruelty in this sense is perpetrated or justified under the guise of some kind of specific unshared sense of morality. Indifference to the torture or sufferings of the past three years, to the extent of celebrating violence, has invariably been depicted as a service to a higher cause or a one-sided selective morality.

In this sense, most acts of violence have been proclaimed by the custodians of the nation, the guardians of religion, or to a much lesser degree the defenders of a revolutionary dream. The power to inflict violence naturally associates with authority. Psychologically, prospects for cruelty also escalate with authority, especially in imbalanced states. An Anacardium state tends to increase in hardness and violence, as its authority consolidates. This has consistantly applied to the triumphant will vis-a-vis the suppressed or defeated in the aftermath of the revolution — only the severity of violence and its magnitude have been on the rise.

The drama of Rabaa that saw unmatched violence in Egyptian recent history is totally unspoken of outside the circles of Islamists, or is deemed a tribute to the nation, whereas the scene of the hunted military plane by jihadists, celebrating the killing of soldiers in the name of God, are but mere examples of this shattered morality. While Egypt is heading towards new presidential elections with the sureness and confidence of a 98 percent vote for the post-Morsi constitution under 30 June triumphantalism, one only wonders when and how the shadow will(s) could re-emerge with a vengeance!

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