Psychoanalysis of Being a Goan

Image Caption: Goencho Patrao

Can we do psychoanalysis of Goan identity? Is there an inner world that animates Goans everywhere? Goan society is complex and multilayered and maybe it is difficult to analyse the psycho-myth that drives it. Like every society Goan society does have a psycho-myth that somehow interacts with every Goan’s impulses, feelings, fears and fantasies. There are distinct psychic layers in Goan society. But to dig into it, one would require profound expertise to which I lay no claim. These psychic layers assist Goans to bring about a synthesis between their inner life and their social reality that conveys a sense of consistency to their life. This means there are individual, social, historical, regional and cultural layers that make the psychic life of a Goan. It is that which informs the shared inner world which in turns manifests in each individual’s life as well as our society at large. Here, I by virtue of vicarious introspection, try to open the conditions that bestow a good sense of being a Goan on us all. It is the Goan culture which is akin to the air we breathe that enables each of us to become vibrant Goans. This process of becoming a Goan occurs within the matrix that embeds an inherent conflict between the wishes, drives, and impulses of individual personality on one hand and repressive constraints of our culture, religion and tradition on other hand. These mechanisms of social control are internalised as superego as Freud would teach us or we may view it as the big Other in Lacan’s sense.

There is a gap between what a person really is and what the person is expected to be. This means there is a gap between our psychological identity and our symbolic identity. There is a symbolic order to which we have to align into to live out as Goans. We may look at it as a symbolic space within which we live as Goans. In the Lacanian language, this symbolic space is the big Other. It regulates our being Goan. Any regulation or law stimulates a transgressive desire to break it. This means that the big Other triggers performatives. Performatives in philosophical parlance are speech acts that accomplish in the very enunciation the state of affair that they declare. Thus, I say ‘the meeting is closed’ is a performative speech act. In this context we can think of them as symbols , rites, customs etc that make us Goans. It is by immersing ourselves in these acts we become Goans. there are tens and thousands of performatives of being a Goan. The ideologies of the big Other/ superego of Freud perpetuates the past and tradition. This is why the weight of goan-ness belongs to the space of the big Other. Goan-ness is mediated through the organising principle that Lacan calls big Other. It allows as well as forbids. Thus, it generates templates/ performatives of being Goans which could be lived out by us. Each Goans goanizes by actualization of these several templates/ performatives.

These templates are rooted into the symbolic space of the big other that houses the unconscious of our society. Although the unconscious is terra incognita for Freud, Lacan suggests that it is structured like a language. As such it is constituted by the subject’s articulation in the symbolic order. It is not biological as Freud thought but is social. It is not within us but is between us. Taking our cue from Lacan, one can hold that the unconscious of our society is marked by our cultural attitude that we all call susegado. Our sense of contentment and enthusiastic enjoyment of the unfolding of life is free play of Goan susegad culture emanating from our social unconscious. In this contest, we might also pay heed to Deleuze and Gauttari who teach that the unconscious exists as much as we actively create it. It also means society can have plural unconscious, caste, religion, history as well as geography. We can see a plurality in the social unconscious of Goa based on castes, religions, relations to the past as well as regions. The susegado attitude being the mark of our social unconscious, Goans seem to find a right balance between the restless id and parenting super-ego. Susegado as a social force chiefly emanates from the adult ego state and has a happy calming effect on us Goans.

There is a paradox about us Goans. Although, we exhibit happy go lucky, susegado attitude yet we treat each other as rivals. Our crab mentality conflicts with our laid back, happy and content life. We can easily trace the roots of crab mentality into collective insecurities. But, our securities and fears can be largely addressed by susegado structured unconscious. We can also find an alternate root of our crabish rivalry. Lacan views that our desire is always a surrogate and mimetic. Rene Girard teaches that our mimetic desire is the cause violence. Thus, it seems that we want to enjoy the enjoyment of the other not because of insecurity but are driven by an imitative impulse. Maybe we can see our crab mentality as mimetic desire. Some of us may find the roots of the rivalry in the myth of ‘Koleache and Koleche ghor’. It seems to illustrate our basic ability to face the other. ‘kolache and Koleche ghor’ could be the Psycho-myth that guide our inter-relations. What we have attempted he a psychoanalysis of Goann-ness. As such, it still stands imperfect and has to be perfected through more research and reflection. Goanizing being a dynamic process, the changing environment brings about its own challenges of becoming Goans. This is why becoming a Goan today may be more challenging than before because the Big Other of being a Goan may be itself melting into the monstrosity of a larger OTHER that is emanating into our society that is open to influences from our country and the world at large.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao