Letters from Cape Town and San Francisco
by Ronald Davies and Alice Lowe Shaw
March 19, 2020
Cape Town, South Africa
I work privately and in our public health system—where most of our patients come from severely impoverished backgrounds—where therapy can be framed as being psychoanalytically informed.
Reading all these offerings, I extend my deepest feelings of empathy to all of you who are suffering under these extreme conditions of isolation, deprivation, and death. Simultaneously, we are having heightened anxiety and fear for our patients in our public health system who have to sit in public waiting areas, where stringent preventative measures have yet to be put in place and where the isolation—which I want to scream for, both for them and myself—most likely is not possible given their impoverished living conditions and which may be a barrier we are not able to put in place timeously—or maybe not at all.
Our fears grow that this virus will soon enter our poorer communities, where there are also high rates of HIV/TB/diabetes infection and where the devastation may be incalculable.
It leaves me feeling afraid, angry, and helpless.
San Francisco, California, USA
What you have described of the current conditions and anticipated devastation in the poorer communities of your region is heartbreaking and a harsh reminder to hold in our minds, and consider for actions, the poorest and/or most marginalized among us.
As well, I am heartened by the open, thoughtful, compassionate sharings among this psychoanalytic body.
Wishing safety, health, recovery for all!
Alice Lowe Shaw
Ronald Davies, MA, is a candidate at the South African Psychoanalytical Association (SAPA), Cape Town.
Alice Lowe Shaw, PhD, is a member of the Psychoanalytic Institute of Northern California (PINC) in San Francisco.
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