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Gerardo Castillo, Professor Emeritus of the School of Education and Psychology

The vertigo generation

Tue, 27 Sep 2016 10:13:00 +0000 Published in The Confidential

To prevent and/or cope with addiction to narcotic substances there is a core topic devised by López Quintás (2006): avoid everything that can lead to "vertigo" status and know how to go from vertigo to "ecstasy".

Vertigo" here is not a fear of heights, but a psychological predisposition to be seduced, obsessed or fascinated by something that takes us away from ourselves.

In the famous film "Vertigo", directed by Alfred Hitchcok, the actor James Stewart is a retired detective who suffers from vertigo, a limitation that will prove decisive after accepting a new case. In the comments made about the film, vertigo is usually only mentioned as a fear of heights. In my opinion, vertigo is also present as the protagonist's fascination and obsession with the unknown and the unreal. López Quintás explains this second vertigo with an example that I summarize below.

Faced with a person of the other sex who attracts me, I can adopt two possible attitudes. The first is to see her as a means to my own selfish ends, reducing her to a mere resource to obtain pleasurable sensations. In this way I reduce her from a person to an object, preventing the meeting staff . The initial euphoria thus ends in sadness. That is the process of vertigo.

The second possible attitude is to see the other first of all as a person and to establish a respectful relationship oriented towards a possible "meeting" staff. In this last status ("ecstasy") I feel joy and the possibility of development staff .

The same author lists and describes 27 types of vertigo or fascination. One of them is "the vertigo of the submission to the overwhelming power of the various instincts". It refers to one who allows himself to be swept along by the drive of an instinctual force believing (erroneously) that he is asserting himself in his being staff. This path leads to alienation. Submission to instinct manifests itself in two forms of consumerism: alcohol and drugs.

I think that the current way of life of adolescents and young people who opt for vertigo corresponds to the old carpe diem, the motto of Latin origin coined by the poet Horace. The full phrase is: "carpe diem quam minimun crédula postero" (Seize each day, don't trust tomorrow).

This slogan invites us to make the most of our time, not to waste it. It is, in principle, a positive proposal that appeals to industriousness and responsibility. However, throughout history it was interpreted as an invitation to a hedonistic and narcissistic way of life: enjoy in the present time all the sensible pleasures, without thinking about the future, which is unpredictable. It is the juvenile behavior that Polaino defined as hedonistic instantaneism".

It is a thoughtless, impatient, selfish and irresponsible way of living. Unfortunately, some teenagers and young people today are following it. For them it means being "liberated" from "moral prejudices" in order to live in a "natural" way. They confuse freedom with licentiousness, the moral rule with repression and the natural with the instinctive. The latter had already happened to Freud.

Vicente Verdú's prologue to Douglas Coupland's novel Generation X (1993) perfectly situates topic. Coupland describes a broad sector of today's adolescence and youth as a large agglomerate of conformist, passive and abulic people, who are an unknown quantity; that is why he speaks of "Generation X". "The Xs lack a vindictive fury. They have not been conceived as rebels, but as residues. They do not feel solidarity, but individuals. They do not constitute a movement; they are, for the most part, unemployed".

The well-known biographical novel by José Ángel Mañas Historias del Kronen, (1994) reinforces Coupland's thesis . group The title refers to the place where a group of teenagers meet to go out at night, the cafeteria Kronen in Madrid. Starting from this place they travel around the city from cafeteria to cafeteria. They move in a marginal world characterized by drugs, sex, drinks and rock concerts.

In my opinion, many of these young people suffer from a void of values that families and schools failed to fill at the time. They do not recognize themselves as a generation that must pass on a message to the next generation.

It must be said in their defense that they live in "The age of emptiness" (Lipovetsky, 2014), a time of apathy, indifference and desertion. Excessively permissive idleness is often linked to a subculture characterized by the narcissistic syndrome: an exaggerated attention to everything related to the body, health and sex, with forgetfulness of the life of the spirit. This attitude is not exclusive to adolescents. There is an old book with this degree scroll: "Education of the children? Education of the parents".