Essay // Coronavirus (Covid-19 / SARS-CoV-2): A wake up call to Human Civilization

Coronavirus Chinois COVID-19

What we know about the ugly SARS-CoV-2 virus is that it is among a group of coronaviruses that causes diseases in animals and birds, and respiratory tract infections in humans. These infections tend to be mild, but in rarer forms such as the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) they can be fatal. The current outbreak declared by the World Health Organization (WHO) is caused by SARS-CoV-2 which has a close genetic similarity to bat coronaviruses and are thought to have been its likely origin.

The wild tornado in the body: how the infection starts and kills

COVID-19 seems to be spread in a similar way to cold and flu bugs; through droplets being left on surfaces after a person coughs or sneezes, which are then touched by other people and spread furtherThe Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2 / CoVID-19) is currently killing thousands of people every hour globally and clinicians and pathologists are still trying to fully understand how it inflicts such damage as it tears through the human body. Although it well know that the lungs are ground zero (i.e. the main point of impact), the virus can extend to many other organs including the heart and blood vessels, kidneys, guts and brain. « Its ferocity is breathtaking and humbling », said Krumholz a cardiologist from Yale university.

The infection begins when an infected subject expels virus-laden droplets and another person inhales them, the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus then enters the nose and throat and finds a comfortable home in the lining of the nose according to scientists from the Wellcome Sanger Institute. This region is lined with cell-surface receptor known as ACE2 (i.e. Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2) which are present throughout the body to help regulate blood pressure but it also marks tissues vulnerable to infectionThe virus requires this receptor to enter a cell, and once inside it hijacks the cell’s machinery, multiplies itself and takes over new cells. During the period where the virus is multiplying itself, an infected person may shed copious amounts of it, especially during the first weekThere may not be any symptoms at this point, or the victim may develop a fever, dry cough, sore throat, loss of smell and taste, or head and body achesIf the immune system does not destroy the virus at this early stage, then it moves down the windpipe and starts to wreck havoc in the lungs where it can become deadly.

The thinner, distant branches of the lungs respiratory tree end in tiny air sacs called alveoli [alveolus (single], each lined by a single layer of cells that are also rich in ACE2 receptors, the very same receptors that allows the virus to penetrate. When we are in good health oxygen crosses the alveoli into the capillaries, which are tiny blood vessels that lie beside the air sacs (alveoli), this oxygen is then transported to the other regions of our bodyBut, when the immune system is stressed and fighting ardently against the virus, the battle disrupts the oxygen transferThe front-line white blood cells release inflammatory molecules called chemokines, which in turn create more immune cells that target and destroy virus-infected cellsWhen these infected cells are destroyed by the chemokines, they leave a stew of fluid and dead cells – pus – behindThis process is the scenario that takes places in pneumonia and the corresponding symptoms are: coughing; fever; and fast, shallow breathing. In some cases, we find COVID-19 patients who recover, sometimes simply with oxygen breathed in through nasal prongs.

However, in other unfortunate scenarios, patients often deteriorate suddenly to develop a condition referred to as acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), where they struggle to breathe as the oxygen levels in their blood falls abruptly. On x-rays and computed tomography scans, the lungs of these patients are shown to be riddled with white opacities where instead healthy dark space [i.e. air] should beThese cases end up on ventilators and many dieAutopsies have shown their alveoli (air sacs) stuffed with fluid, white blood cells, mucus and the detritus of destroyed lung cells.

Coronavirus COVID-19 Breathing, lungs, alveoli, immune system

Image: The cross section shows immune cells crowding an inflamed alveolus (air sac) whose walls break down during attack by the virus causing reduced oxygen intake – patients cough, experience rising fever and breathing becomes difficult / Source: Wadman (2020)

Some clinicians are suspecting the driving force that leads to severely ill patients’ downhill trajectory and death to be a disastrous overreaction of their own body’s immune system, a reaction referred to as a « cytokine storm« , which viral infections are known to trigger. Cytokines are chemical signaling molecules that guide a healthy immune response, however, in a cytokine storm, the level of cytokines rise beyond the level of what is needed, and hence this excessive rush [i.e. storm] of immune cells also start to attack and destroy healthy tissues – these individuals’ blood vessels leak, blood pressure drops, blood clots form, and catastrophic organ failure can follow.

Some studies (Chen et al., 2020) have demonstrated elevated levels of these inflammation-inducing cytokines (Huang et al., 2020) in the blood of hospitalised COVID-19 patients. Jamie Garfield, a pulmonologist who treats COVID-19 patients at the Temple University Hospital argues that the real morbidity and mortality of this disease is probably driven by this out of proportion inflammatory response of the human immune system to the virus. However, other medical professionals are not convinced. “There seems to have been a quick move to associate COVID-19 with these hyperinflammatory states. I haven’t really seen convincing data that that is the case,” said Joseph Levitt, a pulmonary critical care physician at the Stanford University School of Medicine. Levitt is also worried that efforts to develop several drugs to dampen the cytokine response could actually cause harm by suppressing the immune response that our body needs to fight off the virus.

We find different views among the academic community on this new virus. Others are viewing it from a completely different perspective, and are focusing on the heart and blood vessels, that they believe is playing a significant role in the rapid deterioration of some patients.

Tearing the heart

All the classic symptoms of a heart attack was observed in a 53-year-old Italian woman in Brescia along with signs in her electrocardiogram and high levels of blood marker suggesting damaged cardiac muscles. Further tests revealed cardiac swelling and scarring, and a left-ventricle – which is usually the powerhouse chamber of a human heart – so weak that only one-third of the normal amount of blood could be pumped. When doctors injected dye in her coronary arteries to look for what they believed to be a blockage that is usually associated with heart attacks, they found nothing. The next test carried out revealed that the culprit was in fact COVID-19.

It is still a mystery to academics how the virus attacks the heart and blood vessels but many preprints and scientific papers attest that such damage is common. A JAMA cardiology paper observed damages to the heart in nearly 20% of COVID-19 patients (Shi et al., 2020) out of 416 hospitalised patients in Wuhan, China. Another Wuhan study revealed that 44% of 36 patients admitted in ICU had arrhythmias, i.e. irregular heart beats (Wang et al., 2020).

What has been discovered, is that the disruption extends to blood itself. Among 184 COVID-19 patients in a Dutch ICU, 38% had blood that clotted abnormally, and about one-third already had clots (Klok et al., 2020). Blood clots are very dangerous since they can break apart and end up landing in the lungs, blocking vital arteries – a condition known as pulmonary embolism, which has killed many COVID-19 patients. Blood clots from arteries can also end up in the brain, causing stroke. Many COVID-19 patients have dramatically high levels of D-dimer, a byproduct of blood clots. Hence, it is very likely that blood clots have a major role in the disease severity and mortality with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Infection may also lead to the constriction of blood vessels. There are reports emerging of ischemia [i.e. an inadequate blood supply to an organ or part of the body, especially the heart muscles] in the fingers and toes – reduction in blood flow can cause swollen, painful digits and eventually tissue death. Blood vessels carry oxygen to various parts of our body, and when they become constricted problems will logically arise. In the lungs, the constriction of blood vessels may explain the reports of a very perplexing phenomenon seen in patients with pneumonia caused by COVID-19: some patients although having extremely low blood-oxygen levels are not gasping for breath. Since we are still uncovering the depths of the virus, one explanation may be that at some stages of the disease, the virus modifies the delicate balance of hormones that regulate blood pressure and constricts the blood vessels going to the lungs. Logically, constricted blood vessels will lead to oxygen uptake being impeded – this may be the cause of low blood-oxygen levels rather than clogged alveoli (air sacks) as explained above.

It is very important to take note that if COVID-19 targets blood vessels, it may explain why patients with pre-existing damage to those vessels, such as those with diabetes and high blood pressure, face a higher risk of serious disease. The recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on hospitalised patients in 14 US states found that bout one-third had chronic lung disease and nearly as many had diabetes and half had pre-existing high blood pressure (Garg et al., 2020). It has also been observed that there is a very low number of cases suffering from asthma and other respiratory diseases. The risk factors seem to be vascular: diabetes, obesity, age and hypertensionAcademics are still in the dark regarding the causes of cardiovascular damageSince the lining of the heart and blood vessels are rich in ACE2 receptors just like in the nose and the alveoli, it is possible that the virus may be directly targeting and attacking themAnother possibility for cardiovascular damage could be the lack of oxygen caused by a combination of factors: lack of oxygen, chaos in the lungs and damages to blood vesselsA cytokine storm unleashed by the immune system itself could also be responsible for damages to the heart as it does for other organsCOVID-19 is a new virus and the academic community do not have all the answers to these questions: who is most vulnerable? Why some patients are hardly affected while others are hit so severely? Why does it develop so rapidly and why it is so hard for some patients to recover?

Destruction in multiple zones

While there is worldwide tension regarding the shortage of ventilators for failing lungsless attention has been given to dialysis machines. Jennifer Frontera, a neurologist from New York University’s Langone Medical Center who has treated thousands of COVID-19 patients pointed out that if patients are not dying from lung failure, they are dying from renal failure. Hence, her hospital is developing dialysis protocols with different machines to support additional patients. As usual, the ACE2 receptors, a favoured penetrating site for the virus, is abundantly present in kidneys. Going by a preprint, 27% of 85 hospitalised patients in Wuhan had kidney failure (Li et al., 2020). Another report read 59% of nearly 200 hospitalised COVID-19 patients in China’s Hubei and Sichuan provinces had protein in their urine (Diao et al., 2020), and 44% had blood clotboth suggest that kidney damage took placePatients with acute kidney injury (AKI), were more than five times as likely to die as COVID-19 patients without it, the same Chinese preprint reported.

“The lung is the primary battle zone. But a fraction of the virus possibly attacks the kidney. And as on the real battlefield, if two places are being attacked at the same time, each place gets worse,” says Hongbo Jia, a neuroscientist at the Chinese Academy of Sciences’s Suzhou Institute of Biomedical Engineering and Technology and a co-author of that study.

The electron micrographs from the autopsies of kidneys revealed viral particles (Diao et al., 2020), suggesting a direct viral attack. However, the kidney injury may also be a collateral damage caused by ventilators – that heighten the risk of kidney damage – as do some antiviral compounds such as remdesivir [which is being used experimentally in COVID-19 patients]. The immune system’s cytokine storms may also severely reduce blood flow to the kidney and often causing fatal damage. Diabetes can also increase the chances of kidney injury. Hence people with chronic kidney diseases are at a higher risk for acute kidney injury.

Combo hits to the brain

Another range of symptoms in COVID-19 patients focus on the brain and the central nervous systems (Mao et al., 2020). Frontera says that neurologists are required to assess 5% to 10% of coronavirus patients at her hospital and believes that it may be a gross underestimate of the number of patients whose brains are struggling since many are sedated and on ventilatorsPatients have suffered from brain inflammation, encephalitis (Moriguchi et al., 2020), with seizures and with a sympathetic storm [i.e. a hyper reaction of the sympathetic nervous system that causes seizure-like symptoms and is mostly observed after a traumatic brain injury]. Some COVID-19 patients even lose consciousness for a short amount of time while others suffer strokes. The loss of the sense of smell has also been widely reported. Frontera and others are asking themselves whether in some cases, infection depresses the brain stem reflex that senses oxygen starvation; this may provide an explanation to why despite dangerously low blood oxygen levels, patients are not gasping for air.

The former coronavirus behind the 2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic – a cousin of COVID-19 – could infiltrate neurons and at times caused encephalitisSince ACE2 receptors are present in the neural cortex and brain stem, the virus could interact with those receptors and penetrate the brain. In a case study in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases, a team of academics from Japan found traces of COVID-19 traces in the cerebrospinal fluid of a patient who developed meningitis and encephalitis, insinuating that COVID-19 can penetrate the central nervous system.

COVID-19 encephalitis tissue damage in the brain

Image: Tissue damage in the brain (milky white areas shown by the arrows) as a result of encephalitis developed by a 58-year-old woman infected with COVID-19 / Source: (Poyiadji et al., 2020)

However, other factors could also be damaging the brain, such as a cytokine storm triggered by patients’ immune system itself, leading to swelling, and the blood’s exaggerated tendency to clot could trigger strokes. The collection of neurological data from care patients received is ongoing at a worldwide consortium that now include 50 centers in order to identify the prevalence of neurological complications in hospitalised COVID-19 patients and document how they fare.

The aim of course is to better understand the virus’ impact on the nervous system, including the brain. Sherry Chou, a neurologist speculates about an invasion route for the virus: through the nose, then upward through the olfactory bulb which connects to the brain, which may explain the loss of smell.

To the gut

Diarrhea with blood, vomiting and abdominal pain was reported in early March 2020 from a 71-year-old woman from Michigan who returned from a Nile river cruise. Doctors suspected the common stomach bug, e.g. Salmonella. However, after she developed a cough, nasal swabs revealed that she was positive for COVID-19. Gastrointestinal (GI) infection was diagnosed after a stool sample was positive for viral RNA and an endoscopy revealed signs of colon injury according to a paper in The American Journal of Gastroenterology (AJG) (Click to see).

This case adds to a growing body of evidence suggesting that like the SARS, COVID-19 can infect the lining of the lower digestive tract where, once again, the ACE2 receptors needed for the virus to enter are abundant. As many as 53% of sampled patients’ stool samples have shown to contain viral RNA. The virus’ protein shell was also found in gastric, duodenal and rectal cells in biopsies by a Chinese team who reported it in a paper in Gastroenterology (Xiao et al., 2020). “I think it probably does replicate in the gastrointestinal tract,” said Mary Estes, a virologist at Baylor College of Medicine.

Up to 50% of patients, making up about 20% across studies experience diarrhea. Gastrointestinal Infection (GI) however is not on the CDC’s list of COVID-19 symptoms which could lead to some COVID-19 cases to go undetected. The co-editor of Gastroenterology, Douglas Corley of Kaiser Permanente, Northern California said: “If you mainly have fever and diarrhea, you won’t be tested for COVID.”

So, can COVID-19 be passed on through feces? We do not know if the stool contains active, intact, infectious virus or simply RNA and proteins, there is no evidence to date. Based on experiments with SARS and with the virus that causes Middle East respiratory syndrome, a cousin of COVID-19, the risk from fecal transmission is probably low. 

Finally, the virus also affects the eyes as one-third of hospitalised patients develop conjunctivitis – reddish, watery eyes – although it is not clear if the virus directly attacks the eyes (Wu et al., 2020). Some other reports have also suggested liver damage since more than 50% of COVID-19 (Zhang, Shi and Wang, 2020) patients hospitalised in two Chinese centers had elevated levels of enzymes (Fan et al., 2020) which suggest injury to the liver or bile ducts. However, many experts reportedly told Science that direct viral hits are unlikely, stating that other events in a failing body, like drugs or an immune system overdrive, are more likely driving the liver damage.

It is important to note that these findings are just the beginning, and it will take years of serious research to fully understand COVID-19 along with the range of cardiovascular and immune effects it might trigger. We can only hope to find a way to stop this ugly virus in its track through the combined efforts of planet Earth’s scientific force and medical geniuses.

At present, whilst COVID-19 appears to be more contagious than SARS or MERS, the fatality rate is relatively low (around 3%) when compared with MERS (34%) and SARS (10%), with early data suggesting the elderly and those with underlying health conditions are at a higher risk.

In France, if Mentonians are concerned about coronavirus, it is in fact mainly for their elders. « Menton is a town of old people. If the epidemic spreads, they’ll all be dropping like flies. It’s going to be no man’s land, » said Denis, arm in arm with his 88-year-old mother. « I’m not afraid for myself: I know the virus won’t kill me. But I’ve told my mother, ‘you’re not going out of the house any more,’ » explained Véronique, in her fifties, as she folded a tablecloth from her shop in the centre of town.

By advocating the use of chloroquine to treat people suffering from Covid-19, the brave maverick, Professor Didier Raoult became the target of criticism in a very short time. Raoult did, however, receive some support, notably from Jean-Marie Bigard, who recounted one of his telephone conversations with the much-scorned professor. « We talked about how he thanked me for supporting him (…) And then he said something funny to me, saying: ‘All the time I was thinking about this story, I only thought about one thing, and that was your sketch about the bat,’ » the comedian said. Furthermore, even if it is not a miracle cure, a range of other medical professionals claim to have successfully treated a range of COVID-19 sufferers with hydroxychloroquine, while some studies have shown its ability to inhibit the virus in vitro.

Didier Raoult au micro d'Apolline de Malherbe sur BFM TV d'purb dpurb site web

Image: Didier Raoult au micro d’Apolline de Malherbe

While research is focusing on treatments and vaccines, Didier Sicard a professor from Sorbonne University also a specialist in infectious diseases who has a long experience in scientific work on the HIV, argued that researchers should go back on the field and inquire on the animal origin of the epidemic. Professor Sicard noted that the abrupt transformation of primary forests has brought humans closer to bats and hence a reservoir of viruses that has not yet been closely studied. While China has only recently, on the 24th of February 2020, immediately and completely banned all traffic and consumption of wild animals, conscious of its dietary culture of eating practically anything that moves, it is important to note that such a legislation exists since 2003 without it being strictly respected by Beijing. Hence, Professor Sicard reasonably argues for an international health court. The former Chair of the Advisory Committee on Ethics from 1999 to 2008 emphasizes the extent to which, in this epidemic, the issue of contact is paramount – everyone must behave like a model.

les dermatologues alertent sur de nouveaux symptômes cutanés d'purb dpurb site web

Image: Femme consultant son médecin / Woman consulting her doctor Source: AFP – B. BOISSONNET

Sicard also points out that the starting point of this pandemic is an open market in Wuhan where wild animals, snakes, bats, pangolins, preserved in wicker crates, accumulate. In China, these animals are bought for the Rat Festival and are quite expensive and considered as food of choice. In this wild meat market, these animals are obviously touched and handled by the vendors throughout the day, skinned, while they are stained with urine; ticks and mosquitoes also make a kind of cloud around these poor animals by the thousands. These conditions have meant that a few infected animals have inevitably infected other animals within a few daysOne can hypothesize that a vendor injured himself or touched contaminated urine before putting his hand to his face. Here we go! What strikes Sicard is the indifference at the starting point of this ugly virus. As if society was only interested in the point of arrival: the vaccine, the treatments, the resuscitation. But for this not to happen again, the starting point should be considered vital. And it’s impressive to see how it’s being neglected. The indifference to wildlife markets around the world is dramatic. It is said that these markets bring in as much money as the drug market. In Mexico, there is such a traffic that customs officers even find pangolins in suitcases.

Wildlife Alliance Pangolin Rescue (South America)

Image: Un pangolin sauvé au Mexique par la Wildlife Alliance / A pangolin being rescued in Mexico by the Wildlife Alliance

Estimated number of Asian pangolins in international trade between 1977 and 2012 as reported to CITES

Chart: Estimated number of Asian pangolins in international trade between 1977 and 2012 as reported to CITES, and estimated number of pangolins in illegal trade in Asia between July 2000 and 2013. Illegal trade is based on seizures made in or trade recorded in Cambodia, China, Hong Kong SAR, India, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan (P.R. China), Thailand and Vietnam. Source: CITES trade database (UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre, Cambridge, UK), and for illegal trade, various sources / Source: (Challender, Harrop and MacMillan, 2015)

Jean-Christophe Ruffin, a doctor, diplomat and writer from the Académie Française said: “Now is not the time to burden anyone and sue, it will come. But they’ll have to be done. We’ll have to learn from this. This proves one thing: when we get out of this terrible crisis, as infectious disease specialists say, there will be others. And we can’t be in a situation like that again.”

« It is of course not the first time that animals are at the origin of sanitary crises, in fact they are responsible for the majority of epidemic crises: HIV, H5N1 avian flu, Ebola. These viral diseases always come from a reservoir of animal viruses », Sicard pointed out, and there’s almost no interest in them. It’s the same with dengue fever. “I have a very close relationship with Laos, and when the disease appears, the local people there say, ‘We have to control the mosquitoes’. But in reality, it is during the dry season, when there are only larvae, that a policy of exterminating mosquito larvae should be implemented. But nobody does it because people say ‘oh, there are no mosquitoes, why do you want us to use insecticides? And the Pasteur Institute of Laos is sputtering in vain, asking local people to make the effort before the disease bursts”, Sicard explained to France Culture, saying “It is exactly like the work that’s left to be done on the bats. They are themselves carriers of about 30 coronaviruses! We need to do some work on these animals. »

Pangolin sauvé des mains d'un trafiquant local, Uganda. 9 avril 2020.

Image: Pangolin sauvé des mains d’un trafiquant local, Uganda. 9 avril 2020 • Crédits : Isaak Kasamani – AFP

The latter also added: « Obviously, it is not very easy: going into caves, well protected, taking vipers, pangolins, ants, looking at the viruses they harbour, this is ungrateful work and often despised by laboratories. Researchers say: ‘We prefer to work in the molecular biology laboratory with our cosmonaut hoods. Going into the jungle, bringing in mosquitoes, is dangerous. Yet, these are by far the most important routes. Moreover, we know that these epidemics will start again in the years to come repeatedly if we don’t definitively ban the traffic of wild animalsThis should be criminalized as an open-air sale of cocaineThis crime should be punishable by imprisonmentI am also thinking of those battery farms for chicken or pork that are found in ChinaEvery year they give new flu outbreaks from viruses of avian origin. Gathering animals like that is not seriousIt is as if veterinary art and human medical art had nothing to do with each other. The origin of the epidemic should be the subject of a major international mobilisation.

Prof Sicard argued that we need to reconstruct the epidemiological pathway by which bats have tolerated coronaviruses for millions of years, but have also dispersed them. It contaminates other animals.

MERS coronavirus evolves to infect different species

Letko, M., Miazgowicz, K., McMinn, R., Seifert, S., Sola, I., Enjuanes, L., Carmody, A., van Doremalen, N. and Munster, V., 2018. Adaptive Evolution of MERS-CoV to Species Variation in DPP4. Cell Reports, 24(7), pp.1730-1737.

When bats hang in caves and die, they fall to the ground. Then the snakes, vipers in particular, who love their corpses, eat them. Just like the young bats that fall down and are immediately eaten by these snakes which are therefore probably intermediate hosts for viruses. In addition, there are clouds of mosquitoes and ticks in these caves and we should try to see which insects are also possible transmitters of the virus. Another hypothesis concerns the transmission that occurs when bats go out at night to eat fruit. Bats have an almost automatic reflex; as soon as they swallow, they urinate, explained Sicard. They will therefore contaminate the fruits of these trees and the civets, which love the same fruits, hence contaminating themselves by eating them. The ants participate in the agape and the pangolins – for which the most wonderful food is ants – devour the ants and become infected in their turn. It is this whole chain of contamination that needs to be explored. Probably the most dangerous reservoirs of viruses are snakes, because they are the ones that are constantly feeding on bats, which are themselves carriers of coronavirusesSnakes could therefore be a permanent host for these viruses, and obviously eating them is not only disgusting but dangerous. But that is exactly what we need to know and check. Researchers should therefore capture bats, but also do the same work on ants, civets, pangolins and try to understand their tolerance to the virus. It’s a bit ungrateful, but essential.

Didier Sicard also elaborated on the relation between the local Eastern Asian population and the bats, saying “What struck me in Laos, where I often go, is that the primary forest is regressing because the Chinese are building stations and trains there. These trains, which cross the jungle without any health precautions, can become the vector of parasitic or viral diseases and carry them through China, Laos, Thailand, Malaysia and even Singapore. The Silk Road, which the Chinese are in the process of completing, may also become the route for the spread of serious diseases. Caves are becoming more and more accessible there. As a result, humans tend to get closer to where the bats live, and bats are also a highly sought-after food source. Humans are now also building fruit tree parks close to these caves because there are no more trees due to deforestation. The inhabitants feel that they can gain territory, like in the Amazon. And so, they are building agricultural areas very close to extremely dangerous virus reservoir areas. I don’t have the answer to all these questions, but I just know that the starting point is not well known. And that it’s totally ignored. It’s being turned into folksy conference speeches. They talk about bats and the curse of the pharaohs.”

Sicard also said that there must be some serious studies about the ability of bats to harbour coronaviruses, saying “but when I go to the Pasteur Institute in Laos which is run by an exceptional man, Paul Brey, this director has the fibre of a Louis Pasteur, he has been passionate for twenty years about transmission issues, but he is extremely lonely. Even the study of mosquitoes, which is fundamental to understanding the transmission of diseases in Laos, is almost abandoned. And Paul Brey keeps telling me that there are about thirty species of coronavirus in bats. So, the scientific effort is not up to the task.” Sicard added, “When the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs removes the virologist’s post at the Pasteur Institute, which is a few hundred kilometres from the Chinese border, we are finished. This happened in November 2019. We are going to try to get that post back, but it is still frightening to think that even at the very gates where viral infectious diseases come from, it is hard to put all the effort into it. The Pasteur Institute of Laos is supported very moderately by France, it is supported by the Japanese, the Americans and the Luxembourgers. France contributes to it, but it does not make it a major research tool.”

The role of this Pasteur Institute according to Professor Sicard is to train local researchers, “To carry out epidemiological studies on the existing viruses chikungunya, dengue fever and now coronavirus, to be a place for high-level biological scientific studies in a remote, tropical territory, but with a high-security laboratory. To be as close as possible to where epidemics occur and to have laboratories that are up to the task. It is very difficult for relatively poor countries to have high level scientific equipment. The network of Pasteur Institutes – which exist in several countries – is a structure that the world envies. But institutes like the one in Laos need much more help than they do now. These laboratories are struggling to make ends meet and they are also having difficulty recruiting researchers. Most of them prefer to be in their laboratory at the Pasteur Institute in Paris or in a Sanofi laboratory or at Merieux, but to become an explorer in the jungle, there aren’t many people who do that. But that’s what Louis Pasteur did, he went to see the farmers in the vineyards, he went to see the shepherds and their sheep.»

La science n'a pas de patrie, parce que le savoir est le patrimoine de l'humanité, le flambeau qui éclaire le monde d'purb dpurb site web

Traduction(EN): « Science has no homeland, because knowledge is the heritage of humanity, the torch that lights up the world. » – Louis Pasteur

Science is an integral part of human culture and has played a huge part in the construction of the modern societies that humanity lives in today, and I believe the essay, “History on Western Philosophy, Religious cultures, Science, Medicine & Secularisation” gives a decent picture of where we came, where we have come and where we are going as a civilisation. « Louis Pasteur would come out of his laboratory. Just like Alexandre Yersin who was in the field in Vietnam when he discovered the plague bacillus », Sicard declared, « so, entomological research and research on transmitting animals is not up to the challenge. Of course, it exists, but it must account for perhaps 1% of research. Because what fascinates the candidates for the Nobel Prize is to find a treatment or a new virus in molecular biology and not to reconstitute the epidemiological chains. And yet the great infectious discoveries were born this way: the agent of malaria, Plasmodium, was discovered by a Frenchman, Alphonse Laveran, in the field in Tunisia. And this is fundamental research that is carried out on a scale that has been somewhat forgotten. »

Is the study of animal really crucial? Sicard said: “The plague remains an exciting example. The reservoir of the plague are rats. There are populations of rats that are very resistant and that transmit the plague bacillus, but they don’t care. And then there are populations of rats that are very susceptible. All it takes is a few individuals from the susceptible rat population meeting the resistant rat population one day to get infected. The susceptible rats die. At that point, the fleas that feed on the blood of the rats, desperate not to have more live rats, will start biting humans. Reconstructing this very beginning of the chain of transmission makes it possible to act. In places where the plague is still rife, in California, Madagascar, Iran or China, when we see that a few rats start to die, that is exactly the time to intervene: it is extremely dangerous because that is when the fleas will start to want to bite humans. In plague areas, when we see hundreds of dead rats, it is a real bomb. Fortunately, the plague is a disease of the past. There must still be 4,000 or 5,000 cases of plague in the world. That is not a huge number and then the antibiotics are effective. But this is an example, to show that the animal origin is fundamental and always difficult to apprehend. It is nevertheless essential for understanding and makes it possible to put in place prevention policies. Today, if we continue to sell wild animals on a market, we are in a delirious situation. The precautionary principle must be applied.”

While wild animal traffic is prohibited and there is an international convention that monitors all sales, in China this international convention is not respected, declared Sicard, adding “It is clear that if we ask each country to organise itself nationally, nothing will change. China initially put pressure on the WHO not to call it a pandemic. It tried to block it because it is a major contributor to the funding of the WHO.


Les plus gros contributeurs au budget de l’OMS / Source: Statista France

It would therefore be important for it to be a totally independent health tribunal, like an international war crimes tribunal, with independent inspectors who verify what is happening on the ground. In Laos, in the countryside, there are many markets where wild animals are sold like chickens or rabbits. There is general indifference because it is the local culture. And culture is the most difficult thing to change in a country,” observed Didier Sicard. Indeed, rightly concluded, since culture, which is a mode of behaviour passed down by individual groups to other generations unfortunately is also sometimes constitutive of a range of atrociously bad and unproductive habits [e.g. medical, dietary, physical (health), linguistic, educational, artistic, perceptive, emotional, managerial and political patterns].

« Avant, avec mes amis, on avait peur des Chinois. Maintenant, on voit sur Twitter qu’on a peur de nous, les Italiens ! »

Alicia à franceinfo

Sicard also commented on what struck him on the attitude of the French population, stating, “the gap between a kind of indifferent casualness, hardly any critical look at Italy and China and the brutal discovery of the health disaster. We have gone from recklessness to extreme anxiety and both are equally toxicrecklessness creates contamination and extreme anxiety leads to irrational behaviour. The proof of this is the flight of Parisians, Lyonnais and inhabitants of large cities to their second homes. This seemed to me at first to testify to a very short-sighted vision, as if one could escape, in war, from the arrival of the German armies. And then an extraordinarily individualistic behaviour, in the wrong sense of the word: ‘Save whoever you can, I shut myself up in my countryside and then it’s too bad for the others, I protect myself’. Of course, I imagine that if you can protect the elderly and keep them safe, that’s fine. But when we see young couples or groups of friends who are now saying to each other, we’re going to go on holiday! This is all the more shocking because this epidemic is about something completely different from just saving someone. On the contrary, it’s a question of asking how each can be seen by the other as a role model.”

Professor Didier Raoult also pointed out in 2009, that human civilization is still savage and prehistoric when it comes to a culture of medical hygiene because most of us do not know how to handle viruses due a lack of knowledge and social organisation, i.e. it is a pattern of behaviour that is still not firmly embedded in culture of the non-scientific majority. Raoult even pointed out 11 years ago that if a mutant respiratory virus was to appear we would be facing a considerable disaster, and here we are.

Didier Raoult « On ne sait pas lutter contre la contagion d’un virus respiratoire » | Archive INA (2009)

A similar argument was also recently brought forward by Bill Gates in 2018 who suggested that a new diseases could kill 30 millions in 6 months, while his foundation published a simulation showing an epidemic spreading from China, which is coincidentally now facing a « serious situation » to deal with the accelerating deadly coronavirus epidemic that has put the world on its knees. « In the case of biological threats, that sense of urgency is lacking, » Gates said, adding that countries need to prepare for pandemics in the same serious way they prepare for war; he asserted that a small non-state actor even had the ability to construct a deadly form of smallpox in a laboratory environment. The philanthropist explained in an interview on Virtual TED Interview that if the United States enacts such a strict isolation law, positive results could be seen within the first 20 days. According to Gates, the United States was too late to react. If they had started testing people who might have had the virus as early as February, they could have escaped total isolation. « There are no half measures. It’s not right to say « keep going to restaurants and buying houses, ignore the pile of dead bodies in the corner. It’s irresponsible to tell people not to worry, » said Bill Gates, also adding that the public must, at all costs, maintain the law of isolation for as long as it is necessary to save lives and prevent the situation from becoming similar to that in Wuhan and Northern Italy.


#COVID19 : en se basant sur des modèles prédictifs, des chercheurs de l’UCL ont estimé que l’ensemble des mesures de #confinement ont déjà permis de sauver plusieurs dizaines de milliers de vies en Europe / Source: Statista France

In an essay written on the Oxford Martin School website at the University of Oxford Ian Goldin and co-authored by Robert Muggah, a similar orientation is suggested, i.e. for the world to become more interdependent since our world has become more connectedHowever, globalisation must be managed efficiently in order to fight systemic risks such as the COVID-19.

We saw how the growing complexities of the global financial system was badly managed by public authorities controlled by politicians, and supposedly financial « experts », people who were supposed to have graduated from the supposed best institutions, simple parvenus turned mechanical thinkers, and what did they do? Together, as a pack of ruthless & cannibalistic great white sharks, they took the whole world into the financial crash in 2008; it is not even the first time in history and nothing tells us that they will not do it again. The full blame can be attributed to the dangerous negligence and overconfidence of this very special and particular breed.

Banker sitting on the street

Image: Un banquier assis dans la rue / A banker sitting on the street

This has led to mediocre, cheap, uncharismatic and atavistic populists politicians without any sophisticated outlook about a connected world to storm to power since the world’s political and economic « elites » were held responsible for the 2008 financial crisis. But we now see how these populists lack the sophistication to lead a new modern and interconnected world as we are living through this crucial phase in human history where civilisation is changing era.

These atavistic minds who grabbed power in the US are following an ancient tradition that does not have its place anymore in our modern world, i.e. blaming foreigners for everything and turning their back to the outside world, and hence also making themselves insignificant among noble world leading societies, i.e. those who together set an example to civilisation and shape the human civilisation of the future.


Une majorité de 80% des citoyens français se méfient des Etats-Unis et n’approuvent pas leur politique / Source: Le Figaro

The grotesque US president, Donald Trump spurned scientific thinking about a range of serious issues such as climate change, spread fake news through petty news agencies and twitter ogres and even shunned traditional allies and international institutions such as the World Health Organization and the Paris Climate Agreement, decisions that have not been met with approval by many sensible Americans; for example, Melinda Gates sees Trump’s decision as absurd, and with the evidence of infections rising fast, most extremist nationalist politicians are compelled to recognise the traumatic human and economic costs of COVID-19. Hence, it is also not surprising that in France, a literary, intellectually hungry and constantly evolving nation of voracious and sophisticated self & world-cultivating book readers & writers, Trump is viewed as one of the greatest disasters of the modern world, compared to the pigs of George Orwell’s « Animal Farm », and has even been paraded as a clown along with Macron in Nice.

Trump le clown avec Macron la marionnette au carnaval de Nice

« Complice du pire » / Trump le clown et Macron la marionnette au carnaval de Nice, 2019 / Source: 20minutes

« Do me a favor, speed it up, speed it up. », this is what the naive Trump told the National Association of Counties Legislative Conference, because the ignorant, infantile, insensitive and obese politician may believe that if he repeats it a couple of times the vaccine may suddenly appear. A vaccine takes longer to be safe and ready, and most people with some scientific foundation know this. As the American chemist, inventor, musician, professor, entrepreneur and former chancellor of the University of North Carolina, Herbert Holden Thorp wrote for ScienceMag, China has rightfully taken criticism for blocking attempts by scientists to report the truth about the coronavirus, the US under Trump and his circus have been doing the same thing. To inform Fauci and other government scientists that all public comments must be cleared with Pence is bordering on dictatorship and an assault on individual freedom and dignity. It is clearly not a time for a mediocre, disconnected, unsophisticated and atavistic American politician who does not fear ridicule by making an absolute ass of himself through his denial of evolution, climate change and the dangers of cigarette smoking to come around and tell people how to live, what to believe in and shape the public messagethis is dangerous to every single person who lives in the US. It is however encouraging to see that Fauci, Francis Collins [director of the U.S. National Insitutes of Health (NIH)], and their colleagues across federal agencies have ignored these instructions and gradually spread the message, because transmission rates and death are not measurements that can be changed with Trump’s will and an extroverted presentation. The Trump administration repeatedly lied, saying that the virus spread in the US was contained, when it was very clear from genomic evidence that community spread was occurring in Washington State and beyondThis kind of distortion during such a deadly pandemic is unacceptable and contributed to the federal government’s slow response. Although the words of the Trump administration have never mattered to or registered in the brain of learned individuals, these words are now clearly a matter of life and death in the US during the pandemic.

Most intellectually cultivated, smart and refined individuals do not expect politicians or mediocre gossip journalists to know much about philosophical discourse, the foundations of scientific reasoning, objectivity, statistics, to be able to read and fully understand a scientific paper, let alone understand brain physiology, the laws of evolution and gravity, p-value, logical reasoning or know what ostinato and legato are; and that is perhaps why most of the finest intellectuals remain in their league and keep their distance from street politicians and the common crowd, because they likely know that it would be like trying to communicate with non-receptive, indifferent and inanimate objects such as pebbles or truffles.

Some White Truffles

Image: Truffes blanches / White truffles

Hence, it is very likely that to most sensible and intellectually cultivated individualsattempting to have a conversation with those objects would be a waste of time, neuronal activity and calorie; while also having to leave the noble realm of philosophical discourse, their library with names such as Darwin, Voltaire, Balzac, Descartes, Rousseau, Lacan, Satie and Debussy, and sometimes even their piano or violin, to then have to jump into a world of slimy reptilian characters and see weird and untrustworthy faces of brains inferior to their own trying to tell them how to live, and also having to endure mockery of the lowest, most infantile and animalistic kind from some of the vilest and most frustrated peasant-like parvenus in politics with severe inferiority complexes. So these cultured intellectuals keep quiet in the distance and focus on writing books instead.

mona_lisa_pic_d'purb dpurb site web french embassy ambassade de france usa

Source: Services culturels – Ambassade de France aux États-Unis / Cultural Services – French Embassy in the US

As a bilingual Franco-British intellectual, in the French speaking world for me, it would be like attempting to have a sophisticated discussion about « les métaphores artistiques d’Eugène Delacroixla structure du psychisme, la philosophie du désir, la motivation chez le sujet cartésien, l’héritage voltairien, et la dialectique Lacanienne » with « simplets » [i.e. simple minds] like Bécassine, Nabilla, Bamboula, Darmanin, Hollande, Pompili and Morano in a small village bistrot; and in the Anglo-Saxon sphere with Postman Pat, Nigel Farage, Harry Potter or Mr.Bean in an ancient and derelict pub in England, or Homer Simpson, Forest Gump, Joe Biden and Donald Trump in the US – so, what I mean and what most intellectually superior individuals understand is that it would be useless and unproductive because of the unsynchronised psyches caused by different levels of intellectual cultivation and heritage.

If the majority of humans read and manage to grasp and fully understand the essay, « Psychoanalysis: History, Foundations, Legacy, Impact & Evolution », they should realise that the human psyche, its development, cultivation and construction are composed of many layers, while the essay, « The Concept of Self » would also guide individuals about self-conception and identity. After studying intellectual humility, psychologists have found that individuals with this personality trait have superior general knowledge (Krumrei-Mancuso, Haggard, LaBouff and Rowatt, 2019). Intellectual humility has consequences for learning and styles of thinking; the process of learning itself requires intellectual humility to acknowledge that one lacks a particular knowledge and hence has something to learn in order to continue evolving. In the same study in the Journal of Positive Psychology, Krumrei-Mancuso and her colleagues found that intellectual humility was associated with less claiming of knowledge that one does not have, indicating a more accurate assessment of one’s own knowledge. In the study, intellectual humility was also correlated with being more inclined to reflective thinking, and also possessing more “need for cognition” [i.e. enjoying thinking hard and problem solving], greater curiosity, and open-minded thinking. In the journal Self and Identity, the results from a study by Porter and Schumann (2017) suggest that intellectual humility can be increased in individuals through a growth mindset of intelligence; hence we could all benefit from intellectual humility in our lifetime development. The authors concluded that “teaching people a malleable view of intelligence may be one promising way to foster intellectual humility and its associated benefits.”

Les métiers qui inspirent le plus (et le moins) confiance d'purb dpurb site web

Les métiers qui inspirent le plus (et le moins) confiance / Source: Statista France

Many uncharismatic, simple-minded, grotesque and mediocre politicians need to acknowledge that their lack of knowledge, creativity and cultivation makes their ambitions of leadership impossible, and also understand that the ancient and stagnant political structure with parties and group agendas as it is nowadays can be considered as a discipline that is dead-alive and on its last leg; that hardly elicits the passionate interest of the civilised crowd anymore. The politics of parties and division is ongoing for the simple reason that civilised society has not yet implemented an organised and sophisticated concept to replace it and use it to manage our modern and interconnected human civilisation.

Regarding the degraded and cheap form of politics around the world in the 21st centurypeople at large need to firmly understand that every time typical, plain and ignorant office workers stack enough money aside to be able to afford quitting their day job in order to join a group of politicians in a movement, it does NOT suddenly transform them into a superior authority that requires everyone to stand in line to listen to everything that comes out of their mouths; they cannot and will never win a noble and sophisticated philosophical debate by insulting and disrespecting intellect and science simply because it does not always conform to their wishes and is often against their disconnected and backward outlook, while also at times being too challenging for most of their average, limited, naive, unproductive, boring and uncreative brains.

Un théoricien de la psychologie d'élite d'purb dpurb site web

Traduction(EN): « An elite psychology theorist who deals with brain behaviour and sculpture at the granular level will not listen to the absurdities of a simple mind, even if the partners of this simple mind can pay all the advertisers in the world to publish their nonsense on toilet paper, cereal boxes, the cheap animal press to bus stops. We are above that! Every time a drugged out publisher of an obscure corner of the Internet creates a title with an image he considers degrading, it has no effect on us, none, zero; with his sweaty, sticky fingers slamming on a dirty keyboard on the 10th floor of an old building in a crowded corner of a polluted urban jungle? we are above these little defamation campaigns organized by childish politicians and the Jewish media they love so much. It cannot be anti-semitic to simply state that the majority of the press is owned, and hence controlled by Jews. My message to these people is this: « Try to grow up! Not a single intelligent person in the world is defined by your impulses… you are worse than children. People define themselves… simple….. your opinions, they’re just simple opinions as simple as your mind! » -Danny J. D’Purb

So, these simple animalistic minds and parvenus in the media along with those who hold their leash in politics need to seriously understand that no matter how many rotten tomatoes they throw at the wall of reason, these bricks were built on science, philosophy and intellect, and they will NEVER go down; for example, we know for a scientific fact that alcohol consumption and smoking cause cancer, and that flesh in a state of decomposition is a breeding place for maggots, no amount of headlines, photo editing or covers will ever change those facts and convince any intellectually cultivated mind otherwise, although that does not seem to stop some cheap, corrupt and deluded media businesses and journalists from trying – Trump could be a suitable equivalent example.

Alcool Alcohol Addiction Culture Société Society

Image: Un alcoolique / An alcoholic

We all know that some people are hired to do so, but they would make their own lives easier and less stressful by knowing the limits of rational possibility, that is, by understanding the simple logic that covering gold with manure and swine scum will never transform it into those.

During the CoVID-19 pandemic, these haters of intellect and science then insist on something as serious as a vaccine that science cannot provide on demand – as if it was as simple as feeding or mass breeding pigs on a farm. As Holden Thorp also noted, for the past 4 years the obese Trump and his circus have made deep cuts in the scientific budget including cuts to funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the NIH. For their selfish political goals, the grotesque administration’s disregard for the science of the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the stalled naming of a knowledgeable director for the Office of Science and Technology Policy has caused a lot of harm over 4 years to US residents and the credibility of the US itself on the world sceneNow, with the devastation caused by CoVID-19, Trump suddenly needs the discipline he disrespected and ignored, i.e. science. Yet, to cite Thorp, « the centuries spent elucidating fundamental principles that govern the natural world—evolution, gravity, quantum mechanics—involved laying the groundwork for knowing what we can and cannot do. The ways that scientists accumulate and analyze evidence, apply inductive reasoning, and subject findings to scrutiny by peers have been proven over the years to give rise to robust knowledge. These processes are being applied to the COVID-19 crisis through international collaboration at breakneck, unprecedented speed […] the same concepts that are used to describe nature are used to create new toolsSo, asking for a vaccine and distorting the science at the same time are shockingly dissonant.«

The website allows users to comment on scientific articles in post-publication, but also to report suspicions of breaches of scientific ethics. The site highlighted gaps in several high-profile articles, which in some cases led to retractions and accusations of scientific fraud as noted by the blog, which analyzes retractions of scientific articles and comments on issues related to scientific integrity. PubPeer exists because of the inability of some hard empirical science to sometimes replicate its results and effectively self-correct itself.

A reliable vaccine must have a strong scientific foundation and will have to be manufacturable and safe. To achieve this, it will take some time, and although the top scientists are working as fast as they can to deliver this life changing vaccine, we should not expect a miracle in time-scale [e.g. in 3 weeks]. The business executives from those giant pharmaceutical companies who see life in terms of bank notes, have every thing to gain in getting the vaccine fast but luckily for people, even they also understand that we cannot use magic to get there in a week. However, we can perhaps take a positive note from this tragedy, since a couple of years ago Trump declared his skepticism about vaccines and even tried to launch an antivaccine task, but today crippled with CoVID-19, he suddenly loves vaccinesHerbert Holden Thorp beautifully said it: « If you want something, start treating science and its principles with respect. »

The Centers for Disease Control’s worst-case scenario suggests that about 160 million to 210 million Americans will be infected by December 2020; as many as 21 million will need hospitalisation and between 200,000 and 1.7 million people could die within a year. Harvard University researchers believe that 20% to 60% of the world’s population could become infected, and estimate that 14 million to 42 million people could lose their lives.

Une disparité qui pose question les hommes meurent plus du #COVID19 que les femmes malgré le fait qu'ils aient été contaminés

Une disparité qui pose question : les hommes meurent plus du #COVID19 que les femmes malgré le fait qu’ils aient été contaminés à part à peu près égale. Dans certains pays, cette différence est particulièrement marquée / Source: Statista France

As Ian Goldin also suggested, the extent to which excess mortality can be prevented depends on how quickly societies can organise itself medically and culturally to reduce new infections, isolate the sick and manage health services and resources humanly and efficiently, and also on how long relapses can be prevented and contained.


La France compte rattraper son retard sur les #tests et a fait du #dépistage massif son fer de lance pour lutter contre le #covid19. Voici un état des lieux du nombre de tests réalisés par habitant dans une sélection de pays / Source: Statista France

While intelligent campaigns that teach and reshape human cultures on hygienic habits to deal with viruses may help, without a reliable and effective vaccine, COVID-19 will remain as a hugely disruptive force for years, the pandemic will inflict more suffering and damage on poorer and most vulnerable communities within many countries, highlighting the risks associated with rising inequality.


COVID-19 : quel est le statut des cas identifiés ? / Statista France

In the US, over 60% of the adult population suffers from chronic disease, around 1 in 8 Americans live below the poverty line, and more than 75% of them live from paycheque to paycheque, and over 44 millions in the US have no health coverage at all; and to make matters even worse, they also constitute the largest culture of obesity and community of fat people on the planet.

Un gros obesity obésité

Speaking with the Conversation France, Frédéric Altare, the director of the département d’immunologie at the Centre de Recherche en Cancérologie et Immunologie Nantes-Angers confirmed that being overweight is the major comorbidity associated with severe forms of Covid-19, which require admission to resuscitation in hospital. It can be estimated that, in some places, up to 80% of these may be related to obesity and that if we take a national average, obesity certainly accounts for more than half of the proportion of people admitted to intensive care. The fact that obesity creates a bias in favour of worsening the disease is also confirmed by the outbreak of the epidemic in the United States, a culture of hot dogs and big bellies where almost 40% of the population is severely obese. Since we are on the topic of hot dogs, a review of evidence in the British Medical Journal found that all processed meats [e.g. sausages, bacon, ham, and corned beef] are highly carcinogenic, i.e. they cause cancer, those foods all now appear in the same risk group for cancer (group 1) as asbestos, cigarettes and alcohol (Kmietowicz, 2015).


Le graphique présente les taux d’obésité (IMC>30kg.m-2). La moyenne des pays de l’OCDE est de 19,5% d’obèses. Les Etats-Unis, le Mexique, la Nouvelle Zélande et la Hongrie sont les pays les plus touchés avec respectivement 38,2, 32, 4, 30,7 et 30% d’obèses. Le Japon, la Corée, l’Italie et la Suisse sont les pays les moins touchés avec 3,7, 5,3, 9,8 et 10,3% d’obèses. La France est à 15,3% de taux d’obésité (donnée OCDE basée sur du déclaratif légèrement inférieure aux résultats d’ESTEBAN, basé sur des mesures) / Source: Centre de recherche et d’information nutritionnelles (Cerin)

This association between obesity and severe forms was already well-known for other respiratory infections such as the avian flu. The people at higher risk are those who have passed the morbid obesity milestone. Whether an individual is overweight is assessed using the famous « body mass index« , or BMI [You can check your BMI here], which is the ratio of weight to height squared. A person with a BMI above 25 is considered to be slightly overweight. From 30, we speak of proven overweight with the onset of obesity, at 35 we begin to speak of severe obesity, and from 40 we enter into what is called « morbid » obesity. Morbid, because the people concerned are considered to be at risk of developing pathologies, mainly cardiovascular and atherosclerosis, but also type 2 diabetes, liver diseases, certain forms of cancer.

The challenges to deal with the COVID-19 epidemic are also dramatic in Latin America, Africa and South Asia, where health systems are weaker and governments are less able to respond, risks caused by the failure of politicians such as Bolsonaro and Modi to take the issue seriously enough, argued Ian Goldin of Oxford University and Robert Muggah from the University of Rio de Janeiro.

In poor communities where many individuals share a single room and depend on day to day work to feed themselves, social isolation will be difficult and around the world as individuals lose their income, we should expect rapidly rising homelessness and hungerIn the US, a record of 3.3 million people have already filed for unemployment benefit, and across Europe unemployment is also reaching record levels. Yet, in richer countries some safety nets exist even if they are struggling to organise themselves, but poor countries simply do not have the capacity to ensure that no-one dies of hunger.

Homelessness in the USA

Image: Une femme sans-abri tient dans ses bras son fils de 2 ans dans l’une des villes de tentes de Seattle / A homeless woman holds her 2-year-old son at one of Seattle’s tent cities Source: Business Insider (France)

All responsible and realistic governments around the world should therefore ensure that all people in need have a basic income to ensure that no-one starves as a result of this crisis. Goldin rightly observes that the COVID-19 pandemic provides a turning point in national and global affairs, it shows our interdependence and also that the general public tends to rely on governments to protect and save them and not the private sector, thus badly organised governments lead to human disasters… a song that most people are already familiar with.

In agreement with my own suggestions, Goldin and Muggah also argue that at a time when faith in democracy is at its lowest point in decades, deteriorating economic conditions will contribute to even more political and social instabilityThere is already a tremendous trust gap between politicians and citizensSome politicians are sending mixed signals and citizens are receiving conflicting messages; this reinforces their lack of trust in public authorities controlled by politiciansDue to a shortage of international leadership from the US government, cities, businesses and philanthropies are stepping up.

Bill Gates Delivers A Speech At The Fundraising Day At The Sixth World Fund Conference In Lyon

Bill Gates delivers a speech at the fundraising day at the Sixth World Fund Conference in Lyon, France, on October 10, 2019. At the head of his foundation, Microsoft’s founder, wisely advocates international cooperation against the virus. (Photo by Nicolas Liponne/NurPhoto)

With the range of serious viral infections that have blighted the world during the last decades, it was only a matter of time for others to appear; most perceptive minds probably knew, but unfortunately these minds are a minority on our planet. « What’s to stop some form of SARS showing up? » Bill Gates asked in 2014, referring to the 2002-2003 epidemic of severe acute respiratory syndrome, caused by another coronavirus. Next, he said, could be « SARS II. » Bill and Melinda Gates established their foundation in 2000 and have always focused on biomedical innovations against disease and ways to deliver them. In 2014, during the Ebola epidemic that killed thousands worldwide, the Foundation was active in helping to stamp out the virus.

Governments should also take notice that the way a society cares for and treats its residents reveals a lot about their philosophy and their values about human life and dignityAs a modern civilisation, free high standard healthcare for all should be one of the priorities for all sophisticated and civilised societies, because people do not go to the hospital for fun, freebies or to collect free candies but end up there in situations of distress. Whether the public hospital has a homeless person, a high-earning lawyer, a student or a child at their doorstep, the quality of medical care should be at the highest standards for all, and societies who want to set an example to the world should certainly start with healthcare, because caring for the population is not spending but investing – a population in good health leads to progress at multiple levels [i.e. physical and brain development, educational achievement, psychological health, professional performance, etc]. Research and medical advancement are sectors that no government should discriminate because it ensures a healthy and progressive society.

Bill Gates in 2016 met Trump in the Manhattan skyscraper where the Trump Organisation is based and wanted to discuss « science and innovation ». Gates who co-chairs Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation – which is focused on infectious disease research and treatments – told Trump before he took office that he ought to make preparedness for the danger posed by viral pandemics a priority of his administration. But, of course, with Trump’s ignorance and lack of sophistication these words probably did not register on his brain who now says that « nobody could have predicted » the CoVID-19 virus » when Bill Gates did warn him. The only horribly stupid question that a scientifically illiterate Trump asked Bill Gates during that meeting was whether there’s « a difference between HIV and HPV ». Gates later recounted: « I was able to explain that those are things that are rarely confused with each other.”

“I feel terrible,” Bill Gates says now. And, “I wish I had done more to call attention to the danger,” even if it is the government’s responsibility to keep itself well informed and protect its population. Gates and his charitable organisation have so far committed more than $300 million to various coronavirus relief efforts, which is about 3 times the contribution of the whole of the US to the World Health Organisation.

Gates Foundation spending on pandemic preparedness

Gates Foundation direct spending on pandemic preparedness / Source: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

The point he made to Trump back then is more or less the same one he’s been stressing for years, including during a much-touted 2015 TED Talk in which he described viruses as posing the “greatest risk of global catastrophe.” “If anything kills over 10 million people over the next few decades, it’s most likely to be a highly infectious virus rather than a war,” Gates said at the time. “Not missiles, but microbes.” As of now the US is the global epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic with more than 4.5 millions cases confirmed and 87, 000 deaths according to the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 resource center, exceeding the 58,220 lives lost over nearly 2 decades in the Vietnam war.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have invested $100 million to fight the new coronavirus in China; Twenty million will go to institutions including the World Health Organization (WHO), the American and Chinese Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Health Commission in China. Twenty million will be allocated to public health authorities in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia, areas that have been disproportionately affected by recent epidemics including the H1N1 pandemic in 2009. Up to $60 million will be spent on research into vaccines, treatments and diagnostic tools. Other groups such as the Wellcome Trust, Skoll, the Open Society Foundations, the UN Foundation, and are also scaling up assistance.

It is clearly not the appeals to atavistic and extremist nationalism and closed borders that will trigger solutions and make the most out of the complexities of our interconnected global civilisation in times of crisis where coming together as one planetary civilisation with a unified economic, scientific and medical force is key to destroying this virus and also prepare for the next epidemicthe solution is not about closing the borders or opening the borders, but to create a strong, safe, reliable and intelligent filtration system that is also flexible, reasonable and humane to people and allows movement in and out that contributes to the multi-layered forms of development of a country and civilisation as a whole (e.g. intellectual, academic, educational, linguistic, literary, artistic, cultural, scientific, medical, technological, economic, etc), through the transmission of connaissance (knowledge) and savoir-faire (know-how). If those who feel that they have the responsibility to shape our human civilisation read and fully understand the essay, “Psychological Explanations of Prejudice & Discrimination“, they should come to realise what the theory of evolution is about; scientifically there is no such thing as a « pure » race [because all human primates on earth are the product of migration, breeding and evolution]. The theory of evolution formulated by Charles Darwin revealed to mankind that there is no stable and eternal essence, and that any idea of an exceptionally pure entity that would be beyond evolution does not exist – everything on our planet is in a constant state of flux/change [so from a scientific, evolutionary and organic standpoint, racism is a totally archaic absurdity since we are all simply organic matter on a small blue planet in the vast universe being recycled, recreated and reshaped in a continuous process]. Darwin stated very clearly that he honestly thought that evolution is accepting the idea that there is no end to evolution and it goes in all directions. The French philosopher Barbara Stiegler wisely suggested that the task of creating the consent of the masses should be left in the hands of experts in psychology [i.e. those who understand the psychic structure and philosophies of how humans and societies operate, develop and evolve].

Ian Goldin and Robert Muggah agree on the idea that the spread of COVID-19 must be met with a coordinated international effort to find vaccines, mobilise medical supplies and, when the volcanic dust settles, to ensure that we never again face what could be an even deadlier disease. They write on the University of Oxford’s Oxford Martin School website : « Now is not the time for recriminations: it is the time for action. National and city governments, businesses, and ordinary citizens around the world must do everything they can to flatten the epidemic curve immediately, following the examples set by Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong, Hangzhou and Taiwan. »

Bill Gates remains optimistic about the crisis, since Covid-19 will allow the world to accumulate experience and prepare for the next pandemic. The modern and forward-thinking philantropist believes that the innovation shown by countries in the northern hemisphere could be of great help to countries in the south that are likely to be affected by the virus in the coming seasons, Gates is convinced that the fight against the virus requires a more realistic count of the number of proven cases, the Microsoft founder will finance the free distribution of testing tests in his city of Seattle. For him, the coronavirus could be the epidemic of the century. In practice, as soon as the tests are available, they will be distributed on demand in Seattle. The aim is that anyone with symptoms will be able to make the diagnosis themselves, by rubbing a cotton stick into the back of their nostrilsThe Foundation says it can quickly process thousands of tests every day and deliver results within 48 hours maximumPositive screenings will be notified to the patients, as well as to public health authorities. Positive patients will then be asked to complete an online questionnaire to detail their recent travels and the people they may have been in contact with. The aim is to better monitor the epidemic and to ensure that potential patients do not travel to hospitals or doctors’ offices.

“You can’t get ‘outside », said Professor Didier Sicard, who also argues for a universal attitude, which comes at a right time to educate world culture on medical hygiene, « We must not consider that we are 30 years old and in good health and that we are not going to be fooled by all this talk. » Everyone must realize that they may be unknowingly contaminating others. The epidemic has passed through people who have returned from China or Italy. Didier Sicard says: « I know the example of an Italian woman who went to Argentina. She attended a wedding and kissed everyone. This woman infected 56 people! Irresponsibility in times of epidemics does immense damage. On the contrary, we have to respect the measures. Like waiting, for example, in front of the supermarket before entering if you see that there are people. »


Quelle est l’efficacité des masques de protection ? / Source: Statista France

Où les masques sont déjà omniprésents

Où les masques sont déjà omniprésents: le gouvernement a annoncé que des masques seraient distribués aux Français / Source: Statista France

Surgical face masks have been proven to significantly reduce the detection of influenza virus RNA in respiratory droplets and coronavirus RNA in aerosols, with a trend toward reduced detection of coronavirus RNA in respiratory droplets, hence surgical masks have the potential to prevent the transmission of human coronaviruses and influenza viruses from symptomatic individuals (Leung et al., 2020). Until antivirals and vaccines are ready, the face mask will become the indispensable and essential accessory for us all at all times, when we are outdoors or in environments frequented by others. Most popular among lay people, the cloth mask is already being widely used and it is re-usable; this accessory will be the key to ease us all out of lockdown and offer some temporary protection to us and the people around us until the vaccine and antivirals are readyTHE MASK IS NOT A MIRACLE PROTECTION, SO INDIVIDUALS MUST REMAIN VIGILANT AND NEVER LOWER THEIR GUARD and are advised to seriously take notice of where their hands and fingers are going and ensure that it does not get in contact with their face [i.e. mouth, eyes, ears], carry a hand-sanitiser with at least 60% alcohol with them at all times and use it properly, maintain a safe distance of about 1 metre minimum from all other individuals at all times, and also stay away from those who are not wearing masks as micro droplets from their breath and mouth may contaminate others.

Safety Goggles Coronavirus CoVID-19

A study published in the PNAS using highly sensitive laser light scattering showed that micro droplets generated by asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19 during speech can emit thousands of oral fluid droplets per second and these can remain in the stagnant air of confined environments for up to about 15 minutes. This confirms that there is probability that normal speaking causes airborne COVID-19 virus transmission in confined environments (Stadnytskyi, Bax, Bax and Anfinrud, 2020).

People should also not be ashamed about their appearance due to protective measures, nothing is enough for a deadly virus, and I would personally recommend using safety goggles that completely seal the eyes when outdoor in highly frequented public places such as shopping areas. People should also never lose their focus about the possible sources of contamination indoors, such as shoes and clothes worn outside. It may be life-saving to organise a specific routine such as leaving shoes worn outside in a corner, sanitise hands when touching themPerhaps as soon as one gets home, instantly remove and place all clothes worn outside in a basket far from people in the house, outside in a sheltered place may be convenient for washing then disinfect oneself and shower.

We must NEVER FORGET that there is a deadly virus circulating and any minor slip or even a small reflex [e.g. scratching the eyelids] can mean death. The Académie de Médecine recommends the facial mask for all.

How to maintain your cloth mask

Coronavirus CoVID-19 Scorpion Face Mask

Image: Scorpion of Mortal Kombat may motivate the younger generations to wear their masks and maybe even the more mature generations

There are many people who do not know that the cloth mask MUST COVER THE NOSE AND THE MOUTH otherwise it would be pointless, hence it is advisable to tell any person not wearing their mask properly to do so; the mask should also not be used for more than 4 hours. Generally, the cloth mask must be washed every time that it has been used, taking into consideration that usage should not exceed 4 hours. Hence, it is obvious that every individual will need to have a few in order to rotate them during the day appropriately. The Association Française de normalisation (Afnor) also advises to wash this protection every time it is dirty or wet or badly positioned on the face. To be worn properly, the mask must cover the nose and the mouth and should not be placed in waiting position on the forehead or around the neck. The Agence Nationale de Sécurité du Médicament et des Produits de Santé (ANSM) also stated that all mask makers must give details on how to wash and disinfect their masks. Here is a list of some helpful advices for an optimal maintenance:

  • Wash at 60 degrees celcius with your usual laundry for at least 30 minutes preferably in the machine, or if not available, by hand
  • Dry the mask in the 2 hours that follow the washing in a dryer, or if not available, with a hair dryer
  • At the slightest sign of wear (e.g. hole or deformation) the mask must be discarded.

Here are also a few things that you MUST NOT DO:

  • Place it in a microwave
  • Iron it without washing it
  • Use bleach or alcohol
  • Dry it in open air

Coronavirus Putting Your Mask On

Before the wash

Before the washing process, the Afnor precisely explained in its FAQ that it is not necessary to systematically disinfect the inner tube [i.e. the area that holds the laundry] before washing your masks. However, Afnor recommends to run an empty wash if you have accidentally added a used mask with other clothes during a wash at a temperature lower than 60 degrees celcius. In this case, we must proceed, before the wash, with a cold rince of the inner tube with bleach, or run an empty wash in the machine at 60 degrees celcius or 95 degrees celcius without spin.

During the wash

Masks should be washed with your usual detergent at a temperature of 60°C for at least 30 minutes in the washing machine or, if this is not possible, by hand. The use of fabric softener is not recommended. It is best not to use any product other than your usual detergent, as any other product could degrade the mask fabric. Furthermore, the Afnor specifies that you can wash your masks with sheets or towels, in order to « ensure the mechanical aspect of the wash ».

The Drying Process

The Afnor believes that « the mask should be completely dried within the two hours that follows the washing« . Whenever possible, the mask should therefore be tumble dried after cleaning the filters. Drying in the open air is slower, but it can be an alternative, » we find on the Afnor website.

Can the mask also be blown dry? The option is mentioned in a standard notice for fabric/cloth masks put online by the Direction générale des Enterprises. But Afnor does not recommend this method, because of the « poor control of the temperature level », which can lead to damage to the fabric. If you nevertheless choose this option, for lack of any other solution, it is therefore essential to pay attention to the temperature supported by the mask. The ANSM also recommends, if possible, steam ironing the mask. This can help to complete the drying process, adds the Afnor. Here again, be careful with the temperature so as not to damage the fabric or the elastics.

Whichever option you choose, all layers of the mask must be completely dry. As a final step, before storing it in a clean, airtight package, visually inspect the mask. If you notice any deterioration (wear, deformation, holes, etc.), discard the mask.

If Washing Is Not Possible

It is not recommended to microwave the mask. Steam ironing or hair drying is not a substitute for washing either. Finally, it is absolutely not recommended to use bleach or alcohol to disinfect a mask. Not only can these two products alter the quality of the mask by degrading the fabric, but bleach is also dangerous to your health (with risks of skin irritation or respiratory problems).

The Stop-postillons site, created by doctors, nevertheless gives this advice, if one cannot disinfect one’s mask right away: « keep it in an airtight box (for example a plastic box disinfected with bleach) », then « wait a week ». You can also find a simple method to make your own mask that does not require any additional material except a pair of scissors and a t-shirt.

On masks, Didier Sicard declared: « …they are psychological protectors for walkers and not virological protectorsEvery French person has to say to themselves: I do everything so that others can’t blame me for anything. We need an attitude where we look for the other’s gaze before our ownThat alone will bring efficiencyMasks are obviously protective for doctors and caregivers in an environment where the virus circulates. But when you have people walking down the street wearing masks, it’s paradoxical. They think they’re protecting themselves from others, but there’s a huge gap between the uselessness of masks on the street and the vital usefulness of masks in hospitals. I myself was at the pharmacy on Saturday morning and I showed my doctor’s card to see if I could buy masks. The pharmacist told me there were none left. So, if I needed them to treat a patient, I wouldn’t have been able to go see him, or I might have contaminated him. We have seen too many people walking down the street wearing masks as a kind of panoply. There is a major political drama in this absence of masks.”

Sicard pointed out that masks should be reserved for carers, stating: “To anyone who works around the virus. When you see cashiers at the supermarket who don’t have masks while customers have masks, there is something completely counterproductive. Those who don’t need them have got them, and those who really need them are missing them. This is directly related to individual behaviour. I would never have dared to walk down the street with a mask until the caregivers had masks. It’s something that would have frightened me. It basically shows people’s blindness and ignorance. If you walk around without meeting anyone, there is no point in wearing a mask.”

Didier Sicard

Didier Sicard

From an ethical standpoint, the attitude of carers who are now on the front line when they were on strike a few weeks back struck Sicard, who said: “That’s their duty. A doctor is mobilized in his inner self to do his job. Cowards don’t come at the beginning. So, it seems both admirable and normal to me. The suffering of the hospital body, I’ve been seeing it for ten or fifteen years. The number of my colleagues who have told me, you are so lucky to be retired! We suffer, it’s terrible, the hospital has become a business. And I totally agree with what they said: the hospital has been martyred. With purely economic decisions that ignored the interests of patients and doctors. The number of doctors who took early retirement should be measured by explaining that their profession no longer had any interest and that they felt they were spending their time filling in forms and boxes. There has been a real ransacking of the public hospital over the last decade. The last Minister of Health who was still really aware of his role and who respected health care workers was Xavier Bertrand. After that, it was a disaster.”

Sicard also did not think that this broken health system had any repercussions today faced with the current sanitary crisis in France, adding: “All the measures that made the hospital non-functional have temporarily disappeared. The administrators are terrified in their offices and do nothing. The doctors are doing everythingThey have regained all their power.


There is a certain happiness for them in finding the job they always wanted to do. The administration has packed up its bags, or more precisely, it is in charge. The balance of power has been reversed: a year ago, doctors were at the orders of the administration; now, it is the administration that is at the orders of the doctors. This is a very interesting phenomenon. Doctors themselves are no longer hindered by being forced to fill the beds with patients who bring in money, which was the principle until then. Now they’re going back to their core business. Which is the fight against death. Deep down, they find the deep DNA of their craft. It’s almost a paradox: there is less distress in the medical profession now at peak activity, than there was six months ago when they were desperate and depressed because they felt that their profession had lost its meaning.”

Sicard seems to rightly observe and believe that the politicians will remember this period and that civilisation is changing era: “I can give you an example for which I’ve been fighting for two years. I won’t name the hospital, but I know a woman who specializes in burn surgery. At the hospital, her department was closed and she didn’t have a position anymore. Nevertheless, she wanted to continue working with children with burns. However, her burn unit was transformed into a plastic surgery unit for buttocks and breasts. Because it brings in a lot of money. But she always tells me that if there was a fire in a school with forty or fifty burned children, we would no longer have the capacity to take them in because we consider that burns are not profitable enough and that it is better to focus on surgery for the stars. »


Où perd-on foi dans le capitalisme ? / Source: Statista France

« This economic vision of medicine, which has been introduced over the last ten years, is an absolute disaster, » declared the experienced medical professional This was of course a public hospital, “In the private sector, institutions do what they want. However, it is not normal for the public sector to destroy an activity that is not profitable – because burns are very expensive and bring in very little money and there is no private activity capable of dealing with them – and to dismiss it in favour of profitable activities. Basically, the public was anguished at the idea that it had to invest heavily in top-of-the-range equipment to match the private sector. The public will never have as much money as the private sector and will never be able to keep up. And by spending money on highly specialized sectors, we end up neglecting the most vulnerable people, be they the elderly, alcoholics or people in precarious situations. The public hospital has ended up forgetting its hospital function, as I have said on several occasions. Ninety per cent of doctors have been aware of this and it has been a terrible suffering for them. Just as it was for nurses and other care workers to do a job that was linked to money.”

Macron le clown

La majorité des Français pensent que le Macron banquier est inutile comme leur président / Source: Odoxa

Professor Sicard believes that we have no assurance that politicians will change their views on health care, however he thinks that the French will remember and will hold them to account, saying: “President Macron had promised to stop activity-based pricing, the current system of hospital financing. Economists have been pushing the envelope, saying that we would no longer be able to measure the cost of this or that operation. And the head of state gave up. I think that after this crisis, the President of the Republic will modify this activity-based pricing. The hospital will ask to be reimbursed on what it achieves and what it considers its priority. We have to trust the hospital not to treat patients unnecessarily and fill beds as if we were at the club méditerranée. The hospital will regain its true public care function.”

pas-assez-medecins-scolaires-dans-les-ecoles-francaises d'purb dpurb site web

Image: Médecin scolaire au travail en France / School doctor at work in France

In the UK, at Oxford University, researchers have been working with Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to reduce clinical research activity to allow researchers to prioritise research on COVID-19 and to support the pressing clinical needs of the NHS. The academic community will have to work together with governments, funders and healthcare providers to combat this ugly COVID-19 virus and Oxford has a long history of responding to health emergencies, e.g. during the 2014 Ebola crisis among negro communities in Africa, Oxford scientists lead the way in undertaking human vaccine studies, and Oxford’s strength in research around infectious diseases and international health, alongside its leading work in emergency vaccine development places it in a great position to contribute to better comprehension around the effective control of this horrific epidemic.

Coronavirus Researchers at Oxford

Source: Oxford University Research

The Oxford team has already tested a potential coronavirus vaccine successfully on several animal species. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has reported that over 70 vaccines are being developed globally for the Covid-19. The Oxford team will join 3 other groups of researchers, 2 in the US and 1 in China for the start of human trials. Professor Sarah Gilbert, a vaccinologist at Oxford University said she is « 80 per cent » confident it will be a success. Patrick Vallance, the UK’s chief scientific adviser said that it would be « very lucky » if a coronavirus vaccine was available widely within a year.

Exscientia Oxford Science Park

Image: Researchers at the laboratory of British pharmatech company Exscientia at Oxford Science Park in Oxford, part of an initiative to develop coronavirus treatments. Source: Adrian Dennis/AFP via Getty Images

The Oxford group are among the most advanced viral vaccine group in the world and have been working on vaccine preparedness for several years which means that they should be able to test and evaluate Covid-19 vaccine candidates rapidly.  The group have unique unique viral vector delivery and expression systems combined with diverse expertise from basic virology to vaccine production scale-up. The UK has no current vaccine manufacture however, and may have to rely on its Western European neighbours (e.g. France, Belgium and Germany) that have industrial level manufacturing capabilitiesThe Jenner Institute and Oxford Vaccine Group, could develop a jab that would be ready as early as September, almost a miracle in speed for such a demanding task as people are dying by the thousands every couple of hours globally.

Worldometers Coronavirus (COVID-19) Cases

COVID-19 CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC Live Counter (here last updated on October 18, 2020) / Source: Worldometer (Click to see the live counter)

So, we are going to need  a technology that allows us to deliver billions of doses over a year. The team at the University of Oxford said that they expect to produce a million doses of their experimental vaccine as early as September; months ahead of the official 12-to-18 month timeline quoted by experts around the world. “Then we’ll move even faster from there, because it’s pretty clear that the world is going to need 100s of millions of doses ideally by the end of the year to end this pandemic and let us out of lockdown safely”, said Professor Adrian HillDirector of the Jenner Institute, University of Oxford.

Part des Français prêts à accepter des mesures de quarantaine afin d'endiguer la propagation du nouveau coronavirus d'purb dpurb site web

Part des Français prêts à accepter des mesures de quarantaine afin d’endiguer la propagation du nouveau coronavirus (COVID-19) en France en 2020 / Source: Statista France


Pourquoi la distanciation sociale est primordiale / Source: Statista France

The Oxford University team’s experimental product, called « ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 », is a type of immunisation known as a recombinant viral vector vaccine and is just one of at least 70 potential Covid-19 candidate shots under development by biotech and research teams around the world. The vaccine was chosen as the most suitable vaccine technology for the virus as it can generate a strong immune response from one dose, said the team. When asked how they managed to move the usually lengthy process of vaccine approval along so quickly, Professor Sarah Gilbert, who is leading the study, said it was their ongoing research into Disease X – an as yet unknown infectious agent earmarked as a potential pandemic in the making – which allowed them to pivot so quickly to Covid-19.

Collaboration and cooperation sarh gilbert d'purb dpurb site web

Traduction(EN): « I am in no doubt that we will see an unprecedented spirit of collaboration and cooperation. » – Sarah Gilbert

We should be looking into creating a planetary medical organisation that is minutely planned and efficiently organised around the latest and finest technological advancements. All vaccine researchers and developers worldwide have a responsibility towards mankind to synchronise their knowledge and findings in the development of the ultimate vaccine. The World Health Organization will also have to prioritise works on the linguistic synchronisation of planet Earth’s medical worlds since this unification of the medical talents and expertise worldwide is of upmost importance for the future of mankind and civilisation. What we mean by linguistic synchronisation is that the whole medical community will need to work in one language as it will speed up development, and will also be one fundamental cornerstone towards building a united planetary civilisation, even if individuals are free to learn or study other tertiary languages if that is what they desire.

It is important to emphasise that in this essay, my usage of the terms “united planetary civilisation” is very different to “globalisation”, since the latter term is vague and generally refers to labour and migratory movement and financial motives, whereas the “building of a united planetary civilisation” is about getting humans of earth to genuinely agree on values and goals, feel, understand and synchronise their lives with each other as a truly united planetary community that is helping, working and building harmoniously together at every level and not only economically.

Literacy-Rate-by-Generation-World-Map d'purb dpurb site web

Carte montrant la différence des niveaux de littératie entre la génération plus âgée et la plus jeune / Map showing the difference in literacy levels between the older and the younger generation / Source: OurWorldinData

We are after all living in pivotal times where the human civilisation is evolving at breakneck speed and changing era right before our eyes in the 21st century with a generation that has the chance of having access to the wide range of accelerated learning technologies available; the world’s societies have evolved beyond recognition from their « primitive » past, and are today interconnected and inspire and influence each other in so many ways [e.g. science, sport, medicine, cuisine, arts, literature, philosophy & education].


It is also to be noted that with all the difficulties that the delicate intellectual responsibility and duty to shape and structure the construction of a modern civilisation involve due to the lack of sophistication, open-mindedness, personality along with the persistent culture of atavism of many rigid, naive, ignorant, infantile and petty little minds, especially in the Anglo-Saxon sphere, reminding me of a comedic post about the 29 things French people love about Britain, but more particularly in the even more savage industrial and mechanical wild west of the US, as a bilingual Franco-British individual with native mastery of French and English, I have always invested my time and energy in the cause of mankind’s evolution and tried my best to act as a cultural bridge between the academic, medical, scientific, intellectual, psychological, philosophical, and psycholinguistic realms of the 2 most widely spoken languages in the so called « developed world » – that sometimes unfortunately still feels like concrete jungles through the savage behaviour, actions and reasoning of the passionless and unsophisticated creatures that are supposed to set an example, inspire, motivate, guide a civilisation and create a humane and harmonious society where « le dépassement de soi » is a realistic pursuit and where individuals can grow in multiple ways, truly « live » in the full sense of the term and not simply have a plain and meaningless existence where achievement is purposeless and devoid of sense.

In our times, however, there are still many regions of the world that are linguistically « undeveloped »; where the majority cannot even master simple communication in English, let alone grasp the finesse, artistry, romanticism, emotional sensibility, humane values and depth of the psychical realm of literary French.

Les politiciens en manque d'éducation linguistique et littéraire d'purb dpurb site web

Traduction(EN): « Can anyone tell me how a simple female monkey with electrodes, let alone a (so-called) minister of culture, can talk without dying of shame about a « learning » summer?
I repeat: a learning summer.
A summer, therefore, that learns.
That learns what? 
To write French, no doubt. » / Source: Twitter (Juan Asensio)

Indeed, just like many useless, cheap, uncultivated and frustrated street politicians in France, the great majority of their political counterparts in other parts of the world also fail to do so, unconsciously suffering from a lack of literature, self-cultivation, artistic exposure, self-respect and dignity combined with a constant complexe d’infériorité towards those who are wiser, smarter, nobler in spirit, more intelligent, creative, charismatic and sophisticated than them; I would recommend them to sit down and listen to the university lectures of Prof. Michel Butor [E.g. Les récits philosophiques de Balzac], it may help towards their cultural evolution, but also ease the pain on those forced to endure them, such as their wife and children.

Honoré de Balzac d'purb dpurb site web

Honoré de Balzac (1799 – 1850)

It is time for them to firmly understand that we still have some « adultes surdoués » as Monique de Kermadec » phrases it, or « Overmen » as Friedrich Nietzsche puts it i.e. highly talented and skilled individuals who live and exist out there, especially in the psyches of the French speaking world and heritage [e.g. Napoléon, of whom even the great German Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel himself described seeing as follows: « I have seen the Emperor », he writes « this soul of the world – getting out of the city to go on reconnaissance; it is indeed a marvellous feeling to see such an individual who, concentrated in one point of space, sitting on his horse, stretches out over the world and dominates it. »]; individuals who have the savoir-faire and creative power to manage dozens of governments worldwide, a film/video/music/media production company, a publishing house, who could also give a lesson in professional artistic photography, post-production and presentation, and even train a whole generation of original, sophisticated, witty, poetic, literary and noble writers, and not just in Oscar Wilde’s granular Oxford English, although plain and flat compared to French, but also « la langue Française de Balzac » in all its precise articulations, depth, style and literary artistry.

Logically, to  such individuals, running a press/publishing/media business would be a piece of cake, something achievable half-asleep with superior values, style, efficiency and impact than the mass of mediocre newspapers and their usually obese owners and political sympathisers out there; if such a direction was a career choice and goal for those gifted individuals at a particular point of their life – of course!

Besides, my whole life I have questioned my own sanity because I have always felt misunderstood and different from the rest of the crowd and highly sensible and receptive to what most primates around me could not even hear, sense, feel, see, perceive or understand, and also never found anyone in the Anglo-Saxon realm with a mastery of French similar to mine, and nobody in the French realm with a mastery of English as mine, thinking that I could be fake, I then realised that linguistic discourse and speech are not fake, but are very real and alive, as Jacques Lacan also concluded. Luckily, I recently read Monique de Kermadec’s book « L’Adulte Surdoué » and found out that humanity has a minority of individuals out there in the world who also feel misunderstood and are hard to classify, because just like myself, these « weird fools » and misunderstood individuals have an IQ of above 145 [which I only recently found out myself from a small IQ test on the MENSA website that only measured up to 145, which is sufficient for me to know without an exact number since this is a statement of fact not an exercise of arrogance – delivering me from my torment to confirm that the weird ones are not us, but the mediocre majority that surrounds us and cannot follow our discourse or understand our lightning speed judgements because of their lower IQ – valuable things in nature are rare, that is why they are valuable].

Chef d'orchestre

Superior individuals with superior intellect will not see these cold-blooded, cannibalistic, reptilian political primates as a model to follow, as an inspiration, as a source of comfort, safety, hope or stability, as a spiritual guide or as an ultimate authority, but instead just see them as a bunch of other disconnected and divisive money-minded politicians and cold bureaucrats passing by, like the thousands of mediocrities who have lived and died before them and who have been responsible for some of the most castastrophic human disasters in history without ever being able to accept their mistakes, while also not having any major positive impact on the world, and who are at this minute rotting in a forgotten grave with maggots sliding through their bones. We could even ask ourselves whether some of them have green blood, and imagine the horror and agony it must be for any woman for whatever reason to have to wake up next to one of those reptilian primates every morning, with its mouth half open drooling on a pillow with its « haleine de boudin ».

Le gouvernement du clown macron

Le gouvernement a-t-il été à la hauteur de la situation ? / Source: Odoxa

And to stress the point that most of the mediocre politicians nowadays cannot be trusted with the heart of the people, the historical and legendary verbal whipping from the great Napoleon himself to the evil, lying, sly, dishonest, disloyal and backstabbing politician, Talleyrand, who was plotting against the emperor with Fouché in 1834, comes to mind; looking at the untrustworthy face and straight in the eyes of the unscrupulous man, the emperor Napoléon said:

« Vous êtes un voleur, un lâche, un homme sans foi. Vous ne croyez pas à Dieu ; vous avez toute votre vie manqué à tous vos devoirs, vous avez trompé, trahi tout le monde […] Tenez, Monsieur, vous n’êtes que de la merde dans un bas de soie. »

Napoléon à Talleyrand - de la merde dans un bas de soie d'purb dpurb site web

Traduction(EN): « You’re a thief, a coward, a man of no faith. You do not believe in God; all your life you have failed in all your duties, you have deceived, betrayed everyone […] Here, sir, you are nothing but shit in a silk stocking. » – Napoléon (to Talleyrand, during the Council of Ministers convened at the Château des Tuileries) / Source: L’Histoire en Citations

Nowadays with the adaptive and dynamic technology and skilled software engineers available, we should be creating a sophisticated planetary medical system where the latest findings, empirical studies, analysis and statistics of the medical experts of the whole world are instantly synchronised and available in one place [with instant full-access to all medical journals worldwide], while respecting the personal and non-medical details of patients by a tested and proven system of indexing that does not allow for personal details to be input but only strict medical/scientific details. It may also be useful to note that when it comes to health problems, we are all equal on our small and interconnected planet Earth, and in the essay on clinical psychology, « Learning Disabilities, Anxiety, Depression & Schizophrenia and the Effectiveness of Psychotherapy », the global statistics portray this fact.

We should be focusing on specialised and highly encrypted [an encryption specially devised for this system that is 100% safe so that even if there are hacks and data breaches, the data will never be usable due to the powerful encryption] servers only accessible through highly controlled card systems, only available to the medical departments of hospitals and universities from all around the globe.

Such a system would speed up development for both medical professionals and patients. For example, If a patient suffering from cervical, skin, ovarian, testicular or lung cancer in any part of the world (e.g. Rio de JaneiroNew York, Moscow, Port-Louis, Bombay, Tokyo, Alabama, Berlin, Jerusalem, Ottawa, Cape Town, Zurich, London, Grenoble or Paris) has a CT scan, that scan would be instantly uploaded and classified in the medical database on the specialised and encrypted servers and made available to all medical departments and professionals in the world connected to the system, who would then have the options to add comments or questions, with their involvements being rewarded by points.

The heads of medical faculties at universities could even have the option to use these live data and cases to train medical students, and in doing do, provide a revision to the diagnosis and treatments of patients while also subjecting the cases to constructive criticism and/or new treatments being developed.

Infirmière avec les personnes âgées d'purb dpurb site web

Image: Étudiante en médecine en formation / Medical student in training

A similar scenario could also apply for all diseases and all types of treatment that would be minutely and systematically classified while remaining intuitive to browse, sort by a range of variables and access for medical professionals; the age, blood group, weight, height, sex and other medical details only would be made available on the specialised server, not private non-medical information. Such an advanced system would not only connect the medical community, stamp  out medical negligence and raise medical standards, but also provide a massive dataset from which a range of institutions could carry medical research and have a more precise conclusion from statistical tests. From the essay on clinical psychology, “Controversies that surround modern day mental health practice“, we clearly pointed out a range of different views among the medical community on a range of controversial treatments; such a system would lead to a more open-minded debate among the academic community on ethics and methods of treatments while considering individual patient characteristics across different fields of medicine and treatment.

This system with a well organised database could also be used to manage a global blood bank and ensure that it is evenly distributed internationally so that even those with rare blood groups can be treated efficiently when health problems arise;

Serrurier d'Amiens

Image: Un serrurier au travail / Locksmith at work

for example, if the daughter of a motel owner, fried chicken and hot dog seller in Illinois happens to be of a very rare blood type and she finds herself in desperate need of it to remain alive, she could instantly have access to the rare blood which could have been collected from the other side of the globe and extracted from the veins of a locksmith in Amiens, an aborigine in New Zealand, a noodle seller in China, a dwarf circus-performer from an English village, a banker in India, an Eastern European stripper in Las Vegas, a heavy truck driver in Madagascar, a kangaroo keeper in Australia, a potato farmer in Germany, a gay bouncer and bodybuilder in Austria, an old and bald Breton who edits a low class « plouc » newspaper in Northern France, a retired, frustrated, useless and senile politician in Brazil, a peasant with a limited vocabulary and a strong « Marseillais » accent, or a globally known French writer, intellectual, philosopher and creative artist – because such an efficient and sophisticated system would allow for a systematic management of blood banks globally.

la collecte de sang d'purb dpurb site web

Image: Don de sang / Blood donation

That system would also include the profiles of medical professionals accessible between them along with a system of forums, awards, points and chats where any medical department and expert could post messages regarding the recruitment of patients for studies, the latest findings of particular medicines and treatments from the wide range of departments and specialities; and also the top articles from scientific journals made available by different departments – until we work on such a sophisticated system, humanity will continue to suffer from a lack of organisation and management.

A system as sophisticated and organised as that would lead to the world being up-to-date and synchronised medically, with patients also receiving the latest treatments or having the option to travel to different parts of the world for new treatments against deadly diseases or terminal stages that are still in the trial phase and also doctors remaining focused and sharp through the latest updates in their specific fields while also giving them the ability to instantly ask questions on the forum/chat to other experts in their fields right from the operating table if they are unsure or would like some words of support or confirmation.

An Example of collaborative software Microsoft Teams d'purb dpurb site web

Image: Microsoft Teams, un exemple de modèle pour une application collaborative / Confinement: le nombre d’utilisateurs quotidiens a augmenté de 12 millions en l’espace d’une semaine. Le 11 mars, Microsoft Teams comptait 32 millions d’utilisateurs quotidiens, pour ensuite voir ce chiffre passer à 44 millions le 18 mars / Source: Statista France

They may even have a live camera streaming system on their foreheads or face while conducting surgery so that it can be seen by all those connected to the system in private clinics, hospitals and the medical faculties of universities worldwide. Such a system could be regulated by an independent global medical authority that would also deliver certifications to all institutions and professionals who apply for it, patients could also see a particular logo on their treatment locations to see that they are part of such a system; if this is implemented even minor hospitals in small villages will suddenly have the boost and expertise of the top medical experts behind them. This would lead to an instant rise in medical standards worldwide.

Femme-et-son-médecin_france d'purb dpurb site web

Image: Une femme en France discutant avec son médecin / A woman discussing with her doctor in France

In the 21st century with the affordability of powerful multi-core processors, high-definition audiovisual equipment and high speed broadband it is a scenario that is very realistic and not a far-fetch scene from one of the infantile mass produced science-fiction fantasies of the Hollywood industry.

We need to apply the technological ingenuity of mankind appropriately to make the most of our lives in this world and allow our fellow humans to live more and stress less, and not simply focus all that technological prowess into creating brain numbing and absurd entertainment media and other petty devices and apps that lead humanity to a culture of mundane, mediocre, meaningless and useless social blogging and nonsense, where bored and pathetic people share photos of their sandwiches, drinks, breakfast and make-up tips with the world. From an article in the Lancet, Sarah Gilbert said: « WHO is in the process of creating a forum for everyone who is developing COVID-19 vaccines to come together and present their plans and initial findings. It is essential that we all measure immunological responses to the various vaccines in the same way, to ensure comparability and generalisability of our collective findings. Work is continuing at a very fast pace, and I am in no doubt that we will see an unprecedented spirit of collaboration and cooperation, convened by WHO, as we move towards a shared global goal of COVID-19 prevention through vaccination”.

Share of vaccines being developed in each country

I also take the opportunity to salute all the medical teams and healthcare workers operating all over the world for the courageous task they are undertaking and also express all my gratitude and support to my local NHS GP surgery in West London who have always been there when I needed them and who are still texting their patients to show their concern and support in these difficult times affecting the entire human civilisation.

NHS UK Message

« This is a snapshot of the message I received from my local GP surgery in West London on Friday, 10th of April at about midnight (UK time) even if I am out of the UK at the moment after more than 14 years without taking any holiday or leave of absence from the country. My plans to return in January with a trip to Oxford has been ruined by this ugly Coronavirus pandemic, and now all the flights have been frozen… my heart remains and will forever be in Western Europe. » -Danny D’Purb

On this note, the British psychoanalytical Society have set up “With You in Mind”, a consultation in times of crisis to support NHS and social care staff who are working and are under immense pressure while being exposed to risk during the COVID-19 pandemic. Members of the Institute of Psychoanalysis, who are all mental healthcare specialists are volunteering their time to offer support sessions. These volunteers are hoping that the opportunity to talk may offer some relief and support – whether about professional or personal matters, or the situation at work, they are hoping to help in any way they possibly can.

With You In Mind IOPA British Psychoanalytical Society d'purb dpurb site web

With You in Mind: Consultations in Crisis

Psychoanalysts can also support reflective practice activities [they can be contacted by CLICKING HERE or if you are a member and would like to find out more, email:]

Steps to prevent infection are vital:

There are many things we can do to protect ourselves and the people we interact with. As with a cold, a flu vaccine won’t protect people from developing COVID-19. The best thing we can do at this point is to follow the same preventive measures as we would against the flu. It is widely known that individual can catch the flu when people sneeze and/or cough on them, or when they touch a dirty doorknob. We should wash our hands thoroughly especially before eating or touching the facial area and cavities and also after using the bathroom, while also avoiding others with flu-like symptoms – these are the best strategies for the time being.

Officer worker having lunch in London

Déjeuner d’un employé de bureau âgé à Londres / Elderly office worker in London having lunch

The following preventive actions are also recommended:

  • Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Dry them thoroughly with an air dryer or clean towel. If soap isn’t available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Stay at home if sick.
  • Avoid touching nose, eyes, and mouthUse a tissue to cover a cough or sneeze, then dispose of it in the trash.
  • Use a household wipe or spray to disinfect doorknobs, light switches, desks, keyboards, sinks, toilets, cell phones, and other objects and surfaces that are frequently touched.
  • It may also be important to create a household plan of action. You should talk with people who need to be included in your plan, plan ways to care for those who might be at greater risk for serious complications, get to know your neighbours, and make sure you and your family have a household plan that includes ways to care for loved ones if they get sick. This includes planning a way to separate a family member who gets sick from those who are healthy, if the need arises.
  • Medical professionals recommend that people voluntarily wear cloth face masks in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, including grocery stores and pharmacies, especially if they live in an area of significant community-based transmission. It should be noted that the cloth mask is not meant to protect the wearer from infection. It is instead meant to slow the spread of the virus (if people who have the virus and do not know it wear masks, they help prevent transmitting it unknowingly to others). Health experts advise making face coverings at home from simple materials, and reserving surgical masks and N95 respirators for health care workers and other medical first responders.

While everyone should take precautions, measures may be critical for adults over 65 years old (the risk seems to gradually increase with age starting at age 40, according to the World Health Organization) and those with chronic conditions (such as diabetes, heart disease, and lung disease).

Les plus de 70 ans, principales victimes du #COVID19 pourraient être confinés plus longtemps

Les plus de 70 ans, principales victimes du #COVID19 pourraient être confinés plus longtemps / Source: Le Parisien

People in these higher risk categories especially should stock up on household items, groceries, medications, and other supplies in case they need to stay home for an extended period of time.


#Consommation : les Français se seraient-ils montrés plus raisonnables que les autres face à l’achat-panique ? On peut se poser la question au regard de cette estimation de la hausse des ventes de #papiertoilette par pays en mars / Source: Statista France

Steps to follow if you become infected and fall ill:

Until now, information available shows that the severity of COVID-19 infection ranges from very mild (sometimes with no reported symptoms at all) to severe to the point of requiring hospitalization. Symptoms can appear anywhere between 2 to 14 days after exposure, and may include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Difficulty breathing

Getting in touch with one’s medical provider for advice in the eventuality of experiencing these symptoms, especially if you have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 or live in an area with ongoing spread of the disease is recommended.

Most people will have a mild illness and will usually be able recover at home without medical care. Seek medical attention immediately if you are at home and experience emergency warning signs, including difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or inability to arouse, or bluish lips or face. This list is not final, so consulting your medical provider if other concerning symptoms are noticed is vital.

François Sureau : « Les Français ne sont pas un troupeau de moutons ou une garderie d’enfants »

To conclude, just like Goldin and Muggah, I also believe that the major Western European players, China, Japan and especially France, a world leading and cultivating nation, must set an example for history by stepping up and leading a global effort, forcing the deteriorated and unstable US government and the uncharismatic politicians controlling it into a global response, which includes accelerating vaccine trials and ensuring free distribution to the world once the ultimate vaccine and antivirals are perfected and finalised. Governments and financial institutions around the world will also need to take dramatic action toward massive investments in health, sanitation and basic income and also provide financial support to both struggling employers and employees.

Potential Treatment

As for potential treatments that have managed to save some lives until the vaccine is finalised, we have some studies suggesting that convalescent plasma [i.e. donated blood from people who have recovered since this donor blood has antibodies to COVID-19lead to shorter hospital stays and lower mortality for patients who received the treatment while no severe adverse effects were observed (Chen, Xiong, Bao and Shi, 2020). It has also been shown that chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine and tocilizumab have the potential to act as a potential cure in « some » patients but they are not guaranteed to function in all cases of COVID-19. The last substance, TOCILIZUMAB has even recently shown to cure COVID-19 patients with severe underlying medical conditions; it has cured a patient who recently had a kidney transplant (Fontana, et al. 2020), and others with asthma (Schleicher, Lowman and Richards, 2020), systemic sclerosis (Distler, 2020), multiple myeloma (Zhang, et al. 2020) and sickle cell (De Luna, et al. 2020).

Some doctors in France are claiming to have healed patients infected with CoVID-19 through the use of antihistaminesa well-known and easily accessible medication against seasonal allergies, and some patients are claiming that in 24 hours their symptoms disappeared [i.e. blocked nose, runny nose, aches and pains]. Although no empirical studies have been carried out yet, these French doctors are claiming that since antihistamines can reduce inflammation in its early stages it can prevent progression towards dangerous stagesDr Hélène Rezeau-Frantz prescribed antihistamines to 18 patients who were symptomatic but untested and after a couple of hours they all started feeling better. These doctors are claiming that antihistamines carry no risk of serious adverse effects and genuinely believe that we may be on an interesting trail towards treatment and are asking for serious studies to be carried out on antihistamines.

All these recent advances have been referenced below in the « Références (Études Scientifiques) » section, and academics & medical professionals are kindly urged to read, analyse and continue further research in this direction and the world can also help by spreading this information as far and wide as they can without wasting a single second.


This is a very stressful and testing time for not only the academic community but also to the rest of the human population and until safe solutions are developed to counter COVID-19, as mentioned above, we cannot lower our guards or act recklessly towards this dangerous and deadly virus.

Skulls in the Opdas Mass Burial Cave

Image: Skulls in the Opdas mass burial cave (for illustrative purposes only)

We must NEVER FORGET that there is a deadly virus circulating and any minor slip or even a small reflex [e.g. scratching the eyelids] can mean death. We must follow the barrier moves at all times and be incredibly conscious of our every move and actions while also constantly maintaining a strict clinical hygiene. Those who are not following these protective rules are not only playing with their own life but with those of others and a good suggestion for these dangerous, irresponsible and immature people would be to imagine 288, 212 human corpses stacked in a heap in front of them and ask themselves whether they would like to be part of it, because this is the number of lives the CoVID-19 epidemic has claimed in a few months which includes many highly trained and experienced doctors. We have also heard and read some rumours in the media regarding the impact of weather and climate on the COVID-19 pandemic. What a recent study in Science (Baker et al., 2020) found is that humid climates tend to favour stronger outbreaks, however summer and sunshine will not limit the pandemic growth substantiallyThe only things that will give us all our life back are effective antivirals and/or a reliable vaccine.

It is also understandable that many people are also eager to get back to resuming their normal lives and having been confined for so long many want to travel or go on holidays, especially confined couples.

Lady in Red - ALLoyd d'purb dpurb site web

Image: Lady in red / A.Lloyd

However, it is imperative to understand that as long as effective antivirals and vaccines are not finalised, this incredibly dangerous virus will be circulating among human populations. Hence, as matters currently stand the wisest behaviour for the time being is to wait and be patient while also minimising unimportant social interactions and travel and only focus on what is truly important. We should only leave the house for essential and vital reasons such as for work [if impossible to work from home] and for food provisions.

Video: Une note sur le COVID 19 et la gestion de la civilisation [En Francais & in English (Starts at 13:00)]

Thanking all my readers, followers and supporters for their kindness, time, loyalty and trust… I shall end this essay by emphasising on the fact that was launched with the firm intention to touch, inspire and motivate individuals from all walks of life that make up our human civilisation on planet Earth, from the small to the immense.


Danny D’Purb

Le Boléro de Ravel par l’Orchestre national de France en #confinement #ensembleàlamaison

(FR) Vous trouverez ci-dessous une liste des principaux articles relatifs à la crise COVID-19 en cours. La liste ci-dessous sera continuellement mise à jour comme tous nos articles sur le siteVeuillez visiter ce poste périodiquement pour plus d’informations pendant que nous luttons ensemble contre cet horrible virus en tant qu’une civilisation des créatures les plus intelligentes de la Terre.

(EN) Below is a list of the top articles related to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. The list below will be continuously updated as all of our posts on the website. Please visit this post periodically for more information as we fight this ugly virus together as a civilisation of the smartest creatures on Earth.


Références (Études Scientifiques) – Cliquez sur les liens

  1. Ahmed, S., Quadeer, A. and McKay, M., (2020). Preliminary Identification of Potential Vaccine Targets for the COVID-19 Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) Based on SARS-CoV Immunological StudiesViruses, 12(3), p.254.
  2. Aljofan, M. and Gaipov, A., (2020). COVID-19 Treatment: The Race Against TimeElectronic Journal of General Medicine, 17(6).
  3. Amuasi, J., Walzer, C., Heymann, D., Carabin, H., Huong, L., Haines, A. and Winkler, A., (2020). Calling for a COVID-19 One Health Research CoalitionThe Lancet.
  4. Asian Pacific Journal of Allergy and Immunology, (2020). Immune responses in COVID-19 and potential vaccines: Lessons learned from SARS and MERS epidemic.
  5. Baker, R., Yang, W., Vecchi, G., Metcalf, C. and Grenfell, B., (2020). Susceptible supply limits the role of climate in the early SARS-CoV-2 pandemicScience, p.eabc2535.
  6. Bennardo, F., Buffone, C. and Giudice, A., (2020). New therapeutic opportunities for COVID-19 patients with Tocilizumab: Possible correlation of interleukin-6 receptor inhibitors with osteonecrosis of the jawsOral Oncology, p.104659.
  7. Bergin, C., Browne, P., Murray, P., O’Dwyer, M., Conlon, N., Kane, D., Laffey, J., Ní Choitir, C., Adams, R., O’Leary, A., King, F. and Gilvarry, P., (2020). Interim Guidance For The Use Of Tocilizumab In The Management Of Patients Who Have Severe COVID-19 With Suspected Hyperinflammation [V3.0]. The Irish Health Repository.
  8. Bi, Q., Wu, Y., Mei, S., Ye, C., Zou, X., Zhang, Z., Liu, X., Wei, L., Truelove, S., Zhang, T., Gao, W., Cheng, C., Tang, X., Wu, X., Wu, Y., Sun, B., Huang, S., Sun, Y., Zhang, J., Ma, T., Lessler, J. and Feng, T., (2020). Epidemiology and transmission of COVID-19 in 391 cases and 1286 of their close contacts in Shenzhen, China: a retrospective cohort studyThe Lancet Infectious Diseases,.
  9. Carsetti, R., Quintarelli, C., Quinti, I., Piano Mortari, E., Zumla, A., Ippolito, G. and Locatelli, F., (2020). The immune system of children: the key to understanding SARS-CoV-2 susceptibility?The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health,.
  10. Cellina, M., Orsi, M., Bombaci, F., Sala, M., Marino, P. and Oliva, G., (2020). Favorable changes of CT findings in a patient with COVID-19 pneumonia after treatment with tocilizumabDiagnostic and Interventional Imaging,.
  11. Challender, D., Harrop, S. and MacMillan, D., (2015). Understanding markets to conserve trade-threatened species in CITESBiological Conservation, 187, pp.249-259.
  12. Chang, R. and Sun, W., (2020). Repositioning Chloroquine as Ideal Antiviral Prophylactic against COVID-19 – Time is Now.
  13. Chen, L., Liu, H., Liu, W., Liu, J., Liu, K., Shang, J., Deng, Y. and Wei, S., (2020). [Analysis of clinical features of 29 patients with 2019 novel coronavirus pneumonia]Chinese Journal of Tuberculosis and Respiratory, 43(0):E005.
  14. Chen, L., Xiong, J., Bao, L. and Shi, Y., (2020). Convalescent plasma as a potential therapy for COVID-19The Lancet Infectious Diseases, 20(4), pp.398-400.
  15. Colson, P., Rolain, J., Lagier, J., Brouqui, P. and Raoult, D., (2020). Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine as available weapons to fight COVID-19International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents, p.105932.
  16. Cortegiani, A., Ingoglia, G., Ippolito, M., Giarratano, A. and Einav, S., (2020). A systematic review on the efficacy and safety of chloroquine for the treatment of COVID-19Journal of Critical Care.
  17. Day, M., (2020). Covid-19: ibuprofen should not be used for managing symptoms, say doctors and scientistsBMJ, p.m1086.
  18. De Luna, G., Habibi, A., Deux, J., Colard, M., d’Alexandry d’Orengiani, A., Schlemmer, F., Joher, N., Kassasseya, C., Pawlotsky, J., Ourghanlian, C., Michel, M., Mekontso-Dessap, A. and Bartolucci, P., (2020). Rapid and Severe Covid-19 Pneumonia with Severe Acute Chest Syndrome in a Sickle Cell Patient Successfully Treated with TocilizumabAmerican Journal of Hematology,.
  19. Diao, B., Wang, C., Wang, R., Feng, Z., Tan, Y., Wang, H., Wang, C., Liu, L., Liu, Y., Liu, Y., Wang, G., Yuan, Z., Ren, L., Wu, Y. and Chen, Y., (2020). Human Kidney is a Target for Novel Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) Infection.
  20. Dong, L., Hu, S. and Gao, J., (2020). Discovering drugs to treat coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)Drug Discoveries & Therapeutics, 14(1), pp.58-60.
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  26. Fan, Z., Chen, L., Li, J., Tian, C., Zhang, Y., Huang, S., Liu, Z. and Cheng, J., (2020). Clinical Features of COVID-19 Related Liver Damage.
  27. Fazzi, E. and Galli, J., (2020). New clinical needs and strategies for care in children with neurodisability during COVID‐19Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology,.
  28. Fontana, F., Alfano, G., Mori, G., Amurri, A., Lorenzo, T., Ballestri, M., Leonelli, M., Facchini, F., Damiano, F., Magistroni, R. and Cappelli, G., (2020). Covid‐19 pneumonia in a kidney transplant recipient successfully treated with Tocilizumab and HydroxychloroquineAmerican Journal of Transplantation,.
  29. Fu, B., Xu, X. and Wei, H., (2020). Why tocilizumab could be an effective treatment for severe COVID-19?Journal of Translational Medicine, 18(1).
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  31. Gao, Q., Bao, L., Mao, H., Wang, L., Xu, K., Yang, M., Li, Y., Zhu, L., Wang, N., Lv, Z., Gao, H., Ge, X., Kan, B., Hu, Y., Liu, J., Cai, F., Jiang, D., Yin, Y., Qin, C., Li, J., Gong, X., Lou, X., Shi, W., Wu, D., Zhang, H., Zhu, L., Deng, W., Li, Y., Lu, J., Li, C., Wang, X., Yin, W., Zhang, Y. and Qin, C., (2020). Development of an inactivated vaccine candidate for SARS-CoV-2Science, p.eabc1932.
  32. Garg, S., Kim, L., Whitaker, M., O’Halloran, A., Cummings, C., Holstein, R., Prill, M., Chai, S., Kirley, P., Alden, N., Kawasaki, B., Yousey-Hindes, K., Niccolai, L., Anderson, E., Openo, K., Weigel, A., Monroe, M., Ryan, P., Henderson, J., Kim, S., Como-Sabetti, K., Lynfield, R., Sosin, D., Torres, S., Muse, A., Bennett, N., Billing, L., Sutton, M., West, N., Schaffner, W., Talbot, H., Aquino, C., George, A., Budd, A., Brammer, L., Langley, G., Hall, A. and Fry, A., (2020). Hospitalization Rates and Characteristics of Patients Hospitalized with Laboratory-Confirmed Coronavirus Disease 2019 — COVID-NET, 14 States, March 1–30, 2020 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 69(15), pp.458-464.
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  34. Hamzavi, I., Lyons, A., Kohli, I., Narla, S., Parks-Miller, A., Gelfand, J., Lim, H. and Ozog, D., 2020. Ultraviolet germicidal irradiation: Possible method for respirator disinfection to facilitate reuse during the COVID-19 pandemicJournal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 82(6), pp.1511-1512.
  35. Hu, Z., Song, C., Xu, C., Jin, G., Chen, Y., Xu, X., Ma, H., Chen, W., Lin, Y., Zheng, Y., Wang, J., Hu, Z., Yi, Y. and Shen, H., (2020). Clinical characteristics of 24 asymptomatic infections with COVID-19 screened among close contacts in Nanjing, ChinaScience China Life Sciences.
  36. Huang, C., Wang, Y., Li, X., Ren, L., Zhao, J., Hu, Y., Zhang, L., Fan, G., Xu, J., Gu, X., Cheng, Z., Yu, T., Xia, J., Wei, Y., Wu, W., Xie, X., Yin, W., Li, H., Liu, M., Xiao, Y., Gao, H., Guo, L., Xie, J., Wang, G., Jiang, R., Gao, Z., Jin, Q., Wang, J. and Cao, B., (2020). Clinical features of patients infected with 2019 novel coronavirus in Wuhan, ChinaThe Lancet, 395(10223), pp.497-506.
  37. Jin, Z., Zhao, Y., Sun, Y., Zhang, B., Wang, H., Wu, Y., Zhu, Y., Zhu, C., Hu, T., Du, X., Duan, Y., Yu, J., Yang, X., Yang, X., Yang, K., Liu, X., Guddat, L., Xiao, G., Zhang, L., Yang, H. and Rao, Z., (2020). Structural basis for the inhibition of SARS-CoV-2 main protease by antineoplastic drug carmofurNature Structural & Molecular Biology,.
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Références (Générales) – Cliquez sur les liens

  1. Statista France: Nombre de personnes guéries du coronavirus (COVID-19) dans le monde au 23 avril 2020, selon le pays (2 Avril 2020)
  2. Quotidien Présent:  Un virus qui n’aime pas les politiciens (16 Mars 2020)
  3. Confinement et agressivité : 1 mois pour maitriser ses pulsions et ne pas tuer son conjoint (21 Mars 2020)
  4. France Info: « Les vieux vont tomber comme des mouches » : à Menton, près de la frontière italienne, le coronavirus est sur toutes les lèvres (28 Fevrier 2020)
  5. QueFaire: Préparer sa mort, transmettre, organiser ses obsèques (14 Octobre 2014)
  6. France Info: Un homme de 101 ans est parvenu à vaincre la maladie. (2 Avril 2020)
  7. SudOuest: Gironde : à 105 ans, elle a vécu deux guerres et guéri du Covid-19 (19 Mai 2020)
  8. Los Angeles Times: If I become infected with the coronavirus, what are my odds of survival? (19 Mars 2020)
  9. France Culture: Coronavirus chinois : plus mystérieux que la peste, le paludisme, le choléra (25 Janvier 2020)
  10. France Info: Réaction tardive, complaisance envers la Chine… Pourquoi la gestion de la pandémie de Covid-19 par l’OMS est autant critiquée (15 Avril 2020)
  11. France Info: Coronavirus : visualisez l’évolution du nombre de morts dans le monde en un graphique animé (7 Avril 2020)
  12. Paris Match: Coronavirus : ce professeur à la Sorbonne annonçait la catastrophe (6 Avril 2020)
  13. France Inter: PORTRAIT – Didier Raoult, chercheur disruptif (24 Mars 2020)
  14. France Inter: Coronavirus : 10 façons de se dire bonjour sans se faire la bise ou se serrer la main (2 Mars 2020)
  15. Yale University Medicine: 5 Things Everyone Should Know About the Coronavirus Outbreak (15 Avril 2020)
  16. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: Coronavirus (COVID-19): Press Conference with Marc Lipsitch (4 Mars 2020)
  17. RTL: Coronavirus : Trump suspend sa contribution à l’OMS, une décision « absurde », selon Melinda Gates (16 Avril 2020)
  18. Financial Times: Donald Trump has poured fuel on the flames of coronavirus (12 Mars 2020)
  19. France Culture: Pourquoi le système de santé américain n’est pas solidaire (1 Avril 2020)
  20. Le Figaro: Aux Etats-Unis, l’épidémie semble frapper démesurément les Noirs (8 Avril 2020)
  21. Le Figaro: Coronavirus :  pourquoi New York est-elle si durement touchée? (13 Avril 2020)
  22. YouTube (New York Times): ‘People Are Dying’: Battling Coronavirus Inside a N.Y.C. Hospital (26 Mars 2020)
  23. BFMTV: Davantage d’Américains sont désormais morts du coronavirus qu’à la guerre du Vietnam (29 Avril 2020)
  24. L’Express: Le chômage, l’autre tragédie américaine (28 Avril 2020)
  25. Oxford University Press: Breaking the Two-Party Doom Loop (24 Janvier 2020)
  26. Oxford University Press: Do Morals Matter? (23 Mars 2020)
  27. Usbek & Rica: Quand Bill Gates prédisait l’apparition d’une pandémie (17 Mars 2020)
  28. Red Action: Bill Gates avait averti en 2018 qu’une nouvelle maladie pourrait tuer 30 millions de personnes en 6 mois (27 Janvier 2020)
  29. Forbes France: Covid-19 : Pourquoi Bill Gates Reste Optimiste (1 Avril 2020)
  30. Ouest France:  Bill Gates s’engage dans le développement de sept vaccins (7 Avril 2020)
  31. Oxford University Research: Covid-19 bears out the research: Music brings people together* (27 Mars 2020)
  32. Le Figaro: À réécouter : notre sélection de disques pour s’évader du confinement (19 Mars 2020)
  33. France Musique: Musique émoi de confinement 2 (3 Mai 2020)
  34. France Inter: Philo : Penser le confinement, cette « expérience commune » de Nietzsche qui constitue un peuple (25 Mars 2020)
  35. France Inter: Du plasma de patients guéris pour traiter les malades du Covid-19 : un essai clinique commence lundi (3 Avril 2020)
  36. France Culture: Didier Sicard : « Il est urgent d’enquêter sur l’origine animale de l’épidémie de Covid-19 » (27 Mars 2020)
  37. France Culture: Covid-19 : sur la piste de l’origine animale (10 Mai 2020)
  38. Oxford University / Oxford Martin School: China’s Announcement on Wildlife Trade – What’s New and What Does It Mean? (12 Mars 2020)
  39. France Bleu: Le Limousin Quentin Bontemps nous raconte le début du déconfinement à Wuhan en Chine (9 Avril 2020)
  40. France Inter: Comment la Corée du Sud a réussi, jusqu’ici, à dompter l’épidémie de coronavirus (1 Avril 2020)
  41. Oxford University Research: Digital contact tracing can slow or even stop coronavirus transmission and ease us out of lockdown (16 Avril 2020)
  42. Oxford University Research:Oxford scientist develop rapid testing technology for COVID-19 (18 Mars 2020)
  43. Oxford University Research:Coronavirus (COVID-19) Research Priorities (13 Mars 2020)
  44. Oxford University Research: First patients enrolled in new clinical trial of possible COVID-19 treatments (23 Mars 2020)
  45. Oxford University Research: Oxford COVID-19 vaccine programme opens for clinical trial recruitment (27 Mars 2020)
  46. Twitter (Didier Raoult): Nouveaux résultats de l’IHU Méditerranée Infection : 80 patients traités par une association hydroxychloroquine/azithromycine. (27 Mars 2020)
  47. Caducee: #COVID19 : Un médecin américain aurait traité avec succès plus de 500 patients avec l’hydroxychloroquine (26 Mars 2020)
  48. News Coronavirus UK: Un médecin décrit les symptômes comme «rien de tel que la grippe» (17 Mars 2020)
  49. Guardian: Coronavirus: UK will have Europe’s worst death toll, says study(8 Avril 2020)
  50. Guardian: UK failures over Covid-19 will increase death toll, says leading doctor, Richard Horton, editor-in-chief of the Lancet (18 Mars 2020)
  51. Financial Times: Coronavirus may have infected half of UK population – Oxford study  (24 Mars 2020)
  52. University College London (UCL): COVID-19: UCL academics mobilise to provide critical advice and expert comment (16 Avril 2020)
  53. University College London (UCL): UCL, UCLH and Formula One develop life-saving breathing aids for the NHS
  54. Oxford University Research: Ventilator project given the green light by UK government to proceed next stage of testing (31 Mars 2020)
  55. Statista France: COVID-19 : quel est le statut des cas identifiés ? (24 Avril 2020)
  56. YouTube (L’Express): Coronavirus : pourquoi l’Allemagne s’en sort mieux que la France ? (10 Avril 2020)
  57. France Inter: William Dab : « Plus on retarde le travail de terrain, plus il va falloir prolonger le confinement » (11 Avril 2020)
  58. Oxford University Research: Universities into the breach (9 Avril 2020)
  59. France Culture: Jean-Christophe Rufin : « Le coronavirus méritait discussion, mais elle n’a pas eu lieu faute de moyens » (1 Avril 2020)
  60. Oxford University / Oxford Martin School: The world before this coronavirus and after cannot be the same: « Now is the time to start building the necessary bridges at home and abroad. » (30 Mars 2020)
  61. France Inter: Le confinement fait drastiquement baisser les émissions de CO2 dans le monde(mais ça ne va pas durer) (11 Avril 2020)
  62. Le Parisien: Coronavirus : le coup de gueule du président des médecins, contaminé à son tour (19 Mars 2020)
  63. Le Figaro: Masques: Macron le grand bouffon frustré souhaite «l’indépendance pleine et entière» de la France «d’ici la fin de l’année» (31 Mars 2020)
  64. Twitter (Nicolas Chung): Bonjour Twitter, je ne fais jamais ça mais nécessité fait loi : une amie médecin en hôpital en IdF cherche imprimantes 3D pour fabriquer les dispositifs d’adaptation pour les masques Decathlon. Merci pour votre aide et vos RT. (1 Avril 2020)
  65. Oxford University Research: Infectious disease experts provide evidence for a coronavirus mobile app for instant contact tracing (17 Mars 2020)
  66. Oxford University Research: Coronavirus Researchers at Oxford (18 Mars 2020)
  67. Clinical Trials Arena: Coronavirus treatment: Vaccines/drugs in the pipeline for COVID-19 (16 Avril 2020)
  68. l’Opinion: Coronavirus: l’Afrique suit la prescription de chloroquine du Pr Raoult (30 Mars 2020)
  69. Le Point: Coronavirus : une nouvelle étude de Didier Raoult sur la chloroquine (28 Mars 2020)
  70. fr: Les malades chroniques traités à la chloroquine sont-ils immunisés contre le coronavirus ? (3 Avril 2020)
  71. L’internaute: Vaccin et médicaments contre le coronavirus : le point sur les avancées (16 Avril 2020)
  72. La La Chine commence à tester sur les êtres humains un vaccin « efficace » contre le nouveau coronavirus, a indiqué mercredi le ministère de la Défense à Pékin. Il est développé sous la direction de l’épidémiologiste Chen Wei. Le vaccin a été approuvé après de premiers tests. Il peut désormais être testé sur les êtres humains. Le ministère de la Défense le décrit comme sûr et efficace, et a précisé que les préparations pour sa production en masse sont en cours, rapporte l’agence de presse espagnole Europa Press. (18 Mars 2020)
  73. Xinhuanews: (COVID-19) La Chine approuve trois vaccins de COVID-19 pour des essais cliniques (14 Avril 2020)
  74. UK Research and Innovation: Coronavirus: the science explained
  75. Confédération Suisse: Federal Office of Public Health FOPH: New coronavirus (14 Avril 2020)
  76. France Inter: « L’État ne va pas pouvoir continuer à soutenir l’économie à ce niveau-là pendant longtemps », selon le Medef (11 Avril 2020)
  77. France Culture: Youtube: Coronavirus : crise économique ou changement de modèle ? (12 Mars 2020)
  78. Le Figaro: Coronavirus : Cristiano Ronaldo transformerait ses hôtels en hôpitaux (15 Mars 2020)
  79. Gala: VIDEO – Didier Raoult : ce surprenant aveu fait à Jean-Marie Bigard (1 Avril 2020)
  80. Sputnik France: Un pilote de la compagnie aérienne AirAsia a quitté son avion par la fenêtre du cockpit en apprenant que plusieurs passagers pourraient être porteurs du nouveau coronavirus (23 Mars 2020)
  81. Le Figaro: Aides-soignants, caissiers, camionneurs… Les gilets jaunes sont devenus les «premiers de tranchée» (9 Avril 2020)
  82. France Bleu: Confinement : qui a gagné ou perdu le plus de population en Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes ? (9 Avril 2020)
  83. Statista France: Ces produits qu’on s’arrache en plein confinement (8 Avril 2020)
  84. Oxford University Research: The economic impact of COVID-19 (7 Avril 2020)
  85. The Conversation France: Conversation avec Frédéric Altare : l’obésité, facteur très aggravant du Covid-19 (2020)
  86. Science Media Centre: Expert reaction to Times Interview about vaccines with Prof Sarah Gilbert (11 Avril 2020)
  87. The Lancet: Sarah Gilbert: carving a path towards a COVID-19 vaccine (18 Avril 2020)
  88. The Telegraph: A vaccine for Covid-19 could be ready by the end of summer (17 Avril 2020)
  89. France Inter: Coronavirus : voici des sources fiables pour vous informer en évitant les fake news (17 Mars 2020)
  90. Le Point: Coignard – Covid-19 sur le « Charles de Gaulle » : une allégorie française (20 Avril 2020)
  91. France Bleu: Coronavirus : les dermatologues alertent sur de nouveaux symptômes cutanés (7 Avril 2020)
  92. Ouest France: Pour Anne Soupa, journaliste, théologienne et bibliste, le confinement ces dernières semaines a accentué notre inventivité sur la manière d’être présent (28 Avril 2020)
  93. Paris Match: Edgar Morin, paroles de sage (16 Avril 2020)
  94. Guardian: Priti Patel has said removing coronavirus restrictions in the UK will not be a binary choice and the government would not give a date for the end of lockdown. The home secretary added that five tests will have to be met before schools can reopen but said giving a date ‘would be irresponsible and get hopes up’, saying: « We want to prevent a second wave of this horrendous virus. To do that we have to ensure that we continue with the measures we have put in place. » (25 Avril 2020)
  95. YouTube (Telegraph): Priti Patel: « We know people are frustrated but we are not out of danger yet. It is imperative that people continue to follow the rules designed to protect their families, their friends and their loved ones; this will continue to save lives. We all want to return to living our lives as normally and as soon as safely as we can… but the 5 tests we have laid out must be met…» (25 Avril 2020)
  96. Le Figaro: Hervé Morin: «La reprise des cours aurait pu attendre septembre» (27 Avril 2020)
  97. RTL: Coronavirus : l’université d’Oxford promet un vaccin pour septembre (28 Avril 2020)
  98. RFI: Déconfinement en France: Martine Wonner (LaREM) : «Ce plan va être bancal faute de thérapeutique adaptée» (28 Avril 2020)
  99. Le Point: Déconfinement : ce qui attend les Français le 11 mai (28 Avril 2020)
  100. Le Point: Masque, visière, gants… Les coiffeurs ainsi que de nombreux commerces, sont autorisés à rouvrir en Suisse, où le déconfinement se fait en plusieurs étapes. (27 Avril 2020)
  101. Science Daily: Ultraviolet LEDs prove effective in eliminating coronavirus from surfaces and, potentially, air and water (14 Avril 2020)
  102. Emeral Insight: Only vaccines or drugs will end social distancing (29 Avril 2020)
  103. France Info: Le coronavirus vaincu par des antihistaminiques ? Certains médecins généralistes français assurent avoir guéri des patients du CoVID-19 avec des antihistaminiques. (7 Mai 2020)
  104. Le Figaro: Rebond de Coronavirus: Plusieurs quartiers de Pékin confinés (13 Juin 2020)
  105. France Inter: Karine Lacombe : “Le virus ne va pas disparaître et risque de ressurgir par clusters” (17 Juin 2020)
  106. Sciences et Avenir: Covid-19 : le tocilizumab efficace pour les patients dans un état grave (28 Avril 2020)
  107. APHP: Le tocilizumab améliore significativement le pronostic des patients avec pneumonie COVID moyenne ou sévère (27 Avril 2020)
  108. The Conversation: Until a coronavirus vaccine is ready, pneumonia vaccines may reduce deaths from COVID-19 (14 Octobre 2020)
  109. Our World in Data: Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) – Statistics and Research

Mis à jour le Vendredi, 15 Janvier 2021 | Danny D’Purb |


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Essay // Clinical Psychology: Controversies that surround modern day mental health practice

Mental Health d'purb dpurb site web

Modern day mental health practice could be defined as the application of the four main schools of thoughts that dominate the field of psychology in the clinical setting, by abiding to strict criteria set out by packaged behavioural sets, diagnostically defined by names and categorised depending on the core nature of their specific characteristics in terms of behaviour, aetiology and epidemiology. While these four [biological, psychodynamic, cognitive-behavioural & systemic] main schools of thought have contributed to the development and ongoing evolution of the field of psychology, they also have downsides when applied to different types of psychological cases, with some being more efficient in treating particular disorders while others being hardly efficient and questionable. Applying and integrating these four schools of thoughts with new intuitive fact-based theories to explain psychological constructs and disorders are leading to major innovations in psychology; however with each field’s limitations controversies over the validity of their interpretations and the efficiency of their applied doctrines remain a constant topic of debate among scholars and clinicians.

One of the main controversies that surround modern day mental health practice is the medicalisation of psychological disorders, a tradition influenced by the field of medicine which contradicts an important founding philosophy of psychology, which was originally initiated to study the “mind”, not the physical characteristics of the brain as an organ. Furthermore, evidence suggests that psychological problems are not caused exclusively by organic factors. In anxiety, depression and/or schizophrenia, people with genetic vulnerability to the development of those psychological disorders only do so when exposed to particular stresses in their environment (Hankin & Abele, 2005). However, on the other side of the argument, evidence has also shown that deficiencies in genetics and neurobiological anatomy are linked to psychological difficulties and disorders, and hence nowadays, integrated approaches are used in a variety of assessments when treating patients affected by psychological disorders.

On the theme of medicalization, the debate over eating disorders has led to one of the major controversies within the field between advocates of the biomedical conceptualisation of eating disorders and the feminist position (Maine & Bunnell, 2010). The former sees an individual woman as a patient with a debilitating disease, in need of a cure to her illness; while the feminist position views eating disorders as a condition that is gender specific with the woman as a victim of socio-cultural pressures generated by a male-dominated society governed by a hedonistic economic reality focused on the pursuit of the thin ideal. There is an important distinction that should be made here for the benefit of patients since the feminist view may not fully comprehend that in the case of obesity and emaciation related to eating-disorders, the patients are at severe risk of medical complications such as growth retardation, osteoporosis, gastrointestinal bleeding, dehydration, electrolyte abnormalities and cardiac arrest [in chronic cases]. The social feminist constructivist perspective may be interpreting eating disorder as an image debate of “Fat” versus “Thin”. This may lead to the normalisation of obesity and destructive eating habits which in turn may result in further medical complications that involve surgical interventions. As for the feminists, it may be ethical to acknowledge that obesity & emaciation associated with eating disorders are major health issues that precede further complications such as diabetes, cancer and high blood pressure; and should not be confused with social stigma regarding image, but seen as a sign of poor-health and lifestyle that require attention and effort in providing patients with the medical and psychological help they need to adjust their patterns of life to a healthy one by adopting a culture synchronised with dietary & nutritional education.

Secondly, the medicalization of anxiety disorders as distinct medical & psychological conditions may seem less favourable to the biological model previously mentioned. A mass market of pharmacological products used in treatment has been favoured for being more convenient and less time consuming. This may lead to patients feeling disempowered and hopeless when being treated as victims of an uncontrollable illnesses requiring pharmacological treatment, while already being in a state of distress, shock, disbelief and/or confusion.

Number of people who take antidepressants

Diazepam (Valium) or other benzodiazepines that are highly addictive have also been prescribed for years to treat anxiety disorders. The long term side effects have been trivialised along with the arrogant act of medicalizing fear and courage (Breggin, 1991). Critics of the medicalization of experiences argue that if patients are helped in understanding that panic attacks develop from the misrepresentation of bodily sensations and hyperventilation, this knowledge along with their own courage may strengthen them to take control of their fear. Research has also shown how patients who are educated in cognitive-behaviour techniques learn to use problem-solving and develop other skills (e.g. social – help them build meaningful lasting relationships while letting go of psychosocial burdens) that they lack to reappraise situations that may formerly have brought distress.


The tragic death of one of the most talented vocalists on the planet, Chris Cornell, has sent a shock throughout the arts world and reports have revealed that the gifted artist was on Lorazepam [a benzodiazepine medication sold under the name Ativan used in the treatment of anxiety disorders], the substance is known to heighten the risk of suicide in those suffering from depression, while a recent investigation (Bushnell et al., 2017) has also shown no meaningful clinical benefit from the addition of benzodiazepines during treatment initiation.

Global Suicide rate per 100 000 population

Suicide Rates Around the World per 100 000 (2016)

Estimated rate of suicide per 100,000 population in selected countries in 2016. / Source: Statista

To prevent such tragedies from affecting the human race, more emphasis could be placed on “the mind” with clear guidance on the “thinking styles” (cognitive scripts) to adopt in the protection of the individual organism’s own psyche (mind). Simple foundations based on psychological logic should be propagated educationally to help people understand their uniqueness as organisms while protecting their psyche [mind] from the influence/control of external environmental factors that are beyond their control [e.g. biased negativity, uninformed prejudicial comments of meaningless acquaintances, etc]; acknowledging the fact that as long as an individual organism is within the boundaries of the law, he is allowed to live the life of his choice, and external factors would only affect one’s psyche if attention is given to them; and selectively ignoring parts of the environment  is also an acquired skill vital in maintaining sanity, stability and psychological health, along with the ability to select experiences that are positive & progressive to the organism [while discarding negative ones] in the context and theme of their chosen individual lifestyles.


This would also shift the focus to the individual’s mind, courage & abilities to handle the world while maintaining a stable sense of self and resilience; and not turn them into biological organisms that are having their neurochemistry savagely altered by powerful chemical substances that are known to affect individuals differently with dangerous & sometimes fatal outcomes.

chriscornell dpurb site web

An artist many might consider to be the Fréderic Chopin & the Edouard Manet of Rock, composing with his heart and painting with his voice, enigmatic vocalist Chris Cornell, known for timeless titles such as « The Last Remaining Light », «What You Are » , « Like A Stone » , « Getaway Car », « Be Yourself », « Exploder » & « Dandelion » left a hole in the hearts of millions touched by his work. His tragic death is a reminder that further research is required in understanding the thought structure of artistic individuals whose psychological subjective reality would likely be deeper and more complex compared to the average psyche. An approach focusing on the « mind » rather than the « behaviour or brain » in the tradition of Sigmund Freud would likely reveal and explain the granularity of their psyche; and whether their suicidal decisions are rooted in full awareness and motivated by a reality they consider to be inadequate for their state of consciousness and IQ. Appropriate interventions involving the restructuration of their psychosocial patterns/exposure [to prevent the burden of stress] may be more individualistic & appropriate to prevent suicide.

« Les meilleurs meurent souvent de leur propre main juste pour s’échapper, et ceux qui restent ne peuvent jamais vraiment comprendre pourquoi quelqu’un voudrait s’éloigner d’eux. »

– Charles Bukowski


« The best often die by their own hand just to get away, and those left behind can never quite understand why anybody would ever want to get away from them. »

-Charles Bukowski

As mentioned above, similar therapies oriented towards changing the “thinking styles” of patients to build a resilient psyche, could also be provided to sufferers of post-traumatic stress disorder who would benefit of a non-pharmacological and empowering intervention to manage and take control of recurrent intrusive and distressing memories – it may be useful to study fear, distress and courage as normal psychological processes happening on a dimensional scale on a normal continuum from one individual to another where those on the extreme ends of the scales may be considered for psychological interventions.

Similarly, antidepressant medication used to treat depression remains controversial due to its questionable efficacy and side-effects. The high level of effectiveness of SSRIs reported in academic journals was greatly due to only trials with positive results of antidepressants being published while those where antidepressants were found to be no more effective than placebos being rejected. The effects of TCAs and SSRIs have also been found to be negligible in mild to moderate depression but effective in severe depression in meta-analyses (Fournier et al., 2010). The negative side-effects of antidepressants are known to be risky and dangerous where symptoms such as loss of sexual desire and impotence, weight gain, nausea, sedation or activation, and dizziness are known to be some of the more disturbing ones, with effects varying with types of antidepressants – for depressed pregnant women, health risks may affect their offspring. Dangerous antidepressants such as MAOIs are only prescribed to patients who can follow strict dietary patterns that exclude foods with thyramine (e.g. cheese) to prevent risks of high blood pressure and hypertensive crises. Although meta-analyses suggest benefits may outweigh the risks, an increased risk of suicide has also been noted among patients under 25 (Bridge et al., 2007).

Edouard Manet - Le Suicide

Edouard Manet (1832 – 1883), “Le Suicidé

Electroconvulsive therapy has also sparked a major controversy as a primitive, dangerous and non-scientific practice for the brevity of its effect and negative side-effects on memory (Read & Bentall, 2010). A thorough review of studies on the effectiveness of ECT and its side-effects [retrograde and anterograde amnesia] revealed it to be effective for a brief duration in treating severe depression [in cases that are unresponsive to psychological treatment] and questionably only supported by psychiatrists with a vested interest in proving ECT’s effectiveness. ECT has also been associated with a slight but significant risk of death, and a qualitative study of patients’ negative experiences concluded that for some ECT leads to fear, shame and humiliation, and reinforces experiences of worthlessness and helplessness associated with depression.


Medicalization has also led to controversy over the diagnosis of schizophrenia, a condition classified as a disease by the World Health Organization and ranked second only to cardiovascular diseases in terms of overall disease burden internationally (Murray & Lopez, 1996). Diagnosis is believed to be part of best practice in the patient’s “best” interest, however a strongly presented viewpoint by Thomas Szasz (2010) qualified diagnosis as an act of oppression as it may pave way for involuntary hospitalisation; where a deviant, maladjusted or poorly educated person may be subjected to “control” processes that they are not fully aware of – this has been proposed as a “possible” explanation for the greater rates of schizophrenia among ethnic minorities (particularly Africans in the US & those of low-SES groups). This view has also been supported by many who argue that schizophrenia as a distinct category may not be a fully valid diagnostic, but a fabrication constructed that may stigmatise disadvantaged or poorly educated people – while this may be positive in shaping “unacceptable behaviour” and protect citizens & society, some people with moderate symptoms may also be forcefully hospitalised. Thus, nowadays, schizophrenia is not a single definite disorder anymore, but one among others, as it has been revised and turned into a spectrum, known as the schizoid spectrum [with other related disorders]. In the treatment of schizophrenia, medicalisation has also led to the evaluation of psychotherapy as a possibly ineffective treatment (Lehman & Steinwachs, 1998). Freud & others in his discipline acknowledged the treatment of psychosis as problematic with psychotherapy as psychotic individuals tend not to develop transference [interpretation of their hidden feelings, defences & anxiety] to the analyst – unlike neurotic patients. For personality disorders, addictions and other severe mental health problems medicalisation has led to the development of alternative methods of treatment that unlike the traditional authoritarian & hierarchically organised inpatient mental health settings, are run in a more democratic line where service users are encouraged to take an active role in their rehabilitation rather than simply being passive recipients of treatment.


Therapeutic communities have turned out to be effective in the long-term treatment of difficult patients with severe personality disorders with the outcome being more positive with longer treatments. These therapeutic communities are believed to lead to improvements in mental health and interpersonal functioning. For drug misuse issues, the assumption that clinicians make over users attempt to quit being due to conscious guidance & coherent plans should be revised as no evidence suggests so, and more evidence argue that unconscious processes, classical and operant conditioning, erratic impulses, and highly specific environmental cues affect the development and cessation of drug use (West, 2006). According to West, interventions should not stimulate adolescents to think of what ‘stage’ they are in or be matched to a stage, but maximum tolerable pressure should be put on the young person to cease drug use – which contradicts the stages of change model (DiClemente, 2003; Prochaska et al., 1992) where 30 days are allocated to stages [pre-contemplation, contemplation, action & maintenance] based on no evidence. While concepts such as harm reduction programmes with needle exchange, safe injection sites, and the provisions of free tests of quality of MDMA sold at raves remain controversial, some believe they prevent mortality and morbidity (Marlatt & Witkiewitz, 2010), while others argue they send the message that hard drug use [such as heroin] may be acceptable.

The second major controversy in modern day mental health practice remains the “Person or Context” debate where many in the field still question the validity of focusing on context as it shifts attention from the individualistic characteristics of the patient, and whether the focus should shift depending on the disorder and the patient’s age. For example in the treatment of childhood disorders, if difficulties are assumed to be individual ‘psychiatric’ illnesses the risk of focus being solely on the child and not on broader social environment may lead to medical treatments and individual therapy without addressing important risk factors for those of such young age who are influenced by their social environment, e.g. teacher, school and wider social context. This may not be the case for some adults who value a sense of autonomy more than being influenced by wider social contexts that they have no connection to, interest in or affinity for. In contrast, to the autonomic adult, treatment cases of other childhood behaviour disorders such as oppositional defiant disorder and conduct disorders may be particularly problematic, since the major risk factors that should be addressed are social: through interventions such as parent training, family therapy, multisystemic therapy and treatment foster care. For ADHD, the bold emphasis on medication is dangerous as the effects are limited to only 3 years (Swanson & Volkow, 2009), while growth and cardiovascular functioning may be affected that may lead to somatic complaints such as loss of appetite, headaches, insomnia and tics, which are present in 5-12% of cases (Breggin, 2001; Paykina et al., 2007; Rapport & Moffitt, 2002).

Another interesting argument comes from the Scottish psychiatrist and psychoanalyst R. D. Laing (2009) in the 1960s and 1970s who opposed the view that schizophrenia was a genetically based medical condition requiring treatment with antipsychotic medication. His dimensional approach led him to view schizophrenia as a ‘sane reaction to an insane situation’ where the contents of psychotic symptoms were simply viewed as psychological responses to complex, confusing, conflicting and powerful parental injunctions that left no scope for more rational and adaptive modes of expression. Thus, Laing proposed that the treatment involved creating a context where insight into the complex family process [e.g. poor housing, low SES, deviant parents with drug problems, over-involved family members who maintain the patient’s stress, alcohol problems, sexual deviance, incest, lack of financial stability, poor educational motivation, poor emotional education, lack of problem solving skills, lack of sophistication, poor nutrition, restricted finances, etc] of patients with schizophrenia and psychotic response to these could be facilitated. The context here seems partially important in the case where the patient’s delusions and hallucinations are linked, where their interpretation would be the client’s response to conflicting parental injunctions. The experience of psychosis and recovery was a process where the individual could emerge stronger with new and valuable insights regarding the solutions to their problems. However, this has not been supported by any evidence or subsequent research. In contrast, strong scientific evidence points to the importance of a more client-centred individual approach focussed solely on the patient with defective inherited neurobiological factors as major focus for the role they play in schizophrenia, and antipsychotic medication for the reduction of symptoms in two-thirds of psychotic patients affected (Ritsner & Gottesman, 2011; Tandon et al., 2010). Research has supported the hypothesis that suggests the family does affect the psychotic process and that psychotherapy has a place in the management of psychosis, for example personal trauma, including child abuse increases the risk of psychosis, and stressful life events including those within the family can precipitate an episode of psychosis, and high levels of family criticism, hostility and emotional over-involvement increase the risk of relapse (Bebbington & Kuipers, 2008; Hooley, 2007; Shelvin et al., 2008). So for those with a strong sense of family, and heavily involved peers, family therapy delays relapse in troubled families characterized by “extreme” levels of expressed emotion; and cognitive behaviour therapy which stresses the idea that psychotic symptoms are understandable and on a continuum with normal experience can help patients control these psychotic symptoms (Tandon et al., 2010), with solutions to rebuild their lives, their own identity and manage their social circle intelligently by differentiating types of relationship and expectations.


The third and last controversy to be addressed is the ongoing debate in clinical psychology over the categorisation of psychological disorders where many have been arguing over a dimensional outlook on psychological conditions that offers more precision in diagnosis along with a more scientific approach. In the case of childhood behaviour disorders with regard to scientific approaches, there is an ongoing debate over whether they should be viewed and classified in categorical or dimensional terms. While DSM are based on rigid categories, most empirical studies support the view of a dimensional outlook. Furthermore, factor analytic studies consistently show that common childhood difficulties belong to two dimensions of internalizing and externalizing behaviour, which are normally distributed within the population (Achenbach, 2009). Young children diagnosed with oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), conduct disorder and ADHD are part of a subgroup of cases with extreme externalizing behavioural problems, while those with anxiety or depressive disorders have extreme internalizing behaviour problems (Carr, 2006a). By the same dimensional approach, children diagnosed with intellectual disability fall at the lower end of the continuum of intelligence, a trait also normally distributed within the population (Carr et al., 2007). The dimensional approach is not only more scientific, but also has a less stigmatizing and rational approach to human uniqueness. The dimensional approach has also enhanced the movement critical of qualifying psychological deficiencies as ‘real psychiatric illnesses’, conditions such as ADHD, conduct disorder and other DSM diagnoses. Questions have been raised over whether they are invalid fabrications or spurious social constructions (Kutchins & Kirk, 1999). Those who trust the evidence of the dimensionality of childhood disorders argue that they may simply be traits distributed normally among the population where some cases fall on the extreme ends of certain traits, while those who point to the interests of pharmaceutical industries’ financial motives argue that they are spurious social constructions. The latter seems unethical but is a part of the decadent and immoral economic reality that we have allowed to exist. As parents, health and educational professionals, it is clear that the pharmaceutical industry and governments may all gain from conceptualising children’s psychological difficulties as ‘real psychiatric illnesses’. Some schools or uncaring parents may prefer children to receive a diagnosis of ADHD with stimulant therapy as they may have difficulty meeting their needs for intellectual stimulation, nurturance and clear limit-setting; thus these children in their care become more aggressive and disruptive.

In the case of schizophrenia, a dimensional approach has also led to the schizotypy construct as a dimensional alternative to the prevailing categorical conceptualization of schizophrenia (Lenzenweger, 2010). In contrast to the categorical view based on Kraepelin’s (1899) work and used in the DSM which sees schizophrenia as a discrete diagnostic category, this one proposes that anomalous sensory experiences, odd beliefs and disorganized thinking exist in extreme forms of schizophrenia as hallucinations, delusions and thought disorder, but these are simply on continuum with normal experience [i.e. it is present in all ‘normal’ people but peaks in abnormal ones] – a position originally advocated by Bleuler (1911). Research measures have provided support for the dimensional construct of schizotypy (Lenzenweger, 2010) where the continuum may be composed of sub-dimensions; from normal to psychotic experiences. Schizotypy is heritable; and patients with high schizotypy scores but who are not psychotic show attentional, eye-movement and other neuropsychological abnormalities associated with schizophrenia. Further, the dimensional approach has also led to the distinction between schizophrenia and split personality where 40% in the UK equated split or multiple personality with schizophrenia – as popular culture often does. It is clear that schizophrenia does not refer to such characteristics.


The closest equivalent to split personality is a condition known as dissociative identity disorder (DID), where the central feature is the apparent existence of two or more distinct personalities within the same individual, with only one being evident at a time. Each personality (or alter) is distinct with its own memories, behaviour and interpersonal style. In most cases, the host personality is unaware of the existence of alters and these vary in knowledge of each other. Evidence suggests that the capacity to dissociate is normally distributed within the population and an attribute many use to manage their own lives and network. Those with high degree of this trait may cope by dissociating their consciousness from the experience of trauma (such as child abuse, extreme graphic violence, etc) in early childhood by entering a trance-like state. This dissociative habit is negatively reinforced (strengthened) as an effective distress-reducing coping strategy over repeated traumas in early childhood as it brings relief from distress during trauma exposure. Eventually a sufficient number of experiences become dissociated to constitute a separate personality that may be activated in later life at times of stress or trauma through suggestion in hypnotic psychotherapeutic situations. Treatment often simply involves helping clients integrate the multiple personalities into a single personality and develop non-dissociative strategies for dealing with stress [e.g. argument with work colleagues, new manager, divorce, adolescents leaving home for studies, partner with alcohol problems, over-involved family members, etc] – this helps them deal with tough situations by facing them with problem-solving abilities and skills to come out with a firm resolution and have their views understood. Core symptoms of multiple personality disorder are not treated with psychotropic medication unlike schizophrenia but involves psychological education for patients to learn the skill of mentalizing [understand their own state of mind and that of others].


Finally, with personality disorders, the dimensional approach has led to the trait theory in conceptualizing important aspects of behaviour and experience from a limited number of dimensions. Any given trait is believed to be normally distributed in the population, for example, introversion – extraversion, most people show a moderate level of the trait, however those who exhibit extremely low or high levels [extremes] would have the sort of difficulties attributed in the DSM. So, normal people only differ from the abnormal in the degree to which they show particular traits. The trait theory has become dominated by the five-factor theory (McCrae & Costa, 2008) in recent years. This model includes the dimensions: neuroticism, extraversion, openness to experience, agreeableness, and conscientiousness. There is evidence for the heritability of all of factors within the Five Factor Model except agreeableness which seems to be predominantly determined by one’s environment (Costa & Widiger, 1994). Thomas Widiger has proposed that the five-factor model may be used as an alternative system for describing personality disorders (Widiger & Mullins-Sweatt, 2010). Widiger also argues that trait theory offers a more scientifically useful approach to assessment with good psychometric properties embraced by its questionnaires (De Raad & Perugini, 2002) – they are reliable and valid, and have population norms. Compared to categorical classification systems, trait models offer a more parsimonious way of describing patients with rigid dysfunctional behaviour patterns which in turn offers a more parsimonious way to conceptualize the development of effective treatments.


Photo: The Promise of Dawn (J.Hawkes)

The major controversies in modern day mental health practice seem to revolve around the precision and the validity of constructs as psychological illnesses, and since they may stigmatise those who suffer from them, the constant research into better and more modern interpretations and explanations of their characteristics and treatment seem bound to revolutionise the field of psychology, as the movement takes a more dimensional approach; with a new generation of psychologists applying the rules with an open mind and a creative outlook on new perspectives and methods – the field of psychology looks set on a positively progressive course.


“A great aggregation of men sane in mind & warm in the heart, creates a moral conscience that is known as a nation” – Ernest Renan / Source: Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne

Arthur Hughes - A Music Party 1864

Arthur Hughes (1832 – 1915), “A Music Party



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  32. West, R. (2006). Theory of Addiction. Oxford: Blackwell.
  33. Widiger, T.A., & Mullins-Sweatt, S. N. (2010). Clinical utility of a dimensional model of personality disorder. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 41, 488-494.

Mis à jour le Vendredi, 30 Octobre 2020 | Danny J. D’Purb |


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Essay // Psychological Explanations of Prejudice & Discrimination


Prejudice and discrimination are usually classified as behavioural attitudes towards a certain group or individual based on a multitude of reasons [according to different psychological theories]. The main reasons for prejudice are believed to be rooted in individual psychological processes related to groups, social influence and/or upbringing.

Authoritarian Personality

One plausible explanation for prejudice is the authoritarian personality, which suggests that those belonging in the category are concerned with status and upholding conventions, are very conformist and tend to be obsequious to those they see as holding a higher status – while treating those ‘below’ with contemp. Authoritarian personality is believed to be the result of strict and punitive upbringing which later leads to hostility being directed towards disliked [justified or unjustified] groups through the process of “displacement”. Adorno et al (1950) found strong and positive correlations between respondents’ scores on the F-Scale and scores on other measures intended to assess anti-semitism (AS scale) and ethnocentrism (E scale). However, the PEC-scale (Political and economic conservatism) was not strongly related, which only led to the conclusion of how people who are anti-Semitic are also “likely” to be hostile towards most “out-groups”.

The Adorno et al (1950) test only consisted of agreement that could only be geared towards anti-Semitism, ethnocentrism and fascism, which might have led to the problem of acquiescent response. The fact that the interviewer knew the interviewee’s F-score might have also led to experimenter bias; and the theory also falls short in the explanation of mass changes in behaviour: “Antisemitism in Nazi Germany grew during a decade or so, which is much too short a time for a whole generation of German families to have adopted new forms of childrearing practices giving rise to authoritarian and prejudiced children (Brown, 1988)” [not plausible]. The reality is that anti-Semitism may have been the result of a more sinister social and economic problem caused, inflicted by or related to the jews powerful Zionist business associations on the German economy at a time where the country was suffering [people, heritage, identity, economy…].


Social Roles

Individual identity differs according to heritage, education, language(s), individual choices, profession and social roles

Another form of prejudice is stereotyping, which plays a major part in the process of inter-cultural [note: culture may refer to groups defined by language, geography, religion, and other common similarities] prejudice where the root of its cause has proven to be fairly ambiguous in explanation.

Art - D'Purb Website

Groups founded and united based on the behavioural patterns of a particular geography [usually] tend to stereotype others negatively [i.e. out-group(s): the other group(s) with petty differences in the way they go by their daily activities as all human primates on this planet – as the chart below suggests].

Development Era_The World as One Consuming Unit

Where Do We Buy What? (Source: Statista)

It is believed that the process of stereotyping is the result of minimising mental effortreminiscent of Carl Jung‘s quote:

“Thinking is difficult, that is why most people judge.”


Stereotyping is linked to psychological processes within the individual and is assumed to be connected to environmental influences that lead to a prejudiced mind; where out-groups and there members are defined unrealistically by single characteristics (negative usually). Stereotyping can sometimes [at least when dealing with members of the public who may not be deemed as “intelligent or smart”, even bordering on plain “stupid”] play a role in the legitimisation of prejudiced and discriminatory treatment of other individuals who simply [consciously or unconsciously] made the choice to live by different modes of group-oriented behavioural patterns (culture).

Rational reasoning and the humane ability to understand each group’s choices while also respecting each group’s boundaries [geographical, social, economic, psychosocial, linguistic, etc] are surprisingly never considered by individuals and authorities in the quest to correct the mistakes of a world designed on outdated ideologies [e.g. the scientifically poor logic of global communism] to design a new one based on creative scientific reasoning, evolutionary logic, design & progressive innovation.

Bloomsbury 113 D'Purb Website

Another reason why some individuals resort to stereotyping others may be insecurity. That is, some individuals may be frustrated at their inability to conquer other(s) who are above their league in terms of abilities and achievements, and may stereotype these individuals in their quest to compensate for their own lack of abilities and feeling of inferiority when faced with these individuals who are more talented than them. Arguably, it may also be that these petty common brains who stereotype, simply fear that their competitors may be able to excel and deliver a similar or even superior performance/output than them if not distracted and slowed by insignificant and childish acts of stereotyped behaviour.


Traduction(EN): “Thinking is difficult, that is why most people judge.” -Carl G. Jung

Prejudice as an Illusionary Cure to Low Self-Esteem/Insecurity

The Social Learning Theory, on the other hand, assumes prejudice as the result of maintaining self-esteem of both the individual and the in-group (individuals with the same behavioural patterns as the individual/tribe) members – where one tends to be biased towards glorifying the group whilst also paying particular attention to criteria that make the group look better. This is related to our sense of identity being determined by the groups we belong to and thus tend to be biased towards favouring them. Tajfel et al (1982) showed how schoolboys chose the strategy to allocate more points to their own group at the expense of getting least overall – showing bias in the absence of competition. The two main problems however are the fact that [1] the tendency for favouritism might be group-oriented and not universal (Wetherall, 1982), and also how [2] most studies show bias towards in-group (which could not only be prejudice but stereotyping or other influences).

Unrealistic Conflict? Competition for the same Resource(s) while presuming in-group members to be “unconditional benefactors”

Finally, the realistic conflict theory suggests that prejudice arises when two or more groups compete for the same resource which in turn leads to a tendency to favour in-group members, while being hostile and denying resources to out-groups. This was proven in Sherif et al (1961) where the artificially stimulated competitive conflict lead to negative stereotyping towards out-group which persisted even after the competition. However, the validity was questioned over the artificiality of the situation and the samples (US American boys only?); as Tyerman & Spencer also showed how competition does not always cause prejudice – where UK scouts co-operated instead. Furthermore, individuals with different upbringing and philosophical orientations had not been considered, which in turn affects the ecological validity of the finding where inferences from generalisation would likely lack precision – with a world in constant social evolution with more psychological research being constantly published to guide society towards a more harmonious design.


Reflection & Conclusion: Relocation, Adaptation, Design & Assimilation

Together, the theories seem to offer a plausible explanation for prejudice but cannot be ranked; as they compensate each other’s weak points. A sensible application of each theory – depending on the situation – seems like the rational method forward, since factors such as group-based behavioural patterns (culture), present situation/environment and norms/values remain vital considerations when researching about prejudice, its causes & a more direct approach to solutions.

Furthermore, the world has made such leap socially with the technological era, and people have been inclined towards knowledge, discoveries and innovation with social media contributing towards a more educated humanity [i.e. a civilisation with its different societies that come with their own values, philosophy, feelings and behavioural and communicative patterns, that are the main seperators and organising factors in each group’s identity].


A new and strong global inclination towards a realistic synchronised unity [where the world’s population can live harmoniously in their own geographical location with their chosen units, laws and lifestyle], may shape intellectual thought in the decades to come now that the experience learnt from psychosocial disasters due to badly managed population shifts [that turned out to be destructive to the safety of Western European nations] could be considered in future policies. [Visit the website of the Banque Mondiale for more precise population statistics].

Unbelievable African Population Growth

Source: UN via The Guardian

Negro Population Counter

The current population of Africa is 1,300,976,080 as of Wednesday, December 5, 2018, based on the latest United Nations estimates. / Source: Worldometers (Click to see a live count of the majorly negro population of Africa)

S’installer en Afrique: les clés pour réussir ses projets sur le continent (2018)
La Taille Du Continent Africain

The Size of the African Continent: With the speed of progress and the development brought by the digital era, an increasing number of Negro people nowadays, with their global population rising at a rate faster than any other group, are considering a relocation to their homelands in Africa

Organisms who do not want to/cannot assimilate, should consider a relocation to an environment that is adjusted and more suited to their evolutionary needs, as this seems like the most rational solution, such as the growing number of sensible Negro people nowadays who are gradually shifting back to their homelands in Africa to help it grow economically and culturally with the world developing at a speed never seen before in this era partly accelerated with modern technology.

Africa Unite - Negro People

A great example of environmental and socio-psychological synchronisation is India, with 94% of Hindus being the native Hindi-speaking population of India who also live there, although Hinduism and its various branches of philosophy [explored by one of the most influential Western philosopher, Arthur Schopenhauer, and also many others such as Aldous Huxley, Alfred North Whitehead, Arnold Toynbee, François Voltaire, Rudolf Steiner, Wilhelm von Humbolt & Will Durant] – as other major religious cultures such as Christianity – also spread in influence globally.

India United

Hinduism, Hindus and India

Like Christianity & the other major religions, Hinduism and its philosophy also gradually spread in influence across the globe. However, 94% of people who practice Hinduism  are the native Hindi-speaking population of India

The Climate Collapse disaster has also made Civilization aware of the importance of “synchronised unity” in matters of global human advancement –  future research surrounding prejudice and discrimination would likely benefit the human world more if applied in intra-group scenarios – should the world’s population be managed and geographically engineered according to each group’s evolutionary logic [to fit their respective psycholinguistic, cultural and organic environments to further refine group evolution and guide society towards a harmonious pattern of living] for each group by their respective identities, collective beliefs, values & vision.

Chart of the Year - Global Poverty

A Visual History of Global Poverty from 1820 – 2015 / Source: Our World In Data

Infant Mortality 1950 - 2015

Infant Mortality, 1950 to 2015 / Source: Our World in Data

Global Income Inequality is Falling 1820 - 2000

Global Income Inequality is falling, 1820 – 2000

As World poverty is down, solving matters of the 3rd world on location along with a systematic and diplomatic relocation of culturally alien migrant crowds seems rational. Progress & development globally means relocation should be considered in the future if human beings are realistic about world peace, and the understanding of evolutionary science and its application to humanity.

World Charity by Country

Charitable giving by country / Source: Guardian DataBlog

libray users cite impacts from personal learning d'purb dpurb website

Library users and Learning / Source: Pew Research Centre (Internet & Technology)

In the 21st century, there are associations in the UK affiliated to the Indian, Chinese and Muslim communities that have started working in collaboration with the Home Office and are offering members of their respective communities an easy voluntary return to their country of origin without any use of force along with a financial help of about £ 2000 to find a job or start a business in their home country, this service is also open to the Jewish and Negro communities and all other unassimilated individuals. In France, many unassimilated Jews have begun to move back to their communities in Israel and in doing so are setting a positive example and encouraging the rest; the government of Israel is also supporting the return of Jews to their homeland and helping them adjust to their language and community.

Video: Quitter La France Pour Israel : Le Défi De l’Intégration des Juifs

We, as Western Europeans should consider a diplomatic process for relocating incompatible populations [who struggle to and/or cannot adjust to assimilate] according to their respective societies and cultural identity for peace; with links and cooperation in business and education if necessary to support the sophistication and the continuous linguistic and cultural development of human societies on Planet Earth.

Geographical management towards synchronisation and stability by exploring the logic of the « Organic theory » involves prioritizing one’s “own organisms” [i.e. organisms that are part of or have become part of one’s own society through complete assimilation] for psycholinguistic, cultural, social & genetic chemistry, evolution and enhancement.


For example, if I myself were a retrograde and atavistic burden to Western Europe or France because of my religious beliefs, maladaptive needs, genes, intelligence [lack of], organic composition, fitness/health, education, philosophical perspectives, traditions, psycholinguistic heritage and national outlook, then I would change geographical location to one that is more suited to myself to be able to live much more comfortably. But since, I am of 100% Franco-British heritage and would not feel at “home” in a different environment other than Western Europe, I have fully assimilated and live here, thus, the concept of « Geographical Management », which is simply the process of keeping together organisms sharing similar beliefs, philosophy, culture, vision, perception, goals, intellect, language(s) and identity for chemistry, stability and mutual understanding: a synchronised and functional society founded on modern evolutionary science & humanistic philosophy.

We need to understand the identity of a society in terms of linguistic, cultural [mostly behavioural and perceptive patterns], and genetic authenticity but also consider and follow the progressive course of evolution as modern and sophisticated beings to include evolved organisms that assimilate, enhance, stabilise, and strengthen the group with superior or gifted genes that also care about, have a sense of belonging, take pride, interact, speak for and identify with the culture and nation. All humans are similar yes, but not equal … similar physiologically [blood, bone, organs, etc] but not equal in any case [culture, philosophy, language(s), IQ, genetics, fitness/health, intelligence, vocabulary, sensibility, skills, etc].


Hence to foster evolution in a stable society that is also progressive, we should aim to create the consent of the masses as Walter Lippmann suggested in his theoretical essays; by all forms of communication possible [as a therapeutic form of expression to save ourselves as a species on planet Earth and learn to develop a sophisticated outlook of our planet] because scientifically there is no such thing as a pure race [all of us human primates on earth are the product of migration, breeding and evolution], and as Darwin’s theory of evolution revealed, there is no eternal essence, and any idea of an exceptionally pure entity that would be beyond evolution does not exist – everything is in a constant state of flux [so from a scientific, evolutionary and organic standpoint, racism is a totally archaic absurdity since we are all simply organic matter on a small blue planet in the vast universe being recycled, recreated and reshaped in a continuous process]. The philosopher Barbara Stiegler wisely suggested that the task of creating the consent of the masses should be left in the hands of experts in psychology [i.e. those who understand the psychic structure and philosophies of how humans and societies operate, develop and evolve].


For cases of exceptional organisms who have moved to a new locations [geography] to create themselves and build their lives, it would certainly be helpful for them to see themselves as individual with the power to reshape their whole being if they intend to be able to live a life that is not restrictive and is in complete synchronisation with the new society and people they choose to be a part of; thus assimilation seems to be the only reasonable and humane option.

It is fundamental for all to understand that geographical groups have evolved and have gained and maintained a structured organisation because each region on planet Earth and its respective organisms [of a particular type of organic composition – what some refer to as “race”] have created societies and behavioural patterns that led to a group with some form of synchronisation and organisation.

Human evolution

But, it is also very important to consider that from the perspective of the universality of life on Planet Earth, any human organism of whatsoever type of organic composition can procreate with one another. This simple but fundamental scientific observation means that if the laws of evolution and nature that contain and govern all life on this planet had different intentions, then organisms of different organic compositions would not be able to create new life.

This does not mean that countries should be encouraging uncontrolled and savage communist/zionist mass invasion policies in terms of migration to disrupt their own stability, since preserving a sense of synchronisation and organisation for all groups involves promoting agendas with organisms that have evolved in their environment and have the characteristics to support the continuity and  productivity of their group & societyYet, it is vital to understand that when Charles Darwin formulated his theory of evolution he changed life forever as we knew it – perhaps this is why he built the reputation of a rockstar of science and biology – because he cancelled this once believed fallacy of the stable and permanent concept, but revealed that everything continues to evolve from here onHence, it is of vital and fundamental importance for all groups [around the world] to consider the never-ending and ongoing process of evolution and natural selection, a process that affects all organisms on planet Earth similarly and also the singular adaptive evolution of some superior and genetically gifted organisms [See: [I] Psychology: The Concept of Self, [II] How our Neurons work, [III] The Temporal Lobes: Vision, Sound & Awareness and [IV] The 3 Major Theories of Childhood Development]

Darwin sur l'adaptation environmentale Oxford University Press Quote D'Purb dpurb site web

Traduction(EN): Charles Darwin (1809 – 1882), best known for his theory on evolution by natural selection, demonstrated that all species have developed over time from common ancestors and that individuals with characteristics most suited to the environment are more likely to survive and reproduce.

Putz_Michel_Richard_Orpheus_and_Eurydice D'Purb Website


All societies should be asking the question of whether some select superior organisms [whatever the field in which they may excel / See:Scientists discover 1,000 new “intelligence genes” – which is a highly heritable trait and a major determinant of human health and well-being; &2 types of extroverts have more brain matter than most common brains] would enhance them as a group [i.e. upscale their organic composition], since we are now living in modern times and are part of a generation that has the scientific knowledge that previous generations before us did not have.

After all, the choice of partnership should always remain that of the individual, and since the criteria in partnership selection differs from one individual to another [e.g. some may look for physical attributes, others for emotional intelligence, or philosophical sensibilities, or particular personality traits, and on extremely rare occasions some may be incrediby lucky to find all the qualities in a single organism, etc], this may lead some individuals to choose from a range of organic compositions.


In the 21st century, with the knowledge of genetics and health, couples who want children worldwide should also consider whether the future wellbeing of their children involves more than simply good food, education and upbringing, but also good genes that also lead to better attributes. Hence, couples who choose to embrace the reality of science in 2019, may choose sperm or eggs from healthy donors if they do not consider themselves as genetically healthy or gifted; and this may also open the door to creating a healthier generation of humans on planet Earth and also encourage healthy males and females, to donate sperm and eggs as a contribution to the better design of a new generation of mankind. Since, science has always been seen by many as the study of God’s work, to create a better world, and this gave us better medicines and treatments after our understanding of the laws of nature evolved, so it seems reasonable to also look at genetics and design similarly.

Masters of Deception - Salvador Dali 026 - D'Purb Website

We also know that environmental and psycho-social influences have more salience and effect in shaping the mind of the individual, so avant-garde couples who choose to have a child through donated eggs or sperm should understand that the child will be theirs as the infant will carry their names, manners, attitudes and values, and not the donor’s. A good way of looking at it may be to simply think of the donor as a piece of healthy flesh that the couple borrowed to give their child a better design, health and future.

« spermini » par l'artiste maurizio cattelan d'purb website 1200

«Spermini», l’oeuvre par l’artiste Maurizio Cattelan / Source: Fondation Louis Vuitton


As for human organisms that have chosen to shift their geography to be part of a new society along with its heritage, they do not seem to have any other concrete option but to fully “assimilate” and prove their genetic fitness/health and abilities, and hence become an asset to the new group by becoming a part of it to help maintain its stability and sense of synchronisation.

Men and women who make the choice and who have the necessary education and intelligence to guide them, build themselves and change cultural / national identification registers when they have the capacity for development, the linguistic heritage and the genetics of intellect with a mastery of expression and speech. It is only then that they manage to represent a nation or an empire [or two?]. In 2019, as far as ‘The Organic Theory’ [which focuses on the singularity of the individual organism] is concerned, there is no debate between intellectuals in psychology, but simply the discovery of the new mechanical / scientific perspectives that it introduces to explain the psychological and philosophical conception of the individual – as Carl Sagan phrased it, ‘Science is a way of thinking much more than it is a body of knowledge’. Construction [training], which ‘can be’ mechanical and structured in its application [e.g. distance learning by text / video / audio], develops indirectly to create and give a socio-cultural dimension to the individual once the desired skills have been fully adopted, mastered, and deployed in life. The term ‘social’ is also far too vague to be important as such… the term ‘social’ can simply be defined as the interaction and exposure [of all types] between organisms. So the term ‘social’ is not really valid scientifically and it lacks precision itself since it may refer to a wide range of variables. What we are left with then is only the individual’s choices, language(s) & abilities of personal development [e.g. psycholinguistic & cultural synthesis]: the major factors in the psychological & philosophical explanation of his/her singular conception [to note that each conception is unique to the individual human organism such as his/her fingerprints, skull shape, or body structure: singularity]. Thus: training, meritocracy, order and love! [See: The Concept of Self]

Feuerbach_Anselm(1829-1880)_Paolo_And_Francesca D'Purb Website

If the new organisms lack genetic fitness/health, then it seems reasonable to consider conceiving [through healthy donors] or adopting children of the similar organic composition of the majority from the respective societies they moved to and live in, as this will contribute in fostering the growth and continuity of the group and ease assimilation.

So for organisms who do change their mode of existence, i.e. organisms that have the potential and have taken the decision to and do assimilate in Western European societies, the best option seems to see, breathe & live” [as a way of speaking] like the new society and nation they chose to be a part of, and also “feel” the new group’s pain, joy, values and heritage [even religion if possible / See: The Relationship between Religion and Discrimination].

Assimilation generally means to see the members of one’s new community as one’s own “blood”, just like those from avant-garde French schools of thought do, as it will be in any individual’s best interest in living “fully” [although it is vital for all organisms to also consider the problems of «bad blood», since social incompatibility and/or a lack of chemistry – which is not necessarily hateful – within organisms of the same geographical environment are common due to a range of factors (e.g. intelligence, philosophy, values, sensibility, personality, character, emotional relatedness, tastes, etc)].


Any society that cannot add highly talented organisms with exceptional genes that have the potential to enhance and sharpen them as a group through the process of assimilation, would be missing out and will forever have a weakness over avant-garde societies that can. However, it is important not to take the process of assimilation lightly as it is not a costume party. Assimilation is not an easy process as we have found.

The large majority of organisms who change geographic locations do not seem to have the abilities or the desire to assimilate, since it involves focusing their loyalty and dedication to the new society and people while also adopting [e.g names that are sycnhronised with the society’s heritage as it is commonly done in France] and mastering new behavioural and communicative patterns [as Nicolas Sarkozy also pointed out], which requires learning & adjusting.

Hence, the diplomatic deportation and relocation of incompatible organisms along with campaigns to help them settle still remain the best solution to alleviate the burden of mass migration and psycho-social disruption to Western European societies, because assimilation requires skills and dedication and the majority of foreign organisms fail to master them.

Nous En France - Sarkozy - d'purb

Traduction(EN): “Us in France, we are different from others. To live, we have to drink, eat, but also to cultivate ourselves.” -Nicolas Sarkozy

However, we should also take note that there are some [not many] “incredible” individuals who manage to assimilate and become fully part of their new societies, and guide, manage and promote it passionately.


These individuals who have made the tremendous effort to become fully part of their new society where they have moved to and have the potential to enhance, guide and promote it should be applauded and encouraged because these individuals who have proven their genetic fitness/health, psycholinguistic/cultural belonging, national loyalty & identity are not in a new society simply for economic gains [as a foreign leech] but see themselves as part of the national community/family, and have taken the sensitive personal decision to completely blend in [assimilate] and become natives of their new societies where it reflects in their values, sentiments, perception, behaviour & nationalistic feelings.

Charles Darwin sur l'evolution par la sélection naturelle D'Purb Website

Traduction(EN): “I have called this principle, by which, each slight variation, if useful, is preserved by the term of natural selection.” -Charles Darwin / Note: Darwin devised the Theory of Evolution and was against bad breeding, and even supported a campaign to make marriage between cousins illegal due to the range of diseases and disabilities caused by consanguineous inbreeding [See: (1) Inbreeding, Consanguinity and Inherited Diseases, (2) The Role of Inbreeding in the Extinction of a European Royal Dynasty, (3) Royal dynasties as human inbreeding laboratories: the Habsburgs & (4) 75% of Jews Are Lactose Intolerant and 11 Other Facts 

We have philosophical arguments (Schweikard & Schmid, 2013) along with empirical evidence (Tomasello, Carpenter, Call, Behne, & Moll, 2005) to support the idea that the ability to engage in joint actions is a key aspect of human sociability; joint actions can be explained by shared intentions. For an action to be shared among a group of individuals, the action must be triggered, steered and monitored by an intention that is also shared by those individuals (Bratman, 1993, 2014): two individuals walk together [instead of simply walking in parallel] if those individuals share the decision to walk together (Gilbert, 1990).

French philosopher Barbara Stiegler suggested that we must rethink our political subject as first of all the members of a living species, this living species extends into an environment and the challenge for our species, as for any living species extends to adapt to this environment. Approving Jiddu Krishnamurti’s argument, “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society“, since it applies to her work on “adaptation”, Barbara Stiegler, who similarly to Jacques Lacan and myself, remains critical to the concept of “adaptation” derived from strict Darwinism [which she thought has gradually colonised all field of human life], and hence she asks the question whether what is supposed to be a sign of good health is actually a disease when one adapts to something that is deleterious [i.e. uncritically adapting to the product of the industrial revolution: the artificial society of steel and concrete that many were born into and never questioned the psychical suffering, sense of values and reality that it imposes on human civilisation].

From the second half of the 18th century, the creation of a completely new environment in the history of life on a global scale implies an acceleration of exponential rates; all borders and fences have been disrupted in an extremely rapid manner because of the industrial revolution we created. This was the case before indeed, and in the field of life, environments are always redefined with organisms. Walter Lippmann posed this interesting question, that is whether our species is adapted to this new industrial world, which is globalisation and it appears that cognitively, psychically and affectively humans are not evolving at the rate required to support this fast growing industrial environment that we imposed on ourselves; and due to this lack of skills, we have a mass of people that are completely atomised going in all directions; and who do not truly know what they desire.

Everyday Life in Ancient Athens d'purb dpurb site web.jpg

Life in Ancient Athens

This is not the image of a receptive Athenian people full of values, affectivity, artistry, creativity, rationalism, philosophy, honour, respect, loyalty, courage & passion, but simply a mass of individuals like in the USA. Walter Lippmann suggested that this mass is apathetic, it means that it does not feel itself and has no consciousness of itself or class, which means that each individual that composes the mass is locked on himself and his little circle and hence is apathetic. This to Lippmann meant that it is an atomised mass which makes up the matrix, i.e. it is a huge accumulation of individual atoms; and Barbara Stiegler believes the mass is weak and impotent, stuck without structure, that can only find its power if it is taken over and formed/trained.

NYC Crowd

Image: The Atomised Mass / A Crowd of people walking on street sidewalk, New York City

But problems of society rarely have a single cause and we must accept that: we have a range of causes. Darwin stated very clearly that he honestly thought that evolution is accepting the idea that there is no end to evolution and it goes in all directionsSo what does the history of life tell us? It’s that there’s no end to history. But we do need reasonable guidelines to direct ourselves towards an organised and stable civilisation, otherwise we are bound to dissapear as a species on earth. It may be good to consider the example of the dinosaurs, who ruled the earth for 175 million years and yet disappeared, while we humans have only been on earth for 6 million years [200,000 years for the modern human form, and only 6,000 years since civilisation as we knew it appearead], which means that dinosaurs lived on earth 29 times longer than us, and today have disappeared.

Le processus d'évolution qui a conduit aux humains modernes d'purb dpurb site web.jpg

The evolutionary process that led to modern humans.

Perhaps another example of a smaller scale is the Roman Empire that lasted for more than 1000 years and no one who lived at its peak thought that it would disappear.

In contemporary Darwinism, we find processes that are not solely based on competition between individuals, but which are based on cooperation between individuals and cooperation between groups. Hence, the classical Darwinian orthodox model has been revised and in reality it is also composed of all kinds of cooperation processes. This is where John Dewey focussed on potentials that Walter Lippmann refused to see in the masses, and hence became a philosopher who contradicted some aspects of Lippmann’s work. Dewey acknowledged Lippmann about the masses, but argued that we also have inside those apathethic atomised masses as described by Lippmann, what Dewey called “a public”, individuals who are not satisfied for a particular reason who identify with others who have the similar problem and from this we have the emergence of what he called “publics”; who unlike the apathetic mass in Lippmann’s theory, feel themselves because of their common problem. The public eventually create a movement that shifts from passive to active, and they begin to look for a therapeutic solution to their problem, and from here they have the ability through modern media and communications brought by our industrial society, to identify themselves, to connect among themselves and go and look for resources in what Dewey called “knowledge”: the ability to use expertise to consider experimental solutions from contemporary science.



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  3. Bratman, M. (1993). Shared Intention. Ethics, 104, 97–113.
  4. Bratman, M. (2014). Shared agency. A planning theory of acting together. Oxford: OUP.
  5. Ceballos, F. and Álvarez, G., (2013). Royal dynasties as human inbreeding laboratories: the Habsburgs. Heredity, 111(2), pp.114-121.
  6. Cohen D. (1979) J.B Watson: The Founder of Behaviourism. London, Boston and Henley
  7. Gilbert, M. (1990). Walking together: A paradigmatic social phenomenon. Midwest Studies in Philosophy, 15(1), 1–14.
  8. Gross, R. (2005) Psychology: the science of mind and behaviour. London, Hodder and Stoughton Educational
  9. Schweikard, D. P., & Schmid, H. B. (2013). Collective intentionality. The Stanford Encyclopedia of philosophy (Summer 2013 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), Retrieved from
  10. Tomasello, M., Carpenter, M., Call, J., Behne, T., & Moll, H. (2005). Understanding and sharing intentions: The origins of cultural cognition. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 28(5), 675–691.

Mis à jour le Lundi, 4 Janvier 2021 | Danny J. D’Purb |


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Essay // Psychology: The Concept of Self


The concept of the self will be explored in this essay – where it comes from, what it looks like and how it influences thought and behaviour. Since self and identity are cognitive constructs that influence social interaction and perception, and are themselves partially influenced by society, the material of this essay connects to virtually all aspects of psychological science. The self is an enormously popular focus of research (e.g. Leary and Tangney, 2003; Sedikides and Brewer, 2001; Swann and Bosson, 2010). A 1997 review by Ashmore and Jussim reported 31,000 social psychological publications on the self over a two-decade period to the mid-1990s, and there is now even an International Society for Self and Identity and a scholarly journal imaginatively entitled Self and Identity.

Nikon Portrait DSC_0169 Res600

The concept of the “self” is a relatively new idea in psychological science. While Roy Baumeister’s (1987) painted a picture of a medievally organised society where most human organism’s reality were fixed and predefined by rigid social relations and legitimised with religious affiliations [family membership, social rank, birth order & place of birth, etc], the modern perspectives adopted by scholars and innovative psychologists has been contradicting such outdated concepts. The idea of a complex & sophisticated individual self, lurking underneath would have been difficult, if not impossible, to entertain under such atavistic assumptions of social structures affecting an individual human organism.

However, all this changed in the 16th century, where momentum gathered ever since from forces such as:

Secularisation – where the idea that fulfilment occurs in afterlife was replaced by the idea that one should actively pursue personal fulfilment in this life

Industrialisation – where the human being was increasingly being seen as individual units of production who moved from place to place with their own “portable” personal identity which was not locked into static social structures such as extended family

Enlightenment – where people felt they were solely responsible for choosing, organising and creating better identities for themselves by overthrowing orthodox value systems and oppressive regimes [e.g. the French revolution and the American revolution of the late 18th century]


Psychoanalysis – the psychoanalytic theory of the human mind unleashed the creative individual with the notion that the self was unfathomable because it lived in the depth of the unconscious [e.g. Theory of social representations – theory invoking psychoanalysis as an example of how a novel idea or analysis can entirely change how people think about their world (e.g. Moscovici, 1961; see Lorenzi-Cioldi and Clémence, 2001). [See: Psychoanalysis: History, Foundations, Legacy, Impact & Evolution]

Jacques Lacan d'purb dpurb site web

Jacques Lacan (1901 – 1981)

Together, these and other socio-political and cultural influences lead to society thinking about the self and identity as complex subjects, where theories of self and identity propagated and flourished in this fertile soil.

As far as self and identity are concerned, we have noticed one pervasive finding in cultural differences. The so called “Western” world involving continents such as Western Europe, North America and Australasia, tend to be individualistic, whereas most other cultures, such as in Asia, South America and Africa are collectivist (Triandis, 1989; also see Chiu and Hong, 2007, Heine, 2010, 2012; Oyserman, Coon and Kemmelmeier, 2002). Anthropologist Geertz puts it beautifully:

“The Western conception of the person as a bounded, unique, more or less integrated, motivational and cognitive universe, a dynamic centre of awareness, emotion, judgement, and action organized into a distinctive whole and set contrastively both against other such wholes and against a social and natural background is, however incorrigible it may seem to us, a rather peculiar idea within the context of the world’s cultures.”

Geertz (1975, p.48)

conceptofself d'purb dpurb site web

Markus and Kityama (1991) describe how those from individualistic cultures tend to have an independent self, whereas people from collectivist cultures have an interdependent self. Although in both cases, people seek a clear sense of who they are, the [Western] independent self is grounded in a view of the self that is autonomous, separate from other people and revealed through one’s inner thoughts and feelings. The [Eastern] interdependent self on the other hand, unlike in the West, tends to be grounded in one’s connection to and relationships with other people [expressed through one’s roles and relationships]. As Gao explained: ‘Self… is defined by a person’s surrounding relations, which often are derived from kinship networks and supported by cultural values based on subjective definitions of filial piety, loyalty, dignity, and integrity’ (Gao, 1996, p. 83).

From a conceptual review of the cultural context of self-conception, Vignoles, Chryssochoou and Breakwell (2000) conclude that the need to have a distinctive and integrated sense of self is “likely” universal. However from individualist and collectivist cultures, the term “self-distinctiveness” holds a set of very different assumptions. In the individualist West, separateness adds meaning and definition to the isolated and bounded self. In the collectivist & Eastern others, the “self” is relational and gains meaning from its relations with others.


A logic proposed by analysing historical conceptions of self with an account of the origins of individualist and collectivist cultures along with the associated independent and interdependent self-conceptions may be related to economic policies. The labour market is an example where mobility helped the industry by viewing humans as “units” of production who are expected to shift their geographical locations from places of low labour demand to those of higher demand, along with their ability to organise their lives, relationships, self-concepts around mobility and transient relationships.

New York Construction Workers Lunching on a Crossbeam

Construction workers eat their lunches atop a steel beam 800 feet above ground, at the building site of the RCA Building in Rockefeller Center.

Independence, separateness and uniqueness have become more important than connectedness and long-term maintenance of enduring relationships [values that seem to have become pillars of modern Western Labour Culture – self-conceptions reflect cultural norms that codify economic activity].

However, this logic applied to any modern human organism seems to clearly offer more routes to development [personal and professional], more options to continuously nurture the evolving concepts of self-conception through expansive social experience and cultural exploration, while being a set of philosophy that places more powers of self-defined identity in the hands of the individual [more modern and sophisticated].


Now that some basic concepts and origins of the “self” along with its importance and significance to psychological science has been covered, we are going to explore two creative ways of learning about ourselves.

Firstly, the concept of self-knowledge which involves us storing information about ourselves in a complex and varied way in the form of a schema means that information about the self is assumed to be stored cognitively as separate context specific nodes such that different nodes activate different ones and thus, different aspects of self (Breckler, Pratkanis and McCann, 1991; Higgins, van Hook and Dorfman, 1988). The concept of self emerges from widely distributed brain activity across the medial prefrontal and medial precuneus cortex of the brain (e.g. Saxe, Moran, Scholz, and Gabrieli, 2006). According the Hazel Markus, self-concept is neither “a singular, static, lump-like entity” nor a simple averaged view of the self – it is a complex and multi-faceted, with a relatively large number of discrete self-schemas (Markus, 1977; Markus and Wurf, 1987).


Most individuals tend to have clear conceptions of themselves on some dimensions but not others – generally more self-schematic on dimensions that hold more meaning to them, for e.g. if one thinks of oneself as sophisticated and being sophisticated is of importance to oneself, then we would be self-schematic on that dimension [part of our self-concept], if not then we would not [would not be part of our self-concept – unsophisticated]. It is widely believed that most people have a complex self-concept with a large number of discrete self-schemas. Patrice Linville (1985, 1987; see below) has suggested that this variety helps to buffer people from life’s negative impacts by ensuring enough self-schemas are available for the individual to maintain a sense of satisfaction. We can be strategic in the use of our self-schemas – Linville described such judgement colourfully by saying: “don’t put all your eggs in one cognitive basket.” Self-schemas influence information processing and behaviour similarly to how schemas about others do (Markus and Sentis, 1982): self-schematic information is more readily noticed, is overrepresented in cognition and is associated with longer processing time.

S€lection de Vos Oeufs d'purb

Self-schemas do not only describe how we are, but they are also believed to differ as we have an array of possible selves (Markus and Nurius, 1986) – future-oriented schemas of what we would like to become, or what we fear we might become. For example, a scholar completing a postgraduate may think of a career as an artist, lecturer, writer, philosopher, politician, actor, singer, producer, entrepreneur, etc. Higgins (1987) proposed the self-discrepancy theory, suggesting that we have 3 major types of self-schema:

  • The actual self – how we are
  • The ideal self – how we would like to be
  • The ‘ought’ self – how we think we should be

Discrepancies between the actual, ideal and/or ought, can motivate change to reduce the discrepancy – in this way we engage in self-regulation. Furthermore, the self-discrepancy and the general notion of self-regulation have been elaborated into the regulatory focus-theory (Higgins, 1997, 1998).This theory proposes that most individuals have two separate self-regulatory systems, termed Promotion and Prevention. The “Promotion” system is concerned with the attainment of one’s hopes and aspirations – one’s ideals. For example, those in a promotion focus adopt approach strategic means to attain their goals [e.g. promotion-focused students would seek ways to improve their grades, find new challenges and treat problems as interesting obstacles to overcome. The “Prevention” system is concerned with the fulfilment of one’s duties and obligations. Those in a prevention focus use avoidance strategy means to attain their goals. For example, prevention-focussed students would avoid new situations or new people and concentrate on avoiding failure rather than achieving highest possible grade.


Whether an individual is more approach or prevention focussed is believed to stem during childhood (Higgins and Silberman, 1998). Promotion-focus may arise if children are habitually hugged and kissed for behaving in a desired manner and love is withdrawn as a form of discipline. Prevention-focus may arise if children are encouraged to be alert to potential dangers and punished when they display undesirable behaviours. Against this background of individual differences however, regulatory focus has also been observed to be influenced by immediate context, for example by structuring the situation so that subjects focus on prevention or on promotion (Higgins, Roney, Crowe and Hymes, 1994). Research also revealed that those who are promotion-focussed are more likely to recall information relating to the pursuit of success by others (Higgins and Tykocinski, 1992). Lockwood and her associates found that those who are promotion-focussed look for inspiration to positive role models who emphasise strategies for achieving success (Lockwood, Jordan and Kunda, 2002). Such individuals also show elevated motivation and persistence on tasks framed in terms of gains and non-gains (Shah, Higgins and Friedman, 1998). On the other side of the spectrum, individuals who are prevention-focussed tend to recall information relating to the avoidance of failure by others, are most inspired by negative role models who highlight strategies for avoiding failure and exhibit motivation and persistence on tasks that framed in terms of losses and non-losses. After being studied in intergroup relations (Shah, Higgins and Friedman, 1998), the regulatory focus theory was found to strengthen positive emotion related bias and behavioural tendencies towards the ingroup when in the context of a measured or manipulated promotion focus. Prevention-focus strengthens more negative emotion-related bias [haters] and behavioural tendencies against the outgroup (Shah, Brazy and Higgins, 2004).


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The second way of learning about the concept of self is through the understanding of our “many selves” and multiple identities. In the book, The Concepf of Self, Kenneth Gergen (1971) depicts the self-concept as containing a repertoire of relatively discrete and often quite varied identities, each with a distinct body of knowledge. These identities have their origins in a vast array of different types of social relationships that form, or have formed, the anchoring points for our lives, ranging from close personal relationships with other professionals, mentors, trusted friends, etc and roles defined by skills, fields, divisions and categories, to relationships fully or partially defined by languages, geography, cultures [sub-cultures], groups values, philosophy, religion, gender and/or ethnicity. Linville (1985) also noted that individuals differ in terms of self-complexity, in the sense that some individuals have more diverse and extensive set of selves than othersthose with many independent aspects of selves have higher self-complexity than those with a few, relatively similar, aspects of self. The notion of self-complexity is given a rather different emphasis by Marilynn Brewer and her colleagues (Brewer and Pierce, 2005; Roccas and Bewer, 2002) who focussed on the self that is defined in group terms (social identity) and the relationship among identities rather than number of identities individuals have.


They argued that individuals have a complex social identity if they have discrete social identities that do not share many attributes but a simple social identity if they have overlapping social identities that share many attributes [simple]. For example, when Cognitive Psychologists [cognitive psychology explores mental processes] study high-level functions such as problem solving and decision making, they often ask participants to think aloud. The verbal protocols that are obtained [heard] are then analysed at different levels of granularity: e.g. to look at the speed with which participants carry out mental processes, or, at a higher level of analysis, to identify the strategies being used. Grant and Hogg (2012) have recently suggested and empirically shown that the effect, particularly on group identification and group behaviours of the number of identities one has and their overlap may be better explained in terms of the general property of social identity prominencehow subjectively prominent, overall and in a specific situation, a particular identity is one’s self-concept. Social identity theorists (Tajfel and Turner, 1979) argued 2 broad classes of identity that define different types of self:

(i) Social Identity [which defines self in terms of a “particular” group membership (if any meaningful ones exist for the individual), and

(ii) Personal Identity [which defines self in terms of idiosyncratic traits & close personal relationships with specific individuals/groups (if any) which may be more than physical/social, e.g. mental [strength of association with specific others on specific tasks/degrees]

The first main focus question here is asked by Brewer and Gardner (1996), ‘Who is this “we”?’ and distinguished three forms of self:

  • Individual self – based on personal traits that differentiate the self from all others
  • Relational self – based on connections and role relationships with significant/meaningful others
  • Collective self – based on group membership [can depend of many criteria] that differentiates ‘us’ from ‘them’

More recently it has been proposed that there are four types of identity (Brewer, 2001; Chen, Boucher and Tapias, 2006):

  • Personal-based social identities – emphasising the way that group properties are internalised by individual group members as part of their self-concept
  • Relational social identities – defining the self in relation to specific other people with whom one interacts [may not be physical or social only] in a group context – corresponding to Brewer and Gardner’s (1996) relational identity and to Markus and Kitayama’s (1991) ‘interdependent self’.
  • Group-based social identities – equivalent to social identity as defined above [sense of belonging and emotional salience for a group is subjective]
  • Collective identities – referring to a process whereby  those who consider themselves as “group members” not only share self-defining attributes, but also engage in social action to forge an image of what the group stands for and how it is represented and viewed by others.

China Collective

The relational self  [for those who choose to be defined by others at least] is a concept that can be considered a particular type of collective self. As Masaki Yuki (2003) observed, some groups and cultures (notable East-Asian cultures) define groups in terms of networks of relationships. Research also revealed that women tend to place a greater importance than men on their relationships with others in a group (Seeley, Gardner, Pennington and Gabriel, 2003; see also Baumeister and Sommer, 1997; Cross and Madson, 1997).

In search for the evidence for the existence of multiple selves which came from research where contextual factors were varied to discover that most individuals describe themselves and behave differently in different contexts. In one experiment, participants were made to describe themselves on very different ways by being asked loaded questions which prompted them to search from their stock of self-knowledge for information that presented the self in a different light (Fazio, Effrein and Falender, 1981). Other researchers also found, time and time again, that experimental procedures that focus on group membership lead people to act very differently from procedures that focus on individuality and interpersonal relationships. Even “minimal group” studies in which participants are either: (a) identified as individuals; or (b) explicitly categorised, randomly or by some minimal or trivial criterion as ‘group’ members (Tajfel, 1970; see Diehl, 1990), a consistent finding is that being categorised tends to lead people to being discriminatory towards an outgroup, conform to ingroup norms, express attitudes and feelings that favour ingroup, and indicate a sense of belonging and loyalty to the ingroup.


Furthermore, these effects of minimal group categorisation are generally very fast and automatic (Otten and Wentura, 1999). The idea that we may have many selves and that contextual factors can bring different selves into play, has a number of ramifications. Social constructionists have suggested that the self is entirely situation-dependent. An extreme form of this position argues that we do not carry self-knowledge around in our heads as cognitive representations at all, but rather that we construct disposable selves through talk (e.g. Potter and Wetherell, 1987). A less extreme version was proposed by Penny Oakes (e.g. Oakes, Haslam and Reynolds, 1999), who does not emphasise the role of talk but still maintains that self-conception is highly context-dependent. It is argued that most people have cognitive representations of the self that they carry in their heads as organising principles for perception, categorisation and action, but that these representations are temporarily or more enduringly modified by situational factors (e.g. Abrams and Hogg, 2001; Turner, Reynolds, Haslam and Veenstra, 2006).


Although we have a diversity of relatively discrete selves, we also have a quest: to find and maintain a reasonably integrated picture of who we are. Self-conceptual coherence provides us with a continuing theme for our lives – an ‘autobiography’ that weaves our various identities and selves together into a whole person. Individuals who have highly fragmented selves (e.g. some patients suffering from schizophrenia, amnesia or Alzheimer’s disease) find it very difficult to function effectively. People use many strategies to construct a coherent sense of self (Baumeister, 1998). Here is a list of some that we have used ourselves:

Sometimes we restrict our life to a limited set of contexts. Because different selves come into play as contexts keep changing, protections from self-conceptual clashes seem like a valid motive.

Other times, we continuously keep revising and integrating our ‘biographies’ to accommodate new identities. Along the way, we dispose of any meaningless inconsistencies. In effect, we are rewriting our own history to make it work to our advantage (Greenwald, 1980).

We also tend to attribute some change in the self externally to changing circumstances [e.g. educational achievements, professional circle, industry, etc] rather than only internally, to construct who we are. This is an application of the actor-observer effect (Jones and Nisbett, 1972).

In other cases, we can also develop self-schemas that embody a core set of attributes that we feel distinguishes us from all other peoplethat makes us unique (Markus, 1977). We then tend to recognise these attributes disproportionately in all our selves, providing thematic consistency that delivers a sense of a stable and unitary self (Cantor and Kihlstrom, 1987). To sum up, individuals tend to construct their lives such that their self-conceptions are both steady and coherent. A major element in the conception of self, is the ability to master language and its varying degrees of granularity that hold a major role in social identity [linguistic discourse].

[The remaining part of this essay will focus on the power and importance of language as the essence of the human being]



The Essence of the Modern Human Being: Language, Psycholinguistics & Self-Definition

Human communication is completely different from that of other species as it allows virtually limitless amounts of ideas to be expressed by combining finite sets of elements (Hauser, Chomsky, & Fitch, 2005; Wargo, 2008). Other species [e.g. apes] do have communicative methods but none of them compare with human language. For example, monkeys use unique warning calls for different threats, but never combine these calls on new ideas. Similarly, birds and whales sing complex songs, but creative recombination of these sounds in the expression of new ideas has not occurred to these animals either.

As a system of symbols, language lies at the heart of social life and all its multitude of aspects in social identity. Language may be at the essence of existence if explored from the philosopher Descartes most famous quote, “Cogito Ergo Sum” which is Latin for “I think, therefore I am.”, as thought is believed to be experienced and entertained in language. In expressing his discourse, Descartes based the science system on the knowing subject in front of the world that it constructs and represents to itself – a system that would later also be the basis for many of the concepts of Jacques Lacan’s psychoanalysis.

cogito ergo sum

The act of thinking often involves an inner personal conversation with oneself, as we tend to perceived and think about the world in terms of linguistic categories. Lev Vygotsky (1962) believed that inner speech was the medium of thought and that it was interdependent with external speech [the medium of social communication]. This interdependence would lead to the logical conclusion that cultural differences in language and speech are reflected in cultural differences in thought.

In the theory of linguistic relativity devised by linguists Edward Sapir and Benjamin Whorf, a more extreme version of that logic was proposed. Brown writes:

Linguistic relativity is the reverse of the view that human cognition constrains the form of language. Relativity is the view that the cognitive processes of a human being – perception, memory, inference, deduction – vary with structural characteristics – lexicon, morphology, syntax – of the language [one speaks].


Rene Descartes was not only one of the most prominent philosophers of the 17th century but in the history of Western philosophy. Often referred to as the “father of modern philosophy”, Descartes profoundly influenced intellectuals across Europe with his writings. Best known for his statement “Cogito ergo sum” (I think, therefore I am), the philosopher started the school of rationalism which broke with the scholastic Aristotelianism. Firstly, Descartes rejected the mind-body dualism, arguing that matter (the body) and intelligence (the mind) are 2 independent substances (metaphysical dualism) and secondly rejected the causal model of explaining natural phenomena and replaced it with science-based observation and experiment. The philosopher spent a great part of his life in conflict with scholastic approach (historically part of the religious order and its adherents) which still dominated thoughts in the early 17th century.

Les bons plans de René

Rene Descartes (1596-1659) / Image: Université Paris-Descartes

Communication & Language

The study of communication is therefore an enormous undertaking that draws on a wide range of disciplines, such as psychology, social psychology, sociology, linguistics, socio-linguistics, philosophy and literary criticism. Social psychologists have tended to distinguish between the study of language and the study of non-verbal communication [where scholars agree both are vital to study communication (Ambady and Weisbuch, 2010; Holtgraves, 2010; Semin, 2007)]; with also a focus on conversation and the nature of discourse. However the scientific revolution has quickly turned our era into one hugely influenced by computer-mediated communication which is quickly turning into a dominant channel of communication for many (Birchmeier, Dietz-Uhler and Stasser, 2011; Hollingshead, 2001).

Communication in all its varieties is the essence of social interaction: when we interact we communicate. Information is constantly being transmitted about what we sense, think and feel – even about “who we are” – and some of our “messages” are unintentional [instinctive]. Communication among educated humans comprises of words, facial expressions, signs, gestures and touch; and this is done face-to-face or by phone, writing, texting, emails or video. The social factors of communication are inescapable:

  • It involves our relationship with others
  • It is built upon a shared understanding of meaning
  • It is how people influence each other

Spoken languages are based on rule-governed structuring of meaningless sounds (phonemes) into basic units of meaning (morphemes), which are further structured by morphological rules into words and by syntactic rules into sentences. The meanings of words, sentences and entire utterances are determined by semantic rules; which together represent “grammar”. Language has remained an incredibly and endlessly powerful medium of communication due to the limitless amount of meaningful utterances it can generate through the shared knowledge of morphological, syntactic and semantic rules. Meaning can be communicated by language at a number of levels, ranging from a simple utterance [a sound made by one person to another] to a locution [words placed in sequence, e.g. ‘It’s cold in this room’], to an illocution [the locution and context in which it is made: ‘It’s cold in this room’ may be a statement, or a criticism of the institution for not providing adequate heating, or a request to close the window, or a plea to move to another room (Austin, 1962; Hall, 2000)].

Délice Sonore M100 Master d'purb dpurb site web.jpg

Linguistic mastery therefore involves dexterity at many levels of cultural understanding and therefore should likely differ from one individual to another depending on their personality, IQ, education and cultural proficiency in self adjustment. This would lead to being able to navigate properly in the appropriate cultural context through language whilst knowing the appropriateness of the choice of words in term of “when, where, how and to whom say it.” Being able to master these, opens the doors to sociolinguistics (Fishman, 1972; also see Forgas, 1985), and the study of discourse as the basic unit of analysis (Edwards and Potter, 1992; McKinlay and McVittie, 2008; Potter and Wetherell, 1987). The philosopher John Searle (1979) has identified five sorts of meanings that humans can intentionally use language to communicate; we can use language:

  • To say how something is signified
  • To get someone to do something.
  • To express feelings and attitudes
  • To make a commitment
  • To accomplish something directly

Language is a uniquely human form of communication, as observed in the natural world, no other mammal has the elaborate form of communication in its repertoire of survival skills. Young apes have been taught to combine basic signs in order to communicate meaningfully (Gardner and Gardner, 1971; Patterson, 1978), however not even the most precocious ape can match the complexity of hierarchical language structure used by a normal 3-year-old child (Limber, 1977).


Language has been called a human instinct because it is so readily and universally learned by infants. At 10 months of age, little is said, but at 30-month-old infants speak in complete sentences and user over 500 words (Golinkoff & Hirsh-Pasek, 2006). Moreover, over this very 20 month period, the plastic infant brain reorganises itself to learn the language of its environment(s). At 10 months infants can distinguish the sounds of all languages, but by 30 months, they can readily discriminate only those sounds to which they have been exposed (Kraus and Banai, 2007). Once the ability to discriminate particular speech sounds is lost, it is very hard to regain in most, which is one of the reason why most adults tend to have difficulties with learning a new language without an accent.


Processes involved in the brain when speaking a heard word. Damage to areas of the Primary auditory cortex on the Left temporal lobe induce Language Recognition Problems & damage to the same areas on the Right produce deficits in processing more complex & delicate sounds [e.g. music, vocal performances, etc]. Hence, in Neuroscience, although it is not always the case, it can be generalised with a fair amount of confidence that Left is concerned with Speed, and Right is focused on Complex Frequency Patterns.

Most intellectuals researching the evolution of sophisticated human languages turned first to comparative studies of the vocal communications between human beings and other lesser primates [e.g. apes / monkeys]. For example, vervet monkeys do not use alarm calls unless other similar monkeys are within the vicinity, and the calls are more likely to be made only if the surrounding monkeys are relatives (Cheney and Seyfarth, 2005). Furthermore, chimpanzees vary the screams they produce during aggressive encounters depending on the severity of the encounter, their role in it, and which other chimpanzees can hear them (Slocombe and Zuberbuhler, 2005).

A fairly consistent pattern has emerged in the study of non-human vocal communication: There is a substantial difference between vocal production and auditory comprehension. Even the most vocal non-human primates can produce a relatively few calls, yet they are capable of interpreting a wide range of other sonic patterns in their environment. This seems to suggest that non-human primates’ ability to produce vocal language is limited, not by their inability to interpret sounds, but by their inability to exert ‘fine motor control’ over their voices – only humans have this distinct ability. It also confidently suggests that human language has likely evolved from a competence in comprehension already existing in our primate ancestors.


The species specificity to language has led to some linguistic theorist to assume that an innate component to language must be unique to humans, notably Noam Chomsky (1957) who argued that the most basic universal rules of grammar are innate [called a “Language Acquisition Device”] and are activated through social interaction which enables the “code of language” to be cracked. However some other theorists argue for a different proposal, believing that the basic rules of language may not be innate as they can be learnt from the prelinguistic parent-child interaction (Lock, 1978, 1980), furthermore the meanings of utterances are so dependent on social context that they seem unlikely to be innate (Bloom, 1970; Rommetveit, 1974; see Durkin, 1995).

Motor Theory of Speech Perception

The motor theory of speech perception proposes that the perception of speech depends on the words activating the same neural circuits in the motor system that would be activated if the listener said the words (see Scott, McGettigan, and Eisner, 2009). Support for this theory has come from evidence that simply thinking about performing a particular task often activates the similar brain areas as performing the action itself, and also the discover of mirror neurons, motor cortex neurons that fire when particular responses are either observed or performed (Fogassi and Ferrari, 2007).


Broca’s area: Speech production & Language processing // Wernicke’s area: Speech Comprehension

This seems to make perfect sense when solving the equation on the simple observation that Broca’s Area [speech area] is a part of the left premotor cortex [motor skills/movement area]. And since the main thesis of the motor theory of speech perception is that the motor cortex is essential in language comprehension (Andres, Olivier, and Badets, 2008; Hagoort and Levelt, 2009; Sahin et al., 2009), the confirmation comes from the fact that many functional brain-imaging studies have revealed activity in the primary or secondary motor cortex during language tests that do not involve language expression at all (i.e., speaking or writing). This may also suggest that fine linguistic skills may be linked to fine motor skills. Scott, McGettigan, and Eisner (2009) compiled and evaluated results of recorded activity in the motor cortex during speech perception and concluded that the motor cortex is active during conversation.

Gestural Language

Since the unique ability of a high degree of motor control over the vocal apparatus is present only in humans, communication in lesser non-human primates are mainly gestural rather than vocal.


Image: Reuters

This hypothesis was tested by Pollick, and de Waal in 2007, who compared the gestures and the vocalisations of chimpanzees. They found a highly nuanced vocabulary of hand gestures being used in numerous situations with a variety of combinations. To conclude, chimpanzees gestures were much more comparable to human language than were their vocalisations. Could this simply suggest that primate gestures have been a critical stage in the evolution of human language (Corballis, 2003)?

On this same note, we may focus on the already mentioned “Theory of Linguistic Relativity” (Whorf, 1956) which states that our internalised cognitions as a human being, i.e. perception, memory, inference, deduction, vary with the structural characteristics, i.e. lexicon, morphology and syntax of the language we speak [cultural influence shapes our thoughts].


In support of of Sapir and Whorf’s position, Diederik Stapel and Gun Semin (2007) refer poetically to the “magic spell of language” and report their research, showing how different categories in the language we speak guide our observations in particular ways. We tend to use our category of language to attend to different aspects of reality. The strong version of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis is that language entirely determines thought, so those who speak different languages actually perceive the world in entirely different ways and effectively live in entirely different cognitive-perceptual universes. However extreme this suggestion may seem, a good argument against this assumption would be to consider whether the fact that we can distinguish between living and non-living things in English means that the Hopi of North-America, who do not, cannot distinguish between a bee and an aeroplane? Japanese personal pronouns differentiate between interpersonal relationships more subtly than do English personal pronouns; does this mean that English speakers cannot tell the difference between relationships? [What about Chong, Khan, Balaraggoo, Tyrone, Vodkadinov, Jacob, Obatemba M’benge and Boringski – where would you attribute their skills in the former question?]

The strong form of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis is believed to be the most extreme version to be applicable to the mainstream, so a weak form seems to better accord with the quantitative facts (Hoffman, Lau and Johnson, 1986). Language does not determine thought but allows for the communication of aspects of the physical or social environment deemed important for the community. Therefore in the event of being in a situation where the expertise in snow is deemed essential, one would likely develop a rich vocabulary around the subject. Similarly, should one feel the need to have a connoisseur’s discussion about fine wines, the language of the wine masters would be a vital requisite in being able to interact with flawless granularity in the expression of finer tasting experiences.


Although language may not determine thought, its limitations across cultures may entrap those ‘cultured’ to a specific one due to its limited range of available words. Logically, if there are no words to express a particular thought or experience we would not likely be able to think about it. Nowadays such an idea based on enhancing freedom of expression and the evolution of human emancipation, a huge borrowing of words across languages has been noted over the years: for example, English has borrowed Zeitgeist from German, raison d’être from French, aficionado from Spanish and verandah from Hindi. This particular concept is powerfully illustrated in George Orwell’s novel 1984, in which a totalitarian regime based on Stalin’s Soviet Union is described as imposing its own highly restricted language called “Newspeak” designed specifically to prohibit people from even thinking non-orthodox or heretical thoughts, because the relevant words do not exist.

Further evidence over the impact of language on thought-restriction comes from research led by Andrea Carnaghi and her colleagues (Carnaghi, Maas, Gresta, Bianchi, Cardinu and Arcuri, 2008). In German, Italian and some other Indo-European languages [such as English], nouns and adjectives can have different effects on how we perceive people. Compare ‘Mark is gay’ [using an adjective] with ‘Mark is a gay’ [using a noun]. When describing an individual, the use of an adjective suggests an attribute of that individual; whereas a noun seems to imply a social group and being a member of a ‘gay’ group. The latter description with a noun is more likely to invoke further stereotypic/prejudicial inferences and an associated process of essentialism (e.g. Haslam, Rothschild and Ernst, 1998) that maps attributes onto invariant, often bio-genetic properties of the particular social category/group.

Paralanguage and speech style

The impact of language on communication is not only dependent on what is said but also by how it is said. Paralanguage refers to all the non-linguistic accompaniment of speech – volume, stress, pitch, speed, tone of voice, pauses, throat clearing, grunts and sighs (Knapp, 1978; Trager, 1958). Timing, pitch and loudness (the prosodic features of language; e.g. Argyle, 1975) play major roles in communication as they can completely change the meaning of utterances: a rising intonation at the end of a statement turns it into a question or communicates uncertainty, doubt or need for approval (Lakoff, 1973). Underlying emotions are often revealed in prosodic features of speech: low pitch could signify sadness or boredom, while high pitch could communicate anger, fear or surprise (Frick,1985). Naturally fast speech often reflects power and control (Ng and Bradac, 1993).


To gain further understanding of the feelings elicited by different paralinguistic features, Klaus Scherer (1974) used a synthesizer to vary short neutral utterances and has had individuals identify the emotions that were being communicated. Fig. A shows how different paralinguistic features communicate information about the speaker’s feelings.

In addition to paralinguistic cues, communication can also happen in different accents, different language varieties and different languages altogether. These are important speech style differences that have been well researched in social psychology (Giles and Coupland, 1991). From social psychology, the focus in language is mainly on how something is said rather than on what is said, with speech style instead of speech content; whereas discourse analytic approaches also place importance on what is said.

Table D2

Fig. A | Emotions displayed through paralinguistic cues

Social Markers in Speech

Most individuals have a repertoire of speech styles that is automatically or deliberately tailored depending on the context of the communicative event. For example, one would tend to speak slowly, use short words and simple grammatical constructions when dealing with foreigners and children (Clyne, 1981; Elliot, 1981). Longer, more complex constructions along with formalised language varieties or standard accents tend to be used in more formal contexts such as an interview or a speech.

In 1979, Penelope Brown and Colin Fraser categorised different components of a communicative situation that may influence speech style and distinguished between two broad features:

  • The scene (e.g. its purpose, time of day, whether there are bystanders or an audience, etc)
  • The participants (e.g. their personality, ethnicity, chemistry between them)

It is important to note however that individual differences have a major role to play in this objective classification of situations as different individuals may not define the similar “objective” situations similarly. For example, what is deemed formal for some may simply be common place to others; this subjective perception of objective situations has an effect on one’s chosen speech style.


One amazing point raised by Adrian Furnham (1986) is the fact that not only does one adjust speech styles to subjectively perceived situational demands, but one also seeks out situations that are appropriate to a preferred speech style. Contextual variations in speech style contains information about who is speaking to whom, in what context and on what topic? Speech contains social markers (Scherer and Giles, 1979). The most researched markers in social psychology are of group “memberships” such as society, social class, ethnicity, education, age and sex. Social markers are in most cases clearly identifiable and act as reliable clues to group membership. For example, most of the English can easily identify Americans, Australians and South Africans from their speech style alone, and (see Watson, 2009) are probably even better at identifying people who have been cultured in Exeter, Birmingham, Liverpool, Leeds and Essex! Speech style generally elicits a listener’s attitude towards the group that the speaker “represents” [at the exception of some non-mainstream individuals – as in any other group]. A mainstream media example could be the actress Eliza Doolittle’s tremendous efforts in the film My Fair Lady to acquire a standard English accent in order to hide her Cockney origins. This idea or concept is known as the match-guise technique, one of the most widely used research paradigms in the social psychology of language – devised to investigate language attitudes based on speech alone (Lambert, Hodgson, Gardner and Fillenbaum, 1960). The method involves individuals rating short speech extracts similar in paralinguistic, prosodic and content respects, differing ONLY in speech style (accent, dialect, language). All the speech extracts were spoken by the very same individual – who was fluently bilingual. The speaker is rated on a number of evaluative dimensions, which fall into 2 clusters reflecting competence and warmth as the 2 most basic dimensions of social perception (Fiske, Cuddy and Glick, 2007).

  • Status variables (e.g. intelligent, competent, powerful);
  • Solidarity variables (e.g. close, friendly, warm).

The matched-guise technique has been used extensively in a wide range of cultural contexts to investigate how speakers of standard and non-standard language varieties are evaluated. The standard language variety is the one that is associated with high economic status, power and media usage – in England, for example, it is what has been called received pronunciation (RP) English. Non-standard varieties include regional accents (e.g. Yorkshire, Essex), non-standard urban accents (e.g. Birmingham, North/South London) and minority ethnic languages (e.g. Afrikaan, Urdu, Arab, Hindi, Mandarin and other foreign minority languages in Britain). Research reveals that standard language varieties are more favourably evaluated on status and competence dimensions (such as intelligence, confidence, ambition) than non-standard varieties (e.g. Giles and Powesland, 1975).


There is also a tendency for non-standard variety speakers to be more favourably evaluated on solidarity dimensions. For example, Cindy Gallois and her colleagues (1984) found that both white Australians and Australian Aborigines upgraded Aboriginal-accented English on solidarity dimensions (Gallois, Callan and Johnstone, 1984). Hogg, Joyce and Abrams (1984) found that a similar scenario occurs in other linguistic cultures, for e.g. Swiss Germans upgraded speakers of non-standard Swiss German relative to speakers of High German on solidarity dimensions.

Language, Identity & Ethnicity

Matched-guise technique and other studies in linguistics have revealed how our speech style [accents, language, grammatical proficiency & voice] can affect how others evaluate us socially. This is unlikely to be due to the fact that some speech styles are aesthetically more pleasant than others, but more likely to be because speech styles are associated with particular social groups that are consensually evaluated more or less positively in society’s scale. Unless being acted, a person speaking naturally in the speech style of lower-status groups may lead to an evaluation similar to that of the group and their image [i.e. way of life] in society [for most mainstream cases & not expert assessors of individuality]. This suggests that processes associated with intergroup relations and group memberships may affect language and social behaviour among the mainstream crowd.

Descartes par Jacquand dpurb site web.jpg

René Descartes (1596-1650) par C. Jacquand • Crédits : Gianni Dagli Orti / The Art Archive / The Picture Desk – AFP

Howard Giles and Richard Bourhis and their colleagues employed and extended principles from the social identity theory to develop an intergroup perspective on the social psychology of language (Giles, Bourhis and Taylor, 1977; Giles and Johnson, 1981, 1987). Since the original analysis focussed mainly on ethnic groups that differ in speech style, the theory is called ethnolinguistic identity theory; however, the wider intergroup analysis of language and communication casts a much wider net to embrace all manner of intergroup contexts (e.g. Giles, 2012; Giles, Reid and Harwood, 2010). 

Speech Style and Ethnicity

Although it is well know that ethnic groups differ in appearance, dress, cultural practices, and religious beliefs, language or speech style is often one of the most distinct and clear markers of ethnic identitysocial identity as a member of an ethnolinguistic group (an ethnic group defined by language or speech-style). For instance, the Welsh and the English in the UK are most distinctive in terms of accent and language. Speech style, then, is an important and often central stereotypical or normative property of group identity: one of the most powerful ways to display your Welshness is to speak English with a marked Welsh accent – or, even better to simply speak Welsh.

Language or speech style cues ethnolinguistic identity. Therefore, whether people accentuate or de-emphasise their ethnic language is generally influenced by the extent to which they see their ethnic identity as being a source of self-respect or pride. This perception will in turn be influenced by the real nature of the power and status relations between ethnic groups in society. Research in England, on regional accents rather than ethnic groups, illustrates this (e.g. Watson, 2009) – some accents are strengthening and spreading and others retreating or fading, but overall despite mobility, mass culture and the small size of England, the accent landscape is surprisingly unchanged. Northern accents in particular such as Scouse and Geordie have endured due to low immigration and marked subjective regional pride of these respective communities. Brummie is slowly spreading into the Welsh Marches due to population spread, and Cockney-influenced Estuary English popular due to it being portrayed in mainstream middle-class films has luckily not influenced East Anglia and South East England – that have kept their grammar and granularity.

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It should be noted that almost all major societies have a multicultural component with ethnic groups, however all contain a single dominant high-status group whose language is the lingua franca of the nation with ethnic groups whose languages are subordinate. However, in major immigrant economies such as the United States, Canada and Australia some of the biggest variety of large ethnic groups occur. Unsurprisingly, most of the research on ethnicity and language comes from these countries, in particular, Australia and Canada. In Australia for example, English is the lingua franca, but there are also large ethnic Chinese, Italian, Greek and Vietnamese communities – language research has been carried out on all these communities (e.g.  Gallois, Barker, Jones and Callan, 1992; Gallois and Callan, 1986; Giles, Rosenthal and Young, 1985; Hogg, D’Agata and Abrams, 1989; McNamara, 1987; Smolicz, 1983)

Speech Accommodation

Social categories such as ethnic groups may develop and maintain or lose their distinctive languages or speech style as a consequence of intergroup relations. However, categories do not speak. People speak, and it is generally done with one another, usually in face-to-face interaction. As mentioned earlier, when people interact conversationally, they tend to adapt their speech style to the context – the situation, and in particular the listener. This concept is the foundation of the speech accommodation theory (Giles, 1984; Giles, Taylor and Bourhis, 1973), which invokes specific motivations to explain the ways in which people accommodate their speech style to those who are present. Motivation involved for such adaptations may be a desire to help the listener to understand what is being said or to promote specific impressions of oneself.

Oxford Radcliffe Square at night by Y_Song2

Radcliffe Square at Night, Oxford [Image: Y. Song]

 Speech Convergence and Divergence 

Since most conversations involve individuals who are potentially of unequal social status, speech accommodation theory describes the type of accommodation that might occur as a function of the sort of social orientation that the speakers may have towards one another (See Fig. B). Where a simple interpersonal orientation exists (e.g. between two friends), bilateral speech convergence occurs. Higher-status speakers shift their accent or speech style ‘downwards’ towards that of the lower-status speakers, who in turn shift ‘upwards’. In this scenario, speech convergence satisfies a need for approval or liking. The act of convergence increases interpersonal speech style similarity and this enhances interpersonal approval and liking (Bourhis, Giles and Lambert, 1975), particularly if the convergence behaviour is clearly intentional (Simard, Taylor and Giles, 1976). The process is based on the supported idea that similarity typically leads to attraction in most cases (e.g. Byrne, 1971).

Table D1

Fig. B | Speech accommodation as a function of status, social orientation and subjective vitality

Consider a particular scenario where an intergroup orientation exists. If the lower status group has low subjective vitality coupled with a belief in social mobility (i.e. one can pass, linguistically, into the higher status group), there is unilateral upward convergence on the part of the lower status speaker and unilateral speech divergence on the part of the higher status speaker. In intergroup contexts, divergence achieves psycholinguistic distinctiveness: it differentiates the speaker’s ingroup on linguistic grounds from the outgroup. Where an intergroup orientation exists and the lower status group has high subjective vitality coupled with a belief in social change (i.e. one cannot pass into the higher status group), bilateral divergence occurs. Both speakers pursue psycholinguistic distinctiveness.

Speech accommodation theory has been well supported empirically (Gallois, Ogay and Giles, 2005; Giles and Coupland, 1991). Bourhis and Giles found that Welsh adults accentuated their Welsh accent in the presence of RP English speakers (i.e. the standard non-regional variety of English). Bourhis, Giles, Leyens and Tajfel (1979) obtained a similar finding in Belgium, with Flemish speakers in the presence of French speakers. In both cases, a language revival was under way at the same time, and thus an intergroup orientation with high vitality was salient. In a low-vitality social mobility context, Hogg (1985) found that female students in Britain shifted their speech style ‘upwards’ towards that of their male partners. Accommodation in intergroup contexts reflects an intergroup or social identity mechanism in which speech style is dynamically governed by the speakers’ motivation to adopt ingroup or outgroup speech patterns. These motivations are in turn formed by perception of:

  • The relative status and prestige of the speech varieties and their associated groups; and
  • The vitality of their own ethnolinguistic group

Stereotyped Speech

One important factor that may actually govern changes in speech style is conformity to stereotypical perceptions of the appropriate speech norm. Thakerar, Giles and Cheshire (1982) distinguished between objective and subjective accommodation. People converge on or diverge from what they perceive to be the relevant speech style. Objective accommodation may reflect this, but in some circumstances it may not: for instance subjective convergence may resemble objective divergence if the speech style stereotype is different from the actual speech behaviour of the other speaker.

Even the “Queen’s English” is susceptible to some accommodation towards a more popular stereotype (Harrington, 2006). An analysis of the phonetics in the speech of Elizabeth II from her Christmas broadcasts to the world since 1952 show a gradual change in the Royal vowels, moving from ‘upper-class’ RP to a more ‘standard’ and less aristocratic RP. This may simply reflect a softening of the once strong demarcation between the social classes – social change may sometimes be a catalyst for speech change. Where once she might have said “thet men in the bleck het”, she would now say “that man in the black hat”.


Red Queen Illustration from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass (Oxford Classics)

Speech accommodation theory has been extended in recognition of the role of non-verbal behaviour in communication – now called communication accommodation theory (Gallois, Ogay and Giles, 2005; Giles, Mulac, Bradac and Johnson, 1987; Giles and Noels, 2002), which acknowledges that convergence and divergence can occur non-verbally as well as verbally. Anthony Mulac and his colleagues found that women in mixed-sex dyads converged towards the amount of eye contact (now called ‘gaze’) made by their partner (Mulac, Studley, Wiemann and Bradac, 1987). While accommodation is often synchronised in verbal and non-verbal channels, this is not necessarily the case. Frances Bilous and Robert Kraus (1988) found that women in mixed-sex dyads converged towards men on some dimensions (e.g. total words uttered and interruptions) but diverged on others (e.g. laughter).

Bilingualism and second-language acquisition 

Due to the excessive and culturally destructive waves of migration caused by the exploitation of diplomacy and corrupt politicians with their partners in the mainstream media to promote uncontrolled migration, most major countries are now bilingual or multilingual, meaning that people need to be able to speak two or more languages with a fair amount of proficiency to communicate effectively and successfully achieve their goals in different contexts. These countries contain a variety of ethnolinguistic groups with a single dominant group whose language is the lingua franca – very few countries are effectively monolingual (e.g. Portugal and Japan) anymore – which nowadays seems to be reflected in the lack of socio-psychological coherence and the clash of values and visions.


The Intervention of Sabine Women par Jacques-Louis David (1795-1799)

The acquisition of a second language is rarely a matter of acquiring basic classroom proficiency, as one might in order to ‘get by’ on holiday – in fact, it is a wholesale acquisition of a language embedded in a highly cultural context with varying degrees of granularity to reach the levels of flawless/effective communication (Gardner, 1979). Second-language acquisition requires native-like mastery (being able to speak like a native speaker), and this hinges more on the motivations of the second-language learner than on linguistic aptitude or pedagogical factors. Failure to acquire native-like mastery can undermine self-confidence and cause physical and social isolation, leading to material hardship and psychological suffering. For example, Noels, Pon and Clément (1996) found low self-esteem and marked symptoms of stress among Chinese immigrants in Canada with poor English skills. Building on earlier models (Gardner, 1979; Clément, 1980), Giles and Byrne (1982) proposed an intergroup model of second language acquisition. There are five socio-psychological dimensions that influence a subordinate group member’s motivational goals in learning the language of a dominant group (see Fig. C):

  • Strength of ethnolinguistic identification
  • Number of alternative identities available
  • Number of high-status alternative identities available
  • Subjective vitality perceptions
  • Social beliefs regarding whether it is or is not possible to pass linguistically into the dominant group

Low identification with one’s ethnic ingroup, low subjective vitality and a belief that one can ‘pass’ linguistically coupled with a large number of other potential identities of which many are high-status are conditions that motivate someone to acquire native-like mastery in the second language. Proficiency in the second language is seen to be economically and culturally useful; it is considered additive to our identity. Realisation of this motivation is facilitated or inhibited by the extent to which we are made to feel confident or anxious about using the second language in specific contexts. The converse set of socio-psychological conditions motivates people to acquire only classroom proficiency. Through fear of assimilation, the second language is considered subtractive in that it may attract ingroup hostility and accusations of ethnic betrayal. Early education, individual Intelligence, personality and aptitude may also affect the individual’s proficiency.

This analysis of second-language acquisition grounds language firmly in its cultural context and thus relates language acquisition to broader acculturation processes. John Berry and his colleagues distinguished between integration (individuals maintain ethnic culture and relate to dominant culture), assimilation (individuals give up their ethnic culture and wholeheartedly embrace the dominant culture), separation (individuals maintain their ethnic culture and isolate themselves from the dominant culture) and marginalisation (individuals give up their ethnic culture and fail to relate properly to the dominant culture (Berry, Trimble and Olmedo, 1986).


Human brain specimen being studied in neuroscience professor Ron Kalil’s Medical School research lab. © UW-Madison News & Public Affairs 608/262-0067 Photo by: Jeff Miller

While the most effective forms of adjustments that completely benefit a system remain “native citizens[in terms of creating organisms equipped to be part of an inherited system from the lower to the upper scale of society], along with assimilation [i.e the culturally & educationally worthwhile & proficient organisms that manage to adjust themselves and become fully part of the dominant culture], the remaining could simply be qualified as burden to most systems, for example, unassimilated children deriving from labour and 3rd world migration who are being born in mass due to the higher fertility culture from their parents’ traditional origins, and who seem to want native-like treatment and consideration, which seem to be illogical demands and expectations if they are unable to interact, communicate, adjust their perspective and perception to orient and group themselves with native-like proficiency in order to fully identify with the dominant culture [i.e. cultural belonging and identity], find their place in the society and contribute like all the citizens to the development and continuity of the dominant civilisation. This unassimilated and ‘nomadic‘ generation whose parents initially moved from land to land simply for financial gains from a larger economy may unfortunately [at the exception of some mediocre college-educated extreme-leftist human rights activists] be a scenario fit to be described metaphorically as “parasitic“, while to others [e.g. another segment of the same crowd of mediocre college-educated extreme-leftist human rights activists], this could be what they describe as “cultural-enrichment[See the Essay: Psychological Explanations of Prejudice & Discrimination].

In a sophisticated reality, from the perspective of the experienced scholar and intellectual drenched in literature, psychology, science and philosophy that I have grown to become over the years, I believe that the “parasitic” example may simply be described as a mass phenomenon that civilised society is not used to dealing with and has not been monitoring effectively since the 1950s to a point where confusion and desperation sets for both native citizens and authorities when thinking of a “rational” solution that seems to be constantly shunned by illogical laws and extreme-leftists global conventions that are generally unfavourable to civilised societies while unconditionally defending excessive refugee resettlement programs and cheap and unskilled migration originating from linguistically, culturally and economically atavistic systems [e.g. the third world, middle east, some areas of Europe & parts of Southern and Eastern Asia] to be relocated and transformed into our collective burden.


Thus, the consequences for second language learning can indeed be very dramatic and have a life changing impact. The major economies of Europe are still divided and unsynchronised due to linguistic barriers and psychosocial differences. Furthermore, language and discourse are refined, enhanced and cultivated from interactions and exposure; the lack of psychosocial and linguistic coherence may also play a role in the drop in cultural standards along with the appearance of a generation that does not seem to have any direction or to represent any concrete philosophical ideals or values, composed of nothing but a simple classroom proficiency in order to meet the basics of daily communication with hardly any granularity or refinement in the psycholinguistic and cultural context of a rich heritage built on and developed over centuries of human civilisation.


Majority group members do not generally have the motivation to acquire native-like mastery of another language. According to John Edwards (1994), it is the international prestige and utility, and of course widespread use of English that makes native English speakers such poor language students: they simply lack the motivation to become proficient. Itesh Sachdev and Audrey Wright (1996) pursued this point and found that English children were more motivated to learn languages from the European continent (e.g. French, German, Italian) than those from the Asian continent (e.g. Mandarin, Hindi, Russian, Urdu, Tamil, Arabic, etc) even though a fair amount of children in the sample were exposed to more Asian & African immigration [due to years of mediocre policies linked to cheap democratic governments & extreme-leftist agendas bent on promoting alien invasions – fragmenting societies & violently destabilising geographical compositions] than languages & cultures from Europe. A possible reason would be that English children perceive more prestige and desirability in mastering additional languages & learning about cultures such as French, German & Italian instead of far-flung incompatible foreign ones [e.g. African Third world, Middle-East, Asia etc].

Communicating without words

Speech rarely happens in complete isolation from non-verbal cues. Even on a phone, individuals tend to automatically use a variety of gestures [body language] that cannot be ‘seen’ by the recipient at the other end of the phone line. In a similar fashion, phone and computer-mediated communication (CMC) conversations can be difficult precisely because many non-verbal cues are not accessible [e.g. users may interpret some messages as ‘cold’, ‘short’ or ‘rude’ when a participant might simply not be proficient at expressing themselves on a keyboard]. However, non-verbal channels do not always work in combination with speech to facilitate understanding. In some cases, non-verbal message starkly contradicts the verbal message [e.g. threats, sarcasm and other negative messages accompanied by a smile; Bugental, Love and Gianetto, 1971; Noller, 1984].

Agony, Torture, and Fright by Charles Darwin

Agony, Torture, and Fright | Charles Darwin, 1868

Human beings can produce about 20,000 different facial expressions and about 1,000 different cues based on paralanguage. There are also about 700,000 physical gestures, facial expressions and movements (see Birdwhistell, 1970; Hewes, 1957; Pei, 1965). Even the briefest interaction may involve the fleeting and simultaneous use of a huge number of such devices in combination, making it unclear even to code behaviour, let alone analyse the causes and consequences of particular non-verbal communications. However, their importance is now acknowledged in social psychology (Ambady and Weisbuch, 2010; Burgoon, Buller and Woodall, 1989; DePaulo and Friedman, 1998), and doing research in this area has remained a major challenge. Non-verbal behaviour can be used for a variety of purposes, one may use it to:

  • Glean information about feelings and intentions of others (e.g. non-verbal cues are often reliable indicators of whether someone likes you, is emotionally suffering, etc);
  • Regulate interactions (e.g. non-verbal cues can signal the approaching end of an utterance, or that someone else wishes to speak)
  • Express intimacy (e.g. touching and mutual eye contact);
  • Establish dominance or control (non-verbal threats);
  • Facilitate goal attainment (e.g. pointing)

These functions are to be found in most aspects of non-verbal behaviour such as gaze, facial expressions, body language, touch and interpersonal distance. Non-verbal communications has a large impact, yet it goes largely ‘unnoticed’ – perhaps since we acquire them unaware, we tend not to be conscious when using them. Most individuals acquire non-verbal skills without any formal training yet manage to master a rich repertoire of non-verbal behaviour very early in life – suggesting that huge individual differences in skills and uses should be noticed. Social norms can have a strong influence on our use of non-verbal language, for example, if one is delighted at the demise of an arrogant narcissist or foe, one would be unlikely to smile at their funeral – Schadenfreude is not a noble emotion to express [at least in most situations].


Individual and group differences also have an influence on, or are associated with, non-verbal cues. Robert Rosenthal and his colleagues (Rosenthal, Hall, DiMatteo, Rogers and Archer, 1979) devised a profile of non-verbal sensitivity (PONS) as a test to chart some of these differences. All things equal, non-verbal competence improves with age, is more advanced among successful people and is compromised among individuals with a range of psychopathologies (e.g. psychosis, autism).

Gender Differences 

Reviews conclude that women are generally better than men at decoding both visual cues and auditory cues, such as voice tone and pitch (E. T. Hall, 1979; J. A. Hall, 1978, 1984). The explanation for this seems to be rather social than evolutionary (Manstead, 1992), including child-rearing strategies that encourage girls more than boys to be emotionally expressive and attentive. One major question remains whether women’s greater competence is due to greater knowledge about non-verbal cues. According to Janelle Rosip and Judith Hall (2004), the answer seems to be ‘yes’ – women have a slight advantage, based on results from their test of non-verbal cue knowledge (TONCK). A meta-analysis by William Ickes has shown that when motivated to do so, women can become even more accurate: for example when women think they are being evaluated for their empathy or when gender-role expectations of empathy are brought to the fore (Ickes, Gesn and Graham, 2000).

Femelle Et Male

Most individuals can improve their non-verbal skills (Matsumoto and Hwang, 2011), that can be useful for improving interpersonal communication, detecting deception, presenting a good impression and hiding our feelings [when required in some situations]. Practical books have been written and courses on communications has always had an enduring appeal. Why not try yourself out on the TONCK?

Non-verbal behaviour differs among individuals since most have different attachment styles thus different relationships too. In the case of intimate relationships, we would tend to assume that partners would enhance each other’s emotional security through accurate decoding of their individualistic non-verbal cues and responding appropriately (Schachner, Shaver and Mikulincer, 2005). Although there are data dealing with non-verbal behaviour in parent-child interactions and how they relate to the development of attachment styles in children (Bugental, 2005), there is less research focussing on how adult attachment styles are reflected ‘non-verbally’ in intimate relationships.

Discovering the Self

In turning our attention to ourselves, we begin to apply the psychological concept of self to the individual’s consciousness of his or her own identity. What does the “mind’s eye” see when it looks into the self – into that special mirror that reveals one’s innermost thoughts and feelings, i.e. our own private world we so often hide from others. Ancient Greeks who travel to the Oracle at Delphi for answers to their problems, found this message inscribed on the shrine: “Know Thyself”.

Centuries later, it was William James who in 1890, set the stage for the modern resurgence of psychology’s interest in the self. In studying what he called “the mind from within”, James distinguished three aspects of the self: the material, the spiritual and the social.

The material self is our awareness of the physical world: our body and the people and things around us.

The spiritual self is the part that “thinks of ourselves as thinkers” – the inner witness to events.

And the part of the self that focuses on the images we create in the minds of others is called the social self.

While it was William James who pioneered the scientific concept of the self, many earlier philosophers and writers had also recognised this dimension of human nature. Some psychologists believe that the gradual separation of a young child from its mother, a process called individuation, is essential for developing a unique sense of self and a healthy personalityfailure to acquire an independent self-identity may lead to psychological problems.

Today many psychologists are keenly interested in studying the self, however there was a time when psychology focused almost exclusively on behaviour – there was no place for anything as fuzzy as the concept of self. Even to Freud, the conscious self was little more than a weak, passive link in his triad of Id, Ego and Superego. Freud defined the Id as a primitive, unconscious part of the personality where drives and passions originate. The Superego restrains the Id. For Freud the Superego is a combination of the conscience and the ideal self. The ego, our conscious self of self-identity, moderate between the Id and Superegobetween our primitive impulses and our sense of moral obligation. Freud was much more interested in the dramatic confrontations between the unconscious Id and Superego, than he was in the conscious processes of the ego [which we believe accommodates many basic principles of Cognitive Psychology, although not sufficient to explain a complete model of the mind, behaviour, drives and motivation as it tends to ignore the unconscious processes].

Carl Rogers in the 1960s placed a much greater emphasis on aspects of the conscious self [the conscious Ego]. Rogers led the humanistic movement, which was hugely responsible for psychology’s return to the self. In contrast to Freud’s view of a conflicted, impulse driven creature, Rogers offered a vision of psychological growth and health. There exists within the healthy individual, a capacity for self-understanding, for self-direction, for guiding behaviour in self-directed ways, which can be tapped if the right conditions [e.g. resources, education, commitment, training, etc] are provided.

LArt de l'Éducation education dpurb d'purb site web 2019.jpg

In other words, the individual does have the capacity and a potential for self-development, change and integration [eventually leading to assimilation in various “cultural” contexts, i.e. linguistic, socio-behavioural, philosophical, geographic, etc] – which does not need to be supplied from the “outside world”, but rather learnt and developed from within the individual. As Jacques Lacan beautifully puts it in describing the mirror stage, one unfortunate outcome of the stage is that individuals tend to look outward and not inward in their search for identity – such external orientation toward individuals’ own identity is doomed to fail.

One great historical example of self-development, change and integration is Paul Léautaud, the son of an indifferent father and an absent mother, who never had any formal literary education and left school at 15, worked in all kinds of small jobs to live, and educated himself by reading all the great authors voraciously late at night. Eventually, he would become part of the literary crowd and be pivotal in the discovery of Guillaume Apollinaire, even if he would not publish much himself. He was an Écrivain pour hommes de lettres” in his own words [French for: “Writer for men of letters”]. To have the freedom to write, something that meant the world to him, he accepted a badly paid job at the Mercure de France, where he was charged for a short time to be a drama critic under the name of Maurice Boissard; he would make himself known for his frankness, his mocking and subversive mind. Léautaud went through hard times financially but never allowed his problems to become an obstacle to his literary aspirations, stating “Quand je marque mes dépenses chaque jour, quand j’inscris 20 francs, il y a 15 francs pour les bêtes et 5 francs pour moi. Je vais avec des souliers percés, du linge en loques et souvent sale par économie, ce qui est une grande souffrance pour moi, je mange insuffisamment et des choses qui me répugnent, je porte mes vêtements au-delà de toute durée et toujours par économie ou impossibilité de les remplacer, je ne m’achète rien, je ne m’offre aucun plaisir, aucune fantaisie. Je vais même peut-être être obligé de cesser de m’éclairer à la bougie pour travailler, ce qui me plaît tant. Voilà ma vie à 52 ans accomplis ou presque” [French for: “When I mark my expenses every day, when I enter 20 francs, there are 15 francs for the animals and 5 francs for me. I go with pierced shoes, ragged clothes and often dirty by economy, which is a great suffering for me, I eat insufficiently and things that repel me, I wear my clothes beyond any duration and always by economy or impossibility to replace them, I buy nothing, I offer myself no pleasure, no fantasy. I may even have to stop lighting myself with candles to work, which I like so much. This is my life at 52 years or so.”] Solitary, collecting abandoned animals in his pavilion in Fontenay-aux-Roses and living in poverty himself, he devoted himself for more than 60 years to his Journal, which he called literary, where he recounted, day by day, under the direct impression, the events that affected him: « Je n’ai vécu que pour écrire. Je n’ai senti, vu, entendu les choses, les sentiments, les gens que pour écrire. J’ai préféré cela au bonheur matériel, aux réputations faciles. J’y ai même souvent sacrifié mon plaisir du moment, mes plus secrets bonheurs et affections, même le bonheur de quelques êtres, pour écrire ce qui me faisait plaisir à écrire. Je garde de tout cela un profond bonheur. » [French for: “I only lived to write. I only felt, saw, heard things, feelings, people only to write. I preferred this to material happiness, to easy reputations. I have even often sacrificed my pleasure of the moment, my most secret happiness and affections, even the happiness of a few people, to write what made me happy to write about. I keep a deep happiness from all this.“] He was also elitist, and in terms of the mind and the absence of prejudice, he puts himself above most of his contemporaries, declaring: “Sorti de l’école à 15 ans, mis aussitôt à travailler comme employé par mon père, ayant appris seul ce que je peux savoir, m’étant donné seul la culture que je peux avoir (je n’ai jamais cessé), m’étant perfectionné seul comme écrivain, cela n’a pas fait de moi un démocrate. Tout le contraire : un aristocrate. Je l’entends par mon esprit, ma façon de penser et de juger.” [French for: “Leaving school at 15, immediately made to work as an employee by my father, having learned alone what I can know, having alone given myself the culture that I can have (I have never stopped), having perfected myself alone as a writer, that did not make me a democrat. Quite the opposite: an aristocrat. I mean it by my mind, my way of thinking and judging.“] A great admirer of Stendhal, he readily acknowledged a taste for egotistical exploration: “J’ai un grand penchant […] à parler de moi, de mes souvenirs. Aussi, dans mes songeries, j’aurai passé ma vie à me revivre” [French for: “I have a great inclination[…] to talk about myself, about my memories. Also, in my thoughts, I will have spent my life reliving myself“]. He thought that good writing should have the qualities of tone, the sensitivity, of a certain personality and that the great brand is to write in complete relationship with the man we are and that it causes fire works. Léautaud’s last words before dying were, “Maintenant, foutez-moi la paix.” [French for: “Now, leave me alone.”] Marie Dormoy, whose lover he had been, became his universal legatee and executor and helped to publish and make known his Literary Journal after his death. The style of the journal is natural and spontaneous. Léautaud practiced, without vulgarity, a living French, a delicious mixture of writing and orality, through a stream of emotional, reactive and lively thought. For those who discovered Leautaud’s voice in his famous radio interviews, the reader has the impression, on each page, of hearing it. Few writers have been able to create the plastic dynamism of the French language as he has. A man of the eighteenth century lost in the first twentieth century, he had the dryness, naturalness and ease of the great masters of French prose before Chateaubriand. Paul Gilson, director of the Services artistiques de la radio would say: “Nous n’avons jamais eu d’entretiens aussi vivants, intéressants et qui aient un pareil succès.” [French for: “We have never had such lively, interesting and successful interviews.”] It seems that Paul Léautaud’s life can be resumed in one quotation from Adèle de Bellegarde, which is “Je n’ai réussi qu’une seule chose, vivre selon mon goût” [French for: “I only managed one thing, to live according to my taste.”]

Vivre selon mon gout - Adele de Bellegarde dpurb site web.jpg

Traduction(EN): “I only managed one thing, to live according to my taste” – Adèle de Bellegarde

Marcel Gauchet put it well by explaining that when one lives in a world structured by republican meritocracy and when one is a good student, one knows that there are paths to social ascension.

Hence, in the humanistic view, we find a self that is striving towards personal fulfilmenta guiding force that moves us towards positive actions and enhancements imbued with a kind of virtue that gives humans kinship with the angels. For psychologists, the next step after describing the properties of the self has been to explore just how this dynamic mental structure works in controlling behaviour. Researchers who study the self usually speak of the self-concept: the individual’s awareness of his or her continuing identity as a person. This self-concept is viewed as an internal regulator of thoughts, feelings and behaviour. It interprets and organises our ongoing experiences. It reflects on how our present actions compare with our standards and expectations, and it affects our performance by providing plans, scripts, goals and incentives.

We tend to organise our beliefs and information about ourselves in terms of schemas, or knowledge clusters. For example, to some people, gender schemas are all-important – masculinity and femininity dominate their thinking. To others, “weight schematic” may be more important, where they may be trying to lose weight and perceive others primarily in terms of being fat (out of control) or being thin (having it all together). Our self-schema or self-image can have a powerful impact on our behaviour. If our self-image is good, we try to live up to our standard: we try harder and succeed more often. If our self-image is bad, we tend to adjust downward, and end up failing more often. So, self-image can work for or against us. Along this line, Albert Bandura of Stanford developed what he calls the theory of self-efficacy, a new theory of how the self works which can help us understand how some people translate promise and passion into optimal performance. In this experiment, researcher Delia Cioffi would give one subject the task of improving production at the model furniture factory. She would tell the subject that his ability to make good decisions for the factory is based on innate intelligence and ability. The higher one’s basic capacities in the skills, the better one will perform. Nowadays however computer programs tend to ease this process. The next subject is told that complex decision-making is an acquirable skill, and that his performance can improve through his own efforts. In any new skill, one does not begin with faultless performance, but the more one practices formulating and testing decisions, the better one gets at it. The first subject who believes that decision-making is a measure of his intelligence proceeds cautiously and sets lower goals for himself and is frustrated by an increasing number of incorrect decisions. His confidence is measured by the number on the lower left of the screen which keeps falling, as does his sense of efficacy. The second subject, however, sees early mistakes as a necessary part of learning. He profits by them and his performance improves. He sets higher goals for himself, and his response to questions about confidence demonstrate an increasing sense of his own efficacy.

The issue is not what you have, but how you use what you have. From this point of view, we can see that we can have the same competencies and subskills and use them poorly, adequately, or extraordinarily, depending on our self-belief. So for this reason, we can often predict people’s accomplishments better from their self-belief rather than from just their past attainments.

Up to this point we have been focusing on the part of the self which focuses inward to assess its capabilities. But there is another aspect of the self that focuses outward to get an understanding on the impression being created in others. This outward focus, the awareness of the social self, asked the questions: “How am I coming across? What impression am I creating? Do you see me the way I see myself? Do you see me the way I would like you to see me?”

Livres Audio Nouvelle Génération dpurb site web.jpg

Image: Audiobook and child: Audiobooks are becoming increasingly popular to the literary crowd in 2019 as they ease the process of transfering information to the brain while leaving the hands free, but also pack a more powerful emotional punch through the sound of speech which also allow the listener [reader] to learn and improve their vocal skills. Neuroscience research has also shown that audiobooks are more emotionally engaging than film or TV [see: Richardson, D., Griffin, N., Zaki, L., Stephenson, A., Yan, J., Curry, T., Noble, R., Hogan, J., Skipper, J. and Devlin, J. (2018). Measuring narrative engagement: The heart tells the story.

Statistiques Livre Audio les Critères 2019 dpurb site web

Cette statistique montre les critères de choix les plus importants lors de l’achat de livres audio parmi les consommateurs français en 2017. On y apprend que près de 70 % des lecteurs accordaient une très grande importance au sujet des livres audio lors du choix. Un peu moins de la moitié des lecteurs considéraient la voix de l’interprète comme un critère très important. / Source: Statista France

« Je suis officier de la Légion d’honneur, je n’en tire pas de vanité. Je vous dis ces choses parce qu’aux yeux de certaines personnes cet accessoire vestimentaire confère à ceux qui le portent un certain prestige. Cet attribut me donne le privilège d’être écouté respectueusement par les imbéciles. Les autres ne me prêtant quelque attention qu’à cause de mon talent, de ma carrière ou de mon passé. » [Traduction(EN): « I’m an officer of the Legion of Honor, I don’t get any vanity out of it. I say these things to you because in the eyes of some people this clothing accessory confers a certain prestige on those who wear it. This attribute gives me the privilege of being listened to respectfully by imbeciles. Others only pay attention to me because of my talent, my career or my past. » – Professeur Lambertin (joué par Louis Jouvet) / Un Extrait du film, Entrée des artistes (1938)

To better explain this part about self-presentation, we are going to explore the arts, particularly drama which addresses the nuances of self-presentation. As a former student of literature and drama, I will use the example of the drama teacher who trains young individuals and actors in self-presentation skills to help them convey an impression to an audience. How does this work? Well, we are going to use the concept of status, which has to do with how we manipulate the affect of our self to one another. The content in a given circumstance may be the same, however the way in which I choose to speak to you [the way I use non-verbal cues, i.e. body language] may affect my relationship to you.

These status transactions, come in different aspects, and here we are going to discuss some of them.

The first of these would be eye contact, as it is commonly known that eye contact is a useful device in asserting oneself.

The second variable is of course whether or not one’s body is moving in a sustained way or whether it has jerky movements. As soon as a person starts to move in jerky ways it also affects his or her speech, as it is hard to sustain sentences when for example one is moving there head up and down. Many people tend to speak uncomfortably while moving at the cost of their status [e.g. Uh, as soon as, um, I begin to move my body in, uh, jerky ways – it also affects my speech you notice, It’s hard to uh, sustain sentences when I’m moving, uh, kind uhbut, but it, uh…. At the cost of their status in some cases]. A third kind of jerky motion we notice often is people touching the face, their hair or their hands, which conveys a sense of nervousness – which again would be lowering their status as a speaker]. In other words, anything we might consider to be nervous gestures would be in the category of lowering one’s status. So, the prototype for high status would be someone who is basically calm and composed, and who speaks in complete sentences, breathes deeply, makes eye contact and [uh?] does not have any particular jerky mannerisms.

These factors in interactions are known as status transactions, and they take place all the time between all kinds of people. They are a form of interpersonal communication where individuals establish their degree of social status and power, and demonstrate as well as anything the social aspects of the self-concept. To manage the impressions we create in others, we all engage in what is known as strategic self-presentation – how we present ourselves to others so that they perceive us in the way we see ourselves. Society reacts to us according to the context our behaviour has created [e.g. profession(s), values, education, language(s), nationality(ies), etc], then we see the way they respond to us, which confirms our original belief about the kind of individual we truly are [have become through growth and development]. It is a closed circle – what researcher Mark Snyder has called behavioural confirmation. Our beliefs, our sense of self, create their own reality. That is why depressed people elicit negative reactions and tend to be treated as if, in fact, they are inadequate in most aspects of normal life. While extroverts create an easy-going social climate in which others tend to respond positively to them.

There is also an intimate connection between self and culture [please note that culture here may be related to many fields, e.g. language, profession, clubs, private circles, orientations, identities, musical circles, arts, etc] – culture can be defined objectively [scientifically] as behavioural patterns individualised to a particular select group.

When we talk about the self, we are referring to the way in which the biological organism/being becomes a person. Becoming a person [human being], is largely a social endeavour, and there is nothing more social than language [i.e. linguistic discourse]; language creates a social bond, as Jacques Lacan also pointed out, language [i.e. linguistic discourse] gives the Subject the ability to attain recognition from others [i.e. the rest of humanity]. We can be a biological being [a primate] all by ourselves but to become a person, to become a self, we must engage with or take on or incorporate the cultural meanings, cultural ideas and practices of a particular group or groups [for individuals who have the chance to be bi or tri-cultural] and all these are learnt by language in its different forms. We must use these to become a person as it would be impossible to be a self by ourself. We can be a biological entity, but to be a person with a sense of self, we normally do it in some set of culture specific ways.

Culture can be seen not as biologically based, but rather socially based. It is a set of behavioural patterns and attitudes that we adopt as a means of defining who we are depending of where we are and who we want to be.

Danny D'Purb official concept of self dpurb site web

« Le jour où je cesserai de questionner, d’apprendre, de créer et d’innover sera le jour où je serai mort. » – Danny D’Purb // Traduction(EN): « The day when I will stop questioning, learning, creating and innovating, will be the day that I will be dead. » -Danny J. D’Purb | 2018

Many tend to think of “culture” as an entity inside people, similar to some sort of essence. Taking myself as an example, I qualify myself as bi-cultural, being a Franco-British individual, and since the majority of people do not have the chance to receive the heritage of two European empires, I will focus on the French side. Many people tend to think about us French [yes, the heirs of the language of Hugo, Molière, Chateaubriand, Balzac, Lacan & Foucault] as having some kind of French genes, or French traits or some kind of French attributes that make us French. It is absolutely not true, as culture is “what we choose to do”. And so, as the French school of thought, which has always been avant-garde in structuring minds to the French family; if we take an individual and guide him or her to connect with and use French ideas/concepts, and French ways of perceiving, feeling, behaving and doing things [i.e. values], then eventually that person will become French. Similarly, if I took that same person and placed him or her in the British context, that person will then become British in that sense [at least the science of Psychology in 20th century has enough evidence that I have collected throughout the website, to show that such a scenario depending on the individual’s abilities should be scientifically and psychologically valid – the mainstream people at large are still to embed and share this principle to open new perspectives to their own lives and in doing so allow themselves to grow psychologically and culturally]. After studying intellectual humility, psychologists have found that individuals with this personality trait have superior general knowledge (Krumrei-Mancuso, Haggard, LaBouff and Rowatt, 2019). Intellectual humility has consequences for learning and styles of thinking; the process of learning itself requires intellectual humility to acknowledge that one lacks a particular knowledge and hence has something to learn in order to continue evolving. In the same study in the Journal of Positive Psychology, Krumrei-Mancuso and her colleagues found that intellectual humility was associated with less claiming of knowledge that one does not have, indicating a more accurate assessment of one’s own knowledge. In the study, intellectual humility was also correlated with being more inclined to reflective thinking, and also possessing more “need for cognition” [i.e. enjoying thinking hard and problem solving], greater curiosity, and open-minded thinking. In the journal Self and Identity, the results from a study by Porter and Schumann (2017) suggest that intellectual humility can be increased in individuals through a growth mindset of intelligence; hence we could all benefit from intellectual humility in our lifetime development. The authors concluded that “teaching people a malleable view of intelligence may be one promising way to foster intellectual humility and its associated benefits.”

Culture is simply a set of common ideas and common ways of doing things – although each culture has its sub-cultures that may vary [e.g. geographically, linguistically, artistically and philosophically].

We can view culture and self as a collaboration where each has an effect on the other: culture shapes self and the Self also has the power to shape culture. This idea is known as mutual constitution and it is reflected in the artefacts of all societies through art, literature and languages of all societies. It also affects each individuals differently in their choice of identification, consumption and adoption of particular products of culture. For example, having been brought up in a society with a Franco-British heritage, it was my choice to shape my self with French literature, arts, journalism, music, heritage, along with Oxford English, literature and heritage as a foundation to establishing myself as an individual with a self of Western European origin, and to make the region a place that I call home. As Jacques Lacan beautifully placed it:

«…en disant que seule la perspective de l’histoire de la reconnaissance permet de définir ce qui compte pour le sujet.

Je voudrais, pour ceux qui ne sont pas familiers avec cette dialectique que j’ai déjà abondamment développée, vous donner un certain nombre de notions de base. Il faut toujours être au niveau de l’alphabet. Aussi vais-je prendre un exemple qui vous fera bien comprendre les questions que pose pour la reconnaissance, et qui vous détourne de la noyer dans des notions aussi confuse que celles de mémoires ou de souvenir…

…un refoulement est autre chose qu’un jugement qui rejette et choisit. » – Jacques Lacan


French for :

“by saying that only the perspective of the history of recognition allows the definition of what matters for the subject.

I would like to, for those who are not familiar with that dialectic that I have already abundantly developed, give you a number of basic notions. We must always be at the level of the alphabet. So I will take an example that will make you understand the questions posed for recognition, and that distracts you from drowning it in notions as confusing as those of memories or souvenirs…

…a repression is something other than a judgment that rejects and chooses.” – Jacques Lacan

Most of us are exposed to thousands of images in a given day, which many go by our conscious [not the unconscious] senses unnoticed. While these images discarded by our attention are deemed unnecessary, they collectively shape our thinking about how to be a person [a model to follow], how to be a self [the chosen self]. Take Richard Dawkins, Charles Darwin or Oscar Wilde for example; it is quite clear that none of those characters would be qualified as the boy next door; they have been taken here as examples because, as myself, none of us with an English linguistic, literary and intellectual heritage [specially those with the educational elements to optimise their output in life] choose to be the “boy next door”.

A discussion published in the Oxford Journal of Applied Linguistics based on the emerging field of heritage speaker bilingual studies challenged the generally accepted position in the linguistic sciences, conscious or not, that monolingualism and nativeness are exclusively synonymous; from modern academic discussions, it is now being acknowledged that heritage speaker bilinguals and multilinguals exposed to a language in early childhood are also natives; they have multiple native languages, and nativeness can be applicable to a state of linguistic knowledge that is characterized by significant differences to the monolingual baseline (Rothman and Treffers-Daller, 2014).

This may also be said in the French realm for those who received a French linguistic, literary, and intellectual heritage like myself, with examples such as Jean Fanchette, Malcolm de Chazal, Voltaire, René Descartes, François-René de Chateaubriand, Honoré de Balzac, Napoléon 1er, Jacques Lacan, Pierre Bourdieu, Francis Cabrel or Florent Pagny, since none of these “héritiers de la langue Française” would also qualify as the “boy next door”. This is because none of us of French heritage with the intellectual capacity to optimise our output in life would choose to be the “boy next door”.

BNF aventure écriture & livre d'purb dpurb site web

“Chaque civilisation se forge un mythe destiné à expliquer son apparition et construit sa tradition écrite autour d’un support privilégié” / Découvrez (Liens): (i) l’aventure des écritures et (ii) l’aventure du livre | Source: La Bibliothèque Nationale de France (BNF)

The French heritage is known for its philosophical values embedded in the “grandeur d’esprit et de l’être”, as Charles de Gaulle famously said: “Un peuple comme le nôtre accoutumé aux malheurs comme aux gloires, sait reconnaître les États qui forment avec lui, l’équipe de la liberté.” [Translation: “A people like ours accustomed to misfortunes as well as glories, knows how to recognize the states that form with him, the team of freedom.”] We can thus conclude confidently that intelligent and reasoning beings are unlike unchangeable lifeless objects such as stones, coins and pennies.

pieces coins pennies d'purb dpurb site web

Unlike animals, humans have the ability to express themselves linguistically while using sophisticated and complex reasoning; we are bodies of flesh, blood and bones with a malleable brain and we know from anthropology and biological science that the morphology of our cerebral cortex is substantially less genetically heritable than in chimpanzees, the closest fossil and living relatives of humans, and this means that we, humans, have a brain that is highly responsive to moulding by complex environmental influences of various types; this specific anatomical property of increased plasticity which is likely related to the human pattern of development may underlie our species’ capacity for cultural evolution (Gómez-Robles, Hopkins, Schapiro and Sherwood, 2015).

Hence, we can conclude that individuals with a functional brain have the capacity to construct themselves based on their choices and abilities and are not absolute copies of their parents, siblings, or relatives [even if they may happen to share some personality traits such as for e.g. IQ, emotional intelligence, creativity, temperament, etc], neither are they simply products of exposure to their social circle, acquaintances, or “direct/initial” environment – as the reductionist and deterministic minds of pure cognitive-behavioural psychology wrongly assume [although a wide range of simple and basic vital behaviours can be explained from the cognitive-behavioural perspective in terms of Stimulus and Response, e.g. using the toilets, but complex thought processes of creativity and individuality in various aspects of mental life remain problematic to their branch of psychology]. This is because individuals are unique just like their finger prints, blood type and eyes, and this extends to their tastes, desires, direction, choices, field, creative influences, artistry, identities and parcours. For example, Leonardo Da Vinci’s father was not the productive and creative genius that his son was, but he may have shared some degree of fluid intelligence and reasoning that he passed to his son through his genes; Rafael Nadal’s parents cannot serve and destroy the world’s best tennis player like he does; Victor Hugo’s father was an imperial general and a military person, not the prolific writer and literary master that his son was; Napoleon’s father did not have the personality or imperial vision of his son but married his wife Maria Letizia Ramolino when she was 14 and was a man in law, however he may have had a good sense of judgement in matters related to the management of society that Napoleon inherited; Jacques Lacan’s father was a business man who simply dealt in oil and soap and was not the academically cultured and innovative theorist in psychology that Jacques Lacan was; the father of Sigmund Freud was a poor and unsuccessful wool merchant, and did not have Sigmund Freud’s theoretical creativity in psychology; the family of Carl Jung was very modest financially and were not the deep thinker and theorist that Carl Jung was; Pascal Picq, the author of  “L’homme est-il un grand singe politique?” was born to parents who worked in the market, and whose father later worked in transportation while his mother became a factory worker, they were not affiliated to the prestigious “Collège de France” as their son would later be; and Pierre Bourdieu, the author of “Langage et pouvoir symbolique” was the son of a man who came from the the small peasantry of Béarn, a daily farmer who then became a postman without leaving his rural environment, and was not the gifted researcher, thinker and speaker that his son Pierre would grow up to be. And if we were to also extend these examples to the spiritual domain for Christians, we can also note that the father of Jesus Christ was a wood worker, not the prophet, messiah, philosopher and founder of Christianity that his son Jesus was, he also did not walk on water, turn it into wine and restore sight to the blind, perhaps on the same religious note for those who see science as the systematic study of God’s works, it may be perfect to quote Michael Langlois: « Si Dieu nous a créés avec un cerveau, c’est pour qu’on s’en serve ! » [which is French for “If God created us with a brain, it’s so we can use it!”]. These examples to show that individuals are unique and not absolute copies go on and on, and although they are obvious, it seems that reminding the masses of the reality of individual psychological construction in our world is the job [or burden] that destiny has placed on my shoulders. A lie will remain untrue even if the whole world believes in it, and the truth will always stay true even if noone believes in it.


L’heritage de Voltaire: a pioneer of individual self-conception and the liberation of the mind


Voltaire (1694 – 1778)

We are now going to explore the life of one of the most enigmatic intellectuals of the enlightenment of the 18th century, Voltaire, because he is one of the pioneers of self-conception and the liberation of the individual. It is fundamental to understand that the society that we now live in was not simply given to us on a plateau. Many individuals have fought intellectually and dedicated their lives to justice and individual freedom and emancipation. It would be incredibly atavistic to remain ignorant about the intellectual heritage, the founding pillars passed on to us by men and women who have changed our world by the power of their mind and pen.

We all have heard of Voltaire, and today his name can be found on so many institutional buildings, monuments and places, not to mention paintings by some of the greatest artists and statues that adorn France and other countries. So, why do we do this? Why do we as a civilisation ensure that his name lives on throughout time? We do this in the hope that the fire that lived inside his mind is passed on to the next generation; we do this in the hope that the minds of the present and future generation may follow his example and choose a path of dedication, excellence, values, persistence and courage.

1jour1actu - Voltaire expliqué aux enfants - France Education - d'purb dpurb site web

Source: Education Philosophique en France: Voltaire expliqué aux enfants / Consulté le 7 novembre 2020 sur 1 Jour 1 Actu

In France, Voltaire’s life is even taught to young children, his legacy has become part of modern French intellectual heritage, identity and education, and the majority of people with a French intellectual and/or literary heritage embody the values of Voltaire – both consciously and in many cases unconsciously. Voltaire’s life has become part of French educational heritage and is taught to the young in order to shape their minds, character and values at an early age, he is considered as a sort of prophet, and remains to French identity and heritage what Muhammad is to Muslim identity and heritage.

During the times of Voltaire, 18th century Europe was going through an incredible period of change through the intellectual revolution of the enlightenment, a change that would be permanent and that has since shaped the mind of human civilisation. In those times, the whole of Europe, shook by the enlightenment, spoke French, i.e. the Europe of the intellectuals, diplomats, bureaucrats, emperors and even cooks. As Stéphane Bern phrased it in 2019: it is in the calm countryside on the Franco-Swiss border, in the Auverge-Rhône-Alpes region that slept a strange volcano, uncontrollable, it was a volcano of the mind, of relevance and liberty, his name was Voltaire – the great, the immense, who would die in Paris at the age of 83 years old on the 30th of May 1778. However, it was in the village of Ferney that he had moved to a few years before, in his refuge residence that has recently been restored at the heart of a village baptised Ferney-Voltaire in order to honour his memory.

Voltaire’s initial name was François -Marie Arouet, but for the whole of Europe, he is Voltaire, the prince of philosophers, the passionate poet, the dedicated historian and the writer in his twenties of his first play, “Oedipe” which would open the doors of all the theatres to him. He was also a passionate lover, most famously of the brilliant Émilie du Châtelet, the « grand amour » of his life with whom he discovered true love for more than 15 years.

A man who considered himself the equal or superior to people in power and who was never intimidated by them, crowned or not, Voltaire constantly fought against hypocrisy, superstition, and for justice while always remaining loyal to God, whom he never denied, but he never stopped denouncing the abuses of the religious authorities of his time as an atavistic institution that persecuted people and condemned many to atrocious deaths.

Ne vous conformez pas au monde actuel, soyez transformés par l'intelligence - Romains 12-2 d'purb dpurb site web

Romain 12:2 : Ne vous conformez pas au monde actuel, mais soyez transformés par le renouvellement de l’intelligence afin de discerner quelle est la volonté de Dieu, ce qui est bon, agréable et parfait. // Traduction(EN): Romans 12:2 : Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Voltaire is known for his usual irony and intellectual ferociousness along with a courage without equal in the conservative and unforgiving climate of the ancient regime of his time in the 18th century. Eventually, he paid harshly for such a flamboyant and defiant character through a few trips to La Bastille prison, but Voltaire’s mind remains free and alive!

As Stéphane Berne perfectly phrased it in the 2019 documentary « Voltaire ou la liberté de penser » dedicated to the memory of Voltaire: « Un homme seul peut parfois changer le monde avec sa plume » [French for: « One man alone can sometimes change the world with his pen. »]

Un homme seul peut parfois changer le monde avec sa plume - Stéphane Bern - d'purb dpurb site web

« Un homme seul peut parfois changer le monde avec sa plume » – Stéphane Bern [French for: « One man alone can sometimes change the world with his pen. »] Source: Voltaire ou la liberté de penser (2019)

Voltaire never hesitated to defend causes deemed lost, such as that of Jean Callas, the unfortunate protestant from Toulouse who was unjustly condemned to death by the Catholic Church and whose name and honour would be restored by Voltaire. He was a dedicated intellectual, always connected with his era, never atavistic or living in the past, but was a passionate lover of the world with surprising originality who applied reason and philosophy to challenge all the irrational conventions of the social structure of the ancient regime and in doing so he is nowadays regarded as an intellectual who was always in advance over his contemporaries by a few centuries. Early in his life, he became a vegetarian, refusing to see meat at his table with this very Voltarian argument embedded with heavy connotations: « On ne mange pas ses semblables! » [French for: “one does not eat his similars!”]

Voltaire’s incredible parcours ends in apotheosis in 1791, when l’Assemblée National brings Voltaire into the Panthéon 13 years after his death – voilà, he reached immortality! That day was memorable because Voltaire’s body, before entering the Panthéon, crossed Paris by programmed stages; first it passed La Bastille where he spent some time, then Voltaire, homme de lettres (man of letters), homme de théâtre passed all the great Parisian theatres, the troops were there with texts that praised his memory. One of the moving parts was when the procession stopped where Voltaire died, l’hôtel de Villette which is on the quai des Théatins, which would later become the Quai Voltaire.

It is amazing to see how the French people treated a man who was not a noble, but through his mind and intellectual abilities rose to gain the respect and acclaim comparable to that of kings and emperors. This ceremony was so grandiose that a commentator had even said that it was a national ceremony, the ceremony of the nation who found itself around the remains of Voltaire. However, the remains arrived at the Panthéon at night and the bishop who was to consecrate Voltaire’s body was absent, since as a clergyman he did not want to receive the remains of a man who throughout his life had fought against the Catholic institutions. Yet, Voltaire’s remains entered the Panthéon and he has since been acknowledged as one of the greats of our civilisation; he entered a monument constructed to be a church and transformed into a pantheon for him. There is a funny anecdote from the obese Louis XVIII after the restoration when Napoléon I was sent to exile after his unfortunate last battle at Waterloo when at that point his regime was riddled with spies and traitors, apparently the monument was to be transformed into a church and there were debates about whether to move Voltaire, and the obese monarch said: « Laissez le, il sera bien puni d’entendre la messe tous les jours. » [French for: “Leave him, he will be punished by hearing mass every day!”]. So, Voltaire remains in the monument.

The tombeau of Voltaire constituted from the catafalque that crossed the whole of Paris is important for all the inscriptions that show the importance of the great man, historian, philosopher, poet, but it is also the recognition by the Assemblée Nationale of the immortal genius of Voltaire.

Voltaire au Panthéon - l'esprit humain doit être libre dpurb d'purb site web

Le tombeau de Voltaire au Panthéon / Traduction(EN): Poet, Historian, Philosopher He Widens The Human Mind And Showed It That It Had To Be Free

The intellectual also has a very special place, because he is in the front of the monument, hence all the great men and women have to pass in front of it before entering the Panthéon. In 1794, Voltaire will be joined by Rousseau, and although the two had some clashes in their life, they are considered as the two major philosophers who spread the mind of the enlightenment and carried its eternal spirit of freedom and justice.

It is to be noted that 11 years after Voltaire’s death in 1778, and 2 years before his remains were transferred to the Panthéon in 1789, a historical event would shake the world forever: France had for the first time in its history gone through the revolution, with the iconic takeover of La Bastille, but the Republic had not yet been proclaimed. To this day Voltaire remains the most ancient personality to remain at the Panthéon. The revolution was looking for modern heroes, men who were not saints, kings or men of war, and began to look for minds of the ancient regime who were already dead who in some way, announced the revolution.

Intellectuals debate to this day whether Voltaire could be seen as an artist and architect of the revolution. In some way it may be true, since the ideas of personal liberty and individual emancipation that he defended were the base on which the revolution was founded. But it can also be said that Voltaire was not a man made by the revolution, although in his times, he was aware of the English revolution of 1649 which sent shockwaves across Europe as Charles I was put to death in England after Oliver Cromwell, the English general and statesman had led the armies of the Parliament of England against the king during the English Civil War to then rule the British Isles as Lord Protector from 1653 until his death in 1658, also acting simultaneously as head of state and head of government of the new republican commonwealth. Voltaire in France was very close to many crowned heads, and although he was not of noble decent himself and despised the abuses of the church and royalty, he socialised with them and saw them as part of his circle; he was close to the monarchy and never thought that the monarchy in France could ever be overturned; however he wanted the monarchy to be constitutional, tolerant, humane and respectful towards individuals and their liberties. French historians argue that Voltaire was definitely not a republican, although this remains debatable since he is not alive to respond to the question and the world can keep on guessing.

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Image: Voltaire en train d’écrire / Source: Voltaire ou la liberté de penser (2019)

Voltaire was a sophisticated man of words and a refined thinker who believed in the power of the pen, mind and intellectual discourse, hence he was not a grotesque brute and would have probably been disgusted around the majority of average, simple, nasty, infantile and petty animalistic minds who infest the political scene of the 21st century, who probably would not be able to interact with him linguistically at the level of language he would have expected and naturally functioned at psychologically; his discourse would not have reached optimal understanding among the mediocre majority of his audience and he would have had to slow down and simplify himself constantly, which would have been very frustating and painful for such a brilliant intellectual; and a struggle in maintaining his mind sharp.

Voltaire Ou La Liberté de Penser Livre Orange d'purb dpurb site web

Source: Voltaire ou la liberté de penser (2019)

The man was definitely one of the most talented intellectuals of the 18th century that the Assemblée Nationale has crowned. French historian Évelyne Lever observed that Voltaire had an enigmatic and powerful gaze that marked his presence and would say:

« Le regard chez Voltaire c’est essentiel. C’est un regard qui capte tout et c’est un regard qui rend tout ce qu’il a vu, et il a évidemment des possibilités intellectuelles extrêmement vastes, c’est l’homme des lumières dans tous les sens du terme. »


French for :

“The look in Voltaire’s eyes is essential. It is a gaze that captures everything and it is a gaze that gives back all that he saw, and he obviously has extremely vast intellectual possibilities, he is the man of the enlightenment in every sense of the word.”

For French writer Philippe Sollers, Voltaire was an adventurer who was very agitated, very clandestine, constantly fighting through his intellectual discourse, like being at war with the conventions of his time. The author of « L’invention de l’intellectuel dans l’Europe du XVIIIe siècle » and « Les Ennemis des Philosophes », who also co-directed « Inventaire Voltaire », Didier Masseau, saw in Voltaire, a character who had a great presence and who entertained some kind of tradition, with his large Louis XIV styled wig that was completely out of fashion in the 18th century; hence Voltaire was a very singular character. François Jacob, the author of « Voltaire », believes that Voltaire was someone who had always been conscious of his own worth, and knew that he was among the greatest –  someone who could bring a tremendous amount to his contemporaries.

The recognition obtained at the Panthéon, Voltaire had been looking for it during the early years of his life. Voltaire from the very beginning entertained the spark of the self-made and self-defined man, since the man who was not yet named Voltaire is in fact François-Marie Arouet and does not have any aristocratic ancestry, and hence could not be considered as noble. While in the 21st century the educational cultivation or the discourse, views and ideas of an individual may lead to him or her being perceived as a noble man or woman of intellect or a noble mind, it was not the case in the 18th century, where there was a strong division between classes – where nobility was usually given by royalty or inherited by birth. Hence, Voltaire from a very early age worked to make the notion of “origins” meaningless in the emancipation and development of the individual – a task that was titanic in the old days of the 18th century.

Voltaire’s father belonged to the middle-class, i.e. the bourgeoisie. It was a relatively well-to-do bourgeoisie and they lived comfortably, but they did not swim in gold either. François-Marie’s mother passed away when he was only 6, and he was raised by his father and benefited of an exceptional formation. At 10 years of age, he had gained admission at the most prestigious institution of the kingdom, the collège Louis-le-Grand, where both the sons of the bourgeoisie and highest nobility were scholarised. So, there he experienced a social climate generated by the best minds of his generation who were destined for a prestigious future and of course, some of his alliances had allowed him to build a network in some of the highest milieus. Even if the young François-Marie was not treated as well as some of his comrades, he would very soon distinguish himself through his intelligence, personality and individuality.

Among the young aristocrats there, some had a room with their own domestics and their private prefect, while the young Arouet was condemned to share the room with 15 or 20 of his classmates. Among the subjects taught, at the college, there was dissertation in Latin, the writing of poetry and versification. Voltaire was particularly gifted in those linguistic and literary fields, especially in exercises of amplification, that put the emphasis on a sense of rhetoric [i.e. the ability to analyse, synthesise, respond and argue convincingly], this is how he would get himself noticed. Voltaire would get the best results in linguistic eloquence in Latin, and this was also the first time that he developed the confidence and pride of a writer or a thinker, since he had just proven himself by winning a contest of eloquence and that would finally be the birth of his career as a thinker.

Le jeune Voltaire au collège - d'purb dpurb site web

Le jeune Voltaire au collège / Source: Voltaire ou la liberté de penser (2019)

During these college years, he also benefited from the teaching of the Jesuits which is characterised by a great open-minded view of the world, it was about forming a true citizen, i.e. a profoundly Christian mind but who is also open to the reality of his times, hence the importance of the voyages, history, and this constant open-minded view and of course the dramatic arts, such as the theatre. The theatrical arts after all is an opening on the city. The young Arouet developed a taste for drama and theatre, he did not play comedies, but rather tragedies, and from there Voltaire was already blossoming and was certainly thinking of a writing future.

The personality of the future Voltaire was also shaped by his godfather, a man of thought who was a member of the Société du Temple, a world apart that the young François-Marie was introduced to in his teenage years. That society had been a sort of microcosm in Paris, and Voltaire would develop a taste for its aristocratic and libertarian side and also for « le bon mot » [French for: the good word]. It is an epicurean society: a society that lives for pleasure as well as for the freedom of thought. There he had found people who were less conformist and who held different views about the social structure of his time, and the young Voltaire started to love this milieu as it opened new horizons to him. After his godfather had introduced him to one of his older female friends, the latter saw in Voltaire a young man with an exceptional intelligence and left him a small amount of money in her will. With that money, François-Marie, a lover of literature, would go and buy books since his choice had been made, he was not going to follow the career planned by his father since that notarial and legal bureaucratic bourgeois milieu would not have allowed him to fully explore and develop his literary talent, artistic and intellectual creativity, and would have been too narrow and mundane for his ambition and deep mind.

When the young Arouet left college, he was still not known as Voltaire, but in the logic of the future Voltaire, he already wanted to be an « homme de lettres » [French for: man of words or letters], an « homme de plume » [French for: man of the pen]. Of course, for his father that was truly scandalous, because from his bourgeois perspective and milieu, poets are considered as « crève-la-faim » [French for: someone who cannot afford to eat properly] – being a poet is not considered a job. Hence, Voltaire’s father had imagined him studying law and perhaps becoming a notary but he instead wanted to enter the domain of the “belles-lettres” [French for: beautiful words], and hence there the young intellectual’s choice experienced a first form of rejection by his father.

This unpleasant experience led him to even invent his own aristocratic origin, since ironically the future Voltaire would say that he was not the son of his father, and that his real father was an aristocrat who probably wrote verses and who was the lover of his mother; Voltaire said this openly without any shame, since he preferred to come across as a prestigious bastard born out of wedlock rather than a mediocre legitimate child. Of course, this was fairly petty, and could be attributed to a childish frustration, being a fiction that Voltaire created that allowed him to discard his own origin, but from a deeper look it showed how he was already being marked by the concept of the self-made and self-created individual governed by his own abilities and will-power.

Voltaire was already refusing to be a victim of the past and the random location where the fusion of a spermatozoid and an egg, i.e. birth, had placed him; we can take note here that it was what modern psychologists and psychoanalysts qualify as “the concept of self” , i.e. the individual is not dependent on anyone, is not simply a biological lump of flesh created by two primates who copulated, compelled to be defined by an imposed legacy and carry whatever burden it may include – that is an option of course, depending on the individual’s choice in relation to his or her desires but it is definitely not an obligation. We are who we are and who we choose to make ourselves through our own efforts, desires and choices – that is Voltairean heritage and the mind of the intellectual enlightenment! Coincidentally, this simple yet immense and fundamental concept aligns with my own reflections, scientific arguments and philosophical orientations based on the organismic perspective of the free organism that follows a constant evolution throughout its lifetime in a Piagetian style of cognitive growth. So in a way, it is like finding a partial form of synchronisation of my own intellectual thoughts with Voltaire’s, while Jacques Lacan’s theory of the mind, language and concept of symbolic chain and desires follows an almost similar line of thought – it shows that while most of my contemporaries missed the emphasis on the organismic perspective, one of the minds who changed the world in the 18th century shared my beliefs – this particular intellectual similarity is personally satisfying.

L'individu libre dans une société éclairée Danny D'Purb dpurb site web 2019

« Dans une société éclairée, éduquée, cultivée, sophistiquée et moderne, un individu libre devrait être capable de dire ce qu’il veut, quand il veut, où il veut, comment il veut, à qui il veut, et selon ses capacités, il devrait aussi pouvoir choisir son propre chemin, identité, domaine et cercle, et lorsque ces actes ne causent la mort à personne, cela semble totalement noble et juste. » -Danny d’Purb // Traduction(EN): “In an enlightened, educated, cultivated, sophisticated and modern society, a free individual should be able to say what he wants, when he wants, where he wants, how he wants, to whomever he wants, and according to his abilities, he should also be able to choose his own path, identity, domain and circle, and when these acts do not cause death to anyone, this seems totally noble and right.” -Danny D’Purb | (2019)

When later in his life Voltaire managed to acquire the château de Ferney, he had the old building demolished which he had qualified as atavistic in style, and had a new one built to his taste. It would also become the place where he received many intellectuals and also his friend, the mathematician Nicolas de Condorcet, along with the actor Lequin who would take part in many of the plays written by Voltaire. One of the other great intellectuals who never came to Ferney is Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the solitary philosopher, since those two sometimes clashed on some philosophical issues without ever meeting each other, however they both recognised each other’s greatness which reminds us today that they have been two of the most illustrious [i.e. well known, respected and admired] homme de lettres of the century of the enlightenment. After his death, Voltaire’s heart was stored in a cenotaph in France at his Ferney residence for several years, with the inscription:

« Son esprit est partout et son coeur est ici. »


French for :

« His mind is everywhere and his heart is here. »

Voltaire also invited the most intimate of his guests at Ferney into his personal library where he would read them extracts that meant a lot to him and were connected to his intellectual fight against the problems of the society of his time, for example, against the rigid religious institutions of the Ancient Regime and the persecutions and horrors they orchestrated. The complete works of Voltaire can also be found at Ferney, where he first started writing and focussed on tragedy, a popular genre in his times.

It is with the literature, dramatic arts and the theatre that he was drenched in at college that Voltaire would create and build a name for himself. He thought that this would suffice to take his legacy to posterity, i.e. through his tragedies, however as we would see, it took much more to have Voltaire accepted among the greats of his time, since the division of classes was rigid in the 18th century.

At around 20 years old, the young Arouet had already become quite used to the Parisian salons and his personality and mind quickly made him popular – he became well-known and a habitué of the court at the château de Sceaux. The young Arouet had already risen in society through his intellectual and artistic abilities and original personality, and at that court he was a little boute-en-train (i.e. joker); he improvised clever rhymes and poetry and would say exactly what the great seigneurs wanted to hear. He was stunned by the early success he had found at Sceaux; and although he should have toned himself down in this milieu, he just could not resist the urge to be even more extroverted, flamboyant, defiant and outgoing – it seems that Voltaire was an early embodiment of a form of open-minded libertarian conservatism. During his time there he also enjoyed a wide range of literary, theatrical and musical pleasures.

However, he would soon go beyond his limits, and reveal himself as an extremely biting, facetious mind that could become nasty when provoked, according to French historian Évelyne Lever. In his poem, « Puero Regnante », he offended a man whom no one would have dared to insult, namely Philippe d’Orléans who was the man in charge of the French monarchy since the death of Louis XIV in 1715; d’Orléans was ensuring the regency of the kingdom until the young Louis XV reached the age to govern. The futur Voltaire’s verses in his poem came with heavy consequences since his dramatic poem accused the regent of having killed the grand children of Louis XIV by poison in order to get as close as possible to power while going even further to accuse the regent of having sexual relations with his daughter.

The poem was so scary that Voltaire found himself imprisoned at La Bastille. He was incarcerated on the 16th of May 1717 while in his twenties, and he would remain locked for almost a year. However, his conditions while in detention were far from terrible; the young Arouet was placed in the quarters that we could consider in today’s terms as those reserved for the V.I.Ps [i.e. very important person]. There he had lunch with the governor, where people would also visit and write to him; it was a place where you could serenely plan and prepare for your release.

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Voltaire enfermé à La Bastille / Source: Voltaire ou la liberté de penser (2019)

If someone is imprisoned at the special quarters of La Bastille, it is because they hold a degree of importance and because they have the power over society, hence the writer used it as a formidable source of publicity to push himself at the front of the social scene. It is also during that period that François-Marie Arouet decided to bury his old name and transform himself into Voltaire; he thought that he should find himself a signature to match his size and to prepare for his future glory; he considered his old name, François-Marie Arouet, to have been a burden to him. French historian, Évelyne Lever noticed that the name, Voltaire, contained the term « Volte » which carries the connotation of one who danses and flies. On the name of Voltaire, the French intellectual, François Bessire said:

« C’est l’invention d’une marque, c’est l’invention d’un nom tout à fait remarquable, un travail de communication étonnamment réussie. »


French for:

« It’s the invention of a brand, it’s the invention of a very remarkable name, a surprisingly successful work of communication. »

Voltaire also made the most of his time in detention to finalise his first play, however after his release, his perfectionist approach and the numerous repetitions and modifications he made to the script caused conflicts among the troop of actors of the Comédie-Française who accepted to take part in it. One of the actresses, Miss Desmares, had categorically refused to receive new verses from Voltaire to repeat, but had quite an appetite. So, Voltaire ironically sent over small pâtés that she would open to eat and inside there were the new lines that Voltaire wanted her to learn, everyone of course laughed at this adventure, yet the verses were learnt and of course the small pâtés eaten.

The première of Voltaire’s play, Oedipe, opened on the 18th of November 1718, and the whole of Paris rushed to watch the spectacle of the young author with a sulphurous reputation. It was a triumphant success for the writer, and that would be the moment that Voltaire began to earn a living with his pen, and his desire for glory at the same time was satisfied. The success of his writing was fundamental to Voltaire because it confirmed that he was a great author of the classical tragedies.

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Image: Le triomphe du premier oeuvre de Voltaire / Source: Voltaire ou la liberté de penser (2019)

After that event, Voltaire would start to build a network of acquaintances and friends among the nobles, and would visit Jean-René de Longueil at the Château de Maisons, today known as the Château de Maisons-Laffitte. It is there that Voltaire worked on his epic poem, la Henriade, and one time during a lecture in the great hall of the château, Voltaire did not hesitate to ask the opinions of the guests invited and they, who were not writers and never wrote a play in their life allowed themselves to a number of criticisms. As this went on, Voltaire began to lose his calm and in an abrupt gesture he took his manuscripts and threw them all in the fireplace in a raging gesture; one of the guests stormed to pick them up and gave them back to Voltaire.


Image: La rage de Voltaire: les manuscrits dans la cheminée / Source: Voltaire ou la liberté de penser (2019)

Another unfortunate episode there was when Voltaire caught a potentially deadly disease: smallpox. However, Voltaire in a few weeks miraculously recovered but a fire spread from the chimney under his room, having been kept constantly lit during the weeks of his illness, the place was ravaged, but that blow of fate would not affect the solid friendship that bound him to Jean-René de Longueil.

After proving himself through his intellectual, linguistic, literary and artistic abilities, Voltaire in his thirties thought that he could finally consider himself as the equal of the nobles, him, a sort of aristocrat of the mind. However, an altercation with one of them during a soirée would cruelly prove him wrong. During that night, the chevalier de Rohan-Chabot had been joking unsympathetically about the name of Voltaire, trying to mock him, and Voltaire in an affirmative and insolent tone abruptly responded:

« Mon nom commence là où fini le votre! »


French for:

« My name starts where your name ends! »

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Image: Voltaire à Rohan-Chabot: « Mon nom commence là où fini le votre! » / Source: Voltaire ou la liberté de penser (2019)

A few days later, Rohan-Chabot had Voltaire beaten violently as he was leaving a house where he had had him invited. Voltaire was permuted with pain with all the blows he received from sticks. Voltaire asked for reparation and began to realise that his noble friends certainly pitied him, but would do nothing concrete to help him as the days went by. Voltaire eventually realised that he was being advised to remain silent and to get over this humiliation. That event likely marked Voltaire for life in his fight against the atavistic structure of the ancient regime because it brought him back to the condition that the 18th century of France imposed on individuals; hence, he could be a star on the intellectual, literary and artistic scene, he could be the great Voltaire, but in the 18th century, to the nobles, he would always be considered a « roturier » [note that this is an archaic term that is not used anymore in the 21st century as it used to mean someone who does not have aristocratic origins, it is a term that can very rarely be heard in a minority of social circles that still abide by the social structure of the ancient regime, for example, among some circles in England, the English term is usually “commoner”]; and this irrational concept allowed the nobles of the 18th century to hold the illusory belief that they were superior to anyone who did not have aristocratic origins and that the person could be given the stick by them, even if the individual was incredibly educated, cultured and intellectually superior to the nobles. That was of course something that Voltaire would not accept and towards the end of his life he would receive the acclaim only reserved for kings and emperors for changing the perception of French society and the whole of Europe about individual emancipation forever. But for the time being Voltaire’s humiliation would not stop there, since conscious of Voltaire’s relentless and daring personality and character, the entourage of chevalier Rohan-Chabot feared for the desires of vengeance of the prolific author and so, they arranged for Voltaire to be sent once more to the Bastille prison. He would be freed after only 2 weeks on the condition that he left Paris.

For his exile, the man of letters chose to go to England. It was 1726 and Voltaire would end up staying in the neighbouring country for almost 3 years. It is important to note that in those times, England had already gone through the English Civil War and had shocked Europe by putting King Charles I to death, the latter was beheaded publicly after Oliver Cromwell had defeated the Royal armies. France on the other hand had not yet gone through the revolution, something that would take place 63 years later in 1789, 11 years after Voltaire’s death in 1778, with the iconic takeover of La Bastille on the 14th of July 1789. So, when Voltaire went to England, the power of the ancient regime there was already weakening through the socio-cultural change brought by the English civil war. Hence, in some aspects regarding the structure of society, England at that time appeared slightly in advance to Voltaire in matters regarding the personal liberties of the individual where the organisation of society was different compared to the strict climate imposed by the Ancient Regime of the monarchy in 18th century France, that caused Voltaire to be victimised and jailed for a simple vocal retaliation.

It was Voltaire’s curiosity that motivated him to go to England and also his personal circumstances; that trip would calm down the tension in France by allowing Voltaire to be forgotten for a few years at least. Once in England, Voltaire who was especially gifted with language quickly learned to master English, which is much simpler than French. Being a believer in the values of the intellectual enlightenment, a man who fought for individual freedom and self-conception, and also a proven man of words, intellect and a sort of aristocrat of the mind in France, it seemed logical to expect that Voltaire would work on a similar mastery of language in England and create his own individual identity, and so he did not learn English by socialising, but rather through Shakespeare. He would visit the theatre at Drury-Lane where it is believed that he took the prompter’s manuscripts to learn English through Shakespeare.

The Bibliothèque Nationale de France still conserves a collection of his courier that shows his incredible mastery of the English language but also the affinity he developed for some English customs. The fact that Voltaire took pride in writing in English while in England was not insignificant, because Voltaire in England had felt at home, and very quickly started to see himself as an Englishman, during his voyage he slightly toned down his French identity. Charles Eloi-Vidal, a curator at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France suggested that it seemed that Voltaire during his time in England gave the impression that he had fallen in love with the country and its people. Voltaire was seduced by the atmosphere of freedom that his anonymity may also have contributed to in England. The writer stated that in England, no mode of life seemed strange, we see men who complete 6 miles daily for their health, who feed on only roots, who never eat meat, who wear a lighter outfit in winter than your ladies’ costume on the hottest days. Voltaire thought that all that in England was perceived as a singularity but was not taxed by anyone as ridiculous or insane.

In reality, the French still mock the English for their eccentricity but what Voltaire saw in some aspects of the English society of the 18th century was the freedom to be anything we wanted, an opinion that seemed slightly exaggerated by Voltaire who only lived in England for about 3 years, since nowadays in the 21st century England is far behind modern day France in terms of individual social mobility, although it is encouraging to see that gradual progress is taking place through the contribution of dedicated intellectuals at major universities [e.g. the Voltaire Foundation at the University of Oxford] who are changing the atavistic minds of the Anglo-Saxon masses through the propagation of modern psychological, scientific and philosophical works about development, conception, individuality and identity.

What also stunned Voltaire in 18th century England was the religious tolerance. When in France the rigid institutions firmly controlled and regulated by the Catholic church would persecute people for their beliefs and practices and even send them to horrible death sentences, in England Voltaire saw Jews, Muslims, Christians and atheists all somehow living together. However, in the 21st century when we scratch the surface, we find that underneath the illusion of this “living together” in a secular society with the vague concept of « political correctness », there is a passive and silent yet constant competition between each group, all desiring supremacy over one another; this even applies at a global level from the basic population count, to the geographical hold of living space of each group with different languages on our planet; and each group would be ready “diplomatically” to defend their borders with guns, tanks, fighter planes and even nuclear weapons if necessary, and of course, not to mention the periodic violence that traumatises society at large, especially from Muslim jihadists. It is also fair to note how each group – under the illusion of “living together” and “political correctness” – still “indirectly” fragment the population by organising events that celebrate and promote each group’s identity and characteristics within their own geographical population, and that does not seem to be a genuine sense of living together as a singular community but rather a politically correct form of hypocrisy.

We can observe that that the idea of « living together » can be associated with the modern-day phenomenon known as « globalisation » that portrays the society that Voltaire saw in 18th century England. Unfortunately, the “living together” of globalisation is simply focussed on labour and migratory movement and financial motives, whereas true harmony in a genuine community of sophisticated, educated and enlightened minds relies on the construction of a united society and is closer to post-revolutionary French philosophical values of « Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité », which is not simply a question of living side by side with each other, but involves getting all individuals – besides their personal tastes as unique humans beings – to also honestly agree on identity, belonging, values and goals; feel, understand and synchronise their lives with each other as a genuinely united community that supports and helps one another, while also working and building harmoniously together at every level of human life – not simply economically. After all, we are living in pivotal times where the human civilisation is evolving at breakneck speed in so many ways and changing era right before our eyes in the 21st century; with a generation that has the chance of having access to the wide range of accelerated learning technologies available. The world’s societies have evolved beyond recognition from their « primitive » past, and are today interconnected and inspire and influence each other in so many ways [e.g. science, sport, medicine, cuisine, arts, literature, philosophy & education]. We can only imagine what a brilliant mind like Voltaire would have achieved if he lived in our time with all the tools available to us in the 21st century.

Even if nowadays, in the 21st century, after centuries of imperfect democratic parliamentary regimes we have begun to see the lack of organisation, the corruption, the greed for money, the unethical financial motives, the apathy and lack of sophistication and sensibility from the average financial workers crowding the political scene along with their simple binary minds and outlook, the illogical concepts of political parties dividing people by orientation, and the badly organised departments of the state; in the times of Voltaire in the 18th century, this less than perfect parliamentary regime was considered as the only solution and represented a step towards defying the abuses of the Ancient Regime of hereditary traditions and undisputed domination of the crowned heads. So back then, when the parliamentary regime was in its early days in England, Voltaire was fascinated with it, since he thought of it as a movement that kept the King in check, since whenever the crown would try to abuse its powers, it could instantly be stopped by the parliamentary regime – that to Voltaire created a King that could only be kind. Since it was 1726, 63 years before the French revolution, hence this to Voltaire was quite another world – he would most certainly have much to write about if he was alive today to see the horror show of the majority of mediocrity in modern politics in the 21st century.

It is almost certain that if a brilliant, perceptive and volcanic mind like Voltaire lived in the 21st century he would have ferociously criticized the current democratic parliamentary regime, and would be engaged in a fight like ourself to crease out the imperfections, being just like ourself focussed on the liberation of the human mind through reason and science, individual liberty, meritocracy, order, love and justice for all, along with a concern about a harmonious, ethical, intellectually enlightened and a sophisticated society devoid of alienating irrational superstitions, political abuses and unnecessary suffering.

During his English séjour, Voltaire had maintained a journal that he completed once back in France, those écrits, packed with explosive content, would later become his « Lettres Philosophiques ». Those would have two objectives. Firstly, it was an expression of gratitude towards the English society that welcomed and hosted him for almost 3 years. Secondly, Voltaire wanted to point out the problems of the society of pre-revolutionary France in the 18th century where he castigated the French monarchical despotism along with the climate of intolerance towards individual liberties – such as religious beliefs – that it imposed on individuals with heavy consequences to those who chose to deviate from the Church’s rigid outlook [e.g. the persecution of other forms of Christianity such as Protestantism].

Voltaire’s writings were seized and burnt in front of the palais de justice in France; the power of the ancient regime understood that this was a bomb that could seriously cause a storm in France where unlike anywhere else in the world the people are sophisticated, highly receptive and reactive, and always in the constant quest to refine and cultivate themselves intellectually through fresh philosophical discourse. Hence, as soon as Voltaire returned from his exile in England, the enigmatic thinker and writer had once again become persona non grata in Paris and would have to remain discrete and keep a safe distance from monarchical power for some time. Besides, Voltaire using aspects of the English society of the 18th century as examples to criticize France was not going to be well perceived. Although French society acknowledges the pivotal works of some hardworking individuals who dedicated their lives to particular fields [e.g. medecine, science, literature, music, etc] and who have been translated into French, for example, Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Oscar Wilde, Alan Turing, just like many other hardworking and dedicated minds across the globe, it certainly does not consider the English heritage or the Anglo-Saxon world as superior, a model to follow or something to be envious about; that is an opinion even shared by a great amount of English intellectuals and people themselves and even the former English King, Henry V, who used the French language to write « Dieu et mon droit » on the coat of arms of the British monarchy. If anything, French society has always considered the Anglo-Saxon world as rough, mesquin (i.e. petty), cold, mechanical, calculating, ruthless and much less refined and sophisticated emotionally, philosophically, artistically and linguistically; while lacking sensibility in human affairs, with the tragedy of Jeanne d’Arc embedded in the hearts of the French people along with the Hundred Years War, not to mention Waterloo. Even the iconic English writer, Oscar Wilde, was persecuted by the society that produced him and ended up seeking refuge and spending the last days of his life in France; a fairly similar fate was imposed on the English mathematician, Alan Turing, who dedicated his life to saving his country and whose contributions were decisive in shifting the outcomes of World War II – he would be persecuted by his own country treated like a criminal and was left to die as a recluse in a room in almost complete anonymity. Hence, a tremendous work of cultivation remained to be done in the Anglo-Saxon world in order to reconcile and build a firm bridge between these two environments and create a genuine sense of trust and respect from the French – a work involving the cultivation of the masses to sophisticated French values that is still ongoing up to this day. The great way to put this could be by saying: « We are from the same planet but not from the same world. »

In the room of Voltaire at Ferney we still find an immense portrait of empress Maria Theresa of Austria and the inscription shows that it was given to Voltaire on the 15th of July 1770, historians do not know the circumstances of the arrival of the portrait here but its presence is quite surprising since Maria Theresa did not have a high esteem of Voltaire, she had in fact forbidden her son Joseph II to visit such a miscreant. To Voltaire, exposing such a portrait was nothing more than a way to show his familiarity with crowned heads even if his relations with kings were very complicated because of his intellectual and philosophical orientations.

French historians observe that Voltaire was an elegant man with incredible style who took great care of his body and cultivated his appearance and looks, however in private he sometimes received people in his night gown. In his residence at Ferney we can also find a portrait of the most meaningful woman in his life, Émilie de Châtelet, who according to the French painter Marianne Loir was among the first women to dedicate herself to science with whom Voltaire finds true love for more than 15 years Voltaire met her in 1733 when he was almost 40 years old while she was in her twenties and fell immediately under her spell, she had an impressive physique and a mind that was no less. Émilie was undoubtedly one of the most brilliant women of the 18th century, a true woman of science, but that did not prevent her from knowing literature admirably – there was a reciprocal coup de foudre between those two geniuses who acknowledged each other’s greatness. Their love story would blossom at the château de Cirey where Voltaire found refuge in 1734 after the scandal provoked by his « lettres philosophique » right after his return from England.

At first, Voltaire did not plan on settling at Cirey, and only intended to spend a few months, just enough time to be forgotten and for things to calm down in Paris. However, when he arrived at Cirey there was an instant feeling of love at first sight with the place and he decided to settle. In the beginning, he would restore an existing part and later decided to enlarge it to install a wing with his own apartments. What is striking is that Voltaire added his unique touch to the architecture, for example, a sculpted door that is still present today dedicated to the arts and to the sciences where we find a tribute to astronomy, painting, sculpture and of course the art of writing and literature.

Chateau de Cirey - La marque de Voltaire

Image: La touche de Voltaire à Cirey

Voltaire hated to waste time and was always busy and mentally drenched in a project. The days at Cirey were shared between philosophical discussions, the pleasures of love that of course should never be neglected and a range of experiments. The couple were 2 dedicated hard workers, each working in their office and they would meet over lunch. There was a real atmosphere of joy, both physical and the joy of being together while not being burdened by the surrounding society and intellectual crowd. Voltaire would say to a friend in one of his letters that they were very voluptuous philosophers. Once, the couple took part in a competition at the Académie des Sciences, and while they did not win, Voltaire had insisted for the memory of Émilie to be printed by the Académie des Sciences, which would have been a great honour – he never asked the same treatment for himself; a gesture that historians nowadays believe to have been a genuine proof of sincere love.

Voltaire ou la liberté de penser - Émilie du Châtelet traduit Newton - d'purb dpurb site web

Image: Tableau representant Émilie du Châtelet étudiant les travaux de Newton

Émilie du Châtelet also signed the first translation of Newton’s mathematical principles of philosophy, one of the major works of the 18th century regarding universal gravity. However, it is important to note that Voltaire cannot be considered as purely and simply a man of the mathematical sciences; he definitely took a genuine interest in the pivotal scientific discoveries of his time such as universal gravitation but only to meditate and extract philosophical meaning about the implications of scientific discoveries, i.e. to explain how all the scientific discoveries will impact the way society and humans function, such as the impact on the education of the individual, society at large and the values to be taught in relation to them.

Voltaire ou la liberté de penser - Émilie du Châtelet - d'purb dpurb site web

Image: Émilie du Châtelet en train de travailler sur ses écrits / Source: Voltaire ou la liberté de penser (2019)

Modern day French historians believe that Voltaire and Émilie du Châtelet were unquestionably the leading couple of that particular century, the 18th century, the century of the enlightenment that gave way to an open-minded view of our world and our wider environment, and that also motivated intellectuals worldwide to take the world out of the claws of obscurantism and into the light. It was the century enlightened by reason where men and women were encouraged to rely on their own experience and knowledge to apprehend the world around them [i.e. to work on their understanding and perception] – this was a turning point in the evolution of mankind! From then, the individual did not feel that he had to respect or abide uncritically to any form of hierarchy whether it was religious or political but was instead encouraged to learn to use intellectual and logical reasoning to understand the world instead of simply believing without thinking.

Voltaire ou la liberté de penser -Espace de Voltaire à Cirey d'purb dpurb site web

Image: Espace de Voltaire à Cirey / Source: Voltaire ou la liberté de penser (2019)

The 18th century was also the period where we almost completely mapped the terrestrial globe; where we had begun to get a deeper understanding of the inner mechanism of the human body since the early works Leonardo da Vinci in the 15th century. All this new knowledge led to a turning point because it allowed the emancipation of the individual; now we were no longer subject to the traditional obligation to play our role, to take our place quietly in a society that was regulated by religious authorities and that was patriarchal, because now we finally had the sensible and thoughtful knowledge and hence we had the ability to get out of our former conditions and follow a different chosen path, find our way and ourself.

During all those years at Cirey with Émilie, the main entertainment would somehow remain the arts, namely drama and theatre. Between his intellectual endeavours, Voltaire would not give up on his creative writings dedicated to the theatrical arts and his plays would be performed in a small home theatre that was under the attic, it would become an iconic place since many afternoons and evenings would be spent there and sometimes the only spectator would be the cat and Émilie. Sometimes the couple would also have arguments that would end up in disputes.

Voltaire dans une profonde réflexion

Image: Voltaire sérieux et dans une profonde réflexion / Source: Voltaire ou la liberté de penser (2019)

Émilie displayed an excessively authoritarian nature and would choose how Voltaire should dress, she would even choose the wine that he should drink, and would even forbid him from showing some texts that she had locked away; she knew of Voltaire’s explosive personality and that he would write special and subversive texts; conscious of the nature of those texts and the possible legal consequences that could be even more violent, Émilie kept a close eye on them along with Voltaire’s correspondence. All that would generate moments of tension when they already had disputes, and when those occured they communicated in English so that prying ears across doors and walls would not understand the content of their exchanges. Voltaire would often leave the table in anger when he was annoyed and would sulk, then after they would reconcile with each other and open dialogue through messages on small pieces of paper that they would send to each other through the domestics.

Voltaire dans une profonde réflexion et souriant d'purb dpurb site web

Image: Voltaire souriant et en train d’écrire / Source: Voltaire ou la liberté de penser (2019)

When Voltaire reached the age of 50, his relationship with crowned heads had already been complex, he looked for their favour but remained true to his intellectual perspectives that were not always favourable to the powers of the ancient regime. Voltaire never regarded the king as the representative of god on earth, hence it became incredibly hard for him to display the signs of adoration that the conventions expected. He was fairly insolent and impertinent and at the same time he had already built the solid reputation of a man of words who mastered the pen with incredible efficacy.

Voltaire ou la liberté de penser - Voltaire faisant de la recherche d'purb dpurb site web

Image: Voltaire faisant de la recherche / Source: Voltaire ou la liberté de penser (2019)

Hence, he was perceived as a scary revolutionary mind, so the royal powers in France would remain very wary of the ingenious writer permanently. Louis XV never accepted Voltaire, who for him was a profoundly unsympathetic man with subversive ideas that he did not want to hear anything about.

But even if he was not regarded highly by the monarchy in France, there was a sovereign in Europe who had boundless admiration for him and his avant-garde ideas. That man was Frederick II of Prussia, the one who would be known as Frederick the great, who had already been known as the philosopher king. It had been a while already since the two man had maintained a passionate correspondence which was initiated by Frederick himself when he was heir to the throne.

The future Frederick II wrote to Voltaire so that the prolific intellectual could correct his verses and help him with his French. The Prussian heir swore by the French language and only spoke German with the horses; to him the French language and the mastery of it was higher than everything else. So, he wrote to Voltaire as a sycophant, qualifying him as the greatest writer of all time and the man he admired the most in Europe. Voltaire was so flattered to find himself celebrated in this way by the future king of Prussia that it made him dizzy with pride. The form of complicity would eventually develop between those two, on the topics of the freedom of mind and ideas. Voltaire on the other hand saw in the future King of Prussia the possibility to hold a very particular role; the role of the one who thinks for the Prince and who participates in the elaboration of political reflections – he had imagined this as a great duo, philosopher and king.

When Frederik II was crowned, he continuously invited Voltaire to join him in Prussia. At around the same period, on the 10th of September 1749, Voltaire was struck by the most demoralising news of his life: Émilie de Châtelet had suddenly passed away. He would be utterly devastated by the death of the woman whom he had loved the most in his life, it was a very painful period for Voltaire who went mad with grief; and it is following this irreparable mourning for him that he left for Prussia.

In July 1750, Voltaire arrived in Potsdam near Berlin where the court of Frederick was located. Once there, his main task consisted in correcting and embellishing the verses of Frederick II. There however, he found many other philosophers and intellectuals united around Frederick II and hence did not feel like the greatest or the most important anymore. Voltaire thus found himself as a token among others of a king whose writing and verses were incredibly mediocre. The king however could be unsympathetic as Voltaire would later discover when a conversation was reported to him where apparently it was said that we squeeze the orange and we discard the core. This seemed to showcase the monarchic mentality about using talented people to further itself and to discard them when they were no longer needed.

That moment had Voltaire realising that he was to Frederick II someone considered as some kind of buffoon that could be disposed of when his services would not be required. Voltaire knew that his situation had changed and that he was not respected by Frederick anymore; so, he concluded that it was time to escape after having spent 3 years there. So, in March 1753, Voltaire left and turned a page on the king but a rocambolesque event will delay his return to France. After arriving at Francfort, he was stopped by Frederick’s men and assigned to residence until he returned a number of documents that he had kept; these were the drafts of poems that Frederick had written along with all the corrections that Voltaire brought. When the King found that out he realised that it would be a catastrophe for him since the world would find out the immense contribution of Voltaire who was almost the co-author of his originally mediocre writing.

Volaire bloqué à Francfor par Frédéric II

Voltaire enfermé à Francfort par Frédéric II / Source: Voltaire ou la liberté de penser (2019)

Voltaire would be held for several weeks as a form of humiliation from Frederick, someone that the writer had previously flattered. It was a sinister farce, but Voltaire eventually got out of it after returning the drafts. The two would not see each other again, however their epistolary relationship would resume. Before leaving the court in 1753, Voltaire had also made a series of scathing attacks on the head of the Prussian Academy of Sciences, and Frederick ordered that a satirical pamphlet written by Voltaire be publically burned. It is believed that when Voltaire left the court, he told a friend that he had been enthusiastic about [Frederick] for 16 years, but the latter had cured him of this long illness.

Back in Ferney, France near the Swiss border in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, Voltaire thought that a tiny church nearby was hiding the perspective of the residence, so he took it upon him to move the church and had a central alley drawn. He started this modification without any authorisation which was of course not to the taste of the ecclesiastical authorities; hence Voltaire had to renounce to it and rebuild the facade. However cheekily, he had his name on it written much larger than that of god which was of course frowned upon.

In those times, Voltaire was often sick and he knew that death could come knocking at any moment. Since he had wished to be buried at Ferney, he would have a tombeau constructed in the shape of a pyramid that was leaning against the wall of the church, adjoined to the outside; Voltaire envisaged that clever people would say that he was neither inside or outside of the tomb. Voltaire had a particular liking for his garden and had a bower made for walks with his intimate guests sometimes; the talented writer’s influence was not limited to his residence since the whole village profits from his presence and saw its popularity rise. After all his adventures with the kings of France and Europe, it was in a way Voltaire’s own time to become the little king of Ferney. However, Voltaire’s independent and volcanic mind and intellectual orientations never allowed him to build strong links with those who held institutional powers, so he sought refuge to establish himself firmly. It would be in Geneva before finally ending up in Ferney that Voltaire’s last and perhaps most pivotal legacy would be forged.

Voltaire - le reigne à Ferney

In his sixties, Voltaire fell under the charm of a quiet and bucolic place near the Léman lake, a peaceful property in Geneva from where he had a view of the mountains. He would name his residence there « Les Délices » and had the place enlarged to live slightly more comfortably. It is to be noted that at that time, Geneva was independent and was not part of any kingdom, it was outside of the French and the Prussian borders and so Voltaire had settled in a completely neutral territory for a while. Voltaire would take many reflective walks in his garden there but his main activity remained writing, his eternal true love.

Les Délices to this day conserves a range of Voltaire’s furniture and other gadgets. We can find the iconic Louis XV styled desk with floral and musical motives. It was on that very desk that Voltaire wrote a great number of his literary and intellectual works.

Meubles de Voltaire aux Délices - d'purb dpurb site web

Image: Meubles et accesoires de Voltaire / Source: Voltaire ou la liberté de penser (2019)

Even in the 18th century, he seemed to have an affinity for gadgets as we can also find a small écritoire [i.e. writing case] which allowed him to write during his voyages, inside we can find a pen holder, and two small objects in silver with the coat of arms of Voltaire [i.e. the three flames and the two greyhounds] which are in fact a travel ink pot where the writer would draw the ink to write his letters and on the other side a powder case with sand that Voltaire would sprinkle over a page as soon as it was written to act as blotting paper in order to absorb the excess ink from the document; which in the 21st century could be the equivalent of a portable computer.

Aux Délices - Pot d'encre - Armoiries de Voltaire - Les 2 Levriers - d'purb dpurb site web

Image: Les armoiries de Voltaire sur le pot d’encre de voyage: Les trois flammes et les deux Levriers

Voltaire wrote his poem on the Lisbon disaster there after the terrible earthquake of 1755 but most importantly it was the location where he wrote his most famous work, the one that is still the most read in the 21st century, his philosophical tale that summarised and covered all the great themes of the movement of the enlightenment: Candide. The book would go to become a best-seller of the second half of the 18th century which surprised Voltaire himself to see his book sales reaching 20 000 copies; for that time, it was an incredible amount and considered as a planetary success with a range of smaller formats also released: pocket editions, luxurious editions and others.

However, soon Voltaire would lack the breathing space he needed in Geneva and return to Ferney. In Geneva, theatre was not allowed and the writer found this unacceptable when he made arrangements to have small theatrical representations at Les Délices. He would get into problems with the Geneva pastors who were not content with the fact that he was organising theatrical sessions and attracted the daughters of Calvinist pastors to take part and feature as characters in them, that was unacceptable to those pastors. So, he went back to Ferney which was located in a strategic place since it was in France but on the Swiss borders. He would turn Ferney into a living utopia, a world where the earth was celebrated, where one lives comfortably and safely. He would also take the opportunity to transform the village of Ferney which was in a miserable state and launch himself in a variety of enterprises; which shows that Voltaire was not only a pure mind but that he could also take actions and contribute to the benefit of society around him, and that would have an immense impact. Under Voltaire’s reign in Ferney, the village saw a spectacular development. It is also there that Voltaire’s fight against religious fanaticism amplified gloriously.

In a France where the Catholic institution occupied a dominant position, it is very important to understand that Voltaire’s perspective did not insult or deny the existence of a god as the creator, but he took a firm combative stance and spoke out against all dogmatisms. Voltaire has never been an atheist, he is a deist, he states that in the incredible complexity of the natural world there must be a godly power that governs it all. What shocked him are the institutions that claim supremacy over god: the weight of those institutions that tells us what we have the right to believe in or not, and that classifies us in different groups, among the heretics, and that even had the powers to send us to the stake to die a painful and horrible death. Voltaire fought against all the abuses of the religious institutions that declared to have been revealed, namely the 3 most popular monotheistic religions: Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

In 18th century France under Louis XV, tensions had been persistent between Catholics and Protestants. Protestantism was not a recognised religion and its adepts faced repression and even severe persecution.

Volatire - Tension entre les religions en France au 18ème siècle

Image: Persécution religieuse en France au XVIIIe siècle

What Voltaire had observed in the years 1750-60 was a resurgence of tension between religions and it was the letter of the contemporary world then: religious fanaticism. Voltaire could never accept that in the name of religion, in the name of a God that is supposed to be good and merciful, men have such atrocious practices and persecute one another – always in the name of their God. To Voltaire, religious fanaticism associated with power was still present and would always be a threat to civilisation, and as from 1760 he intensified his fight with the shocking formula: Écrasez l’infâme [French for: crush the infamous]. This expression surfaces again during the correspondence he exchanged with his friend, the philosopher, d’Alembert.

Voltaire ou la liberté de penser - d'Alembert - Écrasez l'infame d'purb dpurb site web

Image: Correspondence de Voltaire à d’Alembert: Adieu mon grand philosophe… Écrasez l’infâme! / Source: Bibliothèque Nationale de France | Voltaire ou la liberté de penser (2019)

We have records at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France of those exchanges where he spoke of his lectures, philosophy, life in Paris and concludes his letter by saying: « Adieu mon grand philosophe. Écrasez l’infâme. » What was that « infâme » [French for: infamous] that he wanted to crush? It was the superstition that clouded reason, it was the institutional power of religious authorities over justice and the management of society by enlightened minds.

Another incident that motivated Voltaire to be even more engaged in his fight took place on the 10th of March 1762, when Jean Callas, a merchant from Toulouse is sentenced to the torment of the wheel and killed by strangulation in the public square.

Voltaire - Jean Callas - condamné au supplice de la roue et étranglé

Image: Jean Callas le protestant étranglé en public

Jean Callas had been an old protestant accused in Toulouse to have assassinated his son because the latter wished to convert to the Catholic religion. In fact, the son perhaps wanted to convert but committed suicide by hanging. In the beginning of this affair, Voltaire showed no interest and even asked himself if Jean Callas could be guilty. He only really became aware of the reality behind through the visit of a reformed person who would tell him the story and how it had been an obvious injustice. Voltaire would study the case at length and denounce a quick and incriminating investigation. For him, there was no doubt that Jean Callas had been executed because he was a Protestant.

Voltaire - en colère et en train de lire à Ferney - d'purb dpurb site web

Image: Voltaire étudiant les dossiers sur Jean Callas à Ferney / Source: Voltaire ou la liberté de penser (2019)

For 3 years, Voltaire would attempt to rehabilitate the memory of Jean Callas by relying on his network. He wrote to all the people who were the most influent and tried to show that there had been a horrible misunderstanding. Today, when we simply look at Voltaire’s correspondence made of numerous letters to convince each of them to join the fight for Callas, we realise that hours and hours of his life were given to the memory of Callas, a man with whom he had no direct links and never even knew personally.

It would take several years for the judgement of Toulouse to be first adulated and for Jean Callas to be subsequently rehabilitated, but Voltaire would succeed; the King’s council would make this return which was quite exceptional for the conservative religious climate of the 18th century. Voltaire would also get involved in many other issues of the society of his time, however the story of Jean-Callas remained the fight of his life. It is in fact the major catalyst that led him to write his timeless treaty on tolerance, a work that remains until this day a reference on the subject.

In 2015, the working premises of the popular satirical and “over the top” newspaper, Charlie Hebdo, known for its defiant, exaggerated and limitless comics, was assaulted by Muslim Jihadists, Chérif and Said Kouachi and 11 people lost their lives brutally: the cartoonists, Jean Cabu, Stéphane Charbonnier, Philippe Honoré, Bernard Verlhac, Georges Wolinski; the psychoanalyst, Elsa Cayat; the economist, Bernard Maris; the corrector, Mustapha Ourrad; a maintenance worker, Frédéric Boisseau; and Michel Renaud, the cofounder of the festival « Rendez-vous du carnet de voyage », who had been invited to assist the editorial conference. The following day, another Muslim Jihadist who claimed to be of the Islamic State, namely, Amedy Coulibaly, stormed a super market and killed 4 people, fuelled by his Islamic jihadist teachings and Jew hatred. The whole of France and the world were in a state of shock. Parisians manifested in mass the following day, and it is to be noted that when they did, they brandished the writings of a man known as Voltaire who lived 250 years ago, and it was his « Traité de Tolérance ». Spontaneously, people and even the youth looked for Voltaire’s mind, since he remains the man who best embodied liberty “à la Française”; meaning a form of freedom for all that is superior to every other belief whatever it is and wherever it comes from – that proves how avant-garde and ahead of his time Voltaire was.

To this day, we can find a painting known as « Le Triomphe de Voltaire » [French for: The Triumph of Voltaire] at his former residence in Ferney, which was realised 3 years before his death that Stéphane Bern in 2019 pointed out to be very interesting for its biographical value, because in the centre we see two faces of Voltaire: one that shows a mortal man like all human beings on our planet, and a second that shows Voltaire as the immortal creator; at the bottom of the painting we see the Callas family who are portrayed as protégés of Voltaire, then we also see the bust of Voltaire that is going to be installed in a temple on the right next to the those of Sophocle, Euripide, Corneille and Racine; the temple also strangely resembles the Panthéon where Voltaire’s remains are, as if it was written in the books of destiny that Voltaire would have an incredible homage or that Voltaire knew that his memory would be celebrated by those who inherited, feel and stand for his values and philosophy.

During the last years of his life, Voltaire had become the best-known personality in Europe, so many people made the trip to meet him in Ferney. Voltaire called himself « l’aubergiste de l’Europe » [French for: Europe’s innkeeper], simply because his residence at Ferney would receive so many personalities from all over Europe. When visitors arrived daily, everyone was received by Voltaire himself; sometimes he would drop kind words, other times he would greet by nodding his head. His visitors could be writers, aristocrats, intellectuals from so many domains, for example, some of them worked in Italy on the excavations of Herculaneum and Pompeii.

It is also important to remember since we tend to forget, that the whole of Europe, the Europe of the aristocrats and of the bourgeoisie of the enlightenment spoke French, and in Europe no one was Voltaire’s equal because he made people laugh and also cry, and also because he had a mind with extraordinary agility – everyone read Voltaire!

Voltaire - en train de lire - d'purb dpurb site web

Voltaire en pleine lecture / Source: Voltaire ou la liberté de penser (2019)

Some women would even respectfully come and kiss Voltaire’s hands. To travel to such a place in order to meet a man of letters and bowing down before him as if he was a religious messiah remains a remarkable phenomenon – Voltaire is an 18th century star like that century would not have any other. This would also be one of the most fruitful periods in Voltaire’s correspondence at Ferney; he wrote nearly a quarter of his 25,000 known letters which is an integral part of his legacy and work.

Being a prolific communicator in the days where people wrote letters: official letters and clandestine letters, we found out how he dealt with those in power and the authorities; French writer, Philippe Sollers thought that Voltaire sliced and reigned with his words – just like Napoléon. To this day, there are very few correspondences that can be read and enjoyed as masterpieces.

La correspondence de Voltaire en plusieurs volumes - d'purb dpurb site web

Image: La correspondence de Voltaire compilé en plusieurs volumes

Voltaire spoke of everything in his correspondence, his own life and the life of others along with a number of extraordinary thoughts that emerged and that completes his work in a sense. French philosopher, Elizabeth Badinter considers the compiled volumes of Voltaire’s correspondence as the most exciting reading of all, arguing that one can read his correspondence over and over without ever being bored.

Another extraordinary achievement remains the fact that Voltaire was entitled to his marble statue during his lifetime when such a privilege had generally only been reserved for kings. The statue realised by Jean-Baptiste Pigalle is exposed at the Musée du Louvre, an iconic work of sculpture that represents Voltaire naked, with nothing but a small drapery, sitting on a tree trunk and we can also see two accessories: a mask which symbolised comedy, a dagger for tragedy, but also a phylactery which is a piece of paper that is usually attributed to prophets and Voltaire is represented with it, barefoot as a prophet, because he is seen as the prophet of the republic of letters who announced the time of the liberation of the individual.

Voltaire Nu de Jean-Baptiste Pigalle d'purb dpurb site web

Image; Voltaire nu (1776) par Jean-Baptiste Pigalle (1714 – 1785)

That extraordinary statue was funded through a subscription launched to all men of words, and we can find the names of the subscribers on the base of the statue: King Frederick of Prussia, the King of Denmark and even Jean-Jacques Rousseau his great intellectual rival.

The sculptor, Jean-Baptise Pigalle was inspired by the great philosophers of antiquity and hence realised a naked and natural Voltaire without exaggeratingly idealising him and that led to scandals. Pigalle wanted to portrait Voltaire in the reality of a man, that is, an old man, but a handsome old man. However, the statue would generate a lot of irony. King Gustav III of Sweden who was passing through Paris would say that he was willing to subscribe but for clothes, so we can conclude that Gustav was ignorant and did not understand anything of Pigalle’s artistic message and perspective. Many sarcasms will follow, minor sonnets that ridiculed Voltaire and the statue. Voltaire then understood that it was time to calm things down and put a stop to all the nonsense around the shock and perhaps jealousy of a man getting the accolade of an emperor with a statue in his living, and declared that he found Pigalle’s statue to be a masterpiece. Voltaire stated that he himself had suffered so much from censorship and if Pigalle perceived and conceived it like that, he is a great artist and should be free!

While Voltaire enjoyed a formidable recognition in Ferney, he still dreamt of a last séjour in Paris in his eighties, which was an exceptional age to reach in the 18th century when medicine was almost prehistoric without vaccines and antibiotics, and where people of various segments of society and all walks of life died of diseases such as tuberculosis, that would have been considered as minor and curable in the 21st century that we now live in, or they would sometimes be killed by the unscientific and barbaric surgical practices of the times when bacteria and medical hygiene were unknown; modern medicine would only begin in the 19th century with the invention of the stethoscope by René Laennec. Voltaire did not have much to fear from the power held by the young Louis XVI who had no idea that he would be the last king of France of the period known as the Ancien Régime and during the unstable reign of terror before the proclamation of a republican constitution, would be sentenced to the guillotine in 1793 at the Place de la Révolution in Paris along with his wife Marie-Antoinette of Austria, sadly even the pioneering chemist, Antoine Lavoisier, who is considered as the father of modern nutrition, would suffer the same fate for having worked as a tax collector for the monarchy.

In February 1778, Voltaire made his great return to the capital that he had left 30 years earlier. He was cheered by thousands of Parisians and would not be able to leave his house since his carriage was constantly surrounded by crowds of people. People wanted to touch him as they wanted to touch relics, some even proposed to uncouple the horses from his carriage to put themselves in their place in order to have the honour of transporting this modern-day Apollo to his home. There were crowds clustered on the rooftop balconies which was something surprising for the times. During his time in Paris, Voltaire stayed at his friend, Charles de Villette’s place at the Quai de Théatins also known today as Quai Voltaire. That would be the place where he completed his last play, Irène. Historians would later find out that in 1777, Voltaire tried to make the play, Irène, seem like a piece that he had just completed, but his correspondence revealed that he had been working on it and minutely crafted that story for more than twenty years before it came out.

Voltaire - Irène

Image: Irène par Voltaire

When Irène was played, the spectators were hardly interested in the show because everyone was interested in Voltaire and his presence. Yet, it was a success and after the play, Voltaire’s bust was brought in. The man of letters was crowned and the French actors sung verses in honour of the great man. Voltaire stood up while being crowned with laurels and said:

« Vous allez me faire mourir de plaisir. »


French for:

« You are going to make me die of pleasure! »

That was Voltaire’s apotheosis! That same year, 1778, Voltaire died on the 30th of May at the age of 83 years old. The body was opened and embalmed by candlelight on the kitchen table of Charles de Villette; the heart and the brain were extracted to be conserved and the entrails would be thrown in the latrine. His skull was covered with a cap to hide the opening where his brain was removed, make up was applied on his lips and cheeks to give the illusion of life and his body was strapped upright in the carriage and all that jolly entourage would leave in complete discretion. Since, to the displeasure of his religious enemies, he remained true to his beliefs and never confessed to a sworn Catholic priest who could have given him the last rites of unction, people were worried that his remains would not be buried in Christian soil. To avoid the common grave, the transfer of his body out of Paris was hastily organised and sent to the Abbaye de Sellières.

There are tales that suggest that loud thunder manifested when Voltaire’s body was in the church, the weather was so bad that the doors slammed open and the candles were blown out and Voltaire’s body fell, the monks started to pray in panic in complete darkness and balls of fire were rolling on the grass. Voltaire was inhumated at Sellières where his remains stayed until 1791 when they were transferred to the Panthéon. The heart of Voltaire, which had been removed during the embalmment was first placed in the room of Voltaire at Ferney where a mausoleum was specially fitted out, it would then later be given to the Bibliothèque Nationale de France where it would be stored in the base of the famous statue of Voltaire sitting sculpted by Houdon between 1780 and 1790.

Voltaire_Assis par Jean-Antoine_Houdon 1780-1790 d'purb dpurb site web

Image: Voltaire assis (1780 – 1790) par Jean-Antoine Houdon (1714 – 1785)

In 2010, during renovation works to enlarge the BNF, Voltaire’s statue had to be temporarily moved and during that move, the base was opened and the workers found a shiny heart-shaped metal box with the inscription, « Coeur de Voltaire, mort à Paris le 30 Mai 1778 ». The heart has since been put back in the base of Houdon’s statue as we would have treated that of a Saint, which is ironic, and would have definitely amused the man who during his whole life fought the rigid religious institutions of the 18th century.

« Je meurs en adorant dieu, en aimant mes amis, en ne haïssant point mes ennemis, en détestant la superstition ! »

–        Voltaire


French for:

« I die worshipping God, loving my friends, not hating my enemies, hating superstition!  »

–        Voltaire

Those were the last words uttered at the end of his life which perfectly summarises his faith, personality and vision of the world. After the philosopher’s death, Ferney lost a great part of its economic activities but the memory of Voltaire continues to animate the little town. Iconic writers such as Chateaubriand, Stendhal, Flaubert and Alexandre Dumas père would come to pay homage to the great master of French letters after his death. The town has since been renamed Ferney-Voltaire to honour the man who will remain as the master craftsman of the Age of Enlightenment.

Ferney-Voltaire - Blason et Logo de la ville d'purb dpurb site web

Image: Blason et Logo de la ville de Ferney-Voltaire

The modern individual is unique and makes choices in self-conception

It is important to understand that an individual will never be what others believe or want them to be, whatever the size of the crowd, because individuals are creative and adaptive organisms with the ability to make conscious decisions about their lives and identities, and can leave their initial enviroment for new locations, adapt and recreate themselves to be part of a new society [there many illustrious examples in the 21st century to cite] depending on their desires and abilities, or they can also simply visit places for the sake of exploration without adapting or being part of them.

Fritz Perls Citation

Traduction(EN): “I am not in this world to live up to other people’s expectations, nor do I feel that the world must live up to mine.” -Fritz Perls, Psychiatrist and Psychotherapist who coined the ‘Gestalt therapy’

In most modern and enlightened societies of Western European intellectual and philosophical heritage, we are a culture of individuals, a society of unique people who besides their individual characteristics and differences manage to synchronise and work together in matters of national importance without it being restrictive to our personal liberties and choices from one person to the other. To be a person generally means to be connected [even indirectly, e.g. through arts and literature] to others. However, taking the metaphor of a golf competition to explain the picture, we cannot all win the contest. Clearly, one person will win and others will still perform well while some will need training to reach a decent standard although not within competitive categories. However, in an advert promoting golf, no company would only show one golfer by himself on all its adverts, but rather they show and promote many golfers, happy to be together. Hence, the way to be a person in modern society seems to be a part of it [directly or indirectly, all representatives of the society but with varying degrees of skills and abilities].

As with myself, having pushed the limits of my Franco-British heritage to the academic stage globally, more and more people are slowly getting the opportunity to be bi or tri-cultural. It is not a simple thing to do or accommodate, but it will be the task of more and more people in the world if individuals are to overcome their limitations in perception, feeling and understanding, and experience the world from the finest socio-linguistic lenses to explore their different senses on a planet that is more accessible in its depth through the magic of modern media [e.g. internet, multimedia experiences, high definition packages, distance learning, virtual reality, audiobooks, and even university lectures online [e.g. Les cours de Michel Butor] that is changing the processes of learning at a speed never seen before.

The reasoning person, being the intelligent being who has infinite worth and dignity would logically try to assimilate into the best heritage / linguistic-culture(s), knowing that the world is not flat and that we have natural masters and natural slaves, where intelligence is the only thing that distinguishes them – as Immanuel Kant also concluded. Like the analogy of humans, who being more intelligent than other living creatures, have become the supreme beings at the top of the food chain to rule over our planet. If we also side with this evolutionary logic, the best and most sophisticated society or societies [in terms of language, education, philosophy, heritage, etc] should by the laws of meritocracy have the privilege to guide and/or inspire the human civilisation to create a singular society/human empire in synchronisation with itself in the future as our civilisation evolves and comes to terms with its insignificance as a mortal bunch of organisms on a small, depleting and lonely planet in the universe without a spare planet to colonise that could still be wiped out and never remembered like the dinosaurs with an asteroid at any moment.

Asteroid Impact on Earth

Image: Illustration of an asteroid impact on Earth that could wipe out all life / See: Le Jour Où Les Dinosaures Ont Disparu (2017)

Modern psychological research has shown that we are reflections of all social interactions that mark us throughout our life and these interactions do not only come in the physical form, but also through arts, film, modern media and literature, all these create symbolic desires that affects each individual differently. And those who choose who and what shapes them, will tend to be inspired by those they admire [this extends beyond minor interactions such as the fishmonger at the market place or the coconut seller at the beach, but reaches as far as the mind goes up to the highest level of culture through exposure directly or indirectly (modern media) and breaches barriers once thought impossible]. As Jacques Lacan’s psychoanalytic writings also suggest – relying heavily on linguistic theory and intellectual trends in late 20th-century France, such as the structuralist movementour sense of self is a tissue of identification with people we have known [directly or indirectly exposed to, e.g. mentors, fictional characters, authority figures, artists, etc], and the only wholeness we imagine ourselves to have is a fiction, a comforting and self-deceiving way of narrating our personal story, since our “selves” are profoundly “de-centred”.

The greatest child psychologist of all time, Jean Piaget argued that all forms of social interaction [which also includes artistic exposure] in the process of learning play an important role in “cognitive growth”. Bernard Lahire pointed out that differences in cultural education [e.g. various forms of artistic exposure] have an impact on the developing child and leads to inequalities early in life, i.e. the child exposed to finer artistic experiences (e.g. literature, music, film, digital experiences, etc) has a better chance of developing a sophisticated mastery of language early in life than the child who is not. This does not mean that all individuals are doomed for failure because of their inadequate early development, as some gifted or dedicated individuals do catch up on their linguistic development later in life.

La fabrique des inégalités

Crédits : Youst – Getty

However, one of the greatest challenges to individual cultural identity remains the overcoming of bigotry. The prejudices of a superior heritage can eat away the self-regard of inferior cultures, languages and heritage. Prejudice is a form of psychological genocide that works across generations and contributes to the despair, drug abuse and violence we see in communities whose cultural identities are under siege. This can be seen through high levels of depression, alcoholism and suicide among Native Americans for example. Hence, an agreement that respects the achievements, strengths and individuality of others would likely ease the tensions with inferior cultures who may have more to gain in assimilating into superior ones. Diplomacy and empathy will also help in the transition to adopting new patterns of living if we [as a group of organisms on planet Earth] take the direction that leads to a synchronised civilisation/empire in the future, looking into space for new planets to ensure our existence and continuity as a space race.

In the face of adversity we have seen another side of the self that creates new realities, transforming life into art. This is what Alfred Adler called the creative self. Throughout history, men and women have put their creative imprint on anything that can be shaped, coloured and re-arranged. Even in the depths of despair, Jews who were imprisoned in German deportation camps [that had been heavily damaged by allied bombings, and cut off from receiving rations due to bombed train tracks while the lack of sanitation led to outbreaks of typhus which killed thousands], still managed to create art on whatever scraps of paper they could get their hands on to give meaning to the incomprehensible horror of their lives at that time.

However, research from Brandeis University that explored the creativity of two groups of girls aged 7 to 11 from the community centre of an apartment complex has found that people will be most creative when they feel motivated primarily by the interest and enjoyment, the satisfaction, the challenge of the work itself, and not by external pressures (Amabile, 1982).

So, now, you have learnt some of the ways in which intellectuals, academics and psychologists try to follow the Delphic Oracle’s exhortation to “Know Thyself.” We have explored a number of aspects and dimensions of the self, some of which may be known readily – although not accurately – through empirical investigations [e.g. using basic constructs for variables such as traits in questionnaires of quantitative empirical research that remain questionable in terms of construct validity and internal consistency], while others [such as the impact of art on the mind and implicit learning] can only be explained theoretically [since traits too can be modified, affected or changed through an individual’s desires or external influence (e.g. arts) and evolve into different behaviours through cultural evolution as we move further into human history]. We have also seen how we differ in our self-concepts from one individual to another, and how our behaviour differs as a result [e.g. the choices we make as unique organisms/individuals with unique fingerprints and brain chemistry].



The concluding thoughts are logically the fact that men and women who make the choice and who have the necessary education and intelligence to guide them, build themselves and gain the ability to change cultural and national registers & identity, when they have the capacity for development, the linguistic heritage and the genetics of intellect with a mastery of expression and speech. It is only then that they manage to represent a nation or an empire [or two?].

In the 21st century, as far as ‘The Organic Theory’ [which focuses on the singularity of the individual organism] is concerned, there is no debate between intellectuals in psychology, but simply the discovery of the new mechanical / scientific perspectives that it introduces to explain the psychological and philosophical conception of the individual – as Carl Sagan phrased it, ‘Science is a way of thinking much more than it is a body of knowledge.

Construction [training], which ‘can be’ mechanical and structured in its application [e.g. distance learning by text / video / audio], develops indirectly to create and give a socio-cultural dimension to the individual once the desired skills have been fully adopted, mastered, and deployed in life. The term ‘social’ is also far too vague to be important as such… the term ‘social’ can simply be defined as the interaction [of all types] between organisms. So the term ‘social’ is not really valid scientifically and it lacks precision itself since it may refer to a wide range of variables. What we are left with then is only the individual’s choices, language(s) & abilities of personal development [e.g. cultural & psycholinguistic synthesis]: the major factors in the psychological & philosophical explanation of his/her singular conception [to note that each conception is unique to the individual human organism such as his/her fingerprints, skull shape, or body structure: singularity]. Thus: training, meritocracy, order and love [simple… in theory].

However, the concept of self is not an overnight process but a gradual, systematic and intelligent process involving calculated, precise and minute adjustments to one’s inner thoughts, thus, over time [this depends on individual abilities], changing one’s cognitive schemas, personality, identity and linguistic proficiency. It is a process hugely dependent on individual motivation, education, dedication, capability, IQ and socio-psychological proficiency. This is also reminiscent of some of the writings of Diogenes Laërtius, which is likely a stoic interpretation that compares athletic training to psychological and moral training which consequently highlights the idea of a form of asceticism in construction which implies a “Ponos [a labour and/or a challenge].

Fundamental to the concept of self, language(s) is the essence of identity because it creates a social bond and it is also fundamental to all forms of social activity and discourse which lead to cultural belonging, and thus, cognitive schemas related to internalised emotions and thoughts that allow one to navigate efficiently within the particular cultural theme and become part of the societies related to the languages. Together, psychology, linguistic culture, personality and intelligence are the core foundations of individual conception – to sum it up beautifully for colleagues in innovation, science and psychology out there, “It is not what is in the book and brain that counts, but the ability to turn it into a believable logical reality and promote psychologically valid human concepts/identities.”


Images: (i) Sébastien Bourdon par Hyacinthe Rigaud (1733) | (ii) René Descartes par Sébastien Bourdon (1671) | (iii) René Descartes par Alessandro Lonati (2016)

Ad Augusta Per Angusta

Translation (EN): « Has grandiose results by narrow lanes » / Source: Le Petit Larousse 2018 / Les locutions étrangères gravées dans nos mémoires ont la magie des formules oubliées dont le charme va croissant lorsque l’alchimie des mots nous est plus mystérieuses. Elles ont l’autorité de la chose écrite. / Mot de passe des conjurés au quatrième acte d’Hernani, de Victor Hugo. On n’arrive au triomphe qu’en surmontant maintes épreuves.

uomo vitruviano - da vinci (1490) d'purb site

L’Huomo Vitruviano ” ou “L’Homme de Vitruve” par Léonard de Vinci (1490)



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