Hate-Fight-Therapy (War As A Psychotherapist)

In Alain Resnais’ “Mon Oncle d’Amerique” we are shown a number of psychological experiments with mice that suggest some similarities between mice and humans. We learn that even highly stressful conditions of existence can be easily tolerated by a mouse if it is provided with a sparring partner – another mouse in the same cage. If the mice are given the opportunity to fight each other the level of stress immediately goes down or it’s eliminated altogether, and this prevents anguish and the onset of illness. Fight protects health. If the fighting option is absent the mice will become overstressed, depressed and, eventually, psychologically and physically sick.

Fighting Mice from Alain Resnais' Film
Fighting mice getting unexpected relief from stress through fighting

Psycho-ecologically we are not that far from the mice. Fighting and war-making are good for our emotional health. To fight in order to prove that I/we am/are stronger, smarter and better than other people or groups means for human beings to get an opportunity to realize their spontaneous belief in their better-ness or best-ness. Our very belief in our own superiority is already latently an aggressive posture of psychological mobilization for fight. It is triggered by the expectation of future clash. Wars are risky and deadly but it makes us feel euphoric before we start to pay the price in the form of casualties and other war related disasters. Many soldiers and civilians will be sacrificed, but the leaders of the victorious nations, grand geo-political strategists, generals and those who need the army to clear the markets and eliminate economic or political opponents will not suffer. For them, and for those who perceive war purely emotionally – through TV news, war is pure catharsis, while soldiers for psychological pleasures of war (feeling of being strong, enlarged by sharing patriotic affects with the army as a giant family and the whole country, enjoying the right to kill and humiliate their enemies) will pay with their bodies, limbs and lives, like the enemy fighters who feel the same hate toward our soldiers as we feel towards them (because they also occupy the lowest social position and are equally manipulated by their own leaders into fighting/killing and dying for their masters’ prosperity and glory).

Destrudo and Libido as Stress Fighters
From illustrating the experiments with mice, Resnais moves to their direct application to the life of human beings. He inserts the meaning of the experiments into the plots of human lives. This shot represents “mice love” as a human attempt to avoid unpleasant (“punishing”) situations. Love is not as effective of a softener for our fears/worries as fight/war is. Still, it can also help us in our everyday life by relaxing our stress. During the periods of war people’s libido is also activated. Overproduction of destrudo and libido are the two faces of a basic socio-biological strategy of coping with dangers and demands of life.

Human Beings' Mice-Fight
Resnais’s main accent remains on the benevolent role of competition/fight in creating but also alleviating the stress of human life. To be effective cure of stress competition has to be extreme, aggressive, war-like – exactly as global corporations have it. The uncertainty/unreliability of tomorrow stimulates fight that in turn temporarily softens our worries about future’s uncertainty/unreliability.