HE.S.T.A.F.T.A. - Scientific Society of Mental Health Professionals


  • Kyriakos KatzourakisPainter, Film Director, Emeritus Professor of Thessaloniki University

Kyriakos Katzourakis paint

To begin with, this book, which draws on the relationship between politics and psychotherapy, is worthy of praise particularly for the timeliness of the issue due to the social collapse in our country in recent years - something that "systemic politics" almost despises as an emergency. This poses the question - why does it offer a substantive dialogue on the overall treatment of psychotherapy's relationship to social considerations?

Although I am not an expert, I know that valuable work has been done by psychoanalysts and psychotherapists, with sensitivity and knowledge.

The authors of this volume, each in their own way, have managed to form a basic body, understood by the average citizen but without any scientific concessions. In the text of Sotiris Manolopoulos  “We Live a Life We Don't Understand “(p. 46), he writes about the exercise of command: “Power and authority are sizes that share, omnipotence does not share: you are everything or you are nothing. The problem starts when relationships become bureaucratic and instrumental and fill in the gaps with reactionary actions ... Our meetings look like political party conventions.  Dead, with no real contradictions and differentiation, we do not want to love in order not to be fooled. In conditions of conformity and oppression we work without love and desire to know, without understanding each other. We don't meet up. No one identifies with anyone.”

This gave rise to some thoughts on politics and its relation to psychoanalysis:

I once thought that Politics, Art and Psychoanalysis were three "sacred and immaculate" entities that do not communicate with each other. My contact with psychoanalysis began in 1972 in London in places such as University residences and the sacredness of political action dominated the world around me. I was lucky because in the 1970s there was a real explosion of literature about the relationship between art and psychoanalysis and I fell in love with reading.[1]

Life itself has taught me for a long time that the fields of Politics, Art and Psychoanalysis are inextricably linked with a pulsating inner necessity and they have been a valuable tool for balance and depth in my work.

The opening was with the psychoanalytic interpretation of political action as an “acting out” - which then angered me during the junta's resistance. Strangely enough, I still long for a similar resistance and political “act out” today. As K.Ch. says in “Aeschylus the Persians: A Psychotherapeutic Reading “: " ... in present-day Greece Crisis (one of the centers of the World Crisis), one can observe the Greeks crying and crying but, for the time being (let's hope it's just for the time being), they do not see, or from the trauma they have suffered no longer have the morale and confidence to look for perspective."

Thus depression comes. And I'm adding as ignorant: depression, the opportunity for the precious "little mourning" and “lying fallow”.

Painting was the main, probably the most basic form of art I turned to and I'm still trying to fit everything into the two-dimensional painting, considering it the closest to what's going on in the depths. That is, the closest space to the indirect speech of art.

The volume is a treasure trove for someone looking to understand the society around him, for someone who believes that nothing changesand that’s it.It illuminates the side that is usually hidden or veiled, incredible political violence, as long as we remember Zak's killers and the humiliating behavior of the murderous human circle around his crush. In the face of such violence, immorality, passivity you cannot say: Yes, but I will paint ... Yes, but I ... Yes but ... and only "Yes" remains.

The texts, moreover, identify and illuminate the sense of the individual responsibilities that make up any grouping. As my friend, Joanna, reminds us in her text, Giannakoula's thoughts help us see Tragedy in Drama. One phrase of Andrea’s disgust: "My maestro is untroubled",

I remember now. Somewhere in the beginning of the seventh year of the junta at the French Institute there was a speech by Antonis Samarakis, it was one of the first "secret" protests.

When Samarakis appeared on the bench, silence fell. Looking at the speaker with expectation as if we were waiting for instructions, he retaliated with his own silence that lasted for a few minutes.

Looking at us in this strange style, he uttered his first phrase, "Who's afraid of Virginia Woolf?", Again silent. He repeated it twice, pausing, staring at the audience as an interrogator: "No one is afraid of Virginia Wolf," he said and the amphitheater exploded into applause. I felt that this key phrase was said in this direct way to shed a clear light on an audience full of bourgeois, intellectuals and artists, as if imposing on them their responsibilities, but with the kindness of psychoanalysis.

I would say that for the first time in my life I participated not in group therapy but in mass therapy! This indirect political rhetoric of Samarakis aimed not only at protest, contained the following: The shattering of a new threat to humanity and the danger of apathy. The speaker was accusatory, as if he were watching today. Humanity walks in dark paths and a new Middle-Ages revive. Apathy is the biggest problem facing the devastating scourge of the world's societies. Solidarity, justice, equality, cultural and racial pluralism and brotherhood disappear. Hunger, war, the nightmarish components of a new morality and erosion of consciousness are magnified and the new, post-war world blindfolds themselves.

The end is approaching threatening, and spiritual apathy and disability are swelling.

As A. Alavanos writes in “Five Thoughts for Politics”: "In the face of the people, we on the left are constantly ambivalent, we do not have emotional stability. We sail in a sea of ​​happiness when it roars against power. We go through heavy mourning when sleeping”.

And I come to the third "sacred limb", one that has tormented me since the junta years and still torments me: In art you are not obliged to know and that does not mean that you are above criticism. Faith in the instinct of the moment is a structural element of the tools you hold in your hand, like a magic wand, to transform relationships, feelings and form at will and without hesitation. Today the process of knowledge transfer has lost its depth and has taken the form of information. Complete and comprehensive knowledge has been broken down into small fragments, corresponding to today's fragmented man, cut off from his history, place and past. There are times when the magic wand can't even tear.

We look back to enlighten today. Everything we know has been done before us. Looking back is the natural need to learn history. Knowledge is food and not an attitude of life, or a tendency for expression, and of course knowledge is about the past, what has already been done. Cézanne used to say: "I feel like I'm part of the old realistic tradition and my only guide is nature". I cannot imagine Cézanne wondering whether or not it will interfere with current terminology. This founder of the modern spirit of painting felt that he was a continuation of others.


Polis is a spiritual haven, as was Floral and Vox.

When Polis closes it, the arcade will change from a spiritual hangout to a gourmet shop. They are the only hangouts that we've taken a step to talk about and criticize to try to dig deeper back and forth under dry information.

As Samarakis prophesied then, long before the well-to-do memoranda: “… The instinct of freedom will be diminished by the constant submission to the fear of war and the fear of hunger. The thirst for freedom will be dead. Generations to come will not have the sense of freedom. That will be the ultimate penalty".

"Woe to the twenty-year-old man who is not a revolutionary, who is not rebelliou", and continues: "Either you will choose silencein order tonot lose your shot and your peace, or you will react, resist, fight in all these horrors and atrocities that are committed supposedly for you, but without you".

I subscribe to Charalabakis' latest sentence in "Therapy and Crisis in Greece", as a quote from the edited book: “Not self-sacrifice, but redemption, liberation and solidarity - these are the things the therapist deserves to breathe into the Greek family of the great crisis.”


*(The text is from my presentation of the book "Psychotherapy and Policy Reviews", of the Hellenic Systemic Thinking and Family Therapy Association, edited by Katia Charalabaki, KORONTZI Publications 2019, at the Polis Art Cafe, September 29, 2019).

[1]  I lived in London from 1972 to 1985. This period was after the French uprising of 1968. The new Marxist thought with the semantic school (Roland Barthes) was popular and there was a youthful explosion of sexual liberation and the children of flowers. Sex and Politics, Wilhelm Reich etc., went into uncharted territory then creating a huge impact, which in my opinion still influences scientific and philosophical research. RD Laing, DG Cooper, John Berger and basically psychoanalytic literature began to employ Systematic Thinking - as it is called today - family psychotherapy, de-institutionalization (experimental buildings taught to psychiatric patients by R.D. Laing) and, finally, the link between psychoanalytic thinking and theory with social reality (National Health Service, education, etc.). In general, psychoanalysis plays a leading role and conflicts with the given as the dominant left. The first few years I was literally divided in two: psychoanalysis vs. politics. It took many years for me to understand how connected they are and how much they feed each other and form the eternal connection of the individual to the whole. An example is the time of the “Polytechnio”, when I first used the word "rebellion" and meant the crowd, not a leader.

I quote part of the literature that I was interested in during those years and which in my opinion is important in shaping today's thinking).


John Berger   Ways of Seeing (1972)   About Looking (1980)   A Painter of Our Time (1958)

Anton Ehrenzweig  "The Hidden Order in Art", 1967

Marion Milner  “Not Being Able to Paint”

Masud Khan  "The Privacy of the Self", 1974

Adrian Stokes  "The Invitation to Art", preface by Richard Wollheim, 1965

Kris Ernst  Psychoanalytic Exploration in Art (1952)

Laing, R.D. (1960) The Divided Self: An Existential Study in Sanity and Madness. Harmondsworth: Penguin.

Laing, R.D. (1961) The Self and Others. London: Tavistock Publications. [36]

Laing, R.D. and Cooper, D.G. (1964) Reason and Violence: A Decade of Sartre's Philosophy. (2nd ed.) London: Tavistock Publications Ltd.

Laing, R.D. (1971) The Politics of the Family and Other Essays. London: Tavistock Publications.

Kyriakos Katzourakis, 1/10/2019

Read the next article:

ARTICLE 10/ ISSUE 15, October 2019

The Sound of Silence

Thanasis Skamnakis, Journalist
Next >


Support the online journal "Systemic Thinking & Psychotherapy" by making a donation today.Donate