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


Another issue came to life while a multi-levelled crisis is evolving. A crisis on a personal, family, local, social, global level. Although Covid-19 is portrayed as the cause, if we look at ‘the human condition in the world’ through a wider perspective, it would appear to be just a trigger rather than the cause itself. The crisis was here before and will continue to exist after whatever “victory” mankind will achieve against this virus. This biological occasion just forces us to increase consciousness, regarding the survival of humankind, which is in confrontation, instead of cooperation with the rest of the natural world on our planet, and also the survival in a society where fundamental humanistic and democratic values are cruelly challenged or in several cases violently abrogated.

This is an issue that highlights, in several multileveled ways, conditions of given or predicted loss. Of actual or symbolic losses. It addresses the necessity of prevention but also the treatment options and learning possibilities that stem from them.

The issue is dedicated to the loss of a mentor and cornerstone figure of systemic thought and psychotherapy. A loss for all of the systemic community. The loss of Mony Elkaim.

Three authors pay homage to him: Jacques PluymakersHommage to Mony ”, Katia Charalabaki,The last farewell to Mony Elkaim ” and Theodora SkaliAbout Father!!! ”. All three of them have known him and worked with him through different capacities. They write about their shared experiences and also about the ideas and principals Mony Elkaim had promoted. They remind us of the basic concepts systemic approach had introduced about the ways of viewing our world. They takes us back to the 1970s and 1980s, when radical approaches where evolving concerning the integration of public mental health and the implementation of family therapy in the community. They comment about the intense political dialogue and the creativity evolving through relating and exchanging ideas and beliefs, about basic concepts Mony Elkaim had introduced such as “resonance” or “mutual double bind” and finally about his pluralistic presence as the “other-good-father”.

Then come the articles of Nikos Kaldirimitzian followed by that of Renos Papadopoulos, which have certain “resonances” and relevances to one another. Under the title “ Investigation of trauma, resilience and post traumatic growth after the Samos earthquakeNikos Kaldirimitzian refers to a “crisis within the crisis” when the island of Samos was afflicted by the big earthquake of October 2020. He discusses the consequences and also the prerequisites under which capabilities for resilience and recovery can flourish. Renos Papadopoulos under the title “ The Approach of Synergic Therapeutic Complexity with Involuntarily Dislocated people ”, attempts to re-signify concepts connected to the process of emigration-dislocation and to capture the phenomenon via a more holistic and synthetic point of view. A view that contains resilience and the chance for the evolution of new skills.

Kia Thanopoulou picks up the torch and by her article titled “ Charting the concept of bond and loss in the Covid-19 era ” documents the concepts of bonding and loss in the Covid-19 era. She does that with self-exposing liveliness focusing on the roles of psychotherapist and trainer, and the aspect of how therapists are affected in both these roles, pointing out-at the same time- the challenges they are faced with.

Calliope Ekonomou comes next and as a teacher, with her article entitled “ Education in the time of postmodernity or the ephemeral ” raises the “hot” issue of education. A fundamental and complex subject. A subject that might represent the main tool for the “beginning of the end” of the current crisis. The tool for reflecting how to move forward and how to prepare society for the “post crisis” condition. She points out failures in postmodernity’s educational directions and makes suggestions for the future.

**Katia Charalabaki ** then, presents the debate between the participants during her “ Experiential Workshop ” entitled as “ Belonging ”, which took place in the context of a conference held by Systemic Association of Northern Greece and Hellenic Federation of the Systemic Therapy Societies with the title: “Climate change and the pandemic: Systemic cooperative action in the Anthropocene era”. The debate makes lots of references to the socio-political basis of the crisis, and reflections concerning the personal and therapeutical stance on the part of the therapists.

And finally at the ‘book presentation’ segment, Theodora Skali presents the “ Letter to my father ” by Franz Kafka. She comments on the role of the “Father”, “failure” in the relationship with the descending generation, and on how, then, writing can become a reparative experience concerning the rehabilitation of self-coherence. She, of course, then continues by connecting this book to her personal experience with Mony Elkaim as her supervisor. An experience revealing Elkaim’s role as the role of “the-other-good father”.

Thus, it is an emotionally charged issue. It seems as if it is not possible, under these multi-crisis related circumstances, to maintain a distant posture from this sociopolitical reality as a mental health specialist. This reality invades therapeutic contexts in diverse and sometimes violent ways. We are very often called to make a stand. Taking into account the importance of maintaining the integrity of our therapeutic context and the therapeutic alliance intact, this can become a conundrum.

The writers participating in this issue seem to have experienced this condition, and attempt to suggest ways of handling it. We are facing lots of new demands as therapists. I think that fundamental principles passed down by mentors like Mony Elkaim, that contain values such as creative connectivity between colleagues, groups and communities, could serve as a compass in life.

The ways that we should discover in order to resist a terribly frightening perspective of losing control of our personal lives, to maintain critical thought concerning every ‘dominant narrative’ - since there are not many emerging triumphant over the rest (as the example of the national scientific committee against Covid-19 has shown us) - and to contribute to the growth of an holistic-ecologic point of view concerning ‘humans as part of the world’, is a an angst producing task that  affects  the majority of our therapeutic and training institutions.

This angst calls for reparation of whatever “failures” we have experienced in relating with all kinds of “fathers”, while simultaneously functioning as meaningful “fathers” in our therapeutic-educative role. Not an easy task at all.

Enjoy reading .

On behalf of the Editing Committee,

Dimitris Kokkalis

Read the next article:

ARTICLE 2/ ISSUE 18, April 2021

The last farewell to Mony Elkaim

Katia Charalabaki, Psychiatrist, Family Psychotherapist, coordinating director of Family Therapy Unit of Attica Psychiatric Hospital
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