Kyriakos Katzourakis paint

Translation: Dimitris Kokkalis

Firstly, I would like to thank Katia Charalabaki, the copy editor of “Analects”, for her honorable invitation and the chance she gives me to share with you some thoughts about this book that brought us here today.

Analects of Psychotherapy and Politics includes 33 texts which were first published in HESTAFTA’s web magazine called “Systemic Thinking and Psychotherapy”. In the introduction, the copy editor informs us that this magazine was created not by luck but by the time social and financial crisis became evident in the psychotherapeutic domain. This evidence was seen in the rapid increase in demand for therapy as brutal, eruptive changes occurred in family relations. So the texts emerged not by luck but as product of serious needs. Which needs? I think that the crisis as a downfall and a procedure of a loss of institutional and financial support systems that were “taken for granted”, had a “new” traumatic non comprehensible element.

A process of understanding is needed together with the mourning process of the loss. Maybe these are the needs. “Mourning and fight (agonas )”, says Katia Charalabaki in the prologue. Fight: This word might indicate the big difficulty; the sorrow that entails the effort to understand a crisis while we are experiencing it. It might be a nostalgic reference to a collective past. Or even the connection between politics and psychotherapy, which has been attempted in this book, and also in the magazine since 2012, might be part of the search for new tools to help in understanding the collective psychic locus. The book, as I read it, moves mainly through those axes: the sorrow that understanding contains, the nostalgia as an inevitable consequence of the loss, but also the many potential meanings and the need for enriching psychotherapeutic thinking as our times demand.

For instance, in the text entitled “We Live a Life that We Don’t Understand” Sotiris Manolopoulos connects the difficulty in understanding to the avoidance of our encounter with the painful event of loosing omnipotence. An experience connected with the sorrow of our childhood. This is not at all far from what Nikos Marketos points out in his text entitled “Hate and Envy”. Referring to Adorno: “What seems repulsively strange, that is from direct to hateful, is completely intimate.” Irini Tsanira, in her text entitled “The Multiple Facets of Crisis”, finds not only the difficulty in understanding crisis, but also one of its fundamental elements in the aspect of omnipotent refutation of deficiency and boundaries. In the text of the dialogue between Katia Charalabaki and Maria Borcsa, the abolishment of rules, hierarchy and reflective processes in society are connected with the “postmodern Greek drama”. In his text, “The Management of Crisis – Deploying the power of the group” Giorgos Gournas talks about the immense power of intergenerational pressure as the element causing pain to a whole generation. That is the childhood sorrow.

If loss as a fact or a threat is regarded as the common denominator of the above, the emergence of nostalgia as a typical experience at the time of crisis is justified. The wish for a home that doesn’t exist anymore can become an element of disorientation, as Theodora Skali points out at her text entitled “Identity and Loss in Adolescent Emigrants”. Maybe, however, nostalgia consists of a regression towards an old or even ancient enduring identity element, which is needed for the restart of thought, the vivid dreaming I’d say, as it is referred to by psychoanalysts. That is of thinking and creating connections under conditions of individual and collective pressure. From this point of view, the referrals of Katia Charalabaki to Bateson, Marx and Diogenes concerning an underground therapeutic movement, are nostalgic.

Furthermore, in another dialogue with Maria Borcsa, she clearly articulates the opinion that when reason collapses, nostalgia is a very important reference point. In my point of view, nostalgic is the fairy tale that was written by the members of the therapists dialogue group, Vicki Gotsi, Androula Ilia, Kia Thanopoulou, Eleana Koubi, Ioulia Balaska, Athina Pistikou,and Athina Psilia. Maybe also nostalgic is the text of Ioanna Karystiani that juxtaposes the raw realism of the present inhumane to the absolute mother figure’s form and acceptance back in the village of birth. The text has the title: “The One and the Others. Crafting Individual and Collective Identities in Prose Pages”. Ioanna Karystiani writes from the position of an author, meaning from the position of an artist. Art might produce transcending paradigms that have the power to contain the pain and allow thinking under pressure. The Perses of Eschilos are used as an example by Katia Charalabaki and Katerina Theodoraki uses Sofokles’ Antigoni.

Previously we were talking about loss and then about acceptance. Could we say that the acceptance of novelty, which consists of the presupposition for the search for new tools, contains the elements of the loss of ideals and mourning but also a loss of certainty? In his text entitled “Five Thoughts about Politics Driven by a Psychiatrist’s Book”, Alekos Alavanos speaks as a politician and economist, for the need to approach the social unconscious not through a monogamous reference to idealized financial approaches but with awareness of the multi-vocal essence of individuality and collectivity. In his text, “Collective and Individual Identity at Times of Instability”, a text that attempts to contain and understand the monstrous essence of Nazi Germany, Titus Millech emphatically refers to the absolute monophony of Nazism.

The necessity for new tools is highlighted in many texts of this book. At the level that contains the element of mourning and acceptability of the ‘other’ (the unknown, the uncanny), the search is a therapeutic procedure of individuals, families and groups. This seems to be implied, for example, in the text entitled “Therapists and Families it the Crisis Whirl: Challenges and Opportunities” written by Valeria Pomini, Emilia-Maria Legaki, Lefteri Melo, Zacharoula Pantazi, Xenia Pappa, Marina Soldatou and Vlassi Tomara and also by the text of Kassiani Politou referring to her meeting -as a trainee in psychiatry- with the psychotherapeutical training in the public health domain. Giorgos Gournas suggests as a therapeutic ‘vehicle’ the sharing of horizontal knowledge, thus creating the novelty that group process provides.

To conclude, I would like to point out that the editing of a book constitutes an action. Therefore the editing of a collective book requires a collective action. The Analects of Psychotherapy and Politics constitute a collection -not a Procrustean conflation- of reflections, individual and collective statements and scientific approaches, having as a common axis the crisis and its effects on individual and collective psyche. However, they mainly constitute an action of participating in social life and given that the book is written on the whole by psychotherapists, it’s an exhibit of their work in a social space. I believe that, especially in a moment of crisis that concerns society as a whole, the participation of psychotherapists in present social life -on an individual and collective level- is really important for two reasons: The complete and immediate understanding of events and the attainment of their collective psychological elaboration. This might be a complementary meaning of the word “agonas” (fight) that Katia uses in the prologue of this book.


Athens, September 2019

Grigoris Maniadakis

*The text is from a 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.