Remembering Gianfranco Cecchin

Five years ago, while fervently putting together the contents of the first edition of New Therapist, the handful of founding members was mulling how best to ensure a powerful, irresistible collection of articles to put the new publication on the map.

The centerpiece of the launch edition was an in-depth interview with Gianfranco Cecchin, the irreverent, gentle Italian who, along with three other psychiatrists had, in the 1970’s formed what became known as the Milan school of family therapy.

The interview hit the spot, for publisher and readers. Cecchin’s approach embodied a professional and compassionate integrity that New Therapist could only wish to promote.

In the early hours of Monday, February 2, 2004, Cecchin was killed in a motor accident.

His most recent work had been about what he called prejudice – more specifi cally the prejudices that we, as therapists take into our consulting rooms and how they so easily color how we see our clients and their stories.

Cecchin was prejudiced about prejudice. And, in his typically self-aware fashion, he was even prejudiced about his own prejudices about prejudice.

It is with a sense of great loss and sadness that we remember Gianfranco with selected extracts from New Therapist’s first ever published interview.

“Psychoanalysis became very useful as a source of stories. It gave beautiful stories to make sense of what happens – the oedipal stories are very good. Psychoanalysis became a problem when they began to believe what the stories were saying.”

“There are three or four prejudices I believe now to be better prejudices, but only temporarily. Even they change and go away. That nature takes care of itself, that people are basically good, prejudices like that. I keep them because they are useful. But that is another prejudice – why should things be useful.”

“It is impossible to be neutral. You always have some opinions about what is going on and your opinions are going to have an influence. The big challenge is to the belief in reality; looking for scientific truth and what is really going on. What is the real story with the family? What is the real diagnosis? This is the medical model. What is the real reason behind what is going on? You think that what you observe is there. But we fi nd what we look for. The recent change in the past fi ve or 10 years is the realisation that there is no reality to discover. You are not discovering the reality, you are inventing the reality.”

“We are aware that therapy was invented to cure people. But, often it becomes part of the problem. We see it all the time. People go to therapy for years, they keep changing therapists and are so much under therapy that they create a new disease—the disease of being in therapy.”

-John Soderlund

 

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