Life Lessons from a Psychoanalyst: Matheos Yosafat at TEDxAthens (Transcript)

Matheos Yosafat – TEDx Talk TRANSCRIPT

I am happy to be here today because I see a lively part of Greek youth, which at this moment is not very animated in an energetic and active way.

I returned to Greece because I thought I could offer a few things in my field. Unfortunately, my generation disappointed my country a bit, so we expect from you, the new generation to do something for a worthy nation because it has offered a lot, but still has dormant powers.

The country is in a state of crisis, as you know, but I will not get into the economic and other matters. It is also a deep crisis, social and psychological.

The social one is that the country is essentially destroyed as a society. As a collective human condition. Everyone is pursuing their own self-interest.

The politicians are doing the same. We want our own, so we elect them. There is a situation that you all know, we are all thieves to a small extent. Few people try to contribute something for the common good.

Maybe this gathering and TEDx are very hopeful examples. And every attributes people had in the past in this country, have been partially disappeared.

There is a lawlessness, as you know. There is a hyper-consumerism, which everyone showed us that it’s the purpose of life. There is no team spirit.

And we know from psychology and psychoanalysis that man is happy only inside a network of relations and when he offers things. In a very substantial language, we call this love. It is not only romantic love and so forth, but the possibility to coexist with people, in this short trip we make through life, and through them to give and receive.

This is not a moralistic lesson, it is psychological. Namely a human who never gives anything to others in the society he lives in, cannot be happy, content.

We see this every time with people that are a little empty in that aspect. They might have money, success, anything, but they do not feel good. They come to us, to the psychoanalysts and say: “I feel a void, I cannot find meaning in life.” And they are usually looking for it through more consumerism, more sex, drugs and so forth.

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And unfortunately, this concerns a big part of the Greek youth today, who is overly engaged with drugs, and sex, in a weird manner and I do not have time to talk about that.

I will give you an example. I see… I see many people and young kids in my office and fourteen year old girls come over, often with suicidal tendencies. Or drinking drugs, or that sort of thing and you cannot understand why. They are from a so-called good family.

And when I ask them sometimes: “Well, can’t you wait, you say I want to kill myself. It’s beautiful in the sun, soon you are going to meet a young boy when you grow older.” Which they do not understand.

After this conversation she replies: “What, a hookup?”

I say “Yes”. That’s not how I learned to call things back then.

She said: “I’ve been with nearly fifty and I am not interested.” Fact.

Well, this is not love, but some sort of cheap hyper sexuality which after a while, without love without sentiment, without romance, there is no chance to give to the other person, it’s just an organ exchange, which after a while even though pleasant, leaves a void.

Humans must connect. It is the only thing that can make them happy. And to give. Those were my thoughts when I decided to come to Greece.

And what I tried to do, because here we talk about what someone does, not only what he says, is that as a psychoanalyst, I used to see very few people who possessed a lot of wealth so I decided — because I had been trained in England also in group and family therapy — to establish a company here which to this day has trained around 4000 people.

And these people now work in hospitals, mental health centers, schools, with families and even when these facilities are private the price is much cheaper.

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So, what do they learn there? Apart from all the problems they have, they learn to live with other people. That’s where all the difficulties that we have, come out, the aggressiveness that defines us in Greece. They learn to cohabit, to share, to tolerate each other and to stop projecting their problems to other people all the time.

This is a common thing in Greece where we are a little problematic and believe that everybody else is responsible for everything. The other political party, the other this, the other that.

What can Greece do now? I will not talk from a financial perspective. I believe that things will get better. The whole world is going through a crisis and I believe that Greece will be fine.

And how can it be fine, it’s the fact that we are going through a crisis. And psychologically we know, there is a theory called: “Crisis theory and intervention” where things either turn for the worse or the crisis softens us. It’s like iron. When it is cold you cannot forge it. When you put it on fire, it can be forged.

So the crisis can create a stirring inside us, and make us see things a bit differently. To see that we are members of a country and not just individuals. Because this is what we are missing, we lack of team spirit in Greece. To consider the other person. We take someone else’s job just because we have connections.

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