a. Panos Kordoutis, Professor in the Psychology of Interpersonal Relationships, Department of Psychology Chair, Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences
Topic: “Gender and close relationships: expanding and abolishing limits, bringing depth and wealth to close relationships”
Relationships are the outcome, on the one hand, of an interaction between three genetically inscribed systems of relating to others, and social norms on the other. The three systems, Sex (sexual expression, seeking a sexual partner), Eros (passionate focusing on a partner) and Attachment (companionate love based on security feelings), function independently of each other, although they may be combined, irrespective of gender yielding a great variety of relationships during the lifetime of a particular person. Their function runs across time, social, cultural barriers, and norms; thus, it is experienced internally by every human being irrespective of time, place, age, gender, or sexual orientation. However, do the three systems produce the full range of relationships within a community? Are these relationships visible? Τhe answer is negative, because the relationships yielded are tightly controlled by a big variety of social rules (institutional and tacit); albeit, the goal of these rules is the cohesion of society, not the well-being and growth of the individual. In the name of cohesion, the happiness of individuals is sacrificed along with social growth and renewal, as societies tend to limit themselves to repeating old patterns. Relational couples of all kinds are indeed the nuclei of social cohesion. At the same time, however, they are the nuclei of social rejuvenation. Limiting their variety undermines the social potential for new ideas, prospects, models, and roles for organizing everyday living. One of the most common social limitations concerns the way genders relate in relationships of heterosexual and/or gay and lesbian individuals (if allowed to relate at all). At the same time, people feeling the internal pressure to express themselves through relationships dictated by the three systems suffer, experiencing “minority pressure” with serious consequences for their health. Despite recent improvements, the present situation in our country, continues to encourage traditional and institutionally acceptable models of relating along with the gender stereotype role models associated with them. Consequently, heterosexual couples often experience internal conflict, as well as stress, about each other’s role in the relationship e.g., due to the need of expressing gender characteristics that are not commonly acceptable or due to the fear that the partner may react negatively to such characteristics. Consequences tend to be more serious for homosexual couples, because the internally tacit distress/conflict rising from the question “how should I be in this relationship” adds on the already experienced “minority pressure” for having a socially unacceptable relationship. In all cases, conflict undermines the functionality of relationships, the adjustment and satisfaction of their members. Close relationships, traditional and newer, are thus deprived of the wealth and depth they can offer to relating and society.
b. Charis Pischos, MSc, PhD© Existential -Systemic therapist.
Topic: “Relational Hope as an antidote to the fear of existential wear”
c. Dr Sarah Eagger, (MB,BS, FRCPsych)
Topic: “The Stranger who has loved you all your life…”
Socrates is reported to have said ” My friend…care for your psyche…know thyself, for once we know ourselves, we may learn how to care for ourselves” So how does understanding who we are allow us to care for ourselves more deeply? Dr Eagger will explore the links between our body, mind and soul and how by using our deepest innate, spiritual qualities we can meet our own pain and suffering with kindness and care. Directing feelings of compassion inwards and learning how to focus our attention and energy on supporting ourselves can become the key tools in self-healing and building resilience. This deeper understanding of ourselves and using a kinder approach means we can also more easily express compassion towards others and our environment
Coordinator: Ioanna Golia