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Why Papillon?

The word has a sound that I like but it is definitely not enough. Many years ago, I saw a film with Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman, Papillon, in which an innocent man is sent to prison who then spends his entire life seeking freedom.

Yes, freedom! A word as beautiful as it is difficult to define. There have also been recent historical periods, in which the search for freedom tout court has resulted in violence and mental illness.

Freedom is an empty word if it is not linked to health. For a mentally ill person, being free can mean being able to kill someone for laughing, or walk around naked in the street or be free to commit suicide.

But the word health also requires clarity and should not be confused with normality, which often consists in doing and thinking about things like everyone does, to the detriment of personal creativity and originality or more simply to the detriment of self-realization. Normality that sometimes translates into a control of reason against a deeper sick reality.

I have been working as a psychotherapist for many years and I know the inner prison in which sick people are locked up. And I also know well the clumsy attempts to get out of this prison, unsuccessful rebellions that often lead to the breaking of Pandora’s box, full of disappointments, hatred, blind anger with consequent deviant behavior that often ends with hospitalization.

Then there is a creepier, less visible and therefore very insidious prison, represented by our culture that passes for acquired and shared attitudes and thoughts that kill. I’ll just say a few: “Deep down we’re all a bit crazy, so we have to spend our lives controlling our animal instincts.” “Strength lies in not letting oneself be involved in feelings and passions.” “Mental illness is hereditary and organic.” And so on.

So we need very clear ideas in order not to be confused and find the strength and courage to reject all these falsehoods that inevitably end up paralyzing any possibility of change and cure.

But the word “Papillon” is also linked to a butterfly and with it to the idea of ​​transformation. And here things get difficult: thinking of a caterpillar that becomes a butterfly evokes the thought of a possible human transformation.

We have wanted for quite some time to try to give continuity to the meetings held in schools, in which we talked about interesting issues: however, there has never been the time to go deeper, although the children requested it. Now, however, there is Papillon, a place where we will be able to keep a thread with the kids and where we will allow ourselves the freedom to say, in an understandable language, what we think, even if there will often be points of view that are not harmonious with the dominant culture.

We also know how difficult it is for a young person to find his or her way around the chaos the psychotherapeutic offer. Who to go to? Why? We will not give indications on this or that professional, rather we will address topics that will allow the kids to get an idea.

We would like to do a lot of things. We already do some such as, for example, going to schools and proposing projects.

Or we could start denouncing the arbitrariness of certain diagnoses made concerning school age children, diagnoses not supported by scientific evidence which drive children to affix daunting labels to themselves.

Later we would like to organize cineforums, thematic meetings with young people, meetings with parents, set up a desk for adoptive parents, often left alone and unprepared to face complicated situations. And much more…

We know how difficult this is for everyone, this pandemic has forced many people around the world to review their lives, the way they relate to others, sometimes to change their jobs, but perhaps all this has also given us a further push to create Papillon, a free space where we can compare ideas and be together.

To carry out this ambitious project, there will be talented colleagues, psychiatrists, psychologists, speech therapists, teachers, artists and so on, who will give their contribution on this site from time to time. You will get to know them along the way

And then there will be you, last but not least, with your suggestions, criticisms, stimuli and collaborations of all kinds

Ok, come on, let’s go!

Marco Michelini

Thanks to Ray Williams for the translation of this article.

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