A CONVERSATION DOMINATES BY THE SEMANTIC OF FREEDOM
Conversation in families where phobic disorders develop is dominated by the semantic of freedom. This hypothesis, which I formulated in the late Nineties, was later verified with research that I have conducted with some collaborators or that has been carried out by other completely independent researchers.
By virtue of the significance of this semantic, the main polarities are ‘freedom/independence and exploration/attachment
members of these families will feel, or be defined as, fearful or cautious or, alternatively, courageous, even reckless. They will find people who are prepared to protect them or will meet up with people who are unable to survive by themselves, who need their support. They will marry people who are fragile or dependent, but also individuals who are free and sometimes unwilling to make commitments. They will suffer for their dependence. They will try in every way to gain their independence. In other cases they will be proud of their independence and freedom, which they will defend more than everything else. Admiration, contempt, conflict, alliances, love and hatred will be played out around issues of freedom/dependence (Ugazio, 2013, p.84) (ok,D)
IS THE PARTICIPATION IN A CONVERSATION DOMINATED BY THE SEMANTIC OF FREEDOM SUFFICIENT TO EXPLAIN THE DEVELOPMENT OF A PHOBIC ORGANIZATION?
Certainly not! Rather, it is the positioning that individual family members take within this semantic that plays a much more important role in the development of a phobic organization, and in the possible onset of the full-blown phobic disorder. It is a positioning that makes these people experience great fear of the world and the dangers we are surrounded by, but also an urgent desire to explore and an intolerance for relationships and protective niches, that are felt as suffocating. As a result, they experience a dilemma:
For these people, having a relationship that is enjoyable and satisfying means being protected, being able to rely on someone being close at hand in order to help them deal with fear, but it is translated into a humiliating dependence that produces a negative self-image. On the other hand, to acquire a positive self-image, it is necessary to be autonomous, independent of others, alone. A task of this kind is impossible for those who have grown up in the belief that the world is dangerous and they are weak”.(Ugazio, 2013, p.90)
BUT WHY DO THEY DEVELOP THIS DILEMMA? AND WHAT RELATION DOES IT HAVE WITH PANIC ATTACKS AND AGORAPHOBIA?
You will find the answer to these questions, and to many others, in the third chapter (83-127) of:
SEMANTIC POLARITIES AND PSYCHOPATHOLOGY IN THE FAMILY. Permitted and Forbidden Stories by Valeria Ugazio New York: Routledge, 2013 doi:10.4324/9780203552384
In this book, I outline both the intersubjective context at the origin of the previously summarized dilemma, and the configuration of relationships that feed it in the “present moment”, i.e. in the period immediately preceding the onset of symptoms. I also describe the ways in which phobic patients construct the therapeutic relationship. Knowing these is of crucial importance in setting up an appropriate therapeutic strategy.
If you would like to quickly gain an idea of my interpretation of this disease, watch this interview :
ARE THERE STUDIES CONFIRMING THIS MODEL?
Yes, some, carried out by us, use a specifically designed instrument to identify and classify the family semantics -– The Family Semantic Grid (see “semantic analysis” ). Others, carried out by independent colleagues, have used different instruments applied also to participants from other European countries (e.g.Spain).
Castiglioni, M., Veronese G., Pepe A. e Villegas, M. (2014). The Semantics of Freedom in Agoraphobic Patients. An Empirical Study
Journal of Constructivist Psychology, 27, 2, 120-36 doi: 10.1080/10720537.2013.806874.
Ugazio, V,, Negri, A., e Fellin, L. (2015).
Freedom, Goodness, Power and Belonging. The Semantics of Phobic, Obsessive-Compulsive, Eating, and Mood Disorders
Journal of Constructivist Psychology, 28, 4, 293-315, doi: 10.1080/10720537.2014.951109
Ugazio, V., Guarnieri, S., Anselmi, P., Castelli,D. e Pandolfi.M (2021). La relazione terapeutica con i pazienti con disturbi fobici, ossessivo-compulsivi, alimentari e depressivi: Quali significati prevalgono? Rivista italiana di Costruttivismo, 9,1, 19-46.
Ugazio, V., Guarnieri S., Anselmi P., Castelli, D., Pandolfi, M. (2020).
The therapeutic relationship with clients with phobic, obsessive-compulsive, eating and depressive disorders: Which meanings prevail? Journal of Constructivist Psychology
2020 on line. To link to this article: https://doi.org/10.1080/10720537.2020.1828203
Ugazio, V., Negri A., & Fellin, L. (2017) Libertà, Bontà, Potere e Appartenenza: le semantiche dei disturbi fobici, ossessivo compulsivi, alimentari e dell’umore. Rivista italiana di costruttivismo, 5, 1, pp.4-27.
Ugazio, V, Negri, A., e Fellin, L. (2015), Freedom, Goodness, Power and Belonging. The Semantics of Phobic, Obsessive-Compulsive, Eating, and Mood Disorders Journal of Constructivist Psychology, 28, 4, 293-315 doi: 10.1080/10720537.2014.951109
Ugazio, V., Negri, A., & Fellin, L. (2011).
Significato e psicopatologia: la semantica dei disturbi fobici, ossessivi, alimentari e depressivi [Meaning and psychopatology. The semantics of phobic, obsessive, eatind and depressive disorders] Quaderni di Psicologia Clinica, 2 (pp.69-100). Bergamo University Press.
Ugazio V., Negri, A., Zanaboni, E., & Fellin, L. (2007) La conversazione con i soggetti fobici è dominata dalla semantica della libertà? [Is the conversation with phobic patients dominated by the semantic of freedom?] Quaderni del Dottorato in Psicologia Clinica, vol.1, pp. 103-133) Bergamo University Press.
Veronese G., Procaccia R., Romaioli D., Barola G. e Castiglioni M. (2013) Psychopathological Organizations and Attachment Styles in Patients with Fear of Flying. A Case Study
The Open Psychology Journal, 6, 20-27, doi: 10.2174/1874350101306010020.
DO YOU WISH TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THE SEMANTIC OF FREEDOM THROUGH A LITERARY EXPERIENCE?
Reading the works of D. H. Lawrence and Thomas Hardy, Tim Parks (2008) argued that their novels, like their lives, are dominated by the semantic of freedom.
Parks T. (2008) Semantic Polarities in the Writings of Thomas Hardy and D. H. Lawrence Merope, 53-54, 5-46.
Parks T.(2015) The Novel. A Survival Skill Oxford University Press New York.
Parks T. (2014) Romanzi pieni di vita [Novels full of life]
Laterza Roma-Bari 2014