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By Miguel Ayuso
The Chilean Psychiatrist Claudio Naranjo (Valparaíiso, 1932) He is one of the most relevant figures in contemporary humanism. Although he became known for his work on gestalt therapy and the enneagram of personality, since the late 1990s he has focused his studies in the field of education. Despite being 80 years old, Naranjo writes an average of two or three books a year and continues to give lectures around the world.
On his last visit to Madrid, Naranjo attended The confidential in a small apartment in the Ibiza neighborhood, where he usually spends his nights when he visits our country. The psychiatrist does not need hotels: in almost every city he has admirers who offer him shelter, friendship and follow him everywhere. In a way Naranjo seems like a prophet, although he would never define himself as such. His mission, in any case, is clear: to convey the idea that it is necessary to change this world, and that this change has to begin with ourselves.
"People are in bad shape," Naranjo explains, "and they suffer in part because they don't know they are suffering." This vital uneasiness, says the psychiatrist, causes depression, psychosomatic illnesses to appear and the motivation and meaning of life are lost. “There is discomfort”, he assures, “but the discomfort will not go any further until it is transformed into something else ". In his opinion, there are only two things that can transform the world: personal change and a new education.
Change the education to change the world
For Naranjo, education is the most rotten institution of our civilization because what should serve to make us men actually serves to end our humanity: " Today education is at the service of power and business. There is a political will for education to serve to keep the person asleep, to become part of the herd. You can't check it, but it works like this. One takes time to realize because we have been educated in the values of this education. Education fulfills its dehumanizing function, but we do not realize it because we are unconscious ”.
The true function of education, says the psychiatrist, should serve to go beyond what we are. “In an ideal school”, explains Naranjo, “we would accompany the learning processes, encourage creativity and help children to know, without the pressure of classifications. Exams are work, not education. Children are taught to pass tests that are useless and are not useful in life.
The psychiatrist, who came to Spain, among other things, to teach a course for teachers, believes that the teachers themselves, no matter how much they criticize the system, are responsible for ensuring that it continues to function without major problems: “The horror of the school is that the teacher puts on an interior uniform, and when he teaches he stops being a person. They are like robots. Many women are in education because of a maternal instinct, but they put it aside, as if it was not appropriate to give affection to children and provide them with a happy life ”.
The ship is sinking, but we have a lifeboat
In his latest book, The revolution we expected (Ediciones La Llave), Naranjo assures that we are entering a transformation that we had stopped expecting, and that rather scares us: until today we have only known political and ideological revolutions, and what is happening now is a revolution of consciousness.
In Naranjo's opinion, our problems can only be solved with a consciousness different from the ones that created them. “Education”, he says, “should be the institution that will lead this change, it should be at the head, but it is the most obsolete. Such are bureaucracies. They begin theoretically at the service of something, but in the end they serve themselves ”.
The transformation, therefore, will not come at the hands of a political change, which Naranjo does not trust. "I am at a time in my life when I am throwing in the towel regarding the change of institutions," acknowledges the psychiatrist. “I don't think it is possible to talk to the authorities, with those who supposedly have power. I think education will change, if it changes, because individuals change ”.
Throughout his life, the psychiatrist, who in Latin America is a recognized personality, has met with all kinds of ministers and presidents to talk to them about his theories on education but, today, he does not have the slightest confidence in them: “I think that politicians have an agreement to change without doing anything. When they come to power they think they are going to flaunt it, but they are part of a network that cannot be changed. Today politics has no power. The parties have some apparent power, not the rulers, but it is the economic power that controls everything, and education is its invisible partner, part of the military-industrial complex ”.
Naranjo no longer even believes in citizen protest. And he has a message for the 'green tide': "The educational protests have no content, they do not ask for a change in education, they ask for better salaries. It is not believed in an education to transcend the patriarchal mind ”.
This patriarchal mind, about which Naranjo has written at length, is for the psychiatrist the origin of our ills as a society. "It is a mentality of hunting men who no longer hunt animals, but men," he explains. "A mentality that makes us predators of ourselves." Luckily, it counts, the ship of the patriarchal system, which we built thousands of years ago, no longer works, and it is sinking: “The collapse of the system is our only hope to build something better. We should not worry about whether or not the ship will sink, we must worry about finding the lifeboat ”.