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by Niki Katsiapi

The book by Peli Galitis - Kyrvasili Trauma and Miracle: Stories of Mental Resilience and Forgiveness was recently released by "ἐν πλῷ" publications.

The book is not only Psychological nor only Psychiatric , although the author proves that she knows well and in depth the modern findings of the science of Psychology and the methods/practices of Psychotherapy.

The book is not only Theological , although the aroma of Orthodox Theology runs through all its pages, from beginning to end.

Nor is it only Pedagogical , the author possesses many scrolls and experience in this field.

It is a wonderful complement of Psychology-Psychiatry-Pedagogy-Theology, so that each of the individual sciences acts supportively for the others, through a rich bibliography. Saint John Climacus co-exists harmoniously with leading neuroscientists, Freud with Elder Thaddeus, but also with Dostoyevsky and the Philokalic Fathers with modern historians and psychologists.

Another achievement of the author is to convey the essence of the cooperation of the four sciences to us readers in a completely comprehensible, comprehensible manner, without tiring us out with difficult terms and unnecessary details, nor oversimplifying concepts at the expense of scientific validity.

At the same time, the entire book is interspersed with short stories either from modern history (some of us are unfamiliar with the impressive incidents he mentions from the Holocaust, such as Simon Wiesenthal's) or from real incidents of adults (I was personally shocked by Jeff's story) and children. who participated experientially in the "Education in forgiveness" program that has been taking place for 10 years in Greek schools of all levels (the unpredictable Markos, the difficult Angelos, the sensitive Anna, the delinquent Photis, the four-year-old Alexander, the honest teacher and many others) .

Who is the book about?

All of us who have experienced in our childhood or at some point in our life something extremely unpleasant, which we carry without being able to unhook from it and poisons our entire life, sometimes afflicting us with psychosomatic and autoimmune diseases, anxiety, neuroses and many other unpleasant ones.

Those of us who experienced:

  • verbal, physical, sexual and any kind of emotional abuse
  • neglect or even domestic violence
  • addiction to any kind of "innocent" dependency
  • loss of a parent at a tender age

Those of us:

  • we feel strongly that we are being wronged
  • we have low self- esteem, but also
  • we have shown amazing boldness and daring courage in tragedies (!)

Those of us, invoking - alas! - our Christian status, experience a pseudo-labeled, but so indiscernible state of "forgiveness":

  • we consider it a Christian duty to forgive
  • experiencing reconciliation, but not forgiveness
  • with haughty condescension and contempt for the "wretched sinner"
  • with guilt and self-pity

What the book is NOT

  • It is not one of the dozens (or hundreds?) of self- improvement books that have flooded the market in recent years, with Western-style therapeutic models, artfully adopting practices from Eastern religions.
  • It is not a book with recipes for success, full of platitudes and verbal fireworks , sometimes with a Christian coating, which initially impress us, but are poor, superficial and do not effectively and permanently solve our problem.

On the contrary, when you read Trauma and Miracle , you feel several times that the words from the pages penetrate your whole being, do an MRI scan of your soul and reveal deeply hidden secrets that you would not even want to admit to yourself or that you didn't know they existed!

This, anesthetic-free operation on a festering subcutaneous wound, is the beginning - and at the same time the book's proposal - for a difficult, but painless, feasible and liberating course. How strange and liberating to heal pain without pain!

And that's when you start experiencing the miracle ! When our every pain becomes a springboard for transformation. When our actions are not based on theoretical ideologies, but on personal experiences.

I wrote at the beginning that this is not just a theological book. And yet, in reality it is a profoundly theological book. This becomes more and more apparent as the reading progresses and as the interest and inner need for change escalate.

As fewer and fewer pages are left to read, the more the conviction is established that forgiveness is almost incomprehensible without the Christian theological burden it carries from the past. Not, however, any theological burden. Contrary to the Western view , the Orthodox faith does not approach forgiveness as a psychological and moral need, but as an ontological need for union with God and people , and this is what we must set as a theoretical goal in the uphill process of dealing with our personal trauma .

Niki Katsiapi
MEd – Dr. Pedagogy
Director of the Public Central Library of Pyrgos