My Mind’s Journey

I was born in Asmara (Eritrea) just prior to WW II and I returned there after having experienced the brutality and the devastation of that war in Northern Italy. I started my Medical School in Asmara and completed its last two years in Milan, Italy. I was by then attracted to the psychological sciences as a potential professional choice. However, pragmatic and financial reasons interrupted my early Italian attempts and I ended up in Nigeria, where I practiced for five very interesting years. Aware of my limitations in the areas of surgery I then moved to the USA for what I had planned as a relatively short period of training in selected surgical subspecialties. After two years of residency in surgery I shifted to psychiatry and settled down first in Connecticut and then in Philadelphia. For the past 25 years I have basically been a clinician and kept a very diversified caseload and an "eclectic" mode of treatment. The scholarly component of these 25 years required me to maintain such a diversified approach, in order to stimulate future physicians and psychiatrists to consider and continue the search for options and choices as a balance to any specific, crystallized school of thought. Along the same line, it also required me to search for ways to discuss human minds with my students in ways that would not sound scholastic and constricted by any specific theoretical framework.

Each individual brain and self is eventually the dynamic product from the interaction of phylogeny and ontogeny. The choice of the events participating to such interaction, and the interactive process itself, are by-and-large governed by happenstance. Therefore, no two products are alike, nor could they possibly be. In my personal case, some of the core factors that I have identified as having molded and still molding the organization of my mind include:

  • 1 Being a planetary life form and part of a chain of such life forms.
  • 2 Belonging to the homo sapiens branch.
  • 3 A Greco-Roman (Western European?) ancestry and culture.
  • 4 (Probably) having experienced my birth in an African setting.
  • 5 The full destructiveness of W.W.II.
  • 6 Prolonged, intimate exposure to several major African cultures and an ongoing process of cross-cultural inquiry and adaptation.
  • 7 A gazelle.
  • 8 Walking on the dry bed of the Niger river.
  • 9 A planned but also unplanned process of transformation into yet another cultural niche (the American) that brought a change in nationality, language (internal as well as interpersonal), and even meanings.
  • 10 Decades of daily observation of other minds and their functioning, often to unusual depths. Concurrently, the continuous requirement to teach and facilitate the understanding of such phenomena to students of diverse disciplines.
  • 11 The passage of time.

(See also: Landscapes in my Mind: the Origins and Structure of the Subjective Experience for an elaboration on these biographical data and their interaction)