Interview with Rosa Genovese, Psychologist, Actress, Author, Theater Director – by Maria Teresa De Donato
Another very welcome guest came back to visit us today: Rosa Genovese, Actress, Author, Theater Director, Doctor in Clinical Psychology.
With her, we have already talked in the past about The World of Dreams, their origins, their symbolic meaning with which our inner experiences, our feelings, and our thoughts are expressed as if they were sensory experiences and the concepts of ‘individuation’ and ‘collective unconscious’. All of them were approached, therefore, from a psychological rather than an esoteric perspective.
Today, we will be still talking with Rosa, about psychology, approaching it, however, through theatrical activity and, therefore, ‘fiction’ and ‘scenic representation’.
MTDD: Hi Rosa, and welcome again to my Virtual Cultural Salon. It is always a pleasure to have you as my guest.
RG: Thanks Maria Teresa, it’s a pleasure also for me to meet you. Speaking of “fiction” I can tell you that theater is a very powerful tool that allows you to search, investigate and question the truth in human affairs and all this through fiction; in this regard, I quote the words of a great actor who recently passed away, Gigi Proietti, who expressed himself thus: “Welcome to the theater where everything is fake but nothing is false”.
MTDD: Rosa, for those who do not know you and have not yet had the opportunity to read our previous interview, would you like to introduce yourself and tell us a little about yourself, your studies, your work, and anything else you still wish to share with our readers?
RG: Talking about oneself is not always easy, also because life does not flow on certain tracks and there are often interruptions, detours, sudden braking, accelerations, and much more. About myself, I can tell you that I have Sicilian origins; that I was born in Africa in Tripoli in Libya precisely, and that my life from a very young age took place and still takes place in the metropolitan city of Rome, the capital of Italy. As far as my studies are concerned, I have always had a passion for mathematics, philosophy, and literature; biographies in particular have always captivated me. After high school, I chose the faculty of psychology but I interrupted my studies to devote myself to what at that moment I felt preeminent in me, that is my love for acting. I studied for two years in the school of Alessandro Fersen and two years at the Experimental Center of Cinematography. This way, I was able to try my hand at Fersen’s theatrical acting and psychotechnics and meet important directors and personalities from the film world in the most important film school in Italy. In that period I had the opportunity to make friends with young people who are now established producers, screenwriters, and operators at all levels in the film industry. It is, however, the theatrical expression that has predominated in me and I participated in multiple shows as an actress. Over the years, a predisposition for theatrical writing has developed in me (several of my texts were performed at the theater), and also an inclination to teach. I created a theatrical teaching method for children combined with the teaching of the Rights of the Child which resulted in the text “Pinocchio of Rights”.
MTDD: You have joined your career as an actress and theater director and as a playwright. One of these is that of a Clinical Psychologist.
How did you come to this choice?
RG: As I mentioned after high school I chose the faculty of psychology leaving halfway through my studies to study acting; but the regret remained in me of not having completed university studies so in adulthood so as not to have regrets, I filled this void by graduating first in psychological sciences and techniques during my life with a thesis on “Philosophical Consultancy” and then specializing in Clinical psychology with a thesis on “Personality characteristics and phenomenology in Eating Disorders”. After having completed an annual internship and passed the state exam, I was able to enroll in the Psychologists Association of Lazio, and currently, I am a freelance clinical psychologist.
MTDD: Did you find any commonalities between these two fields and if so, which ones exactly?
RG: Theater and psychology for me are two sides of the same coin. If you think about it, the theater has always narrated human events and the psychology, which has become scientific, of the analysis of human behavior. Let’s not forget that psychology derives from psyché which means soul, vital breath. In this regard, I’ll tell you an anecdote that happened to me a few days ago while I was on vacation in Sicily, in Syracuse, the city where I go every year and like every year I use public transport to meet various people. One of these with obvious psychiatric problems asked me the difference between the psychiatrist and the psychologist, when I told him that psyché means soul, vital breath; he replied: So you are the Doctor of the Soul? I smiled and replied: Yes! I liked this definition: Doctor of the Soul!
MTDD: Your passion for theater and psychology and your skills gained in both of these sectors have led you to the creation of “Theater Workshops”, as you have defined them.
How did this idea come about?
RG: My life path is closely linked to my feeling of passion for acting and interest in psychology. It was a painful but currently happy union.
MTDD: As a naturopath, I have a holistic view of life in general, of the human being, and health in particular. I consider the latter the result of the balance between physical body, mind, and spirit, although other factors contribute to complete the picture. Art can certainly be of support for the conservation and restoration of Health and Wellbeing.
What exactly do these “Theater Workshops” consist of and what practical help can they give to the participants?
RG: These are individual and group diction and acting lessons. The help that comes to the participants is to focus attention on their body, breathing, vocal emission, and intonation. When one pays attention to the body, one inevitably also confronts oneself with one’s communication skills, with one’s emotions and feelings, especially those that cannot be expressed. In reality, starting from a lesson in theatrical acting technique, one comes to confront oneself and to deepen the knowledge of one’s acting and “feeling”. One could speak of “emotional literacy”. Not all people know how to name their emotions and feelings. There is a very important line of thought that speaks of “Emotional Intelligence” highlighted so well by Daniel Goleman in his writings.
MTDD: Would you like to tell us briefly?
RG: Daniel Goleman is an American psychologist who came to international prominence with the book “Emotional Intelligence”. In 1995 this author highlighted how intelligence evaluated with the classic IQ emphasized people’s logical and rational abilities but neglected a whole other no less important, but a little valued part, that of emotions. He called this area Emotional Intelligence which consists of the ability to understand one’s own and others’ emotions and feelings; in the capacity for empathy and self-control with respect, for example, to emotions such as anger or fear; but also in the ability to self-determine and persevere in one’s goals despite frustrations. In short, Goleman stated and highlighted that feelings matter as much as rational thought, if not more, recalling that emotions tend to be impulses to act and, therefore, have a very important role in people’s lives and decisions. The root of the word emotion derives, in fact, from the Latin verb “moveo” which means “to move” with the addition of the prefix “e” (movement from) and indicates that every emotion is precisely a tendency to act. In summary, for the psychological well-being of people, it is necessary to find a balance between abstract thought and emotion-action. Basically, in my theater workshops, I try to work on this aspect: that of emotional intelligence.
MTDD: Very interesting. An aspect certainly worthy of being explored. In these courses of yours, by your admission, you are inspired by the “Principle of emergent properties”.
Would you like to explain to our readers what it is and how you apply it?
RG: “The whole is more than the sum of its parts”. I can give you an example, let’s consider a married couple that we will call Maria and Giovanni, Maria has one personality and John another with different stories at a certain point they become a “couple”; here is that couple that is formed is no longer Mary or John but is something more and different: it is a “third” who is not a simple sum of Mary and John but is something more and unique. If Maria were married to Stefano, that extra part would be different from that born in a couple of Maria with Giovanni. In theatrical workshops that unique and extra part is given by artistic expression and by how much the subject manages to express his or her authenticity through acting in interaction with others.
MTDD: What results – in terms of growth, maturation, and personal development – did you notice in the participants of your Theater Workshops?
RG: The workshops that I carry out in my “Theater, Art and Psychology Studio” have given me great satisfaction. I have seen insecure, shy people, open up and listen to themselves and others. All this has brought psycho-physical benefits in their daily life. Furthermore, let us not forget that in these workshops the playful aspect is fundamental. I use among others the technique of dr. Madan Kataria of Laughter Yoga and the role exchange technique. In reality, this “physical space” in which the workshop takes place is a space of creative expression and this brings a lot of freedom and joy to the participants.
MTDD: “Role exchange”, therefore ’empathy’ and the ability to ‘manage one’s emotions’ are fundamental concepts for living a healthy and balanced life not only with oneself but also with others. However, it seems that there are relatively few people who can put them into practice.
In your opinion, what is the main reason for this lack or inability to ‘identify with the other’?
RG: Role-swapping helps to do just that, to start seeing and “feeling” the same situation from another perspective, that is, putting yourself in the “shoes” of others. This does not mean sharing the same ideas but it means understanding the other perspective and, therefore, if you understand it you respect it. The lack of empathy comes from our Ego. We live in a society with a cult of individualism and narcissism. We are all more or less self-centered. Everything revolves around the ego. It is as if we were the Center of the Universe but we have known for a long time now that the Universe is immense and that we are only a tiny dot, perhaps we should remember it more often.
MTDD: We most certainly should. Thank you, Rosa, for having accepted my invitation again and been here with us today.
How can those who wish to have more information about your Theater Workshops or your Online Consultations as a Psychologist?
RG: Thanks to you Maria Teresa for the questions that lead to in-depth and non-trivial reflections. It is easy to reach me through my website or by sending a message on WhatsApp or on my FB page to make an appointment. Recently, due to the pandemic, I have encouraged online psychological counseling, both to reach physically distant people and to avoid contagion of the virus. Maybe we haven’t talked about it enough but in addition to my theatrical workshops, I work as a freelance clinical psychologist. I mainly deal with existential problems, couple problems, separation, and divorces above all to protect minors from psychologically disabling situations. We know that prevention is better than cure. My field as a clinical psychologist is also that of counseling in which a person can contact me both for a simple consultation and for a clarification process about doubts, choices to which sooner or later we are all called. The help of an expert psychologist can help a lot in unraveling the “tangle of thoughts” and listening to one’s emotions and being in contact with one’s inner self to achieve a better psycho-physical balance and well-being in everyday life.
My website is www.rosagenovese.com
Cell. +39 3488997582 (WhatsApp)