Social Events and Biographical Experiences. The Ayotzinapa Case in Gestalt Therapy Sessions

Monday, 11 July 2016
Location: Hörsaal 32 (Main Building)
Distributed Paper
Minerva ROJAS RUIZ, National Autonomous University of Mexico, Mexico
Social events impact on people´s emotionality and biography, even if they aren´t direct participants. In the last decade, Mexico has gone through a major social crisis, especially since 2006, when president Felipe Calderon initiated a “war against drugs”, whose effects have been an extended social discomposure and a constant experience of violence suffered by the population. Although numbers differ, we know that Mexico has tens of thousands of dead, missing persons, orphans and displaced people.

A key event that has shaken Mexican society is the disappearance, in September of 2014, of 43 students from the Teacher´s College of Ayotzinapa, which has led to massive protests demanding the student´s reappearance, the clarifying of the case and justice for the victims.

The disappearance of the students created both indignation and fear in Mexican population. In supervision sessions, many Gestalt psychotherapists have referred that the Ayotzinapa case became a common topic in the sessions of multiple patients, since they feared they or their families can also become victims. Patients talked about what it was to live in Mexico, stated their reactions to the protests, asked themselves about the pertinence of joining them, and redefined their political postures. They also referred their coping mechanisms to face the situation: from participating in collective prayers to partaking in the demonstrations, debating with friends and family, posting information in social networks and increasing self-protection measures.

Therapists themselves were struggling to understand the situation, dealing with their own emotions, and consulting their colleagues on the best strategies to work with what was being told to them in the therapeutic sessions.

Since the narratives of therapists can provide insight into subjective understanding of these events, we will show through them both the coping mechanisms of the patients and the responses that therapists articulated to be able to accompany them.