Vittorio Guidano: biography of this Italian psychiatrist

There are many authors who throughout history have studied the human psyche, and many schools of thought have emerged.

Currently, one of the cognitive-behavioral currents is one of the most accepted and valued. However, and especially in its origins, this current has been criticized for focusing too much on a rational point of view and little on the emotional point of view. Over time, the value placed on emotion has increased, notably thanks to schools like constructivism or theories like John Bowlby’s affection.

Another major school of thought, which has incorporated elements of the above to form a cognitive-constructivist model, is the post-rationalist school founded by Vittorio Guidano. Knowing the life of its main founder can be interesting to understand what this model offers, so throughout this article we will a short biography of Vittorio Guidano, With the main stages of his life.

    A brief biography of Vittorio Guidano

    Vittorio Filippo Guidano was born on August 4, 1944 in Rome, Italy. As a pharmacist, he spent much of his teenage years in Caracas, Venezuela, then returned to the city where he was born to continue his university education. There he will study the baccalaureate at the Liceu Giambattista Vico, a study he will complete in 1964 with a degree in arts.

    He then enrolled and studied medicine at the University of Rome “La Sapienza”. He pursued a doctorate in medicine and surgery, a doctorate which would end in 1969. The protests and social movements of 1968, however, would make him begin to take an interest in more social and psychological fields, which ultimately led him to become interested in the human mind and the psyche.

    The beginnings of his link with psychiatry

    In 1970 he received a scholarship from the Italian administration to enter the Institute of Psychiatry of the same university “La Sapienzia”, ​​headed by Professor Reda. At this point, Guidano would begin to conduct his first research in the field of psychiatry., Focusing on understanding the human psyche.

    Later, in 1972, he completed a specialization in Neuropsychiatry at the University of Pisa, and in the same year he was one of the founders of the Società Italiana di Teràpia Comportamentale e Cognitiva (Italian Society for Cognitive and Behavioral Therapy ) and later appointed president of the same (a place he will keep until 1978). While working as such, he continued to work in research at the University of Rome, where he was hired in 1974.

    More specifically, his early work in this area was methodological and psychometric research focused on personality factors and the effects of cognitive behavioral therapy of the time, at that time newly introduced in Italy.

    These investigations, which made him see certain limits as well as different theories which partly diverged with the approach of this model (such as Bowlby’s condition) led him to develop his own way of observing the human psyche, initiating the ‘elaboration of an identity development model based on cognitive, experimental and relational paradigms.

    The beginnings of post-rationalism

    In 1976, he was appointed assistant professor of psychotherapy and psychopathology at the University of Rome, and gave courses on this subject until 1985. But his professional activity did not stop there: in 1978, he founded the Center. of cognitive therapy in Rome, an institution which in addition to therapy, training and supervision are offered to therapists.

    This center developed rapidly and achieved a great reputation. In 1981 he was hired as a researcher at the University of Rome, A relationship that will last until 1986, and has held numerous conferences at universities around the world.

    During these years he began to work with Giovanni Liotti, with whom he would develop one of his most important works and eventually become one of the key moments in the founding of post-rationalism: Cognitive processes and emotional disorders (1983).

    From this work begins to integrate elements of constructivism, Bowlby’s theory of affect and Piaget’s theories on development within their own model, in which they begin to transcend and give more and more importance to emotions within the formation of identity, on cognitions.

    His investigations continued, this time focusing on epistemology and aspects such as empiricism, rationalism and constructivism. He incorporated a systems view into his theory, based on advances in general systems theory and cybernetics.

    So, he observed that we actively build our own personal experience from what we go through, something throughout development leads us to generate a unique identity, while being part of a living system: he developed the concept of organization of the personal sense and to establish different routes of organization, that can take as much to normotipicidad as to psychopathology.

    He published Complexity of the Self in 1987, and another book, The Self in Process, in 1991. he was starting to talk about the concept of post-rationalism as a means of differentiating its model (more focused on subjectivity and emotion in the development of identity than in cognition and reasoning in cognitivist theory).

      Death and inheritance

      In the late 1990s Guidano began to delve into the study of psychoses, researching and working on this type of disorder and trying to develop techniques and therapies specific to this type of disorder based on his model. However, he wouldn’t finish: Vittorio Guidano died of a sudden heart attack in Buenos Aires on August 31, 1999, At the age of 55, where he had traveled to attend a convention.

      The death of this prominent psychiatric professional left his work unfinished, but despite this his lifelong contributions have left a wide legacy: Post-Rationalism is a school of psychotherapy that serves as an inspiration to many. authors in the constructivist cognitive current.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Jaramillo Ruiz. A. and López Gómez, D. (2017). Brief description of the post-nationalist cognitive model of Vittorio Guidano and its current presence on the stages of psychology in Antioch. Revista poiesis, (32), 53-66.
      • León Uribe, A. and Tamayo Lopera, D. (2011). Post-nationalist cognitive psychotherapy: an intervention model centered on the process of identity construction. Katharsis, 12: 37-58.
      • Nardi, B. and Pannelli, G. (2001). A tribute to Vittorio F. Guidano (1944-1999). European Psychotherapy, 2 (1).

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