For those of you who don’t know Eduardo Di Chiazza, he was my psychologist. I originally went to see him on the recommendation of my good friend and trusted in all things psycho-spiritual, Ingrid May. I was going through a period where I was feeling a little lost in life. I was 25 years old, I think, and had spent the best part of the last two years travelling around the world on an over-stretched gap year that still hadn’t brought me much clarity. I’d been living in Buenos Aires for about a year and had started learning massage, which was where I met Ingrid (I’ll leave more about Ingrid for another day). I started offering massages but was only really giving one or two sessions per week and generally spent the mornings eating, doing yoga, reading about psychology and playing percussion. These were all good things that I loved but I felt a complete lack of purpose.
So I went to see Eduardo. I remember I arrived on my bike, wearing flip flops and Peruvian-style Alpaca winter socks; kind of a Latin-American-hippie-version of white socks and Jesus creepers, interesting perhaps but totally wrong. When I arrived at the building entrance, on Guayaquil Street in Caballito, Buenos Aires, I rang the bell and waited. And waited some more. After a few moments and getting anxious, I rang again and a voice buzzed out of the speaker “Hola Roger? Ya bajo!”. “Hello Roger. I’ll be right down!”.
Another five minutes went past by the time he appeared in the small wood clad lobby of the building. I relaxed as I saw him coming just to find that when he got to the inside of the door, he paused, deep in conversation with the person who he obviously come down the elevator with and who was clearly in a session with him.
He opened the door still deep in conversation and said hello to me in the middle of a sentence with the client. Finally, I heard him say… “Good luck with everything, tell me how it all goes and don’t forget what Jung says about anima. Bye. “
He turned to me and paused for a split second, gave me a reassuring hand on the shoulder and started talking. He quick fired pertinent questions at me, asked about how I knew Ingrid, asked about why I was in Buenos Aires, asked me to tell him things about me and told me that he was very intuitive and would probably work out what we would work on together after 10 minutes of listening to me speak. He seemed, assured, confident, alive, wild, passionate, intelligent, intrigued, good at listening and it felt like he genuinely wanted to help.
At that point we actually arrived to his office. I was stunned by how much had happened between the street and a six story elevator ride.
He listened to my story of why I was there with a wry smile on his face, the fingers from each hand leaning together forming a triangle just in front of that wry smile… waiting for me to finish. I felt like he was primed and ready to attack. I could see the joy in his eyes about the content I was bringing to him, and the fact that he clearly believed he had the wisdom to help me.
At some point I came to a finish about my directionless life… my desire to be successful professionally and my general malaise of a life. He immediately told me a few things that we would work on together for our time together.
Retrospectively, that’s exactly what we did do. His passion for Carl Jung and the psychological archetypes was infectious and he soon had me drawing maps of the relationship between the subconscious and the conscious; between man and his shadow, woman and her shadow; how men and women meet and how the shadows meet.
I’ll clarify that a few years later he amended these to talk about masculine and feminine as he began to work with homosexual couples and leant to rephrase the words which still were descriptive of the psychological functions, without being limited to heterosexual relationships.
From the day I met Edu, I immediately felt at ease. In the few months before going to see him I tried four or five other therapists and every time felt something was not right: either too serious and rigid; too formal and untouchable; too hippy. When I met Edu I felt like I was with someone genuine and quite unlike most people I had ever met. He had a fierce love of music and we occasionally missed an entire session getting caught talking up recent disks, new albums, live shows etc. It was a simple side-tracking that only helped reinforce the relationship.
Edu saw the world and lived his life through a Jungian archetypal world. Where I saw laziness and fear, he saw anima. Where I saw an aggressive reaction he saw animus. Where I saw playfulness he saw puer eternus. Where I saw boring he saw xenex.
Slowly I learned his repertoire of words, concepts, theories and notions, and invariably saw them reflected in myself and the people around me. Straight from the off I immediately made massive changes to my life. Pushed myself in new ways. Gave up certain unhealthy relationships. Embraced work like never before. As I transformed, so the lenses through which I was viewing started changing too. My way of analysing situations changed and became more clear.
Eduardo Di Chiazza, was born to deaf parents, and so had an unusual upbringing, learning to sign from early on. This gave him a unique possibility of working with Jungian psychology in sign language which he offered in certain hospitals in Buenos Aires. I wonder what animus is in sign language? He was an avid music fan and it seemed to me was going to see a gig every other week; the bigger the name the better. “I was in the front row for Peter Gabriel in Velez Stadium he told me proudly”. He was also a passionate football fan and talked frequently about his team Independiente and going with his children.
He was passionate about psychology and about helping people. Every week he would show me 5 new books he had bought. Everyday he would read psychology related books between 6pm and 8pm and his bookshelves were some of the most interesting I have ever seen.
I worked with Edu for 5 years on an almost weekly basis and built up a relationship based on trust, fun, music and psychology. After that initial spell I began going less frequently as I felt I had truly transformed myself, and the reason to go now was more for to deal with specific issues. I also started supervising my own massage clients with him, to help deepen my own work.
Of course, it would be easy to just say all good things about Eduardo but he would be the first to say that we mustn’t forget the shadow too. Various other friends and colleagues wet to see Eduardo and many didn’t connect, or in one case, had a therapeutic relationship which went sour quickly. He wasn’t a therapist for everyone, but he was my therapist.
He often confided as part of the session his own challenges in life and growth, in relationships and family, in work and business and openly shared his darker side and how he had come to terms with it.
Over the last couple of years before I left Buenos Aires to return to England, I saw Edu less frequently, every month or so, to catch up and share info, to discuss plans, to project my professional career. In part, the scarcity of the sessions had to do with his own life. He had been struggling with his own family issues, and in the space of a short period the loss of more than one family member. He told me that he was feeling unwell from the stress this caused him.
In our last session together, as he said goodbye to me at the door in February this year, for the first time in our 12-year relationship he hugged me and told me that he loved and respected me and was happy to see me doing well in life and planning my return to the UK. I was struck by this sudden effusive show of love and especially the physical contact which had never been a part of our therapy.
On March 21st this year I received a message from my good friend and ex wife Nadia, telling me that Eduardo had died. It turns out he had had lung cancer and decided not to tell anyone about it. He had been having chemotherapy. On the 18th of March he had been feeling unwell and was taken to hospital, only to slide away into unconsciousness and finally death on the 20th of March. I can guess now that he perhaps sensed this would be our last meeting in February, which explained the warmth of our goodbye.
Eduardo Di Chiazza left behind many people who he touched with his love, his insightful vision, his sharp wit and his desire to help. For me, I have lost a therapist. I have lost a companion in life who I consider a friend and true mentor. I will be forever grateful for the guidance I received and everything I learned with him.
Today, I work as a therapist and there are occasional moments when I recognise small details about my posture, about my small wry smile, about the way my fingers are resting against each other when I realise just how much of Eduardo is still present in me; engrained through positive resonance and grateful memories.
Thank you Edu