Carlos Sluzki

Born in 1933, Medical doctor, specialized in Psychiatry

Born in 1933, Medical doctor, specialized in Psychiatry, systemic thinker, he trained in systemic family therapy at the Mental Research Institute (MRI) in Palo Alto (California) in the early 1960s. Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences. Professor Emeritus of Global and Community Health and of Conflict Analysis and Resolution, George Mason University

Mauro Mariotti: In 1979 I received a letter of introduction for Alma Menn, Palo Alto, at the Mental Research Institute, Middlefield road 555. She is the director of the Soteria house project, largely funded by the democrats then in government, for the treatment of youth psychosis without neuroleptic abuse. I introduced myself to her, speaking little English. She reassures me – ‘don’t worry‘ – they don’t speak English either, they speak schizophrenic geargon. And she adds: ‘We have here with us a very prepared person who speaks good Spanish and a little Italian, maybe you understand each other‘. It is Carlos Sluzki who, in the first lesson I attend, presents his scheme from roles to rules. It is the beginning of a journey that continues to this day. From 1979 until 2018 – the covid will stop me – I spend every year several months – in two or three separate trips – in the United States, mainly in Carlos Sluzki’s court. I have followed him from San Francisco to Pittsfield, from Pittsfield to Santa Barbara, from Santa Barbara to Washington, involving him in countless adventures and trips between the United States and Italy. I have written a metaphorical novel-book in Italian about my adventure with him, it is called The Seasons of the Ocean, the thread running through it is precisely the restlessness of the soul that with mental bridges unites places divided by oceans.

Carmine Saccu: I remember the first meeting with Carlos Slusky in Rome at the end of the 1970s when he proposed 20 formulas for Family Therapy; I remember meeting him again in the following years when Carlos was able, having adopted  the second-order cybernetics paradigm to find all his creative vein as a ‘special’ storyteller the way he has always been.

Once he was at the Institute with Maurizio and myself, we decided to see a family with a psychotic transaction. He entered with me. At the time we used to provoque the identified patient as a door to enter the system. I started working and he looked shocked as much as to leave and go behind the one way mirror. I followed him out and understood he would have not re-entered with me. I preferred him to conduct the session since the attenders wanted to see his work. His style was tender and delicate and he was the trainer the students wanted to see.

Yara Doumit-Naufal: In 2019, during the IFATC winter colloquium, I participated in a role-playing game as a family therapist. I was supposed to present a family I had been following for a one-shot session in front of three great masters of therapy – Carlos Sluzki, Reynaldo Perrone, and Gianmarco Manfrida. However, as the session progressed, a pattern emerged: the more we advanced, the more the family retreated into silence, and my tension increased. I tried some tactics to regain the family’s attention, but to no apparent effect. With a palpable sense of disappointment, I withdrew into myself.
That’s when Carlos Sluzki addressed me. Sitting, calm, while I was crouched down, he absentmindedly played with my ring while asking me, ‘Why this visceral need to protect the family at all costs?‘ Taken aback, I retorted: ‘Yet there were four of us in the operation, and still, nothing changed.‘ He looked at me kindly and offered a piece of advice: ‘Don’t be so hasty, some seeds take longer to germinate… Calm your inner turmoil.’

Juan Linares: In one of the circular meetings that we organized as Five Voices (see the anecdote told below by Edith Goldbeter), this time in Brussels, it was my turn to introduce Carlos. I told the story of how he saved my life. We are at the end of the 70s – I tell the public -, I was involved in social psychiatry, I considered myself anti-institutional, I felt outside the main stream. But I no longer had so much energy or so much curiosity, I was tired of a practice that was too much the same; the expectation that once the dog was dead the rabies was also dead – as we say in Spain – had failed. The search was worn out. So I started looking around. A Lacanian friend tried to convince me to begin an analysis with Jacques-Alain Miller, Lacan’s grand vizier. I’m lucky because by chance I happened to hear a conference by Carlos at the Barcelona Medical Association. It was the end of the 70s. For me it was like the opening of a new world, in an hour I changed my identity. I told him, while introducing him years later in Brussels, that he had saved me from starting therapy with Miller. It was a real rescue. In those distant 70s Carlos showed me that there was an alternative model. I had read about it, I had read Bateson but I wasn’t that knowledgeable about the therapeutic model that had emerged from it. I committed to this new model and I’m still here.

Agenda Upcoming events