A true Mediterranean, Dr. Georgette Savvides is a Greek Egyptian psychologist. She has two doctorates, one in Business Psychology and the other in Counseling Psychology. Her work in Psychhealth grew over the years. The center offers therapy, corporate work, training for counselors, and educational work. We sat down with her about relationships, society and the Egyptian psyche.
As a mother, do you use your work in psychology on raising your children?
Of course, otherwise I would have been a monster mommy! I use a lot of it with my little one. My older one I started with when he was 11, so it was a bit far to try with him. However, I have a nice friendship with him.
How do we make the Egyptian people understand that some jobs – such as working in the police force – need psychiatric help?
People should know that our practice emphasizes confidentiality. I would have loved if we had the mentality and open-mindedness to start accepting concepts like these. In the last elections there was an attempt to psychometrically assess the president candidates, which was a fantastic move.
Do you still get told things like “you work with crazy people” or “psychologists’ work isn’t all that important”?
This still happens, but I would still say it’s within a certain class of people who are not exposed enough to what a psychologist really does. We get more of “can you psychoanalyze me?”.
Do you think that all the poverty and lack of education is why a lot of Egyptians have a lot of issues? And they are on such a large scale that they can’t be treated as individuals, so how do we fix this?
I think campaigns, cultural awareness, increasing the level of education and eliminating poverty would definitely help. All the research in psychology when you see the risk factors, they include poverty, malnourishment, lack of education and abuse. These are the building blocks. If I can’t eat or feed, educate and treat my child in a decent hospital, I won’t think when I’m hitting them that it will distort his self esteem, I will just think about how I’m going to feed them.
Do some people ask you to hypnotize them to make them all better and fix everything? And how do you deal with this?
I haven’t hypnotized people. However, a long time ago when Freud existed, him and other well renowned psychotherapists used to do suggestive hypnosis, which was to allow the client to enter a state of deep relaxation almost like sleep. And then they would make suggestions or ask them to recall certain memories. I don’t know how effective it is, but you cannot be hypnotized and come out as a different person. However, it’s an alternative kind of therapy that in combination with other things like reiki, acupuncture, energy healing, and one to one therapy, if you mix and match them you will change your habits.
So some people respond better to certain types of therapy more than others, some might prefer reiki to psychotherapy and vice versa.
Absolutely. The person going into therapy is a courageous one who is willing to open up and work on themselves.
After everything the country’s been through, do you think we are all going through PTSD? Is it possible for an entire generation to be emotionally unstable?
Yes, it’s possible. You have all the people who came out of WWI and WWII and September 11th. Yes it creates a shadow of PTSD, not necessarily meeting the full criteria, but I think it has left a mark of disappointment, which leads to depression. How long will this last? It depends on the people.
What about relationships here in Egypt?
We have a myth that we can’t date someone for long. Then we get married and get divorced 3 months later. It’s very nice to go out and dress up, but that’s not what a relationship is about. It’s about communication, intimacy, trust, friendship and love. In their 20s and 30s, women panic that they’re not married. They should look around them; women now build their careers and are independent emotionally, which is important because you can’t rely on a man otherwise he’ll call you a drama queen.
There are women who are married and they don’t know anything about their husbands’ sexual preferences or their own and they end up unhappy. How do we educate people about sex?
I once got in trouble for saying we need to sex educate our children in school on national television. It’s not promoting pornography, it’s giving people their human right to learn about what’s pleasurable and what’s not. If you are already in a relationship, it’s about communication with your partner. We still have the myth that if a girl has a bit of experience she would be labeled as bad girl.
Media steers us in the direction of thinking we need a Prince Charming even though we can do everything on our own.
Absolutely. If we develop the maturity of removing the “I need” into “I want”, the dynamics of the relationship will be totally different. When you need a man this is when the relationship goes wrong, because you pet desperation in the equation.
Are people more open for couples’ therapy?
It’s becoming very “in” these days, which is wonderful. Today, there are a lot of males who are willing to save their relationship.
Do you think that people accepting psychological help will have an impact in the next five years and that people would be more well-adjusted?
I would surely hope so. The more that come the better the chance you offer for them, therefore their kids can be better and we can raise a generation with a different mentality and wellbeing.