From the Greek theater to the mind: the opportunities of the mask

Paola Manfredi, Elena Massardi


From some elements of the mask in the ancient Greek theatre which are expressed in the current civilization and psychic economy, it is possible to identify positive some psychological functions that can be performed by the mask, especially the self-protection and the possibility to put into play unknown parts of the self, therefore meeting the diveristy within and outside us. It's highlighted  how the ongoing simplification in the mask could on one side offer a supporting screen in a society that multiplies images and amplifies the fragmentation risk, and on the other could reduce the risk of distortions of one own’s image in the other’s eyes. Therefore, the problem of believable speakers on which one could put his epistemophilic trust is arised and this is linked to the theme of openness to the future, to the persistence and the necessity of sharing, of relationship. Namely, it’s highlighted the possibility offered by the mask of experimenting what is not yet, but is present in the desire, as a sort of anticipating background that, instead of being closed in a mental fantasy or in a daydream, is played in the reality (virtual?). It's underlined how this function stays in a delicate balance between experimentation – the “carnival” function – and the gamble and its collocation could therefore fluctuate between the work-in-progress frame and the suicidary one, in which parts of the self can be integrated rather than reduced. Finally, highlighting the dimension of beauty and culture, recalled from the Greek theatre mask, it’s adfirmed the importance of these values, translated as play and care systems, a transitional space, in the psychological and psychotherapy fields. The explained themes are lastly evoked and exemplified through the illustration of a clinical case.


Greek theatre; Mind; Mask.

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