Enrique RojasMany of today's relationships are made of demolition materials".

Psychiatrist Enrique Rojas talks in this interview with Omnes about the hyperconnectedness of "increasingly lost" society, throwaway relationships and the family as "the first psychological space where one is valued for being there." 

Maria José Atienza-July 30, 2022-Reading time: 4 minutes
enrique rojas

Photo: Enrique Rojas ©ieip

Enrique Rojas is one of the "head" psychiatrists in our country. Professor of Psychiatry and director of the Spanish Institute of Psychiatric Research, Rojas has just been awarded the Pasteur Prize for research in medicine by the European Development Association.

Author of numerous books on subjects such as depression, happiness, anxiety and love, he has sold more than 3 million books, translated from English into Russian, German, Polish and Italian.

Married to Isabel Estapé, notary of Madrid, and first woman in the Real Academia de Ciencias de Económicas y Empresariales, Enrique Rojas is the father of 5 children, some of whom have followed in his footsteps in the world of medicine or psychology.

You have been involved in psychiatric research and treatment for more than four decades. In this time, have human beings changed their aspirations and points of reference or are we still the same "in different clothes"? 

- The psychiatrist and the psychologist have become the new family doctors. The major psychiatric illnesses, depressions, anxiety, obsessions continue to be treated. But there are three new pathological forms: broken couples, addictions (from cell phones to pornography, including series), and the conversion of sex into a disposable act. 

There is a lot of talk about offices being full and confessionals being empty... Is there a simplification of the work of both? 

- When the world is emptied of God, it is filled with idols: many of them empty of content. The world is tired of lying seducers. 

Is our society more psychologically fragile than before?

- We live in a society bombarded by news that devour one after another. A hyper-informed and interconnected society. But increasingly lost.

In this sense, when the human being lives an openness to transcendence, to God, is he really happier? 

- The meaning of life means having answers to the great questions of life: where we come from, where we are going, the meaning of death. The spiritual meaning of life is key and leads to the discovery that each person is valuable.

Is it better to love when one loves God, when one loves for God? 

- God is Love. In today's loves, the spiritual sense is lacking and many relationships are made of demolished materials.

If there are two terms that are used beyond their possibilities, it is love and freedom. On this plane, is there a definition of love? 

- To love is to tell someone I am going to give you the best I have. Freedom is discovering our possibilities and our limits. My definition of love is this: it is a movement of the will towards something or someone that I discover as a good, as something valuable. 

And, therefore, what do we understand by freedom, and is it not the case that the nature of both is often "beyond" us? 

- Absolute freedom is given only in God; in that essence and existence coincide. We should aspire not to be prisoners of anything... Today we have replaced the meaning of life by sensations. Many people seek quick, immediate experiences of pleasure, one after the other, and in the long run this produces a great emptiness.

Our first-world society has gone from the Enlightenment and the exaltation of reason to that of feeling, even above biology: everyone "is what he feels". Is this situation psychologically sustainable? 

- The Enlightenment was a very important movement in the history of thought that ended in the French Revolution with those three great slogans: liberty, equality and fraternity.

The romanticism of the 19th century was a reaction against the enthronement of reason, putting the affective world first.

Today the answer is the Emotional IntelligenceThe first thing we need to remember is that the first psychological epidemic in the Western world is divorce. Let us not forget that the number one psychological epidemic in the Western world is divorce. 

How to achieve balance between nature and feeling when we understand neither one nor the other?

- Feelings act as intermediaries between instincts and reason. The affective life must be piloted by the intellectual life, but looking for an equation between both ingredients. 

We speak of friends as the family of choice. But is our own family a burden then?

- The family is the first psychological space where one is valued for just being there. Parents are the first educators and the key is twofold: coherence of life and enthusiasm with values that do not go out of fashion.

What is the role of the family in society, is it replaceable?

- A good father is worth a thousand teachers. And a good mother is like a domestic university. To educate is to give roots and wings, love and rigor.

We have not yet finished going through a pandemic that has shaken the entire world. From this situation, as from a war or a conflict, is it better or worse to come out of it? 

- One comes out of the pandemic better if one has really learned lessons from it. All philosophy is born on the shores of death. All happiness consists in doing something worthwhile with one's life.

In the face of these "collective traumas", do individuals and societies change or do they adapt and even proliferate escape routes? 

- We must learn to make a positive reading of all the good things that this society has to offer: from the extraordinary technological advances to an increasingly versatile and innovative medicine or the speed of communications, and so on and so forth. But we must know that there is a truth about the human being and this, at present, is quite blurred.

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