Psychologists at Naples?

The tendentious news

The  "garbage psychologist" is a journalistic invention, and the announcement that Italian Civil Protection hired 300 psychologists to be sent to Naples is tendentious. Facts are different.
No reasonable people - least of all the Civil Protection and ourselves - would assume to resolve garbage problems using a handful of voluntary psychologists.
Finding a solution requires making political, economical, social, organisational and technical choices, and all the scientific disciplines, including the psychological ones, may provide their specific contribution, without arrogating the whole responsibility and management to themselves. Today at Naples, and maybe somewhere else in Italy in future, the end of garbage crisis will depend on such choices.

The true news

Nowhere else in the world does exist so great a force of people available to intervene in crisis with a sense of solidarity and competence as in Italy. We are speaking about the hundreds of thousands Civil Protection's voluntary workers. They are young and adult people, workers and pensioners, artisans, nurses, physicians, psychologists, clergymen, journalists, employees, teachers, etc. organised in old and well-known associations - such as Associazione Nazionale Alpini, Croce Rossa Italiana, Anpas, Misericordie, Scout, Caritas, Lega Ambiente, Vigili del Fuoco Volontari and others - as well in new ones - such as "Psicologi per i Popoli" federation.
Representatives from all of these national voluntary organisations, including the psychologists, have simply been asked to be available to collaborate with Naple's institutions (including Ordine degli Psicologi) and local voluntary organisations, in the event that the crisis situation requires it.
So, calling it "the psychologists landing" is inappropriate and it would be better to speak about a watchful and respectful readiness to intervene in case of necessity, with the aim of providing our active solidarity as it happens in all emergency circumstances and with all the other voluntaries. Until now, we haven't received more precise directions from the Civil Protection Department.

Not  300 but 3 psychologists for each of the 10 Naples's municipalities (each of them having about 100.000 inhabitants)

In the availability that Psicologi per i Popoli - Federazione declared to the Civil Protection Department there is a prospect, which up to now is only hypothetical, of a weekly presence of 3 psychologists for each of the 10 Naples's municipalities, throughout a hypothetical period of 3 months. Therefore, weekly shifts would involve 30 emergency psychologists, and not 300. About half of the Italian voluntary psychologists who responded to the "Contribute 8 days of voluntary work" appeal, with the aim of supporting Psicologi per i Popoli's team, are from South Italy, in particular from Campania.

Emergency psychology

Emergency psychologists caricatures, such as the "head-shrinker", the "Freud's nephew", the "garbage psychotherapist", are ill-suited to understand emergency psychology status and the role of psychologists in situations of crisis and disasters. 
The first significant attempt to clarify this complicated matter in Italy can be found in the Prime Minister guidelines issued on June 13, 2006, titled "Criteri di massima sugli interventi psicosociali da attuare nelle catastrofi" (Gazzetta Ufficiale, August 29, 2006, n. 200).
At international level, the Inter-Agency Standing Committee issued the Iasc Guidelines on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings
See www.unicatt/psicoemergenza for references, accounts of experiences and relevant researches.

Discussions are ongoing in the blog

For info and interviews in English, please write an e-mail to Maria Teresa Fenoglio, Psicologi per i Popoli vice-chaiman, at
Dr. Luigi Ranzato
chairman of Psicologi per i Popoli - Federazione
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