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Home » News » "The psychological provincialism of Poles" - Ewa Woydyłło's lecture

"The psychological provincialism of Poles" - Ewa Woydyłło's lecture

- A morbid inferiority complex is perhaps subjectively the most painful stigma of province    - said Ewa Woydyłło during the 3rd lecture of the cycle: Poland – meaning province?

Full video record in multimedia library.

 Ewa Woydyłło’s lecture, delivered on November 3, 2010 at the Foundation’s premises approached the subject from the standpoint of clinical psychologist. The issue of provincialism in Poland was tackled  during the previous seminars by Professor Jerzy Jedlicki (historical perspective) and Professor Marek Ziółkowski (sociological perspective) 

Basing on her long-standing experience in work with individuals and group therapy sessions, Ewa Woydyłło presented an original parallel. Being in province is associated not only with geographical location but also with the state of mind and spirit of individual persons. A provincial in the psychological sense is inseparably accompanied by the feeling that the decisions relating to his life are made beyond his area of influence, they are taken at a distant centre. These are persons devoid of confidence in their own capabilities, suffering from an inferiority complex which renders it impossible to live a satisfactory and happy life.  

In Ewa Woydyłło’s opinion, it is the family where the sense of value mainly develops, however, certain patterns of behaviour and the community fate influence what we colloquially call the national character.

- Talking about identity, one should refer to historical conditionings which still persevere in our mentality. The most severe traumas for Poles are the partitions, long lasting serfdom feudalism and then communism. Let us add to it the philosophical paradigm of consent to fate (notably to sorrow) which dominates in our culture, and putting the whole responsibility for this fate on God as the only prime mover (in a mild version: “God willed“, or in a restrictive version: “punishment for sins“). The aforementioned  four factors affected, consecutively or at the same time, people’s experience, emotions, paths of life by acting as barriers for freedom of choice, freedom of decision, freedom to be a person who one wanted or could become. We, Poles, have lived in this way for several hundred years. Many live so even today. And this is not very surprising. (...)

I think that it is necessary not to deny the traumas burdening our history but to perceive one’s own wings, not only the roots, individually and personally. The centre is achieved by those who want it. In any case, by those who try and see that it depends on them and not on God or the incapacitating forces of the past. (...)

Thus I conclude that if the question itself: “Poland – meaning province?“ implies that it is worse to be in province and better to be in the centre, we can find a method for it. Namely, we can start to pay more attention to raising our children to belong to the centre and not to be stuck in the “everlasting province“(as Professor Jedlicki put it). (...)

I will try to demonstrate that it is possible. I do not say that it is easy, but I say that it is feasible. I believe that we can succeed, I only do not know when. I can see chances to carry through the above mission; at any rate, sometimes I myself participate in the process of freeing people from harmful (for them or their close relatives) features typical of provincialism, particularism and parochialism. (...)

If a therapy is to be effective, it must first restore dignity to a person. (...)

Briefly speaking, from people who consider themselves unworthy let us become people who in the name of dignity are capable of being on par with others - and beside them at the centre, and not in disregarded and always dependent province.  

The next, i.e. the 4th lecture from the series: Poland: meaning province? will be delivered on December 1, 2010 by Professor Andrzej Mencwel. Next year, we are planning to publish a collection of all lectures of the cycle.