“Gillo Dorfles (Gillo Dorfles) — a very interesting person, he had diverse interests in various fields, he has always developed with great creative energy,” says Massimo Ammaniti (Massimo Ammaniti), a world-renowned psychoanalyst, Professor Emeritus of the University of Rome Sapienza, who has devoted an essay “Curiosity never ages” (published by Mondadori): it is a collection of testimonies of 80 – and 90-year-old people (including the writer Andrea Camilleri, the politician Luciana Castellina, the writer Raffaele La Capria, philosopher Aldo Masullo, journalist and politician Mario Pirani), which tell how a change in their way of perceiving emotions and events.
Re interest in Dorfles Ammaniti have occurred some time ago, thanks to dedicated him a retrospective exhibition in Rome’s Macro Museum. “Until I was familiar with him as an artist and art historian. This retrospective has opened for me completely unknown to his features: he graduated from the medical faculty in the specialty “Psychiatry” in 30-e years, has written several portraits of mentally ill patients.”
L’espresso: Professor Ammaniti, it is believed that old age means focusing on yourself, loss of interest in everything that happens around. This is inevitable?
— No, no. You need not to lose touch with your thoughts, to be able to develop them, and this is the main activity that accompanies us over time. Aging is a particularly fruitful period, if you remember “De senectute” (“On old age”) of Cicero: a man regains the thread of his own life, finds a desire, the former the driving force of his existence. The adoption of the approaching age generates positive reflexes on a psychological level, as well as in the brain. If the person denies aging, he is faced with the General deterioration, and in neurons can form senile plaques characteristic of Alzheimer’s.
— Are there any commandments to save the youth?
One of the most important aspects is that of curiosity. You should not plunge into your own habits, you should start taking care of your body: eat well, to exercise, to continue to travel. It is extremely important to develop relations with new generations. Clubs for the elderly is good, but thanks to the young old man keeps in touch with life.
— In Italy an increasing number of people over 65, at the moment they account for almost 21 percent, three points more than the European average. Does it make sense still to call them elderly?
— I’d say no. To me the word “old” never liked it too politically correct, I prefer to say “old”. Today the life cycle is deeply changed: when Dante begins “the divine Comedy”, “Earthly life passed before the half” he’s 35, today that same moment it may fall between 50 and 60 years. In the United States, for example, were enacted different laws to counter discrimination of workers who have crossed the sixtieth milestone. My friend Jerome Bruner (Jerome Bruner), one of the creators of the cognitive revolution on the world level in 50 years launched the computer era, was a Professor at Harvard and Oxford. In 98 years, he taught at the law faculty of new York University.
— It is no coincidence that among the activities that can slow the aging, you mention writing…
— To write means to make your memories a life of its own, to leave a legacy. I remember the phrase of Freud, which he uttered in conversation with his colleague who wrote the book: “Release it, publish it, give it life.” Writing makes our world accessible to others.
Giorgio Albertazzi (Giorgio Albertazzi), who You interviewed, claimed that beauty was the dominant feature of his life. Whether aesthetic incentive to guarantee the longevity?
— Desire for beauty, creating for oneself a more pleasant atmosphere allows you to live a better life and gives inner harmony. I remember Franco Zeffirelli (Franco Zeffirelli): it is not moving independently around the house moves in his power chair. He is very caring about his appearance, he is very graceful, like all the other people I talked to, they are very sensitive to how to present themselves to compensate for their limitations.
Compatible the love with the fourth age?
— In my experience I know that in the community older people have a strong attachment and sympathy. Love plays a very important role, as in the whole of the libido which necessarily translates into a sexual relationship, but it enriches life. A friend of mine, had not the boy, told me the story: his mother, a widow, 85 years old, once said: “I met a man who three or four years older than me. And you know us very well together.” Then my friend told her: “Mom, you are very lucky, dad, don’t worry”. And she said, “I will never forget daddy.”
— When people are approaching his end, the feeling of emptiness can be mitigated by the hope for an afterlife. Those who believe in God with great courage to meet death?
For those who have it, it’s really important preparatory time. Although Andrea Camilleri once told me something that struck me deeply: “Death itself is a source of curiosity, I often wonder what will happen next”. Anyway, according to Freud, religion helps to cope with fear of death. Man of the world ought to do more to give a sense of the earth of his life.