Tribute to Piero Coppo, the "Great Lord"

The members of the "Centro Studi Sagara" in Pisa, Italy, announce the passing of Piero Coppo, founder and director of the Center and the School of Psychotherapy, whose loss has left a great void of affection and an immeasurable legacy to be honored.

Doctor, neuropsychiatrist and psychotherapist, as part of his exploratory missions as a member of the board of directors of the non-profit association ORISS, Piero Coppo also visited the Takiwasi Center with the intention of opening new channels of intervention and collaboration in the fields of health, research and education.

We share a tribute to his memory written by our founding president, Dr. Jacques Mabit:

A few years ago, an application for enrollment in Takiwasi to receive treatment with traditional Amazonian medicines slipped among many others. But the name of its author caught my attention: Piero Coppo. Could he be the famous founder of Italian ethnopsychiatry? Indeed, the "great lord" had humbly applied like everyone else, filling out his health declaration and cover letter like anyone else, without asking for any privilege, almost anonymously. This anecdote reflects the personality of Piero Coppo, endowed with academic titles and recognition, founder, organizer, author, explorer of the new frontiers between cultures and medicines, who did not “show off” and maintained himself above all as a simple and generous man.

Piero Coppo has become a friend. The “great lord” did us the honor of sharing his experiences and discussing his ideas: we did not agree on certain points, but the differences were handled with respect and courtesy, with the encouragement generated by healthy debates, friendship coming first. He selflessly offered to conduct an evaluation of the "Takiwasi system" by giving us a final report. He invited us to visit him in Pisa, always in the simplicity of his home. He supported us in an academic debate with university opponents who glossed a lot from their pulpits but who could not descend, like him, in the field of experience, in front of a cup of ayahuasca, facing their own demons, where the prestigious titles become vain.

In him, the intellect had not dried up the heart. He did us the honor of echoing our work, translating some of our texts in Italian. He dreamed of creating a place to receive drug addicts in Italy, inspired by Takiwasi and combining his knowledge of African cultures. He regretted not being able to continue working in Africa due to the political situation, but he had found “his” Africans among the homeless migrants arriving on the peninsula and for whom he fought another battle. Piero Coppo, a kind of humanist from old Europe, elegant and simple at the same time, with a polished French, erudite and close to the humble, kept intact his passion and his curiosity until the end as an explorer of the human soul. At 80 years of age, he had every intention of continuing his battles as an insightful Don Quixote. He passed to the "other world" in a few months, with serenity, first worrying about his loved ones, maintaining the grace of the "Great Lord" that we have known and that we will miss.

Jacques Mabit, June 2021.

Biography of Piero Coppo

Medical Doctor, neuropsychiatrist and psychotherapist, he taught ethnopsychiatry at Ca' Foscari University in Venice. He worked in Mali and Guatemala in cooperation programs on traditional medicine. He has been part of the Interdisciplinary Organization for Development and Health (ORISS) being in charge of training, research, information and therapeutic care. He edited the magazine “I Fogli” and published numerous essays in Italian, including “Etnopsiquiatria” (Il Saggiatore, 1996), “Guaritori di follia. Storie dell’altopiano Dogon” (Bollati Boringhieri, 1994), “Passaggi. Elementi di critica dell’antropologia occidentale” (Colibrì, 1998), “Tra psiche e cultura. Elementi di etnopsichiatria” (Bollati Boringhieri, 2003), “Le ragioni del dolore. Etnopsichiatria della depressione” (Bollati Boringhieri, 2005), “Negoziare con il male” (Bollati Boringhieri, 2007), and “Le ragioni degli altri” (Raffello Cortina, 2013). He has been the founder and director of the Sagara School of Specialization in Psychotherapy and Ethnopsychotherapy in Pisa, Italy.


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