In February 2022, Ukraine was invaded by its powerful neighbor. Since then, the whole world has been witnessing with horror and sadness the struggle of the Ukrainian people to protect their lives, land, culture, and identity.
In this article, I invite you to meet the leader of TFP-Ukraine, Oleksii Lemeshchuk. With his openness, wit, and generosity, he helps us understand his people and reflect on the challenges of applying TFP in a country at war.
Meeting Oleksii and his people
My first contact with Oleksii was through an email I sent him during the holidays. I decided to contact him when I discovered, through the warm holiday wishes that many of you sent, that we had a Ukrainian TFP group in our society. It seemed to me that they would have a unique perspective on human nature and on the application of transference focused psychotherapy in a difficult context.
He answered quickly and showed enthusiasm for the project. We arranged a zoom meeting with an interpreter so that communication of his ideas would not be limited by language.
On the given day, I connected with Oleksii and his interpreter and was pleasantly surprised by the brightness of his office. Looking back, I wonder if I was expecting darkness and despair. The short time I spent with Oleksii showed me light and hope for a better future.
Perhaps that resilience comes from spending his childhood in a communist country. Oleksii remembers how it was dangerous to exist outside of Marx and Lenin’s thinking:
That was the time when everybody had to be obedient and do what is told.Olexeii Lemeshchuk, Leader of TFP-Ukraine
Because of that, having personal discussions to talk about one’s problems was not allowed. Original thinking that could foster a deep understanding of oneself was considered dangerous. You could be arrested or killed for thinking the wrong things. Furthermore, since psychiatric facilities were used to enforce control of dissidents who would not comply with the policies of the communist party, seeking help would make you suspicious to neighbors and friends. That is why many people turned to drugs and alcohol as the only means of relief from their suffering.