Professor Petros Hartokollis came to Greece from the USA, where he was director of the Menninger Foundation and Psychiatric Clinic in Topeka Kansas founded in 1919 by psychiatrist Karl August Menninger. In Topeka Kansas he met Robert Wallerstein, Eva Lester and Otto Kernberg. P. Hartokollis, before returning to Greece, was the director of the Psychotherapeutic Research Project, founded by Robert Wallerstein, performing systematic research in psychotherapy.
Psychiatrist, psychoanalyst as well as a writer, P.Hartokollis was distinguished for his love for philosophy, mythology and Ancient Greece. He was particularly interested in psychoanalytic thinking being heard in Delphi and being connected locally, with the myths and story of Oedipus. In his own unique way, he brought his former experienced and influential colleagues from Menninger to Delphi.
Founder and instigator of the institution of the Delphi International Psychoanalytical Symposium, P.Hartokollis contributed creatively to each symposium, with his organizational skill where, without anyone understanding what he was doing, he was behind every activity in his democratic and approachable way and at the same time providing space for each participant. In June 2013, he did not attend the 8th Symposium, as he had already left for America to live near his children. However, maintaining his paternal function, he attended the organization of the Symposium as its honorary President and sent us the following greeting:
30 years have passed since I addressed the 1st Delphi Symposium, which continued uninterruptedly every 4 years in the homeland of Oedipus.
One could assume that the subject of the Symposium, The Father, is inspired by Sophocles’ last tragedy Oedipus at Colonus.
It is somehow strange that almost none of the papers announced at Delphi so far refers to Oedipus as a father, apparently because Sophocles does not refer to the Oedipus Complex, in relation to the feeling of guilt, as Freud and psychoanalysis put it, but with the feeling of shame, overlooking Oedipus’s soliloquy, as he nails the golden pin of the lifeless Jocasta in his eyes. However, I have the impression that Freud also lost interest in the Oedipus complex, replacing it with the death instinct. And I think the same has happened with modern psychoanalysis.
And going back to ancient tragedy and Sophocles, what does make Oedipus end up on the hill of Colonus and Athens? It would have been more appropriate for him to go in the opposite direction, if it was not Phoebus Apollo himself who sent him to Thebes and Athens, solely to kill his father, and not his stepfather. In other words, instead of him going back to the parents who had raised him, that’s what I would have done at least, ignoring Apollo’s parricidal prophecy.
And that’s what I did, by returning to the country of my childhood, from where I will remember all of you and the Delphi Symposium with great love.”
Petros Hartokollis died in America on September 24, 2013.