George S. Koulouvaris

Eleni Karagianni's book, "Right to Heaven", published by Armos publications, is full of short stories where Literature meets Psychology.

Psychiatrist-psychotherapist Eleni Karagianni, with clear and lively writing, invites us to accompany her on a personal journey, rich in emotional exchanges, concluding that we are made as humans to experience fullness in love and authentic sharing with others.

We talked to her.

Mrs. Karagianni, would you like to introduce us to your book?

"These are short stories, where psychology meets literature. They are human stories, where the protagonists confront the facts of existence and yearn to know themselves and authentically meet others. They inspire love for life and faith in man."

What triggered you to write it?

“I feel especially grateful as I share with the people who trust me their desire to face despair first when failures and frustrations arise. Then, as they are called to take personal responsibility, they teach me through the will to improve and define - despite the limitations - their lives."

'Right to Heaven'; a comment on the title choice?

"The word right refers to something that others grant us. In this case, it is about what we owe to ourselves: to contribute to authentic interpersonal relationships, which give us the gift of sharing love and our personal development."

You write that "Paradise is people and interpersonal relationships"; it seems here that Heaven is built in relation to someone - one or many others. Doesn't it emerge like this, a kind of need that can reach the point of dependence? And, if so, how healthy, how heavenly can any addiction be?

“I believe that our factory settings as humans include as a necessary ingredient of joy and fulfillment, the gift and sport of relationships. The reason people come to a therapist's office is because of their difficulties with significant others. Of course, others can become Hell very easily."

Eighteen short stories; will you give us a glimpse of the everyday issues they touch on?

"The relay of inspiration as it is passed from person to person... A new mother who yearns to understand her son's world, instead of being consumed by a motherhood that is thankless, predictable, that repeats the same advice as only anguish and fear... An adoption that reveals itself suddenly and comes to disrupt the whole perception of life, as it was formed around the secret that remained hidden... A humanitarian doctor who worries about the ignorance of his patients... A boy as he experiences the impending divorce of his parents, longs to know how people celebrate and he makes a personal vow to build a house in the future that will celebrate..."

What is it that you would like the reader to keep from "encountering" your book?

"To hope more. To love more. To want to know more. To be able to see beneath the surface of things. Don't be afraid of change. To believe in the power of good. To allow life to touch him."

Will you choose to read us a passage?

""A moment, a light, the meeting face to face. And she who saw him first, will have the privilege of seeing his true feelings outlined when he faces her. He will not have time to camouflage himself in a polite facade of social intercourse. She's sure to see a gasp of restrained glee. The spontaneous movement is to run to meet him.. She wants to see the glow that her presence will cause. She wishes to look in the flattering mirror that will offer her, with pleasure her image. She does not want to deprive herself of this "innocent" romantic satisfaction. He had discerned from their last meeting the echo of a subtle interest that had always been there, but had not been openly expressed, and certainly never would be.

Anna changes direction to meet the old classmate. Suddenly, running with all the vigor of youth, a small group of children approaches him. It is obvious, these are students he accompanies on a school trip. He cannot hear from his position exactly what is being said. But he can distinguish the students' love for the teacher, the trust to share things with him. He can perceive the teacher's eager, cheerful response, the care that surrounds and highlights. It's a moment that irrefutably reveals the intimacy, excitement and connection between them. Those precious ones that are painstakingly built by a teacher in the daily routine of the class. He stands carefully and observes. His other life touches her and destabilizes her.
The mirror is removed, it has become small. It is the moment when the face emerges" -From the short story "Mirrors and Faces".

Tell us about the process of writing it; how did you experience it?

"Torturous and liberating, at the same time. Inspiration takes me, writing is demanding. The heroes confront me, and while I create them, they demand that they become autonomous and define the end."

A book you read recently and liked?

"Ian McEwan's 'The Law of Children'; because with a powerful literary pen he negotiates the constant interplay of professional and personal life."

And one that you always love?

"Victor Hugo's Les Misérables; because my father loved it." At first I dismissed it because of that, but then I was completely won over, as the author has a deep understanding of human psychology and insists that there is no such thing as black and white.'

Your next writing step?

"To keep writing, always hoping that life will take me."

Will you share with us a moment from your psychotherapeutic experience?

"The moment when a teenager, while beginning with a complaint about the parents' omissions, is freed when he focuses on his personal potential... The moment when someone, while waiting for the solution of the problem he faces in an imprisoning way, is surprised when a horizon opens up in front of him of a different understanding... The moment when someone, while describing failures, is unsuspecting about the beauty of his face, as it reveals itself...”

Shall we close with a wish?

"Let's believe that humanity can go for the better and let's all contribute to it."