Mini-interview: Silence with Evangelos Tsempelis
Evangelos is a psychoanalyst based in Zürich. You can find him at
i). What role does silence play in what you do?
Even though my work falls within the realm of a “talking cure”, silence is of paramount importance in analysis. Often what is not said, what remains locked in silence, is more important than the words that are easily evoked. In that vein, I would say that much of the work is about making room for the silences, learning to respect them, developing a capacity to tolerate the anxieties that they may provoke. It is through this askesis that involves two people, the analyst and the analysand, that the ground is set for insights to emerge and for a deeper connection to what still remains unknown, as a potentiality, to begin to be forged.
ii). How does that silence feel to you?
As for a mountaineer or a sea(wo)man immersed into their respective elements so alike for me, as an analyst, silence has unlimited permutations depending on the specific conditions and people who constellate it. It may be soothing, it may be anxiety-provoking, it may be pregnant with meaning and emotion. Silence is, in a certain way, the negative space out of which everything emerges. My practice is to learn to cultivate it, to respect it and to be attentive to its exigencies.
iii). In today’s world, people often struggle with silence. Do you feel we would benefit from a bit more silence? How could we go about finding it?
Yes, in today’s hyper-connected world people are often terrified of silence. Never before did we have as many tools and resources at hand’s reach to clutter our silence and to distract ourselves. Silence is so frightening because, it is a gate to those dimensions of life, which are so often unattended as they relate to our existence: its meaning, its solitude, its fragility, its mortality. Confronting these aspects of life goes part-and-parcel with a welcoming attitude to a practice of (more) silence. There are myriad ways of finding it depending on one’s personality and mode of life: you may pick up a book, take a walk, meditate, close your eyes and allow yourself to wonder in your thoughts and imagination. All of the aforementioned practices not only allow silence to re-enter our lives, but most importantly, and perhaps more radically, enable us to reclaim our own psychic space from the clutter dumped on it by a ubiquitous industry of distractions in today’s consumer market that we – for good or for bad – all inhabit.