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DIXIT- An image is worth a thousand words

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This contribution is dedicated to the members of my family who due to the loneliness of our “modern” times perished or suffered some dark periods despite the uneffortless support trying to manage their emotional difficulties. For people affected by severe or even mild psychiatric disorders the pandemic emergency represents a double challenge to fight and for their relatives the physical distancing made even more complex than usual the provisioning of necessary daily support. From a birthday gift from my special aunt an unexpected viewpoint, which might be useful to improve the emotional cleverness of all of us.
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8000km di costa e non sentirli Friday, 21st January 2022
Gaglioti M.
DIXIT- An image is worth more a thousand words
Abstract
This contribution is dedicated to the members of my family who due to the loneliness of our moderntimes perished or
suffered some dark periods despite the uneffortless support trying to manage their emotional difficulties. For people
affected by severe or even mild psychiatric disorders the pandemic emergency represents a double challenge to fight and
for their relatives the physical distancing made even more complex than usual the provisioning of necessary daily support.
From a birthday gift from my special aunt an unexpected viewpoint, which might be useful to improve the emotional
cleverness intelligence of all of us.
Introduction
We all know how to imagine a story. The problem is not so much decoding the sign (to put it in the semiologists) that we
have before us, when describing it to those in front of us. How can I make it clear what is happening at that moment?
Dixit is this: a game where we have to make someone (but not everyone) understand what we have in front of us. It was
born in 2002 from an idea of a child psychiatrist in Poitiers, Jean-Louis Roubira, who specializes in the mother-child
relationship. He had the habit of cutting out images from children's magazines, largely attributable to the works of Charles
Perrault; images that he usually re-used during his psychotherapies.
Figure 1 Dixit-the boardgame made of inspirational illustrations (Photo credits: M. Gaglioti)
Material and methods
The approach toward the herein described phenomena has been encouraged from a birthday present I received few days
ago: “Dixit”, a boardgame which represents the idea of a psychiatrist to restore meaning to the imagination, by play, in
his patients. In order to perform it there are three very simple rules: fantasy, inspiration and simplicity.
Figure 2 Some of the pics extracted from the boardgame somehow related to the ocean (Illustrations by: Marie Cardoaut)
8000km di costa e non sentirli Friday, 21st January 2022
Results
During the pandemic emergency a huge number of people reacted with an avoidance attitude toward the etiologic agents
determining the epidemic phenomenon and to date some minorities still avoiding the consequent measures in force, up to
the real negation of the ongoing facts, in order to escape from the unpleasant feeling coming out from restrictions and
periodical changes into their daily routines. The most plausive explanation is a sort of self-defensive attitude, as happens
for trauma, in order to reduce the fear and negative feelings associated to the prolonged period of isolation and inevitable
deprivation experimented. Among most vulnerable people, not only immunologically, all these elements can have a
multiplied effect, therefore the constant and periodical approach with the sea and nature can be part of a wider therapy.
Among the main goals of the2030 Agendafor Sustainable Development and the mission of the UN Decade of Ocean
Sciences there is the empowerment of the emotional dimension of Ocean Literacy. In this boardgame some cards available
for the playersspeculations can fit this goal (Fig.2). According to the most curious sentences used in order to cryptically
describe the above showed cards: A drop of water contain all the secrets of the ocean”; We know better the Mars surface
than the Ocean Floor”; “Under full sails toward new horizons; “I’m really angry…I lost the compass”.
All the sentences highlight somehow the inspirational power of the blue dimension and someway even the emotional
aspect of the subjective interpretations given from the players during some matches I had the occasion to join in.
Discussion
The Dixit boardgame allowed us to get an insight into the players’ mind and test the ability of them to imagine and tell a
story inspired by an evocative image. Among the most frequently chosen card there were that somehow related to
environment, trips or the sea. The main connection with the higher rate of choice of this kind of “topics” might be related
to a positive approach due to the so-called blue gym effect. This concept underlies the attitude of spending time by the
sea, which has long been associated with health benefits and a sense of wellbeing. Acknowledging the importance of the
sea’s influence on our mental and physical health, the Blue Gym concept refers to using the coastal environment
specifically to promote health and wellbeing by increasing physical activity, reducing stress and building stronger
communities. A similar positive outcome due to the presence of the sea or in a figurative way to the presence of other
water-related environments. Therefore, the attempt to translate this feeling in an urban environment can be sometimes
really hard. For sure, a great imagination ability and the availability to share moments, even if occasionally, can help.
In the last nineties of the latest century the concept of maniac-depressive disease was questioned as a clinical condition
substantially without cognitive deficits: since then, a significant amount of scientific data has allowed to detect the
presence of the aforementioned deficits, not only during the course of the acute episodes but even after. Many patients
with bipolar disorder, although not all, have difficulties in the processes of attention, memory, concentration, learning
and planning. As well as the ability to prioritize and adapt to a competitive environment might represent a great challenge.
(Martínez‐Arán et al., 2004). The eurythmic bipolar disease is a real full-blown pathology, requiring specific treatments
and support by a team of psychologists beside a pharmacological support, but the exasperation of certain hypercompetitive
and individualizing dynamics can lead to disturbances with common features in the medium and long term, if only in the
initial symptoms. The ability to get out of it and to recognize the signs in time is not just a matter of individual skills,
therefore the wholesomeness of the context and the quality of interpersonal relationships are also very important.
The essential requirements to successful support them as caregivers might be having an adequate knowledge of the
disorder, being able to recognize the typical warning symptoms of the various phases, helping our friend or relative in
order to reduce the stressors, but above all refrain from judgments and criticisms. Once again, more than a mere technical
or scientific approach is an attitude matter. The education and kindness sometimes cure more than drugs!
Figure 3He never gives up” (Lungotevere Portuense, Rome)
8000km di costa e non sentirli Friday, 21st January 2022
Acknowledgments
A thoughtful thanks to my special aunt and grandparents who are a continue source of support and inspiration. As usual
a virtual kiss to M. & F., with dedication (Fig.3).
References
Deborah Cracknell, D., White, M.P., Pahl, S., Nichols, W.J., Depledge, M.H. (2015) Marine Biota and Psychological
Well-Being: A Preliminary Examination of DoseResponse Effects in an Aquarium Setting. Environment and
Behavior, 1-28. doi:10.1177/0013916515597512
Martínez‐Arán, A., Vieta, E., Colom, F., Torrent, C., Sánchez‐Moreno, J., Reinares, M., ... & Salamero, M. (2004).
Cognitive impairment in euthymic bipolar patients: implications for clinical and functional outcome. Bipolar disorders,
6(3), 224-232.
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