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New cluster leader for Heritage and Wellbeing

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Greater focus on the relationship between heritage and health. Less focus on standardized treatment methods in mental health. These are two things requested by Elisabeth Punzi, new leader in CCHS's research cluster Heritage and Wellbeing.

What is your background?
- I am a psychologist, a specialist in clinical psychology and neuropsychology and lecturer at the Department of Psychology at the University of Gothenburg. Clinically I have worked in psychiatry with people with various psychological difficulties, addiction problems and people who have been outside the labour market for a long time. I teach psychoanalytic and humanistic-existential psychology, religious psychology, gender and ethnicity, qualitative research methodology and many other things. In my research, I mostly use a humanistic perspective, focusing on the subjective experiences, and contexts of clients and clinicians, and how these can become the foundation for understanding and treatment, rather than having diagnoses or standardized methods in focus.

In what way have you worked with cultural heritage in your previous work?
- Cultural heritage is a frequent matter in clinical work. It can be anything from what people find meaningful, where they feel happy and what they want to do with their lives, to people from other countries who create new contexts or long for a cultural heritage they no longer have contact with. My research involves themes of Jewish cultural heritage, identity and traditions and the connection between psychoanalysis and Judaism and issues of cultural heritage is central to my work. I am also interested in the importance of places for people with psychological difficulties and places that are loaded with cultural heritage of different kinds can be very important to people.

What is the relationship between cultural heritage, wellbeing and health?
- It is something that is rarely noted in health care, and it is a pity. People are not only their difficulties but also exist in a context where cultural heritage, not least places, can be very important. Humans are connected to each other, to traditions, places and thoughts about the future. Places and traditions can also cause difficult memories and reactions that we need to understand if we want to be able to really see people. We cannot only look at it like some cultural heritage or sites are by definition healing, it is a great simplification and an essentialistic view of what people is. We are complex creatures and there is no simple connection between cultural heritage, meaning and health or wellbeing. In addition, people from different backgrounds have different preferences, habits and desires.

What do you look forward to as cluster leader?
- To learn more about cultural heritage and health, not least in terms of global perspectives. I also look forward to contributing to a holistic view of health and wellbeing.