Remembering something sad

There’s plenty of things in life that can radically change our point of view on life.

Many of these events can be categorised under the file “personal life experiences”. These are events we experience “on our skin”. Some of these events are pivotal in promoting deep psychological changes.

However, sometimes it happens that events distant from our immediate experience  become really engraved in our brains and promote a change in our attitude towards people, the world, and life in general.

The events

One clear example could be 9/11. It radically changed my perspective on the world, politics, and religion. But this post is not about this tragedy

This is about Paolo Borsellino. I was 17 years old and I was spending the summer with my closest friends in Italy, in a nice location by the sea. I wish I could remember the girl I met there, her eyes, the nights spent with her on the beach.

Instead, all these memories have been somehow overshadowed by what happened on the afternoon of July 19th (1992). I clearly remember being in the hall of our hotel wearing a black t-shirt , a blue swimsuit. I remember the TV (a green-ish Cathode ray tube TV) and the news. I even remember in what position I was holding my arms, head, and legs.


Tough to say what went through my head. I felt helpless, sad, and angry. And I was ashamed. This is my country. We’re just giving up on ideals and people? The whole world as I knew it was being eaten alive by the mafia. And it was under my eyes every day. It took a tragedy (or tragedies – see Giovanni Falcone) to open my eyes.

I have no memories of “ruminating” over this episode on the days immediately following this tragic episode of Italian history. But it sank deep within (really deep if I am “throwing it up” now – 26 years later). What I know is that it did change my point of view on life, how I approach politics, Italy and what it means being Italian.

Not nice

Many, many years later at a SfN “social” event, I remember having this conversation with an american guy:

guy :” Hi I’m xxxxxx, ”

me: “” Hi I’m Leo”

guy: “where are you from?”

me: “Italy”

guy (with a big smile): “Ah, mafia!”

me: …

I don’t remember what I replied. I just remember how I felt. I remember thinking that probably it was not his fault, he was just being nice/sarcastic (WTF!?) .

Learn more

if you want to learn more about Paolo Borsellino this is the wikipedia page (in english). From there you can also read more about Giovanni Falcone.


Leonardo Restivo

Behavioral Neuroscientist, M.Sc., Ph.D. - Passionate about Behavior, Data Visualization & Psychology. Read my CV+résumé. Follow me on twitter @scipleneuro