Signs of Life, June 30, 2016
Signs of Life with Bob & Phran Ginsberg interviewing Dr Piero Calvi-Parisetti
Who is Dr. Parisetti?
Basically, I am a person who cares about others. The following few paragraphs tell the story of a lucky person - somebody with a range of diverse interests and passions who was able to pursue them to the fullest. I have done different things in my life, there have been phases, and changes. But one thing stayed with me all the time: the fundamental desire to make a difference for those around me - patients, victims of war and natural disasters, students, and now the bereaved and the dying.
1980's - university and general practice
After getting my MD in 1986 from the University of Milan, Italy, I worked for a few years as junior GP, employed by the Italian Red Cross. This was a great experience - working at the entry levels of the medical profession, in direct contact with people and their real, immediate problems, I could fully appreciate something I wasn't really taught at medical school: whatever the condition a person suffers from, there is always a psychological, emotional component at play. In some cases, emotions play such a primary role that we can say they are largely responsible for the patient's condition.
Early 1990's - further education
Being interested in working in the international humanitarian aid sector, I went on to get postgraduate education in Public Health, form Cardiff University (UK), and in Disaster Management, from the University of Louvain in Belgium.
1990's - an "explosive" humanitarian career
At the end of 1992 I was hired by the International Red Cross and had some of the most humanly enriching experiences of my life. Young, enthusiastic, highly motivated (and reasonably lucky), in the turn of just a few years I moved from technical positions in the field (Kenya, Somalia, former Soviet Union) to senior management, first in the field (I was the first Head of Delegation for the Red Cross in North Korea) and then at the Geneva headquarters (I was put in charge of the largest-ever assistance operation of the Red Cross, serving 1.1 million refugees in five countries of the Great Lakes region of Africa). Pursuing such inflationary growth in my career, in 1998 I then moved to the United Nations in New York, dealing with the political aspects of international humanitarian assistance.
2000's - academia
After three years, I realised that the UN job had taken me too far away from my medical roots and my humanitarian motivations. I therefore decided to leave the international system and took up a late academic career. For 13 years I taught public health and disaster management to graduate and doctoral students at three major universities, and for six years I also was the coordinator of a Master's Degree in International Aid Management.
A scholar of psychical research
In the mid-2000's, a new, major intellectual interest appeared in my life. I started passionately studying and researching the transition we call death. I became a member of the Society for Psychical Research in the UK and of the International Association for Near-Death Studies, two professional scientific and research organisations. I also became a member of the Windbridge Institute in the US, which carries out cutting-edge fundamental and applied psychical research. After reading some 30,000 pages of literature, in 2008 I decided to write my own book, called 21 Days into the Afterlife. I compiled and systematically presented the evidence I had come across as I would have done in my university classroom. This was to become a bit of a world-wide success, drawing very positive reviews and being translated into several languages.
In 2013, my desire to turn my scholarly interest into something directly useful for others brought me to take early retirement from the university and to dedicate myself fully to working with the bereaved and the dying. To prepare for this, I had formally trained in cognitive and behaviour psychotherapy at Stonebridge College in the UK. In 20I2 I also had the incredible luck of training personally with one of my intellectual heroes, Dr. Raymond Moody in the US.
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