An octogenarian perspective

Sunday 18 March 9.00-10.00

An octogenarian perspective

by Olli Antilla


Coming to New Zealand Aotearoa was a life transforming event for Olli. He felt very blessed and the same sense of blessedness has been with him since. He felt that he had arrived home. Coming to these blessed shores helped him to transform his view of life to a higher level. He had been a ‘believer’ all his life, by which he means that he had had an explainable sense of being protected by a higher force. In this country it became more palpable.

Over the last thirty years Olli has changed from manhood to old age. He had seen his grandparents and parents reaching old age and they had by their talking and by their ways of being made old age familiar to him. It was, however, through his own maturing that he started to comprehend what this life is about. There are said to be three intense developmental spurts in human life: the first being the first five years, the second is adolescence and the third is old age. Olli is now in the third stage and his experience is that moving into old age is like moving from Beethoven’s Third to the Ninth Symphony or from Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro” to his “Requiem”. It is seeing the divine in a new way and really dwelling in it.

He would like to share some of his experiences with other Conference attendees and will talk about what he sees as an essence in psychotherapy and about Wilfred Bion’s idea that the primary force in all of us human beings is the need to grow and to understand ourselves and our place in the world. As Socrates has been quoted as saying: “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

He will also talk about psychoanalytical studies about retirement and when and how to end one’s practice in a good way.


Dr Olli Antilla was born in Finland in 1937, two years before WWII. His father was in the war and his grandfather, who lived in the same house, then became his father figure. He was a remarkable man, MP and mayor of the township. Olli went to church with him every Sunday and they often spent week-nights together, Olli rocking his chair while his grandfather explained the mysteries of the holy texts. Olli has felt all his life that he was old, and now, being really old, feels very much at home in his current life with his wife of fourteen years, their four children and two grandchildren. Olli is in his second marriage and is a good friend with his first wife. He immigrated to Aotearoa New Zealand when he was fifty years old, in 1988. Olli was educated in Finland, at Helsinki Medical School, became a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst and works in private practice in Auckland.