Academic journal article International Journal of Psychoanalysis

The Pioneers of Psychoanalysis in South America: An Essential Guide

Academic journal article International Journal of Psychoanalysis

The Pioneers of Psychoanalysis in South America: An Essential Guide

Article excerpt

The pioneers of psychoanalysis in South America: An essential guide edited by Nydia Lisman-Pieczanski and Alberto Pieczanski New Library of Psychoanalysis, Routledge, London, 2014; 537 pp. $64.95

On my first trip to Brazil in 2004 to attend the International Bion Conference in Sao Paulo, my wife and I took a domestic flight to Iguacu Falls. I was seated next to a young Brazilian woman who spoke excellent English and she asked my profession. Upon saying I was a psychoanalyst, she reacted as though being face-to-face with a rock star, "Wow, a psychoanalyst, that's great!" She went on to say that her family had encouraged her to pursue either psychoanalysis or a law degree as a career and also said that many of her friends aspired to be analysts, a highly desirable occupation in Brazil. The young woman's enthusiasm and knowledge of psychoanalysis stood in marked contrast to the typical American response I receive when informing someone I am a psychoanalyst: "What's that?" It soon became apparent that psychoanalysis was an established part of contemporary South American culture, especially in Argentina and Brazil, not unlike its popularity in the United States in the 1950s and 1960s. How did this come to be?

The word, 'pioneer', is a perfect choice for the title of this impressive book: a term that functions as a verb (explore, uncover, originate), a noun (adventurer, apostle, innovator) or an adjective (original, brave, immigrant) and each of these usages captures some of the truly remarkable qualities of the intrepid pioneers who landed on South American shores in the early to mid-20th century to secure a psychoanalytic foothold. Most were established analysts who emigrated from Europe to flee persecution in the 1930s and 1940s, though a few were native born, and some journeyed to simply begin a new life in this alluring continent. The vast majority of these displaced analysts settled in Argentina, especially in Buenos Aires, though others were more adventurous.

Nydia Lisman-Pieczanski and Alberto Pieczanski have edited a remarkable book that reveals the richly generative, but mostly unknown (to nonSpanish speaking analysts), history of Latin American psychoanalysis through a well-chosen compilation of papers from numerous Argentine and Brazilian psychoanalysts. In addition to the excellent choice of a wide range of papers, the editors have wisely included short biographical sketches of each contributor that provide the reader with a personal context for the papers to enliven one's reading experience. With regard to the editors, they were both born in Buenos Aires and did their medical and psychiatric training there. They trained in child and adult psychoanalysis at the British Psychoanalytic Institute and subsequently both worked at the Tavistock Clinic; Alberto Pieczanski at the Portman Clinic as well. They currently reside in the Washington DC area and both are affiliated with the Washington Center for Psychoanalysis. The Pieczanskis, therefore, have a wide range of psychoanalytic knowledge of three IPA regions which brings great depth to this volume and one has the sense that putting this book together was a labor of love.

The book weighs in at 537 pages and is comprised of 52 well-organized chapters which are grouped under six headings: Psychoanalytic Process, Psychoanalytic Technique, Metapsychology, Psychoanalysis of Children, Culture and Society, and Psychosomatic Medicine. Each chapter is preceded by a biographical sketch of the author and this pairing of the writer's background with one (or sometimes several) of his/her writings gives a threedimensional feel to the chosen paper. For example, in his introduction to Heinrich Racker's (1957, in English) classic paper, 'The Meanings and Uses of Countertransference', Etchegoyan begins by saying:

The life of Heinrich Racker (1910-1961), short and rich, consists of a lattice of singular acts of creation and existential events, where moments of joy resound with sorrows and troubles that his spirit was unable to overcome with temperance and serenity. …

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