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Meyers, D. (1995). Tribute To Bernard L. Pacella. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 43:957-958.

(1995). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 43:957-958

Tribute To Bernard L. Pacella

Donald Meyers

Bernard Pacella's terms as treasurer and then president of the American Psychoanalytic Association are but the most recent evidence of his commitment to the field of mental health. Trained in pediatrics, child and adult psychiatry, and child and adult psychoanalysis, he has been a full-time research psychiatrist at the New York State Psychiatric Institute and chief of child psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. With Eugene Barrera, he conducted the first neurological and neurophysiological studies in the U.S. of the effects of electroconvulsive therapy on the brain. He was a charter member of the American Electroencephalographic Association and headed the EEG department at the Psychiatric Institute.

It was when Margaret Mahler arrived in the United States and became consulting child psychiatrist at Columbia that Pacella's career took a new turn. At her urging, he resigned his full-time position to devote himself to psychoanalysis, child psychiatry, and child analysis, and began analytic training at the New York Psychoanalytic Institute. In the years that followed, his career continued to be strongly influenced by Mahler. He worked closely with her as colleague and friend and served for a number of years as president of the Margaret Mahler Psychiatric Foundation. He published a number of papers on dream process, including some in which his background in neurophysiology led him to raise questions about the compulsory nature of dreaming, and a paper on the concept of the primal maternal matrix, a precursor of recent interest in “the tether.”

During his tenure as treasurer of the American Psychoanalytic Association, Pacella was a primary figure in reviewing Central Office operations and arranging the purchase of new offices. As president, among his major achievements was the organization of the Committee on Societies as a means of keeping local societies informed and encouraging discussion and involvement at the local level and the formation of the Steering Committee to coordinate the workings of the Executive Council Committees and the Executive Committee.

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