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Puget, J. (1999). Politique de la Psychanalyse Face a La Dictature et a la Torture: N'en Parlez a Personne (Psychoanalysis, Dictatorship, and Torture: Don't Talk About it): Helena Besserman Vianna. Foreword and open letter by René Major. Paris: L'Harmattan Editions, 1997, 299 pp.. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 47(3):961-964.
(1999). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 47(3):961-964
Politique de la Psychanalyse Face a La Dictature et a la Torture: N'en Parlez a Personne (Psychoanalysis, Dictatorship, and Torture: Don't Talk About it): Helena Besserman Vianna. Foreword and open letter by René Major. Paris: L'Harmattan Editions, 1997, 299 pp.
Review by: Janine Puget
Helena Besserman Vianna presents here a text without precedent. A psychoanalyst herself, she dedicated many years to denouncing and documenting the history of a psychoanalytic institution that had as members a candidate, Amilcar Lobo, a known torturer, and his training analyst, Leão Cabernite. Cabernite's own analyst had been Werner Kemper, a psychoanalyst of Nazi ideology and a founder of the Rio de Janeiro Psychoanalytic Society. These facts were known at the time, not just by Brazilians but by colleagues in other countries. Marie Langer spread the word in Argentina, as did others in Europe and the U.S. Their reports unfortunately suffered the vicissitudes of repression, distortion, and dismissal. Brazil was then under a dictatorial regime, which further favored repression, self-censorship, and fear, even terror, in those who should have taken steps to correct this aberration. Just when support and direction from the IPA were needed most, the scandal became a real problem for the leadership, who feared being compromised were they to make a public pronouncement on behalf of those denouncing the situation. Regrettably, the IPA took no action at the time. Not until the tenure of Horacio Etchegoyen as IPA president was the situation revisited.
Nor has this been the only time the IPA has been slow to speak out against violations of human rights. Besserman notes that during the Argentine dictatorship, when the IPA should have taken an unequivocal position, officials of the organization shrank from the task, alluding only to “rumors concerning a possible violation of human rights in some geographic sites” (p. 75).
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