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Wallerstein, R.S. (1999). Commentary on "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)" by Helena Besserman Vianna. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 47(3):965-973.

(1999). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 47(3):965-973

Commentary on "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)" by Helena Besserman Vianna Related Papers

Robert S. Wallerstein

I deem it unfortunate that Helen Besserman Vianna's important book, documenting the scandalously unethical behavior of Brazilian training analyst Leão Cabernite in defending and covering up the behavior of his analytic candidate, Amilcar Lobo, an army psychiatrist complicit in the torture of political prisoners at a Rio de Janeiro military detention center (with the job there of ensuring that torture victims not die so that interrogations might continue), and documenting as well her own courageous role in publicly exposing Cabernite's shocking behavior even at risk of his denouncing her to the military dictatorship, should be so marred by Besserman Vianna's misunderstanding and distortion of the role played by the IPA and its officers over its quarter-century involvement in this affair and its aftermath. These distortions are carried over into Janine Puget's otherwise valuable review bringing this important matter to the attention of the American psychoanalytic world.

In its January 1999 issue, the British Psychoanalytical Society Bulletin carried an even longer and equally laudatory review of the Besserman Vianna book by Peter Hildebrand. Unhappily, that review article carried over the same misunderstandings and misrepresentations of the IPA role, and I, as an honorary member of the British Society, a former IPA president (1985-1989), and someone who had been thrust into intimate relation to the totally disrupted functioning of the Rio de Janeiro Psychoanalytic Society consequent to the turmoil there over the “Cabernite Affair,” was asked to comment on the Hildebrand article. I did so, and my commentary, approximately equal in length to the review itself, was published in the same issue of the Bulletin. I should add here that I was not a special target of Besserman Vianna's (or Hildebrand's) attack: it was rather other IPA presidents—Serge Lebovici (1977-1981), and Otto Kernberg (1997-2001)—whom Hildebrand took so sharply to task for what he took to be their reprehensible roles in relation to the Brazilian situation.

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