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Arroyave-Portella, F. Berrios, G.E. (1988). Obituary Notice. J. Anal. Psychol., 33(1):83-84.

(1988). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 33(1):83-84

Obituary Notice

Fernando Arroyave-Portella and G. E. Berrios

Fernando Arroyave died at the age of fifty-three on 11 April, 1987. He did so in the same way as he had lived—with flair and a sense of the dramatic. The first Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists to have a heart transplant (at Harefield Hospital), he whispered, as he was being wheeled into the theatre: I am not going without putting up a good fight. And fight he did. Alas, this last battle he was unable to win; and he should have won because he was a generous, warm, thoroughly professional and fiercely independent man. He never ceased to be a Colombian. Gone with him are his bonhomie, the impish quality of his laughter and the teasing and forthright delivery of his usually well-timed profanities.

From a medical family, Colombian in origin, and trained in medicine at Salamanca University, Fernando Arroyave was one of that select band of young Spanish-speaking doctors who came to work under Felix Letemendia, that Mæcenas of psychiatry, in the memorable Littlemore Hospital of the early and middle 1960s, where it was not uncommon to see Gilbert Ryle, Carolus Oldfield, Ritchie Russell or May Davison quietly walking towards the Old Library to deliver a lecture to the trainees.

With a solid background in biological psychiatry and in electro-encephalography, Fernando Arroyave came to choose, as his métier, one of the toughest of psychiatric disorders: alcoholism. Aware of the psychodynamic dimensions of the problem, he decided to train as a psychoanalyst. He threw himself into his new field with his usual panache and determination, and after hundreds of training hours and thousands of miles down the M40 he emerged at the other end, still Latin American and still mercurial, greyer at the temples perhaps, but fully trained in both Jungian and group psychoanalysis.

His research into alcoholism was practical and full of common sense. He demonstrated, for example, that shorter admissions for assessment and drying out were as successful as longer ones. In the euphemistic world of the 1970s, when alcoholic units became ‘drink problem clinics’ and ‘controlled drinking’ the new fashion, his sense of clinical balance and realism prevailed, and he wrote vigorously in favour of total abstinence.

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