In the 1930s the Second World War broke out and the attempt to impose a National Socialist rule on democratic Europe that would later spread to the rest of the world. In Buenos Aires, Arnaldo Rascovsky and Enrique Pichon-Rivière are internalized and enthusiastic, in their pediatric and psychiatric practices, for the discoveries that arise from the work of Freud.

Both enthusiastic readers, militants of the intellect and anxious about the darkness that stained the European continent, find in Freud’s reading a answer to the multiple questions about the human condition, culture and the search for a horizon of freedom.

In this climate of incipient development of their medical practices, they share Sundays with a group of colleagues, philosophers, friends and interested parties to read Freud’s work. Many of them were integrated into the creation and development of the Argentine Psychoanalytic Association, (incorporated into the International Psychoanalytic Association in 1942) when the norms, restrictions and state requirements had not yet been established.

This had important consequences, since psychoanalysis, as an intellectual movement, developed independently of the medical “profession” and was not integrated by the psychiatric “profession”.

The movement of psychoanalytic ideas, that linking alliance and the passion for clarifying the psychic condition of the human being and the production of their culture, the strength of their ideas and their effectiveness, recruited intellectuals, philosophers and artists, but it was not a formalized profession.

I was closer to a transforming passion, to the discovery of a dazzling universe, to an intellectual revolution close to the logos (reasoning, truth) of the psyche, which later led to the career of the psychologist.

The beginnings

The initial group agreed to the training that the International Psychoanalytic Society demanded, with the immigration of Dr. Angel Garma, who after rejecting the tyranny of Francisco Franco settled in our country. He arrived in Argentina in 1938, Rascovsky was his first candidate for psychoanalytic training, then Pichon-Rivière and various enthusiasts joined in the task of creating an institution. Marie Langer and Enrique Racker had achieved their psychoanalytic training in Austria and Berlin. The group included Arminda Aberastury, Matilde Wencelblat, Luisa Gambier, who had an outstanding participation in the creation of child psychoanalysis, in group psychoanalysis, in clinical and technical writings, and pointed out a path in psychoanalysis where the function mother-woman acquires a unique significance.

Psychoanalysis also represented a rebellion against conservative strategies, denounced the abuse suffered in childhood, as well as the mortification suffered by the psychotic in mental establishments, increasingly clarified the dimension of hidden conflicts in the family, in education or in everyday culture.

In the prevailing armor of cultural repression, psychoanalysis opened a path of reflections that demolished everyday conventions, confronting religious ideas, social submission, questioning social rituals, cultural repression and providing creative hope for human development, building an ethic of freedom. “The psychoanalytic cause” was the fire of an intellectual and ideological rebellion that permeated the profession of the psychologist.

In the 1960s, young doctors from Brazil, Uruguay, Venezuela, Colombia, Mexico, Spain, Bolivia, Chile, Peru, did their training in Buenos Aires and later began psychoanalytic institutions in their countries. Argentina was the origin of the psychoanalytic movement of all Latin America.

The growing spread of notions about the unconscious, the significance of childhood history, sexuality, the intrapsychic world, the Oedipal conflict, the dimension of unconscious fantasy, and many therapeutic achievements they touched spirituality and spread the notions of psychic conflict and the potential wealth of the man who discovers himself.

The man of culture acquired the notion of his ignorance of himself and the wise warning of the Oracle of Delphi: “Know yourself.”


In the development of the psychological movement, the passion of its pioneers and subsequent generations allowed promptly influence medicine, pediatrics, the conception of psychosomatic illness (Anguish and heart disorders, hysterical conversions, obesity as a symptom, ulcer, stress, etc.), in the causes of drug addiction, he questioned the frequency of suicide, regressive formations, perversions and psychosis.

The uniqueness of the Argentine psychoanalytic movement is based on the confrontation of authors and theoretical diversity; These generated a spiral of contrasts and contradictions that imposed an elaborative psychic work and questioned on many levels the different theoretical perspectives and their ways of approaching psychic reality.

The psychologist is often confused with the psychoanalyst. Initially, it was necessary to be a doctor to start psychoanalytic training. The psychologist has been able to carry out psychoanalytic training for several decades. The graduate of the faculty of psychology is a psychologist who may have a diversity of therapeutic orientations and diverse interests, but does not have, unless he does, a career or psychoanalytic training.

The dimension of the influence of the psychoanalytic movement and the social transcendence that the psychologist has acquired is difficult to measure, but it is undoubted that the problem of mental health is one of the deepest wounds and the greatest limitation suffered by the “civilizing enterprise” (Freud). The pandemic that our country has suffered required and demonstrated the importance and necessity of the task of the psychologist in a multitude of spheres that include workplaces, educational institutions, the family, childhood and the subjective anguish and disorders of the most exposed population. The significance and value of human assistance and its psychological and emotional commitment is indispensable and irreplaceable in a world of technological hypertrophy.

The significance in the country

In our country it is an unavoidable part of the questions of every intellectual or subject of culture.

Writers, creators, painters, intellectuals, professionals and taxi drivers wonder about that other of oneself, their desires and their unconscious conflicts, exposed and analyzed on the couches of our country. And although in other latitudes, due to confusion and shame of mental illness, the treatment is usually hidden, the diffusion in our country gives it awareness and mental development.

Psychoanalysis has tried, in its rigorous presence, to denounce and limit the diversity of the symptomatic formations or the illusions and delusions of culture.

The development of logic and scientific thought, technological creations, the evolution of science and its consequences have annulled many phantasmic delusions, as well as limited magical thinking. But even suggestion, mysticism and religion have a very transcendent influence and greater than those that come from logical-rational thought, through which Freud believed to create a scientific discipline of the psyche.

Let us celebrate the extraordinary depth and extension that psychology and self-reflection have acquired in our country.

Andrés Rascovsky is former president of the Argenina Psychoanalytic Association (APA).

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