17 May 2021

Dear Heribert, dear friends, and colleagues,

It is with heavy hearts that we address you in memory of Jorge Canestri, a friend and a great man of psychoanalysis. We are losing one of the finest analytical minds and a man of great wisdom, integrity, personal style, and also wicked humor. As President-elect of the EPF, Jorge was a member of our executive for a year. Under these circumstances, we had the privilege to get to know and befriend this man of exceptional brilliance and encounter his rich repertoire of human qualities.

On the EPF Executive, his capacity to listen and to share from his huge experience in both subtle and extremely clear ways was really extraordinary. He listened, and then with great kindness was able, like no other, to illuminate seemingly dead-end discussions. Grounded in his deep knowledge and experience of institutions he helped us to clarify complicated backgrounds and to break deadlocks. During this year of close working together, he always supported our initiatives and helped us to improve them.

Jorge was a very good team player and readily accepted colleagues' ideas and projects even if they did not exactly match his own.But on psychoanalytic or institutional matters that he felt were essential, he took an uncompromising stand. Institutions often go through difficult times when there is a change of leadership. But in our case, rarely has the handover of responsibilities from the outgoing to the incoming president been so easy, clear, pleasant, and respectful. 

Jorge was an inquisitive mind, open to new developments in our science; thus, he was one of the first to take an interest in the links between psychoanalysis and neurosciences. And shortly before his death, he stated to our great surprise, that analysts should be interested in artificial memory and in robots that were taking on more and more humanoid aspects. 

At first sight, Jorge could give an impression of severity, of distance. We discovered an open-minded man, with a great sense of humor, who loved life. After some tense meetings during which we discussed difficult issues, we found ourselves with a relaxed and humorous Jorge, who was also a fine gourmet, over unforgettable meals.

There was also his experience of exile and a nostalgia for a period of Argentina rather than for the country itself. During the breaks of our Executive meetings, it was interesting to discuss his exile from Argentina, the political repression in his country of origin, the « coup d’état » of 1976 on which obliged a hundred thousand people to leave the country. He set an example to us all of wisdom and profound knowledge of psychoanalysis and of basic existential realities.

Jorge’s death let us appreciate more intensively what we got from him than we realized during our time with him. Perhaps this is often the case when we lose one of our next ones.

Our warmest thoughts go to his wife, his family members, the members of the Italian Psychoanalytical Association.

Serge Frisch, Eva Schmid-Gloor, Franziska Ylander, Ursula Burkert, Alexander Janssens, Leopoldo Bleger  (EPF Executive 2012-2016)