Carlos Mario Aslan, M.D.

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Award Year: 2008

aslan_cma2Trained in both Argentina and the United States, Dr. Aslan has studied with many of the great psychoanalytic minds of our time. Dr. Aslan was able to absorb and integrate their contributions to psychoanalysis during the past half-century, ultimately making his own contributions to psychoanalytic thought that were exemplary in their depth, vigor, and originality.

Among other things, he wrote on the theory of cure, the nature of trauma, and the notion of normality. He had a special devotion to the history of ideas in psychoanalysis. In his numerous publications in psychoanalytic journals, he focused primarily on his efforts to clarify our ideas and to learn how our concepts are best applied to the clinical setting. He approached each idea intent on finding its usefulness rather than simply opposing or negating it. His work addressed a continuing difficulty in the field: the problem of fully appreciating and absorbing the contributions of individuals from different cultures.

Read Dr. Aslan’s “Metapsicologia del Duelo” in Spanish or translated into English, and his obituary in IPA News.

The following introductory remarks were written and spoken by Dr. Arnold M. Cooper at the Sigourney Award ceremony:

We are deeply saddened, more than we can say, by the unexpected death of Carlos Mario Aslan this past Monday, January 12.  Carlos and I had been close friends for years, and he would visit us when he was in New York with his wife Adriana to see his daughters and grandchildren.  But it wasn’t until I read his CV in preparation for what was to have been this celebratory evening that I began to understand who he really was. We had spent many hours together, at various executive meetings of The International Psychoanalytic Association, often enduring rather excruciating hours of boredom and somewhat aimless discussion of trivia. I learned to sit next to Carlos, because I could always count on him to retain his sense of humor, make witty asides and bring good sense to the discussion.  Those of you who knew Carlos appreciated his modest soft-spoken manner,  his almost deferential politeness and shy mischievous smile, combined with a rather hidden underlying self-assurance and depth of knowledge that is hard to match.  Studying his CV  I realized that few psychoanalysts bring to their work the breadth of knowledge of our discipline that Carlos had acquired through serious study of the best minds in the international community of psychoanalysis.  I know no one else who has had the dedication and curiosity about psychoanalysis to devote himself to study with Garma, Rascovsky, Baranger, Rangell, Boyer, Zetzel, Bion, Green, Rosenfeld, Segal, McDougall, and more.

As you undoubtedly know, Carlos was Argentinian, received his M.D. in 1955 from the University of Buenos Aires, and his analytic training at The Institute of Psychoanalysis of the Argentine Psychoanalytic Association.  One can imagine the intensity of curiosity and adventurousness that led him to do a residency under George Engel at the University of Rochester and then to seek supervision with the distinguished international array that I have mentioned.

He had a special devotion to the history of ideas in psychoanalysis.  In his numerous publications in our scientific journals — most of them in Latin America — he focused primarily on his efforts to clarify our ideas and to learn how our concepts are best applied to the clinical setting.  He brought a quiet skepticism to all of our assumptions, insistent that nothing was beyond question.  He approached every topic with a fierce but gentle curiosity, intent on finding the possible usefulness of an idea rather than simply opposing or negating.  I will mention only a few of his interests.  He wrote on the theory of cure, the nature of trauma, our structural concepts, and on the notion of normality.  A number of papers focused on psychoanalysis and literature and film.  I note in passing that Carlos’ work is representative of a continuing difficulty in our field — the problem of fully appreciating and absorbing the contributions of individuals from different cultures.

Dr. Aslan’s work did not go unnoticed prior to tonight.  He was awarded the Konex Platinum award — perhaps the most distinguished Argentinian award across intellectual disciplines.  He was President of the Argentine Psychoanalytic Association and founder and chair of the Department of History of Psychoanalysis of the Argentine Psychoanalytic Association.  He had been vice President and member of the Executive Council of The International Psychoanalytic Association, and chair of numerous significant committees of the IPA.  I could go on.  It seems to me that he held every significant intellectual and elected position within the psychoanalytic world.  This assumes additional significance in Carlos’s case, since he was by nature a modest man, and it was not his style actively to pursue these honors and rewards.

It is a fitting tribute to Carlos Mario Aslan for his lifelong devotion and contributions to psychoanalysis that tonight he is receiving, posthumously, The Mary S. Sigourney award, perhaps the most prestigious recognition the psychoanalytic world has to offer. We have all suffered a great loss.  We extend our deepest sympathies to his family.  He will be deeply missed.

May I ask that we all rise for a moment to honor Carlos Mario Aslan.

Congratulations to you, Carlos.