Arieti, Silvano

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ARIETI, Silvano

Nationality: American (originally Italian: immigrated to New York, 1939). Born: Pisa, 28 June 1914. Education: Lycee Galileo, Pisa, B.A. 1932; University of Pisa, M.D. (summa cum laude) 1938; William Alanson White Institute, New York, 1946-52, diploma in psychoanalysis 1952. Family: Married 1) Jane Jaffe, c. 1942, two sons; 2) Marianne Thompson in 1965. Career: Fellow in neuropathology, New York State Psychiatric Institute, 1939-41; visiting fellow, primate biology laboratories, Yale University, 1940; resident in psychiatry, Pilgrim State Hospital, West Brentwood, New York, 1941-44; psychiatrist, 1946-52, and faculty member and training analyst, 1962-81, William Alanson White Institute of Psychiatry, New York; practicing psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, specializing in schizophrenia and depression, 1952-81; associate professor of clinical psychiatry, State University of New York Downstate Medical Center, Brooklyn, 1953-61; professor of clinical psychiatry, New York Medical College, 1961-81. Editor, The World Biennial of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, 1971 and 1973; editor, Journal of the American Academy of Psychoanalysis , 1973-81. Awards: Gold medal award, Milan Group for the Advancement of Psychotherapy, 1964; Frieda Fromm-Reichmann award, American Academy of Psychoanalysis, 1968; National Book Award for science, 1975, for Interpretation of Schizophrenia; Sigmund Freud award and Emil A. Gutheil award, both in 1978. Member: American Medical Association; American Psychiatric Association; several other American medical, psychiatric, and psychoanalytic organizations. Died: 7 August 1981.



The Parnas: A Scene from the Holocaust. 1979.

Other (psychology)

Interpretation of Schizophrenia. 1955.

The Intrapsychic Self; Feeling, Cognition, and Creativity in Health and Mental Illness. 1967.

The Will to Be Human. 1972.

Creativity: The Magic Synthesis. 1976.

Psychotherapy of Schizophrenia and Dynamic Cognition. 1976.

Love Can Be Found: A Guide to the Most Desired and Most Elusive Emotion, with James A. Arieti. 1977.

Severe and Mild Depression: The Psychotherapeutic Approach, with Jules Bemporad. 1978; as Psychotherapy of Severe and Mild Depression, 1993.

Understanding and Helping the Schizophrenic: A Guide for Family and Friends. 1979.

Abraham and the Contemporary Mind. 1981.

Editor, American Handbook of Psychiatry (7 vols.). 1959; revised and expanded, 1974.

Editor, with Gerard Chrzanowski, New Dimensions in Psychiatry: A World View. 1975; revised, 1977.


Critical Studies:

"Comments on Silvano Arieti: Anti-Psychoanalytic Cultural Forces in the Development of Western Civilization" by Jerome D. Frank, in American Journal of Psychotherapy, 50 (4), Fall 1996, pp. 473-74; Silvano Arieti special section in Journal of the American Academy of Psychoanalysis, 27(4), 1999, pp. 541-603; "Psychoanalysis and the Problem of Evil: Silvano Arieti's Parnas and the Holocaust" by Harvey Peskin, in Judaism, 50 (2), 2001, pp. 131-43.

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Born in Pisa, Italy, on June 28, 1914, Silvano Arieti was the son of a physician. His father's position made it possible for the young Arieti to have a relatively comfortable upbringing. He attended the medical school at the University of Pisa, from which he graduated summa cum laude with a specialty in neurology and psychiatry. Arieti went on to do an internship, during which time he treated his first psychiatric patient. After completing his internship in 1939, he and his family left for the United States to escape the increasingly oppressive anti-Semitic Fascism that was spreading throughout Italy.

Soon after his arrival in the United States, Arieti obtained an appointment as a fellow in the department of neuropathology at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. From 1941 to 1944 he was a resident at Pilgrim State Hospital in Brentwood, New York. During his residency there he married Jane Jaffe, and they had two sons. In 1946 Arieti took a position at the William Alanson White Institute of Psychiatry in New York City, where he remained until 1952. As a result of his work at the institute, Arieti published his first book, Interpretation of Schizophrenia, in 1955 . In its second edition (1975) the study book won the National Book Award for science. Among Arieti's other prestigious honors were the 1964 Gold Medal Award for the Advancement of Psychiatry and the Frieda Fromm-Reichmann Award, which he won in 1968 for his contributions to the understanding of schizophrenia.

After the publication of his first book, Arieti became a leader in the field of psychiatry. He was the editor in chief of the American Handbook of Psychiatry (1959), the founder of the Journal of the American Academy of Psychoanalysis , and the author of numerous volumes. When he wrote his Holocaust novel The Parnas: A Scene from the Holocaust (1979), Arieti brought to bear the sum of his professional insight and personal experience.

The title character in The Parnas was based on Giuseppe Pardo Roques, the man Arieti most admired as he was growing up in Pisa. Unlike Arieti and his family, Roques was not able to get out of Italy before the Germans arrived, and, along with the other Jews of Pisa, he was murdered in the summer of 1944. A man of great learning and impeccable character, Roques was known for his kindness and generosity. He suffered, however, from a mysterious mental illness that ultimately confined him to his house and made it impossible for him to flee from the Nazis.

During his years of study in Pisa, Arieti dreamed of finding a cure for his elder and mentor. He thus wrote The Parnas not only as a tribute to the courage and spirituality of Roques but also as an exploration of the bestial evil that characterized the Holocaust. Arieti's work in psychiatry led him to conclude that mental illness was deeply tied to human spirituality, and in The Parnas he makes that point very powerfully. In 1998, 17 years after his death in 1981, an international symposium on the life and work of Arieti was held in Pisa.

—David Patterson

See the essay on The Parnas: A Scene from the Holocaust.