Servadio, Emilio (1904-1994)

views updated May 08 2018

SERVADIO, EMILIO (1904-1994)

Emilio Servadio, an Italian physician and psychoanalyst, was born in Sestri (Genoa) in 1904 and died in Rome in 1994. Servadio was born into a Jewish family and studied in Genoa, where he received a law degree. He wrote his dissertation on forensic medicine, specifically about hypnosis. It was the beginning of his interest in paranormal phenomena, which became one of his primary areas of research throughout his life.

Servadio was the editor of the Enciclopedia italiana Treccani in Rome, where he settled in 1929. He met Edoardo Weiss and asked him to write several articles on psychoanalysis for the encyclopedia. Weiss, in turn, began analyzing Servadio, who became a devoted student of psychoanalysis. After his departure for America, he remained in contact with Servadio, who was always grateful to Weiss for the role he played in his training.

In 1934 at the Lucerne Congress, in which the Italian contingent, led by Weiss, participated for the first time, Servadio made his first appearance on the international psychoanalytic scene by presenting a study on the links between psychoanalysis and telepathy. His paper, "Psychoanalysis and Telepathy," was subsequently published in Imago. For the time it was an innovative and courageous work, in which he tried to relocate the telepathic phenomena that occur during the course of a séance within the framework of the patient-analyst relationship.

Far from leading Servadio to abandon an original field of research, his encounter with psychoanalysis-as his most brilliant student, Eugenio Gaddini, has written-enabled him to "investigate as fully as possible his initial aspirations and make use of an investigative method appropriate to the study of paranormal phenomena." Servadio's use of psychoanalysis was unconventional and could have had an influence on psychoanalysis through his focus on the scope of counter-transference phenomena, which he wrote about in 1962 in an article that appeared in the Rivista di psicoanalisi (VIII, [2]). In 1939, because of the race laws then in effect in Italy, he was forced to leave the country. He settled in India, attracted by Asian cultures and ancient religions.

After his return to Italy in 1946, Servadio was, together with Nicola Perrotti and Cesare Musatti, one of the principal protagonists in the rebirth of psychoanalysis in the country. In 1962 he created a center for psychoanalysis in Rome and was president of the Italian Psychoanalytic Society (SPI) from 1964 to 1969.

Servadio was highly esteemed within the International Psychoanalytic Association (IPA) and was a friend of Anna Freud, Marie Bonaparte, and Ernest Jones; within the Italian psychoanalytic movement he played the role of institutional tutor. At the end of the 1950s, he visited Weiss, then in America, to request that an audit committee from the IPA come to Italy to ensure that its training regulations were consistent with international norms. In 1992, leading a minority group that had broken with the SPI, he helped form a second Italian Psychoanalytic Society, which was recognized by the IPA in 1993.

Although Servadio was intransigent in institutional matters and a brilliant writer and popularizer of psychoanalysis, he was very open-minded in matters of behavior and current events. He was a prolific writer, primarily in the field of applied psychoanalysis, with essays on a wide range of topics. They include his "Funzione dei conflitti preedipici" (Functions of pre-oedipal conflicts), published in 1953 in the Rivista di psicoanalisi (republished in issue 20 [3], 1974, devoted to Servadio), which remains his most important contribution to metapsychology.

Anna Maria Accerboni

See also: Congrès des psychanalystes de langue français des pays romans; India; Italy.


Errera, Giovanni. (1990). Emilio Servadio: Dall'ipnosi alla psicoanalisi. Florence: Nardini.

Gaddini, Eugenio. (1974). I settanta anni di Emilio Servadio: Un tributo. Rivista di psicoanalisi, 20 (2), pp. 5-13.

Novelletto, Arnaldo. (1995). Emilio Servadio. Rivista di psicoanalisi, 61 (1), pp. 171-179.

Servadio, Emilio. (1935). Psychoanalyse und Telepathie. Imago, 23, pp. 489-497.

(1955). A presumptively telepathic precognitive dream during analysis. International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 36, pp. 27-30.

Servadio, Emilio (1904-1995)

views updated May 23 2018

Servadio, Emilio (1904-1995)

Italian psychoanalyst, author, and co-founder in 1937 of the Societa Italiana Di Parapsychologia (the Italian Society for Psychic Research, now Italian Society for Parapsychology). He was born on August 14, 1904, in Genoa, Italy. He studied at Genoa University (LL.D., 1926). In private practice for much of his life, he took special interest in the psychodynamic and psychoanalytic aspects of ESP. In 1932 he investigated the phenomena of the medium Pasquale Erto, and in 1957 he investigated the miraculous healers in Lucania, South Italy.

Highlighting his outstanding career, he was named president of the Psychoanalytic Center of Rome in 1962, and he was elected to terms as vice president of the Italian Society for Parapsychology (1955-56) and vice president of Italian Psychoanalytic Society (1953-55, 1958-60). He was a charter member of the Parapsychological Association and in 1982 was elected president of the Parapsychological Association of Italy. He was chairman of the International Committee for the Study of Methods in Parapsychology and a subeditor and contributor to the Enciclopedia Italiana and various scholarly and scientific journals. He is author of La Ricerca Psichica (Psychical Research, 1930, 1946), and contributed to Proceedings of an International Conference on Methodology in Psi Research: Psi Favorable States of Consciousness edited by Roberto Cavanna (Parapsychology Foundation, 1970) and Proceedings of an International Conference: Psi Factors in Creativity edited by Allan Angoff and Betty Shapin (Parapsychology Foundation, 1970).

Servadio died January 18, 1995.


Berger, Arthur S., and Joyce Berger. The Encyclopedia of Parapsychology and Psychical Research. New York: Paragon House, 1991.

Pleasants, Helene, ed. Biographical Dictionary of Parapsychology. New York: Helix Press, 1964.

Servadio, Emilio. "Le conditionnement transferentiel et contre-transférentiel des événements 'psi' au cours de l'analyse" (Transference and counter-transference conditioning of 'psi' events during analysis). Acta Psychotherapeutica (1955).

. "Freud et la Parapsychologie." Revue Francaise de Psychoanalyse 3 (1956).

. "The 'Normal' and the 'Paranormal' Dream." International Journal of Parapsychology (1962).

. "A Presumptively Telepathic-Precognitive Dream During Analysis." International Journal of Psycho-Analysis 1 (1955).

. "Psychoanalyse and Telepathie" (Psychoanalysis and telepathy). Imago 4 (1935). Reprinted in Psychoanalysis and the Occult, edited by 1953 George Devereux.

. "Transference and Thought-Transference." International Journal of Psycho-Analysis 4, no. 5 (1956).