Delgado, Honorio (1892-1969)

views updated

DELGADO, HONORIO (1892-1969)

A Peruvian psychiatrist and philosopher, Honorio Delgado was born in Arequipa on September 26, 1892, and died in Lima on November 20, 1969. Delgado studied natural science at the University of San Agustínin Arequipa before becoming a surgeon (1918) and a doctor of medicine (1920) at the University of San Marcos in Lima. A self-taught psychiatrist (formal training then being unavailable), Delgado was a precocious and enthusiastic proselytizer for psychoanalysis in Peru and Latin America between 1915 and 1927. His first publication on psychoanalysis appeared in 1915 when he was only twenty-three years old. Published in El Commercio, it was a commentary on Sigmund Freud's "The Claims of Psycho-analysis to Scientific Interest," which appeared in 1913 in Scientia, which Delgado read on a regular basis.

In 1922 he traveled to Europe to attend the Berlin congress but his ship was delayed and he missed the presentations. In 1927 he traveled to Innsbruck for the annual congress. He published the first work in Spanish on psychoanalysis, entitled La Psychanalyse (1919). Between 1919 and 1934 he corresponded with Freud, whom he met in Weimar in 1922 and visited in Semmering in 1927. In 1918, together with Hermilio Valdizán, he founded Revista de psiquiatría y disciplinas conexas (Review of Psychiatry and Related Disciplines), which adopted a favorable position regarding psychoanalysis. In 1921 he published "Der Liebesreiz der Augen" (The Amorous Attraction of the Eyes) in Imago. In 1926, with the collaboration of several eminent Peruvian intellectuals, he edited a special issue of Mercurio Peruano devoted to Freud. That same year he also published a biography of Freud, which Freud annotated extensively throughout their correspondence. Freud took an active interest in Delgado's publications, and the way he responded to his eclectic approach to psychoanalysis, which was in several respects related to the ideas of Alfred Adler and Carl Gustav Jung, should not come as a surprise.

After 1930 Delgado held the country's only chair in psychiatry and became a fierce adversary of psychoanalysis, paradoxically citing in his support the references to him made by Freud in a 1923 note added to "On the History of the Psychoanalytic Movement" (1914d) and in an article written in English in 1924, "A Short Account of Psycho-analysis" (1924f [1923]).

While still a young man Delgado had identified with Freud's initial period of isolation. There exists a letter, collectively written by Ernest Jones, Hanns Sachs, and Oskar Pfister, congratulating Delgado for his Pionierarbeit. His later rejection of psychoanalysis appears to have arisen from his growing popularity and a refusalwhich he never concealedto accept some of the fundamental premises of psychoanalysis, coupled with his increasingly strong attachment to Catholicism. In spite of his productivity as a writer, his lack of clinical experience is obvious (he had no personal experience of psychoanalysis aside from his own self-analysis). His early work contains little of lasting value and there is an obvious difference in quality with his later work in psychiatry, influenced by the phenomenology of Karl Jaspers.

His correspondence, however, contains numerous insights into Freud's ideas about creating an institutional structure as well as Freud's tendency to pardon some of Delgado's theoretical errors, for which he would certainly have been less indulgent in other circumstances. His letters contain no more than mild rebukes to Delgado for his sympathy toward Adler (with whom he corresponded) and Jung.

Álvaro Rey de Castro

See also: Revista de psiquiatría y disciplinas conexas ; Peru.


Ellenberger, H. (1970). The discovery of the unconscious: The history and evolution of dynamic psychiatry. New York: Basic Books.

Mariátegui, Javier. (1989). Freud y el psicoanálisis. Lima: University Cayetano Heredia.

Rey de Castro,Álvaro. (1983). Correspondance Sigmund Freud-Honorio Delgado. Revue Internationale d'Histoire de la Psychanalyse, 6, 1993.

. (1991). Freud y Honorio Delgado: una aproximación psicoanalítica a la prehistoria del psicoanálisis peruano y sus escuelas. El múltiple interés del psicoanálisis-77 años después, Talleres de artes gráficas espino, 203-237.

. (1993). Lettres de Sigmund Freud à Honorio Delgado, 1919-1934. Revue Internationale d'Histoire de la Psychanalyse, 6, 401-428.

About this article

Delgado, Honorio (1892-1969)

Updated About content Print Article