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Levi Bianchini, Marco (1875-1961)


Marco Levi Bianchini, an Italian psychiatrist, was born in Rovigo in 1875 and died in Nocera Inferiore in 1961. He came from a Jewish family and studied medicine in Padua. After serving as a teaching assistant at the psychiatric hospital of Nocera Inferiore (Salerno), he became a professor of psychiatry in Naples. In 1924 he became the head of the psychiatric hospital in Teramo. After publishing L'isterismo dalle antiche alle moderne dottrine (Hysteria from antiquity to modern doctrine), he began corresponding with Sigmund Freud and, in 1915, published a translation of "Five Lectures on Psychoanalysis" (Cinque conferenze sulla psicoanalisi ), soon followed by Il sognor (The dream; 1919) and, in 1921, Tre saggi sulla teoria sexuale (Three essays on the theory of sexuality ). In 1920 he founded the Biblioteca psicoanalitica internazionale, which published works by Freud and other pioneers of psychoanalysis for the first time in Italy.

Following his encounter with Edoardo Weiss in 1921, Levi Bianchini worked to make the journal Archivio generale di neurologia e psichiatria, which had been recently established, the leading Italian publication on Freudian psychoanalysis. For Weiss, the collaboration with Levi Bianchini to promote psychoanalysis was more of a hindrance than a help. Because Levi Bianchini was hampered by positivist psychiatric prejudices and incomplete knowledge of psychoanalysis, his enthusiasm for Freud's ideas did little to ensure their welcome reception in Italy.

After becoming a member of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society in 1922, Levi Bianchini surprised Weiss by deciding to found, in 1925 in Teramo, the Società psicoanalitica italiana (Italian Psychoanalytic Society), whose members were mostly local psychiatrists without any psychoanalytic training. Weiss appealed to Freud, who advised him to accept this as a fait accompli. Freud commented, "It often happens that form precedes content," and he hoped that Weiss, through his abilities and efforts, would provide the content. In 1932, when Weiss reestablished the Società psicoanalitica italiana in Rome, Levi Bianchini became honorary president for life, though rarely attending the society's meetings.

Racial laws forced Levi Bianchini to resign as head of the hospital in Nocera. After 1945 he continued to work privately as a psychiatrist and participated in meetings of the Società psicoanalitica italiana less and less. In 1956 Italian psychoanalysts asked him to preside over the hundredth anniversary of Freud's birth. In 1995 Biolibidio, a collection of his psychoanalytic writings, was published. Although the essays are dated and have little interest for contemporary psychoanalysts, Levi Bianchini nonetheless deserves recognition as one of the first translators of Freud in Italy.

Anna Maria Accerboni

See also: Italy; Rivista di psicoanalisi .


David, Michel. (1966). La psicoanalisi nella cultura italiana. Turin, Italy: Boringhieri.

Levi Bianchini, Marco. (1995). Biolibido: Antologia di scritti psicoanalitici (1920-1936). Chieti, Italy: Métis.

Musatti, Cesare. (1961). Marco Levi Bianchini. Rivista di psicoanalisi, 7,1.

Quarchioni, Marco. (1988). Marco Levi Bianchini e la "Biblioteca psicoanalitica italiana." Notizie dalla Delfico, 1, 3-22.

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