Liberman, David (1920-1983)

views updated

LIBERMAN, DAVID (1920-1983)

David Liberman, an Argentinean psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, was born in Buenos Aires on October 2, 1920, and died there on October 30, 1983.

He was the second of three boys in a middle-class Jewish family. His mother died very young. Two men were to mark his life: his father Sam, a jazz musician, and the psychoanalyst Enrique Pichon-Rivière, his mentor. Liberman followed in his father's footsteps and paid for his medical studies with his earnings as a jazz musician. He married young and had two children: Diana, who became a psychoanalyst, and Alex, who turned to journalism.

Liberman took an interest in Freud when still a medical student, having heard of him from his childhood friend, Léon Grinberg. Later he worked in the psychiatric department run by Enrique Pichon-Rivière. His doctoral thesis, published in 1947, already indicated his leaning toward psychoanalysis: Semiología Psicosomática (Psychosomatic signs and symptoms).

Liberman was a brilliant psychoanalyst, gifted with extraordinary intuition. He showed remarkable clinical know-how with his patients and impressed the Argentine psychoanalytic milieu with his ability to tap into the unconscious of his colleagues. Although he was influenced from various different quarters, Pichon-Rivière made a major impression on him.

Liberman distinguished himself mainly by the way he integrated into psychoanalysis an approach derived from linguistics and the theory of communication. His preoccupation with external reality, particularly in analyst-patient communication when seen through the prism of what he called their "styles," made up Liberman's own extremely original style. Throughout his life he conducted research into the theory of communication in conjunction with Argentine, French, and Soviet linguists. He remained totally independent of trends.

His output consists of more than sixty studies published between 1947 and 1984. In 1962 he published his first book on the theory of communication, La Comunicacíon en la terapia psicoanalítica (Communication in Psychoanalytic Therapy). He developed his contributions on styles of interpretation and patient-analyst communication in a fundamental work entitled Lingüística, Interaccíon comunicativa y Processo psicoanalítico (Linguistics, communicative interaction, and psychoanalytic process), published in three volumes in 1971-1972, followed by, among other articles and joint efforts, Psicoanálisis y Semíotica (Psycho-analysis and semiotics; 1975) and Comunicación y Psicoanálisis (Communication and psychoanalysis; 1976). His last book, Semíotica y Psicoanálisis de niños (Semiotics and child psychoanalysis), written in collaboration with some of his disciples, was published after his death, in 1984.

Gilda Sabsay Foks

Work discussed: Lingüística, Interación comunicativa y Proceso psicoanalítico

See also: Argentina; Federación psicoanalica de América latina.


Liberman, David. (1962). La comunicación en terapia psicoanalítica. Buenos Aires: Eudeba.

. (1971-72). Linguística, interación comunicativa y proceso psicoanalítico. Buenos Aires: Nueva Visión.

. (1975). Psicoanálisis y semiótica. Buenos Aires: Paidós.

. (1976). Comunicación y psicoanálisis. Buenos Aires: Alex.