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Tomasi di Palma di Lampedusa-Wolff Stomersee, Alessandra (1895-1982)


Alessandra Tomasi, an Italian psychoanalyst, was born in Nice in 1895 and died in Rome in 1982. She spent the first twenty years of her life in St. Petersburg, where her father, the Baltic Baron Wolff Stomersee, was a high dignitary at the czar's court. In 1917, at the start of the Russian revolution, she moved to Riga, then to Berlin. There, during the 1920s, she was analyzed by Felix Boehm and attended courses and seminars at the Berlin Institute; her supervised analysis was monitored by Max Eitingon and H. Liebermann. In 1927, during a brief stay in Vienna, she had the opportunity to "see" Freud. That same year she joined her Italian-born mother in London, where she was about to marry (this was her second marriage) the Italian ambassador to the court of S. Giacomo.

At the home of her father-in-law, she met his nephew, Giuseppe Tomasi, Duke of Palma and Prince of Lampedusa, the future author of The Leopard, who became her husband in 1932. After their marriage she settled in Sicily. In 1934 she met Edoardo Weiss in Rome. They had corresponded with one another since 1929 and it was Weiss who sponsored her entry in the Italian Psychoanalytic Society. Through the society she became friends with Emilio Servadio, Nicola Perrotti, and Cesare Musatti.

Once her value as a teacher and trainer became recognized, she was asked, in 1946, to help with the reorganization of the SPI and, that same year, helped organize the historic First National Congress on Psychoanalysis, which marked the official resumption of psychoanalysis in Italy. At this time, and during the next national congress (Rome, 1950), she presented two important essays: Sviluppi della diagnostica e tecnica psicoanalitica and L 'Aggressività nelle perversioni. She was president of the SPI from 1955 to 1959.

It was through her assistance, and hers alone, that Freud and psychoanalysis penetrated Sicily, where she initially encountered strong resistance from prejudice arising from the region's inherent conservatism. Of the first core group of people that formed around her, it was Francesco Corrao, following the departure of the princess for Rome in 1957, who assumed the psychoanalytic mantle and continued the work she had begun in Sicily.

In Rome she lived in a state of partial isolation, but was very active as a psychoanalyst, and increased her efforts to popularize the work of her husband, who became one of the most important writers on the Italian landscape following the posthumous publication of The Leopard in 1958. According to Michael David (1966), the work of Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa contains the traces of an awareness of Freudian theorieseasily understandable for a writer whose wife had devoted her life to psychoanalysis. For David the fact that "the Lampedusa apartment, and even their library, was filled with neurotic patientsto the point that the author preferred to take refuge among friends or in a café to writegave rise to the husband's ambivalence concerning psychoanalysis."

Alessandra di Lampedusa's most important articles include the following, all of which appeared in the Rivista di psicoanalisi : "Le componenti preedipicihe dell'isteria di angoscia" (1956), "Necrofilia e istinto di morte" (1956), and "La spersonalizzazione" (1960). In one of her last seminars, she analyzed a case of lycanthropy, referring to the Kleinian notion of projective identification, for which she coined the neologism, identificatory introjection.

Anna Maria Accerboni

See also: Italy.


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

Petacchi, Giancarlo. (1987). Vita di pionieri. In A. M. Accerboni (Ed.), La cultura psicoanalitica (p. 168-173). Porde-none: Studio Tesi.

Tomasi di Palma, Alessandra. (1960) La spersonalizzazione. Rivista di psicoanalisi, 6 (1), 5-10.

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