Something more than 40 years of history ...


... a personal note from Professor Dr. Jorge Ciprian Ollivier:

It is a big honor chronicle for me to have been invited by our President Florence Thibaut to make a historical of the W.F.S.B.P. to be published during her tenure.

By 2014, I will have had forty years of experience; it is not easy, and it is a true challenge to summarize them in a few pages and with a tight deadline.

Biological Psychiatry is almost a biography for me, and this makes my job easier. So please accept my apologies for making this summary from a subjective point of view and not as a true chronicle, because due to the large amount of documentation and pertinent data it would be impossible to comply with the promise made to Florence.

So I will write this historical summary from my testimonial memory.
My vocation for psychiatry began very early; so much so that I entered Medical School to be a psychiatrist. At the age of 19, I was already attending the most important Psychiatric Hospital in Buenos Aires. I always felt a passion for medicine and science, and a deep and romantic fascination for madness. At a time when almost everything was related to psychoanalysis, I had the fortune (or fate?) to meet great professors through whom psychiatry recovered with dignity its role as a branch of medicine, i.e. biology as basis, the search for etiologic diagnoses, fine semiology and the most adequate treatments.

In 1971 I met Prof. José Aníbal Yaryura-Tobias who at that time divided his work between the United States and Argentina, where he chose me as his close collaborator. Here we also had one of the most important pioneers worldwide and author of the first completely biological works. Prof. Edmundo Fischer, our great teacher, and the founder of the Argentine School of Biological Psychiatry.

It was then, that it began for me what has been and continues to be the sense of my life: collaborating in the development of Biological Psychiatry. At that time, scientific disciplines that represented an invaluable partner emerged. In Argentina, Prof. Spatz et al. founded the first laboratory specialized in neurochemical determinations. There was a strengthening of psychopharmacology and molecular biology, electron microscopy allowed us to understand how neurons work. Important neurochemical hypothesis that are still very much in force commence to emerge to untangle the unbalance responsible for several clinical cases observed.

This led to the idea of organizing a World Congress of Biological Psychiatry and this is the beginning of this great story that revolutionized Psychiatry. Please forgive me once more for not mentioning all those who took part in this extraordinary movement which they supported so much and with such lack of self-interest. Many of them already form part of history. Prof. Ban has published three excellent books where all of them are mentioned.

I will limit myself to use the succession of World Congresses and their respective presidents as a guideline.
The first one was held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on September 24-28, 1974, presided by Prof. Fischer. Its Scientific Secretary was Prof. Yaryura-Tobias with whom I closely cooperated in drafting the program.

It was a real adventure, because at that time we didn not know who would feel identified with our discipline. It was a very nice surprise because in spite of the distance and the political instability, we had more than 1,000 attendees from all over the world, who personally paid for their expenses.

It was a milestone; cutting-edge works united us in a common way of focusing on Psychiatry.

During Congress, the World Federation was founded, and elected President, Prof. Fischer, who peacefully passed away at the beginning of the following year, after having accomplished his mission in this earth. Professors Mitsuda, Yaryura-Tobias and Van Prag were the vice presidents.

Our first By-laws were based on those of the first Society in history and our big sister, the American Society of Biological Psychiatry, which was already very active and which provided us with its unconditional and very important support, without which we would not be where we are at present. In 1971, the Mexican Society of Biological Psychiatry and the Argentine Society were founded. They were the second and third in the history of the W.F.S.B.P. (currently, there are 63 member societies).
The sense of being of our Federation arises in a natural way and is clearly stated in the By-laws, which unfortunately have not always been honored through the years.

A natural brotherhood was born with the C.I.N.P. Several members participated of both Executive Committees, having and agreement not to overlap their corresponding World Congresses for the same year. It is clear that one of the institutions favors the development of therapeutic instruments (psycho-pharmaceuticals) while ours is more open to researches aimed at etiologic diagnosis and precise classifications. Currently, such studies require multidisciplinary teams due to their complexity and broadness. This relationship has continued to grow to this date.

According to the By-laws, the appointed President can chose his own country as the location for the next Congress. Thus, the II. World Congress of Biological Psychiatry, that took place in Barcelona, Spain, on August 31 - September 6, 1978, was organized under the management of Prof. Juan Obiols and his collaborators. Everything that began to appear in Buenos Aires makes a real impact at this event. The number of registrants and the works submitted was largely duplicated. What was really valuable was Catalan that the  hospitality helped to deepen personal bonds. Prof. Obiols, as Prof. Fischer had, passed away during his tenure.
The next President, Prof. Carlo Perris, organized the III World Congress of Biological Psychiatry that was held in Stockholm, Sweden, from June 28 to July 3, 1981. The progression continued; the scope that this event had definitively consolidated the importance of Biological Psychiatry at an international level. Larger facilities were needed to accommodate the amount of posters, symposiums, lectures, free presentations, etc. We were also honored with the presence of Her Majesty Queen Sylvia.

During an intense General Assembly that set up the guidelines for the translations into the official languages, I was elected as II Secretary and Treasurer under the presidency of the great Prof. Charles Shagass, to whom we owe a lot and who took the IV World Congress of Biological Psychiatry to his city, Philadelphia, United States, on September 8-13, 1985. The level achieved with the support of the parent entity, the American Society of Biological Psychiatry that already organized and continues to organize, an annual and strictly scientific congress where the sponsorship is not translated into advertisement was commendable. They generously put their excellent Journal at the disposal of the Federation; to the point that I was appointed as editor together with my admired and close friend Prof. Helmut Beckmann, he, with his traditional chivalry declined his election as my successor as President of the W.F.S.B.P., because he had been elected as such at the C.I.N.P.. I regret his tragic death.

At the corresponding General Assembly, I was elected II Vice President for the following period under President Prof. Tetsuo Fukuda, who together with his teacher, Prof. Mitsuda introduced Biological Psychiatry in Japan and in all the vast area of influence.
During this period he was invited to Buenos Aires, and I was invited to Kyoto where I was the speaker in two lectures during the Annual Congress of the Japanese Society of Biological Psychiatry. The bonds of mutual affection and respect turned into a prosperous friendship.

Prof. Fukuda (Terry, for me) broke with the tradition of organizing the next Congress in his country and asked Prof. Giorgio Racagni to organize the V World Congress of Biological Psychiatry in Florence, Italy, on June 9-14, 1991. He was right with this choice; Prof. Racagni proved to have an excellent organizational ability in all aspects, without neglecting the magical frame offered by the city.
It was a complete success, and for me, unforgettable, because an extra matter of pride was added to that expression of scientific and aesthetic strength, I was elected as President of the Federation during the General Assembly that was held. Profs. T. Fukuda (Past President), G. Racagni (I Vice President), O. Linjaerde (II Vice President), H. Beckmann (Secretary and Treasurers), and S. Langer, D Moussaoui (Assoc. Secretary and Treasurer) accompanied me in the Executive Committee until 1997.
Those were beautiful years because there was harmony and natural agreement among us regarding the decisions that ruled the direction of the Federation, which had grown at a very fast pace. Regional events that enriched the scientific calendar between the World Congresses were frequent and regular.

At the time when we had to decide the location for the next Congress, my country was experiencing a period of financial instability that made it difficult to budget the organization of such big events, so I suggested that we chose another place and postpone the event in Buenos Aires for the year 2005; both decisions were approved by the General Assembly. We agreed to choose Nice, France, for the VI World Congress of June 22-27, 1997 and I feel that we can congratulate ourselves for this decision.

With the invaluable help from Prof. Philippe Robert and the Local Organizing Committee, I can say without false modesty, that it was a really extraordinary Congress. I continue receiving it good reviews, in particular, when I meet people that had attended it.
Prof. Hans-Jürgen Möller was elected as president, and Berlin, Germany, was elected as the location for the VII World Congress of 2001; the priority for 2005 remained for Buenos Aires.
The organization was flawless, and with a level of excellence with regards to all scientific, social and cultural aspects.
During this period I took part in the E.C. as Past-President, the only non-elective position as per the By-laws.

* * *

Berlin 2001 marked my 20 years of uninterrupted service for the World Federation and as a member of the following E.C.'s. I remember as a materialistic but necessary part of the W.F.S.B.P. development, that when I was elected II Assoc. Secretary and Treasurer, we had US$ 2.000 in the treasury, and when my participation ended, speaking of millions was quite natural.
I was focused to the organization of the VIII World Congress of 2005 in Buenos Aires, and we launched it in Berlin with projections, posters, and even a tango show. In Buenos Aires we had already booked the Convention Center, the hotels, etc. The event was confirmed during the General Assembly. According to the By-laws the Federation had to advance the money for the launching of the next congress. For me it was uncomfortable and feel unnecessary to enforce that right, but later I regretted the decision I made, and also for not having organized it during my presidency.
The money was advanced by the P.C.O. retained in Buenos Aires with the support of the Federation. An on-site visit was also paid to perform a visual inspection of the premises. Due to mechanisms that I don't understand and are not of my interest, Vienna, Austria, appeared as the host the 2005 Congress under President Prof. Carlos R. Hojaij.
I was personally frustrated by this, as well as all Latin America, who always offered their support, and considered the Congress as its own.

To this we can add unpleasant legal problems and the renounce of two outstanding and irreproachable members of the E.C., as well as the renounce of the whole American Society of Biological Psychiatry, an irreparable loss. For this reason for the first time in my life I did not attend the corresponding Word Congress, where Prof. Kasper was elected as president.

I am of French descent, so when Paris, France, was chosen for the IX World Congress of June 28 - July 2, 2009, it brought a fresh air and renewed my love for the Federation. Paris is my second city where as a young man, I had the honor to have a brief but fruitful internship with Prof. Pierre Deniker, one of the most important teachers ever.

And Paris could not disappoint me; I put all my efforts to support and help candidate Prof. Florence Thibaut, who was rightfully elected as President, and I offered my services as Honorary President and after as Member of the Honor Committee. I am deeply moved and affected by this distinction, after so many years, and I am very grateful for this appointment.
We had a President that as both flawless and a beautiful person; we had the opportunity to confirm this in Prague, Czech Republic, during the X World Congress that she presided and was held on May 30 - June 2, 2011.

Her tenure ends in Kyoto, Japan, venue for the XI World Congress to be held on June 23-27.

I will do my best to assist, and I anticipate my tribute in his land to my dear samurai Terry Fukuda with whom I shared so many souvenirs.
I hope Florence's successor will follow the guidelines of those who due to their love for medicine, their patients and science, made this dream become true.

Prof. Dr. Jorge Ciprian Ollivier
May 2013

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