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Obituary for Sylvia Gril
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Obituary for Sylvia Gril

It is my sad duty to honor an outstanding member of the SPR community, Sylvia Gril, who died much too young on Good Friday after a long battle with cancer. She fought it bravely but ultimately lost.

Sylvia has been a very active member of SPR South America for a long time, but may be known to most members as the local host of the well- organized and successful international SPR conference in Montevideo last year.

Sylvia held the position of an Adjunct Professor of the Department of Medical Psychology of the School of Medicine at Universidad de la República in Montevideo. 1997-1999, she was Vice President of the Southamerican Chapter of the SPR. Other professional activities included memberships in the Asociación Uruguaya de Psicoterapia Psicoanalítica; founding, full membership and presidentship (1999-2001) of the Sociedad Uruguaya de Psicología Médica y Medicina Psicosocial, founding and full membership of the Asociación Uruguaya de Psicoanálisis de las Configuraciones Vinculares (1994).

Publications cover a broad range of interest and include (in temporal rather than content order) topics such as Transcription Rules, Psychoanalytic Research, 'Core Conflictual Relationship Theme' in Mental Health, Identity of the Medical Doctor, Identity of the Medical Psychologist, Clinical Applications of the Cycles Model, Computer-Aided Methods in Psychotherapeutic Research, Doctor-Patient relationship in the area of hemodialysis, Relationship between the Verbal Exchange of Mother and Analyst, Non Verbal Interaction between Mother and Baby, and Attachment and Narratives.

Papers presented at SPR and other conferences included topics such as psychotherapy with psychotic patients, personality disorders, CCRT, mother-therapist and mother-baby-interaction, and narratives.

Between 1995 and 1997, Sylvia was as a guest scientist and for workshops in Ulm with Erhard Mergenthaler and Horst Kächele. She collaborated with the Ulm group translating their transcription standards into Spanish, and later in several projects, including a project with Marina Altman, in part supported by the International Psychoanalytical Association. I know from Silvia how important this contact and support - very much in the spirit of mutual support in the SPR - was for her.

Her sociable personality made it easy for her to collaborate with colleagues within and outside the SPR. Sylvia had a strength very valuable for the advancement of psychotherapy research in Uruguay and South America: To find the link between needs and possibilities in her country and continent, and methods used in Europe and North America. The mentioned project with Marina Altman was typical for this: To be clinically efficient end effective with only two to four consultations with mothers of babies with respiration problems, and to demonstrate effects with attachment concepts and text analytic methods. For this work she won an award from the International Psychoanalytical Association, which - due to her illness - she was unfortunately not able to receive in person last year in Nice.

While collaborating with Sylvia on last year's International Congress, we talked a lot also about her illness. She had still considerable hopes that she could be cured, although she acknowledged the severity of the threat to her health. I asked her frankly whether she would not prefer to withdraw from the congress organization which she had generously taken on when the original plans to have the congress elsewhere in Southamerica failed. I thought especially of her daughter Mariana. Sylvia said that she had spent much thought on how she would spend her possibly last months in a meaningful way. She has chosen her work for SPR as a meaningful investment of a considerable part of her remaining time and energy. What better model for dedication to psychotherapy research and our community could one imagine?

I ask all SPR members to honor Sylvia by keeping in our minds this image of her love and dedication as we continue our shared search for a deeper understanding of psychotherapy.

Franz Caspar SPR President

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