Prof. António Guilherme Ferreira, MD (1937-2020)

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Published by WASP

February 12, 2021

Memory & Appreciation

Professor António Guilherme Ferreira – President of WASP (1988-1992)


Brief Bio-sketch with achievements

(translated from the Portuguese by V. Di Nicola)

  • Medical Specialty: Psychiatrist, Social Psychiatrist, Group Analyst, Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist
  • 1st President of APPSI (2006-2012) and its honorary member and founder.
  • Titular member of the Group Analytic Society International.
  • Full didactic member and supervisor of the Portuguese Society of Group Analysis and Group Analytical Psychotherapy, its President (1983-1995) and a member of the Board of Directors (1977-1986, 1995-2003).
  • Member of the American Group Psychotherapy Association which certified him as a group  psychotherapist.
  • Co-author of the book Social Psychiatry and World Accords (1992).
  • Presented more than 300 communications at congresses, conferences, workshops and courses, 66 of which were published.
  • Director (1987-99) and Clinical Director (1988-96) of Miguel Bombarda Hospital and Director of its Medical Internship (1984-2002).
  • Honorary Lifetime President of the Portuguese Society of Social Psychiatry.
  • Honorary Fellow of the World Association of Social Psychiatry and its President (1988-1992).
  • Professor at the Instituto Superior de Psicologia Aplicada (ISPA; Superior Institute of Applied Psychology) and Modern University, Lisbon, Portugal.
  • Founder and Honorary Partner of PsiRelacional, the Association of Relational Psychoanalysis (Portugal), where he served as Chairman of the Fiscal Council.



Memory and Appreciation

Acknowledgements: We are grateful to Prof. Maria Luisa Figueroa and Dr. Lurdes Santos of Portugal and to WASP President Prof. Rachid Bennegdi, Immediate Past President Prof. Roy Abraham Kallivayalil, and Past Presidents Profs. Eliot Sorel and Jorge Alberto Costa e Silva for their personal reminiscences of Prof. Guilherme Ferreira. Prof. Vincenzo Di Nicola, WASP President-Elect, organized and edited this tribute and translated the Portuguese contributions.


Dr. Lurdes Santos, Lisbon, Portugal (translated from the Portuguese by V. Di Nicola)

We were attending the XIV National Congress of Psychiatry organized by the Portuguese Society of Psychiatry and Mental Health (SPPSM) when we were informed of the death of Dr. Guilherme Ferreira.

Dr. Guilherme Ferreira exercised several responsibilities in the area of Psychiatry, Psychology, Group Analysis, Social and Community Psychiatry, but we highlight the period in which, as Director of Miguel Bombarda Hospital and responsible for teaching Psychiatry in this same Hospital, he shaped the different professionals who passed through there.

In this role and for several generations of psychiatrists who graduated there, Dr. Guilherme Ferreira left an indelible mark on their training. We emphasize, above all, his intelligence in which, using his encyclopedic knowledge from many areas such as History, Culture, Sociology, Psychiatry, Psychology, Dr. Guilherme Ferreira left us with a very broad and comprehensive view of the understanding of mental disease.

To the family and friends, SPPSM presents its condolences.


Prof. Maria Luisa Figueira, Lisbon, Portugal (translated from the Portuguese by V. Di Nicola)

For some years (specifically since the death of my husband in 2009, who was a friend and colleague of Guilherme Ferreira in their shared office), I only met Guilherme at concerts. The passion he had for music was such that in spite of immense difficulties walking even the week before he died, I saw him at a concert. I believe his father had been a violinist in the Lisbon Opera orchestra. In recent years, he went to New York with his wife for a few days to see several operas.

He was a very learned man, extremely friendly, and approachable. I never saw him angry or arguing with a colleague. I considered him an excellent analytical group psychotherapist with great dedication to his patients. One of his major characteristics was his awareness of the social problems of psychiatry.


Prof. Rachid Bennegadi, Paris, France – President WASP (2019-2022)

As President of the WASP, I would like to give my testimony in honor of Dr. A. Guilherme Ferreira, who has unfortunately just left this world.

This man, in an extraordinary dynamic of efficiency and modesty, gave our association all the measure of elegance and pragmatism. Most of my predecessors in the post of President of the World Association of Social Psychiatry, know him better than I do and will speak about him more accurately. I keep a vivid memory of my meeting with him at the Lisbon Congress in 2013, when I was asked to assume the position of Secretary General of the WASP.

I had time to talk to him after the traditional photo of the WASP leaders and he had these words that struck me in retrospect. “You have agreed to take on the role of WASP General Secretary, it will be a lot of work, but you will find it very gratifying because there you learn about solidarity and abnegation.” With time, I find the phrase quite relevant and worthy of a person like Dr. A. Guilherme Ferreira, who has given so much to our association.

I think everyone appreciated him for this extraordinary quality that I would call wisdom. We are grateful to him for the strength of his commitment and the breadth of his achievements.

May he rest in peace, and our condolences go out to all his family and friends.


Prof. Roy Abraham Kallivayalil, Kerala, India – Immediate Past President WASP (2016-2019)

Prof. Guilherme Ferreira was one of the most outstanding leaders of Social Psychiatry in the world, having contributed immensely as the President of WASP as well. I have known him personally for two decades and we used to correspond often. He was particularly fond of India, having been President of the WASP World Congress, New Delhi in 1992.  He was well versed with our history and wrote to me on May 31, 2019: “I am quite sure that the XIII Congress of Social Psychiatry, held in New Delhi, India, in which I terminated my last term as WASP President, took place in 1992 as I can see on a plaque given to me at that time.” And he added, “Joshua Bierer never used the title of WASP President. He was Chairman of the Association, the most important and powerful place in the association at that time.”

We share the grief of his family and friends.


Prof. Eliot Sorel, Washington, DC, USA – Past President WASP (1996-2001)

My own brief, fond memories of Guilherme are related to two antecedent events to the WASP Rio Congress of autumn 1986. The first was partaking in the IASP Congress in Lisbon in 1978 with its excellent scientific program and warm Portuguese hospitality as well as introduction to the romantic sounds of fados, a touching cultural revelation. It succeeded my first experience with international social psychiatry when I posed the challenge of “What is Social Psychiatry?” in Opatja, Yugoslavia, in October 1976.

The other memorable experience with Guilherme took place after the Romanian Revolution of 1989 when he and I were invited by the WHO Europe Office as subject matter experts along with British colleagues to advice the Romanian Education Ministry on developing a modern psychiatric curriculum. We worked together well as a team and were privileged to make a catalytic contribution to my old country during those unforgettable post-revolutionary years.


Prof. Jorge Alberto Costa e Silva, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – Past President WASP (1992-1996)

I have known Guilherme Ferreira personally in the early 80s, through Jules Masserman, a psychiatrist from Chicago, pioneer in Social Psychiatry and at the World Association of Social Psychiatry (WASP) with Joshua Bierer, who founded the Association in 1964.

Guilherme Ferreira was an exceptional human being. A good man, kind, polite, diplomatic, with a great culture, very friendly with friends. He was a friend of everyone. It was difficult not to like Guilherme Ferreira. He was also one of the pioneers in the WASP and was President of this association between 1988 and 1992. At that time, I had already founded the Brazilian Association of Social Psychiatry, which I presided and during a meeting in Chicago with Jules Masserman and other WASP pioneers, and we decided to hold a world congress for the first time in the southern hemisphere of the planet. After showing the conditions that Rio de Janeiro had to organize a congress, we finally held the XI World Congress of Social Psychiatry here in 1986. It was a highly successful event, as we gathered more than 1,200 people at the convention center of the famous Hotel Nacional, a building designed by the architect Oscar Niemeyer. We brought in representatives from various international organizations, including the participation of the World Health Organization and the World Psychiatric Association, among others. Guilherme Ferreira was a fundamental person in the organization of this congress, as he helped me a lot in the elaboration of the scientific program, in the contacts with other organizations and we had the opportunity to strengthen our friendship. I could see its human, intellectual, scientific and cultural dimension. As I said above, he was a great friend.

The Congress in Rio de Janeiro, was a successful event from the scientific and cultural point of view.  We had also a very good social program with dinners and shows. I never forget the social gathering I organized during the congress, in my house, a roof at Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas, at the feet of Cristo Redentor, where there was a suspended pool with a very beautiful view. Ferreira came towards me with a glass of wine to toast and he did not notice that he was at the edge of the pool and continued walking, and fell down into the pool. Respectfully speaking, he did the miracle of turning wine into water upside down, as he came in with a glass of wine and left with a glass of water. At this moment we took him out of the pool and, as he was always a very elegant man, he wore a suit with a tie. We immediately gave him a bathrobe and one of the buses that had brought the guests to my house took him back to the hotel to change his clothes. One of the receptionists at the hotel told me that the elevator had emptied when people saw an elegant man in a dressing gown with a badge of the World Congress on Social Psychiatry entering the elevator. They were scared, thinking he was a patient and not a psychiatrist. It was an episode that we never forget. He came back to my house and told this story to everyone. He always told this story in all the social meetings he participated. He had a good sense of humor.

However, this is to alleviate some of the pain, suffering and sadness of having lost such an exceptional man. He played a fundamental role in spreading Social Psychiatry around the world, in creating new societies and, in Portugal, his role was also very important. I recently met a Portuguese psychiatrist, very close to Ferreira who was organizing a dinner with him. This was to happen in March. Unfortunately, I was surprised by the sad news that he passed away. In a few words, I  would like to say that we lost a great man, but the work he helped to build, the World Association of Social Psychiatry, recently in the hands of competent colleagues, has been increasingly establishing itself as a scientific and professional organization of great value. At this moment, as a WASP Past President and personal friend of Ferreira, I can say nothing more of the longing that he leaves on all of us and that soon he will certainly be honored at one of the WASP events. The seed he helped to plant in the difficult years of Social Psychiatry and WASP, today flourishes as a very active and very important association in the world. His memory lives through the activities and functions carried out today by WASP.


Selected Bibliography
  • Guilherme Ferreira A. The leading public mental health problem. International Journal of Mental Health, Spring 1976, 5(1): 63-73
  • Guilherme Ferreira A, et al. Social Psychiatry and World Accords. 1992.
  • Guilherme Ferreira A. Treatment of mental disorders. The importance of psychodynamic and psychosocial models in therapy. Reference to interventions in situations related to the economic crisis in Europe. Dynamic Psychiatry, 2015, 48(1-3, No. 266-68): 12-22.


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