27th April 1957 – 17th May 2020
It is with great sadness that we let the Jungian community know of the sudden death of Alessandra Cavalli after what we think was a short, Covid-19 related illness. The shock of her death when at the height of her career has left so many – patients, friends and colleagues alike – struggling to take on board their feelings of loss and contemplating life without her presence.
Alessandra was born in Italy and spent her early years growing up in Concordia, a small town north of Bologna. This region is so full of life, endurance and with a sense of humour – all so characteristic of Alessandra. She was the eldest of six siblings – four boys and two girls. One of her brothers died in childhood. She went to Munich for her undergraduate and postgraduate studies and then to live in Belgium. She had a great gift for languages, speaking fluent Italian, English, German, French and Spanish, permitting her to work with a wide range of children and adult patients from different cultures.
She came to London in 1998, specifically to train as a child analyst at the Society of Analytical Psychology where there was a flourishing training in child analysis at that time. She began her training in 1999, qualifying in 2003. At the same time, she also trained in parallel as an SAP adult analyst, becoming in 2004, one of the few SAP analysts with dual membership. She decided to stay in London and in the last few years lived in her much-loved flat within walking distance from the SAP.
She will be much missed within the Society of Analytical Psychology and in the wider Jungian Community. She was such a gifted analyst, with children, adolescents and adult patients. She was highly valued as a teacher both in the UK and abroad and particularly enjoyed facilitating infant observation groups to foster in others, her profound beliefs in the significance of life at its earliest stages. She had an exceptional mind and thankfully leaves us a legacy of her papers written with her usual flair and balance of high-quality thinking with depth of feeling when writing about cases from her clinical practice. Her book, Transformation: Jung’s Legacy and Clinical Work Today, edited with two close colleagues, Lucinda Hawkins and Martha Stevns, was published in 2014.
Prior to her training, Alessandra had attended a course at the Tavistock run by Gianna Williams about working with adolescents. This made a profound impression on her, and she and Gianna remained close friends and colleagues. Alessandra represents a synthesis of many traditions and she found a way of integrating the multiple analytic languages into a coherent, working, clinical model. She was influenced of course by the first generations of Jungian child analysts trained at the SAP including Michael Fordham, Mara Sidoli, Jane Bunster, James Astor, Lawrence Brown and Barry Proner.
Melissa Midgen, a close friend and colleague has used the term ‘one of those holding the mantle’ to describe Alessandra. For a number of reasons, the SAP child training closed some years ago and Alessandra, who trained in the last year group before closure, was one of those left to think, teach and carry the flame of Jungian child analysis. She carried this flame with huge energy and determination, more recently supported by Francesco Bisagni after he joined the SAP. She was centrally involved in plans within the SAP to revive a child training in the near future.
Alessandra’s reach out of the UK was enormous. She was closely involved with the development of child analysis in Russia and much-loved by all her colleagues there. She ran infant observation seminars in Denmark, a project for homeless children in Mexico and taught and supervised in Bulgaria and Hungary to mention just a few places.
As an active and creative member of the SAP with many projects on the go when she died, she leaves a gap that will be impossible to fill for some time to come. She was a crucial part of the heartbeat of our Society and she will be greatly missed.
Jan Wiener and Francesco Bisagni, June 1st 2020