I had the opportunity to meet Peter de Chateau and Kathryn Barnard in 1987 when a committee of the World Association for Infant Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines (WAIPAD) gathered in Venice, Italy. The committee was invited to Venice to consider it as a site for the WAIPAD 1989 world congress. As part of a prior agreement between the International Association for Infant Mental Health (IAIMH) and WAIPAD, I was invited to attend the meeting in the role of chair of the congress program. IAIMH and WAIPAD were in the beginning stages of a planned merger (which became the World Association for Infant Mental Health in 1992), and Graziella Fava (Italty) arranged for WAIPAD leaders to meet in Venice to consider it as the site for the congress. Wwith the exception of Bob Emde (WAIPAD President -1986-1988) and Joy Osofsky (WAIMH President, 1992-1995), I had never met any of the committee members prior to the Venice site visit. Among the WAIPAD leaders were Serge Lebovici (WAIPAD President 1989-1991), Bertrand Cramer, Justin Call (one of the co-founders of WAIPAD), Yvon Gauthier (WAIMH President, 1996-1999), Michel Soule, Massimo Ammaniti, Miguel Hoffmann, Peter de Chateau (WAIMH President, 2000-2003), and Kathryn Barnard (WAIPAD Treasurer). The bulk of our time during the first 7 days in Venice were spent visiting possible conference sites, hotels, tourist attractions, and local government officials. During our last two days, we returned to mainland Venice to hold final discussions about the congress site and arrangements. These discussions did not go well, and things folded with respect to Venice as a site for the congress.
Life often has a way of producing unintended consequences! In this case, unintended consequences involved two individuals who were precisely the people I needed to consult with regarding first a research project and second innovations in nursing practice. At the time that I met Peter, my colleague Lauren Harris and I were beginning to publish our findings from a longitudinal study of the organization of lateral movement from infancy through toddlerhood, and I was working on a dynamical systems model of the early organization of lateralization. I knew of Peter’s research demonstrating that depression negatively affected the organization of maternal lateral holding and I wanted to know more about the clinical implications of his work. We had two long conversations in Venice, the last of which resulted in his agreement to participate in a symposium on the ontogeny of cerebral lateralization of function, a symposium that we presented in the 1989 Congress. Hanus Papousek, who I first met in 1966 when I was in graduate school at the University of Denver, also joined us in that symposium.
And, oh yes, we did have that congress, but not in Venice! Bertrand Cramer contacted Furruccio Bianchi in Lugano, Switzerland, and Furruccio agreed to organize and chair a committee to oversee local arrangements. His efforts contributed to make the Lugano congress one of WAIPAD’s most successful, at least from a financial point of view! Furruccio succeeded in getting the Canton to donate many, many services to support the congress which directly led to our ability to deposit over $100,000 into WAIPAD’s accounts. And this provides a link to Kathryn Barnard, who was the WAIPAD treasurer!
Kathryn and I had independently arranged for a few travel vacation days after the Venice trip and we decided to spend one non-travel day on a boat to visit the islands of Murano and Burano. I knew Kathryn’s work developing an assessment tool for newborns and very young infants, but I had never met her prior to the Venice meeting. I had just recently been informed by one of Michigan State University’s nursing faculty members on research on the clinical implications of therapeutic touch. I must reveal that I was very skeptical about this work so as the boat left the shore, I broached the topic with Kathryn. Well, I went immediately into learner mode, because it immediately became clear to me that Kathryn was about to teach me a great deal about therapeutic touch! She also noted that the book that she Berry Brazelton were about to publish, titled TOUCH, contained three chapters on therapeutic touch. As I emerged from learner mode and Kathryn apparently concluded that I was transformed, we began to have a delightful conversation about touch and its importance for self-regulation and over-all human interaction and neuro-biological organization. When we arrived at Murano I don’t recall that either of us ended up purchasing any of the beautiful glass products, but when we hit Burano and its lovely lace, we were ready. I remember that when we entered the first shop, a whimsical but persistent sales person greeted us by asking whether she could help “the lovely couple.” Kathryn was quicker than I to point out, if I recall correctly, that while “we were lovely, we were not a couple, just friends.” We proceeded to buy lots of lace in all of its many forms, and I think it was only when we presented separate credit cards did whimsical salesperson finally believe that we were truly not a couple. The cruise back to Venice consisted of a delightful bit of reflecting about our shopping trip and some serious discussion about the future of WAIPAD in the context of the possible merger with IAIMH!
During the 1989 world congress in Lugano, I was stationed at a table near the break session and refreshment area in order to handle on-site registrations (cash only in those days) and infant mental health journal subscriptions, to provide information about where congress events were located, as well as provide general information about Lugano. A one-stop shop for all attendees! Mid-morning of the first day of the congress, Peter came out to chat with me and he returned during every break session to help work at the one-stop shop! At the end of the congress, we truly had developed a personal friendship that strengthened during the subsequent years when he served as president of WAIMH. During the 1990’s my wife, Dolores, also became friends with Viveka as they spent many WAIMH congresses touring museums, shopping, and traversing byways of exciting cities. So in 2001, when Peter invited me to participate in his retirement lecture at the Catholic University of Nijmegen, the four of us had several days together, and Dee and remember with great joy the wonderful cookout that Chef Peter prepared at his home. He forever teased me about my decorum during my presentation at the retirement presentation after I refused to stand behind a lectern and deliver a formal lecture. Indeed, at the reception that immediately followed Peter’s final lecture, the Rector of the university shared with me that they were not used to such a passionate and free-wheeling lecture style. But, after all, I was talking about infants and how can one not be passionate!
The Lugano congress generated many on-site registrations and sales of many copies of the infant mental health journal and books. At the end of the conference, I had piles of currency of various sizes, colors, and denominations. So I went to Kathryn and asked her what I should do with all of that cash. She responded, “Well, take it back home and convert it and then send me a check that I can deposit into the WAIPAD bank account.” I reminded her that there was a limit to how much cash one can carry back into the United States and that I had to go through customs. She game me a really serious look and then a smile and said, “Hi, I know you will find a way!” I dare say that when I went through customs I was about 1 inch taller, and just a bit heavier in various parts of my body, but I made it. Later when we had all of the money converted, I sent Kathryn a cashier’s check for considerably more than the $10,000 custom’s limit. Thank goodness that scanning devices were not in operation in those days.
My journey in infant mental health provided me many opportunities to interact with an extraordinary number of scientists and clinicians, who despite theoretical and cultural diversity, shared a common commitment to improve the lives of infants, toddlers and their families through their research, practice, and policy efforts. I will always remember the fun that I had with Kathryn on our little cruise and then at the Lugano congress. I will always cherish the deep friendship that I was privileged to have with Peter de Chateau. His compassion, thoughtfulness and humor often stilled the organizational beast within me, and enabled my interactions with WAIMH colleagues to be more effective and gentle. He once told me that counting to 10 was not an effective way for me to calm down…. I needed to count to 30! Good advice that I continue to practice with his still-small voice in my mind.