Agi Bene-Moses died on May 10th in Jerusalem. She was a senior child psychoanalyst at the Hampstead Clinic, where she had played an active part in the training and research activities for many years. Born in Hungary, she came to England via Switzerland, and qualified first as a Child Psychotherapist, going on to train with the British Psycho-Analytical Society. She was a prominent member of the psychoanalytic community, and as a training analyst and supervisor of both adult and child cases was very much in demand. She left England some two years before her death to join Rafael Moses, and tragically fell ill a year after her emigration. She was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium in London on May 18th.
Anna Freud paid her the following tribute:
‘I speak of Previous Agi Bene-Moses’ death to-day since I have known her longer than most of the friends and colleagues gathered here in the Crematorium to pay tribute to her memory. It is now 29 years since she and her friend Anne-Marie walked through the doors of the Hampstead Clinic, urgently demanding to be trained. The request was granted and from that day to the day when she left England to begin a new life in Israel, Agi Bene was an active, vital, stimulated and stimulating member of our Hampstead community.
There are not many people among us here who believe that the events in this world are regulated by a benevolent superior power, and who try to ascribe intention and meaning even to the most tragic happenings. On the contrary, most of us are convinced of the workings of a blind fate, that is, a fate so blind that it is apt to by-pass the old who have already carried their plans and tasks to completion, and to take its victims from those who stand in the middle of life.
I see Agi Bene (as we have known her) as a victim of this kind. She had passed from the status of student to that of teacher; from dependence to independence in matters of thinking; from joining institutions created by others to being in a position of setting up her own; from years of striving for personal happiness to the fulfilment of her hopes. To whatever was before her, she would without doubt have given herself wholeheartedly, with the active drive and critical force for which she was known, and with the whole warmth and vigour of her personality. It was at this moment, on the threshold of new activities and possibilities, that she was attacked by the cancer which proved fatal.
With every death such as hers, we lose not only people who have become part of our own lives, we lose also all the potentialities inherent in them, as well as all the plans and dreams which they might have turned into realities.
Agi Bene’s death proved all the more shocking to her friends since it was unexpected by those closest to her. There is much speculation why she wanted it that way. She might have dreaded the pity and sympathy which would have gone out to her and against which her pride in her own strength would have revolted. But I do not believe that this was the only reason why she insisted on the privacy and secrecy which excluded others. I rather imagine that it was not her way to see the future otherwise than in terms of living; that it was this attitude which left her hopeful until the very end; and that she wished the world around her to share in that belief.’
Bene, A. (1977). The Influence of Deaf and Dumb Parents on a Child’s Development. Psychoanal. St. Child, 32:175-194. […]
Bene, A. (1978). “Beyond the Infantile Neurosis” Collected Essays Sara Rosenfeld London; Sara Rosenfeld Research Fund, Hampstead Clinic, £2.50. J. Child Psychother., 4:137-138. […]
Bene, A. (1979). The Question of Narcissistic Personality Disorders: Self Pathology in Children. Bul. Anna Freud Centre, 2:209-218. […]