Nise da Silveira’s library took up the living room and the two other rooms in the apartment above hers. The refinement in the selection of hundreds of books contrasted with the simplicity of the wooden shelves supported by bricks. Literature, visual arts and philosophy shared space with newspaper clippings, exhibition catalogs, the complete works of Antonin Artaud, Machado de Assis, Freud, and C.G. Jung, in addition to books on medicine, epistemology, religion, and a shelf with books about cats.
Of all the shelves in the select library, one of them stands out: it holds books on different theories, dealing with studies on plastic expression, concerning mainly people who are undergoing psychiatric treatment. To simplify the path to be taken by the (improbable) researcher, Nise da Silveira put together a list of compiled books which she called: small file relating to works on plastic expression of psychotcs and some tips for Benedito*. This was the field favored by Nise da Silveira, and, on writing this, she asked herself: “Who on Earth would be interested in these books?”
– Walter Mello (adapted; 2007)* The expression “Será que é o Benedito” (“Could it be Benedito?”) has its origin in a 1931 Carnival song about the transfer of football players (among them, one called “Benedito”) between two local teams. The expression became popular among Brazilians, and it is used to convey surprise.
It is very reassuring to know that someone living so far away from Jung has grasped the meaning of his work so well. And I also admire the clarity with which you [Nise] say what must be said.
– Marie-Louise Von Franz
My stay in Zurich, in 1957, was of crucial importance not only from the point of view of the studies, but also because of my psychoanalytical experience with Dr. M.-L. Von Franz. […] I returned to Brazil with a new insight and more confident on my work.
– Nise da Silveira
Marie-Louise von Franz, who was Swiss, met Jung when she was 18 years old, becoming his assistant in 1933, among a group of 7 men. To pay for her studies at the C.G. Jung Institut Zurich, von Franz, who had a degree in Classical Literature, translated texts from Latin and Greek. She became a renowned psychoanalyst, specialized in the interpretation of fairy tales.
The friendship and scientific collaboration with Nise da Silveira were strengthened in 1957, the year in which Nise went to Zurich to develop her studies at the invitation of Jung and with a CNPq scholarship, besides undergoing psychoanalysis with von Franz.
This encounter of two brilliant scholars of Jungian psychology lasted for a lifetime, each in their own specific area—Von Franz, in the interpretation of alchemy, dreams, and fairy tales, and Nise, in the transformation of psychiatry and in the research of the images produced in the workshops.