Today, Google honours Virgnia Leone Bicudo, the renowned Brazilian psychoanalyst and socialist, with a fascinating doodle. She is the first non-physician to be recognised as a psychoanalyst, playing an important role in the development and institutionalisation of psychoanalysis in Brazil.
Virgnia Leone Bicudo was born in So Paulo on November 21, 1910. She was the daughter of an Italian immigrant, Giovanna Leone, and the granddaughter of enslaved blacks, Theophilo Bicudo. Her father decided to invest in his children’s education after medical schools denied his application due to his skin colour.
Virgnia Leone Bicudo prioritised education from an early age. She graduated from Escola Caetano de Campos in 1930. Before working as a psychiatric attendant, she completed a course in public health education at the Instituto de Higiene de So Paulo in 1932. She quickly rose through the ranks and became a supervisor at the Infant Oriented Clinic in So Paulo.
As the subject of her Master’s dissertation in 1945, Virgnia Leone Bicudo was a pioneer in the study of racial relations. Her dissertation was the first postgraduate work on race relations in Brazil. This earned her an invitation to join a UNESCO research project examining race in various countries. Her research concluded that Brazil was not a racial democracy, which contradicted her advisor’s beliefs and led to the publication of her work.
Virgnia Bicudo was treated as an imposter in academic circles after returning to Brazil because she did not have a medical degree. In 1959, she moved to London to study with some of the most prominent psychoanalysts of the time. To publicise her work, she broadcast lectures to Brazil via the BBC.
After returning to Brazil, Virgnia established the Institute of Psychoanalysis of the Brazilian Society of Psychoanalysis in 1959. She also hosted “Our Mental World,” one of Brazil’s most popular radio shows, and wrote a column with the same title in the newspaper. Bicudo’s perseverance and efforts laid the groundwork for future generations of female psychoanalysts.
Leone Bicudo died in 2003, aged 93. Google has dedicated a doodle to her 112th birthday today.
Happy Birthday Virgnia Leone Bicudo!