Thérèse Jacobs van Merlen (*1919)
Thérèse Jacobs van Merlen, psychoanalyst and physician, was born in Antwerp as the daughter of Louis Jacobs van Merlen and Marie-Henriette née Havenith. During the Second World War, she worked in a hospital of the Belgian resistance in Antwerp and took care of KZ refugees in a camp of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA).
After the end of the war, she underwent psychoanalytic training in France at the Société Psychanalytique de Paris. Her training analyst was André Berge, her supervisors were Sacha Nacht, Serge Lebovici and René Diatkine. In 1953 she returned to Belgium and joined the Association des Psychanalystes de Belgique (APB). After the death of its founders, Fernand Lechat (1959) and Maurice Dugautiez (1960), Thérèse Jacobs became president of the APB, which was renamed to Société Belge de Psychanalyse in 1960. She was the first of a series of women presidents, all of them medically trained. Under her direction the training standards were raised, for example, the candidates were demanded to undergo a therapeutic analysis prior to the training analysis.
In 1966 Thérèse Jacobs van Merlen married the chemist Francis van Hecke (*1920). She practised as a neuropsychiatrist in Woluwe-Saint-Pierre (Brussels).
Camille Lechat née Ledoux (1899-1985)
Camille Lechat-Ledoux, born in Ixelles/Elsene, was one of the pioneers of psychoanalysis in Belgium. She was a teacher by profession when in 1926 she married Fernand Lechat (1895-1959), an insurance agent and later a Rorschach specialist. In the 1920s Fernand and Camille Lechat, along with the electrician Maurice Dugautiez, founded in Brussels the Cercle d'études psychiques, where they practised spiritualism, hypnosis and psychoanalysis. In 1936 they travelled to Paris to begin undergoing supervised analyses under the control of John Leuba and Marie Bonaparte. Camille Lechat also received her training as a child analyst in France. They all three underwent training analysis with Ernst Paul Hoffmann, a Viennese psychoanalyst emigrated to Belgium in 1938, and became members of the Société Psychanalytique de Paris in 1939.
When Belgium was occupied by the Germans in 1940, Dugautiez and the couple Lechat continued to practise psychoanalysis privately. After the end of the war, on December 24, 1946, they founded the Association des Psychanalystes de Belgique (APB). It was the first psychoanalytic association in Belgium, with Dugautiez and the Lechats as its only training analysts during the following years. In 1960 the name was changed to Société Belge de Psychanalyse (S.B.P.), also known as the Belgische Vereniging voor Psychoanalyse. After the death of her husband, Camille Lechat went on participating in the activities of the S.B.P. until the end of her life, although she played no institutional role.