Vale Neville Symington (1937 – 2019)

Vale Neville Symington (1937 – 2019)

In appreciation - The Child Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Association of Australia


Members of the Child Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Association of Australia were saddened to learn of the death of Neville Symington - psychoanalyst, scholar, novelist, memoirist and poet. His death followed illness and a brief time in hospital. We extend our sincere condolences to his family.

Neville Symington was born in Portugal part of a large close-knit family. By the time 0f his birth, the family, of mainly British descent, was well integrated into upper class Portuguese- English Catholic society. As a young man, Symington moved to England to study philosophy and theology while training for the Roman Catholic priesthood. He always considered his seminary life to be a time of great learning and intellectual enrichment. He worked for several years as a priest in East London within a socially deprived community which he grew to love. This was a formative period of his life. After he left the priesthood Symington retained a spiritual view of life stamped by a desire for authenticity and freedom.

Neville Symington undertook his psychoanalytic training in London and was a Fellow of the British Psychoanalytical Society. He trained in the Institute of Psychoanalysis London and worked in the Tavistock Clinic from 1977 until 1985. He also qualified in Clinical Psychology. It was Australia’s gain that in 1986, with his wife Joan Symington and their two sons, Symington migrated to Sydney. From 1987 to 1993 he was Chairman of the Sydney Institute for Psychoanalysis and between 1999 and 2002 he was president of the Australian Psychoanalytical Society. Neville Symington wrote twelve books and numerous clinical papers. He was an erudite but plain speaking presenter and for decades he taught and lectured around the world to great acclaim. In 2013, Symington received the Sigourney Award in recognition of his contributions to psychoanalysis worldwide. He became internationally known for his breadth of knowledge and for his lifelong championing of freedom of thought. In his 2016 memoir, ‘A Different Path – An Emotional Autobiography’ Symington wrote, “…one of the central battles in my life has been the resisting of pressure from the social environment surrounding me and from the Establishment, and following what is truly me as opposed to what has been imposed on me.”


Symington’s awards and achievements speak for themselves and he profoundly touched the lives of many. He was respected, admired and appreciated by colleagues, students and those who consulted him. Symington’s voice was original and true. He gave generously of his time and wisdom and encouraged and inspired us to think for ourselves without fear or favour. Neville Symington’s beautiful, clear voice will be greatly missed.


Melbourne, 6th December 2019

Nada Lane Immediate Past President

CHILD PSYCHOANALYTIC PSYCHOTHERAPY ASSOCIATION OF AUSTRALIA

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