CIPS NewsBriefs - Winter 2023

In Memoriam

Maxine Evelyn Nelson, LICSW, FIPA

1947 – 2022

Maxine Evelyn Nelson joined the psychotherapeutic profession after many years as a visual artist who exhibited painting, sculpture, photography and installations in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and London. Her passion for the arts provided a unique “third eye” for her psychoanalytic work with patients. It also provided a platform for her to build on her interest in applied psychoanalysis, an issue about which she wrote and presented widely.

Maxine obtained the Masters in Social Work degree from the University of Washington in 1986, and shortly thereafter began her therapeutic practice at Virginia Mason Medical Center. She graduated from the Northwestern Psychoanalytic Society and Institute (NPSI), and became a member of the International Psychoanalytical Association, in 2014. Eight years later, in 2022, she ended her professional work as a psychoanalyst and died shortly thereafter.

During the last ten months of her life she wrote the draft of a paper titled “Facing The Unthinkable: Life-Threatening Illness in the Analyst and Its Impact on the Analytic Couple,” which drew upon her struggle as an analyst with cancer. It is currently being reviewed for publication.

Maxine served the general psychoanalytic community and Northwestern Psychoanalytic Society and Institute (NPSI) in a myriad of ways. She was highly respected for her long-term commitment and solid contributions to a number of organizations both on the local/regional level and in her liaison board membership with the Confederation of Independent Psychoanalytic Societies (CIPS) and the North American Psychoanalytic Confederation (NAPsaC). She served NPSI as its President, Secretary, Director of Training, Chairperson of Admissions, and frequent member of the Evolving British Object Relations Committee (EBOR).

She was a consummate learner who sought always to improve her professional knowledge and work with her patients, and was also respected for her dedicated, passionate and diligent work to build better organization performance wherever she served. She accepted the challenge to build a more diverse and equitable psychoanalytic community; as a result, NPSI recently created the Maxine Nelson Diversity Equity and Inclusion Program Fund in her honor.

Maxine’s wide-ranging and noteworthy professional accomplishments include:

“Psychic Deadness and the Vicissitudes of Unmetabolized Mourning” published in the book “Trauma, Destruction, and Transformative Potential: Clinical Perspectives” (Terrence McBride and Maureen Murphy, editors, 2019).

“Inside a Tightly Closed Balloon: Construction, Reconstruction and Transformation in the Figurative Work of Magdalena Abakanowicz” (Presented at the 46th IPA Congress, Chicago, 2009)

“Reverie and Applied Psychoanalysis: ‘The Women’s Yard’ “(Panel presenter, 49th IPA Congress, Boston, 2015)

Concept developer and director for “Luminous Psyche (2003): Selected Films of Max Ophuls” and “Luminous Psyche (2005): Selected Films of Bernardo Bertolucci” (Psychoanalytic Film Festivals, Seattle Art Museum)

Concept developer and member of the organizing committee for the ongoing community-wide Speaking About Race series begun in 2021 following the death of George Floyd, and sponsored by Northwestern Psychoanalytic Society and Institute beginning in 2020.

Maxine was noted for clarity of thinking, new insights, and for bringing a high level of commitment to her life and her life’s work. A stanza in Leonard Cohen’s song “Anthem” resonated strongly with her:


Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.

Much of her life as an artist and psychoanalyst was devoted to expanding the strong beam of light that contributes to development of richer, healthier lives. Her lifelong contributions are deeply appreciated.