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Who Was Bernard L. Pacella?

Bernard L. Pacella long regarded the most significant part of his extensive career to be working with, playing with and helping children.  The Center is named after Dr. Pacella through the generosity of an anonymous benefactor.

Dr. Pacella was particularly interested in the importance of early childhood and how children and their families navigate changes as they grow and develop—how they can both stay close to their families while developing their own identities. He was deeply committed to ethical and moral principles and issues of social justice. Dr. Pacella wrote about the importance of value systems for adolescents, about the value of pastoral counseling, and about the importance of paternal influence for the child from the earliest years.  He presented thoughtful and balanced discussions of theoretical views and their relationship to clinical work with children and adults. 

First certified in neurophysiology and neurology. His early work with children resulted in the creation of the first book on child psychiatry, co-edited with Nolan D. C. Lewis, MD in 1945, "Modern Trends in Child Psychiatry." Dr. Pacella trained in psychoanalysis with Ernst Kris, Edith Jacobson, and Otto Isakower. He collaborated with Phyllis Greenacre and was a close colleague of Margaret Mahler. In addition to being a long time member of the New York Psychoanalytic Society and Institute, where he was a former Treasurer, he held many positions and received many honors including being a past President of the Margaret S. Mahler Psychiatric Research Foundation and a past President and Treasurer of The American Psychoanalytic Association.

In addition to his professional life, Dr. Pacella had a rich family life with many children and grandchildren.  Many of his ideas are applied at the Pacella Parent Child Center today.