In Memoriam: Paolo Procacci

Paolo Procacci, MD  
Firenze, Italy

  • Founding Member of IASP, 1973
  • Vice President of IASP, 1976-1979
  • President of the Italian Chapter, 1976-1979

Not all men die...

If Paolo Procacci could listen, he would have ended the verse of the third book of Horace’s Odes, Multaque Pars Mei Vitabit Libitinam: “I’m not going to die completely; a large part of me will evade Libitina.” Libitina, the ancient goddess of death and burial rites.

In closing the preface of the recent book on the thirtieth anniversary of the Italian IASP Charter (AISD), Paolo Procacci had quoted from Horace, “Dum loquimur fugerit invida aetas” (While We Talk, Time Flies Away). A few lines before he had spoken of the friends and colleagues who had participated in the first IASP Congress in Florence, Italy in September 1975 and/or the first AISD Congress in La Spezia in May 1977 who have since passed away. Perhaps he sensed he was also near the turn of this glorious life?

For the last few years he had disappeared from Congresses. Health problems had prevented him from participating in Congress activities, although this involvement had always represented an important aspect of his professional life. His health did not stop him from actively participating in other ways, which were dear to and possible for him. For example, he consented to write one of the chapters of the “Italian Textbook of Pain Medicine and Palliative Care”, that will be published in a few months. He had also enthusiastically consented to grant an interview to be televised during the congress of the thirtieth anniversary of the Italian IASP Chapter in Verona, because he was unable to attend personally. He always accepted with pleasure to talk with me, on the phone, to tell me anecdotes and suggest the right documents to consult for the history of AISD.

We met for the first time long ago when I was elected to the AISD Council. He was a man of great culture, with the ability to understand the essence of beauty from the profound roots of mankind; the wisdom to combine the simplicity of everyday language with science, art, and teachings of his Masters. As any wise man, he was unable to separate work, research of beauty and quality, and enjoyment. To him, they were strictly intertwined. He taught that when someone has much to say and to give, he is able to do it easily, looking at the essence of the message one wants to transmit.

While I was writing the “AISD: A 30 years journey”, we communicated very frequently. I always thought it was my privilege for him to write the preface of that book. He made it the best possible and I will be grateful for that for the rest of my life. The AISD was his creation. He had believed and invested energies in it. He had kept AISD alive even during the less easy moments. Hence, it was proper that he publicly recount how AISD was born and took its first steps.

Paolo Procacci, a part of mankind that has gone and will never be again. We are going to keep his history which is strictly connected to the history of IASP and AISD. For those of you who understand Italian, I would suggest that you take a few minutes to read his fresh, pleasant narration on the establishment of IASP, on the site A narrative that, in retrospect, appears more focused and compassionate when one is facing impending death and is more sensitive of it.

Giustino Varrassi
AISD President