Segisfredo Luza Bouroncle

Segisfredo Luza: from murderous psychiatrist to father of psychosocial psychiatrists in Peru
CE Noticias Financieras English

October 17, 2022 Monday

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Length: 1128 words


In a country like Peru, or in any part of the world for that matter, having a chameleon-like personality can help you in many areas of life. Many times it can save your life.
Other times, however, it can help you forget any embarrassing event of the past or make people forget about something terrible you may have done years ago. After all, most people have no memory.

One of the most emblematic cases of this situation, and one that many had already forgotten, is that of the renowned psychiatrist Segisfredo Luza Bouroncle, who rose to fame in a not very pleasant way. However, his name will remain engraved for that particular fact and for having become the main creator of psychosocials that the Peruvian people remember at the end of the 20th century.
This is how he began
Born in Arequipa on November 7, 1928, Segisfredo Luza Bouroncle, achieved professional success very quickly in life. After graduating with honors from medical school at the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos, he obtained the degree of Doctor of Psychiatry at the University of Heidelberg in Germany with the title of Doctor Cum Sum Laude.
Upon his return to Lima and while practicing his profession, one fine day Martha Vértiz López, a plastic arts student, arrived at his office located on Guzmán Blanco Avenue, in the Cercado de Lima.
The woman, 15 years younger than the doctor, came to the specialist due to the constant panic attacks she had been feeling because her family was forcing her to marry a cousin.
From that first contact, it can be said that Luza and Vértiz clicked and an intense romance began between them that would have fatal consequences.
However, the woman’s insistent requests for her partner to divorce (he was married to Teresa Ravago) only found excuses and long-windedness in the professional who seemed unwilling to leave his married status.
Everything got worse, for her, when the psychiatrist and his wife undertook a romantic trip to Europe that lasted a couple of months.
After finding out about this situation, Martha became angry and jealous, because she knew she had been deceived, and decided to forget everything and start a life of nightlife and bohemia in the Lima of the late sixties. “I am single and I do what I want”, she must have thought.
When Luza Bouroncle returns to Lima, she is reunited with her young lover, who tells her that now she has met a man who respects and loves her. The painter’s new beau was Fares Wanus, a young man of Arab descent with whom, according to her, she was soon to be married.
The damned jealousy
This time, the feeling of bitterness and disappointment was Segisfredo Luza’s, who, totally overwhelmed by the new situation, sought and found Wanus to invite him for a conversation in his office.
Elegantly dressed, and without foreseeing what was going to happen, Fares arrived at the appointment on October 13, 1966. During the heated discussion, the Arab asked Luza to forget about his beloved once and for all, as they were going to start a life together very soon.
According to the press at the time, in the middle of the conversation Luza asked Fares to wait for him for a minute as he was going to fetch a painting that his ex-partner had asked him to return.
But when he returned, he was not holding a work of art, but rather a Browning 9 millimeter. And with it he fired up to 15 shots at Wanus, who died instantly. But still, the doctor fired his last shots over his head.
He was saved
After the execution, that same morning, Luza went to the police to turn himself in after confessing to the crime. It did not take long for the trial against him to begin. In the end, he was sentenced to eight years in prison. Although it could have been worse, since the prosecutor asked for the death penalty, which is still in force in Peru.
But his lawyer, Carlos Enrique Melgar, saved him from this situation by testifying and demonstrating that his client was in “a paranoid state and in a state of delirium of passion”. This detail would change his life.
Already in prison and when he had served half of his sentence, considering the time he spent during the trial, taking advantage of the fame he had as a professional and for the case, in July 1971 Luza sent a letter to the dictator Juan Velasco Alvarado telling him his version of everything that had happened. The following year he was pardoned and released.
Over the years, it was speculated that the unfortunate Fares Wanus was a homosexual and that he only lent himself to his friend’s pantomime to teach the doctor a lesson. Whether this was true has never been proven.
With the government
By 1973, the dictatorship of the time recruited him to work in the Central Information Office (OCI) and take charge of the Department of Psychological Operations.
This office was in charge of creating various media distractions so that society would keep busy with other things and not protest General Velasco’s measures.
sAn example of this situation occurred when the military regime was forced to raise fuel prices. Then, the astute doctor came up with a plan so that the measure would not be totally unpopular and would not generate protests among the population.
The plan consisted of spreading the rumor of the increase in gasoline a month before, but this increase was to be half of what it would actually be.
By the time the increase was announced, and when people saw that it was not as much as they had speculated, they breathed easy. And there was no one to complain anymore.
That was only his first experience working with the government in power, because with the arrival of Alberto Fujimori to power in 1990, Luza began to advise Vladimiro Montesinos’ National Intelligence Service.
Legend has it that he was the one who came up with the famous case of the crying virgin in Callao. The government had just given the dreaded “paquetazo” (with Hurtado Miller’s message included) and the prices of basic goods went through the roof. In that sense, incautious people went to pray to a plaster statue to perform the ‘miracle’ of lowering prices.
Luza Bouroncle himself denied this in an interview for Caretas magazine in 2004, accusing Montesinos of making an attempt on his life after refusing to work with him. However, in the same article he called himself ‘the father of psychosocials’.
Finally, the controversial psychiatrist spent the last years of his life at his home in Cieneguilla until his death on September 28, 2012. Shortly before that, he published his last book called ‘El poder psicosocial’.
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