A Forgotten Freudian: The Passion of Karl Stern by Daniel Burston

By Daniel Burston

This ebook explores the lifestyles and paintings of a missed determine within the background of psychoanalysis, Karl Stern, who introduced Freudian thought and perform to Catholic (and Christian) audiences round the world.

Karl Stern was once a German-Jewish neurologist and psychiatrist who fled Germany in 1937 – first to London, then to Canada, the place he taught at McGill college and the collage of Ottawa, turning into leader of Psychiatry at a number of significant clinics in Ottawa and Montreal among 1952 and 1968, while he went into inner most perform. In 1951 he released The Pillar of Fire, a memoir that chronicled his adolescence, youth and early maturity, his clinical and psychiatric education, his first research, and his serial flirtations with Jewish Orthodoxy, Marxism and Zionism – all in the middle of the galloping Nazification of Germany. It additionally explored the long-standing inner-conflicts that preceded Stern’s conversion to Catholicism in 1943.

The Pillar of Fire was once a run-away most sensible vendor, and used to be through a sequence of exceptional books and papers that suggest Freud (and psychoanalysis ordinarily) to Christian audiences, together with The 3rd Revolution (1954), The Flight from Woman (1965) and Love and Success (1975). Stern firmly believed within the compatibility of technological know-how and religion, and used to be a celebrity of the Catholic lecture circuit, the place he usually spoke concerning the evils of anti-Semitism. His friendship and correspondence with Thomas Merton, psychiatrist/psychoanalyst Gregory Zilboorg, philosophers Jacques Maritain and Gabriel Marcel, activist Dorothy Day and novelist Graham Greene (among others) shed massive gentle on Catholic highbrow lifestyles within the chilly battle period, and the problems dealing with Stern, whose simultaneous efforts to strive against Christian anti-Semitism and to combine Freudian inspiration into the middle of Catholic philosophy met with combined effects.

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This metaphor is striking. ” And at the same time, it underscores the fact that Stern’s description of his first analysis was actually quite short on specifics. We may know the result, in Stern’s estimation, but we will never know which childhood experiences, family relationships, sexual feelings or liaisons or conflicts concerning religious and professional issues were (or were not) addressed in Stern’s dreams, associations and the analysis of the transference. Still, based on the meager information Stern did give us, we can speculate a little “around the edges,” so to speak.

Stern’s abrupt awakening also sensitized him to the horrors of World War I; a process catalyzed in part by Uncle Julius. While on furlough from the front lines, Julius praised a book called Le Feu, by the Marxist author Henri Barbusse. ” He suddenly grasped the senseless depravity of war: […] the dirt of the trenches, the rain, the snow, floods, rats and corpses, the death of so many […] human beings whom I might have known personally, and it was a fact that innocent human E A R LY Y E A R S 11 beings killed one another.

Finally, Erich’s great grandfather was a famous general and geographer, who introduced the use of lines of latitude and longitude to Europeans. ” On these occasions, as a rule, Karl and Erich played chamber music together. To a shy and awkward young man unaccustomed to such opulent surroundings, there was a striking lack of formality about the place. ” Erich’s brothers came and went, sometimes joining in the musical pastimes, sometimes pausing briefly en route to other activities and destinations.

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