Looking Back: Memoir of a Psychoanalyst

· Plunkett Lake Press

About this ebook

Looking Back is the unusual memoir of a senior figure in the international psychoanalytic community. Dr. Paul Ornstein was one of the small and distinguished group of Holocaust survivors/physicians who came to the U.S. after the second world war and became prominent in American psychoanalysis. His memoir traces his route from a small town in Hungary, to Budapest’s Neolog Rabbinical Seminary, to a Hungarian forced labor battalion, through medical school in post-war Heidelberg to the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis, to Cincinnati, Ohio, where he became a prominent professor of psychiatry and a leader of the psychoanalytic Self Psychology movement.

“How does one begin to identify and evaluate a well-lived life? I thought again of this question as I read Paul Ornstein’s lovely and surprisingly profound memoir titled simply Looking Back: Memoir of a Psychoanalyst. If you want to know what a life well lived looks like, read this book... Ornstein, all of his personal and professional accomplishments and contributions notwithstanding, possesses an endearing humility. Its tone colors the memoir... For entrée into a life history that spans the great events of the last century, that charts the growth and development of psychoanalysis into a humanistic and humane endeavor, and that depicts a life very well lived, I commendLooking Back: Memoir of a Psychoanalyst.” — Joye Weisel-Barth, International Journal of Psychoanalytic Self Psychology

“Paul Ornstein's remarkable life has taken him from a cheder in a Hungarian town, to the Budapest Rabbinical Seminary through the Holocaust, to the summit of his psychoanalytic profession. This memoir tells this story in vivid and often moving fashion, including his dazed, postwar search for surviving family members, the tenderness of his romance and reunion with his beloved wife and collaborator Anna, their improbable postwar study of medicine among former Nazis at Heidelberg, his use of hypnosis to cure a paralyzed aide to a legendary congressman, to his development, along with Anna, into a towering figure in self-psychology. Paul, who has been fortunate to have Helen Epstein as his co-author, enriches the book by using his penetrating insight to analyze his own motivations and foibles, and those of colleagues and teachers. The reader comes away astonished by how Paul was able to transcend trauma and retain a spirited delight in living and a lifelong sense of optimism.” —Joseph Berger, veteran reporter, The New York Times and author, Displaced Persons: Growing Up American After the Holocaust.

“In this memoir, Paul Ornstein describes his remarkable and moving personal, historical and professional life journey, losing many family members, his community, and his country in the Shoah, yet being blessed from the beginning with a resilient optimism and clear-eyed certainty about what he can accomplish and who and what matters to him: family first and foremost, friends, community and identity, and being a psychoanalyst. Looking Back, including photos and accounts of Ornstein’s close relationship with his long-lived survivor father, with Michael Balint, and with Hans Kohut, could be called ‘My Father’s Culture’. It serves as companion volume to his beloved Anna’s My Mother’s Eyes.” — Dr. Nancy J. Chodorow, Author, The Power of Feelings, Individualizing Gender and Sexuality and other works; Professor of Sociology Emerita, University of California, Berkeley; Lecturer on Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School; Training and Supervising Analyst, Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute.

“Paul Ornstein was one of the psychoanalysts who came to the U.S. from Europe after the second world war and became a central figure in American psychoanalysis. He and his wife Anna have made an essential contribution to establishing Heinz Kohut’s self psychology as an important part of our pluralistic psychoanalytic world. The book is a portrait of a fine psychoanalyst and a fine human being.” — Dr. Arnold Richards, Editor InternationalPsychoanalysis.net, Publisher ipbooks.net, Former editor JAPA.

“It is rare for a psychoanalyst of Paul Ornstein’s generation and stature to share his personal and professional history. Dr. Ornstein’s story is unique and, fluently written with journalist Helen Epstein, provides a way for mental health professionals and lay people alike to learn how one can overcome apocalyptic trauma. Students of psychoanalytic history will get a window onto the Hungarian tradition that stretches from Ferenczi to Balint to Ornstein as well as the politics of the American psychoanalytic community, chiefly in Cincinnati and Chicago. Dr. Ornstein’s story demonstrates how determination, perseverance and love can conquer all.” — Dr. Eva Fogelman, author of Conscience and Courage: Rescuers of Jews during the Holocaustand co-producer of Breaking the Silence: The Generation After the Holocaust.

Looking Back is, like its author, direct, without frills, but leaves the reader thinking about some of the Big Questions. And like the story of Passover, Paul Ornstein's story is one that demands telling and retelling.” — Lester Lenoff, MSW, LCSW, Consulting Editor, Psychoanalytic Inquiry; Editorial Board, The International Journal of Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy.

“As a survivor, Paul Ornstein is a model of resilience, turning his Shoah experience into a lesson in living. As a psychoanalyst, he was able to distance himself from ‘ego psychology’ and to acknowledge, under the influence of Kohut, the clinical importance of empathy, an evolution that had numerous equivalents in other countries, and especially in France. The result is an important book, both moving and intellectually challenging.” — Dr. Rachel Rosenblum, Paris Psychoanalytic Society, Recipient of the 2013 Hayman Award.

“This memoir conveys one man's experience of the Holocaust and how he was able to reconstruct a life after the war. Uniquely, it also gives us a feel for what was a seismic event in analytic circles in the 20th century, the birth and growth of Self Psychology. From horror to empathy, not a bad journey to read about in a short, succinct book.” —Dr. Michael Rosenbluth, FRCPC Chief, Department of Psychiatry, Toronto East General Hospital, Associate Professor, University of Toronto.

“This memoir is a gem, rich and deeply personal as well as a chronicle of a remarkable life lived during a remarkable time. And those photos! They are stunning.” — Dr. James Fisch, Editorial Board, International Journal of Psychoanalytic Self Psychology.

About the author

Paul Ornstein (1924-2017) was born in Hajdúnánás, Hungary and educated at the Franz Josef Rabbinical Seminary in Budapest, where he discovered psychoanalysis. After surviving the Shoah in Hungary, he received his degree in medicine from the University of Heidelberg, then emigrated to the United States and became a leading figure in psychoanalytic self-psychology. Dr. Ornstein is a graduate of the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis, an Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry and Psychoanalysis at the University of Cincinnati Medical School, and a Supervising Analyst at the Boston Psychoanalytic Institute. He co-authored Focal Psychotherapy: An Example of Applied Psychoanalysis with Michael and Enid Balint and edited The Search for the Self: selected writings of Heinz Kohut.

Born in Prague in 1947, Helen Epstein grew up in New York City, where she graduated from Hunter College High School in 1965. She studied at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and became a journalist after the Soviet Invasion of Czechoslovakia of 1968 when her personal account was published in the Jerusalem Post. She became a university correspondent for that newspaper while still an undergraduate. Subsequently, she studied at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism and began freelancing for diverse publications including the New York Times.

Her profiles of legendary musicians such as Vladimir Horowitz, Leonard Bernstein and Yo-Yo Ma are collected in Music Talks that, like Children of the Holocaust and Where She Came From, has been translated into several other languages. She herself is the translator of Heda Kovály's Under A Cruel Star and Vlasta Schönová's Acting in Terezín. Her biographies of Joseph Papp and Tina Packer grew out of her journalistic work. She has an active speaking career and has lectured at a wide variety of venues in Europe, and North and South America. She blogs for The Arts Fuse, a New England cultural web site.

Born in Debrecen, Hungary in 1937, Charles Fenyvesi immigrated to the United States after the revolution of 1956 in which he was a student participant. He won a scholarship to Harvard University where he received his B.A. in 1960 and served as assistant to Prof. Clyde Kluckhohn researching medieval history. He went to India as a graduate student at Madras University and received an M.A. in philosophy in 1962.

Returning to the US, he edited various publications including The National Jewish Monthly and served as Washington correspondent for the Tel Aviv daily Ha’aretz before joining The Washington Post as a staff writer contributing a weekly garden column for nineteen years and scores of features and op-ed pieces. Next he worked for US News & World Report, filing a one-page weekly feature, “Washington Whispers,” for a decade. Fenyvesi also freelanced for The New York TimesThe Los Angeles TimesThe Baltimore Sun, and The New Republic.

He is author of six books on subjects ranging from interviews with Europe’s non-reigning kings to essays on trees, from archival research on three little known anti-Nazi conspiracies during World War II to profiles of rescuers of Jews in wartime Hungary. His own family’s history, When the World Was Whole, was published in six countries.

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