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

By Daniel Burston

This booklet explores the existence and paintings of a missed determine within the heritage of psychoanalysis, Karl Stern, who introduced Freudian idea and perform to Catholic (and Christian) audiences round the world.

Karl Stern used to be a German-Jewish neurologist and psychiatrist who fled Germany in 1937 – first to London, then to Canada, the place he taught at McGill collage and the collage of Ottawa, turning into leader of Psychiatry at numerous significant clinics in Ottawa and Montreal among 1952 and 1968, while he went into deepest perform. In 1951 he released The Pillar of Fire, a memoir that chronicled his youth, youth and early maturity, his scientific and psychiatric education, his first research, and his serial flirtations with Jewish Orthodoxy, Marxism and Zionism – all in the course 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 was once via a chain of exceptional books and papers that suggest Freud (and psychoanalysis as a rule) 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 technology 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 significant mild on Catholic highbrow lifestyles within the chilly conflict period, and the problems dealing with Stern, whose simultaneous efforts to wrestle Christian anti-Semitism and to combine Freudian suggestion into the center of Catholic philosophy met with combined effects.

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Extra info for A Forgotten Freudian: The Passion of Karl Stern (The History of Psychoanalysis Series)

Example text

Freud, Max Scheler, Hermann Hesse, into pacifists as well. No other treatment being available, this patient was sterilized, too. The cruel treatment of the Christian pacifist reminded Stern of a play by Leo Tolstoy, The Living Corpse, in which a conscientious objector is deemed delusional by a panel of psychiatrists simply to punish him for calling their own nationalist and militarist beliefs and priorities into question. To Stern’s considerable astonishment, one of his teachers, Dr. Bruno Schulz agreed with his appraisal of this patient’s plight.

In his own words: There is a famous story told by Perez of a Rabbi and his disciple who, while slowly starving to death, discuss Talmudic problems, E A R LY Y E A R S Figure 6. Karl Stern as a school boy. 9 10 A F O R G OT T E N F R E U D I A N with red eyes and glowing cheeks; these types really exist, I have seen them. (Stern, 1951, p. 42) Living in Munich also afforded the eleven and twelve year old Karl undreamt of opportunities to visit theaters, museums, operas, parks, and churches. Thanks to Kaspar Russ, Stern had already heard his share of church music, and had found some of it quite beautiful.

Meanwhile, during these seasonal festivities, Karl often went to friends’ homes or local Churches, where Christian iconography was prominently displayed. Moreover, at his mother’s instigation, Stern attended a local kindergarten run by nuns. So, as he himself observed: […] my first religious education was Catholic. We had no catechism but we were entertained with stories from the Bible, particularly from the New Testament, which were illustrated with colored pictures on the wall. There was also a little prayer now and then.

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