By Daniel Burston
This publication explores the lifestyles and paintings of a overlooked determine within the heritage 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 collage and the college of Ottawa, changing into leader of Psychiatry at a number of significant clinics in Ottawa and Montreal among 1952 and 1968, whilst he went into inner most perform. In 1951 he released The Pillar of Fire, a memoir that chronicled his formative years, early life 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 top vendor, and was once via a chain of exceptional books and papers that suggest Freud (and psychoanalysis quite often) 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 was once a celeb of the Catholic lecture circuit, the place he frequently spoke in regards to 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 existence within the chilly warfare period, and the problems dealing with Stern, whose simultaneous efforts to strive against Christian anti-Semitism and to combine Freudian inspiration 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
So was her funeral, which like his Bar Mitzvah, was an awkward and unsatisfying ritual, devoid of meaning, charm or consolation (Stern, 1951, Chapter Six). Nevertheless, he described the impact of her passing on the family as follows: During the following year Grandfather, Father and Ludwig lived in that house like three sailors marooned on an island. When I was at home, things were even stranger. Since I was then nineteen and Ludwig only nine, there was the impression of four generations of men.
Despite the failure of Hitler’s beer hall putsch in 1924, the transnational and universalist ideals of Romain Rolland and George Bernard Shaw, which had enjoyed such currency after World War I, and to which his own mother clung tenaciously, were being drowned in a tidal wave of nationalist resentment at the Treaty of Versailles—an ominous portent of things to come. In the absence of a fatherly presence to guide Stern through this turbulent period of history, Herr Burger’s passion for literature and social justice left a deep impression on the adolescent Karl Stern.
At synagogue services, Stern prayed alongside orthodox Jews, and was quite moved by their fervor, which contrasted starkly with the eclectic, episodic and often lackluster observances back home. 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.
A Forgotten Freudian: The Passion of Karl Stern by Daniel Burston