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Yale 62

YAM Notes: May/June 2021

By Stephen W. Buck, for the Communications Team. YAM@Yale62.org

In this time of increasing focus on Black Lives Matter, classmate Marvin Eisengart reflects on being perhaps the first African American studies major before there was an African American studies program at Yale. He writes: “Recent references in Yale emails to the African American studies department have led me to recall unexpected events that resulted in an undergraduate education I never anticipated.

“In a Fall 1959 semester course in anthropology, I was offered the opportunity to join three graduate students attending services at a Black Pentecostal church in New Haven for a seminar in field study techniques.

“We observed weekday evening and weekend services, and I would admit to feeling initially self-conscious about our being the only white people present. The charismatic leader who founded the church in 1919 was still active, and we had the good fortune of seeing him at two weekday services in New Haven and on a weekend day in Harlem where he granted us a brief audience. At the end of the semester I completed a term paper, and assumed my involvement with the church was finished.

“On January 12, 1960, the founder died, and we realized that this event presented a rare opportunity to study how the leadership, administration, or even the liturgy might be affected. There was also a question of the church’s survivability. Two of the graduate students and I continued to attend services through the spring semester apart from regular classes.

“When the fall 1960 semester began, I continued to attend church, now by myself. One of the anthropology faculty became an informal advisor for what was still an extracurricular activity.

“The church held an annual summer convocation lasting one week at each congregation starting in the north and moving successively southward. I spent the summer 1961 in New Haven working on the project and was able to attend convocation. During that week I did volunteer work assisting in food service. Some weeks later I drove south to observe convocation in Washington, DC; Newport News, Virginia; and Charlotte, North Carolina. I spent senior year in the Scholar of the House program attending church and writing my thesis, supplementing the field work with readings in African American history, religion, sociology, and literature.

“I make no claim of primacy; however, had I entered Yale after the department was founded in 1968, I believe I would have received a BA in African American studies. The basis for what I did was a combination of good fortune, faculty support, flexibility in the curriculum, and being at Yale.”

Teachers, all. Lee BolmanAl ChambersEllery McLanahan, David Scharff, and Roman Weil are five classmates of whom we are aware who are actively teaching others, even during this social distancing time. Let us know if you’re teaching, and if so, the subject matter.

Being among the minority of classmates still working, 2003 DC mini-reunion host David Scharff writes: “I feel in a way I only just got good at my work. I’ve divided my career between full-time practice of psychoanalysis of adults, children, families, and couples, and teaching, writing, developing trainings, and professional travel. My wife Jill and I established the International Psychotherapy Institute (IPI) 25 years ago, a program for distance training in therapy and psychoanalysis. It has expanded to many countries and students overseas. The balance of my work week has shifted to slightly fewer patients (now about 25–30 hours) and much more teaching (10–15 hours), with as much writing as I can squeeze in.

“All of this is now on Zoom, of course. But I was ready for that: For more than 20 years we pioneered internet-based teaching in psychotherapy, doing progressively more as the internet improved. Now we are 100 percent online via Zoom, both for teaching and for therapies conducted by myself, faculty, and trainees—spread out both in the US and overseas. We draw from all over—China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Romania, Europe, and Central America. Our institute also established FreePsychotherapyBooks.org, giving away almost 2 million books worldwide in more than 200 countries and territories in the last three years, bringing many international students to us.

“Finally, I’ve been writing throughout my professional life, books and papers on modes of therapy—individual, couple, and family, many with Jill. My 32rd book, out in January, is Marriage and Family in Modern China: A Psychoanalytic Exploration. Writing is how I really learn what I think.

“Jill complains that I’m ramping up when I should be slowing down, but I’m having too much fun to stop now. I know many of you are doing enviable things in retirement—or defiantly refusing to retire. I’m looking forward to hearing from you!”

Sadly, we note the passing of these classmates: Paul Bschorr and Noel Hanf, for whom obituaries will be posted at Yale62.org in due course. New obituaries have been posted for Ted Baldwin and Spike Burns.

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