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Shoenfeld, D.D. (1955). Clarence P. Oberndorf, M.D. 1882–1954. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 36:210-213.

(1955). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 36:210-213

Clarence P. Oberndorf, M.D. 1882–1954

Dudley D. Shoenfeld

With the death of Dr. Clarence P. Oberndorf in New York City on 30 May, 1954, psychiatry and psycho-analysis lost one of their most esteemed pioneers. For almost fifty years he was in the forefront of the progressive development of psycho-analysis in Europe and the United States, and his active participation continued until the time of his death.

Obey, as he was affectionately called by his many colleagues and friends, was born in New York City on 16 February, 1882. His family lived in the small village of Selma, Alabama, but because of the difficulties his mother had experienced in five previous pregnancies, it was thought advisable for her to be under the care of an obstetrician in New York City. Her labour at this birth, however, was no less arduous than at the previous ones. As soon as she was able to travel, she returned to Selma, Alabama, with her infant. In a short autobiography, Obey states that he was extremely ill during the first years of his life and that he survived only because of the extreme devotion of his Negro wet nurse and the conscientious medical care which he received from the small-town doctor.

Obey attended the small local school from the year he was six until he was eleven. At that time his father died and the family moved to New York City, where Obey again entered a State school. In retrospect, he considered himself fortunate in not having been sent to a private school, for he felt that the competition and contact with people from all walks of life gave him a better foundation and preparation for his future profession than the narrow, restricted existence of Southern village life or a cloistered private school could possibly have contributed.

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