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Benveniste, D. (2008). Joseph L. Henderson in Memoriam (1903-2007) Initiation, Culture, and Consciousness. Fort Da, 14(2):55-69.

(2008). Fort Da, 14(2):55-69

Joseph L. Henderson in Memoriam (1903-2007) Initiation, Culture, and Consciousness

Daniel Benveniste, Ph.D.

Last November, the Bay Area lost a great treasure when Joseph L. Henderson, M.D., died. The following is a biographical sketch, a description of some of his major contributions, and a summary of a lecture he gave on “Initiation,” a topic close to his heart.

Joseph L. Henderson, born in Elko, Nevada, in 1903, grew up in the Wild West surrounded by cowboys and Indians. His father was a banker. After high school, Joe went East and graduated from Princeton University in 1927 with a Bachelor's degree in French Literature and then moved to the San Francisco Bay Area where he worked for a time as a drama critic and book reviewer. While in the Bay Area he became interested in Jungian psychology and was analyzed by Dr. Elizabeth Whitney and Godwin “Peter” Baynes, Jung's assistant in Zurich who was then on a year's sabbatical in Northern California.

In 1929 Henderson went to Zurich, Switzerland, where he began his analysis with Jung and participated in Jung's seminars. During the next decade he studied medicine in London and during vacations continued his analysis and training with Jung. In 1934 he married Helena Cornford, a dancer and choreographer who was also a great-granddaughter of Charles Darwin. In 1936 their daughter Elizabeth was born. In 1938, shortly before World War II, Henderson completed his analytic training, his medical training, and his analysis with Jung. He went to New York for a time and then returned to the Bay Area in 1941. He set up a private practice and joined forces with other Bay Area Jungians in establishing what eventually came to be the C.G. Jung Institute of San Francisco. During the war, Henderson also worked at the famed Veterans Rehabilitation Clinic, across the street from Mt. Zion Hospital, along with Jacob Kasanin, Joseph Wheelwright, Emanuel Windholz, Erik H. Erikson, and others.


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