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Stoller, R.J. (1980). Ralph R. Greenson. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 61:559-560.

(1980). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 61:559-560

Ralph R. Greenson

Robert J. Stoller

Ralph R. Greenson, M.D. died of heart failure on 24 November 1979, and with that, psychoanalysis lost prematurely—he was 68—one of its most glowing, articulate, and creative clinicians.

His love affair with psychoanalysis began in medical school, when he was committing himself to medicine, which has been his father's profession. The passion never faded. Anyone can sense the power of that love in the many papers and books he published—especially his great The Technique and Practice of Psychoanalysis, and the collected papers in Explorations in Psychoanalysis. And when we read them, from the very first to the very last—with their original, mischievous, gentle, provocative, outrageous, erudite, funny, empathic, warm, forceful, inquisitive, steadfast, modest, abrasive, exhibitionistic, shy, and brave parts—then even a stranger is at least grazed by Greenson's presence.

For he could only think and write by pouring himself out, searching for the sources of mental life in the living, sentient experience. Only from that bountiful though mysterious well did he then—later, carefully, with roots in the realities of the quickened analytic treatment—turn to theory.

He was the greatest of teachers. First, of course, there were the writings, first because they shall keep speaking to us, keep asking their questions and serving as models for how we might search for the answers that can only be found in psychoanalysis. But a man so full of life could never contain himself even with the labours and sweetness of writing.

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