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Kafka, J.S. (1983). Biographical Sketch. Psychoanal. Inq., 3(1):173-175.

(1983). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 3(1):173-175

Biographical Sketch Related Papers

John S Kafka, M.D.

Ping-nie pao came to chestnut lodge two months after I started to work there in the summer of 1957. His office was across the hall from mine. We “shared” our psychoanalyst: Winifred Whitman was his and my second analyst, and we were classmates in the Washington Psychoanalytic Institute. For some years after I left Chestnut Lodge in 1967, we saw each other less frequently, but whenever we did see each other, a strikingly undefended directness—bluntness is a better word—immediately characterized our exchanges.

For me this demanding bluntness was closely linked to Ping's apparent linguistic awkwardness in his spoken English. Some colleagues found it hard to understand him, and some wondered why his linguistic skill did not improve more rapidly. I like to think that the latter was because his speech, marked by an absence of modifying and qualifying words, suited him and his pragmatism perfectly. His spoken communications often resembled the line of an artist who has looked, felt, and thought a long time before putting brush to paper. Ping's verbal calligraphic strokes were frequently made in connection with practical, mundane matters. When he saw that one of these statements seemed amusing to a listener, a brief look of surprise would cross his face, followed by a subdued smile, which gradually grew broader as he realized why his statement, because of its unexpected condensation, struck his listener as funny. Ping was pragmatic enough, however, to make sure that his writing style was more conventional.

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