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Berman, E. (2010). My Way. Psychoanal. Inq., 30(2):116-132.

(2010). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 30(2):116-132

My Way

Emanuel Berman, Ph.D.


I was born in Warsaw in 1946. It took me some years to understand the significance of this time and place. My parents barely survived the war, and lost most of their families; I signified their hope for a new life. They married in 1936, so they could have had children before the war. It was lucky they did not—I think they were too busy with their professional life and political activities—because Jews having small children had a lesser chance of surviving the murderous Nazi occupation.

My father, Adolf Abraham (one of his first names became a source of embarrassment, which his parents, of course, could not foresee), was a psychologist. He received his Ph.D. in Social Psychology from the University of Warsaw, and became a school psychologist and teacher of psychology, influenced by Alfred Adler's theories. After receiving his Ph.D., he hoped to get a scholarship for postdoctoral studies in the United States, in order to come back to Warsaw and join the faculty. His professors encouraged him in this direction, but one of them gave him a tip: It will be easier to get the scholarship if he converted to Christianity. “It doesn't matter to us, of course,” he was told, “but there is a public criticism that too many university professors are Jewish, so…” My father—an atheist—gave up on the scholarship.

My mother Batia (Basia) was a librarian, trained at the University of Warsaw, and worked before the war as director of a local public library.

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