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Mendelson, M. (1969). Dr. Sarah R. Kelman. Contemp. Psychoanal., 5(2):182-182.

(1969). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 5(2):182-182

Dr. Sarah R. Kelman

Myer Mendelson, M.D.

DR. SARAH R. KELMAN, a member of the William Alanson White Psychoanalytic Society for the past fifteen years, died on February 13, 1969, following a long illness.

After working as a nurse, Sarah Kelman attended Rush Medical School, graduating in 1917. She continued her studies in bacteriology, pathology, and medicine, not entering the field of psychiatry and psychoanalysis until five years after obtaining her M.D.

She was a graduate of the New York Psychoanalytic Institute, where she had professional contact with A. A. Brill, its founder and the first psychoanalyst in the United States. In 1941 Dr. Kelman, along with Clara Thompson, Karen Horney, and others, announced their resignation from the faculty of the New York Psychoanalytic Institute, and their intention to form a new institute, in a letter published in the journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis.

Dr. Kelman engaged in private practice for many years. She was also active in teaching, treatment, and administration in mental hospital and clinic settings. She wrote a monograph on the psychiatric aspects of birth control, one of her early interests. She continued her practice into an advanced age, when illness made this no longer possible.

Dr. Kelman was a person of great independence and dignity. She was free of cant and insincerity, to the point of bluntness. She knew life in a practical, down-to-earth way, reflecting this knowledge in her personal outlook and professional approach. Beneath the surface lay a great kindliness and compassion for the weak, confused, and frightened.

She possessed an incorruptibly real quality, expressed in a distaste for the use of psychoanalytic terminology as jargon to mask ignorance, ill will, or emotional detachment. While deeply and intimately aware of the vicissitudes of the most severe psychopathology, she valued personal wholesomeness most highly, and refrained from engaging in spurious identification with neurotic or psychotic processes as a means of demonstrating empathy or closeness. Dr. Kelman treated not only typical neurotic and psychosomatic cases but also severely disturbed schizophrenic and depressed patients, toward whom she had a protective, but always respectful attitude.

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