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Levenson, E. (2000). The Hero and The Hassid: A Commentary On The Wolstein-Hirsch Interview. Contemp. Psychoanal., 36(2):233-239.

(2000). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 36(2):233-239

The Hero and The Hassid: A Commentary On The Wolstein-Hirsch Interview

Edgar Levenson, M.D.

In order to see a fish

one must watch the water

S. Suzuki, 1970

I Am Very Pleased to have the opportunity to comment on this post-humously published interview. It is a stark reminder of what a brilliant, incisive intellect Ben Wolstein was, and what a loss his death is to the interpersonal tradition and psychoanalysis at large.

Wolstein and I were candidates together at the William Alanson White Institute, and I must confess that I am puzzled by his reference to Clara Thompson as the only influence bearing on him in those days (the early fifties). Those were heady times at White. Although Sullivan had died in 1949, he was still a seminal influence, and Erich Fromm, Fromm-Reichman, Martin Buber, Shunryu Suzuki, Rollo May (invoking existential psychoanalysis and Tillich's theology), were all major influences on us. I also know that he was strongly influenced by Edward Tauber, both as a student in his classes and in more personal contacts. Moreover, Erwin Singer and I were in joint supervision with Clara Thompson for two years, and although she was an extremely pragmatic and perceptive supervisor, democratic and open to dissent, she was also, in our experience of her in professional and personal contacts, a rather reserved New England lady, not at all revealing of herself. From Hirsch's report, his analysis sounds more like Wolstein teaching Wolstein than Thompson analyzing Wolstein.

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