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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

E Mark Stern Remembered




In Memorium:  Mentor, Friend, “Father” Mark Stern


(Excerpted from eulogy delivered by Kirk Schneider at St. Paul’s of the Apostles Chapel, New York City)

There are so many things I could express about my dear friend, mentor, paternal inspiration, Mark.  I could express to you my sentiments about his complex, beautiful mind that wove complex, beautiful, if wildly wonderful elliptical, prose. His wondrous stories of the early days of psychoanalysis and humanistic psychology—the wild people he and Virginia knew intimately, the life of being awake, alive, adventurous,  of how we were instantly attracted to/appreciative of one another—the bond somewhat enigmatic at first yet quickly realized in each other’s shared skepticism/cynicism about our profession, the world of politics, and the world of Spirit—and yet equally, passionately I could convey our shared wonder, marvel, and indeed awe toward each of those and more, so much more.  I could share with you my admiration of how deeply Mark cared for those whom he loved,  such as his wife Virginia and his family.  I can’t count the number of times he spoke so admiringly of you and how much he relished seeing Virginia blossom in the local and regional political scene.  (He was SO proud of you, Virginia—and I saw how he so enjoyed those raucous party meetings and debates). And finally, I could share with you our delight on meeting at APA and the Div. 32 Conf some twenty plus years ago, the visits to Bare Farm (where Mark and Virginia lived)—the Hudson River painter Fredrick Church's Olana house, Bard college, Vasser College (and our radio gig on Awakening to Awe), the Rubin museum, Silvia’s Soul Food Restaurant in Harlem, Columbia, Mark’s keynote and last visit, including a wonderful accompaniment to the local SF play “Under the Lintel Tree” starring his friend and neighbor David Straithorn, being regaled by a flood of stories and memories of Mark’s kaleidoscopic  past.  But I think Mark’s vibrant, eloquent words say it all:
From an email to a close colleague on our Division listserve: 
“I guess I was born to take the pathway of the darker soul of the night.  Such seemed to be an almost basic requirement for the depth psychologists of the mid-20th century.  My plight was to listen as much to the doleful and misty of my patients and myself.  Dreams, symbols, metaphors, murky associations a sense of unconscious unity with all—these were foundational to a psychology of the soul.”
On his very personal and therapeutic experience of awe from our book Awakening to Awe:  
“Awe is in one special sense, the excitement of participation.  Translated into process, awe befriends depth psychotherapy—not by promising to remove all pain, rather by addressing (with reverence) the pained person; not by eradicating his conflict.  Instead by paying attention to the role of friction and combat as the exile’s resolve to cross the desert;  not by encouraging the positive, more by paying attention to who one is…”
~ Kirk Schneider, March 22, 2014, New York City


EHI warmly remembers Dr E Mark Stern and recognizes his extensive personal and professional contributions in advancing humanism in psychology and psychological therapies. He taught and touched many people in his career and life who shall go on to continue expanding the field of humanistic therapies. He will be greatly missed.


EHI was very honored to have the late Dr E Mark Stern as Opening Keynote Speaker for the EHI:7 Annual Conference this last November. His address is shared here as a PDF. Dr Stern also recently contributed the foreword to the 2nd Edition of The Handbook of Humanistic Psychology.

You can read a recent article by Dr Stern, Inflections, from the Society of Humanistic Psychology Newsletter (October 2009) where he "Examine(s) the vision of humanistic psychology with a brief history of Jan Smuts, Victor Frankl and Jacob Levi Moreno and their missions."

Also read about Dr Stern in the History of APA DIV 32 [PDF] by Christopher M. Aanstoos, Ilene Serlin, Thomas Greening.

E. Mark Stern was 2014 recipient for Award for Distinguished Lifetime Contributions to Humanistic Psychology given to an individual in recognition of distinguished lifetime contributions to humanistic psychology.


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