Thursday, October 27, 2011

Commemorating Mel Marshak: 1926-2010

This post commemorates the life of Dr. Mel Marshak who died in her home in Thousand Palms, California on October 23rd, 2010.  Marshak grew up in California, completing her undergraduate studies in psychology at San Francisco State University in 1951. Shortly thereafter she moved to London where she completed a Ph.D. in clinical psychology in 1956 and medical school in 1965, both at London University. She completed her analytic training with the Society of Analytical Psychology (SAP) in 1960 and residency training in neurology in 1966. Mel was active in the SAP as a training analyst and instructor from 1961 to 1981 as well as professional activities with the British Association of Psychotherapists from 1979 to 1981. During this time she also held consulting positions with a number of London hospitals and clinics, including the Hounslow Child Guidance Center, Woodberry Down Child Guidance Center, Hampstead Child Guidance Center (The Anna Freud Centre), and the Tavistock Clinic. She was a founding member of the Jung/Freud Clinical Group in London and later, in the USA, formed the Independent Society of Analytical Psychology, a non-affiliated inter-disciplinary psychoanalytic study group.

Upon returning to California in 1982 she became active in a number of Jungian and psychoanalytic programs in the USA, including the Psychoanalytic Institute of Northern California, the C.G. Jung Institutes of San Francisco and Los Angeles, the C.G. Jung Institute of Pittsburgh, and was on the faculty of the Memphis Jungian Seminar (a training affiliate of the Inter-Regional Society of Jungian Analysts) for over a decade.

Mel possessed a keen sense of humor, an ability to play within the analytic material, and she often provided an embodied sense of how the analyst’s love could impact the analytic situation. Although Dr. Marshak published over thirty articles during the course of her career, her greatest strength was in her role as a supportive, challenging, and stimulating instructor and supervisor. She was extremely devoted to the analytic process and effectively transmitted that passion to her students. Dr. Marshak continued tosupervise until the last weeks of her life. Mel also had strong, diverse interests in art, poetry, music and literature, and during one period of her life was a professional jazz drummer. She was endowed with a great intellect, arigorous analytic attitude,and a richness of spirit rivaled by few.  She is deeply missed by those whose lives she influenced.

"Psychoanalysis might now be seen as a combination of two perspectives, intrapsychic and intersubjective. The term 'intrapsychic' needs very little comment in that it is all we mean by internal objects and part objects. Intersubjective does not mean interpersonal, or is it interactive or interaction. Intersubjective means that two subjects relate, keeping in mind that there is a subject only for another subject. In this formulation the significance of intersubjectivity lies in intentionality. . . .'What do you want from me?' The question cannot be posed unless each of us considers our own intrapsychic world, our previous history, the organisation of our individual thoughts, desires, deeds, volitions, etc. And while each addresses the individual intrapsychic world in order to relate intersubjectively, each individual response will have an indirect and unknown effect, not only on the other's subjectivity, but also - though in a manner totally unknown - on their own intrapsychic world, inducing other intersubjective effects. . . .Intersubjectivity postulates that the other must be recognised as another subject in order for the self to experience fully his or her own subjectivity in the other's presence. The intersubjective theory constrasts with the logic of subject and object which has been predominant in philosophy and science in the western world. The intersubjective dimension of the analytic relationship aims to change the subject-object to: 'where objects were, subjects must be'."

Mel Marshak (1998) The Intersubjective Nature of Analysis, in Ian Alister and Christopher Hauke (Eds.) Contemporary Jungian Analysis: Post-Jungian Perspectives from the Society of Analytical Psychology, Routledge: London.

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