STANLEY HALL KING, Ph. D.
August 3, 1921‑March 30, 1989 A LIFE OF SUBSTANCE
as told to Thalia Drake Jillson
These interviews were taped on May 7, 1988 and May 14, 1988, in anticipation of a course in Life Review. As it transpired, only a brief oral report on them was required, and indeed, the second hour of taping has just now been transcribed. We both knew, even at that time, that he was
in the terminal stages of cancer, and I have proceeded with this, at times, interminable transcription as a labor of love for a good friend, and one whose life merits recording.
His father was born in England, came to the states in his late teens, married a woman from Nova Scotia who died in the influenza epidemic just after the First World War after bearing one son, and he subsequently married her sister, Hilda, who was the mother of Stanley and another son. Stanley’s father was an ordained minister with a Doctoratein Psychology, and became Dean and then President of Olivet College in Michigan. Both are now deceased.
I have known Stanley for fifty years. He married my college roommate, Jane, for whom I have a special affinity, for in addition to being my best friend, she was born on the same day in the same year as I was, December 9, 1919. He ran track at Tufts with my husband, Otis, the four of us double dated during those years at Tufts, and after the war and a geographical lapse, we resumed our friendship in 1967 by having Summer homes adjacent on Sebago Lake, next to my sister, Sylvia’s. There all our children have grown up together in a wonderful compound as extended family.
Besides Jane, he leaves three daughters and a son, in age from early thirties to early forties, one grandson, and twin granddaughters. I shall let his story unfold in his own words.
But after our parting words of, “We can always come back to it,” of course we never did. Stanley and Jane marked their forty‑fifth wedding anniversary, their last, at a gala celebration at the Andover Inn on May 22, 1988, a week after our conversations. We all prayed that summer that he would be well enough to give his last daughter in marriage outdoors on Cub Point at his beloved Sebago Lake summer home. He made it. But the ensuing months were steadily downhill. and he was not up to the traditional small New Year’s Eve Dinner with my sister, Sylvia, and me, although he insisted that Jane prepare a New Year’s Day brunch for the four of us at their home in Lexington, Mass., as he was at his best at that time of day.
It was suggested by my Professor that I try to get a follow‑up on these interviews, but this proved to be impossible. This spring, despite the hormonal treatment, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy, his condition became terminal, with widespread metastasises to the bones, so that
he could no longer walk, was paralyzed on the right side of his body, and was hospitalized at Dana Farber Cancer Institute around the end of February. On March 5th he phoned me and my sister Sylvia separately, dialed by Jane because of his paralysis, to tell us that no more therapy was possible, and that he and Jane had reached a decision that no heroic measures or life‑support systems were to be instituted, that he was weary of the struggle, and in peaceful acceptance of the knowledge that he was ready to depart.
He died in the afternoon of March 30th, 1989, in the presence of his wife, Jane and my sister, Sylvia, a nursing professor, who was lending Jane moral support. His body was cremated, and all of us in his extended family, along with many family members, colleagues, patients, former students, representatives of the preparatory schools of which he had been Trustee, and many friends, gathered at the Harvard Memorial Chapel in the Harvard Yard, on April 3, 1989, to express our respect and love. Thus, it is not his death that we are memorializing here, but his life.
During these two hours of interviews with a trained Clinical Psychologist who was facing his own death, it was unnecessary for the interviewer to guide his narrative to any great degree. He had considered at length the meaning of his life, the path he had taken, and the development of his own themes. Like many persons of accomplishment, and despite these, he had struggled for many years with his own self‑esteem and self‑confidence, hampered by his shyness and the inhibitions fostered by forcing himself into his early theological years, always searching for a reaffirmation of his worth. He had many achievements, but had difficulty in accepting this fact until late in his life.
Because both his father and his older brother were in the ministry, and later, his nephew, he felt that that vocation was expected of him, and he dutifully accepted it, although he never had a calling in that direction. During the years as a Chaplain at the Great Lakes Naval Hospital and then on an attack transport based in San Francisco, he was exposed to the profession of surgery, and freely admitted, later, as we all agreed, that he was in some ways a frustrated doctor.
That dissatisfaction intensified upon his return to civilian life and the pastorate of a church in Ipswich, Massachusetts, both because he found that intellectually speaking he could not believe what he was preaching, and also because the social life of the ministry was too constraining, inhibiting the growth of his more worldly side and his other talents. Deterred from going into medicine by his growing young family and a lack of preparation in the sciences, he pursued a doctorate in Psychology at Harvard, as his second calling. He epitomized the trend, even more common today, of embracing several career changes over his lifetime, the subsequent ones being in various phases of his profession, i.e., research, teaching, clinical practice, and founder and Director of two Counseling Institutes for independent school Counselors, some of these concurrently.
Because of his shyness, he deprecated his ability to form close friendships. In reality, he had a gift for friendship. He and my husband enjoyed many joint fishing expeditions and deep discussions, and we all shared many extended family dinners at our adjacent homes on Sebago. Considering his departure from the Church, he overwhelmed me when he hesitantly asked if he might say the committal prayer at Otis’ grave side. a practice he had foregone for many years, saying that only for Otis would he do this. He also maintained strong bonds with several of his
professional colleagues, and with several mentors over the years.
Stanley certainly achieved Erickson’s intimacy versus isolation, most particularly with his wife, Jane, but also in the close relationships with his fellow officers during his naval term, and continuing through the ensuing years with his colleagues, and his family. In generativity he excelled, building a lifetime of service in his profession. He was an important man, not merely in accomplishments, but in his everlasting influence on the lives of those whom he touched, his family, his extended family, his friends, his patients, and his students.
In his later years and in his retirement, I believe he achieved ego integrity, finally accepting himself as he was, with a deep understanding of what that entailed, as is demonstrated in this autobiography. Despite his courage in dealing with his terminal illness and in acceptance of his own mortality, he never, achieved transcendence. But his life epitomized Thornton Wilder’s words, “There is a land of the living and a land of the dead, and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning.”
STANLEY HALL KING, Ph.D.
as told to Thalia Drake Jillson
Memories of early childhood are fairly sparse. There are bits and pieces of places where we lived. Probably my earliest memories are of a house on top of a hill. If I were to go back today, I am sure it would probably be a rise instead of a hill. This was in Olivet, Michigan, it was known as the President’s house, the President of the College where my father worked, and at that point he wasn’t President‑‑he became so later. But we did live there and I can remember however the rooms in the house and the fact that there was a garage and a chicken yard out back. It seemed like a large house, but I was very small so it probably wasn’t as large as I thought, but I can seem to recall a large lawn and a curving driveway going up to it. He became President later‑ on between about ages ten and fourteen for me, and we left there when I was about fourteen . We lived in that house on two different occasions as I can recall, I think, I’m not sure. As a matter of fact to get the sequence, we went from that house which is where I was born to another house and to a third house I think back to the President’s House so‑called, and finally to a fourth house in this little town of 350 or 400 people. (Q. Did you move out of town in the meantime?) No, it was just that we were right there and I don’t know the reason for all the moves, really. I don’t know whether we rented or whether this one particular house was furnished by the college. (Q. Was he teaching all this time? No, he was teaching and then the last four years we were there he was President. He taught Philosophy and Psychology and was Dean of the College. That’s what he went out there to be. I can remember my room in that house quite clearly, but I don’t remember much about the people. Maybe my earliest memory was of my older brother having a crystal radio set. I perhaps was five or six at the time, I’m not quite sure. I can’t put a date on it.
But by and large the memories were pleasant ones, memories of playing with other kids but a couple of boys across the street ganged up on me at times. They were brothers: one was older and one was about my age. I think it was a fairly happy childhood, but not a childhood where I felt that I was strong and greatly in control. I was not large, I was more on the timid side I think in terms of personality. And I say that because it’s interesting because it took me a long time in my life to get to the point where I think I did feel very much in charge‑‑‑ probably not until well into mid‑life, but in those early years, I can talk about it now, the thing that comes to mind is something of a kind of timidity. (Q. Tell me, I have a recollection that your father was in the ministry.) He was in the ministry, as well as being Dean of the College, he was an ordained Methodist minister, as well as having his doctorate in Psychology from Clark. So while he was there he taught, and then occasionally on Sundays he would go to churches that had no ministers, in between ministers, called supply preaching. (Q: Well, now tell me about the rest of the family—your mother … ) My mother was some ten or fifteen years younger‑‑I don’t know exactly. She was my father’s second wife. His first wife was the mother of my older brother and died during the flu epidemic just after the First World War, but my father was in the United States having gotten there from England via Nova Scotia having spent some time in Nova Scotia‑‑his first wife was from there and he married her there. He was born in England, and came to the United States when he was in his late teens‑‑‑ around nineteen. He had a son when his first wife died, perhaps two or three years old, and his first wife’s sister came over to keep house for him, and at that time he was pastor of a church, and I think it was in a place in Massachusetts called Shrewsbury. Anyway, my mother, the sister of his first wife, kept house for him, and apparently they hit it off and were married a year later or whatever.
And he must have had a church and been going to graduate school at the same time, because he got his degree around 1919 or 20, and then his first job after that was to go to Olivet to teach philosophy and psychology. And I was born then after they had been in Olivet about a year.
(Q. Tell me, besides your older brother, did you have any other siblings?) My younger brother was born when I was about thirteen years old, a year or two before we left
Olivet to go back East. So, in essence, when I was growing up I felt I was an only child; my older brother was enough older so that we didn’t do too much together. (Q. How much older was he?) He’s eleven years older. (Q: Your younger brother was thirteen years younger‑‑that’s quite a span.
And when your father got through being Dean and President, what happened then?) There was a change in the college. Some new trustees came in and changed, not the structure of the college so much, I guess, but they felt that a new administration of some kind was in order and he wasn’t fired but he wasn’t comfortable under the new trustees so he left and came back to Lexington and was there for a year while he was looking for a job and taking courses at Harvard and so forth ‑‑ I don’t know whether, he took courses or lectured‑‑and from there we went to Lowell where he became the pastor of the Congregational Church. My junior year of high school was in Lexington, my senior year in Lowell. And then from there I went to Tufts College, where I met you in my
freshman year. (Q: And as I remember, you were a theologue there?) That’s correct. (Q: Did you have a calling in that direction, or did you feel that it was expected of you?) I felt that it was expected of me. I never felt that I had a calling. I always looked for it. I knew that you were supposed to, according to the kind of background my father came from. I suspect he felt that he had a calling, but I never did. I felt good about what I was going to do. I was a theologue there, and my senior year it was Pearl Harbor, so I went directly from Tufts to Harvard Divinity School and went through Harvard Divinity School in two and a half rather than three years. I went to Divinity School in the fall of 1942 and gave it two and a half years and went directly from Harvard before Christmas of 1942 (?) into the Navy as a chaplain. (Q: Where did you get to go?) The winter until March was spent at William and Mary College in Williamsburg for training, Chaplain School, so‑called. Jane came down for part of the time, and while I was there for a while I was at one base for a week and another base for a week
(Q: Anyway, you two were married in ’43, that was while you were in Theological School?) That’s correct. and after we were married, we were married on May 22nd, we spent the summer living in Jane’s apartment on Sumner Road in Cambridge while I was looking for a job. And in the fall I became the pastor of the Congregational Church in Middleton and stayed there for a year and a half until I went into the Navy.
(Q: We skipped over the college and the theological years pretty fast. I know some of the things that happened there because we knew you, double‑dated … ) Well, it’s interesting in thinking about it, in many ways there were two sides to me then, in retrospect. There was the theological side, so‑called. I use that term because as I look back on it, it doesn’t seem to me it was the true or important side of me, but I was quite conscious of it and felt very strongly about it, but the other side of me, the non‑‑theological, perhaps more worldly side, I don’t know how you would phrase it, was the one that was on the track team, that wrote for the college newspaper, did things like that, and was the campaign manager for a friend of ours, Walter Hall. when he ran for Mayor of Tufts. These were the kinds of things that many of the theological Students, or theologies, did not do. (Q: I was going to say, do you think that being a theological student cramped your development or changed the way you … ) Yes, I do think that it reinforced a pattern which was in place, and I have often wondered what it would have been like if I had not been in that track, if I had joined a fraternity. It never entered my mind to join a fraternity. I think it would have been very different. I never had a drink of alcohol until I was pretty much into my senior year. My father had grown up with a family where his father drank too much‑‑my father thought he became an alcoholic‑‑whether he did or not, I don’t know, but that is one of the major reasons that my father left England, he wanted to get away from all of that background. And it was associated with a religious experience for him, but the upshot of it was that being reared as a Methodist, we never had a Sunday paper, I never knew how to play cards, there was no alcohol in the house, tobacco smoking was looked down upon. And I continued sort of this side of fairly conservative, somebody that was strict socially, and yet there was the other, side that was
more worldly, but in those days quite subdued, I think. That didn’t really change until after the War. (PAUSE)
(Q. Can we pick up where we left off?) Yeah, we were talking about the two sides, and it occurred to me as we were listening to the excerpts, I did take up pipe smoking by the time I left Tufts, and I don’t remember when I started that, but I do remember‑‑I bring this up because it will lead to an incident where the first kind of open conflict or division of attitude between me and my father occurred. Which was in Divinity School. I lived in Divinity Hall, so‑called, at Harvard, and decided that my father really should know that I smoked‑‑that I shouldn’t hide that, that I felt badly about it‑‑so I left my pipe rack out visible when he came to visit. He was quite shocked and upset about it, but at least he knew about it, and subsequently it was something that we never really discussed. He didn’t berate me for it, although he did say at the time he was terribly disappointed. But it was, I think, an example of this other side that I have talked about that was beginning to become more apparent.
I think I was in some ways aware during those days questioning in my own mind whether the ministry was really right for me, but anyway, while we were living in Middleton. and as I came toward the end of my theological Studies at Harvard, I was ordained, and I recall, which will now point to another facet of my personality, perhaps,‑‑the way it worked in the Congregational Church, an Ordination Council would be called, or convened I guess is the right word, consisting of clergymen in neighboring Congregational parishes, or what was called an Association, in a geographical area, and they convened and I read a paper on my beliefs and then was questioned, and recall that the questions were very excessive, and when it was over, one of the Trustees of the church, a man whom I admired very much, and who had served me beer when we had gone to his house and take me out for dinner and things like that, came up to me and expressed some feelings about the intensity of the questioning that had gone on and very great pleasure at the skill with which I had handled it. I bring this up because I think this spoke to the side of me which later became very much apparent, which was more the scholar, and the ability to think on my feet, and the ability to put things cogently in verbal ways as well as later on in written form.
(Q: Now, You were brought up as a Methodist…) Well, actually as a Congregationalist‑‑I should have said my father was brought up as a Methodist, but it carried over into his work as a Congregationalist. (Q: But he was with the Congregational Church in this country?) Yes. (Q: I wondered where the transition came in.) The transition came before Olivet .
(Q: And so we got to the Navy.) Okay, the Navy was a very interesting experience. When I graduated from Chaplain School, the last day we were given orders for our assignment, and I very much wanted to be aboard ship, didn’t get it, was assigned to the Great Lakes Naval Hospital. It was a great disappointment to me. It turned out, I think, to be one of the best experiences of my life. Jane and I went out together, secured a room in a house in Lake Bluff, where there were three other rooms occupied by Navy couples. The man and wife who owned this place lived in the attic and provided kitchen privileges for married Navy Couples, and it was a lovely old house, very comfortable. They were delightful people‑‑‑‑he was an engineer who specialized in erosion control in building certain kinds of piers that would go out into the lake to keep the waves from washing away the sand, the fragile sand barrier‑ on the lakes. He also was very much interested in the association between sun spot activities and weather patterns, and had gone back to old material to find out about the water level of the Nile in ancient Egypt and had correlated this with sun spot activity and had found a positive correlation. And he was a golfer and taught me how to play golf.
A couple of experiences there stand out. Jane and I became very friendly with a couple. The husband was a Navy Medical Officer, an Internist. and he was at the Naval Hospital as a patient‑‑‑‑‑he had been there, I believe he was coming down with an ulcer or something, so was in rehabilitation. We used to do a great deal with them. And one day I was to play golf with the host, the man who owned the house at the center, and the Medical Officer, and I was delayed in
getting away from the Base, and I got home and Jane met me at the train station with the news that my friend the Medical Officer had been killed on the golf course by a sudden stroke of lightning that came out of nowhere. And these memories are interesting coming back. They haven’t been buried, but I haven’t thought about them in a long time. I remember going to someplace, I think it was in Wisconsin, where the funeral was held, and I conducted the funeral for him. And that was the first time I think in my life that I had come close to the possibility of my own mortality. I would have been on the golf course except for being delayed, and the older man who owned the house was knocked down, but somehow this bolt hit my friend and killed him.
There was that side. There was a very pleasant social life. We had no car, of course. We were quite friendly with another Chaplain and his wife, both from Tennessee, who did have a car. They were lovely people and we enjoyed their company, and the company of the other Navy officers at the house, and we enjoyed the social life on the Base. The most interesting thing from my point of view was not the fact that I was a Chaplain there‑‑that was a job I think. But I got to know, first of all, a surgeon on the acute surgical service. I don’t know how this came about, but in retrospect I think it was in part because of my interest, and got to know him, and I would visit patients on his ward. I was assigned to the acute surgical wards‑‑‑I guess that’s how it came about.
When I expressed interest in it, he offered to have me come and watch him operate. This is one of the most vivid memories of my life. I wanted very much to do it, so I went to the operating room which was in a, not a Quonset Hut, but the buildings were typical Navy structure of the time, I think, one story long buildings and the operating suite was in there. And the nurse provided me with a gown and mask, and I stood behind him and watched him work, and when he
made the first incision and the blood started to come up, I could feel it coming up from my toes, and got weak in the knees, realized that if I stood there any longer I was going to faint. I pushed open the doors of the operating room into the hallway and walked down the hallway towards the entrance where I could get outdoors and it seemed as though the floor was actually moving, and I managed to get outside and sit down, shortly after which a nurse with a large smile and a cup of water appeared. She gave me the cup of water and I got myself back together, and returned to the operating room just as he reached the peritoneum, the abdominal cavity, and watched the rest of the operation with great fascination. I went back a few days later, a few days to a week, and watched him do a hernia operation. I had the same experience, only less intense, but from then on, as it were, the sight of blood did not bother me. (Q: Did you have to leave the second time?) As I remember, I left the second time, but for a shorter period. (Q: That’s interesting, because we always said you should have been a doctor probably, that you were a frustrated doctor in some ways.) Well, I think that I probably was. As I look back on it, making friends with the surgeon probably from an unconscious point of view was representing that‑‑‑well, I just think it was part of the same trend. We became friendly with another Navy couple, a surgeon and his wife, who had both attended Olivet College, and my father had performed the marriage ceremony. He was a thoracic surgeon and I watched him operate, I can remember on one occasion, and he was collapsing a lung, and in those days the way they did it was to take out ribs, to do what was called a thoracoplasty. And he had me gowned and so forth, and arranged to have them put a box on the floor behind him so that I could stand up and look down at probably no more than six feet from the site of the operation. It was very bloody, of course, a great deal of blood. Then, the fact that he was using heavy tools to cut the ribs with and then take them out didn’t bother me at all. By then I was, acclimated is the word, and I found it absolutely fascinating. One of the things I did that maybe was a point, that was another side of me, in my rounds on the acute surgical ward, I spent a fair amount of time getting to know the aides, the orderlies, and the nurses, and so forth. Many of the patients were on antibiotics, in particular penicillin, which was given in those days by injection, and I got, I don’t know how this came about exactly, but I know I was very centrally involved, one of the enlisted men who was kind of an artist, and several of us got together and the result was an 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper that was kind of a citation that had to do with the fact that everybody was getting penicillin injections for a long time and could be given this citation about being stuck in the butt. I recall that it was signed by Ream de Duff, Rear Admiral. We had this thing printed up, and when I would see a new patient on the ward who had been getting a lot of penicillin injections or something like that, and was having a rather bad time, we would make a presentation to him and have a little kind of a ceremony.
Again, there are several things that come up as I am looking back on my career and later on they are important. One is the interesting involvement with sort of the every day lives of the people and the pain that they were going through, but also with the various strata of the care givers here, not just the Surgeons that I knew very well, and as a matter of fact I didn’t get so involved with the nurses‑‑it was more what would be in the Navy the corpsmen and other enlisted personnel. I paid attention to them and I got to thinking about this later on when I was in the Health Services at Harvard. I was the only person on the Mental Health Services that spent a great deal of time with the Nurse Practitioners and the other people, just because I enjoyed them and was interested in what they did. But it was a side to me that came out then. These are the things that I remember most about the Great Lakes experience, much less what I did as a Chaplain, so it is clear that a division was now already under way in my interest as far as occupation was concerned. I was absolutely fascinated by medicine.
By this point I had gotten to the point where I would drink alcohol occasionally, never a great deal, but I never had told my father, or my mother, that I took it. And Jane became pregnant while we were there, and I was then‑‑I got there in March and I can’t remember exactly how long, but I think we were there about a year‑‑‑got there in the spring and summer and sometime the next winter I think I got orders transferring me to a ship on the West Coast. So Jane and I took the train back to New England when she was about seven months pregnant, with the idea that she would have to be at home to have the baby, and then I took a train to the West Coast. Another memory comes in here which I think maybe is this non‑theological side of me. Somewhere along the line, we learned to play bridge when we were at Great Lakes with the other Navy couple‑‑‑‑‑we played a lot of bridge, and got to enjoy it, both of us. On the train to the West Coast when I was going out to the ship, I fell in with some other officers who were aboard, and we played bridge all the two or three days we were going out, a kind of a non‑stop bridge game. It was not played for money or anything else, but just for fun. I don’t remember where we ate‑‑whether there was a dining car‑‑I guess there must have been a dining car on the train, there probably was‑‑but I do remember playing bridge.
(Q: Where was Jane?) Jane was in New Hampshire. She went back to her parents and stayed there, and had the baby there, and then again, the timing. We must have gone back to New Hampshire in November, the baby was born on March 12th, but I do know that I had Christmas in San Francisco, on my own, so we must have gone back to New Hampshire perhaps in November. and as I recall the doctor who saw her at the Naval Hospital urged us to do her traveling before
she got too far along in her pregnancy. (Q: What year was this?) 1944. No, it must have been the fall of 43‑‑‑no the war was over in 46‑‑it must have been the fall of 44, or 45, I’m not sure. I’m a little hazy, but if the war was over in 46, this would have been the fall of 45, then. Otis was in the South Pacific at that time. (Q: Yes, he was there, let’s see, he came back in 45, no, the first part of 46, because Cheryl was born in 45, and he picked her up when she was five months old, so he mame back in the spring of 46. VJ Day was August of 45, was that right?) I think so. So then I Must have gone to San Francisco at the end of 44 because VJ Day occurred when I was out there. I do remember having Christmas alone in the BOQ in our rented hotel in San Francisco. I guess I was not assigned to a ship, but was assigned to the Chaplain’s Office in San Francisco, and spent the winter doing that, and then finally sometime in the Spring before the baby was born, I was assigned to an attack‑ transport which was at that point stationed in the harbor in San Francisco, and then going back and forth to bring some troops home, so I guess the VJ day must have happened before I went aboard that ship, because the war was over, actually, when I went aboard the ship. And I replaced a Chaplain, a Catholic Chaplain, that had done his job quite well but apparently had not been a terribly friendly kind of person.
And I was assigned on the ship, as far as living quarters, to share a stateroom with the chief Medical Officer, which turned out to be fortuitous. A very nice man who had completed, I think, only his internship, but was very much committed to medicine and was a delightful guy, loved to play bridge, and certainly helped me along as far as the worldly part of me was concerned, at that point. And life aboard ship was an interesting one. My office, the Chaplain’s Office, was right next to Sick Bay, so I spent a lot of time in Sick Bay, and in terms of my interest in medicine, when he would have patients in Sick Bay, too too many patients with venereal disease, getting injections of penicillin, I would drop by, and sometimes actually measure out the penicillin into the hypodermic syringe and do the injection. At one time a crewman was thrown across the deck when a winch slipped and had his scalp opened up, and I held his head while the doctor shaved it off and sewed it up, and then another time he had an appendectomy to do, so I got up and watched, and then subsequently to that, he had another patient with all the symptoms of appendicitis, and decided to do it. He could have shipped him ashore, as we were
still in the Harbor at San Francisco, but I think he wanted the experience. It turned out later that he went back and did a residency in surgery, and spent his life being a surgeon.
So, the upshot was that we now had a second Medical Officer aboard and I don’t know whether I asked or he offered, but anyway the upshot was that I was the junior assistant surgeon in this operation. He had by then taught me to scrub, So I scrubbed and gowned and stood next to him at the operating table, with the junior medical officer across the table. What it amounted to was holding the incision open with refractors. Several things come out of this, interestingly enough. He never found the appendix. He had, it seemed, the word that comes to mind is yards of intestine out‑‑he would pull yards of intestine out and stuff it back in, and he went to the place where theoretically speaking the appendix was supposed to be, and it wasn’t there, and there was no indication from scar tissue or scar on the abdomen that he had ever had an operation. Never found the appendix. So we sewed him back up, put him in Sick Bay, and arranged to get him transferred the next day or so to a hospital an shore, and after it was all over, he was quite upset, and afraid that he had made a medical error. I remember going up to the stateroom and he had stopped on the way and gotten some medicinal brandy from Sick Bay, and I had Communion wine that was of course alcoholic, and we put the two together and went up and got the Junior assistant Surgeon and we all had a drink. Which is forbidden on Navy ships, but we did anyway. But again it reinforced my fascination with medicine, and it turned out that here was another person that I liked very much and who accepted me and my interest and made it possible for me to follow it out.
One other interesting thing‑‑this is the Chaplain side. One of the chief petty officers aboard, and I knew the crew pretty well, I would have a meal occasionally in the chiefs’ mess, and the chiefs aboard the ship probably made better than anybody else‑‑they had their own mess, the enlisted men had their mess, arid the officers in the wardroom had theirs. We played a lot of bridge. One of the chiefs while we were anchored was to get married and wanted it done aboard ship, and the captain was quite delighted. Everybody in the crew got together. It was a beautiful sunny day, and the crew rigged the ship with signal flags and so forth, and we had the wedding ceremony on our hatch cover‑ just forward of the bridge, and all of the crew gathered around. I think it was on a Sunday, and I think we had a Church service, and I think there was Communion, followed by the wedding ceremony. I think it represented the extent to which at that point I sort of became involved with the crew, officers and enlisted men alike, became a part of the life of the ship, as it were. When I was detached‑‑‑the ship finally sailed for Pearl Harbor on the way back to Japan to get another load of troops‑‑by that point people were accumulating points to be discharged from the service or going into the inactive reserve‑‑so I finally left the ship at Pearl Harbor to come home, and out of the navy. When I went into the Captain’s cabin to have my orders endorsed, to leave the ship, I recall his looking at the orders, Lt. j.g. Stanley King to ship out ordered to so‑‑and‑so, and he made an insert and put in “with regret”, which ordinarily commanding officers did not do, but I think it did represent the kind of thing which had happened there from experience.
(Q: Now, did you see Jane in any of these months that you were aboard ship?) No, Jane was home and I didn’t see her until the following June. Susan, our first one was born in February and I didn’t get home until June. But I was aboard ship when the baby was born, and I remember getting a box of cigars from the ship’s store and passing them out to everybody. I smoked a pipe in those days, and enjoyed a cigar. One other thing about me that’s kind of interesting, a small item perhaps, but we were in Pearl Harbor for a few days before I left the ship, and it had been a place where the Captain of the ship had had some very happy times, and he had the ship’s jeep put ashore one day, and he took the jeep with the executive officer, the medical officer, and myself, and we spent the day touring the island of Oahu, and swimming at an Officer’s Club, and it was just a delightful wonderful time, but the fact of who was included on a trip like that was interesting. Later, this is something I went over with Otis, I got a bad facial sunburn because we sat right out in the sun most of the day, and I left the ship shortly afterward to come back home and I came back on a small boat, Landing Craft, Infantry, 120 feet long, or something, quite flat‑‑bottomed, so it was quite a trip, but after we had been at sea a few days I developed a whole face full of Herpes Simplex. And in retrospect, I now know that it came from the sunburn, but didn’t know it, of course, at the time. (Q: You had never had it before?) Yes, I had, I had it as a kid‑‑‑my parents referred to it as “cold sores”, and they used to treat it with salve, salve that you buy in the drug store called “Resinol”, so I grew up with the smell of Resinol, as I got herpes‑‑I didn’t know it was herpes, I knew it as cold sores‑‑‑‑and it was only later on that I found out what it was‑‑‑I think it was only after we were back together seeing you people that I found out that it was a herpes simplex virus.
(Q: Do you remember anything else about war times?) You know, I’ve put a lot of emphasis here on interest in medicine, which came about because of the tour of duty at the Naval Hospital, and then on board ship. (Q: I mean like what it felt I like?) It wasn’t a war for me, because by the time I really got into things, the war was over. There was no danger, not of the kind Otis experienced. (Q.‑ Well, he was just in on the mopping up.) I think I had the feeling several times, particularly after being aboard ship, that I would have enjoyed very much being a line officer. I could not have done so for two reasons, and one of the reasons relates to my later career. Number one, I had never done well in mathematics, and avoided it in college, so that I did not have the requisite courses in mathematics to get commissioned in the Navy as a line officer, and secondly I was color blind and could not pass the test. which was also necessary. I had to get it waivered to be a Chaplain. (Q: I was wondering about that, because Otis couldn’t go in, even as a doctor, in the Navy. And I don’t think he was so severely so as you.) In some ways, the biggest factor here was the lack of ability in mathematics. I don’t know how real that was to the extent that with proper tutoring I might have been able to pass the courses, but I never got it. But the difficulty came in that in college I took no science courses, other than geology, and no mathematics, so that when I got out of the Navy, I was very much interested in the possibility of medicine, but knew that it would have required one or two years of pre med work and I had none, and I had this feeling that I couldn’t do the work because of the lack of skill in mathematics. So I had to scrub that. Plus the fact that I had a wife and child. And it would have been two years of pre med and four years of medical school and so forth before I had any income.
So I came back and took a Church, because that was what I knew how to do. But I had some serious questions obviously in my mind at this point, because I had another whole area of interest, and went to Ipswich to serve the Congregational Church. And it was in the three years that I was at that Church that my unhappiness between these two became more and more apparent. People were very nice. I got paid a sufficiently small wage so that we continued to dip into our savings, which somehow at the time I guess I accepted but didn’t like, but in retrospect it was too bad that that had to be the case. What was taking place for me was a clarification of my underlying feeling that I was not suited for the ministry. And as far as I could see, it was compounded of two things; first of all, and primarily, a realization that intellectually speaking I couldn’t believe what I was preaching, that dogma or whatever you want to call it, I found increasingly difficult to believe, so that I felt indeed like a hypocrite. Secondly, I found the
social life of the ministry too constraining preventing the other side of me, the worldly side of me as it were, to come out. Then I was always “on”. Wherever I went, I went as a minister, and I didn’t like that. I felt that I could never be myself, Stan King. It was always “the reverend”. And although there were people in church, young people and older people, from the social point of view, who didn’t make any distinction because I was “the reverend”, except to disconnect me in the social sense, I still felt very uneasy about it. So it was the combination of the intellectual, a serious intellectual questioning, and feeling constrained socially, that made me think that I should do something different.
My father had been a psychologist and always talked about it‑‑from boyhood on, I remember him talking about the courses he taught in psychoanalysis, and the fact that G. Stanley Hall, his professor at Clark University, after whom he named me, was the man who brought Freud to the United States, and this was an important factor in my father’s life. So that I think I had the experience of knowing something about psychology, and now I can also see that there was a side to me with an interest in people that was evidenced both in my going into the ministry and then when I was a Chaplain, in particular‑‑‑l think I told you about it‑‑‑ being interested in people rather than sort of the job itself. Anyway, in the beginning of my second year at Ipswich I was really quite unhappy. I remember going to Farmington, Connecticut, to talk to my older brother about it, who was the minister of the Congregational Church there, having followed in the family tradition, and getting his support for a change of career. And one day, he drove me to New York and we visited Columbia Teachers College to see about the possibility of my enrolling there as a graduate Student in Psychology. I did not really get a great deal of support from them, and on the way back stopped at Yale, and talked with some people in the Department of Psychology there, and they said that they didn’t think that what they had to offer as a kind of training would really answer what I was interested in, and suggested that I apply at the Department of Social Relations at Harvard, a Department that had been recently formed and combined four fields, Social Anthropology, Sociology, Social Psychology, and Clinical Psychology. So my older brother, Harold, supported this, and the trip made me realize there were some places I couldn’t go, but I had an option, so I applied to Harvard and was accepted. (Q: How many children did you have then?) We had just still the one, I think, Yeah. (Q: It still took courage to go back.‑‑ after all that time.) The first year of graduate school I stayed on in the Church, which in
retrospect was a mistake, because I was not able to really do justice to my courses, but the Church agreed to have me. I got a theological Student that came in and sort of was an assistant. But at the end of that first year I knew it was a mistake, particularly because I had flunked some exams at the end of the year which I had to pass to get the Ph.D. So I resigned after that third year in the church and my first year in graduate school, and our second child was born that year. We then moved to an apartment in Ipswich‑‑‑I commuted to Boston for the rest of my graduate school days, commuted by train or car, but I can recall that one of the things that sort of was lifted from my shoulders was the feeling that I could be Stan King. It took a long time‑‑‑many years‑‑for this to really sink in, but I was at least getting out from under. The break was a gradual one, rather than a sharp and distinct one. In retrospect it seems it should have been sharper and more distinct.
(Q: Did your father speak adversely about this?) No, he supported it, because he had a continuing interest in Psychology and he enjoyed what I was doing. But the one thing we never could share, and that he never knew about, was again my use of alcohol. I don’t know whether it was a big thing or not, but I never felt that I could let him know that Jane and I would drink. Anything we had in the house, which wasn’t very much, because we were living on the poverty level, we would hide it if they came or anything. I have always regretted that, but that’s the way it was. (Q: You felt that he had a fear of it because of his father?)
It probably would have lead to‑‑maybe I was afraid I would be rejected, because he felt so strongly in the negative sense about it. But in my second year, I think it was my second year, I concentrated pretty much full time, and I studied very hard. Interesting, I took the same qualifying examination in the fall and failed it a second time. So in my second year, they changed the way things were done, and in order to pass the examination, You took a semester course in each of the four fields, Anthropology, Sociology, Social Psych and Clinical Psych. And I worked very hard. At the end of the first semester, the two courses I got A’s in, and the second semester I got an A and a B+ or something like that, so I passed without any difficulty, and realized I could do the work if I just put my mind to it.
And then I was a teaching assistant for a year. As a matter of fact, I think I did that for two years, and during that time became a teaching assistant to a man named Robert White, who was Professor of Personality in Clinical Psychology, and he was the first of the major mentors in my life, up to that date. And then I knew that I needed more money than I could get from being a teaching fellow, and don’t know how I got to meet this man, but he was an instructor in the Medical School, a Psychiatrist named Daniel Funkensteen who was about to embark on a research project for the Air Force to study personality change under stress. So he hired me at the magnificent sum of four thousand dollars a year, which was more money than we had ever had, which meant that, with being on the G.I. Bill and so forth, we could make it through Graduate School, and get off the poverty level. And I worked for him and did my thesis with him on physiological and emotional responses during stress. And then got my degree in ’53, stayed with him to continue working on the results of the research project, but at this point, I developed an interest and skill in research, and during that time had gotten to know some people from Russell Sage Foundation, and they made a proposal to me that I go to the University of Pittsburgh,
the new Graduate School of Public Health there, on a grant from the Russell Sage Foundation, to explore ways of integrating research and practice in the behavioral sciences for public health. So in 1954 Jane and I left New England and went to Pittsburgh. Maybe that’s a good place to stop, because I didn’t realize my voice is getting tired.
As told to Thalia Drake Jillson
This is the second session, and as we listen to the very end of the first session, I have an association on it. It strikes me as another theme. I had mentioned that when I was in graduate school there was an important man named Robert White who was a mentor, and really the second mentor of my life came along at about the same time, and it was this Daniel Funkensteen that I mentioned a minute ago.
There will be a third one that I will talk about a little later, but I bring this up because I think I was fortunate in having mentors, all of them very different from each other, but giving me a push toward my career, as it were.
When we went to Pittsburgh, with the GI bill we were able to get a thirty‑year no‑down‑payment mortgage on a house, so we started the long process of building some equity in real estate, and we spent four years there. Before leaving Boston, Dan Funkensteen and I had started writing a book, called “The Mastery of Stress”, and it was finished during the first year that I was in Pittsburgh, so that was my first book. I was the second author, and it turned out to be an important book for something which will come in later in my life, as a matter of fact relate to something that is happening even now, some thirty years later. While on the topic of publications, during those four years in Pittsburgh, shortly after I got there, as a matter of fact, the Russell Sage Foundation said that they had another person who had a grant with them, who had done a study of active programs in mental hospitals, total push kinds of things, only this man Couldn’t write. He was very capable, he had wonderful data, name of Otto von Mehring, and they asked if I would be willing to work with him and write the book, which I did. It turned out to be a very interesting experience. He was a lot of fun, very bright. and I thought in the beginning it was such that whatever friendship we had would disappear, because I would be writing what was his material and even though I would end up again as the second author, it seemed to me that it might be very difficult. It turned out, however, that we both enjoyed the process and really became good friends out of it. This reinforced my acceptance that I could write, and write clearly. This was a very important thing.
I wrote some papers and did some work there that eventually led me to start a third book while still at Pittsburgh that I finished within a year or so after we left there. ‘The book with von Mehring was called “Remotivating the Mental Patient,” and then the one that I wrote subsequently for the Russell Sage Foundation that was entirely my own was called “Perceptions of Illness in Medical Practice”.
So we spent four years in Pittsburgh. I regarded it in many ways as my “Babylonian captivity”; I didn’t like the city, missed New England desperately. But our children were young, and the fourth child was born while we were still there. I didn’t know what I was going to do for my future. The hats I was wearing at Pittsburgh were primarily research and teaching hats, and I didn’t really do much of any clinical work – little bit of psychological testing, but no psychotherapy or assessment. Then my second mentor, Daniel Funkensteen. wrote a letter saying that he was involved with the Director of the Health Services at Harvard, a man named Dana Farnsworth, in recruiting some money for a substantial research project to study personality change in Harvard undergraduates over the four years of college, and would I be interested in coming back to direct the project. And I ,jumped at the chance, partly because it was a substantial raise in pay, but more than that, because it gave me a chance to get back to New England.
Therefore, in 1958 we returned to New England and bought a house in Lexington; and I settled in at the Health Services, wearing a research hat. When Robert White, my first mentor, learned that I was coming back, he offered me a chance to take over a course that he’d been famous for at Harvard College, called “The Abnormal Personality”, a course in abnormal psych, and I demurred at doing it, because I knew I just wouldn’t have the time to put into preparing
such a course. But to reach ahead a few years, subsequently when he retired, he gave me in essence another course which he had been teaching for, some time, which was “Personality Development of Lives in Progress”, and I taught that for several years after he retired, which was very exciting. So Dana Farnsworth then became my third mentor and important person. Dana was the Head of the Health Service, a psychiatrist. His philosophy about the Health Services was to get together a group of able people and to give them their head, do what they wanted. He was also active in outreach, in having the people from the mental health professions get out into the community, particularly into educational environments, to bring the knowledge of psychology and psychiatry to bear upon work, say in schools. That will be important as an element in part of my life. So I was the Director of the Harvard Student Study, something that went on about ten years, and was very important.
I was doing some teaching. And I have to reach back a bit. When I was a graduate Student, the head of the Judge Baker Guidance Institute in Boston and at Harvard, a Professor at the Medical School, had taught a course on the psychological and social aspects of medicine, and he had also taught me in my first year of graduate school. Initially, I hadn’t liked him, but I also realized that he was an important person, and probably somebody that I could learn to like. So when I was in graduate school I became his Research Assistant, or Teaching Assistant it was called in those days, in that particular course. Yet it turned out that it was a nice arrangement, so when we returned to Boston in ’58, 1 went back to him, and there was an opening, and I taught the course with him for several years‑‑I don’t remember the dates on this. I wasn’t then his Teaching Assistant, but I was the co‑teacher; he was the senior person. We each gave some lectures, and then we invited in a lot of different people from the medical community in Boston to give lectures. That was an exciting course.
He eventually retired, and at that point, I took over the course and got a man who was Head of Psychiatry at the Beth Israel Hospital, named John Nemiah, also a psychiatrist, to teach the course with me. And that was an exciting thing. We did that together for about four or five years. Of course, he knew all the people at the BI, and got a lot of them to come in and give joint lectures. Many people who went on to medical school afterwards in subsequent years would report the enjoyment that they had and helpfulness for their careers in the material that had come from this course. I suppose I would have kept on with my research and teaching hat, except the faculty was getting concerned about the number of people who had lectureship appointments, which mine was, at the College, and that a lot of full‑time professors were letting the major teaching be done by the lecturers, so the faculty passed a vote that a person could only have a lectureship appointment for three years. Where I had had mine for more than that, it was finally terminated, and so the teaching aspect of my career came to an end. This would have been somewhere around 1970 or later, early seventies.
I had mixed ‑feelings about it, because I enjoyed it, was a good teacher, I think, but I also knew that to keep on with those courses. I would have to do a lot of work, and by then I had started to get back into clinical work and I found that it was a real conflict, because it was the mid‑seventies when I finally lost the appointment. So the teaching aspect of my career went by the board. The Harvard Student Study was then coming to a close, because we had analyzed the data, and I wrote a book out of that called “Five Lives at Harvard”, which was a study of five individuals over the course of their four years at the College, and using those five cases as a kind of a background, I wove in all the rest of the results of the study .
Now, my career was beginning to shift, then, back toward what I found out eventually to be really my strongest interest which was in being a clinician. At that point at the Health Services there was a Department of Psychiatry, a Department of Psychology, and I was Director of Research. Although I was a psychologist, I wasn’t aligned with either of the other two services, but I did want to do some clinical work, talked with my friends about it, and the Chief of Psychiatry asked me if I would be interested in taking a shift on Walk‑In service, which would mean to be available for usually a four hour stretch in any emergencies or whatever that came in to the desk of the Mental Health Service which were taken care of by the Walk-In person.
So I started doing that and enjoyed doing it, and did it well. It was interesting, and I don’t know whether I talked about this dream in the previous session or not. but it ties together some things. The night before I was to have my first walk‑in session, I had a dream that I was a surgeon‑‑did I tell you this one? (A: I don’t think so, no.) ‑‑‑but I wasn’t a surgeon. There was enough reality testing in my ego even in a dream to know that I wasn’t a Surgeon. And I was in a hospital, and something needed to be done and I was called upon and I didn’t know how I was going to do
it, because even though everybody thought I was a surgeon, I really wasn’t. Well, I think the themes that come out here are, number one, my interest in medicine, very clearly, and the fact that I had done surgery, you know, assisted in the operation on the ship, but also the fact that I was going to take on a new task, and had some concerns as to whether I could do it adequately. ‘That was I think the theme of note. I was to behave like a psychiatrist but I wasn’t a psychiatrist. Could I do it?
But it turned out that it went very well, and I continued to do that, and eventually the other psychologists started doing Walk‑In, and then the services were merged into the Mental Health Service that included psychiatry, clinical psychology, and psychiatric social work. But before that merger took place, I had actually moved my office into the section of the building where the psychiatrists had their offices. I always had very good relationships with all of them, and was, I think, instrumental in making the merger work and helping the psychiatrists understand how they could work with psychologists effectively. I began to do more and more clinical work. This transition was a time when I was still on soft money, that is, money that had been set up for research with winding up the Harvard Student Studies, and not knowing how it was going to continue, not having so‑‑called money from the regular budget. But sometime in the seventies, finally I was placed on the regular budget hard money as a psychologist with the University Health Services, and at that point I was then doing full‑‑time clinical work.
Now, I have to go back and pick up the theme, because this is an important one. I mentioned that Dana Farnsworth was concerned about Outreach, and in the early sixties, just as our daughter was a year away from college, I knew that I was going to need some extra money. One of my friends on the staff was a psychiatrist named Preston Munter. We were at lunch one day, and he said that he had been consulting to a private school, the Northfield and the Mount Hermon
School, a girls and boys school, but he was going to give it up, and I said to him as we sat together at lunch, “Is that something that a psychologist could do?” He said, “Well, I think so; what did you have in mind?” My response was, “Well, I was thinking of it myself.” I shall not forget his words, because he said, “Say no more'”, and within a few weeks it was arranged that I Would take his place, and then I went up late in the spring to spend the day on one of his consulting days there. That led to a relationship between the Northfield and Mount Hermon Schools and me that lasted for sixteen years.
I would go up once every two weeks, approximately, sixteen visits a year, spend a full day seeing students if there was some concern about them, or they wanted an independent appraisal, talking with faculty, talking with the President and the Headmaster, and generally being useful to them. And it was an exciting time. I got to love the school thoroughly. After I had been there a year, I had the distinct impression that the teachers could utilize some of the kinds of things from psychology and psychiatry, and that some kind of a teaching experience, a workshop, whatever, might be in order. I mentioned it to the President of the Schools. He said, “Draw up a program and let me see it.” I drew one up, worked it out with my friend, Pres Munter, submitted it to Howard Jones, the President, and in two weeks he came back with ten thousand dollars in seed money.
That began the Northfield Counseling Institute, which will be in its twenty‑fifth year this June, one of the most important parts of my life. It is an Institute that brings teachers from independent schools all over the Country to Northfield for seven days of intensive work about
counseling. People who have attended it said that over the years that they think this may have been the most important educational experience they have had. For the first institute, I took four other people from the staff at the Health Services, another psychologist, and three
psychiatrists, one of whom was Pres Munter, and that was the nucleus of the staff. We added a sixth person a little bit later, another psychiatrist from Harvard. Currently, the Institute faculty consists of three women, one of whom is a psychiatric social worker, two of whom are psychologists, four psychologists, two psychiatrists, and myself. But that has been a very exciting and worthwhile part of my career.
(Q: And certainly one for which you became extremely well known.) I did, well known in the independent school world certainly throughout the whole country. Five years ago we got some interest expressed by a school in Colorado, the Fountain Valley School, saying that could we do one Out there for western schools and we will have the fifth anniversary this year of the Fountain Valley Institute, which is in August, an identical institute, identical faculty.
Well, I better stop at this point and I’ll sort of pick up the threads to go back. Clearly, the shift away from the ministry and the Church was a complete one finally. I suppose I could be considered currently a non‑observant Protestant. The theme that I have mentioned in the last interview about having difficulty in believing was continued and still does today.
(Q: I don’t mean to interrupt, but how do you leave the ministry? Is it something where the license is renewed, and you don’t renew it, or had you never formally … )
Yes, I did formally leave, as it were. In the Congregational Church, there is, as I mentioned in the last interview, an Association of Churches that was involved in my ordination, and at some point, I don’t know exactly when, I wrote to the Association of which I was a member at the time of Ipswich. I wrote to that Association and indicated that I wished to be‑‑it wasn’t defrocked, exactly‑‑‑but that I was no longer going to be a minister and would please be taken off their rolls. So in my own mind it was cutting the ties. I suppose technically speaking, I could resume it if I wished, but in my own mind, I couldn’t.
I think I’ve always felt that getting into psychology wasn’t the answer, what I really wanted to do, and particularly becoming a clinician. I guess I liked with reflection now … There were two other things which were associated with this part of my life, from about age forty until I retired. They were associated with being a clinician and associated with the Northfield Institute. The first theme was one of self‑confidence. I always had some hesitancy about how good I was, even though I had recognition in terms of honors and things like that, a summa from Tufts. But I never, I guess, was convinced of that. But the more clinical work I did, the more response I got from patients, and the more clear respect that I got from my colleagues, then I realized that I was capable, and it was a very good feeling. It almost snowballed; the better I felt about myself, the better the job I did.
It was highlighted about ten years ago when I was on emergency call with the Health Service, and was attending a party where three close friends from the Northfield Institute faculty were present, including Preston Munter. It was at his house, and our wives were there. During the course of the evening, just before dinner, I think it was, the beeper went off, and I got called to the Emergency Room. Fortunately, it was a case that didn’t take too long, and about an hour later I came back, telling Pres Munter and the other two people about what had happened. And Pres said, “Well, I’m not surprised. You’ve got a real nose for this stuff.” And it was a mark of respect and affirmation from him that was very good.
It came out in a couple of other ways. I think I was instrumental in getting the psychologists to do walk‑in and getting them integrated with the psychiatrists in the Mental Health Service, and after that transpired, I had a strong feeling that not only could psychologists do walk‑in, but they could also do evening and weekend emergency work. So I proposed that to a friend of mine who was Head of the Service in time. Arid he said he thought it was reasonable, and why didn’t we try it out, with the plan that every time he would be on call for a year, that I would be on call with him, and that the emergency room would call me first, and then I would call him, and if it necessitated going in, we would go in together. Then on weekend call, we would make rounds together, and things like that. It worked well. We had fun doing it together. And he and I decided after that that, yes, that’s the kind of thing that psychologists could do. But in the process, it was a reaffirmation of my skills, which was very important.
And I think the final thing that did that came about, particularly the last ten years before I retired, when I would be on walk‑in and would occasionally meet a patient who would need medication, and I would go to the Chief of the Service, whose office was right across the hall, and tell her about the case to see if she would write the prescription. Almost invariably it would be, “Sure”, and she wouldn’t even need to see the patient. My sense was that she trusted MY judgment sufficiently to do that, and that was a very strong positive reinforcement.
So, the first theme, then, of self‑confidence, that I talked about, really became a strong point in my life through this work. But there was another theme that relates specifically to Northfield. I had always been a fairly shy person. F’robably this is related to the self‑confidence. There were certain people who really would like me completely for who I was, and I don’t think I had any really close friends, but out of the experience of the Northfield Institute and getting to know this group of men in particular, I realized that here I had some very close friends. And with the death of Otis, who was my closest, then Pres Munter became my closest friend.
Actually, those two themes of self‑confidence and friendship came together in the relationship with Otis, and you know what that was like‑‑a man that I respected enormously and felt that I could say anything to and felt corresponding respect in return. (Q. I know the feeling
was mutual.) Yeah, and that he respected me as a friend, as a professional colleague, and knowing his feelings, some negative feelings about psychiatry, he didn’t ever let that interfere with his respect for me as a colleague. (Q: I also had a feeling that it wasn’t that he really didn’t believe in psychiatry and psychology. I think he was afraid of it in some ways.)
Well, as you noted his reading of Smiley Blanton and psychoanalysis after he retired, I guess that had happened before.
(Q: And he also certainly used a lot of it in his own practice of dermatology. He was constantly realizing that the mind and the body are so interchangeably interwoven, and I think a great deal of that may have been your influence, too.)
He probably had a natural nose for it, as well. At any rate, he talked a good story, but I’m sure he often could believe in it. I think from a social friendship point of view, the friendship with you and Otis and with your sister, Sylvia, after we built the house here became one of the absolutely crucial parts of our lives. To come here on weekends, spend time with you, the dinners we used to have here‑‑‑it was a kind of a fulfillment of friendship that both Jane and I valued and cherished. And for both of us, both Jane and I found that an affirmation of our selves which was terribly important.
So the years of the career were good years. Barring only my one event which took place ten years ago, which was the occurrence of prostatic carcinoma‑‑‑I suppose technically, cancer, carcinoma being a kind of cancer which is incurable. Anyway, the fortunate part of it was that it was picked up by my internist in a very early stage and treated with radiation. But I come back to that. It was a terrible blow at the time. The radiation was successful; the cancer seemingly disappeared, but then less than a year after retirement, it reappeared and had metastatized to the bones, and with that I have been battling, as you know, for the last year. I still really don”t know the effects of that, some of the ramifications. It has brought me closer to my friends, very close to my wife, knowing that everybody was there. And I think made me very conscious of my own mortality. I can’t help but … You know, you had it yoursel f .
(Q: This is one time where Otis’ friendship couldn’t help you through, because he didn’t know about it. He wasn’t there when it returned. He was the first time, and he rejoiced that everything went so well.)
I’ve often wished he had been here when it returned. I’m sure you’ve wished many times he was around too, for other kinds of things. Maybe one of the factors that is important to what we are doing today came about because of the cancer. It has forced me to look back over my life in a Life Review, at this point‑‑it is certainly appropriate‑‑‑ and to ask the question, “Am I satisfied? Did I do the things I wanted to do?” I take it that’s one of the questions you are probably interested in.
(Q: Right. Would we have done anything differently? Did we accomplish what we set out to do? Of Course, there are challenges as we go along.)
Well, we look at it in number of ways , and in retrospect, I think the theme has already been laid down in what I have said, that had I a choice, I would have done something different. I would have gone into medicine; no question about it. Still fascinated by it. And, in retrospect, I think with proper tutoring in the sciences I could have. I think though that the choice I made of Clinical Psychology was an adequate replacement for that and I have found through the years that I have always maintained very close relationships with people on the medical staff, nurse practitioners in the Clinic, and nurses at Stillman‑‑that’s the infirmary hospital at the Health Service, and I had their respect, but if I could have done it differently, I would have done it.
(Q: And yet, I suppose there are always the woulda, coulda, shoulda’s, but who knows that you didn’t do more good this way?)
But I certainly look back on my career in psychology and feel good about it, feel that I accomplished a lot, for myself and for others. This came about when I retired and began to get responses from patients that made me feel that indeed it had made an important contribution to their lives. So, yes, I might have done something different, but on the other hand, I am very satisfied with what I did, and feel good about my life, that a lot has been accomplished, and that when I retired it was with the feeling that it was a good time to step down, but I couldn’t look backwards at it much .
Maybe one important thing looking back over is that I am so glad that I married the woman that I did, and through the years the relationship we have had has been one of sharing and respect and affection. Forty‑five years in another week. I couldn’t have married anybody better for me. We are different in some ways. She has been such a tower of strength in the last year with the return of the cancer. She has enormous capacity for understanding and support, and yet doesn’t let me get down on myself, and can put it in a humorous kind of way ‑ doesn’t let me get depressed when I shouldn’t be. I am very grateful for that, and she has been a wonderful wife and a good mother, and the other part of that is the great satisfaction which comes from the interaction we have with our four children, the closeness which they express to us and us to them. As I look back over my life as far as family is concerned, I wouldn’t ask for anything different, and I feel very good about that.
I suppose in some ways I can move this ahead a little. As I said, cancer has made me very aware of my mortality, and during this past winter, I have thought a lot about dying, and in the process looked back over my life. and probably have a certain at‑peace with the idea of dying. I know that if the cancer, took a sudden turn for the worse, and dying were imminent, that I would feel down about it, and yet I think I don’t approach it with the idea of something unfulfilled in my life, and therefore wishing that I could have done it. I don’t want to die. I don’t want to leave what’s going on. A certain preparation for it, perhaps, acceptance of it in a way; that’s, I think, the stuff that has been going on this past year. A lot of people never get a chance to do that.
(Q: I’m thinking of Otis, whom we always said it was a blessing for him that he went in the vigor of his life without even much premonition. It was only a few days that he was even having pains and all, but then I think perhaps he missed something too, not being able to tie up loose ends, and, as you said, make complete peace with himself.)
I don’t think I have anything at this point to tie up. As you know. Jane and I have signed up for a retirement and life‑care community, which was something I pushed this year, even though we had talked about it off and on for the last few years, but I pushed it because I knew that should the cancer go fast and I die within a year, that Jane would have a community of people to go into, to help her through it.
(Q: And I think from my own experience that it would be wonderful to get some of the plans and some of the moves and the transitions taken care of in advance, without having to leave the whole burden … Of course, we never know‑‑‑none of us know how long it will be, but…)
One thing Otis did was to make sure before he died that you were taken care of financially.
(Q: He did that, and although at the time I had a great deal of nostalgia about moving away from what I considered my roots, he brought me down here to Gorham and to Sebago where not only my family was, but my extended family, this compound here on the lake which has been so important to all of us, and so I think in some ways he was making all the preparations. I think he was worried whether I would be able to cope by myself if I ever … I never worried about it, because I never expected to live longer than he did. But that last day, you remember, he was out finishing up the back yard, and then he came back from shopping sheepishly. He said, “I think I bought out the grocery store.” I don’t know‑‑I think he was trying to make sure I was taken care of.)
I think he was.
(Q: And I think he would be surprised, but I think he would also be very gratified that I have managed to survive on my own, whether I like it or not.)
I think he had a basic understanding that you would. He had that much respect for you, no question about it.
(Q: But I still think the more … there was a book I read many years ago called “Teach Your Wife to be a Widow”, and I think the more things you can have tied up, the better.)
Well, in terms of what you want in this life review, what are we missing at this point, in terms of what you want to know? I’ve talked a lot‑‑‑I’m going on here in a monologue.
(Q: You don’t think there is anything you would have done too differently, except for medical …
No, nor for relationships. I don’t feel bitter about anything. I don’t feel bitter about people, and that’s a good feeling. I don’t think you do either, about your life.
(Q: No, I don’t, and I just think it’s as you said, nobody wants to go, because there are still always things to finish. Life, as long as we have any modicum of health, there are so many things that we can still do, and still accomplish that who are we to say?)
I know, I know. I don’t think I’m hiding anything of some unfulfilled part of it. I feel very good about it.
(Q: I think it’s very interesting, because I felt that Otis and I knew you very well over the many years, but there are a lot of things that have come out that I …
Were there surprises in what we talked about?
(Q: Not violent surprises, because you were a person of, what shall I say, substance, I don’t mean of material substance, but of the stuff of which the world is made–you are a solid citizen, that is, so there is nothing terribly surprising, but just … I guess it always surprises me that people who have so much to offer and have offered so much always have a bit of self‑doubt, have a not complete self‑confidence, or haven’t always had.)
I think that’s so true. As you think back over what we have talked about in terms of developmental themes or experiences, does it trigger off questions about things that may or may not have happened to me that would be important to you in the life review? Anything about childhood, adolescence?
(Q: No, do you think of anything? I mean, I think as a trained psychologist, you have thought about some of your own questions and found your own answers.)
That does trigger off one association, though. I don’t know how relevant this would be, but perhaps so. In my field, many of the people who do psychotherapy have been psychoanalyzed. For most of the psychiatrists that I know that are friends of mine, it was a part of their training which was not technically required but was the thing to do and many of my friends in psychology were analyzed during therapy. I’ve never done that. I was not psychoanalyzed and I have never been in therapy myself. And I have often wondered if it would have made a difference in my work as a therapist‑‑if I was missing something by not having done it, if I was ignoring some themes, denying, whatever, that I should have looked at. There may be things in my unconscious that I haven’t done that. I don’t know. But I have had a sense as I have gotten older that I had a pretty good insight into myself, and I don’t really think that it has made that much difference in my life, that I wasn’t psychoanalyzed. I don’t think I have been a less effective therapist, or less effective clinician.
One thing that is of some interest there perhaps ‑‑‑ this would be something that Otis knew about, because when I was in Graduate School, yes, but also getting out of the ministry, you may remember this yourself, I was in a good deal of conflict about it, and I had very severe seborrhic dermatitis around the edges of my hairline, and I remember consulting him when he was at Boston City Hospital, before we went to Pittsburgh, and then afterward. It was clear that this was related to emotional factors and the conflict that I was going through, and it was only after I got clear of the church that it went away, never to return.
(Q: That’s why I said I think Otis followed many lines of psychology in his practice.)
Yeah. The other thing that throughout my life I would have an occasional rather severe migraine headache. I did some research work with an internist at Harvard on headaches. He believed very much that unexpressed anger, or conflicts about the repression of anger, were important to the onset of headaches. And I think in my case that was true. I haven’t had a migraine for years although I have had a physiological equivalent which the ophthalmologist says is such in terms of the shimmering, what’s the word for blind spot in vision, where you can see and yet there”s kind of a blind spot in the middle and there’s a shimmering all around the edge. I’ll think of the word in a minute. Anyway, that’s happened to me occasionally. I consulted the Oculist and he said that that is a migraine equivalent, but I’ve never had the pain and it goes away within half an hour .
But to think about the psychoanalysis, now, and self‑ understanding, an experience comes to mind that happened, oh, fifteen or, more years ago, with one of my close friends, this man who was Head of the Psychiatric Service and with whom I had done the on‑call business. We were planning a Northfield Institute, he was a member of the faculty, and something came up where he said that he wasn’t sure he was going to go unless certain arrangements were made. I got very angry about it and stopped him in the hall one day and said, “You’re holding a gun to my head with what you’re doing and I don’t like it one bit.” This was expressing my anger in a controlled way, and he backed off, came around later, and said that he was very sorry, that he realized after I had made the comment that he had done exactly that, and didn’t want to. And that was then for me, yes, I realized that I had the anger, that if I expressed it I wasn’t going to destroy somebody, and there were ways that I could express it without that destructive quality. And from then on I felt much more comfortable with my anger. Now, maybe I would have gotten to that earlier, if I had been psychoanalyzed, I don’t know, but I did eventually.
(Q: If you had been psychoanalyzed, I’m sure you would have been asked more about your mother and your father and your relationships to them. Do you have any memories on that that might be helpful?)
Yes. several, more in terms of how I am like each of them in personality. I talked earlier about my father’s strictness about alcohol and smoking, the way in which that drove a kind of a wedge wall to some extent between us. Plus the fact that I was desperately unhappy in the church, and he was committed to the church, so there was another division. And yet I recall my father as somebody who had a fine sense of humor, and I know I am much like him in the way I think, my ability to speak extemporaneously, to write clearly, and I have his sense of humor, his analytical style. his voice.
(Q: You said, however, that he didn’t disapprove badly when you left the ministr,y and went into … )
True, into pschology, that’s true, and that helped a lot. I’ve got my mother’s basic warmth and outgoingness. I also, probably genetically, inherited a tendency toward depression. It’s very easy for me to get depressed, and that’s where Jane comes in handy in keeping me from it. But
I don’t see that as a major item, now, the depressive quality. But I do think that her warmth and outgoingness came through to me more than it did to either of my two brothers, and probably in the later years of my life made it possible for me to work at being friends with people in a good kind of way.
(Q: Well, I don’t believe I ever met your father, but I knew your mother in her later years. I somehow got the impression that she might have been stricter than your father, that she did not approve of your having left the church, and I know she did not approve of alcohol, or things of that sort.)
I think you’re right on both counts, that probably on some basic level she felt more strongly about my leaving the church than my father did. We finally got to the point with her of having alcohol in the house, but she never really approved of it, no question. She accepted it because she wanted our friendship, but she never really liked it. I think probably one thing that has worried me, not only the depressive quality that my mother had, but she would get carried away emotionally at times and my father used to despair. And in her later years, after he died, and Jane and I were more or less responsible for her care, because my brothers lived at some distance, there would be times when she would get emotionally wrought up and manipulative, and I would get disturbed and angry, and I have wondered, do I have that quality in me as well? I don’t think so, but I don’t know.
(Q: But you think that might have been why you (were particularly angry at her?)
I think so, yeah. I don’t think of anything else.
(Q: Why don’t we call it quits for now. We can always come back to it.)