Invitation to the Psychohistory Forum Work-in-Progress Meeting
Topic: Paul H. Elovitz: My Life in Psychohistory
January 27, 2024, 10:30am-1:00pm (EST);
room opens at 10am EST
Virtual Participation via Zoom.
RSVP is required (see the RSVP form below)
Zoom link will be provided to you after you complete the form
Abstract: At a meeting of the Leadership Team of the Psychohistory Forum/Clio’s Psyche, it was suggested that I should present on one of the two monographs that I’m writing: My Life in Psychohistory and Doing Psychohistory: A Methodological Handbook.* Because I’ve written more about my memoir than the handbook, I decided that I should discuss it.
The memoir has been very much on my mind because I have been struggling to learn as much as possible about my early life in relationship to my mother, who died when I was a young man. In many ways, she was an enigma who shaped my life, leading me to my career as a professor and psychohistorian, which resulted in my organizing psychohistorical meetings from 1976 to the present.
While much of my career in psychohistory has been chronicled in The Making of Psychohistory (2018), that volume was focused on paternal/male influences in my life and written before I returned to psychoanalysis to work deeply on earlier maternal influences. As a psychohistorian, I’m investigating how my decisions have been influenced by mother’s impact on me and my identification with her, so I will begin my presentation with my poetic endeavor, “Searching for Mom.” My mixing of the personal with the professional is meant to illustrate my lifelong probing of the self to understand the sources of my creativity and life decisions.
Chapter 1, “Searching for Mom,” is about:
- What is revealed in the poem and how my analysis enables me to understand in greater depth my life decisions and choices as a psychohistorian.
- Comparing my life with that of Rose Pechenec Roast Elovitz highlighting her influence on my character and life decisions.
Here is the poem:
Searching for Mom
Paul H. Elovitz—The Psychohistory Forum
(10/17/2023 with PWP suggestions)
I dreamed of having an adventuresome life,
just like my dad —
He reveled in his adventures.
At age 14,
Amid war and revolution,
A political refugee from Poland,
Traveled alone to America,
Observed craftsmen while sweeping the floor —
Dad taught himself a skilled trade —
observed others at the one he chose.
Mom did not talk much about her life.
At age 12,
Came to the US as a refugee from Ukraine,
An immigrant success story,
Rose Elovitz became a good wife and mother,
Driven to endless toil,
Loved to read in her rare free time,
Even though she barely saw the inside of a school.
But at age 50 on her deathbed,
She besieged me:
Become a college professor.
I only promised to consider her wish.
She dictated to me —
What each member of our family
Should do with our lives.
My mother bravely fought and lost,
A four-year-long battle with Hodgkin’s Disease.
Her Yale University doctor,
Tears in his eyes,
agreed to help her die.
Her body then a shell of its former self,
Her mind crystal clear.
At 22 then,
I wanted adventure.
My search started in college,
Hitchhiked to the Niagara Falls,
Dropped out of UConn,
Allowed myself to be drafted.
Eager to marry,
Explore the world of men,
Two families came together,
And I was back in college,
The price of marriage.
Who was this woman,
Who spoke so seldom of herself?
Why keep her early life a secret?
I barely knew a word of her past,
Even her birth name Pechanec unknown to me.
She came from a communist family,
Gave up their and her communism,
After she spent months in jail.
Her crime was organizing a May-Day rally
Without a repeatedly denied permit.
Only recently I realize —
I am her son,
Raised to be a college professor,
To fulfill her dream of education and helping others.
Like her, I am driven by love and guilt,
I forever strive for self-improvement,
deny some of my needs.
Like her, I am an idealist,
challenged to do more and more,
juggle many tasks,
with little interest in financial rewards.
Mom, I wish you could have lived longer,
we could have known each other as adults.
I miss you so.
Read the complete presentation here:
*I am also collecting 3000-word essays for a companion edited book to The Many Roads of the Builders of Psychohistory (2021) tentatively titled, Psychobiographies and the Autobiographies of Psychobiographers (Submissions due 9/1/24)
Short Bio: Paul H. Elovitz, PhD, Historian, Research Psychoanalyst, Online Psychohistory Professor, Psychohistory Forum Director, and Editor, Clio’s Psyche; Author, The Making of Psychohistory: Origins, Controversies, and Pioneering Contributors (Routledge, 2018); Editor, The Many Roads of the Builders of Psychohistory (ORI Academic Press, 2021); Author/Editor of other books. See CliosPsyche.org for additional information.