Andrew N. Tershakovec
By Bernard J. Paris
[This tribute was written by Bernard J. Paris, who first met Andrew Tershakovec in the early 1970s and helped edit Tershakovec’s life work, The Mind: The Power that Changed the Planet (2007) published through AuthorHouse in Lanham, Maryland. Tershakovec’s book aimed to bring Horneyan theory up to date with the latest developments in information and computing science and thereby to gain greater recognition for Horney’s achievement. — AKS]
Andrew N. Tershakovec
By Bernard J. Paris (2008)
The American Journal of Psychoanalysis (2008) 68, 205–208. doi:10.1057/ajp.2008.13
Andrew N. Tershakovec, M.D., 1921–2007
My good friend and esteemed colleague Andrew Tershakovec died on October 23, 2007. It is highly fitting that he should be remembered in the journal that Karen Horney founded, for he was a graduate of The American Institute for Psychoanalysis, a member of its faculty for many years, and a person who has done much to keep Horney's theories up-to-date by integrating them with the findings of the cognitive sciences. The great project of his life was his book The Mind: the Power that Changed the Planet, published in 2007 after decades of intense thought and study. I helped Andrew with the writing of this book and shall say more about it and my relation with him later, but first a brief review of Andrew's background and professional activity.
Andrew was born into a Ukrainian family that valued education. His father was a student of Old Slavonic literature who eventually taught at the university level, and two of his three siblings earned M.D. degrees. Andrew attended medical school from 1939 to 1944 in what is now Lviv, Ukraine, and was then part of Poland and known as Lwow. After the war, he completed his studies at the University of Vienna, receiving his M.D. degree in 1946. It is remarkable that he was able to acquire his education during such a turbulent period.
Andrew came to the United States in 1949, and in 1960 he married Tatiana (Tania), his wife of 47 years. At the time of their marriage, Tania was working as a medical technologist for Cornell's Department of Virology. (She died suddenly two weeks before he did and without his knowledge.) After postgraduate work at NYU, an internship, and a residency, Andrew entered training at the American Institute for Psychoanalysis in 1964 and was certified as a psychoanalyst in 1970.
In the 1970s, Andrew was a very busy man. He taught at the American Institute and served as a Supervising and Training Analyst and a member of the Faculty Council. He also taught at the Dunlap Psychiatric Center, at the New School for Social Research, at the VA Medical Center, and at NYU, where he was Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry. He was in charge of Psychiatric Residency Training at the Manhattan Psychiatric Center, and he maintained a private practice. He also published several important articles that were subsequently incorporated into his book. While employed as a psychiatrist in the Department of Veteran’s Affairs in the 1980s and 1990s, Andrew continued his private practice and worked on his magnum opus. After he retired at the age of 80 in 2001, he continued writing despite his declining health.
I began consulting Horneyan psychoanalysts in the latter part of the 1960s, while Harold Kelman was still Dean at the American Institute, in order to get feedback on drafts of chapters of A Psychological Approach to Fiction (1974), the first book in which I applied Horney theory to the study of literature. When I met Andrew on one of my trips to New York in the early 1970s, I bonded with him immediately. Not only were he and Tania warm and hospitable, but also Andrew shared my excitement about Horney, and I could talk with him about literature. As his friend and teaching partner Gene Papowitz has observed, Andrew's “interests were broad, including art, music, literature, and politics. He was always willing to listen to a different point of view and weigh its merits. There are few people who would not turn such discussions into arguments.” Andrew had a wide-ranging curiosity and an open and generous mind. He was not contentious except in defending Horney and taking issue with the Freudian model of the psyche.
In his desire to keep Horney theory current, Andrew at first proposed editing a collection of essays to which his colleagues would contribute; but after preparing for the Certification Exam by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, which he passed in 1980, he began to have a vision of relating Horney theory to the cognitive sciences. This meant broadening his knowledge and keeping abreast of rapidly changing fields. He devoted the next 25 years of his life to this project.
As he began to write his book in the 1990s, Andrew sent me drafts of his chapters, and I found them very impressive, although in need of some polishing. Although Andrew's English was quite good, it was his fourth or fifth language—his native language was Ukrainian, he was equally fluent in Polish, he could read Russian, and he completed his education in German—and he understandably wished to secure editorial assistance. He was aware, for instance, that like many whose original language was Slavic, he had a tendency to omit indefinite articles.
I could not help Andrew myself because I was working on my biography of Karen Horney and had contracts for other books with university presses, including the editions of Horney's unpublished and uncollected writings that were published by Yale. Andrew found an excellent editor in John Kerr, author of A Most Dangerous Method: The Story of Jung, Freud, and Sabina Spielrein (1993). When Kerr was no longer able to continue because of other commitments, I had fulfilled my contracts, and I agreed to assume an editorial role. At a certain point I felt that I had to get back to my own work and that I could not edit the chapter on psychopharmacology Andrew wanted to add; so Andrew completed the book on his own, continuing to make changes. I think the result justifies all the labor that has gone into it. In Gene Papowitz's words, it is “very readable” and “there has not been so comprehensive a theory of the mind, combining so many disciplines.” The Mind: The Power that Changed the Planet is available from Amazon.
This is not the place for a thorough discussion of Andrew's book, nor am I the proper person to review it, but I can try to provide some idea of what it is about.
Andrew's objective is to relate recent developments in the cognitive sciences to psychological theory and psychotherapy. First he synthesizes the findings of the cognitive disciplines (general systems theory, Gestalt psychology, neurophysiology, computing science, and theories of schemas and mental models); and then he demonstrates that there is a synergy between the model of the mind that emerges from these disciplines and holistic psychoanalytic theories, such as Karen Horney's, whereas there is a conflict between that model and the psychoanalytic theories that have been dominant thus far.
Andrew shows that the revolution in our understanding of the structure of the mind has immense implications for psychotherapy, the principles of which have hitherto been derived primarily from the mechanistic model of the psyche inherited from the 19th century. He argues that with the help of the new cognitive model, we can now better understand how the mind functions as an information processing system, the relationship between its serial and parallel processing capabilities, and the roles that healthy and unhealthy feelings play in psychic life. He supports a view of the positive value of unconscious processes and deep feelings that he believes will become the mainstream thinking of the future. He grounds Horney's elusive ideas about the “real self” in the findings of neurophysiology and related disciplines.
When I think of Andrew now, his work looms very large, as it did, indeed, during his life. He brought broad culture, penetrating intelligence, and amazing energy and persistence, despite increasing frailty, to a project in which he profoundly believed. But I remember with equal vividness what warm, gracious, kind and supportive people Andrew and Tania were. Andrew was sweet, gentle, devoted to his family and friends, courageous in the face of the fate that awaits us all. I was unable to visit Andrew in his last years, but in response to my request that he share some memories of his friend, Gene Papowitz wrote the following: “His last few months after his operations were spent in a convalescent home. Because he could hardly speak, conversations were difficult. On our last visit we showed him a photo album of our grandson's first year of life. The last word Jewell and I ever heard him speak was ‘beautiful’.” That's the Andrew I knew. As his daughter Tamara has confirmed, “he was himself to the end.”