In Memoriam: Dr. Elisabeth Young-Bruehl
By William A. MacGillivray
Dr. Elisabeth Young-Bruehl (March 3, 1949 - December 1, 2011) died of a pulmonary embolism, suffered as she walked in her neighborhood in Toronto. I remember walking in that neighborhood with her several years ago. She had invited several friends to her home, but when we arrived, she announced that we were going to eat at a neighborhood restaurant because her home wasn't "quite ready" for guests. It was a beautiful old Victorian home half torn up as part of an extensive rehab, half comfortably furnished with a mix of period and modern furniture.
Elisabeth was like this home, grounded in history but always a work in progress, from her professorial days at Wesleyan University and Haverford College, to her years as a psychoanalytic practitioner in New York, to her "retirement" to Toronto to pursue psychoanalytic scholarship. Her diverse publications are eloquent testimony to a thinker equally at home in philosophy, history, social justice, feminism, as well as psychoanalysis. The phrase "in media res" certainly applies to this outstanding member of our community who was about to launch her new book, Childism: Understanding and Preventing Prejudice Against Children, (Yale Press) and was recently appointed to oversee Donald Winnicott's literary estate. Many of us know her through her brilliant biographies of Hannah Arendt and Anna Freud, although she also made numerous contributions to psychoanalytic practice and theory.
I last heard her speak at our 2010 Spring Meeting in Chicago, a talk that was a high-wire act of psychoanalytic acumen, political passion, and humor. She was unfailingly kind and gracious and will be greatly missed.