Excerpt from Eulogy for Joel Bernstein, Ph.D.
February 5, 2017
Joel began to make his dream of a welcoming and warm institute into a reality in 2004. He wanted an institute where everyone had a voice; an institute where there would be laughter and we could enjoy laughing at ourselves; and he wanted an institute where there was respect and kindness shown to all or, in his own words, an institute where “everyone had to be nice.”
With the founding of the Institute for Psychoanalytic Studies, Joel’s dream, indeed, became an ongoing reality. Amazingly, there were no warring factions. Life at the institute was not always perfect, but all problems could be discussed and solved. Joel did not always get his way and he was proud of that fact, because he did not want the institute to be about him.
Nevertheless, IPS was organized around Joel’s therapeutic technique of character analysis. Joel, a classical analyst who loved Freud, pointed out that Freud appreciated the importance of character traits. Joel taught us to follow the character traits back to the patient’s underlying beliefs, conflicts, memories, and early fantasies. That clinical approach provided us with more freedom to discover each patient’s truth rather than to rely on an approach that presented a particular theory as truth prior to following the patient. Only someone as brilliant as Joel could come up with something that simple!
Lorna Goldberg, LCSW, PsyA
Dean, Institute for Psychoanalytic Studies