Introducing the 32nd CPSP Plenary Speaker: F. Barton Evans, PhD
by Robert Charles Powell, MD, PhD
Anton T. Boisen – Harry Stack Sullivan – F. Barton Evans
Both during and after Boisen’s life, his views on severe – and not so severe – mental disorder were respected and cited positively by medical experts. He worked side-by-side with neuroendocrinologist Roy G. Hoskins, MD, who cited his work. He wrote a study on anxiety with research psychiatrist Richard L. Jenkins, MD. And, he shared a decades-long friendship with psychotherapy theorist Harry Stack Sullivan, MD.
Boisen’s earliest research – in his The Exploration of the Inner World … – discussed Sullivan’s earliest research – on the possibly conservative/ restitutional aspects of acute psychosis – and on the ubiquity of transference phenomena. Sullivan repaid the honor by defending Boisen’s theories during national mental health meetings – and by traveling west to teach Boisen’s students. The very last comments on the dust-jacket of Boisen’s autobiography – Out of the Depths … – are words of great praise by Sullivan. These two pioneers – Boisen and Sullivan – “saw eye to eye” on how to use dynamic psychotherapy with all varieties of suffering, bewildered, and vulnerable folks who could use some help.
F Barton Evans, PhD, who organized the centennial celebration of Sullivan’s work – and who then went on to write the seminal – classic and easy to read – monograph on Sullivan’s approach to psychotherapy, will be our honored guest at the next CPSP Plenary.
Both Boisen and Sullivan understood the tragic power of isolation and loneliness to undermine sanity. Both Sullivan and Boisen understood anxiety as a kind of “double-edged sword” – a factor that had to be managed carefully – even tenderly – in all levels of psychotherapeutic care.
These two broadly thoughtful and innovative social scientists – Boisen and Sullivan – have much to teach us! Dr. Evans and his work over the last thirty years can be our guide. You don’t want to miss this!
Robert Charles Powell, MD, PhD
Psychiatrist & Medical Historian