Ilonka Venier Alexander, the author of "The Life and Times of Franz Alexander: From Budapest To California" (Karnac, 2015), visited our library on June 21, 2016, to discuss her new book with Shari Thurer, a BPSI member and an author.
About the Book: Franz Alexander was the first graduate of the Berlin Psychoanalytic Institute, the man who turned down Freud’s offer to enter into private practice in Vienna, and the man Freud told to go to America and spread the doctrine of psychoanalysis. He was also the grandfather of Ilonka Venier Alexander, the author of this remarkable account of one of the major figures of psychoanalysis in the twentieth century, set against the backdrop of the growth of analysis in America. The book considers his personal and professional life, the role of family in his decisions, and how those decisions affected other family members. Themes touched on in this intimate and personal biography include family secrets and lies, the fear of discovery and the need to reinvent one’s past in order to survive, the importance of giving to society, and family reunification after decades of deceit and betrayal. All of these themes help to create a stunning portrait of a man who, as the author's mother once told her, was "as important to psychoanalysis as Elvis is to music". Franz Alexander's story is finally told here by those who really knew him.
About the Author: Ilonka Venier Alexander is a clinical social worker and psychotherapist with thirty years' experience in the field of mental health. She had the opportunity to testify before the United States Congress in the early days of the HIV epidemic about its impact on Boston area veterans. For years her area of specialization was adults with a severe and persistent mental illness. Later in her career she helped to write the mental health standards for children and adolescents in Nova Scotia, at the time the only such standards in Canada. She received her Masters of Social Work degree from the University of Southern California and is the granddaughter of Dr Franz Alexander, founder of the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis. She is currently working on a more personal memoir of her life with her grandfather, entitled "Growing up Alexander".