Elisabeth was born in 1946 in a small town at the head of the Chesapeake Bay. Her motherıs fatherıs people had lived on a dairy farm near the town for many generations most of them were farmers, but two generations of amateur scholars had built up a beautiful library in the stately main house. Elisabethıs maternal grandmother, after whom she was named, came from families that had come to America on the Mayflower the Hookers and Bulkleys of Connecticut. Her fatherıs people, the Youngs, were Virginians, with their homestead in Williamsburg. As Elisabeth Young, she, her older brother and her younger sister grew up in Maryland and then during her school years in Delaware, where their father worked as a teaching golf pro, their mother as a housewife. Elisabeth went on to Sarah Lawrence College, but in the tumultuous mid-1960ıs, dropped out of college and into the countercultural life of New York City. Later she made her way back to finishing her BA at the New School for Social Research, where she met her husband, Robert Bruehl, and made the acquaintance of the work of the political philosopher Hannah Arendt.
When When Hannah Arendt started teaching at the Graduate Faculty of the New School, Elisabeth went to study with her, and remained through the completion of a Ph.D. in Philosophy in 1974. Hannah Arendt died at the age of 69 the next year, and Elisabeth, who had begun teaching at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, was asked by several of Arendtıs émigré friends to undertake a biography. The biography, which was published in 1982, won the first Harcourt Award and several other prizes before being translated into many languages. It is still the standard work on Hannah Arendt.
In 1983, Elisabeth, who had become progressively more interested in psychoanalysis as she worked on the Arendt biography, enrolled for clinical psychoanalytic training in New Haven. She made the acquaintance of a group of Anna Freudıs American colleagues at the Child Study Center there, and eventually was invited to become Anna Freudıs biographer. In 1988, after a fascinating period of interviewing Anna Freudıs circle and visiting child study centers all over Europe and America most extensively, Anna Freudıs own Hampstead Center in LondonElisabeth published Anna Freud: A Biography, the book for which she is best known in the world-wide community of psychoanalysts.
During the 1990ıs Elisabeth moved to Philadelphia in order to teach part-time at Haverford College and continue her psychoanalytic training at the Philadelphia Association for Psychoanalysis, where she graduated in 1999. She has continued to publish in the field of psychoanalysis her prize-winning The Anatomy of Prejudices was issued in 1996while maintaining a private practice in psychotherapy and psychoanalysis, first in Philadelphia and currently in New York City, where she now lives.
For Elisabeth, Cherishment has been a writing adventure. It is her first book-length collaboration; an effort, made with Faith Bethelardıs urging and essential help, to move beyond the scholarly style she had cultivated for some twenty-five years of academic life. The book tries to keep something of the quality of the conversation from which it emerged, and particularly of Faith Bethelardıs free associative, meditative manner of exploring themes. "We joke that we are the depth researcher and the packager, the one who is always tuned to her interior life, her emotional life, and the one who is always thinking about how to communicate artfully to others," Elisabeth said. "Faith learned from me about the art of conceptualizing and writing, and I learned from her about what she calls "the turn to spiritual autobiography.""
For information about Elisabeth Young-Bruehl's other books, click on EYB'S Books.
Takeo Doi wondered in his book The Anatomy of Dependence whether any language other than Japanese had a noun like amae, "the expectation to be sweetly and indulgently loved," or a verb like amaeru, "to presume on anotherıs sweet and indulgent love." Our friend Ying Li considered this question, and brought us her answer to it "zhenai," the Chinese characters above. The character on the left, "ai," Ying explained, means "love," and its central part means "heart." The word on the right, "zhen," means "precious," and its left part means "jade," the precious stone. So, the characters together mean "precious love."
Faith and Elisabeth first met Ying at a reception for a show of her paintings, the first in the Philadelphia area. They were struck immediately by the warmth and depth of her colors, and by the extraordinary way she had translated the ink brush strokes of Chinese calligraphy into brushstrokes in oil and acrylic. Faith, on impulse, went up to Ying and started to tell her about Cherishment, about "the expectation to be sweetly and indulgently loved." Ying understood immediately what Faith was saying, and Faith, again on impulse, without a thought about what her publisher might think, asked Ying if she would do a cherishment painting for the cover of the book. "Of course. A great honor," she said to this stranger! After Ying had read the first chapter of the manuscript, she produced two sets of sketches. From these, the cover was eventually beautifully designed by Mary Schuck at Free Press. It is very unusual to have a book cover painted especially for a book especially by an artist of such brilliance as Yingand Elisabeth and Faith felt there was somethingsomething very Chinese, very I Chingabout this fortuitous meeting. And for Ying, the joint project was the beginning of a journey she is making into the ancient Chinese texts that she, growing up in China under the Maoist regime which repudiated everything Confucian, was not allowed even to know about.
For a brief biography of Ying Li, with her Cherishment sketches, and samples of her recent work, click onto Ying Li's Studio.