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Marking the Life of A Master: Martin Bergmann

Reaching the age of 100 is a remarkable achievement for any human. No matter how many years I have left, I hope to demonstrate the same love and commitment to my craft that I had the privilege of experiencing in a truly remarkable man, Martin Bergmann. The world lost a great mind when Martin died on January 22, 2014, less than a month shy of his 101st birthday. Martin Bergmann was a psychoanalyst, an author and an educator. If you’ve seen Woody Allen’s Crimes and Misdemeanors, then you’ve seen him in action (more about that later).

Everyone in life can be our teacher, but not everyone is a master. A master is someone whose life embodies whatever it is you seek.” — Joe Caruso, The Power of Losing Control (Chapter 9)

Martin was a man I highly respected for his work in psychoanalysis. Thanks to my good friends Dr. Curtis Bristol and Dr. Todd Davison, I was blessed to know Martin Bergmann personally. By studying his writing and through our personal meetings and discussions, I made him my master.  A great man.  A great analyst. A unique mind.

Martin personally toured me through two museums, and told me of how he got the role of the philosopher in one of Woody Allen’s films. Allen cast Bergmann as the philosopher in Crimes and Misdemeanors, and it’s possible he may be the only person in the world to tell Woody that he wouldn’t read his script because it wasn’t what he would say. Upon making this remark everyone on the set looked at Woody, who said, “Ok, say what you would say.”  They rolled film and Martin’s ad-libbed words became the end of the movie.

Martin was highly respected in the field of psychology as a Professor at New York University. In 1997 he received The Mary S. Sigourney Award, which recognizes distinguished contributions to the field of psychoanalysis. He was part of many publications, provided commentary in documentaries, and participated in countless talks and panels. Some of his more known work focuses on the psychology of art and the theory of symbols, the psychology of love, the Holocaust, and child sacrifice.

It is a paradox of human growth that all masters are also servants to their craft. Dr. Bergmann embodied this. And I am grateful to have had such a master in my life. As with anyone you decide to make your master, remember this:

  •  It is, in fact, by committing ourselves to serving our craft that we become masters. And even in our mastery, we remain servants.
  •  If we are good and faithful servants, if we continue to recommit ourselves to studying the basics, we will, as a by-product of that commitment, become masters.
  •  And to serve our mastery, we will commit to serving others by becoming their teachers.

Thank you Martin, for your life and for your work.


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