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Dr. Leonard Shengold, 94, Psychoanalyst Who Studied Child Abuse, Dies

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Dr. Shengold had been treating adult victims of childhood abuse for about 25 years when he wrote his influential book “Soul Murder,” published in 1989.

“Len was well aware that the impact of trauma was modified by unconscious fantasies, and that one never got a totally accurate depiction of a traumatic experience,” Dr. Blum mentioned in a cellphone interview.


Leonard Shengold was born on Dec. 5, 1925, in Syracuse, N.Y., to Chaim and Sonia (Kosofsky) Shengold, each of whom had immigrated from cities that have been a part of the Russian empire on the time. His father, a watchmaker, got here from Minsk; his mom, a homemaker, was from Vilna.

Leonard was 5 years previous when his father began experiencing extreme angina assaults, prompting his mom to warning him, “You mustn’t get him excited; it might kill him,” he recalled in an interview with the International Forum of Psychoanalysis in 2011. “And as soon as she said that, I could tell from her face how distressed she was to have said it. She started to cry, and I started to cry. Perhaps I had an early talent for empathy.”

His father died seven years later.

Leonard, a bookish teen, attended Syracuse University for one semester earlier than transferring to Columbia College in New York, the place one among his academics, the literary critic Lionel Trilling, sparked his curiosity in Freud and psychoanalysis.

At 18 he entered the Army, the place he served as an air-to-ground radio operator in India after which as a clerk in North Africa and Saudi Arabia after the Japanese give up. He took two books with him to the battle reflecting his literary and scientific pursuits: Proust’s “Remembrance of Things Past” and Freud’s “Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis.”

He graduated from Columbia in 1947 with a bachelor’s diploma in English and earned a medical diploma on the Long Island College of Medicine (now SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University) 4 years later. He acquired coaching on the Psychoanalytic Institute and Clinic at Downstate (now the Psychoanalytic Association of New York, which is affiliated with the New York University School of Medicine).

Over his 60-year profession, Dr. Shengold noticed sufferers privately; was a coaching analyst on the institute, in addition to its director from 1975 to 1978; and taught psychiatry at N.Y.U. He acquired the Sigourney Award, for work advancing psychoanalysis, in 1997.

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