A psychology professor at the New School was murdered in his home on May 7th. The co-chairs of the psychology department have released a statement about the professor, Jeremy Safran:
Jeremy Safran was brutally murdered yesterday. Jeremy’s contributions to the Department and to the field of Psychotherapy Research cannot be underestimated. He joined the New School faculty in 1993, shortly after the APA had placed the Clinical Psychology Program on probation. He quickly found himself Director of Clinical Studies and later Chair of the Department, and with characteristic energy and determination, worked not only to move the Clinical Psychology Program to full accreditation, but to make it the vibrant, respected program it is today.
The motives of the suspect, who has been identified as Mirzo Atadzhanov, remain unknown. The New York Post reports that he is currently being held without bail and is thought to have committed the murder in Safran’s house with a knife:
A prosecutor said Atadzhanov broke into the basement of Safran’s Prospect Park South home and fatally attacked Safran with a knife while the psychology professor was working out. Atadzhanov stabbed Safran five times— twice in the chest and three times in the stomach, according to the prosecutor.
Though much information about the murder remains unclear, some further lurid details were reported by the Post:
Cops found an unconscious Safran on the floor of his basement with trauma to his head and body and a hammer lying next him. He was pronounced dead at the scene. During their search of the basement, officers found his 28-year-old blood-soaked attacker hiding in a closet.
Further details may remain unknown until the case is brought to trial.
What is known are further details about Jeremy Safran, the intellectual. In addition to his role in the New School psychology department, Safran was the author of several thoughtful essays available online. In the spirit of honoring his work rather than focusing on his death, here are a few of his easily accessible works:
“Who’s Afraid of Sigmund Freud?” examines the rise and fall of psychoanalysis in the United States, arguing that its comparative marginalization in recent decades has allowed psychoanalysis to develop in some interesting, new directions.
“Psychoanalysis Today” provides a concise account of what psychoanalysis is, and what it is not, arguing that it should not simply be identified with the work of Freud, especially when it is considered in its American context.
“Don’t Worry… Be Happy!” argues that although optimism is an important value, positive psychology goes too far, making it difficult to cope with the tragic parts of life.
“Authenticity, American Style” makes the case that as authenticity has become more important within American culture, it has become increasingly less connected with integrity and morality. The essay applies this model to the current state of politics, particularly, to the current presidency.
Although the news of his murder is currently in the headlines, professor Safran’s life and work should be celebrated. He will be missed by many of his friends, colleagues, and students.