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[liberationtech] Tragic News: Aaron Swartz commits suicide

Yvette Alberdingkthijm yvette at
Sun Jan 13 12:41:08 PST 2013


Thank you for sharing and allowing this conversation on this list. I am the ED of WITNESS, a human rights organization, and happened to mention this thread today a friend (and one of WITNESS' allies and supporters), a Brooklyn-based psychiatrist called Sam Herschkowitz, particularly the fact that it seemed not always easy for people to find (the right) support when depressed or suicidal. 

He said that one out of 5 people struggle with depression or mood swings that can precipitate suicidal preoccupation.  There is no shelter from this occurrence and that shame ("I should be stronger") prevents all of us from getting help.

He has offered to be a resource and to consult by phone or in person for free for anyone who needs help. I know this is a research-heavy crowd so I have posted his all information below. I cannot vouch for him professionally, and you should do your own homework, but I do know that he is a good potential link to resources. 



Samuel Herschkowitz, M.D.

122 Willow Street

Brooklyn, N.Y. 11201




Curriculum  Vitae

Dr. Herschkowitz has been a practicing psychiatrist and psychoanalyst for over 35 years specializing in depression and anxiety.  He has held academic positions at Downstate Medical Center, Beth Israel Hospital, Mount Sinai Hospital and at NYU Medical Center.  He has been the Director of the NYU Psychoanalytic Institute as well as a teacher and mentor to residents and post graduate students in the mental health profession. His expertise in the treatment of depression and anxiety spans in modalities from pharmacological treatment to treatment approaches that are psychological only.  He is esteemed by his colleagues and has been awarded the Melitta Sperling award for outstanding performance within his field.

Medical Licenses and Certifications:


State Licenses: New York State No. 131099

Federal: DEA AH7591402

Diplomate Certification: American Board of Medical Examiners #1658 (1976)

Specialty Certifications: Diplomate,

American Board of Psychiatry & Neurology #21352 (1980)

Subspecialty Certification:     Training and Supervising Psychoanalyst,

American Psychoanalytic Association (2000)

Educational  Experience:

College:  Honors College, Syracuse University, Summa Cum Laude

Medical School: Honor Roll, College of Medicine

State University of New York at Downstate (1976)

New York City

Research Fellow: Department of Immunology and Cancer Research

Sloan-Kettering Memorial Hospital (1976)

New York City

Residency: Department of Psychiatry

            Kings County Medical Center (1979)

New York City

Post Residency Training: New York University Medical Center

Psychoanalytic Institute (1984)

New York City


Academic Positions:

Research Fellow,

Department of Immunology, Sloan Kettering Memorial Hospital (1976-1977)

Assistant Instructor,

Downstate Medical Center (1976-1979)

Clinical Assistant Professor,

Downstate Medical Center (1980-1981)

Clinical Assistant Professor,

Beth Israel Medical Center (1981-1984)

Clinical Assistant Professor,

Mount Sinai Hospital, New York City (1984-1989)

Clinical Assistant Professor,

New York University Medical Center (1989-2000)

Clinical Associate Professor

New York University Medical Center (2000-2004)

Clinical Professor

New York University Medical Center (2004-present)

Training and Supervising Psychoanalyst

New York University Psychoanalytic Institute (NYUPI:  2000-present)


1. Refereed publications:

Herschkowitz, S. & Dickes, R., Suicide Attempts in a Female to Male Transsexual,

     J. of the American Psychiatric Association, 35:368-69, March, 1978.

Goode, R., Saften, T. & Herschkowitz, S., Mutagenic Retardation of Ascorbic Acid on

     Clarke’s Level Cells,”  Annals of Immunology 14:3, pp. 78-84, June, 1978.

Teifer, L. & Herschkowitz, S. Nutritional Aspects of Sexual Behavior, Nutritionist,

     18:12, pp. 2-6, April, 1978.

Herschkowitz, S. & Kahn, C., Toward a Psychoanalytic View of Family Systems,

     The Psychoanalytic Review, 67:45-68, 1980.

Goldberger, M., Herschkowitz, S. et al, Teaching Analytic Candidates Using a Taped

     Audio Analysis, Psychoanalytic Quarterly, April, 1993.

Herschkowitz, S., "On Analyzability" (recently submitted)  (2006)


Herschkowitz, S. “glossary terms” (partial) in Textbook of Psychoanalysis, ed. Person,

    Cooper and Gabbard, (2004)

Herschkowitz, S.  Book review of A Spirit of Inquiry by Lichtenberg et al

     JAPA 53:1 pp. 306-309, 2005.

2.  Non-refereed Publication:

Herschkowitz, S. Transsexual Etiology, J. of Legal Medicine, 5:27-29, July, 1977.

Herschkowitz, S., Language, Psychoanalysis and Computer Technology, Downstate

     Bulletin, 16:2-5, April, 1978.

Herschkowitz, S., reporter on Weinshel, E.M., On Inconsolability, The PANY Bulletin,

     June, 1982.

Herschkowitz, S., reporter on Weich, H., Language as Fetish, The PANY Bulletin, July, 1990.

3. Scientific Papers Presented:

“Differential Diagnosis in the Evolution of Gender Dysphoria.” 

     Medical Grand Rounds, Downstate Medical Center, May, 17, 1990.

“A Case of Female Transsexualism,”  Eastern Conference for Sexual Therapy,

     Plaza Hotel, New York City, March 5, 1987.

“Developmental Aspects of Male and Female Sexual Identity,”

     Department of Sociology, The New School, April 26, 1988.

Discussant:  "The Genesis of Male Homosexuality" (paper by Charles W. Socarides)

     American Psychoanalytic Association, December, 1988.

“Transsexualism:  Surgical and Psychological Follow-up and Outcomes,”

     Symposium on Human Sexuality (sponsored by H.E.W.) January 23, 1989.

“Creative Aspects of Scientific Innovation,” International Conference on Biotechnology,

     Naples, Florida, 1990.

“Healthcare Technology:  Breakthroughs in the 90’s,” Women’s Economic Development

     Conference, Sheraton Hotel, New York City, May 15, 1991.

“The Art of Negotiation,”  International Venture Capital Fund Conference, Marriott

     Hotel, Boston, April 23, 1992.

“Due Diligence Evaluations of Corporate Management:  a Psychological Profile Guide,”

     Smith Barney Management Consulting Conference, March 17, 1994.

“Can the Deal Work? Evaluation of Management Integrity,” New Businesses & Venture

     Capital:  A 5 week course at the Harvard Business School.  One lecture on

     October 17, 1995.

“Linguistic Interpretation and Psychoanalytic Interpretation,” Regents College, Department Of Psychology, London, September 15, 1996.

“The Bridge Between Words and Mental Representations,”  University of Sao Paulo, Brazil,

     Department of Psychology, November 12, 2000.

“The Evolution of Language and Abstract Thinking,”  Stamford University, Joint Seminar

     Department of Psychology and Linguistics, April 7, 2001.

Moderator,  Scharff  Memorial Lecture, Charles Brenner:  the case presentation of

     Dr. Chapman Atwell. April, 2003

"On Analyzabiltiy," The Melitta Sperling Award Lecture, PANY, October 27, 2003.

Psychoanalytic Administrative Activities:


1.    Director, NYU Psychoanalytic Institute  (“NYUPI“) 2005-2009

2.    Chairman, Education Committee, NYUPI, 2001-2005.

3.    Chairman, Curriculum Committee , NYUPI, 1994-2001.

4.    Member of the Faculty Search Committee, NYUPI, 1998-present.

5.   Chairman, Three Institute (NYUPI, Columbia, NYPI) Senior Elective Program (1996-     98).

6.    Member, Student Progression Committee, NYUPI, 1999-present.

7.    Member, Training Analysts’ Selection Committee, 2001-2005.

8.    Member, Executive Council of the NYUPI, 1996-present.

9.    Member, Admissions Committee of NYUPI, 1996-present.

10.    Fellow, BOPS, American Psychoanalytic Association, 2001-present.

11.   Reader, Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 2002-present.

12.  Co-chair, Site Visit Committee 2004,  2003 until site visit in Nov. 2004

13.  Member, Psychoanalytic Research and Development Fund (“PRDF“) 2000-present.

14.  Treasurer, Psychoanalytic Research and Development Fund (“PRDF”) 2002-present.

Psychoanalytic Educational Activities:

1.  Co-chair of Medical School Psychiatric Education, Downstate Medical Center (1979-1981): 

2.  Faculty member at the NYUPI, 1982-present.  The following courses were taught:

A.  Alternate Schools

B.  Psychopathology I and II.

            C.  Theory I (early Freud [pre-1923]:  The Project, Interpretations of Dreams)

D.  Theory III (Ego & the Id----Inhibitions, Symptoms and Anxiety)

E.  Theory IV (post 1930: Anna Freud; Hartmann, Kris & Lowenstein; Jacobson, etc.)

F.   Theory V (modern controversies within analysis)

G.  Theory VI (Borderline and Narcissism)

H.  Case Conferences

            I.  Dream Courses I & II

3.  Study Group Chair:  Issues of Self Esteem (PRDF= Psa. Research & Development Fund)

4.  Member of the following study groups (PRDF):

A.  Psychoanalytic--Neuroscience (Panksepp/Ostow co-chairs) (2001-ongoing)

B.  Analysis of the older patient  (Furst, Chair) (2000-2001)

C.  Affect Regulation (Ostow, Chair)(2002-2003)

D.  September 11th and it’s aftermath (Nunberg, Chair) (2002-ongoing)

            E.  Therapeutic Action (H. Blum, chair) 2004-2005

            F.  Self Esteem Regulation (S. Herschkowitz, Chair)  2003-2005

5.  Member of the following study groups:

A.  9/11 & associated traumatic events (Viola Group--Elisabeth Young Breuhl, Chair).

            B.  NYUPI curriculum revision (Alan Zients, Chair). 1998-2000

6.  Mentor, NYUPI Fellowship Program (2000-2002)

7.  Supervising and Training Analyst, NYUPI (2000-present).

8.  Theory Instructor, NYUPI psychotherapy program (2001).

9.  Lecturer (medical students and residents)  NYU Department of Psychiatry (1989-present).

Highlights of past and present Administrative and Teaching Positions Held:

Instructor (creative writing)  English Department, Syracuse University (1971-1972)

Instructor (critical thinking)  English Department, Syracuse University (1971-1972)

Coordinator and Lecturer, Medical School Psychiatry Lecture series, Downstate Medical

     Center (1977-1980).   Organized and administered all psychiatric lectures at the

      medical school.

Curriculum Chairman, NYU Psychoanalytic Institute, 1994-2000.

     During this time I coordinated major changes in the Institutes curriculum.  The emphasis

     on pathology was eliminated and structural theory and conflict/compromise formation

     was highlighted.  In addition, courses such as methodology, writing, critical thinking

     about theory formulation(s), neurobiology, applied analysis, etc. were instituted. 

Student Progression Committee, NYU Psychoanalytic Institute, 2002-present

    While on this committee, changes were instituted to further encourage students to write

     And think more critically.  Rather than merely “absorb” classical theory and technique,

     Students were encouraged to write and think critically about their craft.  The attempt

     Here was to shift the paradigm of an analytic school from the concept of a trade school

     To the concept of an expanding set of classical cornerstones that could be creatively

     used, written about and explored.

Education Chairman, NYU Psychoanalytic Institute, 2002-2005

  While chair of the EC, I continue to emphasize writing and critical thinking as a means to

   understanding classical theory and the various outcroppgs of these foundational

    foundational theories.  Writing workshops and entire courses devoted to writing    

    are now in place and cornerstone within the NYUPI curriculum.

Director of the NYU Psychoanalytic Institute, 2005-2009

    Administration and coordination of all Institute activities.  I promoted the concept of

    TA reciprocity between the Columbia, New York Psychoanalytic  Institute and   NYUPI.  This allowed all three New York Institutes to

     provide potential applicants the ability to remain with their present analyst or be

     treated by an analyst from outside their “educational” Institute environment. I’ve initiated the collaboration (and anticipated union) of all three child analytic

     programs in New York City (New York, Columbia and NYUPI).  I have changed the

     manner in which the director is chosen by allowing for full faculty participation in that

     process.  I am in the process of developing a CORST program at NYUPI as well

    as developing outreach analytic programs for third world countries.  We facilitate

    the immigration of potential applicants to the United States for training purposes.

    Most importantly, I promote and continue to promote transparent faculty collaboration.

    For example, committee meeting minutes (EC, curriculum, etc.) are now circulated to

    The faculty.  During my administration, the Institute has increased candidate inclusion     on committees.  We have also developed the first led candidate journal.  The Journal

    will soon publish its first online issue. 


Yvette J. Alberdingk Thijm
Executive Director
80 Hanson Place
Brooklyn, NY 11217
phone: + 1(718) 783 2271
europe: +31 619031122
mobile: + 1 (347) 210 0152

skype: yvette-a or witnessyvette
email: yvette at
twitter: @yvettethijm, @witnessorg, #video4change

When elephants fight, the grass suffers

Young people across the U.S. are taking action against climate change. By supporting WITNESS, you're supporting these youth. Please donate today:

On Jan 13, 2013, at 7:00 AM, Joshua Cohen <jcohen57 at> wrote:

> griffin....thanks for that moving message....I am really glad that you are still with us.
> though I do not suffer from depression, I have seen the grim, suffocating pain very close up ... my father and others in family. I wish on everyone your epiphany: that we all deserve better than that.
> warmly,
> Josh Cohen
> On Jan 13, 2013, at 3:49 AM, Griffin Boyce <griffinboyce at> wrote:
>> Hey all,
>>   It's hard to write about one's own experience with depression and suicide in the wake of someone's passing.  Not just for the intense feelings involved, but also no one wants to direct attention away from the person who has died.  
>>   As some of you mention, the fear of losing respect or "becoming a liability" is very real.  It leads people to close off entirely, to hide away, to conceal their feelings behind smiles.[3]  This is the case within tech and in other communities as well.  It's a very tricky problem.  Much harder to spot when someone's having trouble if they live five hundred miles away and only communicate with you online.
>>   In the past two-and-a-half years, I've lost three friends to suicide. Two were academics. Two were transgender. One was a member of the tech community. In light of everything that has happened, I feel the need to emphasize that people are not alone by talking about my experiences.
>>   I've struggled with depression for most of my life. After having a fairly stable level of depression for a long time, I had a sudden downturn in late 2011. In December 2011, I planned to kill myself by jumping off a local bridge.[1] In the days leading up to the 8th, I cleaned and tried to get things into some semblance of order. A steely calm overcame me, and I closed years-old accounts without emotion.
>>   I'd just moved to Philadelphia and my close friends were all far away. My spot on a waiting list for a trans-friendly therapist had just disappeared -- meaning another 3-6 months of waiting without help.  Suicide was not something that I wanted to do, but rather something that seemed like an inevitability. In my grief, I could not see that there would be a resolution that didn't include my death.  
>>   When I think back to my beginnings in coding and the internet, what led me to the interest was depression and a sharp sense of alienation.  After serious trauma and suicide attempts, I started to find a community of similar interests online in 1999.  At this point, I have very close friends in the tech community, but I did not feel very comfortable talking about the intense feelings that I was having.
>>   In the end, I did not kill myself (spoiler alert). So what changed? Well, not a lot. But also, a lot. As a parting shot, I had agreed to give an interview to a journalist.[2] The interview went *incredibly* badly, causing the epiphany that I deserved to be treated better. It wasn't that simple, and it wasn't easy, but that was the catalyst that probably saved my life.
>>   Getting help was not easy. The first medication I tried sent my cognition to zero and it took until March 2012 to finally see a therapist. It was still difficult. There are specific issues that impact the tech community. Busy is not the new happy.  At times it felt like a death march, but for me it felt like the alternative was death -- and we all deserve better than that.
>> All the best,
>> Griffin Boyce
>> [1] It's this one, for the morbidly curious:
>> [2] People who know me well will find that amusing, as I'd pretty much rather be covered in honey and set upon an anthill than talk about myself in print. 
>> [3] The day after, I went to a museum with a friend. She had no idea. In fact, I had to send her an email tonight because she *still* has no idea but subscribes to libtech.
>> -- 
>> "What do you think Indians are supposed to look like? 
>> What's the real difference between an eagle feather fan 
>> and a pink necktie? Not much."
>> ~Sherman Alexie
>> PGP Key etc: --
>> Unsubscribe, change to digest, or change password at:
> --
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