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Michigan Psychoanalytic Institute & Society

2014 Michigan Psychoanalytic Foundation Benefit

Mr. James Grosfeld was honored at the 30th Annual Benefit of the Michigan Psychoanalytic Foundation on the evening of Saturday, October 11, 2014, at The Henry Ford Museum, Dearborn, MI.

About Our 2014 Michigan Psychoanalytic Foundation Benefit Honoree


Mr. James Grosfeld

Albert Pine, a nineteenth-century English author, said, “What we do for ourselves, dies with us. What we do for others and the world, remains, and is immortal.” Over the last few years, the Michigan Psychoanalytic Foundation has been fortunate enough to receive from a donor gifts that are not only extremely generous, but are also being used in an intelligent and creative way. The manner in which these donations are benefiting so many will ensure their usefulness for coming generations and lead to the kind of immortality Pine was referring to.

Our generous donor is Mr. James Grosfeld. Having gained from psychoanalytic treatment himself Mr. Grosfeld wished to make a significant contribution to furthering the cause of psychoanalysis. Since interdisciplinary involvement in psychoanalysis was especially dear to his late analyst, Dr. Alexander Grinstein, Mr. Grosfeld initially thought about helping to make psychoanalytic education more accessible to academics so that they could study psychoanalytic theory and technique, and use this education to make contributions to both psychoanalysis and their core disciplines. To this end, in consultation with MPI, he established the Alexander Grinstein Interdisciplinary Scholarship Award Fund.

A few years later, not content with what he had already contributed, Mr. Grosfeld decided to help others access the kind of rich and intensive treatment that he and others important to him had been helped by. In 2013 the Grosfeld Family Fund for Psychoanalysis was set up at MPI, with a momentous gift from the Grosfeld family. This fund helps children, adolescents, and adults who could not otherwise afford psychoanalytic treatment receive its benefits. Eighteen people are currently in psychoanalytic treatment because of the fund; the analyst agrees to a reduced fee, the patient contributes a certain amount toward the analytic fee, and the remainder is by the Grosfeld Fund. All of the analysts treating patients through this program are graduates of the Michigan Psychoanalytic Institute. Such a gift is without precedent at any other psychoanalytic institute in the United States.

As our readers can imagine, the Grosfeld Family Fund for Psychoanalysis has already touched and transformed many lives. Grateful patients who are being helped by the fund speak of the “gift” of psychoanalysis that has been made available to them. They refer to how this “amazing,” unexpected, and selfless gift from the Grosfeld family is helping them deal with previously devastating life circumstances. Patients report that the analytic treatment they have received thanks to the Grosfeld Fund has helped them feel more able to change the restricting and repetitive patterns they earlier assumed they were bound to. Patients have referred to their treatment as being not only helpful, but “lifesaving.” In an era when clinicians often no longer take the time to talk to their patients for more than a few minutes, Mr. Grosfeld has helped the analytic community tremendously by asserting the usefulness of the psychoanalytic method—which, for those who have been helped by it, is a “talking therapy” par excellence.

We at the Michigan Psychoanalytic Institute and the Michigan Psychoanalytic Foundation are grateful to Mr. Grosfeld not only for his monetary contributions, which have been overwhelmingly generous. We are also grateful for his willingness to speak out about the usefulness of his own psychoanalytic treatment. This is a topic many people do not wish to discuss, feeling either that it is private or out of concern that in the communities where they live and work, having needed such help would be viewed as a weakness or a flaw rather than the sign of emotional strength that it is. More and more, though, bold voices are speaking up against old mores. Mr. Grosfeld’s voice—that of a man who has succeeded at whatever he has undertaken in life and is able to acknowledge the help he sought and received from the psychoanalytic community—is prominent, vigorous, and very much needed.

Mr. Grosfeld graduated from Amherst College in 1959 and received his LLB from Columbia Law School in 1962. After a short career in law, he started and managed two of the early hedge funds in the United States. In 1972 Mr. Grosfeld moved from New York City to Michigan to join Pulte Home Corporation. From 1974 to 1990 he was Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Pulte Group, Inc. In recent years Mr. Grosfeld has been a private investor and serves on two for-profit Boards, Blackrock, Inc. and Lexington Realty Trust.

Mr. Grosfeld also serves, or has served, on the Boards of The Anti-defamation League, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, The United Jewish Foundation of Metropolitan Detroit, Temple Beth El and Henry Ford Hospital. He is a philanthropist, locally and nationally, and has funded many programs at universities, hospitals and other institutions, along with his wife, Nancy. Some such programs are at Amherst College, Columbia Business School, Stanford University, The ADL, The JFMD, The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, The College for Creative Studies, Beaumont Hospital, Henry Ford Hospital, Johns Hopkins Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital. A few of these programs include: The James J. Grosfeld Professor of Law, Jurisprudence and Social Thought at Amherst College, The Nancy and James Grosfeld Spine Research and Education Fund at Henry Ford Hospital, The Cancer Genetics Center in their name at Beaumont Hospital and The Centennial Fund at the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit.

Mrs. Grosfeld is a former nurse and social worker. She is a past president of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit, the JFMD Women’s Philanthropy and the Michigan Humane Society. She serves on several boards including The College for Creative Studies, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and the Jewish Fund.

The Grosfelds have also given generously to the Walnut Lake Preschool (WLP), which is a therapeutic nursery school. Drs. Nancy Blieden and Don Spivak, the school’s co-directors, are psychoanalyst members of the Michigan Psychoanalytic Institute. In the words of Dr. Blieden, “Nancy Grosfeld has taken particular interest in the preschool and has contributed magnanimously and creatively to WLP. Her contributions come with her belief in the value of a viable psychoanalytic therapeutic preschool: The money is to be used to enlarge its potential while working toward its sustainability. She doesn’t only give money. Nancy is a real partner: She mentors, provides expert consultation, and comes to all our events. For her practical wisdom, humility, and generous heart, we honor her and are deeply grateful.”

Maimonides, the preeminent medieval Spanish and Jewish philosopher, emphasized that the highest form of giving is to give a gift, loan, or partnership that will allow the recipient to support himself instead of depending on others. This is, interestingly, also the enterprise of a good-enough psychoanalytic treatment: to help our patients do for themselves, long after their psychoanalytic treatment has ended, what is required to live meaningful, fulfilled, and happier lives. Through his gift to the MPI, James Grosfeld has achieved the highest form of giving.

Aisha Abbasi, M.D. President, Michigan Psychoanalytic Institute