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Michigan Psychoanalytic Institute & Society

Harold L. Taylor, M.D.

In Memoriam


By Linda A.W. Brakel, M.D.

Harold L. (Hal) Taylor, M.D. was born on October 17, 1949 in Portland, Maine, and died on March 15, 2011 in Royal Oak, Michigan. The usual specifics to report are as follows: Like his older brother Vaughn, Hal attended Dartmouth College, starting in 1967. Hal majored in Chemistry and then completed Dartmouth’s six year Medical School program. He graduated with his M.D. in 1973. He did an Internship at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit (1973-1974) and a Residency in Psychiatry at Sinai Hospital (1974-1977). Hal started his candidacy at the Michigan Psychoanalytic Institute in 1977 and graduated in 1985.

Nothing else was usual about Hal. He met Ellen, his wife of 40 years, in an atypical way on a trip to Columbus Ohio (which I will not recount). Their long happy marriage was as solid and interesting as the technical rock climbing that Hal did as a youth. (I kid you not!) Hal’s and Ellen’s daughter Katie was born in 1977, demonstrating almost from her first day that she was yet another original.

Despite being rather busy as a family man, and as a candidate with endless reading, classes, supervisions, and travel in addition to starting and then maintaining a large and lively practice, Hal embarked with great intensity on a number of different hobbies. He engaged with each of these serially, monogamously, and with considerable passion. I may not have the order exactly right, but there was the motorcycle phase (which we all liked least for obvious reasons), the dulcimer craze, which entailed both playing and making them (I have one Hal made in my office to this day), and then the years-long project of serious and complex computer programming. His last hobby, and I believe his favorite, recaptured a love of his youth, the saxophone. He practiced it with devotion, and near his untimely end had finally found a band that felt just right.

Hal approached psychoanalysis unconventionally too; he was the consummate clinician, not eschewing theory, but not appropriating it in any defensive way, not needing it as a shield. As was true with his family and his hobbies, he treated his patients with great care and respect. Although Hal taught several courses at the Institute (at least one a year I believe), supervised and taught the residents at Wayne State University and was the Assistant Training Director at Detroit Psychiatric Institute for many years, as well as holding offices in the Michigan Psychoanalytic Society and Institute (he was at various times Chair of the Arrangements Committee, Program Committee, and the Committee on Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, Chief Editor of the Newsletter, President of the Society, and Member of the Admissions Committee), for Hal the clinical endeavor was always central and uppermost. As such he would no doubt be proud to learn that the Society recently created an award in his honor to be given yearly, The Harold L. Taylor, M.D. award for humaneness and generosity of spirit in the practice of psychoanalysis. Likewise he would be pleased to learn that posthumously he was the award’s first recipient this last May. Above all, though, he would be satisfied that every one of his patients knew their analyst had a good and kind heart.

Finally let me add the obvious: he was a wonderful friend--to the Michigan Psychoanalytic Institute and Society, to psychoanalysis, and to me. I miss him and I shall continue to do so.