Max Warren, M.D.
By Marvin Margolis, M.D., Ph.D.
On Monday, June 19, 2006, at the age of 87, our beloved colleague, Max Warren died after a massive stroke. On Thursday evening, June 22, hundreds of friends, colleagues, former and present students, patients and family filled the Birmingham Temple for a memorial service. Grandchildren spoke of his caring concern and wisdom, patients attested to his profound life-saving help, and many colleagues recalled his enormous contributions to our psychoanalytic community. It was an evening of laughter and tears as this very special man was eulogized by the people that he had helped in his long career.
What follows will be a personal reminiscence, but I will try to add some comments of people in attendance at the service as well. Max was already a training analyst when I was yet a candidate. He was one of the founding generation of our Institute and Society; he was President of both. Max established the Michigan Psychoanalytic Foundation to provide a venue for non-analysts who loved psychoanalysis to express their support. He was a wise and thoughtful colleague who was grounded in classical psychoanalysis but open to the best in new psychoanalytic ideas.
Max had a special capacity for friendship. This was more than evident in the outpouring of love and affection by countless people that had been the beneficiaries of his caring. I was first aware of this when he reached out to me as a candidate when he heard that I was undergoing a very difficult time in my life. Our friendship gradually evolved from that time. Max had an unusual ability to listen and express encouragement. I would call it a caressing attention. Your best came to the fore when in his company.
Max was always ready with a helping hand. He knew of my love of gardening; so, one day he popped in with a stool that allowed me to comfortably kneel and then to easily leverage on back to an upright position. Thus I could more comfortably continue the full range of gardening tasks which often required kneeling on the ground. This was a good, caring man whose thoughtful acts of kindness endeared him to many, many people.
Max lived a rich and active life. Max loved music and art and was a voracious reader who loved sharing his experiences with others. He also loved golfing and gardening and played his last golf game only two days before his stroke. He stopped taking on new patients sometime in his eighties, but continued to see the patients that still needed to continue their therapy. He worked part-time until the last week of his life. His patients typically remarked on his quiet, calm support and wisdom. He was quoted as saying “as long as patients need me, I will continue to practice.” Max’s patients openly spoke of their strong affection for this compassionate man.
His colleagues knew him as a dedicated, loyal pillar of our community who shouldered every responsibility with grace and steadfastness. From the time that he was a candidate, at one time or another he held every major position of responsibility in the Institute, Society, and Foundation. In meetings, his voice was always listened to and respected. Candidates who might not be progressing according to their capacities were often assigned to him. He always found a way to bring out their best and thus enabled them to resume their progression to graduation.
Finally, one has to note his life-long devotion to his daughters and sons-in-law, his grandchildren, and to Anita Plous, with whom he lived so happily in his last 15 years of life. They were very devoted to each other. As one might expect, Max became a loving presence in the life of Anita’s children and grandchildren. Since Anita and my wife were close friends, we all drew even closer to each other in the last ten years. If either my wife or I would be ill or require hospitalization, Max and Anita would always be there for us. This was a noble, sweet man who will be missed by all of us. He left a legacy of warm memories to brighten our life.
Many colleagues and friends, together with family members, are establishing a fund to honor Max’s memory by establishing a project in the area of psychoanalytic education. If you would like to participate send your contribution to: Max Warren, M.D. Memorial Fund c/o The Michigan Psychoanalytic Institute.