Eric Kulick MD

I am a psychiatrist and a psychoanalyst. I attended college at the State University of New York at Stony Brook from 1970 to 1974.

I attended Medical School at the State University of New York at Buffalo between 1974 and 1978. I did a residency in psychiatry at the Karl Menninger School of Psychiatry from 1978-1982. From 1982-1993 I was a staff psychiatrist at the Menninger Clinic. I undertook psychoanalytic training during those years at the Topeka Institute for Psychoanalysis and graduated in 1993. In 1993 I went into private practice in the Greater Kansas City area and in 2000 I was appointed supervising and training analyst at the The Greater Kansas City and Topeka Psychoanalytic Institute.

Psychoanalysis has been a part of my life from childhood on. While I was growing up in Brooklyn, New York, my father was training as a psychoanalyst. Freud’s writing and ideas were a vibrant and important part of my household environment. My father was a warm and intelligent man with whom I learned to discuss most aspects of my life. As I reached adolescence I began reading Freud’s cultural works. These included Totem and Taboo, Moses and Monotheism, and The Future of an Illusion. Reading Freud was a seismic experience in my early life. I was awed by his breath-taking conceptualizations and his genius. I knew immediately and implicitly that there were deep truths embedded in his work. At that point I began to explicitly formulate a goal of becoming a psychoanalyst.

When I was in college I was fascinated by the humanities and social sciences. Literature has always been my first love. Additionally I was exposed to courses in social and cultural anthropology and art history that opened up new worlds to me. I also took the four years of science required for medical school and I was surprised to find a particular interest in and ability for organic chemistry. When I took pharmacology in medical school, I found a kinship with that world. This turned out to be a precursor to my professional interest in the new world of psychopharmacology.

As I concluded my college years I found myself drawn to medical school with notions of combining multiple interests in learning to become a medical practitioner, but always with a particular interest in psychiatry and psychoanalysis.

My first year of medical school was arduous and painful. It took me time to accommodate to the vast workload I had undertaken. By the second year I was more comfortable. While I found medical science quite interesting and really enjoyed working with patients in a variety of fields, it became increasingly clear that my first and great love was psychiatry and especially the psychotherapeutic aspects of psychiatry.

My four years of training at the Menninger Clinic, as well as my subsequent ten years on staff were a labor of love and an exhilarating experience. I had marvelous teachers and role models, and I learned how to understand and help people. I was excited by both the psychotherapeutic aspect of psychological healing as well as learning the art and science of psychopharmacology.

Menninger was a tertiary hospital, which means that we accepted people from all over the world whose treatments had failed them. One of the most important lessons I learned was the importance of steadfast commitment to those whose healing process was arduous and slow. I also learned to integrate psychotherapy and drug treatment in ways that were synergistic with each other. At Menninger I completed my psychoanalytic training in which I further developed my ability to understand people in depth and to work at a level of maximum intensity and effectiveness.

I made the decision to leave Menninger for a variety of reasons. These included the unfortunate changes in the economics of psychiatric care wrought by managed care in the 1990’s. I also felt that it was imperative for me to emerge from institutional practice and develop myself as an independent clinician. In 1993 I moved from Topeka to Leawood, Kansas, and I began private practice in the greater Kansas City area.

As I continue to develop as a clinician I found I could use the skills I had learned with more power and effectiveness by using my knowledge more directly and practically, as opposed to the way I had been taught to do so. At Menninger there was significant focus on following strict technical rules, and maintaining emotional distance. As an independent practitioner I found that the restrictions and limitations I had been taught unnecessarily limited my effectiveness. I developed a more flexible, open, and direct approach in trying to help my patients. I also allowed myself to care and became less constrained in demonstrating my concern and interest in the people I was trying to help.

Approximately ten years ago I met Marilyn Dawson-McCarthy, M.S.W. who was both an excellent and seasoned analyst herself. We found we had arrived at similar conclusions about therapy and analysis. We began collaborating on our work by discussion and reflection. We proceeded to develop our ideas theoretically, and we starting developing what we ultimately named Pragmatic Psychoanalysis.

My collaboration with Marilyn has influenced my practice in many various respects. An area of particular note has been the field of chemical dependency. Marilyn has a unique expertise in this field. Having spent decades working directly in the area of addictions, she has combined her knowledge of psychoanalysis with her understanding of addictions and Twelve-Step programs. She has created her own powerful synthesis of the two. I have learned much from her about the deep wisdom of the Twelve Steps and the Big Book, and about how to treat people who suffer from addictive disorders.

Pragmatic psychoanalysis represents the culmination and totality of all that I have learned as a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst and as a human being. Eric Kulick