Jay Amsterdam: Brief reminiscence on early correspondence and collegial friendship with Bernard (“Barney”) Carroll, as contained in a recent email exchange with Tom Ban
I very much enjoyed reading your brief correspondence with Barney. Even without your accompanying email, one could sense from your last letter to Barney in this set, that something happened to you that would probably have a lasting impact on your future life and professional activities.
We would be happy to post this set of your correspondence with Barney and would be happy to post other sets of your correspondence you may have had with him.
Thank you so much for your nice email and for your kind words regarding my relationships with professional colleagues (of all stripes). Over the years, I have done my level best to be a kind, generous and forthcoming colleague with whomever I have had the opportunity to collaborate – no matter how fleeting or profound these relationships proved to be.
When I was a young man, I originally hoped to enter academic research and dedicate my professional life to scholarly pursuits. I was, in my youthful naivety, a hopeless romantic! I recall telling my wife, then my fiancé, that I regarded my work in academic psychiatry as a “life-style”; rather than simply a job. I tried to explain to her that she would need to adapt to this sort of scholarly life-style; not steeped in wealth and financial remuneration, but rather rewarded with the intangible gift of intellectual illumination and professional recognition!
I believe that I still feel that way, despite the litany of disappointments that have occurred in our field over the past 30 years. In hindsight, however, the ‘70s and ‘80s were, indeed, Halcion Days for the field of psychiatry research; I am grateful that I had the opportunity to participate in them (in my own small way) and to personally know some of the giants of the field.
In this framework, I am still saddened daily by the passing of Barney Carroll, who I knew only superficially, but whom I certainly admired from the first time that I met him in 1978, up to my last email correspondence with him, one week before his death in September 2018. I know that my collegial friendship with Barney through the various iterations of his academic research life, mightily influenced my entire approach to the field (i.e., from Barney’s early days in psychoneuroendocrinology, to his recent research on disclosing the unethical corruption that has come to define the field of academic research of so many of our colleagues).
Thus, for your reading pleasure, I am attaching a correspondence that I recently found, that I had with Barney back in 1984–1985. The letters describe my activities and hopes as a young psychiatry researcher and my hopes and plans to become his colleague at Duke University. Alas, the birth of our first son, who was burdened with multiple handicaps and challenges, shattered any hopes of my moving my family or the Depression Research Unit from the University of Pennsylvania to Barney’s department at Duke. Nevertheless, I tried to remain an admiring colleague of Barney during the ensuing years (through what turned out to be a difficult academic journey for the both of us at our respective institutions).
I hope that you enjoy reading these letters. I know that there are thousands of young academics, who came before and after me, who have penned similar letters of this nature and that this correspondence with Barney per se, are only for the few remaining cognoscenti who know of Barney or myself. Although only a very tiny slice of my professional and academic history, these letters, penned to a friend, are most meaningful to me, like an old black and white photo.
My very best,
March 28, 2019