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In Memory of William J. Richardson, S.J. Notes Toward a Semiotics of Address.

The Letter, Issue 65, Summer 2017, Pages 73 - 87



John Muller

I met Bill Richardson in the late summer of 1963. He had just completed his book on Heidegger [1] and was assigned to teach Modern Philosophy in the Jesuit seminary at Shrub Oak, New York, where I was a Jesuit in training, majoring in Philosophy. I was assigned to be his class beadle for the year. As beadle I made copies of readings, brought them to class, gathered assignments, made announcements, all as needed. It meant I also spent time with Bill, in his office or talking late into the night in one of the cottages on the grounds. He got to know my family members and eventually presided over their funerals. In later years a small group of a dozen friends who had all left the Jesuits met annually for a day-long cook-out. Bill was a faithful member of this group and we often joked that he would eventually outlive us all and bury us (as he did for four of us).

In time I completed graduate work in Clinical Psychology and Bill, teaching then at Fordham University in New York City, became known to Rollo May and his colleagues engaged in existential psychiatry. Through them he met Otto Will, MD, who had been at Chestnut Lodge (and was analysed by Harry Stack Sullivan and Frieda Fromm-Reichmann). Otto was then the Medical Director at the Austen Riggs Center, a small, private psychiatric hospital located in the western Massachusetts village of Stockbridge. Otto encouraged Bill to pursue psychoanalytic training at the William Alanson White Institute in New York City and afterwards to come to Riggs as Director of Research. It was in this context that Bill invited me to join him at Riggs. He came in 1974 and I arrived a year later. My job was to treat two patients (meeting four-times weekly) and to work half-time with Bill on the texts of Jacques Lacan, whose work Bill had heard of while at Louvain and whose name I had never heard before.

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