Life Studies Blog (Old)

November 02, 2005

John Mack at Kyoto and Boston (by M)

I happened to visit John mack' homepage and knew that he had been killed by a car on September 27, 2004. It was a little shocking to me because I was thinking of giving him the translation of my Painless Civilization when its first chapter is translated. Wikipedia says as follows:

John Edward Mack, M.D. (October 4, 1929 - Sep 27, 2004), professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer, considered to be a leading authority on the spiritual or transformational affects of alleged alien encounter experiences. (...) The dominant theme of his life's work has been the exploration of how one's perceptions of the world affect one's relationships. He addressed this issue of "worldview" on the individual level in his early clinical explorations of dreams, nightmares and teen suicide, and in his biographical study of the life of British officer T. E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia), for which he received the Pulitzer Prize in biography in 1977.

I first met him probably in 1989 or 1990 at Kyoto. A year before I had met Arthur Kleinmen, professor at Harvard University, at Osaka. After going back to the US, Professor Kleinman introduced me to John Mack. Several months later John visited Japan. John and his wife Sally and I met at Kyoto. I forget what we talked about. The only thing I remember was that he was very interested in my research and he promised to meet me when I come to Boston in the future. In 1991, I went to stay at Wesleyan University, Connecticutt, USA, and visited Boston to meet John. John, Sally and I met at a restaurant in Hyatt Boston, had dinner, and visited his office in his research center. We talked about the meaning of death in modern society and some topics in philosophy. I was deeply impressed by the warmth of his personality.

After I came back to Japan we sometimes exchanged letters. In the mid-1990s I found him in Time magazine. He was introduced as a Harvard professor who believes in UFO abduction. He was saying that some kind of extraordinary things were happening in the US and around the world. I was shocked and wrote a letter to him. He soon wrote to me that he was researching abduction cases in terms of psychology. Some materials were attached to his mail. I couldn't figure out why he was so absorbed in this kind of topic. I thought what he was really interested in was the "psyhological process" and the "transformation of spirituality" of the people who insisted to have been abducted by aliens. This is, certainly, an interesting topic in the field of psychology.

In 1995 he divorced Sally. His new research topic might have been one of the causes of their divorce, but I didn't know anything about it because we haven't exchanged letters for these ten years.

Anyway, discussion with John at Kyoto and Boston encouraged me a lot. I wish I sent the translation of Painless Civilization to him and had a chat on contemporary psychological problems in painless society found in Japan and the US. Wiki says that his abduction research was a "philosophical treatise connecting the themes of spirituality and modern worldviews." And I would like to see Sally again someday.

May his soul rest in peace.

Photo: Lights on the ceiling

What's New: New translation was added to The Insensitive Man: Chapter 2 .

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