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Author tells story of grandfather and sequestered childhood

<p>Ilonka Venier Alexander holds a copy of her new book: The Life and Times of Franz Alexander – from Budapest to California. The publication is part of the history of psychoanalysis series – published and distributed by Karnac Books in the United Kingdom.</p>
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<p>Ilonka Venier Alexander holds a copy of her new book: The Life and Times of Franz Alexander – from Budapest to California. The publication is part of the history of psychoanalysis series – published and distributed by Karnac Books in the United Kingdom.</p> <p> </p>

YARMOUTH – He was the single most important person in her life and she says he continues to be. Yet behind her grandfather’s control of her upbringing, Ilonka Venier Alexander later discovered there were some deeply buried secrets. Decades later, she has uncovered them in her book: The Life and Times of Franz Alexander – from Budapest to California.

Her book is a tapestry threaded with obvious pride in her grandfather’s accomplishments as well as affection and love for the attention he bestowed on her. But sadness and confusion are also evident after discovering what he hid.

Franz Alexander is the founder of the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis and is considered one of the founders of psychosomatic medicine and psychoanalytic criminology.

Despite the fact that Venier Alexander ‘s mother had two other children she was treated as an only child. Her half-siblings lived with her stepfather.

There were aunts and uncles and many cousins, all of whom were unspoken of.

“I knew intellectually that I had relatives, but I had no idea where they lived…I didn’t know if they had all come to America or if they still lived in Europe… I knew absolutely nothing,” said Venier Alexander.

She believes her grandfather was embarrassed by the behaviour of her mother, who married five times and had periods of emotional instability.

“He was a pretty brilliant guy and one who wanted to excel in what he did. My mother didn’t follow the mould,” said Venier Alexander.

Another discovery she made was her grandfather’s Jewish heritage.

“He was Jewish but he totally denied it and was raised Catholic,” she said.

One chapter of the book is devoted to My Grandfather and Me. There is a description of the annual summertime trek to La Jolla in San Diego, California, for which a railroad car would be reserved for the family.

Her grandfather placed her in a boarding school at the age of seven and would visit through the years with presents of watches from Geneva and clothes from Saks Fifth Avenue.

In recent years, Venier Alexander’s discoveries from delving into the past made her all the more determined to connect with the family she never knew.

She held two family reunions, reuniting people who had not known other relatives existed and/or had not seen each other for 30-40 years.

“Most who attended the reunions thought they had no family. The keeping of secrets was a shared behaviour among various family members,” she wrote.

A clinical social worker and psychotherapist with 30 years’ experience in the field of mental health, Venier Alexander is already working on her second book, a memoir of a Jewish relative living in Budapest around the time of the Second World War.

She has resided in Port Maitland since 1994, with her husband Graham Benvie, whom she met through summer vacations in the area with friends Peter and Janet Miller.

Venier Alexander will give a reading from her book at the Yarmouth library Oct. 7 as part of the noontime series.

The Life and Times of Franz Alexander – from Budapest to California is part of the history of psychoanalysis series – published and distributed by Karnac Books. It is available for approximately $42 through the website (http://tinyurl.com/ntu2qq9) or from the author (email: ilonka300@gmail.com).

 

 

 

 

Her book is a tapestry threaded with obvious pride in her grandfather’s accomplishments as well as affection and love for the attention he bestowed on her. But sadness and confusion are also evident after discovering what he hid.

Franz Alexander is the founder of the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis and is considered one of the founders of psychosomatic medicine and psychoanalytic criminology.

Despite the fact that Venier Alexander ‘s mother had two other children she was treated as an only child. Her half-siblings lived with her stepfather.

There were aunts and uncles and many cousins, all of whom were unspoken of.

“I knew intellectually that I had relatives, but I had no idea where they lived…I didn’t know if they had all come to America or if they still lived in Europe… I knew absolutely nothing,” said Venier Alexander.

She believes her grandfather was embarrassed by the behaviour of her mother, who married five times and had periods of emotional instability.

“He was a pretty brilliant guy and one who wanted to excel in what he did. My mother didn’t follow the mould,” said Venier Alexander.

Another discovery she made was her grandfather’s Jewish heritage.

“He was Jewish but he totally denied it and was raised Catholic,” she said.

One chapter of the book is devoted to My Grandfather and Me. There is a description of the annual summertime trek to La Jolla in San Diego, California, for which a railroad car would be reserved for the family.

Her grandfather placed her in a boarding school at the age of seven and would visit through the years with presents of watches from Geneva and clothes from Saks Fifth Avenue.

In recent years, Venier Alexander’s discoveries from delving into the past made her all the more determined to connect with the family she never knew.

She held two family reunions, reuniting people who had not known other relatives existed and/or had not seen each other for 30-40 years.

“Most who attended the reunions thought they had no family. The keeping of secrets was a shared behaviour among various family members,” she wrote.

A clinical social worker and psychotherapist with 30 years’ experience in the field of mental health, Venier Alexander is already working on her second book, a memoir of a Jewish relative living in Budapest around the time of the Second World War.

She has resided in Port Maitland since 1994, with her husband Graham Benvie, whom she met through summer vacations in the area with friends Peter and Janet Miller.

Venier Alexander will give a reading from her book at the Yarmouth library Oct. 7 as part of the noontime series.

The Life and Times of Franz Alexander – from Budapest to California is part of the history of psychoanalysis series – published and distributed by Karnac Books. It is available for approximately $42 through the website (http://tinyurl.com/ntu2qq9) or from the author (email: ilonka300@gmail.com).

 

 

 

 

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