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Thomas Merton & Gregory Zilboorg - Catholic Worker odds & ends
June 10th, 2012
08:49 pm


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Thomas Merton & Gregory Zilboorg
Just for the record. I was reading, today, some entries in Thomas Merton's journal, volume 3, 1952-1960, when I came across an entry describing a meeting Merton had with the Ukranian-American psychiatrist, Gregory Zilboorg, which took place while both men were attending conferences at St. John's Abbey (Benedictine) near St. Cloud, Minnesota in 1956. According to Merton, Zilboorg was responsible for Merton's attending this conference. (Merton rarely left Gethsemani Abbey for any reason). And he quotes Zilboorg as saying to him: "You like to be famous, you want to be a big shot, you keep pushing your way out--to publicity-- Megalomania and narcissism are your big trends." Two years later when I had an interview with Zilboorg, arranged at my request, by Dorothy Day, I told Zilboorg that I had spent two years in the novitiate at Gethsenani (Merton by the way was not my novice master). He said to me: "Oh, I met Merton; he's a prima donna." Just for the record! For those who don't know, Zilboorg, in 1917, worked in the Ministry of Labour in the governments of Prince Georgii L'vov and Alexandr Kerensky, regimes which governed Russia after the abdication of the Czar. Zilboorg emigrated to the United States in 1919, got his medical degree from Columbia University and set up practice in New York as a psychiatrist. Among him patients were a number of quite famous
people. Among them were George Gershwin, Lillian Hellman and Moss Hart. Just for the record. Zilboorg died in 1959. Did I mention he was a convert? Dorothy Day and I attended his funeral Mass at Saint Ignatius,' the big Jesuit church on Park Avenue. Bishop John J. Wright, of Pittsburgh, later a cardinal in Rome, did not say the Mass of "officiated" from a chair near the altar. Just for the record. Robert Steed

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Date:February 14th, 2013 05:37 pm (UTC)

Gregory Zilboorg and Karl Stern

Hello Robert Steed,

Do you have any information about the relationship between Gregory Zilboorg and Karl Stern? I am creating a Karl Stern archive at Duquesne University, and can only locate two letters of his to Stern - one of which references their mutual friend, a Dominican, Father Marie Allain Coutourier.

(Despite the paucity of letters, he seemed to like Stern, btw . . .)

Daniel Burston
Psychology Department
Duquesne University
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Date:February 15th, 2013 10:12 pm (UTC)

Re: Gregory Zilboorg and Karl Stern

Professor Burston, I'm sorry to say that I have no information on any communications between these two phychiatrists. I only know that they both had a high regard for Dorothy Day. Sincerely, Robert Steed
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