Robert Fajardo: Investing in a ‘hospitable and diverse institution’

Robert FajardoThe Franz Alexander Legacy Society honors individuals  who have included the Chicago Psychoanalytic Institute in their will, trust or other charitable planned gift. Legacy Society members envision the future and are determined to keep Franz Alexander’s mission, to better understand human beings and help them live better lives, alive forever. This is the second in a series of profiles of Franz Alexander Society inaugural members.

Psychoanalysts and psychotherapists may gather in other places, but for psychiatrist Robert Fajardo no-where else is quite like the Chicago Psychoanalytic Institute.  Fajardo says he joined the Franz Alexander Society as a way to invest in the “collaborating kind of atmosphere” that has sustained him since he became a student at the Institute in 1970. 

Fajardo still recalls the conversation at University of California San Francisco School of Medicine in which a mentor, Norman Reider, suggested he go to Chicago for training. Reider told Fajardo he would like the Chicago Institute because, in spite of differing paradigms, varied perspectives, and divergent personalities, it was a psychoanalytic center with a fair amount of collaboration. Fajardo says Reider’s insight was a worthy one that still holds true today: “I find this to be a hospitable and diverse learning institution.”

Case in point: in the 1980s, Fajardo’s late wife Barbara was in the forefront of lobbying the Institute to allow practitioners with PhDs to train as analysts. It was different from his earlier experience; “I had been trained ‘MD, MD, MD,’” he says. But the Institute and field not only survived the controversy, they have thrived with the inclusion of differently-degreed professionals.

Members of the Institute also come together to take care of each other. When Barbara Fajardo grew sick and later passed away as a result of uterine cancer, her wariness of the analyst assistance committee at the time led him to subsequently become involved with their work. Today, he serves as chair of the Joint Psychoanalyst Assistance Committee.

Thinking about the future, Fajardo says he imagines the discipline will continue to evolve. “Psychoanalysis is not a fixed and stationary process,” he says. He anticipates the faculty will continue to develop their own many perspectives, while maintaining collaboration all the while. 

Making that future a bit more assured is the reason he encourages others to join him in becoming members of the Franz Alexander Legacy Society. “Many of us often just don’t think about it,” he says. “It’s important to be respectful to our family, but also to assist the Institute that has given, and continues to give, each of us so much.”

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fundraising, faculty, Franz Alexander Society