NYU Steinhardt News

Remembering Ester Schaler Buchholz (1933-2004)

When listening to patients talk about their partners or students about their lovers, family, or friends, Steinhardt Associate Professor Ester Buchholz was always struck by the gratitude people felt for getting time off from relationships to engage their own pursuits. “Like prisoners who are granted parole before they deserve it,” Buchholz wrote, “They feel their freedom is a gracious gift.”

In The Call of Solitude (Simon and Schuster, 1997), a book she called her “biography of need,” Buchholz urged readers to spend more time on their own and asserted that “alonetime” is a developmental and biological need for both children and adults.

“Both needs — to be alone and to engage — are essential to human happiness and survival,” Buchholz wrote. “Alonetime is a great protector of the self and the human spirit.”

A former director of the school psychology program, Buchholz mentored hundreds of students who went on to become school psychologists, researchers, and scholars. She is remembered for her optimism, for bringing passion, energy, and caring into her classroom and into the lives of those with whom she worked. “Her students were devoted to her because she was an exceptionally generous person,” said her colleague, Lawrence Balter. “She took them under her wing and nurtured them.”

Buchholz was the co-editor of Ego and Self Psychology: Group Interventions with Children, Adolescents, and Parents (Aronson,1983) and the editor of Child Analytic Work: A Special Issue of Psychoanalytic Psychology (Erlbaum, 1994).