Date of Birth: August 18, 1938

Date of Death:

Place of Birth: Chicago, Illinois

Teaching Psychology, Modeling Inclusivity

Nancy Mann Kulish was born to Frederick and Marian Ofner Mann.  Her father eventually had arrived in Chicago after leaving Transylvania in 1929, just prior to the onset of the Great Depression.  Marian had been born in Budapest. They met and married in Chicago; Nancy was born there a year later.  The stresses of the Depression encouraged travel from Chicago to the west, first to California and finally to New Mexico, where Fred had Hungarian friends and Marian obtained a position with the State of New Mexico.

Nancy attended Santa Fe High School, where she was class valedictorian.  She left New Mexico to pursue higher education.  Following graduation from the University of California, Berkeley, Nancy moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan, known for its outstanding psychology department.  There, she developed her skills in psychology and became interested in psychoanalysis.  She earned her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in 1965.  Soon after she met her husband, Harold Kulish, in Detroit.  Their daughter, Melinda, was born in 1969; their son, Jonathan, was born two years later.   

Nancy is a professor, writer, therapist, lecturer and teacher.  She has achieved excellence in all areas, but is drawn to “activities that have to do with teaching respect, empathy, and knowledge of human personality.”  For Nancy, teaching and practicing ethics should be built into the work.  She states that it is important for the therapist to remain impartial, but empathetic.

Nancy’s early positions were in Detroit, both with group therapy and private practice.  She worked at the Anti-Poverty Program, the Adult Psychiatric Clinic in Detroit, and as chief psychologist at Detroit Psychiatric Institute, a large inpatient and outpatient facility in the city, part of the state hospital system and a training facility affiliated with Wayne State’s Department of Psychiatry.

Her work in a male-dominated field could be challenging, but she was determined to succeed.  Early in her career, while doing research, she looked up the word “femininity” and found there was no entry except, “See: masculinity.” 

“That got me started,” she says wryly. 

People of all genders are her patients, but her writing thematically pertains to women and girls. She is known for writing about Freud’s thinking and “righting the wrongs” he presented about women’s psychology.

Nancy is a member of five professional societies and has received numerous honors and awards from 1959 to the present.  She has worked for several editorial boards, including the International Journal of Psychoanalysis and the Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association.  She was trained as a psychoanalyst at the Michigan Psychoanalytic Institute, serving in almost every position there, including as president from 2002 to 2005.

Nancy has authored or co-authored more than fifty articles and three books.  Her latest monography, published in 2012, is The­ Clinical Problem of Masochism, written with her longtime friend and colleague, the late Dr. Deedie Holtzman.

Dr. Nancy Kulish is a frequent lecturer.  Since 1969 she has given presentations on many subjects in her field, including gender, race and ethnicity, female sexuality, and the patient-doctor relationship.  She is involved professionally in numerous study groups.

She has always had a love of art and music and has been an ardent supporter of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and the Chamber Music Society.  She is a member of Temple Israel in West Bloomfield, Michigan.

Among her many awards, honors, and professional achievements, she confesses, “My most meaningful recognition came in the last ten years when twice I was named ‘Best Teacher’” by candidates she taught in psychoanalysis.  She modestly credits many mentors and professors who helped her along the way.

Dr. Nancy Kulish speaks about working with social workers in mental health clinics who had enormous case loads.  Her longtime goal has been to increase the diversity of trainees and patients, to help a broader number of people. 

Dr. Nancy Kulish remains an inspiration in the fields of psychology and psychoanalysis for maintaining the highest ethical and professional standards.  Her life’s goals have been improving the lives of individuals and her community.


Written by Jeannie Weiner in collaboration with Nancy Kulish



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