• Birth— January 27, 1945
• Where—near the Great Lakes, USA
• Education—Ph.D., Union Institute and University
• Currently—lives in Colorado, USA
Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph.D. is an American poet, psychoanalyst and post-trauma specialist who was raised in a now nearly vanished oral and ethnic tradition. She grew up in a rural village, population 600, near the Great Lakes. Of Mexican mestiza and Magyar heritages, she comes from immigrant and refugee families who could not read or write, or who did so haltingly.
Similar to William Carlos Williams and other poets who worked in the health professions, Estes is a certified psychoanalyst who has practiced clinically for 37 years. Her doctorate, from the Union Institute & University, is in ethno-clinical psychology, the study of social and psychological patterns in cultural and tribal groups. She often speaks as "distinguished visiting scholar" and "diversity scholar" at universities. She is the author of many books on the life of the soul, and her work is published in 32 languages.
She is controversial for proposing that both assimilation and holding to ethnic traditions are the ways to contribute to creative culture and to a soul-based civility. She successfully helped to petition the Library of Congress, as well as worldwide psychoanalytic institutes, to rename their studies and categorizations formerly called, among other things, "psychology of the primitives," to respectful and descriptive names, according to ethnic group, religion, culture, etc.
As post-trauma specialist, she began her work in the 1960s at hospitals caring for severely injured children, 'shell-shocked' war veterans, and their families. Her teaching of writing in prisons began in the early 1970s at the Men's Penitentiary in Colorado; the Federal Women's Prison at Dublin, CA, and in prisons throughout the Southwest. She ministers in the fields of childbearing loss, surviving families of murder victims, as well as critical incident work. She served at natural disaster sites, developing post-trauma recovery protocol for earthquake survivors in Armenia, and teaching citizens deputized to do post-trauma work on site. She recently served Columbine High School and community after the massacre, 1999-2003. She works with 9-11 survivor families on both east and west coasts.
Estes served as Governor's appointee to the Colorado State Grievance Board 1993-2006. She currently is a board member of Authors Guild, New York; an advisory board member for The National Writers Union, N.Y.; an advisory board member of The Coalition Against Censorship, NY; and as a board member of the Maya Angelou Minority Health Foundation at Wake Forest Medical School. She is an advisor to El Museo de las Americas, Colorado; a contributing editor to The Bloomsbury Review; and a member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.
Estes, a former hard-scrabble welfare mother, is the recipient of numerous awards including the first Joseph Campbell Keeper of the Lore Award for her work as la cantadora; and for her written work, the Gradiva Award from the National Association for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis; and The Catholic Press Association award for her writing. She received the Las Primeras Award, "the first of her kind" from the Mexican American Women's foundation, Washington D.C. She is a 2006 inductee to the Colorado Women's Hall of Fame. (From Wikipedia.)
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