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Obituary: Arno Karlen '60

May 7, 1937 - May 13, 2010. Dr. Arno Karlen slipped away peacefully at home in Greenwich Village, NY where he had lived for forty years. The cause was emphysema. Born in Philadelphia, PA., he studied the flute and played semi-professionally in orchestras and quartets. He graduated from Antioch College in 1960 having majored in French and English literature, then joined the U.S. Army in 1961. He had a rich and varied career - as a writer, researcher, teacher, and psychoanalyst – which was infused with a deep, inherited knowledge of music, literature, art, and science. His poetry and short stories were published in many literary reviews in the 1950s and 1960s, with a book of short stories published as White Apples in 1961 when he was 24. He was an editor at Holiday in the 1960s, writing many cover stories and short pieces. He was also an editor at Newsweek. In the early 1970s, he was an Associate Professor in the English Department Writing Program at Penn State University. He then returned to New York to serve as Executive Editor of Penthouse and Physicians World magazines. Starting in the mid 1960s , up to 2000, Dr. Karlen also turned to nonfiction books on history, sexuality and biomedical subjects, which had long fascinated him. These books included: Sexuality and Homosexuality (1971), a sweeping historical, multicultural, multidisciplinary view of human sexual behavior; Sex Education in Medicine (1976) written in collaboration with Harold Lief; Sexual Decisions (1980), a text book written with Milton Diamond; Napoleon’s Glands and Other Ventures in Biohistory (1984), intriguing stories in the history of infectious diseases; Threesomes: Studies in Sex, Power, and Intimacy (1988); Man and Microbes: Disease and Plagues in History and Modern Times (1995), which won the prestigious Rhone-Poulenc Prize for Scientific Books in England as the best general science book in Europe under the title Plagues Progress. His last book was Biography of a Germ in 2000, an elegant and sly story of the Lyme disease bacterium from the germ’s point of view. Oliver Sacks said of one of his books that it was written with “a combination of meticulous research and easy natural writing.” Dr. Karlen had the rare ability to take complex subjects and bring them alive through story telling, imagery and humor in an elegant and engaging fashion. In his 50s, he became a psychotherapist (as his father had done) and a psychoanalyst, completing a PhD in human sexuality from New York University in 1995 together with analytic training at Washington Square Institute, where he became a supervisor and teacher of a popular course on sexuality. He was in private practice for 15 years, carrying a full patient load and two groups until three months before his death. Dr. Karlen’s deeply intellectual and analytical mind was tempered by a sharp wit, comic humor, and the infectious joy of good conversation and storytelling. He was a gifted and inspirational teacher and therapist. His first marriage ended in divorce. He is survived by his second wife of forty years, Barbara; two sons, Josh, a writer and media relations professional, and Eli, a third generation psychotherapist; two daughters-in-law, Lorraine and Nicki, and six grandchildren: Jonathan and Katie, Emma and Jonah, and Merav and Amiram. His brother Mark also survives him.