How did Jellinek’s contemporary colleagues regard him? Quotations from two edited volumes offer an insight: the first part is from the recorded proceedings of a conference dedicated to Jellinek’s memory; the second is from a collection of interviews with notable addiction scholars.
Addictions (edited by Griffith Edwards, 1991)
The journal Addiction has published over 100 interviews with figures notable or influential in the field, also collected in three books. The first in the series features scientists who either worked directly and closely with Jellinek, or knew him in a less formal way.
There are nine interviews in this section of the book. If you read them one after another, you could be forgiven for thinking that there are ten. The reason is that through virtually all of them there moves the shadowy figure of a man who has never been interviewed by the British Journal of Addiction, but whose influence was clearly felt by all with whom he came into contact. That man was E. M. Jellinek. –Marcus Grant, p. 445
Source: Edwards, G. (1991). Addictions. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey.
“I suppose the first impression I had when I first met him […] was, ‘What a funny little man’ […]
I began to get a feeling that this man came very close to what I would call genius.” —Selden Bacon, xiv
“I was most impressed by Jellinek […]. I visited Jellinek in his hotel room in Geneva which he had transformed into a library and in fact spent half a day with him talking and talking.” —Kettil Bruun, xiv
“Jellinek was a memorable personality, a fascinating person, very strange, brilliant sometimes and childish at other times. He bought large areas of forest in Brazil, hoping that one day they would make a road through it and he would become a millionaire.” —Joy Moser, xv
“Jellinek was a man of amazing intellectual depth and a man credited with much of the pioneer work in moving the field scientifically. I have mixed feelings about Jellinek. He was brilliant, but he loved to play intellectual games.” —Robert Straus, xiv-xv
“I can only say that I think that Jellinek was the most all-round intellectual, and almost a paragon, for his scope and his incisive questioning.” — Selden Bacon, 70
“There are no simple answers; no sociological answer, no physical answer, no theological or other type of answer, which will alone solve our alcohol problems. If researchers and scholars are to make a contribution, their contribution must fit that larger field. Jellinek was an awfully good example of someone meeting this challenge.” — Selden Bacon, 72-73
“I didn’t know him very well, but I always admired him, as I still do although I no longer agree 100 percent with what he said. […] He had a very broad vision, he seemed to know everything about alcoholism that was going on in all countries in the world. He was a very stimulating character and (perhaps similar to Freud) he was always putting forth lots of hypotheses.” — Max Glatt, 217
“For about the first eight years our major research efforts were inspired by hypotheses that Jellinek had suggested to us.” — David Archibald, 304
“For example, Jellinek’s style of work was to show up occasionally in his office, and be totally indifferent to issues of budget. He would not understand accountability as it is required today. He simply looked at the research product – either he liked it or he didn’t like it.” — Wolf Schmidt, 343
Published in the Jellinek Special Anniversary issue of the CAS Information Services Newsletter in 2015.