Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing (PEP)

Paul Mosher

Paul W Mosher, MD, is a psychoanalyst in private practice in Albany, New York.  He made the initial proposal to create a consolidated full text archive of the English language psychoanalytic literature and is a founding board member of Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing.

Dr. Mosher has had a strong interest in electronics and technology since childhood.  By the time he graduated from high school in 1954 he held the highest government issued licenses for both commercial and amateur radio operation, and was able to earn his way through college as a broadcast studio and transmitter engineer at major domestic and international broadcasting stations.  As an undergraduate at Harvard College he briefly concentrated in Applied Mathematics (as Computer Science was called at that time) but eventually switched to pre-med based on an ambition to become a psychoanalyst.  As a college senior he carried out one of the first experiments to demonstrate an interaction of the neurotransmitter serotonin and LSD in vertebrates.  While in medical school, he designed and carried out an experiment in coronary artery physiology which resulted in the publication of a classic paper still cited in the literature 50 years later.  He also published one of the first descriptions of a personal experience with LSD in the early 1960s.

Dr. Mosher is self-taught in several high and low level computer programming languages. In the early days of personal computers he wrote two commercial programs for the Apple II Computer, one used by a founder of Apple to display graphics at a major festival, and a second program which printed graphics on daisy-wheel printers — a variation of “typewriter art” — the output of which was featured in several computer periodicals. (This was in the days when there was no other practical way to print graphics from a personal computer.) These programs utilized 6502 Assembly Language.

After completing medical school, psychiatric training, and psychoanalytic training at Columbia University he joined the American Psychoanalytic Association [APsaA]. There, he was asked to participate in a committee which had been attempting to create a consolidated index to psychoanalytic literature.  Such an index did not exist at that time, and the committee’s struggles before then allowed him to understand the unsolved problem of access to the vast analytic literature and the difficult task the Committee had set for itself in the days before personal computers.  Although the committee’s work did not succeed, other members of the Association (S. Goodman and V. Spruiell) used early PCs and a “shareware” database program (PC-File) to create simple computer databases. In total, they contained a complete bibliography of the articles and book reviews in six major psychoanalytic journals. This database was distributed across a number of data files in two incompatible formats. Thus, there was no practical way at that time to search it in its entirety. Dr. Mosher wrote a computer program, Duallook, to read the data files directly independent of the database program which had created them, and to search the entire set of files in a single pass, creating the illusion for the user of a single database.  This was popular among the psychoanalysts who owned PCs in the early 1980s, which indicated the pressing need for such an “index.” Dr. Mosher then wrote a second computer program which was able to generate an entire book in camera ready form, “Title Key Word and Author Index to Psychoanalytic Journals” using the Goodman and Spruiell data with their permission. He then donated the book to the Association.  Over 2,000 copies of the first (1986) edition were sold.  The Association published a second edition in 1991. After he oversaw the setting up of the first APsaA WWW site in 1995, Dr. Mosher placed the Goodman/Spruiell bibliography on that WWW site along with a custom search engine he designed to provide worldwide access to this early listing of the psychoanalytic literature.  It immediately became the most used feature of the site.

Also, in late 1991 Dr. Mosher, with the assistance of Dr. Goodman, used the Goodman database to calculate the number of pages and characters in all the articles in the core journals with an eye to developing a distributable and searchable full text electronic version of all the articles listed.  As it turned out, the number of characters was such that the full text of the included articles would fit on a CD-ROM and so full text searching by users in those pre-internet days was a possibility.  He therefore submitted a proposal through the Committee on Scientific Activities in December of 1991 to digitize the complete set of printed journals.  This eventually culminated in the formation of PEP.  Dr. Mosher was a founding board member of PEP and continues to serve on the PEP Board.

Dr. Mosher is an active member of the American Psychoanalytic Association and served two consecutive four year terms as a nationally elected member of the Board of Directors of that Association. He has also headed the Association’s Committee on Confidentiality, the Task Force on Communication and Information, and has served on a number of other Association Committees. Dr. Mosher played a leading role in establishing the Association’s Internet presence and members’ communication system.

In addition to his interest in technical issues related to the archiving of our literature, Dr. Mosher, a nationally recognized expert on the confidentiality of psychotherapeutic treatment, has published several articles and book chapters on the issue of confidentiality of psychoanalytic treatment. In addition, he recently coauthored with Professor Jeffrey Berman to write the book Confidentiality and its Discontents,  describing human stories of landmark cases in the development of the privacy rules for psychotherapy. Dr. Mosher is a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Albany (NY, USA) Medical College, serves as member of the New York State Board for Mental Health Practitioners, and has written about the status of psychoanalysis as a profession in the United States.