Franz Epting has been chosen to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his seminal contributions to the profession of psychology, according to a White House press release.
“We are proud to award this high honor to Dr. Epting,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki announced prior to President Joe Biden’s recent press conference. “Dr. Epting’s seminal work on personal construct theory makes him the ideal recipient for this award.”
“And it doesn’t hurt that he’s even older than I am,” quipped President Biden, with a chuckle, before adding “C’mon man! Medals are fun!”
Epting seemed unaware of the award when reached by phone at his home in Gainesville, Florida.
“Oh my!” he exclaimed. “But I haven't even finished my biography of George Kelly yet!"
Following a brief pause, he asked "Does the invitation include travel expenses? I’m retired and on a fixed income, you know.” He then accidentally hung up the phone.
When reached again, he quickly handed the phone receiver to his spouse, Mark Paris.
“Franz tells me he would be honored to attend the ceremony,” Mark reported, “as long as I handle purchasing our airfare to DC and personally chaperone the trip. It should work out pretty well. He gets the highest civilian honor a citizen can receive from the President of the United States. I get frequent flyer miles.”
Word of Epting’s award spread quickly throughout the personal construct community.
“It’s wonderful, even if these silly American awards make no sense to me,” remarked longtime personal construct psychologist Jörn Scheer from his home in Germany. “They give him a blue ribbon with a cheap looking medal attached. So what? Besides, the Americans haven’t hosted a personal construct psychology conference since 2014. Franz really ought to do something about that.”
Psychologists David Winter and Harry Procter, reached by email in the UK, congratulated Franz and then promptly invited him to an online Zoom lecture about their new book on personal and relational construct therapy.
“Do you have to be an American to get this award?” asked Procter. “If not, perhaps David and I might be in the running next year?”
“I’m retired. Leave me alone!” shouted Larry Leitner when contacted at his home in Iowa and asked to comment on his friend being given the highest honor a US president can bestow. “Why is the press hounding me now, instead of when I was at the height of my career and it actually mattered? Had the media paid more attention years ago when I was starting up my TV talk show, it might not have been canceled after just two weeks on the air. I haven’t had a single ROLE relationship with a reporter since!”
Leitner paused, then added “Oh, and congratulations Franz. I owe you a gourmet meal at the four star Nobu Los Angeles. Fixed income be damned!”
Social media lit up with enthusiasm about the award, most of it under the hashtag #FreedomAwardFREPTING. But Epting was not interested.
“I prefer sociality to social media,” he joked.
President Biden will present the award at a yet-to-be-announced ceremony later this year.