from: Jack Lee Rosenberg: Celebrating a Master Psychotherapist
The Story of Jack
By Beverly Kitaen Morse
I am honored to present the story of a pioneer in body-mind psychotherapy, my husband Jack Lee Rosenberg. As the narrative unfolds, you will see that Jack is possibly the most over trained and over therapized professional you will ever meet. He was ahead of his time in recognizing the importance of the body-mind connection, placing the body center stage and using the ebb and flow of somatic energy to uncover authenticity and develop a sense of self, constancy and well being in the body.
Jack has a natural ability to simplify complicated psychological issues so that they are more available to everyone. This ability has led him to develop therapeutic implementations for the resolution of complex problems. Using the ebb and flow of somatic energy, he has developed somatic implementations to uncover authenticity and to develop a sense of Self, constancy and well-being in the body.
Above all, Jack has a gift for recognizing truth. He is able to understand and identify what works in psychotherapy and spiritual practice. In addition, his years of experience in work simplification for dentists taught him to cut to the heart of the issue for psychotherapy. He has been able to integrate the effective aspects of Psychoanalysis, Object Relations, Gestalt, Reichian, SelfPsychology, Bioenergetics, Transpersonal Psychotherapies, Yoga and Eastern theories and practices. He synthesized the best of these various approaches with his own personal perspective and created a highly effective implementation for psychotherapy.
He first brought his mind-body psychology to dentists in the early 1960's,later he brought body-mind integration to psychotherapists. As a dentist he was trained as a professional to not only identify and describe a problem but to also implement a practical means for resolution. He based his psychological clinical work on this premise.
Born on September II, 1932 to Sylvia, a blond fun loving flapper and vivacious Southern Baptist party girl and Jacob, a kind, olive skinned athletic, bright, loving and dependable Jewish man. They met when he was a manager of the Orpheum movie theatre and she an usherette. Jack was a 'replacement child' due to his mother's tragic miscarriage in her first marriage. In his early years, Jack and his mother were very solipsistic until his sister was born four years later. Jack's family lived in down town San Diego, behind his father's grocery-delicatessen-liquor store. As a child, Jack had little supervision and few friends. He was expected to take care of himself and his sister, Connie.
A few years later, Jack's family moved to the quiet North Park neighborhood where, at eight years old, while playing in a drainpipe with his schoolmates, he fell, like Alice in Wonderland, deep into the darkened earth. He slipped on the first rung of the ladder, smashing his face on the rungs as he fell to the hard concrete floor, crushing the maxillary orbital floor of his left eye socket. His playmates ran away in fear, failing to bring help. When he regained consciousness, Jack crawled to the end of the pipe and yelled for help. After spending one month in the hospital, with a bandage over the left half of his face, he was secluded at home and kept from school for a full year. Social relationships and school activities went on without him as he healed, spending most of his time with his dog and his mother. She taught him to crochet and embroider and; read stories to him from the bible. Jack also learned to make lead soldiers and model airplanes, becoming very good at working with his hands, which would come in handy later, when he was a surgeon.
When World War II began his mother held weekly séances to see if all their young relatives on the European battlefields were still safe. Whenever anyone in his mother's family came to visit, it was an occasion for a party and a drink or more. Jack learned to bartend while his father worked and his mother's family partied. But he always made sure that his little sister was taken care of and put to bed.
After the accident. Jack had to wear glasses because one eye was now lower than the other. He couldn't read well, couldn't focus and had a difficult time making up for the lost school year. When he failed 5th grade he was sent to Brown's Military Academy. Because he left home at 4:30 in the morning and returned at 7:00 in the evening, it did not leave him much time to get into trouble or to be with his family. Brown's Military Academy supplied rules, regulations and stability. There, Jack learned to focus and skipped a grade. After two years he returned to public school.
In high school, Jack grew too fast to feel at home in his body - growing 12inches in height between his junior and senior years. A loner at school, he didn't fit in. In a family of born athletes, Jack was a notable exception. Fearing further injury to his face, he was kept out of sports, although being on the high school golf team gave him a chance to earn a "letter" and take part in athletics.
Seeking to fit in, Jack provided service at the Methodist Youth Fellowship, a local church. There, he learned how to run teenage groups, taught square-dancing, led games and thought that he would like to be a minister. Although he loved the glow of leadership the rules of the ministry were not a fit for him.
Throughout high school, Jack was still unable to read well. Although they didn't have the term then. Jack was clearly dyslexic. In the 1950's they did not differentiate between intelligence and learning disorders so, in order to take college preparation courses in high school. Jack was required to also take manual arts courses. In these classes he learned how to take things apart and put them back together in better and creative ways. He became confident that he could fix almost anything.
Through perseverance and diligent study he made it through his first two years at San Diego State College (1950-52) although he was required to take dumbbell English twice. Life picked up when Jack was able to leave home for Berkeley with his own alarm clock, car and ukulele. As a premedical/dental student at the University of California at Berkeley (1952-54.), he learned to out-prank the pranksters in his college fraternity, theta chi, (1952-54) and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology.
The threat of being drafted to fight in the Korean War helped Jack decide to pursue further education, obtaining a deferment until he graduated. He wanted to study psychology. His mother wanted him to become a dentist. Jack tried to fill out the applications to graduate school in psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. His mother had better results with the applications she filled out for The College of Physicians and Surgeons School of Dentistry. So Jack went to dental school (1954-58) and easily made it through, with his practiced study skills and his manual dexterity.
On a blind date, lack met Pat, a brilliant, musically talented young woman with auburn hair. They fell in love and three years later they married. Soon afterwards, Jack entered the Air Force, having agreed, as a deferment, to enlist in military service when he graduated from dental school. As a Captain in the Air Force, he was stationed in Arizona where he served as a dentist at a military hospital. With fear of the atomic bomb looming, the Air Force trained dentists to act in many aspects of medical service so Jack scrubbed for general surgery and trained for triage.
From 1960 to 1963 Jack became a daddy, again, again, again. Within four years he welcomed Andrea, Melissa, then the twins Eric and K.C. Jack is a story teller. The lessons he learned from his children still show up in IBP lore. They were raised to think for themselves and speak their mind. The following are examples of their youthful wisdom that he uses to promote understanding.
Andrea, then seven years old, tapped Jack on his arm while they were shop-ping at the local Payless drug store. Shopping with four small children can be a test of anyone's sanity with each alternately grabbing something from the shelves saying, "Can I have this, Daddy?" Trying to get Jack's attention Andrea said, "Daddy, please say 'no". "Why?" he asked. "Just say no she repeated, "Just say no". "Okay" he said, "No". Looking satisfied she asked, "Can I have a dime?" To Jack's surprise he answered, "yes".
She had figured out that his first automatic answer was always 'no' and that if she could get him to say no first, he might then be able to say 'yes'. Hence, working with character style's 'automatic no' we encourage people to say 'no' so they can say 'yes'. Andrea is now an IBP psychotherapist. She also leads dance classes that combine IBP with dance and movement therapy.
Melissa, now a television writer/producer, even as a child always liked to present shows. She would recruit everyone she could from the neighborhood and family to participate in her productions. She even had a part for the dog. One day she asked Jack to build a platform stage in the garage to elevate her play. When he said that he couldn't and wouldn't, she replied, "No matter. I guess I will just have to stand taller so they can see me."
K. C. who is now an artist was born creative with her own independent style. One day while trying to induce four children to get themselves ready for school on time, with all the morning's mounting frustrations he looked at K.C. He said to his colorful child, "You don't want to wear one red sock and one blue one." She indignantly replied, "You can tell me what to wear, but you can't tell me what I want to wear!"
All the way to the park Erik exuberantly repeated, "I want to swing on the yellow swing." Tumbling out of the car he shouted, "I want to swing on the yellow swing!" His face fell as he saw that the yellow swing was broken. As the tears began to flow down his paling face he turned toward his father, "Fix it. Daddy, fix it now!" Jack tried patiently explaining that he didn't have the parts needed to fix the swing and that Erik should give the perfectly good red swing a try. When he couldn't console the hysterical Eric, Jack walked away in hope that Eric would calm down and become reasonable. When Jack returned to check on how his son was doing, he found Erik happily swinging on the yellow swing. The park attendant who lived next door had heard Erik's upset cries and had come to the rescue. He said, "I bought the parts to fix the yellow swing this morning. I will have it up and going in a moment. As a chiropractor and real estate broker, he still hears, "It can't be done," as a challenge.
With Jack's support, all of his children now have graduate degrees. He is proud of each of them and the creative professional lives they have attained for themselves. In this picture from Melissa's wedding, you will see Mariya, his child from his second marriage. When Mariya was about three years old, Jack drove a little yellow Volkswagen. California law requires that children wear seatbelts and not sit in the front seat because of the potential danger from airbags. One day Mariya wouldn't let Jack buckle her seat belt. He warned, "It is dangerous to ride in a car without wearing a seatbelt." She replied in an innocent voice, "That may be your truth. It is not my truth." The next week Jack read an article in the Los Angeles times that provided statistics showing that wearing seatbelts in the backseat of Volkswagens placed children at the greatest risk for fatality. She is now twenty-one years of age and studying at the University Of Oregon.
You can also see his handsome, bright grandson, Tristan, the son of his daughter Andrea. K.C. has just given birth to Vito, Jack's newest grandson.
From 1958-960, Jack received postgraduate training in Prosthetic Dentistry and Oral Surgery, completing the most extensive training a dentist could acquire.
In Marin County, Jack began a private practice (1959-1974). His busy life was filled with teaching, research and study in the Department of Dental Psychology at the University California Dental School in San Francisco - all in the effort to show dentists that there is a person attached to the tooth. He became a lecturer of Dental Psychology, College of Physicians & Surgeons, University of Pacific, School of Dentistry (1960-1969). He was Associate Professor, Postgraduate Education at the University of Pacific School of Dentistry(1968-1971).He was the Clinical Instructor in the Department of Humanities (1960-65) at the University of California Dental School, San Francisco while at the same time he served as the Director of Counseling at the University of Pacific School of Dentistry, San Francisco (1966-1969). He was the Chairman of the Dental Assistants Program, Advisory Committee at the College of Marin(1963-1966) and on the Curriculum Planning Committee for Dental Assistants Program, State of California, Community College System (1964-1965). Jack was a consultant for Professional Services Association, Electronic Data Processing Services for the Professions (1964-1969) where he helped them design a first computer program for dentistry.
In conjunction with Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute, he was involved in training and research programs that included hypnosis, emotional aspects of temporal mandibular joint problems, patient expectancy inventory and audio analgesia.
Jack designed dental equipment and taught dental efficiency to dentists and dental assistants. With the thought that better efficiency would free the dentist to be less stress ridden and thus available to be more empathetic with their patients, his work focused on psychological issues and psychosomatic symptoms of patients such as chronic pain, temporal mandibular joint pain, dental phobia and research of the patient doctor relationship. He was proud to win the Golden Pen Award for best article written in a dental journal (1971). Titled The Difficult Patient, Jack wrote about how to work with the emotional and psychological aspects of dentistry.
Between teaching, a dental practice and research, Jack was always busy. One day, his Unitarian minister, Carl Boterman, took Jack aside and told him that he was too driven and compulsive. He suggested that if he didn't receive some therapy he would miss his life. Jack once wrote, "When I started my personal journey inward I was compelled by my compulsivity and ruminating thoughts. My teaching, dental practice, home life and my children were separate from my inner being. I had confused "doing" with being. I was isolated in a cloud of success, inundated by my compulsive efficiency and over-whelmed with family. I supported my addiction to excellence with massive amounts of coffee and strong tea throughout the day. I was very efficient. In fact I was so successful and going so fast that I was missing my life. I was confronted with the lack of depth and meaning in my interior life as opposed to my professional life. Carl's confrontation was my ticket to psychotherapy and I am still continuing that inner search." His first therapist was a classical Freudian psychoanalyst, Jean Pouteu, M.D. Jack stayed with him for eight and one half years, four days a week.
Weary of the pressure from teaching at a university with a "publish or perish" policy, Jack went back to school at San Francisco State College and earned a Masters in psychology in Industrial & Group Dynamics Psychology, (1960-62).Joe Fortier, Jack's supervisor, was a Jungian psychotherapist who insisted that he have more than a working understanding of Jungian theory to graduate. Jack often says how helpful that background has been to his self-understanding.
In 1963 Jack went to Esalen, where he found a sense of aliveness and hope and a feeling of home. He was fortunate to learn from most of the great leaders of the Human Potential Movement: Fritz Perls, Abraham Maslow, Alexander Lowen, Will Shuts, John Periocus, Rollo May, Carl Rogers, Moshe Feldenkrais, Ida Rolf. There, he also studied Eastern philosophies and practiced and taught yoga.
Robert Hall, who later founded the Lomi School of somatic psychotherapy, was teaching with Fritz at Esalen. When Robert moved to Marin County, Jack began individual and group therapy with him for about seven years.(Peter Levine was in this same group.) Jack looked toward Robert as a mentor. He encouraged Jack and led a group with him at Esalen. The day before the next group they were to lead at Esalen, Robert said, "Jack you can do this on your own. You don't need me." Jack has been leading groups at Esalen ever since. This is his thirty-fifth year of working at Esalen. It is in this environment that Jack began the development of IBP (1967-Present).
Hanging out at Esalen heightened his interest in bodywork and he began therapy and training in Reichian therapy with Philip Cucurudo, D. C.(1964-1968). At the California School of Professional Psychology; Jack earned his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, (1971) Jack became a training therapist and board member at the Gestalt Institute of Psychotherapy, San Francisco (1968-1976). As a trainer at the Gestalt Institute in San Francisco for nine years, he first called his work Gestalt Body Psychotherapy (GBT).
Jack received further individual and group training therapy in San Francisco at the Gestalt Institute and at the Esalen Institute with Jim Simkin, Ph. D., Jack Downing, M.D., Elaine Kepner, Ph. D. Janie Ryan, M.A. and many more whose names are forgotten (1963-1974).
With Total Orgasm, published in1973 Jack changed the focus for sexual counseling from sexual dysfunction to an energetic model for healthy sexuality. He developed a set of self-release exercises, which allow the body to open and set-up the circumstances for the orgiastic reflex.
Jack created a paradigm shift for sexuality - from genitals and orgasm to building, containing and spreading an energetic charge in the body. He shifted the focus from depending upon a partner for excitement, to heightening internal energetic responses. He taught how to tolerate higher charges of energy. It was the 70s and sexuality was presented separate from love, relationship and monogamy.
The Charge-Release Orgastic Cycle that Jack began developing for Total Orgasm is now used as a unique and powerful diagnostic and treatment model for sexuality.
Total Orgasm sold 250,000 copies, a huge success. It was published in nine languages and is still in print in many countries. The work represented in Total Orgasm became a standard and the basis for bodywork and many somatic based therapies, particularly in Europe.
Jack's marriage breakup was a "casualty" of the changing times (i.e. cultural revolution, the Woman's Movement and the Sexual Revolution.)In 1973, after 17 years of marriage. Jack and Pat divorced. He sold his dental practice, fell in love with Lynn MacCuish, traveled Europe and Asia with her for a year and then settled in Los Angeles with his new bride. Tragically, four years later, Pat died of cancer, bravely and consciously with the help of Steven Levine, Ram Dass and others. Being with her through this process opened Jack to look at death and dying in a new way.
When Pat became ill with cancer, he became a consultant, therapist and trainer at the Center for the Healing Arts, Los Angeles, (1976-1981). This center focused on working with life threatening illnesses, mostly cancer. Pat's death left Jack the sole charge of four children. Fortunately, Lynn was willing, capable and a social worker well experienced in working with teenagers. In 1981 Jack and Lynn were blessed with the birth of Mariya, Jack's fifth child.
As a Gestalt Trainer from the San Francisco area with a body orientation, and the author of Total Orgasm, Jack's Los Angeles psychotherapy practice filled quickly. Therapists came to experience his work with sexuality and the body.
About that time, Jack was again overwhelmed. He was looking for a therapist from out of town as so many therapists were now in therapy with him. Victoria Hamilton, Ph. D. was an Object Relations therapist who was Bowlby's assistant and had worked with R. D. Laing and Winnicot. Jack stayed in therapy and supervision with her for twenty years (1979-1999). He was also part of a supervision group for Self Psychology with Jeffrey Trop, M.D.(1984-1985).
In 1979 Diane Asay offered to help Jack organize and write, in book form, what Jack was practicing and teaching in body psychotherapy. They were writing for about a year when Marjorie Rand, who was training with Jack and writing her thesis on his work, offered to help. With Margie's ability to get things done. Body, Self and Soul: Sustaining Integration (with Marjorie Rand and Diane Asay, 1984) was completed.
It was translated into three languages, and voted one of the best books on body psychotherapy in the 80s.
Jack used Body, Self and Soul to lay out his body-psychotherapy model: Rosenberg's Integrative Body Psychotherapy, IBP. With the help of Marjorie Rand he turned his training groups into an institute providing a training program for licensed mental health professionals. We now have ten IBP International Institutes.
Jack was a pioneer in bringing the body to psychotherapy. He constantly said, "There is no mind body split." Jack emphasized sustaining integration and resolving body-mind fragmentations through the use of practical mental health skills. He maintained a containment rather than discharge model of therapy, so that emerging awareness could be identified and processed for integration and depth.
He was the first to simultaneously track: early childhood injuries; the current event problem; transpersonal themes; the transference relationship; the energetic processes of presence, boundaries, and containment ... and to see their common thread in the body.
In IBP, Jack founded a therapy that created an interior somatic experience for every mental insight and is about the immediacy of experience rather than, "he said, she did."
With Body, Self and Soul Jack began identifying patterns of defensive character styles that are experienced in the body. This work allows therapists to work successfully with what has been called the narcissistic or "the difficult patient."
When Jack, Margie and I went to San Diego for a Self Psychology Conference, Jack and I discovered that we had much in common. Not only were we both born in San Diego's Mercy Hospital, but also after visiting both of our childhood homes, we found that we had lived seven blocks away from each other. The same contractor must have built both homes as they had the same floor plan, sconces, cubbyholes and archways. Jack's bedroom was the one closest to the kitchen and overlooked the backyard; identical to the one I had slept in with the little bumps on the walls that would turn inside out if I stared hard enough. In our formative years, we had gone to the same elementary school, junior high school and had danced past one other each year at the local state college's Blue Book Ball. Jack swore he remembered me in my white tulle gown with rhinestone straps. Yet, with Jack five years older, we never knowingly met then. Nor did we meet when he was a dentist and I was a dental assistant. Or when we both had four children in the same exact years, each naming our second child Melissa Ann. But our parallel lives led us on the same search until we finally met. There was ease between us as we talked and taught together. Perhaps it was because we both learned to dance in the same city, at the same time, to the same music. Perhaps it was because we were meant to be together.
When Jack and I became a couple in 1985, we were already in the habit of using IBP mental health skills. We were surprised (or was it horrified?) to find that old themes that we struggled with in our former marriages began to show up in our idealized romance. Everyday, we excitedly devised new ways to identify, communicate and resolve even the smallest disturbance that might interfere with our growing love and passion.We used what we were learning from our relationship in our professional work with clients, particularly with couples. We became driven to find a means to unlock emotional betrayals for others, as even the finest therapists had not been able to do this for us in our previous marriages. Jack turned his energy toward exclusively practicing with couples. I went back to graduate school to earn my doctorate. I used the opportunity of my thesis to formulate what Jack and I were learning into a couple's therapy. That was the beginning of The Intimate Couple, a project that grew as Jack and I diligently developed, practiced and revised all that we were learning from our relationship, our private practices and the couples groups we led together, particularly at the Esalen Institute.
The Intimate Couple (with Beverly Kitaen Morse) was written with the premise that love and sexuality did not have to diminish over time even though interruptions to the well-being of the relationship were bound to happen. We found that the ability for love and sexuality to grow depended on each person being willing and ableto show up, have a positive intention and do their own interior work. Because the ability to trust and to betrustworthy is key to establishing a stable relationship foundation, and since trust is more an implicit, right brain body experience than a left-brain explicitthought, we developed a Sustaining Integration Series. This mind-body series develops an interior sense of somatic constancy, an 'I-Am' experience that brings awareness to inner emotional feelings such as love, trust and erotic desire. To work with trust we added the concepts of gender prejudice and positive intention. To strengthen the bond, we developed exercises to enhance emotional attunement, intimacy and mutuality.
We greatly expanded character style to include a self-evaluation survey andadded the concept of emotional agency, evolved from my personal search tofind what I was doing that was destructive to my relationships and to myown well being.
In The Intimate Couple, we augmented mental health skills for self-regulation by expanding the steps out of fragmentation to include character style, emotional agency and existential arenas.
If We had Only Known was our title when we were told that our book was too multifaceted. We were encouraged to write a one-theme book so we chose sex as that theme, simplifying, updating and adding what we knew about relationship to the work that Jack had presented in Total Orgasm. The title changed to The Intimate Couple, and the book was published in1996. Readers learned that in long-term monogamous relationships, personal and relationship issues cause most of the sexual disturbances. The sexual assessment guide helped couples identify underlying disturbances. They learned that it is imperative that the heart is fully involved with sexual love-making, and that we each take responsibility for our own internal repetitive themes and erotic excitement. Readers also learned how their early injuries were stored in their bodies and acted out in their intimate relationship. The work developed for The Intimate Couple contributed to the advancement to IBP, which in turn deepened our understanding of intimate relationships. We are currently revising and updating The Intimate Couple to reflect some of this new understanding.
After Jack's heart surgery on April 1, 1995 (our first wedding anniversary) he began writing a chronicle of his experiences with a life threatening illness and his recovery. During his surgery he was on the heart-lung machine for an extended period of time. This damaged blood cells and caused a temporary condition that he refers to as "instant senility". This vulnerability both opened his heart and drew him down a path toward a deep understanding of issues of existence. These insights are the basis for a new book we are writing: Navigating The End Zone: The Tao Of Eldering.
At the age of 65, Jack was faced with a most challenging struggle in life. It took all of his mental, emotional, spiritual and physical skills and experience to set a path to recovery. Jack likes to say if it weren't for me he would have not made it through that "dark night of the soul." He probably would have. But it is true that we weathered the storm together, learned from each other and together we are working on this new project.
As he has been recovering from his 'strange gift' Jack has taken a newbreath of enthusiasm to help othersas they deal with these formidablepassages of the End Zone, applying somatic psychotherapy to the struggles and tasks of this developmental period of life. The newest research in brain chemistry and brain function is bringing great insight to the aging process. We are now adapting the body lessons developed for establish a renewed somatic sense of constancy in their body, a sup-port for well being and the ability to witness the existential struggles of the End Zone.
Jack has always been on the cutting edge and ahead of his time. What he knew, advocated and fought for in the70s has been widely accepted in this new century. He has always had the courage and tenacity to be a pioneer.This is fortunate for me and for all those whom he has touched, at home and around the world.
He has also had the courage to witness himself clearly, to be himself with authenticity and to face the existential issues of life. Now, as always. Jack is learning, growing, taking in new information and creating new concepts and implementations to enhance understanding and well-being for all. Most importantly, his heart surgery has only served to increase his capacity to keep his body and spirit open to love.
As Jack enters his seventieth year he embraces his grandson Estavito, son of his daughter K.C. and her husband Arturo. While Jack celebrates the spirit, hope and joy of the newborn promise he embodies the wisdom and masteryof an Elder.