Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Abraham Levitsky, Ph.D., psychotherapist and hypnotist, 1922-2012


Back in the 1970s and 1980s I wanted to become a psychologist or psychotherapist. I finally decided not to become one and am glad I did not for reasons I won’t go into, but one of the most remarkable people I met in the course of this process was Dr. Abe Levitsky. He worked out of a little house on Milvia St. in Berkeley, California. He tried to hypnotize me once. I did not think he had succeeded at the time, but then I had to wonder, since I fully cooperated with the whole process, how do I know he didn’t hypnotize me?

 Published in San Francisco Chronicle on July 8, 2012 - See more at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/sfgate/obituary.aspx?pid=158419994#sthash.s8rENRfZ.dpuf

Abraham Levitsky April 1, 1922-July 2, 2012 Bay area psychotherapist and longtime Berkeley resident Abraham Levitsky died peacefully of natural causes at the age of 90 on Monday July 2nd . Abe was born on April 1st in 1922 in Montreal, Quebec, the only member of his immediate family to be born in North America. His father, mother and three older siblings were Russian Jewish immigrants. When Abe was three years old the family moved to Brooklyn, New York. He received his B.A. from Brooklyn College in 1942. After college Abe served in the Army in various Mid-Western locations as a translator for Italian prisoners of war. Although not speaking Italian prior to this assignment, his gift for languages allowed him to finesse many potentially embarrassing situations. During a brief stint as an aircraft navigation specialist he fared less well. After completing his Army tour he enrolled at the University of Michigan, completing his PhD in Clinical Psychology in 1955. Shortly thereafter he moved to St. Louis and started an active private practice. During the 15 years he lived there he developed his signature flair for integrating diverse perspectives into his clinical work: hypnosis, Gestalt, and later, mysticism. He trained with Milton Erickson, became an associate editor for The American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, and subsequently a Vice President of the American Hypnosis Society. In 1967 he moved to California to study at Esalen with Fritz Perls, one of the formative figures in Abe's life. During the 1970's Abe was deeply involved in the Gestalt Institute of San Francisco, teaching and training the principles of awareness, authenticity, and spontaneous creativity that were at the heart of his approach to psychotherapy. Abe had many passions: Advaita mysticism, Schubert leider, Rhodesian Ridgebacks and Portuguese Water Dogs, tennis, and scrambled eggs. He is remembered by all for his singular sense of humor and a talent for packaging great wisdom into memorable one-liners. Abe is survived by his wife Ellen (Nina) Ham of Kensington, his stepson Todd Porter, his step-daughters Jessica Mason and Jillian Jolie; his grandchildren, Amiya Mason, Kenzi Jolie, and Chad, Lorna and Kathryn Porter; his nephew Larry Levitsky, and his nieces Marianne Levitsky, Anne Rothman, and Barbara Bergeron. Donations in memory of Abe may be made to the Bay Area Gestalt Institute. Contact Lu Grey at lucannagrey2@gmail.com for further information.

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