A Pictorial Biography

Latest Additions

This page showcases the lastest 10 additions to the Pictorial Biography.

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July 22, 2023

Honoring the Transition – Come and Join Me in a Goodbye Celebration

You are invited to join me in celebrating my transition. I’d rather not have any crying or bemoaning what a perfect saint I am. Instead, we’ll sing songs, read poetry, play music, dance, speak from the heart, and much more…

I love my life, how I have lived, the choices I’ve made, even my conscious choice of words I used and phrases I refused to use—admittedly with very little regard to what many of you thought, felt or considered inappropriate, impolite, uncivil, or worse…!

For the most part I have lived my life as if every day is or may be my last day on earth. I’ve had numerous encounters with death throughout my life, most by choice and others by circumstance.  I never considered death a failure. My mother had a hand in teaching me that. A phrase she repeatedly told us was, “Trees die erect.” It summed up how she lived so perfectly that we had it etched on her gravestone.

I have a deep appreciation for your tolerance of me, even when you thought me offensive, insensitive, controlling, inconsiderate, full of myself or simply dumb. None of you slapped me when I stupidly declared, more than once, “Even when I am wrong, I am right.”

When I upset you, as I’m sure I often did, in my mind it was about ‘doing good’ or having, what Ilan repeatedly called ‘a teaching moment.’ Admittedly, even this gathering is a ‘teaching moment.’ 

So let’s celebrate, rejoice, and have fun – 

Ofer

You are invited to, privately, share your reaction/s to this ‘Invitation’ here.

May 26, 2023

Between Religion and Ethics: Presenting in Israel 2023

An interesting and unusual audience combination of Israeli psychologists, some of whom also lead a traditionally religious Jewish life, presented me with a challenge I was happy to tackle on in my visit to Israel in 2023. My presentation Therapeutic Ethics in The Movies had to be reinvented in order to be sensitive to audience members who could be offended by nudity, language, and sexual references, to name but a few. I didn’t know what to expect from the English-speaking, largely traditional Jewish psychologist audience in Ra’ananah, Israel. The challenge doubled as I was not willing to dull my presentation in order to appease an audience. The result was the best of both worlds: my points were able to come across and be absorbed poignantly, while I did manage to evoke some strong reactions from the audience, which I always considered to be a bonus!   

A second presentation during the 2023 visit was on Myths We Live By in my sister’s kibbutz Nachson.  It was exciting and surprising presentation in… Hebrew on challenging topics such as victimization and abuse to an audience that experience both. It was interesting, respectful and intense presentation as the audience include holocaust survivors and victimized women.

May 25, 2023

Riding in the Negev Desert and Visiting Petra Jordan

Family Bonds across Borders: the Negev Desert, Israel & Petra, Jordan, 2023

Dangerously steep rocky cliffs brought us together: my 2 sons, my 3 nephews, and I, rode our motorcycles off-road in the Israeli Negev Desert, to find much more than a wild, majestic landscape. It was amazing to experience the 6 of us getting along seamlessly, helping each other master the raggedy difficult terrain challenges, and share both joys and responsibilities required by riding an inhospitable, dangerous, rough surface.

This fulfilled a long lasting dream I held together with so many of my generation growing up in Israel. Finally, at age 72, I explored the vast miraculous Wadi Ram and magical Petra. The reality of these monumental sites was far more fascinating than my visions were. It was mind boggling to stand among these striking structures, formed by nature over 200,000 years ago, to meander through such magnificent temples, hand-carved in the 4th century BC, and to share it all with the next generation of men in my blood line.  Petra was a big part of ‘hero mythology’ and such a dream for us as a youth in Israel, symbolized by the (historically banned)  HaSela Ha’Adom song by Rika Zarai (another version by Arik Lavi) Lyric: EnglishHebrew.

December 27, 2022

Growing Old, Facing Death, Walking on the Ice…

Towards the end of 2022 at 72 years old, I developed several undiagnosed mystery medical complexities, such as walking pneumonia and an enlarged heart. That have slowed me down physically and emotionally, luckily, not spiritually or intellectually. It brought up, again, the question of when is the right time to walk on the ice or the time for the (polar) bears to eat me (so the young ones can hunt, eat the bear, survive & live longer).

Having the warm-loving-immense support of Jenji, my kids and my nephew, Tal, has meant the world to me. Additionally, being part of community, such as weekly ‘Walks & Talks’ with my best friends, teaching ethics, and developing my interactive, hopefully, helpful website, have also provided me with a meaningful life and reasons to live . . . for now. . .

December 27, 2022

Therapeutic Ethics in the Movies

In 2022, I rekindled my passion for presenting ethical issues with the aid of clips from popular movies and TV series.  It turned out to be very effective, popular, educational, and, yes, a truly fun way to discuss complex therapeutic ethical, standard of care and boundary considerations.  I developed a continuously growing web site that presents 17 ethical aspects Psychotherapy & Psychotherapeutic Ethics in Popular Movies & TV series where people (you) can (still) contribute their movies ideas and suggestions.

At the same time, I have also developed keynote presentations and courses on Therapeutic Ethics in the Movies that I presented in person, online, in the US and . . . in Israel. They all include dozens of short movies’ and TV series’ vignettes offering looks at a variety of ethical complexities in psychotherapy and counseling.

November 25, 2022

I was a boy – Lahakat Hanahal; להקת הנח”ל – הייתי נער

An equally powerful song that has stayed with me since my youth, and is likely to linger for the rest of my life is I was a boy also sang by Lahakat Hanahal. Lyrics: David Atid; Melody: Yair Rosenblum; Translation: DeAnna L’am

Heart-breaking and beautiful, the song captures the lifelong permanent damage suffered by millions of (the best of the best) young men who have been routinely, every generation, recruited to fight wars all over the world in the past 10,000 years. I am among those millions who were indoctrinated to fight to the bitter end, and to sacrifice our lives for the, often, senseless causes of our leaders, parents, as well as variety of economic forces, including the obvious, military industrial complex.

One of my dissertation topics was: “The Medea Complex and the Cycle of war” where I intended to explore the fact that wars, on average, take place globally in 18-22 years cycles, which is, like Medea who killed her children, the older generation sends the younger generation to war where the ‘best die first’ thereby the challenge to the older generation’s authority and power is significantly reduced.

The Rolling Stone powerfully attempted to address the same ‘post (Vietnam) war’ dynamic in their forceful song I want to paint it black.

Generally, ‘we’, young soldiers are barely 18 years old when we go to war to inflict destruction and to readily meet death: of our brothers, of the “other”, and possibly our own. This song potently describes all that we lost in the process: life, energy, power, innocence, trust, the ability to love, and perhaps most importantly the excitement and exuberance of our adolescence.

I was a Boy

The targets are cleansed and destroyed
Snow on mount Hermon melts in the sun
In a ghost town on the Golan Heights
A lonely donkey is lost like before the war
Summer returned to its old strongholds

But your face, my boy, remains changed.

Curtains and window blockers were removed
The city clerk locked the bomb shelters
Grasses climb and grow
Fresh greenery over scabs and canals
Pomegranates returned to market booths

But your face, my boy, remains changed.

I had a boy in love, I had a boy,
Clear was his voice, clear were his eyes
The battle now silent, he returns to the gate
But his gait is heavy, and his face sealed.

הייתי נער

היעדים מטוהרים והרוסים
שלגים על החרמון מול שמש נמסים
ובעיירת רפאים על הרמה
חמור בודד תועה כבטרם מלחמה
הקיץ שב למשלטיו הישנים

אבל פניך נערי נותרו שונים

הוילונות הוסרו והנייר גורד
פקיד העירייה נעל את המקלט
שלוחות הדשא מטפסות ומעלות
ירוק טרי על צלקות התעלות
הרימונים חזרו לשוק לדוכנים

אבל פניך נערי נותרו שונים

היה לי נער מאוהב היה לי נער
צלול היה קולו צלולות היו עיניו
הקרב נדם ושוב קרב הוא אל השער
אך הילוכו כבד וחתומות פניו

Life resumes
Snow melts on Mount Hermon,
cleansed by the golden sun
But the boy’s face has changed
Is covered with worry, twisted, shriveled 
a mirror reflecting the horrors of war
The battle has ended in the desert
But has just begun in the boy’s mind
A lifetime of suffering 
An innocent, lost

November 25, 2022

Song for Peace – Shir Lashalom

The powerful protest Song for Peace, a first of its kind in Israel, was sung for the first time in 1968, a year after the “Six Days war” was won, to a nation still drunk on victory. It premiered in my basic training boot camp by Miri Aloni and Lehakat Hanchal להקת הנח”ל [Lyrics: Yankele Rotblit; Melody: Yair Rosenblum; Complete lyrics & translation.

Bold, pacifist, and uncompromising, it touched many of us deeply at the time, and ever since, with its fearless message. It calls for the victorious people, and its army, to let go of the dead, to stop idealizing them, to stop the fighting on their behalf (in an endless cycle of death and wars), to stop whispering a prayer for peace, and instead to actually, yell it out loud and more importantly, bring it on!

50 years later, both the song and its potent message still reverberate in my body whenever I hear it, or sing it along.

Song for Peace

Let the sun rise
the morning give its light
The purest of prayers
will not bring us back

He who’s candle was snuffed out
and was buried in the dust
bitter cry wont wake him up
and wont bring him back

Nobody will bring us back
from a dead and darkened pit
here, neither the victory cheer
nor songs of praise will help

שיר לשלום

תנו לשמש לעלות
לבוקר להאיר,
הזכה שבתפילות
אותנו לא תחזיר.

מי אשר כבה נרו
ובעפר נטמן,
בכי מר לא יעירו
לא יחזירו לכאן.

איש אותנו לא ישיב
מבור תחתית אפל,
כאן לא יועילו
לא שמחת הניצחון
ולא שירי הלל.

The silent prayers for us
Like balloons released towards the heavens
The dead who died fighting will not
return, will not roam the earth again
Will not laugh or cry
If you honor us
Instead of singing songs
Use your voices to shout for peace
To stop endless wars that take your loved
ones to dark graves void of light

October 28, 2022

Being Hysterically Blind in the Face of Torture

Going too far in the right direction was not new to me. Through many years of traveling in Africa I was drawn to visit a fascinating and unique ruined old spiritual center in a country in Africa where I was clearly unwelcomed. Needless to say I was drawn to this destination, or better said driven and compelled to get there. This drive was definitely not new, it drove me throughout my life to ignore obvious obstacles, to dismiss basic rules, and deny extreme dangers.

This includes an incident some years ago in which I chose to turn out the light in a crowded bunker by shooting the lightbulb out or stood still and refused to run on the heavily bombed bridge or many other similar acts of looking at death straight in the eyes.

Perhaps the most terrifying was the expected of being arrested and detained on some unclear grounds in a foreign land with no language or knowledge of the culture or the terrain. My passport, at that time was definitely not helpful, and probably put me at high risk. I was detained in a remote prison, not knowing the language, left to wander around only wearing underwear, with hundreds of men around me but with no common language or familiar culture. At night I was housed in a 6ft x 6ft cement cell, sitting on the floor with my back to the walls with three more prisoners with no way to comment, hearing the horrible, extremely loud, painful screams of tortured prisoners in the next building neither facilitated a restful night sleep nor peace of mind.

Read Full Story

Detained, alone, afraid
On lands that were not my own
My face covered in shadows
In a remote prison
Screams punctuated the heavy air
Beads of sweat clung to my body like tears
Suddenly I  became hysterically blind
thinking of my own pending torture
covering my mind In cobwebs of horror
My captors shining a light on me
My release from captivity a blur of emotions
A soul full of sorrow – A shadow inside my eye,
To remind me of my ordeal.

October 28, 2022

The Magic and Curse of the Magnificent Shiva Ngandu Zambian House

In London 1976, I was fortunate to meet Lady Lorna Gore-Browne (77 yo) wife and Penelope, granddaughter (25), of the famous British/Zambian legend, Sir Stewart Gore-Browne (1893-1972), called ‘Black heart’. He was the only white man to serve on the newly indepedent government when Zambia got its independence in 1964. He was also the only white man in the history of Zambia  to have been given a state funeral, with a eulogy given by then-President Kenneth Kaunda. Then, I got to visit and stay in what I considered “The last bastion of British Colonialism” in the modern age – At the magnificent and, indeed, magical “Shiwa House” (or ‘Shiwa Ngandu Manor House’ ).  The legend of the magical house is accurately told in the movie The Curse of the Africa House.

The mansion, the lake and 25,000 acre estate around it were, indeed, magical and equally high in British standards.  I could easily imagine the hundreds of African men who took many months to carry the sofas, reclining chairs, book shelves, books and everything else for the royal mansion from the port of Dar-A-Salam, Tanzania, thousands of miles to the east.

In addition to my ‘anthropological’ curiosity, I studied the potential fisheries of the nearby lake by spending wonderful long days on small fishing boats mixing with the local friendly fishermen.

London 1976 to Zambia
Learning of a magical mansion
From my old dear friend, Lady Gore-Brown

Later, my eyes, hypnotically, landed on the Shiva Ngandu
The last bastion of British Colonialism

A treasure trove
Of riches opening before my very eyes
History, blossomimg around my shoulders

August 31, 2022

Is it Ever Ethical for a Psychotherapist to be Naked with a Client: On Unavoidable Multiple Relationships

Moving to the small town of Sonoma, CA in the 1990’s was an eye-opening experience in regard to dual or multiple in a small community.  Soon after I opened my private psychotherapy practice, I got a call from a couple who sought couple therapy.  When I asked them how they got my name, the husband told me that he played basketball with the local old-men league and he liked the “ferocious” way I played.  The wife added that she was on a field trip with our 1st grade daughters and witnessed me impressively helping a group of 1st grade girls negotiate a heated disagreement.  As they shared their familiarity with me, I readily recalled my graduate school, ethics and risk management instructors warning us repeatedly that, in the words of K. P., one of the most renowned ethicist psychologist at the time “. . non-sexual dual relationships, while not unethical and harmful per se, foster sexual dual relationships.”  When I inquired with top ethicists and risk management experts whether it is ethical or advised to see the couple in therapy, they unanimously warned me that dual relationships are unethical and likely to lead to sex.  I wondered if they were concerned that I would have sex with the husband, the wife, or perhaps, with both at the same time 😋.

Early on in my residence in the town of Sonoma, I stepped out of the shower stall in the only gym in town, realizing that I was standing naked next to one of my clients.  I had heard similar experiences from therapists who served on military bases, aircraft carriers or retreat centered,

These experiences and many similar others, led me to study the faulty beliefs about dual relationships, to publish articles, authors books, teach hundreds of workshops, consult with hundreds of therapists, testify in licensing board hearings and in civil lawsuits on the myth that all dual relationships are unethical and to expose the fact that dual or multiple relationships are unavoidable in certain settings, such as military, prisons, small and isolated communities and, in some situations, positively contribute to the therapeutic process. 

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