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The End of an Era, A Reflection on Dr. Morton Herskowitz

Article by Stephan Simonian M.D.

The End of an Era, A Reflection on Dr. Morton Herskowitz

 

On Monday, August 6, 2018, members of the Institute of Orgonomic Science received the sad news that Dr. Herskowitz had passed away that morning. "He gave so much and brightened so many lives,". After this news, Dr. Harry Lewis, a member of the IOS, wrote the following:

 

 

Dr. Morton Herskowitz died, it was announced this morning.

While many of us knew it was coming and were expecting it, it is still a great loss of a great person. I was fortunate to know him and share time with him. He will be missed, and this ends an era.

He was smart, funny, a gifted clinician, and a damn good person, which is very rare in this day and age–or maybe at any time.

My condolences to his family and those close to him.

Yes, Lewis’s words are indeed fitting: the end of an era. Dr. Herskowitz’s death meant that all of the second generations of Reich’s students are gone now. Yet the end of an era inevitably means that a new era is beginning, the continuation of Reich’s work by the third generation of his followers.

A few months before Dr. Herskowitz’s death, we celebrated his 100th birthday. During the celebration, Dr. Herskowitz expressed his gratitude for being able to pass the knowledge from Reich to the next generation of students. We thanked him for being the link between Reich and us. We are grateful that we had him for many years and were able to experience Reich’s teachings and therapy techniques through him. He transferred the knowledge through numerous articles, speeches, and a book, all significant contributions to the literature and science of orgonomy. Many of Dr. Herskowitz’s articles, lectures, and teachings have been recorded, transcribed, and published for the first time in this journal. However, there are many other publications which will be introduced to the public in the IOS annals, as promised by its editor, Dr. Grier.

We all mourn the loss of our leader, Dr. Morton Herskowitz. It is the end of an era, but with it comes the start of a new era, the one that obligates us, the students of Reich and Herskowitz, to work tirelessly to preserve, promote, and introduce orgonomy to the world. It is our opinion that the theories of orgonomy are the best and only hope for humanity. We urge you to reacquaint yourself with his work listed and linked below: his lectures, papers, and recordings published in this journal and a touching letter from Dr. Huthsteiner, expressing her feelings about this great man who has indeed ended an era.

My mentor, therapist, friend, father-figure, mother-figure Mort Herskowitz, D.O,  has died  on August 6, 2018.  He was 100 years old.  For those of us who had the gift of his care and his teaching, we often resisted the idea he could be old enough to retire, and have avoided considering that he would depart this world.  What made Mort so special?  So very special?

I read an article he wrote about "The Treatment of an Episode of Catatonic Mutism" for the Journal of Orgonomy, Vol 2, in 1968.  In it he described his own unique style of orgonomy, that for me epitomizes his gift.  "At one point, deep sadness appeared momentarily in the patient’s eyes.  The therapist seized the moment to lay the patient’s head upon his shoulder and give him mother comfort.  At this point, the patient cried briefly, a stifled tearless sob, but breathed a little more freely." "A move to touch the patient’s lips gently with a finger was met with physical withdrawal….An hour passed in this manner, the patient moving away from the therapist whenever an attempt was made to establish body contact.  After a time, however, the patient did not move away when the therapist stroked his forehead and periocular area for several minutes."    "This seemed to quiet the anxiety, and the patient could now be induced to lie down with his head on the pillow.  The therapist lay his cheek upon the patient’s and cuddled the patient to him.  In this manner, the patient fell asleep and slept for five to ten minutes.  He awoke with a start and asked, "Where am I?" The catatonic mutism abated.

Mort’s gift was one of compassion and carefully expressed physical loving affection and care.    This quality is rare to encounter in any setting.   In Mort’s case, he was able to penetrate the patient’s barriers with gentleness and physical affection.  Removing layer after layer of defense, he helped people feel deeply and fully, and embrace what life was giving.

When I heard the news of his passing, I went into a room to grieve.   His kindly penetrating eyes, the serious and concerned look on his face, comes immediately to my mind’s eye.  I am glad I can see him still, helping me to move through a feeling, not holding me back in any way, expressing comfort, approval, support.  He is able to stay with me, in eye contact as I can tolerate it.  He does not look away.  He has a remarkable ability to stay and witness and share my grief, my pain, my horror, my fear.  He has the courage and confidence to move in and make contact, despite resistance, rejection, fear, or even hatred or aggression he might encounter.    He strikes just the right the balance between intervention and quiet observation.

So much more could be said about Mort Herskowitz: a leader in orgonomy, a student of Reich’s and a teacher of many.   I will leave that for others to tell.   But what I will always remember him for is his heart.   Thank you, Mort.

 

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This post was written by:

- who has written 54 posts on The Journal of Psychiatric Orgone Therapy.

Dr. Simonian is a general and child and adolescent psychiatrist. He completed medical school in Shiraz University, Shiraz Iran. He completed his general psychiatric residency training and fellowship in child and adolescent psychiatry at New York Medical College, Metropolitan Hospital Center. Concomitant with his psychiatry and child psychiatry training, Dr. Simonian completed the New York Medical College Psychoanalytic School Didactic Courses, including his own required personal psychoanalysis. In 1990, Dr. Simonian started his personal psychiatric orgone therapy, Reichian therapy, with Dr. Morton Herskowitz and in 1991 became a member of the Institute of Orgonomic Sciences (IOS), an Institute which is dedicated to promote and preserve Dr. Wilhelm Reich's work. Dr. Simonian started his private psychiatric practice in Milford, Massachusetts in 1984 and he was a chief of psychiatry department of Milford Regional Hospital for several years. He started his practice in Glendale, California since 2003. Dr. Simonian is a Diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology.

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