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More On Viscott

March 02, 1997

Nora Zamichow portrayed David Viscott as a weak, crazy egalitarian who annihilated himself through his narcissistic pursuit of fame and fortune ("Talk Was Cheap," Jan. 26). Why this character assassination?

I currently have a private behavioral therapy and executive coaching practice in Newport Beach, and my philosophy and methods parallel those of Dr. Viscott. Prior to this, I opened and staffed the Viscott Center for Natural Therapy in Newport Beach. Over the years, I have counseled clients and worked on projects with Dr. Viscott. He was also a close personal friend.

Zamichow's article deeply wounds me, because it defiles and desecrates the legacy and contribution of a man who helped thousands of people better their lives. I wonder how an article that so critically attacks the principles upon which the Viscott Method is founded will affect those whom we counseled and who practice the fundamentals of this philosophy.

Zamichow employed misguided interpretations and quotations taken out of context. Viscott, she implied, may have been a suicide victim who took out a million-dollar life insurance policy three months before his death. Yet she acknowledges that he was born with a heart abnormality, and that months before his death he was a very sick man. At his house the week before his death, he showed me seven manuscripts and talked about forthcoming seminars and an interactive CD-ROM. Hardly the actions of a broken man.

David was a pioneer in the field of short-term therapy and was keenly aware of mental and emotional suffering. The article ignores Viscott's accomplishments and denies his ability to provide a useful service to the public because of his allegedly ill-managed personal life.

Since David is not here to defend his honor, those of us whose lives are richer for having known David are speaking out in his behalf. His contributions were 10 books, seminars, tapes, poetry, workbooks and a line of greeting cards.

The following, an excerpt from the eulogy I gave at the memorial service in his honor, depicts him in a different light.

There was a man who asked much and gave much/And he knew in life your deepest conviction was to be whole/And so he made a path in words and stories that he told/So that you could follow and know the truth/Because David Steven Viscott was a man of great compassion and a loving heart/His desire was to establish a natural therapy method which would end the suffering of "toxic nostalgia" and create "emotional resilience."

Barbara Kaufman, Principal

The Wellness Resource

Newport Beach

*

Zamichow's article revealing the tormented, bullying and ultimately tragic private life of a talk-show psychologist is a perfect illustration of the theory of "overcompensation" advanced by Alfred Adler. Adler held that many people attempt to become strong and superior precisely in those areas where they feel weak and inferior. Thus the 97-pound weakling feels driven to become a steroidal bodybuilder. And by extrapolation, the fragile, vain and insecure neurotic may feel compelled, like Viscott, to reinvent himself as a dispenser of psychological wisdom and parade around publicly as a paragon of mental health and self-esteem.

Al Ramruis

Pacific Palisades

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