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  • Leo Gold:1924–2011
  • Erik Mansager (bio)

Leo Gold, an innovative therapist best known for his therapeutic dream work, died on July 8, 2011. His long and productive life exemplified Adler’s concept of creative power—something Leo employed all his life. It was evident early in his life—he overcame congenital talipes equinovarus (clubfoot) to become an exceptional ballroom dancer—and he continued in his publications and widely popular workshops late into his rich and busy life.

His precocious professional life included an appointment as chief psychologist at Riverside Hospital in New York City even before having completed his doctorate. Riverside included the United States’ first center of treatment for adolescent drug addiction. During Leo’s time there he heard Heinz Ansbacher speak. The Adlerian theory on depression that Ansbacher presented made so much sense to Leo that he sought out contact with local Individual Psychologists to learn all he could. He worked especially closely with Helene Papanek, a collaborator in psychiatry with Alfred Adler who had immigrated to New York. Leo began applying Adlerian ideas to his work at the hospital with those battling with drug addictions. His subsequent treatment successes brought him and Adler’s theory much professional attention, including appearances on television and radio programs throughout the 1950s. He was even interviewed by CBS’s iconic news anchorman, Walter Cronkite.

Leo and Janet Gutman Becker Crocker married in 1954. She already had a 9-year-old son, Steven, and the Golds’ daughter, Erica, was born in 1959. The couple was married for 25 years, until Janet’s untimely death in 1980.

Four years after being widowed, Leo became acquainted with Leila Simon. They married in 1989. Simon had three sons, the youngest of whom was severely developmentally delayed. As a result, the couple began a professional and political collaboration that oversaw numerous improvements in New Jersey’s care for the disabled. Simon preceded Leo in death in 2008. Being widowed a second time weighed heavily on Leo in his 85th year. He nonetheless remained active in the health care reform efforts he and Simon had embarked upon. Leo’s daughter, Erica, continues this work as a member of the board of directors of the Hunterdon Developmental Center, where her stepbrother lives. [End Page 3]

In 1956 Leo began working at the Alfred Adler Institute in New York as a training analyst. His tenure lasted 40 years and included being dean of students. His private practice with psychiatrist Ira Ross began at that time. Leo eventually moved his busy practice to New Jersey, where it thrived well into the new century and Leo’s advanced age.

Leo developed his academic and clinical interests during the 1970s. Beginning in 1971 until the 2000s, Leo was adjunct professor at Chicago’s Alfred Adler Institute (now the Adler School of Professional Psychology). From 1974 to 1980 he was visiting professor at Bowie State College in Maryland, and from 1976 until the 2000s he was a clinical supervisor at the Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology at Rutgers University in New Jersey. He also maintained an adjunct professor status with the Union Institute from 1989 to 2004.

From 1974 until 2003, Leo was active within the Rudolf Dreikurs Summer Institute, of the International Committee of Adlerian Summer Schools and Institutes (ICASSI), as a teaching faculty and board member. At ICASSI he was known to sing and dance the community evenings away. He had a naturally strong and melodic tenor voice, yet he could sing in a raspy voice akin to that of jazz trumpeter Louis Armstrong. He would periodically improvise verses in scat style to the great enjoyment of ICASSI participants.

Leo was elected president of the North American Society of Adlerian Psychology for the 1975–1976 term, and between 1979 and 1990 he gave various workshops around Europe on dream work and drama, especially in Zurich, Basel, and Paris. This work and his interface with professionals in his field brought much recognition and won for him the prestigious Margrit-Egnér Foundation Prize from the University of Zurich in 1988. Leo maintained this somewhat frenetic pace for most of his life, leading to his oft-repeated conclusion, “Oy vey...


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