The Rest of My Story | Letters | Chicago Reader

The Rest of My Story 

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Dear editor,

Regarding Tori Marlan's cover story "A Most Dangerous Method" and my involvement with both the Holocaust and the reparenting therapist Jacqui Lee Schiff [August 11]. I should like to congratulate Ms. Marlan for a fine piece, and also clear up some misperceptions and omissions in it.

The major issue is that Ms. Marlan writes of the Schiff ethics violations, namely the use of physical punishments and even a death, as if they occurred mainly in the past. The colleagues of the little girl who was smothered to death in a rebirthing exercise in Evergreen, Colorado, claim reparenting as one of their methods, and even allegiance to Jacqui Lee Schiff's theories. So the physical cruelty originated with Ms. Schiff continues to this day. That is why I gave the story to Ms. Marlan, to help stop the continuing abuse.

As for references to me personally and my life and family, I should like to correct a few things. Some of Ms. Marlan's conclusions make me look rather like a fanatic. I do not wear my hair "concentration-camp short," as Ms. Marlan wrote, but have it cut short because several years ago I started losing my hair and did not want to be one of those desperate souls who part their hair behind an ear and comb it all the way across their balding pates. Also she writes, "wears rimless glasses that accentuate the intensity in his eyes when he talks about the Holocaust." In fact I have glasses that are both rimless and antireflecting because I do a lot of work with people, including training of psychotherapists, am on TV from time to time, and do keynote speeches and the like. I got the glasses so people could get an honest look at my face. It's amazing how a word here or there in an article, however unintentional by the writer, can make someone look like something he is not.

As for my being a "top" sprinter, I was an American record holder in the 70-yard dash and was world ranked for three seasons in the 100-yard dash. The coach at the University of Chicago was none other than the great Ted Haydon, who resides in the Track and Field Hall of Fame.

As for my learning how to fight to protect myself as a persecuted Jewish boy, the man who taught me, Barney Ross, a former welterweight and lightweight champion of the world, was also a winner of the Navy Cross for his heroic actions while wounded as a member of the First Marines on Guadalcanal during WWII. And he was a lovely man who did not promote violence. He was loved by all who knew him. I loved him like a father. He was my boyhood idol; sweet, charming, funny, could dance and sing and play the piano. He would always kiss me hello and goodbye, even before and after a boxing lesson.

My father's "cultivating" the gangsters Bugsy Siegel and Mickey Cohen is erroneous. He knew them as he was a gambler. But he was definitely not a gangster. Ms. Marlan's conclusion that he had not "reformed" when he returned to gambling after his combat service in the navy in WWII implies that there is something illegal, or criminal, or disreputable about being a professional gambler.

And lastly, my major contribution to transactional analysis is not my work with the Holocaust and genocide, or my article regarding reparenting, but rather that I moved transactional analysis into the area of social psychology by creating new theory, that is, I took an individual and group theory and applied it to larger social systems, cults, organizations, and nations.

Thank you,

Alan Jacobs

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